Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wahhh! Wahhh! Wahhh!

If an item requires six C cell batteries, it ought to require ear plugs as well.

The older boys pooled their funds to buy this little number for John. It's cool - very, very loud - but so cool.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Little Things Add Up

I lay a slumbering Ainsley in her crib and cringe as I remember how squeaky her bedroom door has become. To my surprise, it opens and closes soundlessly.

I zip across town late! late! late! and cringe as I remember I'm driving on fumes. I glance at the gas gauge and see that the tank is full.

I stumble into the kitchen to brew the morning Joe and cringe as I remember that we're out of milk and other necessities. I glance in the fridge and pantry and see that we have been resupplied with milk, juice, and Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.

I return home from a lunch with the gals and cringe as I look at my watch and realize I have been gone far longer than planned.  I glance around the house to see happy kids and a cheerful hubby.

Generous, hard working, kind - a good husband is the gift that truly does keep on giving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Da Man Knows He's Important

The boys are picking sides for hide and seek as I am taking Ainsley in for the night.

"Tim, stay close to John," I instruct.

"It's Kolbe against me," Tim informs me. "John's my minion."

"Yeah," John pipes in. "I da man!"

"That's minion, not da man," Tim clarifies.

It's all the same to John.

Just Call Them Sid

The older boys have cooked up all manner of nefarious schemes should Barbie's leggy frame ever darken our door. In the meantime they have a little fun with pinchy and Dolly.


I've just discovered that I have been drinking fat-free half and half for the past five days. Can bad moods take place retroactively?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Happy Weekend to you!

See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Small Successes


Join the readers of Faith and Family as we encourage one another. A few highlights from our abode:

1. I finally returned a gift from Christmas 2009! I have been staring at it for twelve months. Thank you, L.L. Bean, for your generous return policies. Amazon should be so flexible!

2. Tim earned his Signalling Merit Badge. I feel like I should get an honorary badge myself! He had to master like a zillion different forms of communication. So glad it's done. Way to go, Tim!

3. My stint as the pecan chairwoman is over! Several scouts will go to summer camp absolutely free!  After selling hundreds and hundreds of pounds of pecans, I actually went out and bought shelled pecans to do my Christmas baking.  It was $12.00 well spent.

What about you?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Baby at 43, A Baby at 45

The older boys are pining for another baby.

They adore John and Ainsley. Well, to be strictly accurate, Tim adores John and Ainsley. Kolbe adores Ainsley and (mostly) tolerates John. Except when he doesn't. Anyway. They are anxious for another. As we were loading up the van the other morning, Kolbe raised the issue.

"We have to keep up with the Balduccis," he said. "Aunt Rachel has six kids, and she's younger than you!"

I thanked Kolbe for pointing out my advanced maternal age, but mentioned two facts:

1. This is not a competition.

2. Aunt Rachel is younger than I am.

Naturally with kids, older is better; older means more capable. They don't quite grasp that the rules are a little different when it comes to fertility, i.e. older means less capable. I pointed out this article to them. Ainsley really is a rarity. Women don't readily conceive at 44 and 46 and 48.

"Seven in ten thousand women have a baby at 45," I told them. "We just happen to know all seven."

It's true - we do know about seven women who have had babies past 45. Our friend and neighbor had her tenth at 49.

They are sure that I am covetous of Aunt Rachel and her proven ability to be fruitful and multiply. I need to explain to them that yes, indeed, I am covetous of Aunt Rachel, but my jealousy has nothing to do with such weighty matters as bringing forth eternal souls. No, no, my envy stems from two unrelated but well established facts:

1. Her house is less cluttered than mine.

2. Her daughter tolerates hair accessories.

Shallow, I know, very shallow. I avoid covetousness when  more ponderous issues are involved.

As I have shared before, we grappled with secondary infertility followed by a long season of sub-fertility and repeat miscarriage. These experiences helped me come to grips with the fact that this is not a competition. Children are eternal souls not trophies or merit badges. They are not given to the deserving. We need only glance at the newspapers to realize that many, many wretched human beings conceive and bear and mistreat children. Conversely, I need only look through our backyard to see the home of a woman who would  make a better mother than I, but instead bears the lonely cross of infertility.

Children are a gift. Fertility is a gift.

As we exchanged vows fourteen years ago, Dave and I promised to accept children lovingly from God.  We could not have imagined the joys or the trials that we would encounter on what turned out to be a rather strange and winding road.  Through it all, we have attempted to leave the door open for God to move as He wills. We haven't slammed and bolted the door. When it appeared to be closed, we didn't grab a crow bar and start prying.

Someday I might write about the anguish I experienced when my infertility specialists would pelt me with technique after procedure they well knew I would not pursue. We're going to make you a baby, darn it! I miscarried and miscarried and miscarried and in the midst of it all felt I had to justify why I wouldn't use condoms while hormones built up in my system or choose selective termination should fertility drugs work a little too well. When I found myself cramping, anemic, and overwrought in every sense - physically, emotionally, spiritually - I needed comfort, not controversy. Truly it was a walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

I can vividly recall two times when the thought of being pregnant unnerved me to the core. During the agonizing three hours I spent pushing one Timothy Lyle into the world, I distinctly remember thinking that I could not possibly, ever, ever, ever put myself in the same predicament again. Never. It was as lucid and absolute a thought as I have ever had. It was also one I reversed about two minutes after delivery.

I had a similar though not as vehement  thought when Ainsley was about six weeks old, and I felt that I had one nostril barely above water. My thinking was something along the lines of: Bahhhhhhhh! I could get pregnant!

