Monday, April 7, 2014

Hot n Cold

The house is unusually quiet. So quiet I can hear the ticking of the clock on the wall. Every once in a while a red-winged blackbird trills from the freshly filled bird feeder. Molly lays curled up at my feet, properly tired out from the rousing game of catch that we just finished in the backyard.

It is 4:20 and the kids are outside soaking up the balmy 48 degree weather. You'd swear it was summer the way they are behaving. Two of my three boys came home from school without their jackets on. "It's so warm! I'm sweating! Can I put on shorts?" they begged.

Homework was completed efficiently and swiftly so that maximum play time could be had. Snacks were handed out and gobbled down and school clothes were striped off and replaced with play clothes in record time.

My heart melted when I'd overheard the boys asking Grace if she would like to play with them too. "Why do you want me to play?" Grace baited them. "Because it's fun with you." they wisely and sweetly said.

Happy to be included as the fourth soldier Grace suited up in her pink play clothes and took off with her boys and down the road they all went to play in the woods.

The other day I was scolding the boys for bullying Grace and they complained about how sassy she can be to them. I reminded them just how lucky the three boys are to have each other to play with but asked them where that left Grace. I reminded them that she often gets left out and even though she has three big brothers she still has no one to play with. They must have taken it to heart because I have noticed the switch. It does this mama's heart good.

These long stretches of quiet always surprise. They still come rarely but as the kids get older they are able to play and amuse themselves for longer stretches without fights and crying and accidents. I take them as I can get them.

This past weekend was a good mix of peaceful, fun, and craziness.

On Friday we packed up the truck and headed up north. It was a bit of madness that we even decided on going up north since a snowstorm was expected but we figured as long as we could leave the snow behind when the weekend was done we could handle just one more weekend of snow.

Sure enough, the cabin received approximately 8 inches of snow on Friday. The roads were dicey on the drive up but the next day the temps were back into the mid 40s. Perfect conditions for the kids to spend the day outside playing in the fresh snow. We even contemplated going skiing but Todd and I decided we'd just hang out at the cabin and relax a bit.
The kids were up bright and early on Saturday morning, eager to get out into the snow. I really haven't seen this much snow at the cabin in the fifteen years I've been fortunate enough to visit. The snowbanks reached the bottom of the shed and the garage. Perfect for feisty young children to climb on top of to get on the roofs. Oh dear. The kids all think it is hilarious how much their mama worries and they love to pretend fall off the roof or pretend they were impaled by icicles. Hilarious.
When the kids tired of that they began making a snowman. Everyone helped.
I knew the kids were getting hungry when they began eating all of the icicles off of the garage. After a short break for lunch the boys went back outside and make an entire snowman family. Our family. Complete with Molly the snowdog.
It was a snow filled day. Warm, but snow filled. The snow was melting quickly and the kids came in three separate times to dry their clothes before going back outside. By Sunday morning the driveway was completely clean of snow and patches of grass could be seen.

It was a nice weekend. I was able to finish two books (The Paris Wife and Heaven Is For Real)and that is always a bonus.

We had a good time but it was definitely nice to come back home to zero snow and 50 degree weather. Hopefully we won't have anymore "surprise" snowstorms for the rest of spring.


Monday, March 31, 2014

A Good Ending

We managed to sneak in one more fun activity before our spring break officially ended.  After mass on Sunday Todd and I surprised the kids by taking them bowling.
It may not sound that exciting but my kids were plenty excited. We hardly ever go bowling and the kiddos just LOVE it. We really need to go more often.
Notice there are no pictures of me bowling. Can I let you in on a little secret? I stink at bowling. Really badly. All of my kids beat me in both games. Sure, they had bumpers on their lane, but still. No one will be asking me to join a bowling league anytime soon.

The first game I got a 78 and the second game I got a 112. I was shocked that I made it over 100 but my kids still beat me. I really stink. It doesn't stop me from playing though. We had a blast!

A little bowling, a little junk food, a little playing outside, a little Frozen, and a little snuggling in front of the fire. A fantastic way to end a fabulous spring break.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Heavenly

We are back. Back from one of the best trips we've ever taken. Back to real life after experiencing a bit of heaven. 
Honestly, this trip could not have come at a better time. We needed this, Todd and I. Not just the warm weather and the relaxation but the alone time. The reconnection.
The resort (Live Aqua) was the perfect place to recoup from our winter. The weather was hot, the drinks were cold, the service was outstanding, the food was unparalleled, the rooms were beautiful, the pools were gorgeous, and the beach was breathtaking. It felt like the trip of a lifetime.
I don't remember the last time Todd and I laughed together as much as we did on this trip. 
It was difficult to say goodbye to this perfect place but we are grateful we got to go for the few days we were there. It was worth every penny, in more ways than one.
Now we are back. The welcome home we got from the kids, the snuggles, hugs, and smiles, made me happy that our trip was a short one. We had missed them. And really, there is no place like home.

