Friday, April 27, 2012

Only In My Dreams

I saw my dad last night. 

We were all standing around in a restaurant waiting for a table and as I looked over towards the door in walked my dad.  He was wearing his blue "work" pants, his blue jacket, one of his newsboy caps, and a sheepish grin like he knew he was late to the party. 

I ran up to him and flung myself into his arms.  He felt just like my dad.  I stood on my tippy toes and rested my chin on his broad shoulder as he leaned down.  He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me the same familiar hug.  I could feel his cheek warm against mine, a bit of stubble prickling my face.   I cried and cried and laughed and laughed.  I didn't even care that everyone in the restaurant was watching.

"How are you doing this right now?  How can we even see you?"  I asked him.

"I just wanted to be here." he said with a smile.

I watched as he went through and hugged each of my siblings and my mom.  He was exactly the dad I remembered before his body ever hinted at Alzheimer's.  Smiling.  Laughing.  Larger than life.  Loving.  And there was a hint of something new too.  A calmness.  A peacefulness.

I drank it all in trying to memorize each detail.  Each moment.

Dad stayed with us for quite a while and I could tell that when he said he had to go he didn't really want to leave the party.  I was so grateful for the visit that I couldn't be sad.  I had been waiting for a dream of my dad for almost three years and this was so much better. He was here with me.  With all of us.  I was just thankful I got to see him again.

He left the room but I noticed him lingering just outside the window looking in at us.  I laughed and waved and he chuckled and waved back.  We all ran outside to enjoy a few more moments with him. 

I walked with him across a grassy area trying to eek out every minute with him that I could.  I remember flooding him with silly questions.  He laughed and tried to answer them all even as he was getting further and further away. 

He was so far away now that I had to shout for him to hear me, "Dad!  Did you see Todd's new motorcycle?"  I asked, knowing he would be the one person to really appreciate the bike. 

"I saw it!" dad said enthusiastically.   And with that I knew he had been watching over me, over all of us, these last few years.   

I awoke with the image of dad fading away.

It was the most comforting dream I've ever had. 

A dream I have been waiting almost three years for.

A dream that really felt nothing like a dream.

Thank you, Dad.  It was so amazing to see you.  I hope you'll visit again.  Even if it's only in my dreams.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just Write

A bio.  I'm supposed to write a bio.  A bio that will go in the program for the symphony chorus concert along with all the other soloists' bios. 

All the other soloists' bios talk about where they got their masters in performing arts.  Where they teach.  Where they have performed recently.  My bio?  Umm.  It doesn't look like that.  I haven't performed a solo on stage in about 12 years.  I never earned a degree in the arts or teaching.  I am a stay at home mom.  This is my first solo in a very long time.  And?  It is a very small solo. 

Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  I wasn't even going to try out for a solo seeing as how this is my first year singing with the symphony.  But this is the Broadway concert and we are doing One Day More from Les Mis!  I have Eponine's part memorized.  It is ingrained in my memory. I figured that if I didn't at least try I would always wonder. 

I didn't get that solo.  It went to one of the conductor's students.  But the conductor did give me a very small part.  I think she is testing me out.  Seeing how I'll do on stage after so many years away.  Anyway, this very small solo needs a bio and I'm feeling a little inadequate. 

"This is Kathryn's first year back with the Symphony after a 15 year hiatus.  She is currently a stay at home mom to her four children." 

I don't think that will do.  Most bios are more like a paragraph. 

"Kathryn is a stay at home mom to four children.  She originally joined the Symphony in 1994 when she was a student at Lakeland College.  This is Kathryn's first year singing with the Symphony after a 15 year hiatus.  She feels silly even writing a bio considering her miniscule solo, but does what she is told.  Please don't laugh at her."

I wonder if the audience would find the humor in that.  I'd better keep trying. 

"Kathryn is happy to be back on stage with the Symphony after a 12 year absence.  She was last seen as the lead in a number of musicals such as Man of La Mancha, Babes in Toyland, and Anne of Green Gables with The Theater Co. 12 years ago.  She can currently be seen feeding and cleaning up after her four small, rambunctious children in the home she shares with her husband."