By any measure we are nearing the end of my child-bearing years. I can truly say I am content (except for the fact that my house is cluttered and Ainsley won't wear hair bows).  The door is open. May God move as He wills.

Skeptic Riding Shotgun

Kolbe and a friend are in the back of the van engaged in a deep conversation about the existence of Santa Claus.

Tim, riding shotgun, leans over to me and says, "Unless Santa hacked into Mom's Amazon account, I'm not buying it."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

I find a dog-eared catalogue lying around. It's full of circled items. smiley faces, and little notes such as "Maybe Tim," "Great for John," and "Tim - Awesome." Among the many finds for Tim is The Encyclopedia of Immaturity.

"Yeah," Kolbe informs me, "You can learn to say 'poop' in seven languages."

What further endorsement do we need? Meanwhile they sit in the living room watching Bob the Builder in Spanish and laughing their heads off.

Let the Side Show Begin

Oy vey. Let me say it again: oy vey.

This morning we were off to altar servers' practice which begins with 10:00 Mass. Dave was doing construction at a friend's house, so I was running the show solo. These days John is doing very well at Mass. Good behavior? You get to light a candle, maybe eat a donut if it's your lucky day. Bribery works wonders. Even more effective is abandoning the loud and unheated cry room for the front of the church where John can actually see and participate.

So we've been on a roll of late.

Today we witnessed a little deviation in that trend. As in he bit me in the middle of the homily. I took Jaws by the hand to deal with him in the narthex and whispered to Tim to watch Ainsley.

I tried to be inconspicuous as I led my recalcitrant toddler to the exit, but the church is big and nearly empty. I avoided making eye contact,  but couldn't help but notice the surprised expression on one man's face. Funny thing was, he wasn't looking at me. I turned around to see Ainsley aimlessly toddling down the aisle unaccompanied.

Oh well. At least no one was shrieking.

When Tim finished up, I reluctantly agreed to drop by the downtown library. I say reluctantly not because I don't love the library, but because I don't especially love it with two small children one of whom likes to rip every blinking book off the shelves. I don't think the librarians miss us.

I pulled up to the front of the library. Let me emphasize that my parking space was smack dab in front of the library. I let Tim, Kolbe, and John out and told them I would meet them inside. I grabbed the stroller, got Ainsley situated, and walked in to find a stern-faced guard giving Tim what for. Tim caught my eye and pointed my way. The guard immediately came up to me and gave me a rather firm dressing down for leaving my children unsupervised at the library (for all of one hundred and eighty seconds).

I apologized, shushed John, and told the kids they had another one hundred and eighty seconds to find books because we were exiting the premises pronto!

For the record, the kids' behavior was nothing short of stellar, I made a donation to the library, and John offered a sweet and unprompted "Sank you" as we beat our hasty retreat.

Yes, sometimes I feel like we are a side show. Then again, maybe we bring a welcome diversion to an otherwise mundane morning.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let It Be

John, anxious to watch Clifford the Big Red Gog: It's done bewinding, Mama.

John, anxious to partake of the Goldfish: I'll get a betainer, Mama.

John, unable to recall a friend's name: I can't bemember it.

Be - a useful but oft overlooked prefix.

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Happy Weekend to you!

See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Who's In Charge?

Me: John, would you check on Ainsley?

John: She's in the baffroom. I wocked her up.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Career Options

It's a shame to be a mere three years old and have to face the fact that certain careers fields are simply not an option. But let's just state the obvious: John will never make it as a spy.

His face reads like a book. If he's purloined his brother's stash of chocolate or absconded with some sharp and breakable object from Dad's dresser, he might as well post it on Facebook.

The first hint of foul play has to do with location. See John under the dining room table? He's up to no good. Hiding behind the living room chair? Take stock of your valuables. I see a shrouded figure huddled in the corner and wonder if I'll have enough semi-sweet chips to glaze my cheesecake.

He used to climb behind the kitchen bar stools. They are taking a long breather in the attic as they were tall enough to make the entire kitchen accessible to one John Patrick and wobbly enough to make me wonder how soon we would be headed to the ER. Out they went!

Espionage is not an option. Acting, on the other hand, could be his calling.

John had a recent check-up. His pediatrician asked if I had any concerns, and I mentioned a few challenging behaviors we are confronting on a daily basis. The doctor lifted an eyebrow and peered at John over his glasses.

There sat cherub-boy on the exam table -  smiling, swinging his legs, lisping "Hiyah, Dr. Moorwah."

The good doctor gave me a skeptical look and said, "So he has tendency to be oppostional?"

Who are you going to believe, I wanted to ask.  Me or Eddie Haskell? What can I say? Eddie's performance clearly outdid mine.

 Just hand him the Oscar.

Friday, December 03, 2010

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 
Happy Weekend to you and yours!

Visit Soulemama to add your moment.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

She's Number Four

Tim honed his fine motor skills manipulating well built, developmentally appropriate wooden toys.

Ainsley reloads ammo in the Nerf-N-Strike Vulcan.

I guess that's a step up from John who was known to load ammo into the peanut butter jar, dump batteries into my morning cup 'o Joe,  and toss pens into the milk carton.

With such dexterity, he'll probably be a plastic surgeon.


My friend Ami blogs over at 40daystochange.wordpress.com. Ami is a friend of many years, a sorority sister, a Michigan alum, a mother, a wife, a banker, a lawyer, a writer, a runner, and a knitter. A woman of many talents.

A few weeks back, this piece of hers caught my eye just before I was heading off to a meeting. I printed off a few copies to share. Suddenly my phone was ringing  with other friends who wanted a copy or the link. One neighbor left a message saying the piece and the accompanying link to a post about time affected her profoundly.
Ami begins:
We all can identify something as our top priority, and we might tell ourselves and others that that thing is the top priority.  Maybe God is your top priority.  Maybe family is.  Maybe it’s something else. What do YOU identify as your top priority?
After you choose your IP or Identified Priority, you can take a brief quiz to evaluate how you allocate time, spend your money, and handle interruptions with regard to your Identified Priority.

Check it out. Definitely food for thought for those attempting to live an intentional life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We Love School Projects!

Long ago when I had one pre-schooler, I offered to host my friend’s ten-year-old while she and her husband spent a weekend away. She arrived at my house with a suitcase, a poster board, and a look of complete exasperation.

She gestured to the poster board and went on to rant and rave about school projects and pictures of wolves and glue and bibliographies and habitats and blah, blah, blah.

I confess that I found her reaction a tad over the top. It’s just a school project. What’s the big deal?

Now, if you had peered into my window this morning, you would have seen the dining room table covered with paste-ups of amphibians and birds, mammals and invertebrates. A few still-damp pieces were lying under ceiling fans set on high in hopes that the glue would dry before Ainsley woke up and shredded the whole enchilada. You might have witnessed a slight tension in the air when “Things to know about reptiles” temporarily went missing. You might have discerned a distinct drop in blood pressure as the whole kit and caboodle went Out! The! Door! at 8:10 this morning.

I now understand that chest-tightening sensation a mother feels when a special set of instructions arrives home in the backpack.

There’s the state project, the country project, the swamp diorama, and - the mother of all projects – the science fair. Oh, what memories we have made. We’ve glued maps far into the evening and assembled bibliographies at the eleventh hour.

When food is involved, the stakes are even higher. I say stakes not steaks because one thing I’ve learned after years of having school age kids: Never invest in exotic fare with kids who look at a bag of Cheetos and think they’re in high cotton.

We try to avoid the last minute - really, we do – but sometimes the unexpected occurs – a file goes missing, the playdoh lizard becomes a double amputee in the hands of the two-year-old, the map of the Gobi Desert get crumpled. So we are up late, trying hard not to take the easy path and do it ourselves, exercising great restraint as we growl, “Just hand me the darn blessed lovely iguana so I can glue it on already.”

I know I’ve matured in all of this. I got a late call from a mom trying to interpret directions. She was laughing about her oldest son getting an “E” for “Excellent” instead of an “E+” for “Exceptionally Excellent” because he had hand written his titles rather than having his mom type them.

“E” sounds great to me. I mean, “G” is for “Good” and that means, well, “Good.” Right?

She laughed and said, “This is why God gave me six kids.” I guess that’s why God gave me four. You can micromanage one or two, no sweat. Beyond two, it gets a little dicey. While not wholly detached from my kids’ grades by a long shot, I now view them as just that – their grades, not mine.

For two nights Kolbe has been sketching and labeling while I have been scrounging up construction paper and counting specimen. What could have been one painful ordeal has actually been fun due to three factors:

1. Kolbe is an awesome kid.

2. Kolbe loves to draw.

3. Mom has steadfastly refused to freak out.

I expect a round of applause for #3.

I will never forget my sister desperately trying to get her son to finish an assignment. In a moment of sheer frustration and exhaustion – and let’s face it, we’ve all been there – she finished it for him, trying very hard to imitate the penmanship of a second grader. At the next parent-teacher conference, the teacher called her on it. Busted, so totally busted. Oh, how I laughed! Nailed for failure to fake your kid’s writing. Hilarious.

Imagine my chagrin when Kolbe woke up this morning, looked at his science project, and said, “Mom, you did a great job!”

I cringed and told him he was not, under any circumstances, to repeat that at school.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What a Mother Can Offer Up

When I am overworked,
I will pray for the jobless.

When my children are demanding,
I will pray for the childless.

When I am overwhelmed with housekeeping,
I will pray for the homeless.

When I am grocery shopping,
I will pray for the hungry.

When I am running carpools,
I will pray for the homebound.

I will ask God to turn my moments of fatigue,
boredom, and frustration into times of intercession
for others and thanksgiving for the fullness of my

I will unite my sufferings with those of Christ
and pray his grace on those who are truly

Warms a Mother's Heart

Sometimes brotherly love seems in short supply around here.

Then there are times like this morning.

Tim and Kolbe dashed out the door with a grand plan to pick pecans, sell them, and drop $70.00 on a remote controlled fire truck for John.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Reasonable Explanation

Kolbe: Wampanoag children never complained. Their parents would throw them out in the snow.

Me: Well, I would never do that to you.

Kolbe: Yeah, we don't get much snow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Balm in Gilead

Ainsley's been  fighting a rash lately, so  I chucked her diaper and let her air dry.

(Let me pause to reflect on what a fifteen year-old Ainsley will think should she ever delve into the archives of her mother's blog. Sorry, Sunshine!)

Diaperless babies seem to get an extra spring their steps. "I'm freeeee!" they seem to shout. Of course the inevitable happened.  I discovered not by stepping in it or from  a report issued from a scandalized and irrate brother, but because I spotted moist footsteps running the length of the dining room table.

Where else would she choose to be wild and free?