Today Todd is nursing a nasty cold, the kids are putting together LEGO sets they just bought with their birthday money, and I'm trying to think up one more fun day trip to take the kids on before we wrap up our spring break and real life truly hits.

But for now we will soak up these last couple of days and hopefully our warm memories will keep us cozy until the warm weather finally catches up with the calendar.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Freak Out Time

We are back from our fun filled mini vacation in Wisconsin Dells. 

It was wet, wild, and super fun. And very exhausting. 

Here you see the kids raring to go the minute we got to the hotel. Five hours later we were all jammed into the pull out bed in the living room trying to summon the energy to go out to dinner. Eventually, with Todd's pleading, we did indeed make it out for dinner. 
We accidentally walked into a very fancy restaurant and then the hostess insisted we stay. The kids were weirded out by the fanciness of it all. The live singing/piano playing, the water features, the three different forks and knives, the warm towelette after dinner, the prices. It completely freaked them out. It was kind of funny. But the food was delicious and the kids were fairly well behaved.

When we got back to the hotel room we all crashed. Then it was up bright and early again the next morning for more waterpark fun. Another water filled fun day and a delicious dinner (and Culver's custard too!) and we were extra exhausted when we got back to our room.
Somehow we managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to clean up and get to church this morning. Now we are back home. Time to unpack all the bags, clean the house, repack our bags, leave instructions for the grandmas, plan little goodbye gifts for the kiddos, and organize dinners and activities for the kids while we are gone.

In other words, it's freak out time.

I'm not good with leaving my kids. Never have been. I suspect I never will be. It really hasn't gotten easier. Good thing we hardly ever do it. And this will most likely be our last vacation without the kids for a long time so we had to jump at the chance. Still, I can't help the internal freak out.

On the long ride home from WI Dells today Todd turned to me and said, "By this time tomorrow we will be relaxing on the beach!"  I replied in a whisper, "If we're not dead." I was only half teasing.

Morbid, I know. But I can't help it. I'm paranoid something is going to happen to us (plane craash) leaving our kids parentless. I'm also paranoid something will happen to my kids and I won't be there.
In short, I'm paranoid. Freaking out. 

I'm sure everything will be just fine. I am really trying my best to ignore the nagging little voices in my head. I'm sure it will be a lovely trip. 

For now I'm freaking out. 


Friday, March 21, 2014

Birthday Wishes

An early celebration filled with LEGOs, grandmas, and cake makes for one very happy birthday boy.
Today Tommy took cupcakes to school for his birthday treat and when school is released early for spring break we will be off to the Wilderness Territory in WI Dells. Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday.

Dearest Tommy. I hope your birthday is everything you hoped and dreamed it would be. I hope the day is filled with fun and love and all your wishes come true. I hope that you know just how special you are to us and what joy you add to our lives.
From the moment you were born you were our lovable, sweet, kind, considerate, energetic, silly, fun-loving little Goldensbear. Still with those darling pinchable cheeks and tender heart. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. My nine year old Tommy.
I love you more than you will ever know. I am so proud to be your mama. Happy Birthday, my precious Tommy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Little Things

It's the little things that always help to snap me out of a foul mood. 

Little things like:

-Having an older choir member tell me that my children are beautiful and wonderfully behaved. And when I tell her the ages of my children after she asks and she says, "they're halfway to grown!" it tugs at my heart in such a way that I once again want to savor every moment I get with them.

-Walking into the living room and seeing Ben helping Grace learn to read.


-Going to Joey's athletic banquet and watching him receive the "most improved" award and listen to the coaches talk about his hard work and positive attitude.

-Listening to Ben read a very difficult reading in front of the whole school for mass.

-Tommy's complete and total excitement at his upcoming birthday. Even though we won't be going out to dinner he is more than willing to open his presents a day early so that we can leave for WI Dells immediately after school tomorrow.

-Joey staying up a little later than the other kids now that he is getting older. Even just fifteen minutes reading in his room is enough to make him feel mature and happy.

-Tommy telling me that the best gift for him is just having his family. Such a little schmoozer. Although he did finally admit that he is looking forward to a few presents as well.

-Sneaking up on the oblivious Joey and Tommy as they read their books after school.

-Being just as excited to go to WI Dells with my kids as I am to go to Mexico with my hubby.

-The first day of spring is here! It may not feel like spring just yet but I have hope that the warmer weather is just around the corner.

