Thursday, September 22, 2011

Slowly, But Surely

Sometimes as an adult you forget who you really are.  Sometimes children, and life, and responsibilities take over so much that you forget what you were really all about to begin with.

Tonight the hubby and I went to see a comedian that was passing through our city.  We have been big fans of Brian Reagan for a number of years now so when we saw that he was making a stop in our little town we immediately booked our tickets and secured our spot for tonight's show. 

It was just what we needed.

Right before we were to leave the hubby and I started arguing.  Something about how I hate always having to be the heavy and he hates always having to take care of work (even when he is at home), and we were both pissed.  I didnt' feel like going out.  He didn't feel like spending any time with me.  But, somehow, we prepped our kids and we left the house for our night out.

First we went to a little restaurant we had never been to before.  We ate English food (fish and chips) and had a few drinks.  The hubby kept on his phone for work, I nearly chucked it out the window, and then finally we were enjoying ourselves.  Just the two of us.  It turned out to be a great dinner.

After a few drinks and a wonderful dinner, we were at the theater, ready for some good ole comic relief. 

Thank God we made it.  I was laughing so hard I seriously had to get up and pee three separate times so I didn't have an accident.  The opening act was so funny and Brian Reagan was a freaking blast.  I felt human again.  I remembered what my old life used to be like.  I remembered what I used to be like.  I felt like me again. 

Slowly but surely, I felt myself coming back again.  Not that I don't love being a mom and a wife, and a homemaker, but something about all of that makes us forget who we were before.   I guess I forgot that I used to be wild.  And FUN.  And I have a great sense of humor.  I don't get to use it a whole lot when I'm barking out orders to "do homework" and "pick up toys" and "eat your dinner", but I'm still there.  That fun-loving girl that really likes to have a good time.  I'm still there.

A couple of times tonight, in between fits of laughter, I turned to Todd and said, "I feel human again.  I feel like me."  I forgot how important that was. 

Yep.  Tonight was just what we needed. 

Yes, I may always miss having a baby, or being pregnant, but there is definitely something special about getting back to me again.  And I may just be ready.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Coming Back

I'm sitting in the basement, currently the warmest room in the house as I have refused to turn on the heat just yet, watching Grace and Ben play with the kitchen set.  It is after lunch and we are all still in our pajamas.  It's just one of those days.  And oh, how I love those days.  After this past week a lazy day is just what I need.

The weather has gone from sweltering summer to cool, brisk fall overnight.  On Monday the boys went off to school in shorts and tee shirts and this morning it was pants, long sleeved shirts, and jackets. 

Our schedule has changed just as dramatically as the weather has.  Exactly what I was dreading when school started.  Our slow, laid back days have given way to drop-offs, pick-ups, football practice and football games, swimming lessons for all four kids all at different times, boy scout meetings, soccer practice, doctor's appointments, and homework.  This week has been especially rough when it seems all of these activities have started at the same time.  I feel as though we were really thrown into the firestorm and I'm left feeling a bit depleted at the moment.

So, yes, we are all huddled in the basement, midday, still in our jammies.  But the kids are fed, so I get points for that, right?

I console myself with the thought that our schedule will slow down a bit when the sports activities are done in a month.  At least that is what I told myself on Monday when I decided to take on yet another endeavor.  This one for myself.

At one point in my life singing and acting and dancing took center stage.  Literally.  Auditioning for a role for a musical or play was just something I was so used to and it was not uncommon for me to be on stage in 3 or 4 shows a year.  Singing alone on stage in front of a few thousand people was my norm.  I would also sing for 5 or 6 weddings a year and was also always part of one choir or another.

For the past twelve years I have had zero contact with the girl that loved the stage.  I have not been part of a choir.  I have not been on stage.  I haven't sung for one wedding.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow, that girl disappeared.

On Monday I went to my first audition in thirteen years.  I was sweating just filling out the audition sheet.  I rolled my eyes as I listed my "experience" and recalled that it was all at least 15 years ago.  Pathetic. 

