Thursday, January 29, 2009

enjoying the snow

We've had lots of snow this winter and have taken full advantage of every opportunity to play in the snow. One snowy day I even got talked into sledding myself. I went down once and that was all it took. I became a sledding fool. We sledded and sledded until two of our three sleds were sledded right to pieces. There are so many times I plan activities and outings with such high hopes of creating wonderful memories and family togetherness and after all is said and done the planned activities and outings don't seem to live up to my expectations. This was one of those afternoons where you end up doing something you didn't expect to or plan on, and had such a good time it leaves you breathless.

Or maybe I was breathless from walking up the little hill. Either way, I had my inhaler with me so it was all good. : )

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

not a proud parenting moment

Sam and Teresa have been at each other's throats. The bickering has gone on for days and days. Who gets to lay on the big couch...who gets to use the taller stool in the bathroom...who gets to use the maple syrup first...who gets on the bus first...someone stepped in someone's snowy footprints without asking...and on and on and on. It's incessent and grating and I'm about sick to death of it. Tonight they finally broke me. We were coming home from my parents and unloading from the van and the two of them tossed that know, the infamous last straw...onto my back. They were shoving and pulling and making ugly faces at each other. All this to be the first one out of the van. Do you know what I did? I shut the van door and told them if they were going to argue over who gets out first then they could just stay there. And I walked up the walkway and into the house.

Okay, don't call child services on me. I turned around as soon as I put my bag down and went back out to them. I opened the van up and they very meekly hopped out and up into the house. No shoving, pushing, mean faces or name calling. Desired results achieved, but certainly not in the way I want to achieve them. Everyone walked into the house feeling rotten. Me most of all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Family Recipe

Looking back through the photo albums
Dug way back-before me even.
Mumma so young, her hair pulled back in a ponytail
her hand upon the toddler's
cutting out cookies,
Both looking down, waiting to be surprised at the shape that appears.

Here's another one-I recognize her now.
Gathered around her are three of her crew,
all outfitted in aprons.
Two are awaiting instructions
While I stand inside her arms
with her hands over mine
as we cut out the biscuits.
How we loved to steal bits of dough.
The sharp taste and chewy texture were savored.
We took turns kneading the dough.
I watched Mumma's strong hands punch and fold
and tried to imitate her with my small fists.

Look here!
Three faces spattered with chocolate cake mix!
Blue eyes sparkling amidst the mess.
Mumma's hands over my brother's
as they hold the mixer.
She repeatedly told us to turn the mixer on and off IN the batter
When asked why, she let us find out the fun way.

I flip some more pages.
Here's my older sister standing with Mumma,
proudly displaying the freshly baked pie;
ingredients and bowls tumble in the background.
Take out all you'll need- she always says.
They both hold up a single pie
Mumma's hands over the teenager's
cheeks pressed together
their blue eyes smiling wide.

New faces now as I turn the page.
Babies again-her grandchildren.
hand upon hand once more.
Cookie cutters revealing their surprises and dough nibbled on the sly.
She places her hands over theirs and she guides them.
Their toddler bodies fit neatly inside her arms
as they stir, mix and knead.
Their eyes filled with the shared pleasure of good food
and each other.

Her gift to each of us;
A routine task transformed into treasured moments.
A family recipe to pass down for generations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

my scrapbooking sidekick

Teresa was not quite two when she started scrapping with Mumma. She used to call it "crapping." It never failed to send me into a fit of the giggles when she would ask "Can I crap with you Mumma?" I wondered if she actually enjoyed the scrapbooking or if she really just loved the one on one time with me. I wondered if she would continue to want to both scrap and spend time with me as she grew older. I hoped she would...on both counts.
I wonder no longer.

Teresa started coming to crops with me and scrapping a few months ago and has really enjoyed it. The monthly crops I go to were MY time and I wasn't so keen on bringing her. I was afraid she would pester me or get bored or need so much help I'd get nothing done. But that hasn't been the case at all. She sits at her own table and works away on her scrapbook chatting with her beloved Karen or her little friend Hannah. Up to now, Teresa has always used my supplies when scrapbooking, but when I realized this was a past time with some sticking power I decided she needed her own supplies. Now, every scrapbooker worth her salt has numerous bags to tote all her scrapping stuff , so for Christmas Teresa got her very own hot pink scrapbooking bag stocked with all the essentials; paper, stickers, tape runner, scissors and pens. She couldn't wait to get started. In fact, the first time she pulled out her own scrapping stuff I had to MAKE her stop at 10 pm and first thing next morning she plunked her bag on the table and continued where she left off. I don't know if I can adequately express how much I enjoy sharing this with her. There are so many ways I'm connected with her. But this connection feels different. Something that connects us not necessarily as mother/daughter but as two people who share similar friends.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I love my friends

Honestly, I have some of the best friends in the world. Jessica, over at the Entertaining House, has once again honored me with a blog award. Thank you Jessica!