-Joey SCREAMING this morning when he saw the time, "MOM!!!! We're gonna be late!!!! I don't want a tardy!!! I've never gotten a tardy mark!!!" It makes me laugh so that my kids are such straight little arrows that the thought of a tardy mark absolutely freaks them out. I think I laughed the entire way to school as Joey panicked in the back seat. Thank goodness we got to school with time to spare or I fear his day would have been ruined.

-A warm bath in the middle of the day.

-Grace and I watching Beauty and the Beast and when Gaston tries to bribe Belle into marrying him I say, "Boy, that Gaston is nasty!"
Grace responds, "Yeah. I wouldn't marry him! I'd just go back in my house and get my shotgun!" 
Ha! That a girl, Gracie!

-Homework free days.

-The first cup of coffee in the morning.

-The birds at my feeders growing more and more colorful as the weeks go on.

-Snuggles with littles.


Tonight we will have pizza and cake with the grandmas to celebrate Tommy's birthday and tomorrow our spring break will be in full swing.

Life is good.

There are so many little things to be thankful for and I'm always grateful for reminders. What are you thankful for?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fun Busy

It seems this blog is becoming nothing more than "my week in review" lately. I guess the weeks are just flying by and before I know it another week has past. This coming week is no exception to the "busy" rule. It is packed full of St. Patrick's Day festivities at school, choir rehearsal, swim classes, Ben reading for the school mass, an athletic banquet for Joey, a birthday for Tommy, and the start of our spring break which will see us taking the kids to Wisconsin Dells (must pack) for a couple of days and then Todd and I will be off to Mexico for a few days (must unpack from WI Dells and then repack).

Busy. But a good kind of busy. Fun busy.

This past weekend was fun busy too. Friday night was our free night. We didn't have anything scheduled. I love nights like those. With the weather being back to the 20s (a good 25 degrees below the average for this time of year) we had a nice fire in the fireplace and snuggled together to watch movies.

Saturday Grace had a birthday party to attend and Ben had his Boy Scout pinewood derby. He was super excited to show off his storm chaser truck. Yes, while most boys are asking for race cars, sports cars, or even SpongeBob, Ben asked his daddy to make him a storm chasing truck. Ben and Todd scoured the internet and Ben chose a truck with his hero "Josh" standing in front of it. I tell ya, this kid is destined for meteorology school.
All the kids and parents alike were impressed by the truck and Ben (or let's be honest, Todd) took home a trophy for design. It wasn't the most aerodynamic car there but it still managed to win a race or two. Ben was a happy camper. And Todd was just happy to be done with it.  ;)
Still, the excitement was not over for the day. I had to sing in a concert that evening and because there would be a very special guest that the kids would enjoy I decided this was a good concert for them to attend. Tony Memmel (a pretty amazing guy, not to mention talented) and his band would be performing with the Symphony and Choir and I knew the kids would get a kick out of hearing rock/pop music being performed with a full orchestra. 
It always cracks me up to watch people's reaction to the kids as we walk into the theater to take our seats. You can tell that those who are seated near us are wary of such young kids in an adult venue. It almost feels similar to what you might experience when you bring a baby on a plane. No one wants to sit by the baby on a plane and no one wants to sit next to four young kids at a symphony concert either apparently.

The first half of the concert was the Scheherazade performed by the orchestra. Because I didn't have to sing until the second half I was able to sit with Todd and the kids. Even though this was not the kids' first symphony concert I was still a little nervous as to how they would behave (they were SO HYPER right before the concert) for the formal orchestra music when three minutes into the first song Grace turned to me and said, "I'm bored." Oh dear. The first half did prove to feel a little long for them but they still sat nicely and quietly. They were happy when intermission came and they could get up and walk around a bit. I assured them that the second half would wake them up a bit and hold their attention.

Sure enough, after the concert the kids ran up to me full of excitement and told me how fabulous it was. They loved it. And stranger after stranger came up to Todd and I to congratulate us on what wonderful and well behaved children we have. Todd told me that the kids sat perfectly and were enthralled all throughout the second half.  And apparently all the people sitting around them were not only appreciative of such well behaved kids they all had to tell Todd and I how much they enjoyed sitting near them.

Todd and I took the kids home and even though it was already far past their bedtimes we rewarded their good behavior with popcorn and ice cream and a little bit of a movie. By the time they got to bed is was about 10:30 and they were exhausted. Pretty much all of Sunday (after church) consisted of us trying to catch up on missed sleep. Everyone was overtired, a bit cranky, and grumpy from yet more cold weather.

Now we are back to our regularly scheduled program with a bit of prebirthday/preSpring Break rushing around thrown in there. It will be a hectic week but I console myself knowing that in one week, after all the madness and rushing around, Todd and I will be headed to Mexico for a few days of bliss on the beach.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson