Friday, December 31, 2010


(Lake Michigan)

We are on the cusp of a brand new year.  And a brand new decade. 

I try not to look into the past too much, but the end of the year has a way of making you reflect.  And this time I glanced not only at this past year that whizzed right by, but at the past decade that came and went in warp speed.

This past decade of my life has seen so much change.  Just thinking about all that has happened blows my mind.

- I got married.
- I changed jobs.
- I moved three times.
- We bought our first house.
- I quit my job.
- We had four beautiful children.
- Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
- Dad passed away. 
- We built and moved into our dream home.

And that's not even including what our country and what our world has experienced in the past ten years.  We've had an attack on our country, a huge natural disaster, tsunamis, earthquakes, oil spills, economic failure.  The past ten years have seen it's fair share of hardship when you think of it.  But here we are.

I can't even imagine where my life will lead in ten years.  Or what this world will be like.  But I am hopeful.  For in each new year, each new day, there is hope. 

I pray that this new year brings hope, health, and happiness for you all.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To Sum It Up


Christmas was wonderful, and crazy, and busy, and lovely, and rushed, and did I say busy?  Because it was.  But it was still lovely. 

I found a few pictures that sum it up nicely.

This is me and the kiddos at the in-law's house eating way too much food (can you see the fudge in Ben's mouth?) and having way too much fun (can you see the craziness in Joey's eyes?) on Christmas Eve.
Then it was back home that night to relax for an hour or two before the madness broke the next day.  And when I say relax I mean wrap 20 little presents for a game I had planned for the next day.  And of course there was the set up...
The picture below is how we all felt after the Christmas morning madness.  I didn't even get a picture of us all dressed pretty for Christmas mass because there was just TOO MUCH MADNESS.  You know how it goes.  Boys running around wildly with their new loot, mom and dad chasing around after the dog who is ferociously eating wrapping paper, grace running her new stroller around the house screaming at the top of her lungs, dad getting out his power tools so that we can actually get the toys OUT OF THE BOXES, mom trying to feed the kids a quick breakfast, dad cleaning up the five piles of vomit the dog left on the floor the minute it came in from outside, changing diapers, dressing children.  You know.  The usual.
After mass, and more madness, there were quick naps for the kids and then another whirlwind of activity at our house with my side of the family.  We decided not to make mom host Christmas this year seeing as how she just had open heart surgery 3 weeks ago (what a wuss!) so we had everyone over to our house.  We made mom sit still and we all just sat around talking and stuffing our faces.  Good times. 
 Now we all kind of feel like this. 
Some kind of stomach virus has decided to run through our house and apparently once you recover from that you get a cold too.  Bonus!  Now we may be making our second trip to the doctor to check on possible ear infections. 
'Tis the season!  Fa-la-la-la-la, La-la-la-la!

Hope you all had a wonderful, crazy Christmas too, and hopefully skipped the viruses. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Magic


School is out.  The plays and concerts are done.  The class gifts have been given, the parties attended.  Now all that is left to do is sit back and enjoy the magic of the Christmas season.  Well, that, and wrap ALL of the gifts, clean the whole house and make all the goodies for the Christmas I am suddenly hosting, do laundry, go grocery shopping.  You know. The usual.  Oh, and Tommy has come down with some sort of stomach virus, so there is that too.  But OTHER than that.  Christmas magic. 

Every time life gets a little too hectic and a little too busy there is some reminder of what is really important.  This time it came as we were watching old home videos of the kids when they were babies.  It drove home just how fast this time goes by and just how precious these little kiddos really are.  So no matter how crazy this Christmas may be, I will be enjoying the magic of it all.  I hope you do too.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

I'm sitting here on the couch with Ben, snuggled up and watching Toy Story 3.  The house is quiet.  The boys have gone off to school.  Todd off to work.  Grace is still sleeping.  The dog is sniffing around the yard.  It is a good way to ease our way into a busy week after a busy weekend.  Well, a busy but very good weekend. 

It was a weekend with a visit from a very good friend.  A weekend with time spent with mom.  A weekend pampering myself and getting a much needed change.

On Saturday I went off to the salon.  Back in April Todd had given me a gift certificate to my favorite salon.  I was to use it for a massage, and a mani/pedi, but after not having a haircut for five months I decided to use it for that.  When my stylist had a cancellation I nabbed it and decided to go all out and change the color of my hair too.  Though I have changed my hair color a billion times I never actually had it professionally done.  I decided to pamper myself.  I had a couple inches cut off and had my hair dyed a dark brown.  What do you think?

 I like it.  I don't think I have been this dark in about 15 years.  It is a good change.  We'll see how long it is before I get bored with myself and change it again. 