The Symphony Chorus director sat back and listened with her eyes closed as I sang my song a cappella and  with as much feeling as my shaky breath would allow.  She smiled, told me that my song was one of her all-time favorites, and had me do my scales.  I was pleasantly surprised with my range and the fact that the break I had in my voice when I was younger had now disappeared.

"You're just a little out of shape, aren't you?"  the director chuckled.

"Uh, yes.  I haven't really auditioned for anything in well over a decade so even more than out of shape I'M SO NERVOUS!"  I confided.   The director rolled her eyes and told me she wanted to punch me, whether from the admission of my nerves or the fact that I hadn't been singing in so long I don't know.

"You're nervous?  I'm nervous! I don't want to go after you!"  the next auditionee said loud enough for everyone to hear.     

The director handed me my rehearsal schedule and told me she would see me in a couple of weeks.  And just like that I was back.  I suppose I had never really disappeared.  I was just "on hold" for a little while.

I got home and told Todd and the kids that I was now a part of the Symphony Chorus (the same one I was in 15 years ago) and they all clapped for me, hugged me, and congratulated me. 

Later, as I started to put my rehearsal dates in my calendar I wondered if I had made the right decision in auditioning.  Could our already busy schedule handle one more obligation?  Todd quickly put that thought out of my mind and told me how proud of me he was and that he thinks I am such a great example for our kids.  I don't know about that, but I am looking forward to getting some of "me" back again. 

I don't plan on working my way up to 4 or 5 shows a year again.  But maybe someday I could be in another musical.  Todd has never seen me on stage like that before and I always kind of regretted that.  Plus, it would be neat for my kids to see that their mom is good at something other than making dinner and cleaning toilets.  Maybe someday. 

For now, I'm just happy to have this day to sit in my pajamas with my kiddos in our warm basement.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli


Ever since Todd and I started having children I've been taking family Packer pictures. Once we had a couple of kids Todd and I removed ourselves and now the pic is just the kids in their Packer gear, usually taken on the day of the first game of the season. Typically I blow the picture up and frame it in our living room. Looking back at all of the pictures just amazes me at how quickly life changes.

This year as I took the Packer pictures I couldn't help but look back at the past couple of years and compare how much my kiddos have changed and grown.


Kinda of crazy to see what a few years can do.  And it makes me wistful.  And melancholy.  Oh, the days are so long but the years are so short.

In my quest to get a great Packer picture I decided to venture away from the typical "couch" photo of the last few years (seems I've always had a baby so it was difficult to do anything else) and take the kiddos down the road to the lake for a few shots.  The weather was warm and windy and the waves were huge and beautiful.

This one is by far my favorite shot.  I think it is my new kiddo Packer shot. 

This one really makes me smile.  I'll have to figure out some way to use it.

I love this shot because you can really see each individual personality come shining through.  Love.

This one actually kind of chokes me up a bit. 

This one makes me proud.  Gracie is trying so hard to follow my directions and she did such a great job.  And my boys were being so patient with me.  Just made me proud of them. 
And this one is just cute. 

It is amazing what can happen in just one year.  Or two.  The changes.  The growing.  It is a reminder to me, to let the little things pass.  To grasp what I can while I have it.  Enjoy it.  Relax a little.  It goes quickly. 

(I'll have you know that the kids were all rewarded, handsomely, with playing at the lake and a trip to a nearby park.  Our little photo shoot didn't take very long because my kiddos know me well enough now to understand the the quicker they cooperate the sooner it will all be over and they can play.  They are so smart.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

There He Goes

Yesterday it was Ben's turn to start his school year.  We took the obligatory picture by the front door and then we were off. 
I constantly forget that Ben is only 4 years old.  He does such a good job keeping up with his older brothers that I think I often expect too much from him.  Watching him walk into his brand new school for the first time reminded me how little he still is. 
It was a short day.  The first two school days are only an hour long so that the kids can get used to their teachers and new friends without a three hour day keeping them from their parents.  I think Ben would have preferred the three hour day.  He had a blast.
Today went just as smoothly.  He waved me out of the room and went about his way.  I am happy to report that even though he adores his new class he was still ecstatic to see me and ran up and gave me a big hug.  Can't ask for more than that.

