Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Rescue

It was supposed to be a perfect day.  I had looked forward to it for weeks.  Finally, it was my turn for show and tell and I had brought my most prized possession.  The whole class had loved it.  "It was the best show and tell ever!" my friends all told me. They were trilled!  It was even better than I imagined it would be. 

But now.  Now was the moment I had been dreading. 

They were coming.  I just knew it.  They would be coming for me.  Just like every other day.  Except this day I would not be able to outrun them.  Not for two whole blocks.  I just couldn't.  Not while carrying this big box.  What was I going to do?  What could I do? 

My stomach twisted and turned inside me.  My palms were sweating.  I put my fore head down on my desk and let my long hair splay out around me like a big brown mop hiding my face.  A burning flush started to creep up my neck to my face and I couldn't help it.  I couldn't stop it.  The tears started to fall. 

I quietly wrapped my arms around my head so no one could see me crying.  Oh why didn't I just bring my teddy bear for show and tell?  I'd have a chance with my teddy bear but this was going to be impossible.  

Suddenly there was a hand on my back.  I froze. 

I heard her gray wool skirt move as she knelt down beside me.   

"What's wrong, Kathy?  Why are you crying?" she asked.

I sniffed my nose as subtly as I could and kept my head down on my desk with my arms still shielding me. 

"I'm okay." I answered mortified.  How could I let my favorite teacher in the whole wide world see my crying? 

"Is there something wrong?" she asked again.

"Well.  I just... I don't know what to do."  I broke down.

"Tell me." she said gently.

"Well, every day on the way home from school Trent and Bobby chase me.  Sometimes I can outrun them.  But sometimes they catch me.  And when they catch me they make me hold their hands all the way home.  A lot of times I am faster than them, cuz I'm pretty fast, but I can't run faster than them today because I've got to carry my guinea pig!  And if they catch me and make me hold their hands I'm gonna drop her!  I just know it!  And I can't run with Piggy because then she will bounce all around and I don't want to hurt her!  And I know they are gonna chase me today because they told me so! I don't want to drop her!  I don't know what to do!"  I cried desperately.

"Well I tell you what we are going to do, Kathy.  I'm going to have Bobby and Trent help me clean the blackboards after school for ten or fifteen minutes and that should give you plenty of time to get home.  How does that sound?"  she said with a smile in her voice.

Slowly I lifted my head, feeling relief gush out of me. 

"That sounds good." I said, finally able to break a smile. 

Just then the bell rang.  I jumped up, wiped the tears from my eyes with the back of my sleeve, and got my red, hand-me-down windbreaker jacket on as quickly as I could.  I swiftly checked my shoes to make sure I tied them good and tight.  I certainly didn't want anything tripping me up today.  I ran over to the window sill grabbed my beloved Piggy in her box and headed to the door.  As I got to the doorway I glanced back at my teacher and gave her my best smile.  She winked at me and waved me out the door.  Just as I was leaving I heard her say, "Trent and Bobby?  Would you help me?"  

The sun was warm on my back as I cautiously walked down the sidewalk holding the large cardboard box that my mom had given me to carry Piggy.  Every few steps I would cautiously look behind me just to make sure no one was following me.  But I was safe.  They would not follow me today. 

"Wasn't that the best day ever, Piggy?"  I asked as I looked down into the box.  "I just knew it would be."

This week's RemembeRED assignment was to write a memoir about kindergarten and I thought I'd give it a try. It is my first time joining in, so be gentle. 
It was a toss up between writing this story or writing about the time this same favorite teacher of mine dressed up as a witch for April Fool's Day and told us she was our new teacher (a la the book Mrs. Nelson Is Missing).  She was an AWESOME teacher. Let's hear it for awesome and memorable teachers, y'all!  Woot woot! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Is A First

This has never happened to us before.  We heard stories of it happening.  We empathized with other parents.  We nodded and gave hugs and offered our condolences, but secretly we were smug.  After all, we have three boys and it had never happened to us!  It was like a small miracle that we escaped this one nasty little mishap. 

But then the other night I was giving my little princess a bath and just like that our perfect record was tarnished.  One minute she was splashing and playing and I was oohing and aahing and laughing with her, and the next minute she was standing up with a weird look on her face.

"Uh-oh!  Oowie!" Grace said to me as she began to scrunch up her precious little face.