So when I read Kate Wicker's recent post, I had to laugh. She recounts:

Imagine this: As you're in the midst of school, you hear the toilet still running so you swing open the bathroom door to find a lake on the floor and a gushing waterfall coming from the commode. Later that same day your preschool daughter who is completely potty trained but sometimes has trouble pooping in the sitting position smears not one but three pairs of panties (what is it with my children and poop?). She also poops on your kitchen floor and then insists she didn't have to poop (she was just exercising, she says; it did look like she was doing squats). This all happens after you gave her a bath. Meanwhile, your toddler, who ran away from you giggling and stark naked, has peed all over your wood floor and walked through the puddle leaving a trail of wet, pee footprints all over. Oh, and the dog is trying to lick up the pee .
I've mentioned before that I abhor that over-worked phrase LOL, but a while back when I  read Amy's post on grocery store woes, I laughed so hard I nearly cried. Here is my God son's account of what transpired:
"Okay," Aiden began, "well, first I knocked over those drinks."

"I walked by those cards and knocked them over," Dawson added.

"I ran down the opposite aisle of Mama and surprised her," he explained as he drew out the game plan on the table with a big smile erupting.

Dawson now began to giggle as he admired his brother's handy work. "I hopped down the aisle when you told me to stay by you."

"We blocked that man in the wheelchair cart from coming down the aisle because we were both laying on the floor looking at that huge crack," he giggled again nearly high-fiving Dawson.

"And when you were checking out, I ran over to the change machine instead of staying by you," Dawson remembered.

"I guess I did that too," remembered Aiden.
Hilarious in the retelling; time off of purgatory to live through. I, too, have died a thousand deaths in grocery stores. Oh, how I could feel Amy's pain.

So many of these mommy-blogs are full of colorful and smelly antics. Of course the crazy stories seem more post worthy than  the three-year-old coming up and saying "I wove you, Mama."  But in the interest of fair and balanced reporting (and in an effort to convince my single friends that motherhood isn't pure drudgery), I am happy to report that there is more love than dirty socks around our place. Well, okay, maybe at the moment this isn't strictly true. Tim and Dave did just return from a Wilderness Survival Weekend, in the North Georgia mountains where the snakes may be dormant but there are bears, yes bears!  I am happy to report that Dad and Son did survive, but their socks? Well, they didn't fare quite so well.

But back to the main point, whatever that was. Oh, yes. There's lots 'o love around here.

John loves his stories at nap and bedtime. They are such constants that he gets whiny when I suggest we read together. I am trying to convince him that an offer for a 'tory, as he calls them, doesn't always  mean he's getting shipped off to bed.

Anyway. As I start to read, I feel a tug on my right arm. When we read my right arm has to be wrapped around him. If I move it to get a second book or to turn a page, I am instantly met with a "Hey!" I like to move my arm just to have him grab it and move it back. "This is nice, " he said the other night as we read and snuggled. It is so very nice, so very sweet, and - I know all too well - so very short lived.

Suspicious footprints might litter odd surfaces, grocery shopping may require a stiff drink, and potty training might not be over even when it's over, but there is balm in Gilead - the balm of soft cheeks, squishy hands, lisping voices, full laps, arms that can't let go, and love, lots of love.

Friday, November 19, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Small Successes


Earlier this week, the kind comments of readers touched my heart and added a little pep to my demeanor. Encouragement is powerful! Join the women of Faith and Family as we encourage one another. This may seem like a trivial or even self-absorbed activity, but I firmly believe in the value of cheering each other on as we continue the great and arduous job of building homes and raising children.

Here are a few highlights from our house:

1. I patched the drywall in our kitchen. Sadly, John saw the glistening spackling compound and thought it was frosting. Ran  his finger right through it! Hope he didn't eat it! I've looked at that hole for at least a year, and now it's gone. Time to paint.

2. The 13th birthday bash was so much fun - pizza, bottle rockets, hours of The Settlers of Catan, a sleepover with six middle school boys.  Amazingly everyone was asleep before 1:00. All the festivities have distracted me from fully contemplating that we now have a teenager in the house!

3.  It's pecan season here in the southeast. I'm coordinating the Boy Scouts' efforts to sell pecans to pay for summer camp. Week one netted the boys over $200! We have enjoyed spending afternoons picking pecans in the beautiful Fall sunshine.

What have you been doing?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Without the Bite

I am in Tampa. My under-caffeinated brain is trying to order my morning joe, but I can’t seem to put words around what it is I’m after.

“I’d like a cup of regular coffee, but can you make it…”

What is it I’m looking for? Not weak. I like full-bodied coffee.

“Mild?” the helpful cashier offers. Yes, mild. Full-bodied minus the bite, minus the bitterness.

Minus the bite.

I’ve been thinking a lot about bite these days.

I’ve done more than my share of biting of late. In point of fact, I am wondering if I ought to get a rabies shot, wear a collar, and post a sign that reads “Beware of Mom.”

As I sit here in the quiet morning hours, well caffeinated and typing peacefully, the object of my bite seems so, so trivial. Once again, it’s the state of my house – the spilled drinks, the stacks of papers, the unwashed dishes.

While these are pretty much constants for a family of six, in the past few weeks Ainsley has become a force to be reckoned with. She is formidable, relentless, nothing short of unstoppable.

Remember those cartoons that showed an army of ants marching into a picnic area and then marching away leaving only a tablecloth in its wake?

This is Ainsley in reverse.

She stomps through the house – you can hear her coming from three rooms away. She exits each room leaving an epic mess behind. Every item in a bathroom drawer flung in four directions. Twenty feet of aluminum foil unfurled. Trash can? Emptied! Board game? Strewn about? Clean, folded laundry? Not any more!

My tactic is to keep all doors shut and preferably locked, but I seem to be the sole member of this household who thinks this way.