Back to School

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fall Is Here

It's official.  Fall is here.  Okay, I guess it isn't officially here, but all signs definitely point to fall. 

The beginning of school is an obvious sign of fall.  No more carefree days of summer, or swimming, or day trips to the zoo.  Our days are quickly filling up with activities and meetings and sports and rush, rush, rush. 

Labor Day puts one more nail in summer's coffin.  Not only has the weather taken a drastic dip to the 60's but one of our favorite end of summer activities is also done.  The County Fair.

Each year the kids look forward to the fair as one of their very favorite memories.   Of course we knew we would be making the trek to the fair this weekend, but we didn't know when we would be able to squeeze it into our already jam packed weekend.  We were up to our elbows in fall cleaning, meaning we cleaned out the entire garage and basement and then the rest of the house too.  We filled up an entire dumpster full of garbage that we amassed during our addition project plus a ton of stuff that we hung onto from the move that we have never or will never use.  We also donated a whole truck full of baby items and household goods too.  Then I cleaned up my gardens, dug up 80 bulbs that I planted in spring and moved them to the backyard.  Add to that a neighborhood ice cream social, Todd's dad's birthday, a visit to Todd's sister's new house, a million trips to the store, a couple of runs, and playing with the kids, and it was a busy weekend.  Still, we managed to find some time to hit the fair on Sunday evening. 

The skies were ominous.  As we drove the 25 minutes to get to the fairgrounds it began to downpour.  Still we pressed on and the skies cleared by the time we got there.  We did get rained on a little bit later in the evening but we hung out in one of the barns and waited as the rain quickly passed. 

Even with the rain it was a trip we were definitely glad we had made. 

Each year we make it to the fair we can't help but comment over and over again how much our little ones have grown as we watch them go on bigger and bigger rides, walk farther and farther, and get more and more adventurous. 

When I saw the pony rides I knew that was something all of our kiddos could do.  Todd was nervous and kept saying, "I think Grace is too small!  Are you gonna walk next to her?  Should I hold her?  She's gonna be scared!"  But the girl did beautifully.
And she most definitely was not scared.
After that the boys went on the teacups and spun around as fast as they could. 
Gracie had some fun flying in her very own helicopter.
After that the boys were ready to try more daring rides.  I asked Joey if he thought he was big enough to go on The Zipper with me and he happily obliged. It was so surreal sitting in The Zipper with my oldest boy.  I flashed back to 12 years ago when Todd and I sat on the very same ride on one of our first dates, and now here I was with our son on the ride with me. 

It was a moment I will never forget.  We laughed so hard together that we couldn't even make a sound.  The ride seemed to go on forever, first backward, and then forward.  My stomach was lurching and twisting, more from all the laughing than the hundreds of flips in the air.  Finally, Joey stopped laughing long enough to look at me and say, "When is this nightmare gonna end?"  And then we were laughing again.  It was great. 
Poor Tommy and Ben were so bummed that they weren't tall enough to go on The Zipper this year but I promised them that when they were tall enough we would definitely go on together.  To appease them we all went on The Tornado together.  More spinning and flying through the air.  My kids are such daredevils.  I love it. 

After that it was time for some food and then on to the animal barns. 
A highlight of the night was when the boys got to feed the baby goats.  They were thrilled!
I kinda wanted to take one of those sweet little goats home with me. They were adorable. 
After that it was onto the Ferris Wheel.  I hated it.  If it was just Todd and me I wouldn't have been so freaked out, but being in there with my four kiddos with nothing holding them in, (except for my death grip on them) in an open top, in a rocky bucket, was a nightmare.  I tell ya.  I almost had a heart attack.  Every time the boys moved or spoke too loudly I would say, "No!  Don't move!  Stop talking!"  That would just make them laugh more and then I would freak out more.  It was so scary. 
I snapped pictures while we were close to the ground but the minute we started back up I resumed my death grip.  Poor Tommy swore he was gonna have marks on his arm from me holding him so tight.  Stupid ferris wheel.  Hated it.  Give me a roller coaster or The Zipper any day over the stinking ferris wheel. 
Ferris wheel aside, it was a great night.  And even though it was 55 degrees by the time we left we got ice cream on the way out.  And it was delicious. 