Immediately I knew what was about to happen and I sprang forward and swooped her up out of the bath.  Just a fraction of a second too late.

Grace had pooped in the bath.  My sweet little girlie-girl princess left a huge brick in the bathtub for me to fish out.

I sat her on the toilet as I cleaned out the bathtub and all of her bath toys.  The whole time I was saying, "Yucky!  Don't poopy in the bathtub!  That's gross!  Yucky!"  Grace watched carefully and repeated back to me, "Poop!  Ucky!"
"Gracie!  What did you do?  Did you poopy in the bathtub?"  I asked her again and again.

"No." She answered, using her most favorite word.

"Yes you did!  No poopy in the bathtub!  Uck!"  I kept reminding her.

Eventually she got the idea.  I hope.   

At least she had the sense to look properly embarrassed about it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break Wrap Up

Today is the last day of the boys' spring break and we are finishing the week off with another balmy 26 degree day.  Such lovely spring break weather. 

Still, we tried to fill the week with as much fun as we could, despite mother nature taking a crap on our plans. 

At the beginning of the week we took the boys to an indoor waterpark near our house.  Outside it was snowing and super cold but inside it was 84 degrees and full of fun. 

Todd and I couldn't get over the difference from the last time we'd taken the kids to the waterpark.  Last year none of our kids could swim (though they had had a billion swim lessons they were still too chicken to put their faces in the water for more than a second) and trying to hang on to all four kids while "having a good time" seemed impossible.   This year Joey is swimming and Tommy and Ben are very comfortable in the water.  Last year Ben screamed and cried each time the huge bucket of water dumped all the water out on the people standing under it.  This year he raced over so he was sure to get dumped on.  Last year none of the boys wanted to go down the kiddie slide and this year all three of the boys were going down the big slides on their own and Grace was happy to go down the kiddie slide.  It was so exciting. 

Even the big kids had fun going down the slides. 
It was a great day. 

The next day Grace was sick.  We had planned on going up north and doing some skiing for the rest of the week, but I really didn't want to take Grace up north and hang out in the cold with her when she wasn't feeling well.  Todd decided to have some boys' time and took all three monkeys up north with him for three days.  After a harrowing six hour drive (it normally takes three hours) through a blizzard and towing a pickup out of the ditch with the Suburban (the boys' highlight of the trip) they finally got up north to the cabin.  They skied.  They went tubing.  They built forts.  They had a blast.  It wasn't exactly the weather we planned to have fun in for spring break, but it definitely worked out for them. 

Meanwhile back at home, Grace and I stayed in and watched some movies while she recuperated.  On Thursday morning after the massive snowstorm I got up early to snowblow the driveway and ended up shoveling the whole driveway for two hours after our snowblower broke.  It did not make me happy.  Thursday was a really rough day for Grace too as she had a pretty high temperature and was just a poor little potato.  Our spring break was not going so well.  I spent the remainder of the day feeling sorry for myself.  Feeling replaceable and unnecessary.  And pretty much being a big baby that I was home on my butt while my boys and husband were skiing and sledding and having a great spring break.

Still, there were moments.  Precious moments.  Gracie nuzzled into my arm watching Snow White together.  Reading books.  Playing kitchen.  Her constant hugs and kissies.  She is my little buddy.  And I really did relish our time together. 

Friday Grace was feeling a bit better so we went shopping.  That made me feel better too.  Ha!  I bought a few pictures and curtains and homey things for the house.  I got out Todd's power tools (I love his power tools) and got to work.  I fixed up my bathrooms and they looked so good that it turned my mood around.

Saturday the menfolk came back home and all was truly well again.  Todd was exhausted from entertaining the boys for three days of nonstop action so we all just snuggled up and hunkered down in the house.  It was so good to have my family back again.

Today was the last day of spring break.  Todd and I bundled the kids up, plunked them in the car and took them to a nearby woods for a nice, long walk.  The boys immediately found walking sticks, Todd plopped Gracie on top of his shoulders, and I let Molly off of her leash so she could get some of her pent up energy out. 

Single file we walked on the familiar path.  Molly would run 20 yards ahead of us and then turn around and make her way back to us for her "Good girl!" praise.  The boys tromped around pointing out the geese on the river and the cardinals in the trees.  Grace pleaded and begged to walk and did an amazing job keeping up the the boys through the snow once we finally put her down. 

