Saturday, June 29, 2013

They're Back

My babies are back home, safe and sound.

All is well in my household again.  My family is back together.

Honestly, it all worked out pretty well.  The boys came home with lots of great stories but also with thankful hearts.  They were glad to be home.  They missed us.  Todd tells me that this is why it is important to let them do stuff like this.  Hmm... I'm still debating that, but it was nice to hear the boys tell me again and again how much they missed us.  And they showed it too.  Both of them had $40 of their own money to spend at the camp store and they both used half of it on their family.  Tommy bought Todd and I coffee mugs, Gracie got a pink stuffed piggy, and Ben got some Boy Scout badges.  Joey splurged and got Ben a pocket knife (I'll be holding on to that for a while) since he didn't get to go to a camp this year.  Such sweet, thoughtful boys.

Truth be told, I couldn't be prouder of my boys.  Both of their scout leaders pulled Todd aside and told them how our boys were the very best behaved of all the scouts.  They listened, were polite and helpful, and behaved perfectly.  Both scout leaders told Todd that they wished all of the boys behaved like Joey and Tommy.  One leader even said he hoped his son learned a thing or two from Joey.

Makes my mommy heart so proud.

Now we are resting up (the boys are so exhausted) and awaiting our houseguests.  My best friend and her family should be here in a little while and will be staying with us for 4 days.  I can't wait to see them all again.

There is no shortage of excitement around here.  By the time it is all said and done I think we will all be good and exhausted.

Fun and exhausting, just as summer should be.

Friday, June 28, 2013

PSF- Not The Same

This is Tommy and Joey.  My two oldest boys.  I understand some time may have passed since these photos were taken but this is pretty much how I still see them.  
So, you will understand my concern when my two oldest babies came to me this past spring begging to go to Boy Scout camp in summer.  The very first thought that popped into my head was, "Oh, HELL to the no."  Before you judge me take another look at the pictures above.  My babies, people.  Okay?  

Todd, on the other hand, seemed to think it was a fabulous idea.  He kept spewing stuff about how it will be "good for them" and blah, blah, blah.  I don't know.  I didn't hear half of it.  All I could think of was "My babies!"  


Apparently, my argument for not letting them go, "Because I don't want them to!", didn't hold up and the boys were signed up for camp.  

This past week the preparations were made.  Travel sized toiletries, bug spray, and sunscreen were purchased, along with brand new flashlights and batteries, camp chairs, and healthy snacks.  Wednesday morning came and together the boys and I packed up the suitcases with their clothes and made sure they had every last thing they needed. 

The boys knew I wasn't a huge fan of letting them go.  "I know you two will be fine." I told them.  "I just  like being the one taking care of you."  I didn't happen to mention the fact that I don't trust anyone else to take care of my babies like I do. And I know bad things could still happen if my kids were with me but at least I would be with them.   

"I know mom." Joey said.  "But, you know when you just sometimes want to be by yourself?  Yeah.  I am kind of like that too.  No offense to you or anything.  I just like to, ya know, be by myself sometimes." I nodded and told him I understood. 

"Yeah, mom.  I'm gonna miss you, but I really want to go off on my own. When I'm by myself I feel kinda proud of myself and grown up and stuff. No offense." Tommy told me. I wasn't offended. I was proud. And I let them know it.  

To make myself feel a little better, and because I'm paranoid, the kids and I read "I Said No" yet again. The perfect book that makes them feel empowered without freaking them out.  They love that book.  I love that book.  I think we both felt better after reading it again.  

We went over rules.  We went over safety.  We talked about how they are representing not only themselves but their family too and they need to be the good boys we know they are.  

Then it was all over but the crying. Okay, fine, I didn't cry. I held it together for them. But I wanted to cry.
See?  Babies, people!  MY babies!

The boys let me hug and kiss all over them for a good, long time before they left.  

Joey's camp is two hours away and he was the first to leave at 11:00. Tommy soon followed at 12:30 to set off for his camp 30 minutes from us. An hour later Grace heard a car door outside and she excitedly said, "Are the boys back?"  I explained the boys would not be home for a few days and she told me she missed them already.  Ben and I agreed.  

I've been checking the weather at both of the camps incessantly.  There have been thunderstorms.  I'm sure Tommy was fine in his cabin, but Joey and his troop were staying in tents. And I can't call them. I don't like that. If I could just talk to them and hear how they are doing that would help. But no. 

So, I worry. It's what I do. 

It's been weird around here. So much quieter. You'd think I'd enjoy that but I don't. It's eerie. Ben and Grace play calmly with each other and bore quickly. Mealtimes and bedtimes go so much faster. Playing outside isn't as thrilling.  Even going swimming wasn't as much fun without Tommy and Joey with us. And to think we have a whole other day and night to get through yet.  

It's not the same around here without them. We are ready for them to be home. I want my babies back.  I don't like this whole growing up thing. I'm not good at letting go no matter how slowly I have to learn how to do it. 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


The bench is steaming hot and the exposed skin on my legs burns as I sit down.  I pull my ponytail holder off my wrist, gather my hair together, and whip my hair up and off of my neck.  The boys have already settled in on the playground.  Tommy and Joey are digging in the sand and Ben is hanging from the monkey bars.  I glance at my watch.  Thirty-five minutes to go.

I pick up my homemade iced coffee and take a sip.  It cools and revives me at the same time.  It is so humid I can feel the moisture settling into my skin.  I set my coffee down and grab my book trying to take my mind off the sweat dripping down my back.  Soon I'm swept up into my book.

Before I begin the next chapter I take another look at my watch.  Not even ten minutes have passed.  I steal a glance around the playground and find the boys chasing each other around.  They run up the slides, down the slides, across the monkey bars, up the climbing wall. Finally they settle in the area below the slides and start up some imaginary world on a submarine.  I wonder if they know how lucky they are to have each other.

My mind wanders back to a time when three boys was all I knew.  My heart swells with memory.

A large group of kids from the YMCA's daycare come bounding onto the playground. Immediately the playground breaks into two distinct groups. Boys are playing on one side and girls on the other. I laugh at the separation and return my attention back to my book.

"Are you Ben's mom?" a little boy that I recognize asks me.

"Yep!" I answer as I place my bookmark in my book.

"Yeah.  I go to school with him."  the cute little blond boy tells me.

"I know!  You're Caleb, right?" I say back.

"Uh-huh!  My teacher doesn't let us bring cars to the park but I did anyway." Caleb announces and shows me his pockets full of Hot Wheels.

"Well aren't you a little stinker!" I feign shock.  "Don't worry. I won't tell. Just don't lose them, okay?" I remind him.

"I have so many cars. They are everywhere. It doesn't matter."  he tells me as he runs off calling for Ben.

My eyes follow Caleb back to the playground and I notice Joey trying to help a little boy reach the highest exercise bar. Joey wraps his arms around the boy's waist and lifts him. The boy stretches and reaches with all his might but his fingertips still come up a couple inches shy of the bar. Joey sets him down, wraps his arms around the boys thighs and lifts him again. The boy's fingertips just brush the bar.  Joey sets him down again and looks up at the bar. Joey and the boy talk for a few seconds and then Joey gets down on his hands and knees and instructs the boy to stand on his back. Holding on to the pole next to him the boy does as he is told and finally reaches the bar.  Both of the boys let out a "Yay!" as the young boy dangles by his hands for a few seconds and then drops to the ground.  Joey gives him a high five and goes about his business on the playground with his new little shadow following after.

"Mom! Hey, Mom! Watch this!" Tommy yells to me.  I find Tommy on the monkey bars and watch as he skips one bar and then two on his way across.  "Did you see that? I can skip bars!"  He shouts.

"Cool!" I answer back and toss him a thumbs up.

"Watch this!" Tommy repeats as he goes back across the monkey bars again and again.

This goes on for a few minutes.  Each of my boys playing the "watch me" game and vying for my attention.  Accolades and thumbs up are given out to each boy until they are satisfied and find something else to occupy themselves with.