This award is the Friendship Award.
The award states: “These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

I truly feel that I am the lucky one because I have had the opportunity to make friends and deepen friendships through this crazy blogging world. I, like Jess, feel all my blogging friends deserve this award. So, my fellow bloggers, please consider this little award my gift to deserve it!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

my kids are the ones chewing on a piece of straw

I don't think of us as country hicks. I really don't. But every so often something happens and I'm jerked out of my ideas that we live in a bustling hubbub into reality. One day last month I took care of my sister's three boys, ages 4, 3 and 9 months. I know....lunacy...but they get along famously with my three and it's not as crazy as it sounds. Her town was having a Christmas festival so I decided to head over to her house, bundle up all six kids and walk into town to partake in all the festive activities. There was cookie decorating at a bakery, one bank had hot cocoa and the kids got to write letters to Santa, another bank sponsored face painting. There was also a scavenger hunt in which the kids had to find a specified item at each participating place of business. The afternoon would end with a Christmas parade. All these activities were sure to be a big hit with the kids. Who would've guessed that none of the above activities were the highlight of the afternoon.

On our walk from my sister's house to the downtown area we had to cross at some streetlights. As we neared the crossing I asked Sam to push the button for the walk signal since I was pushing the stroller. Sam gave me this big blank look and then just started looking around. I needed to be a bit more specific so I said "see, the button on the big yellow pole? Push it so the light signal will change to walk and all red lights" My nephews were the ones who finally pointed out the street light and button and kindly let Sam and Teresa push it together. Which the two of them could barely manage, they were so giddy with excitement.

Teresa: (squealing) A streetlight! A real life streetlight!

Sam: I can't believe it! We get to see one for real and we even get to push the button!

Teresa: It's like a dream come true!

I need to get these kids out a bit more. On the other hand, if a streetlight can send them into paroxysms of delight, it sure as hell makes entertaining them pretty easy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

those exercise dvd's can be kind of scary

I feel like such a cliche when I admit this, but one of my goals/resolutions this year is to lose some weight. I've been dragging around about 20 extra pounds and wishing it away just doesn't seem to be working. I actually started working on this particular goal back in September and I lost a grand total of five...5!...pounds. Come on! Are kidding me? I swear my scale is not working properly. Do you think they'd laugh at me if I brought it back and said it wasn't working to my satisfaction?

So anyways, initially I wanted to lose 10 by December and then another 10 by June. I know, I set the bar pretty high. Call me an overachiever. I got off to a good start...down 4 by November and then I just kind of stalled out like the old Chevy Nova our family used to have. November and December saw a grand total of one more pound lost and that's where I find myself now. So I have about fifteen pounds to get me to where I would like to be. In the spirit of my weight loss resolution I asked Joe to pick up an exercise dvd for me as a Christmas gift. I had him get the Leslie Sansone 5 Day walkfit Walk away the pounds. (Thanks Jen for the recommendation). I am liking it. So far, I've only done the one mile walk but am considering throwing in a two miler once or twice (twice? Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Who do I think I am kidding) a week.

My "workouts" are never dull. The kids insist on watching me as I march along with the very enthusiastic group of ladies on the dvd. They fight over who gets to hand me the weighted balls. They, every so often, jump in and march along beside me. Which usually results in my stumbling over them and some voices raised and their retiring back to the couch again. What cracks me up though? Every single time Katie sits there and listens to Leslie coach me through the workout and about halfway through Katie will turn to me and ask in a scared kind of voice "Can she see us?"

Monday, January 12, 2009

when life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!

My friend Jessica was so kind as to give me my first blogging award. How cool is that! I feel the need to chant "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!" But I'm restraining myself and will humbly accept my lemons to lemonade award.

Every honor comes with responsibility and this one is no exception. I shall pass on the lemonade from lemons award to those bloggers who make me laugh, smile and nod my head in that "yes, I know exactly what you mean!" kind of way...who make me feel like I'm not the only one dealing with some of the lemons life hands out.