I'm in trouble. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

My 36th Year

Yesterday was my 36th birthday and I got everything I never knew I always wanted.  I didn't even need to make a wish before I blew out my candles.

A dinner out with a handsome man.  A long, relaxing, reviving run.  Children trying their best.  Hugs and kisses.  Homemade cards.  Mom's famous carrot cake.  Thoughtful gifts.  Time with family.  Playing outside.  Sleeping in.   
Thirty six is off to a great start. 

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Friday, April 20, 2012

PSF- Anxious

The last few days have been cool and rainy.   As a matter of fact it is raining right now.  Thunder too.  Though I love a good thunderstorm having rain for a week can really make a person antsy.

Yesterday morning the sun made a brief appearance.  The sun was shining, the grass green from all the rain, and tulips and daffodils were budding all over town.  It really had me jonesing for some warm weather.  All of the loveliness made me anxious to skip over the rest of spring and go right to summer and I don't think I'm the only one.

On the way to school, giddy as the sun beams shot into the car,  I pointed out how all the leaves are coming out on the trees.

"Look at all the trees!  They are starting to get green with leaves now.  Isn't that pretty?"  I asked Ben and Grace.

"Yeah!"  they both responded.

"It makes me so excited for summer!"  I said.

"It makes me 'cited to wear a dess!" Grace added.

Joining in on the summer excitement Ben shouted, "Look!  An ice cream truck!"

I laughed as I corrected him, "That's an ambulance, honey."

I guess we are all anxious for summer.

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Monday, April 16, 2012


Early this morning I had a bad dream.  A horrible dream.  A nightmare.  It was so bad that I actually had to wake myself up to keep from hyperventilating.  In the dream I was screaming and crying, trying to catch my breath, and I said, "this has to be a nightmare!"  The next thing I knew I was gasping for air in my bed.  Never was I so thankful to be waking up an hour early.

The dream was so bad I don't even want to talk about it.  But I'm not sorry I had the dream.  I think it will actually help me to be a better mom.  It seems that lately I have been in a rut of whining, complaining, and general grumpiness.  The dream reminds me to grumble less about what hard work parenting is and see it for priviledge it really is.  I don't ever want my kids to feel anything less than the most important and wonderful part of my life.

This weekend was a mixed bag.  Todd was up north cutting wood and the kids and I stayed home.  Part of the weekend was really nice and the kids were great, and the other part was exhausting and tiring.  You know, typical.  But after that nasty dream it makes me thankful for it all.  The good and the bad. 

The dream reminded me not to take it all for granted.  Remember nights like Saturday when I took the kids out to dinner and they were so well behaved that we had strangers interrupting our meal to compliment them and maybe forget about how many times I had to sit them on the naughty step this weekend.  It's all a gift.  Such a gift.

Every few minutes my mind drifts back to that dream and immediately I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  The worst dream ever.  But I'm glad I had it.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go hug my kids.  Again.

Friday, April 13, 2012


In recent days I have come to realize that I could not have picked a better, more fitting name, for my blog.  Seeking Sanity.  I am indeed seeking some kind of sanity.  More so recently it seems.

My last post hit on just how tired I have been.  For a while I was thinking that perhaps something was wrong with me since I had other strange things going on too (lots of sweating, lots of zits, trouble sleeping, weight gain) but I think that was just my body trying to get back to normal after babies, breastfeeding, etc.  I had my doctor check my thyroid and he determined it was fine.  Doc attributed my issues to hormones and told me it should all settle itself soon.  I think he was right.  My body seems to be settling down a bit now. 

Still, there is this exhaustion.  It worried me. 

For lent I decided to do everything right.  I ate well.  I began running and exercising again.  I took my vitamins.  No alcohol.  Lots of water.  I figured that if after 40 days I wasn't feeling better then maybe something really was wrong with me.

It was a challenge, which is why I decided to do it for lent.  It was my sacrifice, so to speak.  For the most part it worked.  I lost some weight and got back into a healthy lifestyle again.  But I was/am still so exhausted all the time.  Just. So. Tired.

However, I'm not worried about it anymore.  I've figured it out.  The answer couldn't be any simpler. 

I'm a mom. 

I have four small children. 