We made it to the teepee in the woods.  The boys' favorite spot.  Grace went inside the teepee with her brothers and squealed as Molly ran in and out of the opening.  Even I was excited to see the giant teepee and had to giggle to myself as the boys told me how "real live Indians probably made this teepee!!!!" 

We continued on up the big hill.  Soon we slipped and slid back down the hill on the other side, with Joey doing a major faceplant at the bottom.  Momentum mixed with gravity is just not your friend sometimes.  Still, we all had a good laugh at it.  Even Joey. 

The boys praised their sister for being such a trooper and a good hiker and pointed out all the muddy spots and sticks to avoid.  Every once in a while Todd or I would pick her up and carry her for a bit of the hour long walk but it wasn't long before she was begging to be put back down again.  The girl has her own mind and definitely loves her independence.  I wonder where she gets that from. 

As we walked back to the car we heard turkeys in the distance and saw a bright red cardinal on a nearby tree.  I cursed myself for not bringing my camera as I watched my littles making their way out of the woods.  I guess this is just one I while have to file away in my mind's eye.  It was a really good way to end spring break.

Dinner is in the oven.  A fire is being started in the fireplace.  One of the last fires of the season (I'm sure).  The kids are all playing nicely together and everything is right. 

It wasn't the vacation I imaged.  I suppose they rarely are.  But it was a good one, nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ahhh... Spring

(Taken early this morning)

On Monday we saw signs of life.  Ninety percent of the huge snow piles had melted giving way to grass and sidewalks.  Yesterday it started sleeting and snowing and everything was covered in a thick blanket of ice.  Today it looks like a blizzard outside.  Everything is covered in snow (with sheets of ice underneath) and it will continue to snow all day. 

So glad that the boys' spring break is this week, what with the lovely weather and all. 

Monday, March 21, 2011


Animal lover
Football fanatic
Daddy follower
Nature enthusiast


A world class sharer
A snuggler
Push-ups pro
A budding artist
Friend to all

Early riser
Sleep avoider
Big talker
Full of curiousity

Lover of:
Life Cereal
Looney Tunes
Sea Creatures
Up North
Big Trucks

Loving brother
Caring friend
Fabulous son

Today you are six. 
Six wonderful years of you.
Happy Birthday, Tommy!
I am so proud of you.
I love you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WW & You Capture- Emotion



Monday, March 14, 2011

Proof of Time

It is going on five o'clock and the sun is still as bright in the sky as it is midday.  The longer hours of sun and the stretching shadows on the emerging grass tell of another winter's (hopeful) passage. 

The boys are outside riding bikes up and down the street and I am inside preparing dinner.  No longer do I stand in the driveway watching every pass up and down the street, keeping my eye on any possibility of a fall, or a bump, or a coming car.  My boys are wise enough to watch for themselves on our quiet cul de sac.

When we first moved into this house a year and a half ago my mom brought over a huge box too heavy for her to lift unassisted.  Inside were journals I'd written in high school and college, scripts from shows I'd been in, a few awards and medals, letters friends had written to me, sheet music from my favorite solos, and poetry from admiring young men who had pledged their devotion to me.  I searched further into the huge box and found poetry and letters I had written.  I thought of how pathetic that girl was as I read her letters begging those same admiring young men to love her still, and felt badly that we shared a body.  How different I was once upon a time.

I read the girl's excitement at new love.  I peeped in on some of the most intimate thoughts and remembered them as if they were mine.  Are mine.  As I read I felt her wavering esteem and listened to her crack under loneliness.  My heart broke for that girl all over again.

For me.

It is so odd looking back and seeing how far I've come.  In both good and bad ways.  I am so sorry for the girl that I was.  And yet very proud too.  All the good and the bad, I'm glad she (I) went through it.  Bringing me to exactly where I am today.  Where I am supposed to be.

I'll hang on to that box.  Every once in a while I'll look at it and I'll remember.  I'll remember how I was on stage (they said I "glowed").  I'll remember that once upon a time I was a girl that young men would write poetry about (though I always thought I was quite plain).  I'll remember my wild teenage emotions (the height of happiness and the bottom of depression).  I'll remember the devastating heartbreak and sorrow (the hopelessness, the loneliness).  I'll remember it all.  I know it will come in handy again someday.  Time is marching on and one day my own will have the same emotions I did.  They will come to me with their heartbreak and their sorrow and I will comfort them.  Watching them hurt will be worse than my own pain.  But I will understand.  And I'll be there for them.  Because I will remember.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Thursday

Outside my window... it is sunny and bright and some of the "lovely" 4 inches of snow we received yesterday is melting.