I pick up my book again but am immediately distracted by the girls screaming on the merry-go-round type of apparatus a few yards from me.  There are 8 or 9 girls sitting on the circle demanding that the boys come over and push them.  Two good-natured fellows take on the challenge.  Round and round the girls go while the boys huff and puff. The circle does not spin easily and stops the minute the boys take a rest.  The girls are not satisfied.  They insist the boys go faster and tell them they are wimps when they don't succeed.  The boys finally get fed up and leave the girls to push themselves.  I shake my head and smile. "Girls, girls, girls. You are going about this all wrong." I think to myself.  I can't help but chuckle.  They'll learn.

I sneak another peek at my watch. Twenty minutes left.

My eyes find my boys on the playground.  All three of them are playing together with half a dozen boys they don't know.  Joey is, of course, barking out orders.  "Batten down the hatches, men! Prepare to dive!" he orders his soldiers.  Ben and Tommy take turns looking through the periscope and calling out their location and where the enemy submarines are. "We are gonna Run Silent, Run Deep, men!" Joey tells them.  "What does that mean?" another boy asks.  Joey just shakes his head.

Tommy climbs up a ladder on the outside of the "submarine" and notices me watching.  Unsure of where my eyes are looking underneath my sunglasses he tosses me a big cheesey smile.  I offer a big cheesey smile back.  Satisfied that I am watching him he races up the ladder and continues with his play.

Ben follows Tommy up the ladder and a bigger boy smooshes in next to him, vying to be the first up the ladder. The whole ladder shakes and wobbles as the older boy tries to budge past Ben. For a moment there is a struggle between the two boys until Ben decides it isn't worth it and allows the older boy to go ahead of him. Ben looks over at me to see if I've witnessed the injustice.  I toss him a thumbs up as I raise my voice and say, "You rock!"

I check my watch, yet again, calculate the time it will take to walk one block back to the YMCA, and decide we still have another five minutes left.

"Just a few minutes guys.  Then we have to head out, okay?" I warn my boys.

They nod their heads and I delve back into my book.

A few minutes pass and Ben walks up to me.  "Is it time to get Gracie yet?" he asks.

"Yep!  We'd better get going." I answer.

"We wouldn't want to be late.  She'd probably freak out, right?"  Ben says.

"Maybe." I laugh.

I call the boys and soon we are walking back down the sidewalk, into the Y, up the stairs, and down the  hallway.  We are a few minutes early and the boys entertain a baby and the other waiting families with their goofiness and silly faces.  I shush them and try not to roll my eyes at their antics.

The door opens up and 7 tiny, pink ballerinas come walking out, each with worried faces.  The worried faces melt into happiness and relief when their parents are spotted.

"Mommy!" Grace squeals as she runs to me.

"Hi honey!  Did you have fun?" I ask her as I sweep her up into my arms.

"Uh-huh! And I didn't even cry!" she tells me.

"Good job! Such a big girl!" the boys and I tell her proudly.

Down the stairs and out into the sunshine we go.  My three boys.  My girl.  And me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile

Summer is finally here. The weather went from 60 degrees one day to 92 the next. Yay for hot weather.  Hot weather makes me smile.  

The kids have been playing outside and I have been enjoying time on my patio, surrounded by flowers, reading a good book.  

The kids run back and forth from me to the playset to the bushes back to me.  They show me each little rock and stick they find and ask me a zillion questions.  I read a sentence or two and they are back again.  Sometimes they find something picture-worthy and I jump up to grab my camera.  Two butterflies landing on Ben's thumb make me smile.  So does his joy.
I found a recipe for little s'more mini cupcakes online and OH.  MAH.  GAWD.  They are good.  No bonfire required.  And the kids LOVE them.  They were smiling from ear to ear. 

On Saturday my mom and I went to see the much hyped Wicked together.  With the weather being so warm and lovely we were able to sit outside of the restaurant and enjoy our meal.  The waitress asked us if we were going to see Wicked and then mentioned that they have a Wicked themed martini that smokes and bubbles like a cauldron.  It was so cool looking and was absolutely delicious.  As was our meal.  Smiles all around.
After our dinner we strolled on over to the theater and took our seats.  It was a great show.  Very funny.   The set and costumes were amazing.  We had a wonderful time.  More smiles.
Sunday was our church picnic. The kids look forward to it all year round.  Mass was outside and we finally got to meet our new priest.  Father Matthew is only 30 years old. Younger than me.  I can't believe I'm old enough for the leader of our church to be younger than me.  Egad.  Still, his sermon was wonderful and he has much enthusiasm and a great sense of humor.  We enjoyed meeting him and talking with him. After waiting patiently as we talked with Father Matthew the kids were finally released and went wild playing all the games and picking out yummy desserts from the bake sale.  I don't think they ever stopped smiling.

We went directly from the church picnic to our annual family reunion held at a beautiful park.  The kids played and ate and played and ate some more while we chatted with family and basked in the sun.  It was a wonderful day.  I wasn't the only one smiling.
When we got home from the family reunion I grabbed Molly and we went out for a run.  It was a difficult run with so much food in my belly but we managed.  Finally home, I weeded my gardens and noticed some beautiful flowers finally beginning to bloom in the warm weather.

The new rose bushes I planted are full of buds.  One beautiful yellow rose just began to open.
The hibiscus tree on my back patio has the most gorgeous blooms.

And one of my favorite flowers was blooming as well.  My lovely, round, purple firecrackers.
Soon my whole garden will be full of flowers. The reds and yellows and pinks and purples will be on full display (click here for previous year's display).  I can't wait.  Makes me smile just thinking about it.

In less than a week my best friend and her family are coming to stay with us for four days.  I know having 7 kids and 4 adults under one roof will probably be madness but I can't wait.  I've only seen her twice since she moved to Oklahoma 4 years ago and we are overdue for a visit.  We'll get to watch the ridiculous Bachlorette together on Monday night (instead of having to text each other during the show) and on Tuesday we are going to see NKOTB, Boys II Men, and 98 degrees in concert.  It is high school all over again, man!  I feel slightly badly for our husbands but I still can't wipe the smile off my face when I think about it.

It seems we have much to smile about around here.  How about you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tiny Ballerina

Not to be outdone, Grace has her own activities this summer.  Today began her first adventure.  Her very first ballet class ever.  

It's safe to say that she enjoyed it. 
The cuteness factor is on overload. I can hardly stand it.  Even her brothers were oohing and aahing over her. Each time Grace would move the boys were telling her what a good job she was doing and how pretty she looked.  Lucky little girl.  She was just beaming.

I understand why the teacher is asking that the parents not stay to watch class after today.  I'm sure it is distracting. But I can't help being disappointed.  It was so fun watching her.  She did such a good job listening to her teacher and copying her movements.  She even had a bit of gracefulness to her.

Who knows if this is something she would like to do long term, but for now it sure is fun.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Full Swing

It's baseball season!  For the first time ever our boys have joined in on the fun.  And it looks like they're hooked.  I must say I'm having a little fun myself.  Not only are my boys stinkin' adorable (don't tell them that) in their uniforms but they have all displayed commendable attitudes, good sportsmanship, and a bit of talent too (if I do say so myself).    
Tommy's game was first.  Luckily, Tommy has a coach who is on the ball and the team had quite a few practices before their first game.  That really helped the kids feel comfortable in the basics and have fun when the actual game day came.  Tommy has a really good arm on him and a good solid swing. He shocked everyone with a massive hit over the outfielders' heads that earned him two bases.  No keeping score in these games (which I love, but the kids seem to keep score in their heads- stinkers) but the team did a great job.
Joey's team didn't have a coach until last week (when once again my husband stepped up and took the job even though he was looking forward to being able to sit back and watch for once) so they only got in one practice before their game.  To say that the husband and I were a bit worried how the team would fare against all the more practiced teams would be an understatement, but they did great!

I was also concerned Joey would be a bit behind the other kids his age since this is his first year playing but he looked great. Joey was an amazing catcher.  He was on top of it, y'all.  Caught every catchable ball and threw it directly to the pitcher (from kneeling position) without making the pitcher run for it.  And with every new batter he would call out to his teammates to tell them where the plays were. "Plays at first and second!" he'd shout.

It was pretty fun to watch him excel and be proud of himself but what I was most proud of what his attitude.  He wasn't as successful at batting as he hoped to be but instead of getting down on himself and giving up he was mad for a minute and then brushed it off.  A hard thing to do for my perfectionist child who is always so hard on himself.  I was thrilled that he had such fun playing, was proud of how he played, and is so excited to play again.  Thrilled I tell you!
Last, but certainly not least, is Ben.  I always knew the kid had a wicked arm.  He can really throw.  Catching is a different story.  A few months ago Ben took a baseball to the face and then became very afraid of playing catch.  He would shy away from the ball instead of trying to catch it.  Recently he had a breakthrough and really began catching the ball just in time for baseball.

Being that Ben is only 6 years old I wasn't expecting much when he stepped up to the plate to take his turn hitting in front of his coach and teammates.  I tell ya what, that kid can hit!  Pitch after pitch he knocked it over the coach's head.  And he has never had a batting practice before.  Pretty amazing. My favorite part?  The coach pitched the ball to Ben and it was really low and outside.  The coach immediately said to Ben, "That was a bad pitch on my part. What a bad throw, huh?" Ben responded, "No, you're doing good.  That wasn't so bad."  It was so sweet and melted the hearts of the onlookers.  Such a sweet boy.

I'd say we are off to a great start this baseball season.  Happy and excited boys, good attitudes, and new skills.  I think I'm gonna like being a baseball mom.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WW- First And Last

(Click to enlarge)
          First day of School 2012-13                 Last Day of School 2012-13

Ben's Kindergarten Graduation

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WW- Vibrant

 Female Goldfinch

 Indigo Bunting


Monday, June 3, 2013

Are We Done Yet?

By now you've all probably read the blog post heard 'round the world.  Otherwise known as Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.  To say I can relate to this post is a massive understatement.  I think many of us moms can relate to that post, and if not, I envy you (Also? Please keep your amazing awesomeness to yourself).  It may just be one of the most perfect blog posts I've ever read.  But maybe that is because I am the second worst end of school year mom ever.

Why just this morning, as we were all searching for Ben's overdue library books (after 20 minutes of searching, "Oh mom! I forgot. I already turned them in last week!") I realized we were going to be seriously late for school if we didn't get moving.  I yelled at politely asked everyone to get in the car as I got Grace into her jacket.  When I went to hand Grace her backpack I noticed papers inside of it.  I pulled the papers out (which I should have done last Thursday) and noticed that "Surprise!" Grace and her class were going to celebrate her summer birthday on Monday the 3rd and she would be the snack leader.  Yay!  Or shit poop darn it.

Just then Tommy comes running back in the house to tell me he forgot to brush his teeth.

"Let me smell your breath." I tell him.

Without questioning me he breathes in my face.  "Not bad.  Just don't breath on anyone today, okay?" I say hurrying him out the door.

"MOM!" Tommy pleads.

"Hon, we don't have time for this!  Let's go, let's go, let's go!" I scream say.

I successfully dropped the kids off at school, explained to Grace's teacher what a miserable failure I was and that I would quick run to the store and be back soon with an acceptable snack. By the time I got back to school, signed in at the office, handed in the snack, and was signing out of the office I remembered that I also forgot my donation towards our retiring parish priest's present.  I again explained my awfulness this time to the school secretary.  She laughed and asked me if I've read Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.  I told her that I did, and obviously, can relate.

It really doesn't ever end, people.  This end of the school year madness.  Seriously.  When will it end?  I still have to get gifts for each of my kids' teachers!  Gifts!  Like I have any creative juices left in me to get thoughtful gifts at this point.  Projects need to be finished and handed in.  Big tests have to be studied for. Class parties, and picnics, and field trips, and snack days!  Permission slips and sign up sheets and order forms and preregistration forms and progress reports!

I can't do it anymore.  I can't.  I feel like such a slacker, but I can't help it.  I'm just done.  Seven and a half more days.  I don't know if we're gonna make it.  Help me.

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