Exhaustion kind of comes with the territory. 

I don't know why this has taken me so long to figure out. 

The answer became clear yesterday as I was trying so hard not to blow my top and yell at my kids.  It seemed like all day long I was trying so hard not to blow my top and yell at my kids.  Every 5 minutes someone was doing something that they should not be doing.  Every 5 minutes?  Heck!  Every 5 seconds.  And it was exhausting trying to be positive and calm each and every time instead of blowing my top and yelling at my kids.  Exhausting.

I try so hard to be a good mom.  Do the right thing. Say the right thing.  Be calm.  Be supportive.  Be a good example.  Let them be kids.  Let them have fun.  Keep them safe.  Teach them responsibility for their actions.  Be kind.  And man!  It is exhausting!!!  It is exhausting to try to do the right thing all the time and it is equally exhausting when I know I haven't done the right thing.  When I loose my temper, when I holler and yell, when I say the wrong thing, when I am a bad example, it is exhausting.  Guilt is exhausting.  And worry is exhausting.  Worrying about my failures as a mother.  Worrying about every move I make, every decision, every word I say affecting them for the rest of their lives.   Exhausting.

In short (too late) parenting is exhausting.   

No matter how wonderful your kids are (and mine are pretty freaking great) parenting is so friggin' exhausting.  There really are no breaks.  Even in your "off time" you are still "on".  There really is no vacation from parenting.  I think that is why so many parents joke and say, "I'm running away!"  And everyone (parents anyway) laughs because they get it.  And they know that you really would never run away because no matter how exhausting this parenting gig is it is still the best time of your life.  And that fact is pretty exhausting too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just Write

I'm cold.  It's cold in here. 

I grab a blanket from our huge blanket pile, curl up on the chair, and encase myself in the big green comforter that used to cover our bed so long ago.  I hold my face over the beam of steam coming off my coffee.  After heating my coffee for far too long in the microwave it is way too hot to drink but I wrap my ice cold fingers around the mug and enjoy the burn anyway.  I'm so cold even my nose is icy.  I am chilled to the bone.  The kind of chilled to the bone that goes right along with tired to the bone. 

Lately it seems that no matter how much sleep I get, no matter how many vitamins I take, no matter how well I eat, and no matter how much exercise I get, I am still tired.  I am always tired.  I flash back to naptime today (and everyday) and what a struggle it is to get the kids in their beds through all their wailing and protests of naptime hatred.  Oh how I wish someone would insist I take a 2 hour nap every day. 

Just like clock work I hear Grace on the monitor.  She is singing, as usual.  The girl wakes up singing.  Clearly, she does not have her mother's grumpiness upon waking. 

My head feels foggy.  I think I'm coming down with something.  I push myself up from my chair and hear my knees crack.  Oh man.  If I'm this sore and stiff now imagine how I'll feel when I'm 80.   "I'm much too young to feel this damn old."

I glance out the window and see the boys walking towards our house.  They are swinging sticks, laughing and talking, and walking on the neighbor's grass again.  Good grief, how many times do I have to tell them not to do that? 

I hurry up the stairs to get Ben and Grace up so that I can rush back downstairs to get homework started before swim class.  T minus 30 minutes until we have to leave.  Oh crap.  And I have choir tonight too.  I don't know if I can make it through another 3 hour rehearsal. 

Back downstairs I settle Ben and Grace onto the couch with snacks and a movie.  I get Joey and Tommy going on their homework and begin to pack the swimming bag.  I quickly chug my now lukewarm coffee and wait to feel even a little boost of energy.  It doesn't happen. 

Only 6 more hours until I can go to bed. 

Monday, April 9, 2012


It was a gorgeous Easter weekend.

The weekend started on Friday since the kids didn't have any school.  Todd got off of work early so and I ran out to give blood at the Good Friday blood drive at the hospital.  It has been so long since I've been able to give blood (what with the successive pregnancies and the West Nile Virus episode) and I was excited to get back into donating again.  I've always wanted to donate on Good Friday, it just seems like such an appropriate thing to do.  As always, I got a bit light headed and almost passed out, but as soon as they lowered my head and raised my feet I was fine again. 