Wilma, Jen, Kristie, Jessica, and Kim are five bloggers who deserve a lemonade award in my humble opinion. They always manage to find the humor in every situation and graciously share it with us . Thanks for putting a smile on my face ladies! Cheers!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

seeking forgiveness

Sam has a big day coming up. He will be making his first Reconciliation on Saturday. Reconciliation is when we Catholics confess our sins to the priest, who acts as a liaison to God for us and gives us God's forgiveness for our sins. In my day it was called Confession. And then at some point it changed to Penance but now it's called Reconciliation. I wonder if the powers that be think changing the name will help ease the anxiety it stirs up in the kids. I remember before my First Confession/Penance/Reconciliation I was soooo nervous. Sitting there in the pew, waiting my turn, I was sweating bullets, wringing my hands and hoping it was just butterflies in my stomach and not the need to actually vomit. As if the priest was going to condemn me to damnation for "fighting with my sister and lying to my parents"

Anyways, back to Sam. He will be making his First Communion come May and in preparation needs to confess to his sins. As the big day draws near, I told him that he needs to spend some time thinking about how he may have sinned so he'd be prepared for his Reconciliation. He told me that his teacher said if they had trouble thinking of something they could just say they were sorry for everything. Okay, not exactly the soul searching answer God is looking for.

So we've been talking a lot about sin and what constitutes a sin. At first everything equaled a sin in Sam's mind. Not sharing...sin. Yelling...sin. Not finishing your dinner...sin. Forgetting to do chores...sin. sighing deeply when asked to brush teeth...sin. At the rate he was going the poor kid would be confessing for hours. I had to set him straight. Each night after prayers I would take some time and have him think if there was sometime during the day when he did something deliberately, on purpose that he knew was wrong. Depending on what he came up with, we'd determine if his offense went against the rules God set up for us to live by. This was not an exercise Sam looked forward to. Alright, I know, who would enjoy a nightly discussion of all you did wrong that day but just for the record we also talked about the many many ways he was a positive force in the world too. Sam's answer up until the last week or so, was "I don't know" or "I can't remember" or the ever popular "nothing" Teresa was right there to jog his memory though. For every "I don't know" and "I can't remember" Teresa had an offense of his at the ready. One memorable conversation unfolded as follows:

Teresa: Sam, remember you hit me? You hit me and you know that is against God's rules so you sinned.

Sam: sinned first.

Teresa: I did not! (very indignant)

Sam: Yes, you did! I hit you because you hit me! And now you're lying about it so that's another sin and lying is really really bad!

Teresa: (slight pause while the wheels spun and whirred) Well, fine. But I'M not the one making my Reconciliation...YOU are.

I'm hoping God will find it in his heart to forgive me for wanting to strangle the both of them at that moment.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

lend me your ear...lobe

When Teresa was a baby she had an odd little habit to soothe herself to sleep. She didn't suck her thumb or hum or bang her head. Nope, nope, nope...she had to rub my earlobe. I'd lay next to her in the bed and she'd reach over and grab my earlobe, which by the way she eventually called "earrubs"...makes total sense, and she'd rub it between her fingers. She even had a favorite ear. My ears were pierced and once upon a time a baby I was babysitting pulled one of my earrings and tore my earlobe. So I let the piercings close up. One earlobe has a little dot and the one that tore has a trailing line. Teresa called this one the "snakey" ear and she did not like this ear much at all. She would deign to latch on if she absolutely had to but only if she had to. She wasn't particularly fussy as she got bigger and didn't just rub my earlobe...anyone's would do in a pinch. This habit started just around her first birthday and slowly started to disappear sometime in her third year. I can't remember the last time she rubbed my earlobe to fall asleep. Isn't it funny how we spend loads of time recording all the firsts but some of these "lasts" just slip through the cracks.

Here's Teresa rubbing Katie's little earlobe. I couldn't find any photos of her with mine.

Katie is an earrubber too. She started off just rubbing her own and graduated to other's ears after her first birthday. She's still going strong. There are many times when I brush her fingers away as she pulls on my ear. It's really very annoying, but I am sure one day I will realize that she hasn't rubbed my ear in many a day. And when that happens, I am also sure I will miss it despite how irritating it may have been.

And here's Katie rubbing her own. And yes...I KNOW she's too big for the swing but she's my some point with number three, you just don't care about certain things.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Is it really worth it to take a day off?