My sister and I were laughing about all the cool toys from decades past that have been deemed dangerous and pulled from the market. Remember Johnny Jump Up? Walkers that actually walked?

“All those idiot mothers who left their kids in walkers next to stairways,” my sister lamented, shaking her head. I immediately came to the defense of idiot mothers everywhere. In fact they are not idiots at all – they simply have older children.

When Tim was a baby I could have invited The Today Show to shoot a segment on child-proofing your home. So uncomplicated when the ratio of adults to kids is 2:1; not so simple when the ratio is 4:2 and the older ones have free run of most of the house. For every door I shut and lock, a game gets left out, a drawer left opened, or – worst of all – a screen door left unlatched.

Yesterday was nothing spectacular, but the repetitive, seemingly pointless efforts of constantly! constantly! constantly! picking up the same messes simply got to me.

John had two near misses of the bathroom variety. Ainsley got her hot little hands on the foil – again. Our babysitter called with a conflict tomorrow. While we were talking, I noticed smoke billowing out of the oven. I doused the six inch flame with a cup of coffee. I tried to drum up a new plan for dinner.

I found Pit cards flung about the boys’ room and toothpaste and tooth brushes littering the hallway. Ainsley walked out of my bedroom carrying an IPod. I surveyed the rest of the damage. She had pilfered through my nightstand and emptied a bag or two of hand-me-downs.

As my agitation grew, I heard John playing with his drill. Rummm! Rummm! This is technically a toy drill, but it actually drills, as in it makes real holes. Dave called with Cub Scout information that required phone calls on my part. I still had no plan for dinner. Tim suddenly remembered he had an essay to write. I felt like the ball in a pinball machine.

I began to clean up and found myself stuffing drawers with angry shoves, closing them with a bang, stomping off to the next mess, slamming doors in between. In the middle of my stew, I spotted someone’s church clothes crumpled in ball on a chair.

When we arrived home, my instructions had been clear – hang up your clothes.

My slow boil instantly dialed up a notch or two. In fact, I was nothing short of enraged. The baby is the baby, but the big guys? No excuse. No quarter.

I bit – I bit hard – I bit everyone.

What followed was just as inevitable as the messes – overwhelming regret. I hate myself for being this way. I hate that I can’t seem to channel my frustration into cooperation. Most of all I hate that my children so often see my bite.

I tell myself that somehow the mess gets cleaned up everyday. I remind myself that the older boys – while not apt to take the initiative to clean up – really do everything I ask them to do and with reasonably good attitudes. I point out that Ainsley’s messy stage won’t last forever.

Somehow all this – true and reasonable though it is – never seems to stop a rant in progress.

I don’t know why tonight was different, but I said, “Enough!” I am done letting my temper get the best of me. Like a drunk who wakes up so disgusted he is motivated to quit, I am ready to be done with the chronic pain my foul temper causes me and everyone else.

I have a plan – a humble plan, but a plan nonetheless. I’ll share it later.

Most of my small readership consists of dear friends and relatives. This morning I ask for your prayers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

On the Phone with Dad

John: We are praying for you. You nice. We got oatmeal pies. Here, Mom. Take da phone.

All the important topics duly covered.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Masters of the Marketing Universe

Those folks at Fisher Price know how to market their wares.

Over the years, we have acquired a hefty load of Fisher Price toys. At one time we owned the plane, the school bus, the ark, the nativity scene, and three - yes, three! - barns.

Today I trash picked the castle.

Sometimes I amaze even myself. I have described myself as a minimalist. Truthfully, I would now count myself among the minimalist-wannabes. While I continue to fight the good fight against all things plastic, I’ve lost a lot of ground of late. My last major purge was three years ago. Oh, what a glorious day it was! If you could have witnessed the glee with which I unloaded a plethora of little used toys at the local Goodwill! Truly I felt lighter as I drove away. We got rid of an entire truckload of bikes, games, and toys, including a slew of Fisher Price items.

All of this makes my actions earlier today all the more perplexing.

The plot only thickens when I examine precisely why I ditched most of the Fisher Price collection. While I am a devotee of the "less is more" mentality, I don’t get rid of stuff we actually use. See, there’s been one consistent problem with these Fisher Price toys – my kids do not play with them.

The airplane saw more mileage than the other items. One of the boys showed a fleeting interest in the school bus. The nativity was difficult to hold together – unlike its counterparts, it’s made of cardboard and flimsy at best. The ark was so cool – so cool that it made the cut and is still safely ensconced in our attic – but in reality it sat in dry dock.

As to the story of the three farms – well, that’s a little complicated. I bought barn #1 at a yard sale. Who came up with this design, I don’t know. You could move the animals in, but you really couldn’t get them out short of picking up the whole edifice and shaking hard. So barn #1 sat. Barn # 2- different yard sale, different design. It opened! It was nifty! No one played with it! Barn #3 – a gift from a generous relative unaware of barns 1 and 2. It, too, saw very little action.

My experience with Fisher Price toys is that I spend all my time snagging stray sheep out from under the couch or pilots and passengers from under beds. Lots of picking up – little playing time. A bad ratio.

I was over at a friend’s house the other day. There I spied the Fisher Price castle. Two words for this vintage baby: Cool Ness! Oh my goodness, I wanted that castle. As for John – well, he was flat mesmerized.

This afternoon I was cruising through the neighborhood late for a very important date, and there it was on the side of the road – a Fisher Price castle! I screeched to a halt and snatched it up.

Later I got a good, hard look at it. Gently used it was not - cracked, sagging, the tower bordering on moldy, badly in need of an Extreme Makeover, Castle Edition. Alas, I pondered a little too long, and John spied the object of my affection .