Today I feel... SORE.  Sore from the extra long runs I've been taking every other day (6 miles).  Sore from shoveling and snowblowing my neighbor's driveway and then my driveway yesterday.  Sore from lack of sleep.  Sore.

I am thinking... I should shower and eat some lunch before Joey gets home from school and the rest of the kids wake up from their naps.

I am thankful... for a full nights rest last night.  And that Russell was voted off of Survivor last night!  HAHA! 

Tomorrow I am going... to try and take it easy.  It has been a rough week.

I am wearing... my running clothes.  I just got off the treadmill.

I wish... we had summer all year round.

This weekend I... would love to be able to run outside for once.  The treadmill is getting very boring.

I need to start... putting all my pictures in my albums. I'm way behind.

I am reading... a lot about giant squid.  I'm helping Joey with a report he is doing for school.  :)

I am working on... being a more joyful person.  But also not being so hard on myself.

I hear... Gracie crying.  Oh great.  There goes my food and shower.  Pooh.

Yesterday I... felt like death all day.  I was going on about 3 hours of sleep in a 48 hour period, and I did way too much on top of it all. 

I am hoping... Tommy has fully recovered from his nasty virus and no one else gets it.

I bet you didn't know... I am almost to my goal weight!!!  Woot woot!  I never thought I would be here again.  My running is going better than ever, and I still eat what I want.  It is crazy.  Running is the BEST.  To think that just a few years ago I loathed running and now I love it.  Nuts. 

Something I'm looking forward to is... Summer!  No schedule!  Fresh fruit!  The smell of the grass.  Planting flowers and veggies.  Swimming.  Trips to the park.  Picnics.  Bonfires.  Riding bikes.  Warm weather.  Sundresses.  Long walks.  Trips up north.  Camping.  Ahhhhh.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Finding Joy

It was another bad night last night.  Possibly worse than the night before.  Not only was there vomit, but there was also explosive diarrhea that could not be controlled.  So, there were about 5 jammie changes and 3 changes of the sheets.  Poor little Tommy was trying to be such a good sport, but he was miserable.  I felt really badly for him.  He is still suffering through it today.

As I dragged myself down the hallway to Tommy's room for the fifth time last night I glanced out the window and saw this:
Another three inches was deposited in our yard and it has continued to snow all day today.  It might look pretty, but not in March.  And it did nothing to help me feel better this morning after another sleepless night.  I am so sick of this cold, dreary, snowy weather.  I was foolishly thinking that March would bring spring and yet there is no spring in sight.  *sigh*
Just a few short weeks ago this weather combined with sick kiddos would have had me depressed and grumpy.  I would no doubt be moping around the house mumbling to myself about how I had such a hard job, how my kids were driving me crazy, how I just had to have some sleep, how no one seems to care how much work I do, how no one is grateful.  It would have been a downward spiral of negativity. 

I don't know if I was thinking that all those negative thoughts would make me feel better, or if I felt I was just venting, or what.  But what I didn't realize was how it affected the people that meant the most to me.  I thought that if I kept those negative thoughts to myself no one would be affected at all.  But those negative thoughts seeped into my words and actions like thick, black smoke.  My attitude let everyone know that everything was work.  Everything was hard.  Everything was a hassle.  And it did affect my family.  They could feel it. I didn't know how much until Todd and I got into an argument and he told me I was miserable and no one wanted to be around me.  It was a shocker.  But it really woke me up. 

Somwhere in the past few months I had lost my joy. 

At our wedding our priest, and very good friend, read from John 15:9-12.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

After the priest read the passage he went on to talk about joy.  He spoke about how important it is to live your life with joy and how he wished for Todd and I to have joy in our lives and in our married life. 

I thought of all of this when I contemplated my recent attitude.  Where had my joy gone?  How had I gone from enjoying my family, my children, my husband to acting like they were bothersome?   And how could I let them feel that from me for even a second of their lives?