I was super wiped out after giving blood.  SERIOUSLY. Wiped. Out.  It was bizarre.  Still, I had to get myself off the couch and get everything ready for some egg dyeing fun.  The kids lined up at the counter and away we went. 
I think I'm going to have to get a lot more eggs next time.  The kids had a blast and a few eggs each just isn't enough.  Of course Grace insisted on all of her eggs being pink, and when we lined up all the boys eggs we discovered that they had all picked the same colors without noticing it.  Funny kids.
The next day we met with Todd's side of the family for our Easter get together.   There was a huge Easter egg hunt that completely made the kids' day. 
The weather was gorgeous and all the kids had a blast finding their eggs.  Each kid had their own color eggs to find so it was fair and easy for them.  Such a great idea!
I tried to help Grace here and there, but she is quite the independent little girl and I think this was the one and only time she let me hold her hand. 
It was a perfect day for an Easter celebration with family.  We spent most of our time outside playing catch and playing games.  Todd and I even managed to get a pic of us together.  A rarity!
The next day all the kids were up super early (of course) looking for their baskets.  The Easter bunny hid the baskets really well this year and it took the kids a good long time to find them.  When they finally did find them all kinds of madness started to happen.  Do you know what happens when kids give up sweets (I mean all sweets- cookies, bars, brownies, candy, chocolate, pudding- they weren't even going to have their birthday cake they were so serious about it) for lent and then get a basket full of candy?   Madness.  That's what happens.

This is the sweet pic I got right before the madness began.
Soon enough it was time to go to mass.  You can see Todd is really in no mood for posing for pictures.  He was paranoid we were going to be late for mass.  Ten minutes early is actually late on Easter Sunday.  The church was jam packed.  There were folding chairs up on the alter and on the sides of church and they were all taken.  Still, somehow we managed to get front row seats and it made the kids behave even better than they normally do.  Whew!
After mass we went out to dinner with my side of the family.  I was so busy getting the kids enough food to eat (and when I say enough I mean two or three helpings each- little pigs) that I don't really remember what I ate, but I'm sure it was lovely.  When we got back home Joey tried out his photography skills and took a pic of Todd and I.  Not bad, Joe!

It was a great Easter weekend!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend and a Happy Passover!

PhotobucketMommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Scenes From A Spring Break

When Todd and I first started planning our spring break vacation we were looking into taking the kids to Chicago for a few days to explore the city and visit all the sites.  The more we planned the more expensive the trip became until we eventually decided to scrap the whole idea.  Since we will FINALLY be taking the kids to Disney World this summer (that is another post yet to come- I need help!) we decided to save money and stick close to home.  It turned out to be a good decision.

The first few days of vacation were spent up north at the cabin.

We did a lot of walking around in the woods.

We set up cans for target practice.

Todd took turns showing each boy all about gun safety.

Then, with daddy by their side, they each got to take aim on the cans.

Even I got in on the action.

Gracie watched from a safe distance behind a tree.

The next day it was more walking in the woods followed by watching daddy cut down trees for next year's firewood.

The kids had fun climbing and bouncing around on the trees.

Even though we hadn't yet put the pier in the boys were still able to practice their casting while Gracie found sticks around the yard for our fire pit.

It was a really nice time up north.  It was supposed to be rainy all week, but the weather really cooperated and we had a great time.

Our next adventure took us to Manitowoc to the Maritime Museum.  The kids loved seeing all the cool ships and learning what an important role Wisconsin played in making ships for WWII.

We even got to go on and tour an actual submarine.  It was SO AWESOME.  Here we are sitting in the sub's galley.

After the museum we went to our favorite little free zoo.

It was a busy day so the next day we stayed home and relaxed and played outside. 

Friday we went to Oshkosh to the EAA to see and all the cool planes.  Not only was it educational, it was super fun too. 

Overall, it was a great spring break.  The kids felt that they got to go on a bunch of really cool trips, and Todd and I even managed to have a date night and see The Hunger Games (woot woot!)  and then go to dinner.  Win! 

Now today it is back to our regularly scheduled program.  School, work, choir rehearsals, meetings, blah, blah, blah.  At least we have some good memories to get us through to summer. 

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