I took a day off last month. A real, honest to goodness day off. I'm telling you...what a waste. I spent the day driving here, there and everywhere or sitting in doctors' offices. Here's how it all went down:

I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in until 6:30. I then spent the next hour and a half frantically showering, dressing (myself and all three kids), feeding everyone, packing lunches and snacks, brushing hair, packing backpacks and cleaning up from breakfast, so in hindsight maybe sleeping in wasn't the very best of ideas. The two big kids got on the bus and Katie and I were out the door by twenty past eight. I dropped Kate off at my Mom's and headed over to the doctor's office. While waiting for the doctor I got to read People. I actually got to read a magazine, uninterrupted by little people. I cannot even remember the last time that's happened. And then I read Time, aaaaannnnd then Newsweek aaaaaannnnnd then Parents before I finally got called in to see the doctor. The doctor was so very thorough and spent quite a bit of time talking with me about my questions and my prescriptions. The most bizarre conversation happening around the time he was doing my Pap smear. He casually asked me about my Thanksgiving and the conversation turned to what my favorite Thanksgiving foods are, all this while he's got his hand up my heehaw. Honestly, how does one decide between stuffing or butternut squash when someone is palpitating your ovaries?

My doctor's attention to detail meant I didn't get out of the doctor's office until 10:30. So I hightailed it back to my town and the kids' school. I had volunteered to chaperon a field trip with Teresa's classroom. We were headed to Shaw's supermarket. A supermarket is probably not the best place to take 22 hungry first graders and their equally hungry chaperons a mere 45 minutes before lunch. We barely heard the poor woman assigned to our group as she attempted to engage the kids in a hunt for items from the food pyramid. We were all too busy trying to figure out how to break into the deli case while she wasn't looking. The bus got back to school just before 1:00 and I headed home.

I inhaled my lunch and then decided I should tackle the 18 bazillion loads of laundry that needed to be folded and put away. After finally putting all the teetering piles of clothing in their proper places I glanced at the clock and realized it was nearly 2:30. Time to head back to school to pick up Sam and Teresa. I arrive and sit in the cafeteria to wait. And I wait, wait, wait, wait. Finally Teresa strolls in and we wait, wait, wait some more for Sam. As the steady stream of children turns to a trickle and then stops I realize something's not right. So I ask the teacher in charge of dismissals if there might be somewhere else he'd have gone for dismissal. She calls down to the office and then sends me in that direction. Where I'm informed that he has already boarded his bus and is at that moment winding through the streets of town. Great. I spent 20 minutes waiting for him, because I need to pick him up to get him to a doctor's appointment and now I have to go home and wait for the school bus anyways!

Teresa and I head home and wait for the bus to come. Sam gets off the bus in tears because he didn't get to be a dismissal and I ever so lovingly hustled him into his seat and buckled him up. We're out the driveway before the bus has even pulled away. I fly at warp speed back to my parent's house to drop off Teresa and the dog, wave hello to Katie and am back in the van to rush to the doctor's office. All that adrenaline pumping through my veins and I now have to sit and wait once again. Sam's appointment was at 3:30 and, because the pediatrician is so attentive we didn't get out of there until 5:00. I drive back to my parent's house and collapse in exhaustion and suck down a bottle, I mean glass, of wine. As I guzzle my wine I ponder this...why am I so exhausted from a day where I really did very little? Except drive and wait.
But now, thanks to the wine, my head can't handle such imponderables.

Friday, January 2, 2009

it doesn't take much to make someone's day

This morning I took the kids out for breakfast. This has become a school vacation ritual with us. Every vacation the last couple years we pick a day and go out for a big breakfast feast. Today we decided to go to a very small restaurant at the little airport nearby. We attempted to eat there once before but they closed just before we got there. I was more than a little annoyed because I called and asked what time they were open until and no one mentioned they were closing early. So we made the trip there for nothing. But I've always heard good things about this place and figured we should give it another chance. I'm glad we did. The kids loved watching the small planes taxi down the runway and take off or land. The food was stick to your ribs good. The kids got to feed a duck and goose that live at the airport (I can't figure that one out). And the people working there were so friendly. For me the true highlight of the breakfast outing was when the people in the booth next to ours got up to leave. They were an older couple who ate their breakfasts while reading through the local paper. I'm sure they weren't entirely thrilled when I sat down with my three young children directly behind them. As they got their coats on, the woman said hello to the kids and asked them if they had a nice Christmas. They kids went on and on about their gifts and outings and cousins and food. When they finished chattering the woman turned to me and said "Mom, you have such lovely children." I wonder if she knows how that simple comment delighted me. Those six little words have put such a shine on the day.