I knew I needed to change my attitude immediately.  While I was not speaking to Todd for the day and a half following our little argument I realized something.  I was much more pleasant to be around when I wasn't speaking.  That is not good.  Apparently, I was spewing much more negativity than I thought.  Instead, I began speaking only when absolutely necessary and when I needed to reprimand the kids I did so in a sugar sweet way as if to say to Todd, "See!  I'm so pleasant and the children LOVE to be around me."  In doing that I also saw how much better the kids responded to me.  I realized if I could behave like that for a day and a half to prove a point to Todd then I could certainly do it all the time to be a better mother to my kids.  It really was an eye opener.

But getting out of the negativity takes constant reminders. I needed to constantly remind myself to bite my tongue.  I went online and found a mother and child necklace that I love.  On the back it says, "A mother's arms are made of tenderness."  Yes!  That was exactly the reminder I needed.  I bought that necklace along with a necklace of the Virgin Mary (who could be a better model of a mother?) and when I got them a few days later I wore them both constantly (you can probably see the necklaces in a couple of the pictures from our trip to the museum).  Feeling the necklaces around my neck, and remembering the words engraved on the back, helped to keep me focused. 

It seems to me that everything happens for a reason.  Even that ridiculous argument Todd and I had happened for a reason.  Good came out of it.  The weeks that followed have been a blessing.  Have I been perfect?  No way.  But my attitude has changed.  I feel like I have changed.  I am more myself again. These last few weeks I have definitely liked me more and I think my family has too.  I can see clearly again.

Everyone has bad days.  Everyone gets grumpy and nasty sometimes.  But what bothered me was thinking about the possibility that I could have made my children and my husband feel like they were a burden.  Never, ever, do I want my family to question my love or devotion to them.  They are the best and most precious part of my life, and I know I was not expressing that to them enough. 

I want to be their warm, cozy, nest that they can hide in from the rest of the world.  I want to be the one place they can come to when they need comfort or fun or laughter or rest or energy or help or creativity or warmth or love or tenderness.  I want to show them how to live their lives with joy. 

Motherhood is hard.  It really exposes all of our flaws and our failings.  It forces you to hold a mirror up to yourself and it is not always the picture you thought you'd see.  I am definitely a work in progress.  But what I do realize is that if I want my children to be joyful and loving and compassionate and kind and patient then that is the person I need to be.  I can not make my children behave one way or the other, but I can be a good example for them as to how they should behave.  That is what I am striving to do.  I just want to be better.  And in trying to be better I am finding my way.  I'm finding my joy.

Today is Ash Wednesday.  It is the start of the Lenten season.  Although I was not able to make it to mass this morning as I had planned I was able to think about what I want to get out of these next 40 days.  I want to live with joy and love leading my life.  I want to be the mother that God had intended for my children.  I want to be an example for them.  I want to be calm and compassionate and caring even in the most difficult circumstances.  Instead of giving up sweets or promising not to eat after 8:00 at night, I'm gonna work on me.  I'm going to work on being better.  And living with joy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pulling An All-Nighter

When I was younger "pulling an all-nighter" meant something completely different than it does now.  It used to mean I was up all night studying for something.  Or it meant I was out dancing and having fun with my friends all night. 

Last night I pulled an all-nighter and I wasn't studying or partying.  I was cleaning up vomit.  I'd rather be partying.  Or even studying.  All-nighters just are not as fun as they used to be.  One minute I'm texting my best friend as we watch ridiculous tv, and the next minute I'm cleaning up vomit for hours on end. 

Tommy is feeling better this morning.  No more vomit (of course as soon as I write that down and hit Publish I have jinxed it and I'm sure he will vomit again).  He has gotten some Children's Motrin down and has kept it down, so he is much more comfortable now too.  Hopefully he can try to catch up on his sleep today but I'm not planning on it.  The kid loathes sleep.  He has since birth.  I was reminded of this last night as he rolled and moaned and whined in bed with me all night long. 

I felt so badly and asked him, "Does your tummy hurt?  Are you feeling icky?"  

He just answered calmly, "No.  I feel fine now."

Confused, I asked, "Then why are you whining?"

Tommy said, "I just like to."

That went on for four hours.  Tommy whining and whining.  Me asking if he felt badly.  Tommy telling me he felt fine but he just liked whining for no reason.  No matter how I begged and pleaded him to be quiet he would not stop.  Even when he continued to tell me he felt fine he kept whining.  It was bizarre.  It was like I was transported back in to when he was a wee baby refusing to sleep.  I guess some things never change.  Thank God the kid has his own room now.  I can't believe I made Joey and Ben share a room with this kid for so long.  No wonder they were always tired.