The ride home was filled with excited chatter and the heater on full blast.  I urged Grace to sleep a little but she refused, insisting that she wasn't tired.  A few minutes later I turned around and saw Grace asleep so I whispered to the boys, "Quiet now boys, Grace is sleeping."  And from her sleep, with her eyes still closed, Gracie said, "I NOT seepin'!" 

We love our fair.  It was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. 

This next week is proving to be especially busy with Grace's 2 year doctor check up, Ben's first day of school, Joey starting football, Tommy and Ben starting soccer, swimming lessons, work meetings at night for Todd, a meeting with a couple from church for their premarital counseling, and the start of homework projects.  Yep.  Sounds like fall is here. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The First

The first day of September.

The first day of school.

I had been dreading this day for the last few weeks but when Tommy woke up this morning his excitement was catching.  The minute I walked into the room he said, "Mom!  I've been waiting for this day all of my life!  Now I finally can stay at school ALL DAY!"  I was so excited for my little 1st grader that I couldn't help get a little skip in my step too. 

It is usually a fight every morning at the breakfast table when the boys insist on having a chair inbetween each other so that no one is "sitting next to me", "chomping in my ear", "spitting on me", "staring at me", or "touching me".  Ben, being the youngest, is usually treated the harshest and neither of the older boys ever wants to sit by him.  This morning, without prompting, the boys both went and sat next to Benny. 

"I want to sit next to you, Ben, 'cause I won't get to see you all day!  I'm gonna miss you!  You are a very special boy, Ben!"  Tommy said Ben.

Then Joey chimed in, "Yep.  You a very special boy, Ben.  And we'll be so excited for you when you get to start school next week!" 

It was so sweet that it actually made me tear up.  I know how much Ben appreciated it. 
After those loving words of encouragement from his brothers Ben was more than willing to let his brothers have their moment in the spotlight and didn't even want to get in their "First Day of School" picture. 
Then the whole family packed in the car to see the boys off on their first day. 
Tommy was very anxious and of course took the lead.  Wait for us, Tommy!
We went to Tommy's 1st grade classroom first and got him all settled in.  The kid was bursting at the seems, he was so happy.  I was so thrilled for him that I didn't even get emotional. 
Then we went with Joey to his 3rd grade class.  Joey was happy to see all of his friends again, but not quite as excited about school as Tommy.  After all, Joey knows that school means work.  Tommy isn't keen to that just yet.  Still, I think it will be a good year for Joey.  He has a super cool male teacher (that Joey just adores) and I think he is going to have a lot more fun than he realizes.
We said our goodbyes and headed back home.  After I cleaned the house up a bit and started the laundry it was time to make some fun for my homies (my babies still at home with me).  We decided to make "First Day of School" treats.  Everyone got to help.
And then, of course, the best part.
Licking the beaters! It was just enough to make the day fun for my homies. 
The day whizzed by and soon it was time for the bus to drop the kiddos off at the end of the street.  Their cousin just started going to the same school and she takes the bus with the boys back to our house after school.  I know they were excited to ride the bus again, and having their cousin with them made it even more fun.
I just had to get a pic of the kids coming off the bus.  First off the bus was Joe.
And then Tommy.  I think it would be a safe assumption to say he had a good time.
The boys thanked me for the surprise notes in their lunches as they munched on their snacks and told me about the rest of their day.  Then Tommy and Ben played outside while Joey finished up his homework.  Afterwards it was time to relax before dinner.  I think everyone was really worn out because the house was eerily quiet. 
Tonight we are having a special dinner, watching a new movie the kids have been wanting to see, and then we'll enjoy our special dessert.
All in all, it was a good day.  It went pretty smoothly for a first day.  I just hope the rest of the school year goes just as smoothly. 

Now if you'll excuse me.  I'm getting a little emotional.

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