“My castle,” he cried.>It is now sitting on my couch housing a brace of Lego guys.

The castle came with no figures, so the next logical step was to check Ebay for knights and dragons and horses. They have a gracious plenty, and they go for a pretty penny. The king and queen alone will set you back ten bucks plus shipping. They had a few complete sets available, and I found myself torn. Me, the minimalist!

The cheapest set went for $50.00 plus a whopping $15.00 for shipping. This for something I will be delighted to unload at Goodwill in the not too distant future?

Nothing short of a battle ensued.

Remember Madame Blueberry, I remind myself. Happiness does not wait at the Stuffmart! You really don’t need more stuff!

So cool, so very cool!

They’ll never play with it!

This time will be different!

You’re nuts!

Am not!

Are too!

Hope is triumphing over experience which is a long-winded and cliched-ridden way of saying I am a sucker! If Fisher Price can sell a zillion piece set to someone who has owned - and not enjoyed! - most of their zillion piece sets, then, truly, they could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo.

Fisher Price – Masters of the Marketing Universe.

A Sight I Don't Often See Anymore . . .

And one that I surely don't miss one little bit!

So Long Tween - Hello Teen

Tim got out of bed at midnight to mark a milestone for him and for us.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Small Successes

FaithButton Join the women of Faith and Family as we encourage one another. Here are a few highlights from our week:

1. I spent most of Tuesday night comforting a sick Ainsley. I finally crashed around 4:00 a.m. and then overslept. Waking the boys at 7:45 when they need to be out the door at 8:10 is usually a prescription for threats and yelling. Instead I turned to bribery and offered them breakfast at McDonald's if they could be ready to roll in five minutes. Mission accomplished in about seven minutes! What could have been a rotten morning was, in fact, both tasty and fun.

2. I wish I could say the same for the afternoon. A napless toddler and other kids under the weather led to meltdowns and messes and one grumpy mother. When will I ever learn to just tune it out already?

But, since we are focusing on successes, I will note that my children will never be able to say their parents didn't model how to make amends when they blew it. I apologized, and we ended the evening on a positive note. As I kissed their slumbering heads, I prayed a prayer a friend taught me: Lord, bridge the gap between what they've needed and what they've received.

3. Plans are in the works for Tim's 13th birthday bash. Lots of progress yesterday.

What about you?

Time to Wean

Ainsley and I just enjoyed what is likely to be our last nursing session. In a few minutes I will smear my nose and cheek with $400 skin cream that, God willing, will halt the growth of squamous cells. You can't be pregnant or nursing and use this medication, so another era of motherhood passes.

I rocked her, smoothed her downy blond hair, and told her how special this time has been. She's, like, "Whatever, Mama. Hand me my pacie."

I love nursing. As I woman who has a penchant for being a Martha, but an ardent desire to be a Mary, nursing has helped me to slow down and enjoy my babies. I have been blessed with four enthusiastic nursers. I hasten to add that enthusiastic has not meant problem free. With all three boys, I faced significant and excruciatingly painful hurdles, but time, perseverance, and helpful hints from other nursing moms helped us negotiate these. Problems solved, we then went on to enjoy many, many months of peaceful nursing.

One of the boys adopted Ainsley's "whatever" attitude toward weaning. In fact he weaned so fast I was unprepared. One day I realized he hadn't nursed for two or three days. Somehow it just didn't seem right to pass through this milestone without fanfare.

"We didn't have our last nurse," I remember telling my husband. While Dave probably didn't fully understand the significance of this, at that point we had been married long enough for him to say, "You're right, honey. I think you should nurse him one last time." A wise man. So we had our ceremonial nurse. He jumped up and said, "Ooohh! Twains!" or something to that effect. Onward and upward! New vistas to explore! Big deal for me; no deal for him.

Another boy would have nursed his way into elementary school, content to find a coat closet or a corner of the teachers' lounge so he could top off during recess. Weaning was slow and about as fun as a raging case of mastitis.

I weaned John around sixteen months because I was four months pregnant with Ainsley and had yet to gain ounce number one. Considering what I ended up looking like circa forty weeks - enormous would be the word - this was probably a good thing. But I worried, so I weaned. John never looked back, and neither did I, really, because it was a little much to be growing one baby and having a toddler sprawled all over me. Some women love it. Me? Not so much.

I was supposed to start this treatment almost exactly two years ago. It was a dreary day. I was battling fatigue and finally decided to head across town for a Frappuccino to perk me up. Out of the blue I had the thought: You should take a pregnancy test. Whhhattt? I was forty-four years old. It had taken six years and a load of heartache to have John. He was still nursing! No way was I pregnant.

Except that I was.

That positive pregnancy test was possibly the biggest shock of my life. (Scratch that! Hearing my niece yell, "It's a girl!" beat the pregnancy test by a long shot.)

Still reeling from the news, I went on to a dermatology appointment and explained to my doctor why I would not be starting the treatment as planned. To put it mildly, she was not terribly impressed with my announcement. In fact I felt rather like a delinquent teenager babbling some lame explanation to a skeptical principal. Responsible women don't have surprise pregnancies. Certainly not forty-four-year-old women!

I submit that my sweet Ainsey-girl is the best surprise of my life.

My heart is a bit heavy, and my eyes welled up with tears as I read this to Dave. You know, you can care for other people's babies. You can read to them and rock them and play peek-a-boo. But, wet nurses aside, nursing is strictly a mother's domain. In all likelihood, my nursing days are now over. They have been special days indeed.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. Prayers for God's grace as we embark on this next season.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On Saints and Lost Shoes

In honor of All Saints' Day, I have to offer a word of thanks to a saint all mothers seem to keep busy - Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost items. This morning was a tad chilly. Getting
Ainsley to keep socks on her feet requires me to put shoes on her (otherwise she yanks the socks and tosses them). You wouldn't think this would be so tough, but she was quite the fashionista this morning in the get-up posted right.

Yes, I could find just one brown and one polka-dotted shoe until I asked Saint Anthony to intercede and immediately found the second brown one. Saint Anthony never fails to deliver when lost pacifiers threaten to make bedtime run amok or when homework vanishes.

I have often wondered about the theology and reality of this phenomenon. Here's my take. God wants to answer all of our prayers as quickly and decisively as we find that lost shoe. Of course most of our prayers involve dilemmas far more serious and complicated than a missing pacifier or sneaker. Moreover these prayer requests typically involve other people and that pesky and inviolable point of human nature known as free will. While God wants to answer our prayers, He won't violate free will to do so. Lost items typically involve no free will, and God can flex a little muscle and give us a gratuitous gift. Here! Enjoy! Problem solved!

A member of my women's prayer group recently shared what she called a "selfish prayer." She had been training for a half-marathon and simply wanted to run the race pain free. The longer I thought about her prayer, the more I thought that it wasn't selfish at all. No, leg pain is not world peace, and a half-marathon isn't cancer research. But God is a loving and generous Father. Sometimes a child needs medicine or comfort or food or something else we would deem essential. Sometimes he comes running to Dad for a cookie or a new matchbox car or a trip to the ice cream store.

Today I am grateful for my heavenly Father and for the host of saints who intercede for our needs and wants, both significant and small.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Low Expectations

Adult: The four of you will have to agree on a movie to watch.

Child: It's going to be a bloodbath.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Low Tech and On the Blink

An agitated and impatient John comes running into the study. He grabs my arm to drag me off to do his bidding.

"What do you need," I ask.

"Just hit it, Mama! Just hit it!" comes the reply.

He's referring to the T.V., thankfully not a brother or sister. This T.V. is a fossil that goes from full screen to a flat line without warning. And, yes, smacking it seems to help.

Kolbe was describing an interesting show he had watched and said, "It was on the converter box last week."

Yes, some people might say "It was on Playhouse Disney or HBO." We're happy our ancient analog T.V. has a converter box to pick up a digital signal.

Monday, October 25, 2010

While Ainsley Was Taking Care of the Bathroom . . .

John was having some fun of his own. Thankfully this door is one of about seventy-two surfaces already slated for a paint job.

When I returned home from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd this afternoon, both of these sweet cherubs squealed with delight.

All is forgiven.

Count It All Joy

Really, is there anything more fun than toilet paper? Why, yes! Vaseline's always good for a laugh.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Kolbe: Mom, get that roach!

Me: No, thank you!

Kolbe: That's the second bug you've declined.

And it won't be the last.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This One's Rated "G"

For g-r-o-s-s, that is.

So "On the Mend" was a tad premature. We've gone six for six with the technicolor yawn, and the fun just keeps on coming.

On Friday it appeared that we were indeed on the mend. As we plowed through make-up work and kept Ainsley from catapulting off the dining room table, I heard one of the boys yell, "Yeah! Dad's home!"

At one o'clock in the afternoon? Not a good sign. Sure enough, another Dolin bit the dust, though having Zofran in the house eased his suffering considerably.

Saturday morning I zipped into Kroger to resupply laundry detergent and pedialyte before taking off for a women's retreat. A ways into the retreat, I looked down and realized my sweater had a large dollop of vomit on it. Who says I can't accessorize?

Various complicated reasons found us attending three different Masses on Sunday. While everyone was over the hump, John and Ainsley were having issues that lingered and lingered and linger still.

Our pediatrician called Monday afternoon to tell us he wanted something called a stool study on Ainsley. I was thrilled to see that Ainsley had a lower g.i. explosion first thing Tuesday morning. That was timely, I thought, as I cleaned her up. The women from my prayer group were just arriving, so I bagged up Explodo-Diaper and left Explodo-Jammies for later. After prayers, I zipped around running a few errands before hitting the lab where I learned that Explodo-Diaper would not fit the bill. The nice woman in charge explained how I should go about procuring an uncontaminated sample (is that an oxymoron or what?). She then handed me five vials to fill. Five vials.

I eventually ditched Explodo-Diaper and arrived home to deal with Explodo-Jammies. I lined Ainsley's diaper with plastic wrap as instructed.

As I have shared before, Ainsley is not one to perform under pressure. Eventually she saw a little action, but only enough to slide off the plastic wrap and land all over me. I had decided that Explodo-Jammies needed a second run through the wash, so in it all went.

The clock continued to tick today. At long last, Ainsley woke up from her nap and did the job. I filled the requisite vials and back to the lab we went. We bopped into the park on the way home. As I picked up Ainsley she once again and without benefit of plastic wrap pooped all over me.

I came home and changed while dwelling on the fact that I have reached my limit. I am done with poop; I am done with vomit, I muttered to myself. I walked into the bathroom and realized the former statement was not quite accurate.

After serving a gourmet meal of hot dogs and boxed macaroni and cheese, I looked across the table to see John's plate untouched and John himself doubled over assuming the exact posture that I observed when this germy debacle began nine - count 'em nine - days ago.

"My tummy hurts! My tummy hurts," John moaned. Seconds later Ainsley tossed her cookies (or her macaroni and cheese) all over me.