Finally, I couldn't take any more needless and endless whining.  I took Tommy back to his bed, tucked him in, and let him whine 'til his heart's content. 

That was at 4:30 in the morning.  An hour later as I was just beginning to relax and let myself fall asleep Tommy came back in my room and said he was feeling achy.  I gave him a dose of medicine, stayed with him for a while to make sure his tummy could handle it, and then tucked him back in his bed once again.  I think I got about a half an hour of sleep before I had to start getting Joe and Ben ready for school.

I no longer like all-nighters.

Mornings like this help answer Ben's question about why I love coffee so much. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Apparently, I Don't Know Anything

At the beginning of this school year we were becoming concerned about Ben's speech.  We always knew he was a tad slower in the language development, but we didn't know if we thought that because Joey was such a big talker and Tommy was talking in full sentences at 18 months old, or if he really was delayed.  Our pediatrician told us he was doing fine and to keep an eye on it.  When we saw Ben with his classmates we could tell he was a bit behind some of the other kids.  He always had a lot to say, but we often didn't know what he was talking about.  His teacher brought the same concerns to us at a parent/teacher conference a few months ago.  We even talked to a speech therapist about our concerns and decided to give it a little more time before intervening. 

We no longer have any concerns.  In just a few months Ben has made some major progress.  I've been working with him on slowing down his speech when he gets excited and have been helping him correct his mispronunciations.  He has been a very good sport about having to repeat and repeat certain words with me, and his brothers have been very encouraging to him as well.  Now he can carry on conversations with strangers and they understand about 90% of what he says.  For a four year old, I think that is pretty good. 

However, the problem now is that he is so confident in his speaking abilities that he never stops.  Ever.  A twenty minute car ride to the store has become torturous.  And while I am certainly proud of him, and happy he is doing so well, a break in the conversation would be nice. 

And the questions!  My word, the questions.  How did I forget about this 4 year old phase?  Egad.  With the constant barrage of questions I have come to realize that I am an idiot.  I can't tell you how many times a day I say, "I don't know."  Sometimes it just seems like a quicker answer, and sometimes I really don't know.  Either way, the phrase is definitely overused by me.

The following took place this morning on a ten minute car ride to the grocery store.

Ben:  Mom, how fast do our wheels go?

Me:  As fast as I want them to.

Ben:  How fast are they going now?

Me: About 30 miles per hour.

Ben:  How fast is that?

Me:  About this fast.

Ben: What fast?

Me: Sigh

Knowing he wasn't going to get an answer out from that one he continued on.

Ben:  Is that your car wash?

Me:  I don't have a car wash, honey.

Ben:  Is that a new car wash?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  Does it have big brushes in it?

Me:  Probably.

Ben:  Are the brushes blue?

Me:  Maybe.

Ben:  Or are the brushes red?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  Can we get a car wash?

Me:  No honey, we don't have time for that today.

Ben:  Why are the clouds moving so fast today?

Me: Umm, I don't know.

Ben:  Where is your heart?  Is it here?

Me:  No, that is your shoulder.  I'll have to show you later, I'm driving now, okay?

Ben:  Can we make cookies today?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  How fast is a lion?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  Faster than our car?

Me:  No.

Ben:  Is daddy's truck faster than your car?

Me:  No. They are about the same.

Ben:  What color is this car again?

Me:  A tannish gold, I guess.

Ben:  How do they make that?

Me:  I don't know.  Hey Ben?  Mommy needs a some quiet for a little bit, could you stop with the questions?

Ben:  Okay.

Five seconds later.

Ben:  How long do I have to be quiet?

Me:  A couple minutes.

Ben:  Is that long?

Me:   No.

Ben:  How come Gracie gets to talk?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  Can we get some bakery at the store?

Me:   No.

Ben:  Why not?

Me:  Because we don't need any.  I thought you were going to stop asking me questions.

Ben:  Why?

Me:  Why what?

Ben:  Who is that?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  Why not?

Me:  Because I don't know every person in this city.

Ben:  Why?


Ben:  Why is winter so long?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  When is it gonna get warmer?

Me:  Soon

Ben:  How soon?

Me:  I don't know. 

Ben:  Why do you like coffee so much?

Me:  I don't know.

Ben:  How fast...

Me:  Ben?  I'm not going to answer anymore questions right now.

Ben:  Why?