On Sunday we decided to take the kiddos to see Santa.  We went right after church and ended up getting there at a peak time.  We waited for an hour and fifteen minutes to see the big guy.  Luckily, the waiting line winds around an enchanted forest and Santa's workshop. There is so much to see and watch and experience that the kids didn't seem to mind.  They were so patient and didn't even complain once. 

The boys were a little star struck once they finally got to Santa and forgot some of the things that they wanted to ask for.  They ended up asking for Nutcrackers (?) and Pillow Pets and forgot all about the Transformers and Iron Man toys.  Ah well.  The big guy always knows, I reassured them. 

The boys were polite and sweet and even asked for a dolly for their sister as she was too busy being terrified.  I knew it would happen too.  As a matter of fact, I bet Todd that she would be our first Santa cryer.  We have never had a picture of any of our kids crying with Santa, but I knew she would be the one to loose it.  Grace isn't a huge fan of men.  The only man she likes is her daddy.  And this strange man had a huge shaggy beard, a weird outfit, a funny hat, and big bushy eyebrows.  Not having it. 

I only sat her down long enough for Mrs. Claus to snap a picture and then I grabbed her back again.  Still, she was a bit traumatized.  However, when she was safely back in mama's arms and Santa gave her a candy cane suddenly he didn't seem like such a bad guy anymore. 

Now I finally have my classic Santa freak out picture that every family seems to have.  I love it. I think it is perfect, don't you?

Yep.  It was a great weekend. 

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go look for some Nutcrackers. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

PSF- Wonder

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

I wonder what presents they'll ask Santa for.

They wonder if baby Jesus was cold in the manger. 

He wonders if he can wear his tie to mass.

I wonder if it will snow for Christmas.

He wonders what Santa will bring.

I wonder what time the relatives will be arriving.

He wonders if I will like the card he made for me. 

I wonder how the Three Kings knew to follow that star.

We wonder who the package is from.

They wonder how Jesus was ever a baby.

She wonders how the lights got on the tree.

The Christmas season is filled with wonder.  And now that there are only a few days left of school, mom is getting stronger and stronger, my Christmas shopping is just about done, the colds are subsiding, and life seems to be slowing down just a tad, I think I can actually enjoy these last days before Christmas and the wonder that the season holds.
I hope you can enjoy the wonder too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holy Mackerel!

Whew!  I've been gone for a while.  But I have an excuse.  Well, I honestly have a thousand excuses, and they are all good.  Wanna hear them?  Well, here they are anyway:

- My mom had open heart surgery last week to replace two of her valves.  The surgery went perfectly and she recovered faster than anyone expected (especially considering that her cancer complicates things).  I spent my a lot of my time driving the one hour plus down to visit her this past week, and yesterday I got to go and pick her up and bring her home. Hallelujah!  She is SO HAPPY to be home where she can actually get some rest and recuperate.  How anyone is supposed to get better in a hospital I will never know.  Now my brother is staying with my mom at night and the rest of us kids are checking on her way too often.  Thank you all for your prayers I can not tell you in words how much it meant. 

- Ben got a double ear infection this past week.  It was a doosey and it has temporarily affected his hearing.  Poor kid.  He is practically deaf.  We have to yell everything at him.  He probably doesn't understand why mommy and daddy are always yelling at him.  Hopefully he will recover soon and not have another nasty cold for a while.

- Todd and Grace currently have nasty colds.  Not fun.

- One of my very favorite uncles died this past week.  Uncle Clarence lived in New York and I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with him as I would have liked.  He was my father's brother, and the last time I saw him was at my dad's funeral.  He spent the week here, and I am so grateful for the time I got to have with him.  Such a wonderful man.  He was so similar to my dad and they were very close.  My cousin told me that the day my uncle passed away he said from his sleep, "Where is my brother?"  It was the only clear thing they had heard him say all day. 

- I have gotten a few migraines this past week or so.  I wonder why?  I have found that chewing Excedrin does keep the migraine at bay and it doesn't get as bad as it normally would.  Tastes horrible, but it works so I'm sticking to it.  Still, I think I might need to get myself to the chiropractor.  That, or cut out some of the stress.  Hmm.  How do I do that?

- I think I may have to have the phone surgically removed from my face.  I have been on it nonstop for the past few days giving updates on mom, info about my uncle, and general yucky stuff (doctor's appointments, getting mom's financial stuff in order, and school info, etc.).  This is grand central station.  The phone is constantly ringing!  AH!

- I gave the boys haircuts and they look so handsome!  I hadn't realized how shaggy they had gotten until I cut their hair and now I can see their gorgeous little schmoopee faces.  They look great!  Even Grace had her bangs cut.  She didn't like that.  At. All. 

- I have a ton of Christmas shopping to do yet.  Oops.  Been kinda busy.  Guess it is coming up faster than I thought.

- Joey and Tommy have their Christmas concert at school tomorrow.  That's all I have to say about that.

- Each school child of mine (that's three) have Christmas parties and secret santas I have to shop for too.  And Joey has a nativity play that his class will be putting on in a week and he needs a costume for.  Oh dear baby Jesus, can't I just celebrate your birth quietly and respectfully without running around like a chicken with my head cut off?  *sigh*

- Oh and by the way, we had a MASSIVE snow storm during all this madness.  It was not only a fair amount of snow but severely cold and WINDY.  It was crazy, and it made driving to the hospital to see my mom a real mess.  This is the view from my front door.
 This is the view from my kitchen window.  Can you see anything?  Me neither.
 The pretty part of the backyard.
 The fun part of the backyard.
And my dog seeing her first snowfall and wondering what is going on.  Please note, she is standing on top of the snow because it was already pretty solid from being so freaking cold outside!
Yep.  Life is wackadoodee.  I half feel like I'm going crazy.  And I don't suspect it will get much better anytime soon.  But that's okay.  This too shall pass. And soon I will be able to sit back, for at least a few minutes, and enjoy this beautiful holiday season with my family.  I hope.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deck The Halls

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Our Christmas decorations and trees are now officially up.

I will not lie and I'll admit that while I was setting up our extra large prelit Christmas tree that we bought brand new last year and I discovered that two strings of lights were not working I had less than peaceful thoughts.  When it took me close to two hours to figure out what the problem was I was not in that lovely peaceful place I was talking about in my previous post.  Instead I was fighting really hard not to let a string of profanities leave my mouth.  But I did find the problem eventually and soon that peaceful feeling started creeping back in.

And then the kids woke up from their naps and all chaos broke loose.  Their little heads nearly exploded when they saw the Christmas trees all lit up and every shelf and table, nook and craney stuffed with snowmen and reindeer, and of course the nativity.  It was almost too much for them to bear.

Now this is the part when I surprised even myself.  In the past I have always decorated the trees while the boys were fast asleep.  Just thinking about all of the craziness that would ensue if I had them joining in at such young ages made my head hurt.  Plus, I like my trees to look neat and tidy.  There is no way I could stand by and let the ornaments be splashed about the trees willy nilly.  But this year, this year I threw caution to the wind.  I took my own advice, gave myself that peaceful feeling, and just let everyone enjoy the season.  And, boy, did they!

It turned out to be a very important lesson for me on letting go.  Something that is so often difficult for me to do.  But because I decided to ease up and let go we had a super fun night.  A night I know I will always remember.  And to my shock and elation the kids did a GREAT job decorating.  I couldn't believe how thoughtful and careful they were.  I was so proud of them.  There was no fighting over ornaments, no whining, or crying.  Everyone was having a wonderful time.
After all their hard work the kids just wanted to lie beneath the tree and watch a Christmas movie. Even Grace went and laid down between her brothers and stayed there for a good amount of time.

Peaceful feeling restored.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Feeling Peaceful

It's December 1st today. It is the coldest day we've had so far and winter jackets and gloves are a necessity now. Fittingly enough, big, fluffly snowflakes are floating around outside my window.  It is starting to feel like Christmas.  And I am ready. 

In so many years past I have felt such a sense of urgency surrounding the holidays.  I have to do this, I have to get this, I have to make everything perfect, I have to get everything done.  I really don't feel like that this year.  I feel peaceful.  I have no stress or anxiety this year as I did in the past.  I am not placing tons of pressure on myself to make it a fabulous holiday, I'm just going to try and sit back and enjoy it more. 

This year I will get my Christmas cards out when I get them out.  No big deal. 

I still don't have my decorations up yet, but I will someday soon. 

There will be no fancy schmancy Christmas dinners planned.  We will be spending time with our families eating hors d' oeuvres and appetizers and enjoying each other. 

Gifts will be bought in good time.  I have bought some already but still have more to get.  I'll get them when I get them.  I really want to think carefully and thoughtfully about what I want each person to have.  I want the gifts to mean something.  So I'm taking my time.

This morning I sat in church, and when Joey was done doing a fabulous job on his reading, the priest asked the school children what Christmas was all about.  Hands flew up all around the church and kids offered up explanations of Jesus' birth and helping others.  My own sweet, little Tommy raised his hand, waited to be called on and said, "It is about the Joy of being with family."  And that sums it up pretty good for me too.
I am consciously making an effort to make the holidays less like this:
And much more like this:

My mom is having her open heart surgery on Tuesday. 

Money has been tight here lately. 

Our schedules have been crazy.  

There are reasons to stress.  Yet I am still feeling peaceful.  And I am grateful. 

I hope you too can feel His peace this season.  That's what it's all about.

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