Whatever keeps you quiet!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On The Go

Before I had children I pictured myself with kids.   I saw myself taking them to the zoo and the parks and museums and restaurants.  I imagined spontaneous trips to the city and road trips and family vacations.  It was the very picture of blissful family life.

After having kids I realize now that those images rarely play out in real life as they did in my head.  Spontaneous trips with four children just don't happen often.  And when you do manage to take the kids on a fun trip there are usually still a fair amount of less than blissful moments.  With four kids someone can always be grumpy, or sassy, or whiny, or sick, or needy, or angry (or, or, or) at any given moment.  I have learned to accept that our family trips aren't always the picture I had in my mind.  But I still try.

It was 10:00 on Saturday morning when Todd and I decided it was time to get out of town.  We had been thinking about taking the kids up north again this weekend for another ski trip, but I just didn't have the energy for that. So there we were on Saturday morning with no plans for the day, but a desperate need to do something fun.  Something different.  We opted to go to the Milwaukee County Museum.  The kids had never been there before and I haven't been in such a long time I thought perhaps we were due.

We got everyone ready in record time and took the one hour road trip to Milwaukee to see how this spontaneous decision would pan out.

I can honestly tell you that it was an absolutely magical day.       

The boys eyes just about popped out of their heads as they walked through the museum.  It was one thing after the next and they just couldn't decide where to look.  I was oohing and aahing right along with them, our excitement bouncing off each other.  I felt like a little kid again as I ran from exhibit to exhibit calling the kids to me to, "Look, look, look!"
They saw all of their favorites.  Dinosaurs, a giant squid, all kinds of animals, all different lands and places, a rainforest, an igloo, a teepee.
It was so much fun the boys didn't even realize just how much they were learning.  It doesn't get better than that!

One of the highlights of the museum was the butterfly exhibit.  Hundreds of butterflies flying around all over, landing on your head and shoulder and sometimes in your hand. 
The minute we walked into the room we were in awe.
We were all so excited to see such beautiful butterflies up close.
I love how Grace and I mimic each other's expression in this picture.  It made me laugh when I saw it.   
Gracie really wanted to hold that butterfly.
And so did I.  Butterflies are my absolute favorite so I was squealing and laughing just as much (probably more) than the kids. 
If it wouldn't have been 300 degrees in that butterfly room I think I would have stayed there for the remainder of the day.  Alas, we moved on. 
We all had our favorites.  Joey, of course, was thrilled to find a hammerhead, one of his current and longest obsessions.
Tommy loved the moose and the tigers.
Ben agreed with me and loved the butterflies the best, but I know he really liked the candy shop in Old World Wisconsin too.
Finally, after almost four hours of nonstop walking we decided to head out.  The kids were so perfectly behaved and well mannered the entire time we were there.  It was a no brainer to Todd and I that they deserved a treat.  We took them to the gift shop and let them pick out a souvenir for being such great kids.  They each picked out a small stuffed animal, and after we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee they all passed out in the car for the ride home, still clutching their animals.

It was a perfect day.  The same exact kind of day I dreamed of before I knew what it meant to have children.  It was a gift. 

The rest of the weekend was lovely too.  We switched the boys rooms around once again so that my oldest boy (Joe) is now sharing a room with the youngest (Ben).  This because the two younger boys did nothing but get each other in trouble at bedtime when they were sharing the room.  Now the oldest (and by far my best sleeper) is able to keep his youngest brother in line and my middle boy (Tommy) is able to fall asleep faster in his own room without any distractions.  And everyone is happy (even Joey, who I didn't think would want to give up his own room but was excited to sleep on the top bunk again.  Wow)! Ahhh. More success! 

Yes.  It was a truly fabulous weekend.  And I'm still trying to get into the swing of things as the week (and March!) begins.  Running here and there. Grocery shopping, shopping for art supplies for a project for Joey, doctor's appointments, laundry, meetings.  And today Joey came home from school a bit early because he felt sick.  Poor kiddo.  He even skipped dinner, so I know he really wasn't feeling good.  And now tomorrow I have jury duty.  Gah!  What next!  I have jury duty all month, actually, and have been summoned to appear tomorrow.  Good grief. 

Life keeps going.  Faster and faster.  We are always on the go. 

It makes me especially glad for the spontaneous excursion we had.  For a little while time seemed to stand still. And I will always remember that day.

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