I see from this hilarious picture over at Elizabeth Foss' blog that we are not the only ones so plagued.

Remember Lurch from The Adams Family? There's a primal groan just like his emanating from the Dolin household.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Tim and Kolbe are story-boarding ideas for a new Indiana Jones flick.

Kolbe: How do you spell "evasive action"?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Scrunchies Are Out - Topsiders Are In

I was sitting with a group of gals planning a surprise party.

“It’s going to be an ‘80’s party,” a friend shared. “Leg warmers, purple eye shadow, and scrunchies. Remember when we used to wear all that?”

I was nodding and tracking until she got to the part about scrunchies.

“What’s that about scrunchies? I still wear scrunchies. Don’t people wear scrunchies,” I wondered.

From the look on my friend’s face – poor thing, she was flat mortified for me – I surmised that the answer was no, in fact, people are no longer wearing scrunchies. Over the next weeks, I began looking around and indeed there was nary a scrunchy to be found. When did this happen? Why does Wal-mart still sell these things? More to the point, how did everyone figure this out except me?

Over the summer I attended a neighborhood swap. What a great time! Bring all your junk and take home mine absolutely free. I roamed around on the lookout for good finds.

“Ooh, Kel!” a friend called. “Aren’t you a size six? Grab that pair of Sperry Topsiders.”

Sperry Topsiders. Every girl in my high school sported a pair. They fit like a glove. I took them home faintly puzzled that I now had shoes left over from the preppy era. Suddenly I saw Sperry Topsiders everywhere. All over the swank stores at the mall. On the feet of a nine-year-old sitting in front of me. A neighbor saw me wearing them and called, “Cute shoes!”

When did Sperry Topsiders come back into vogue? How did everyone learn of this trend? How did it escape me?

Fashion mystifies me. There is some mysterious formula that other women seem to absorb. For me it’s like memorizing irregular French verbs. Scrunchies are out; Topsiders are in. Scrunchies are out; Topsiders are in. Say it again. Got it.

The crux of the problem is that irregular French verbs don’t morph; fashion does. Everyone seems to get this except for me. And the mystery of it all leaves me with a sinking feeling that I have somehow time travelled back to the sixth grade.

That was the year my family moved. While in geographical terms we migrated a mere four miles, in other respects it was a world away. We moved from middle class digs to a wealthier neighborhood and a new school populated by hoity toity girls who, I promise you, emerged from the womb with an uncanny ability to both accessorize and flirt.

They primped and did makeovers and read Seventeen Magazine. I still enjoyed climbing trees.

Oh, how I wanted to figure it all out! I, too, read Seventeen Magazine – from cover to cover - mostly because I was desperate to crack the code! Baby blue Levi’s corduroys? Check. Over-sized comb in the back pocket? Check. Bubble gum flavored Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker? Check. Beyond that, I was hopelessly lost.

To some degree, I still am. Maybe there’s a gene that failed to pass on properly. Maybe my secret decoder ring got lost in the mail. Who knows? Oh, I have managed to find a style of sorts that I call my own, but it isn’t easy for the fashion impaired. Rebecca Teti could have been describing me when she wrote:

Ladies, I am not a fashion maven. I try not to look utterly out of step with the times, but as I have neither the temperament nor the budget nor the figure to make shopping fun, I’m content with a style (if something so haphazard can rise to the level of a “style”) I might call “presentable middle-aged mom.”

(Or perhaps “last year")

Can I hear a shout out for presentable middle-aged moms in last year’s fashions? We keep Sears in the black!

I was trying on shorts when the micro-inseam was still the rage. Good grief! What post-pubescent female could actually wear those things? Now I am not exactly fit, but neither am I large. I must have tried on thirty pairs of shorts. In the middle of this, I began to wonder if there weren’t yet another memo I failed to received, this one detailing some special sort of underwear one should don when wearing these odious shorts.

(Note: If low-rise shorts require underwear that starts with a “th” and rhymes with “song,” I say no, thank you to both the shorts and the undies. I am in full agreement with a friend who refuses to invest in an item that is designed to do exactly what every woman has spent her entire life trying to get her underwear not to do.)

Maternity clothes present their own set of challenges. Looking around the pool this summer, I was so impressed with the array of cute maternity bathing suits. Where were these darling numbers a year ago? Then pregnant with Ainsley, I scoured both the online and the brick and mortar maternity world and found there was one word to describe every single bathing suit: skimpy. Yes, skimpy. I can think of a number of adjectives to describe the look I had in mind, but, trust me, skimpy did not make the list. I ended up getting a suit from a friend. Cute, it was not. It brought to mind words such as moo moo and caftan. My sister actually burst out laughing when she saw me in it. What’s a fashion-challenged pregnant mother to do?

Nursing brings another wave of fashion woes. With birthday cash in my pocket, I hit the mall the other day intent on finding something snazzy. With a few extra pounds here and there – pounds that I fully intend to lose really, really soon! – nothing I tried on was flattering in the least. Frustrated, I bopped into Strasburg Kids and spent my birthday money on a dress for sweet Ainsley. She looks better in clothes than I do.

Eventually I get fed up with the entire process. I go all Felix Unger and conclude that if I can’t pull off trendy, at least I can be neat. I grab my trusty Lands End catalogue and place an order.

All of this begs a basic question: Why bother with it at all? Well, for two reasons. First, I actually do enjoy looking nice. It’s something I like to do for myself, my hubby, and for all the people who have to look at me all day. Rachel Balducci and Hallie Lord took up the issue here. It captures the balance between too much and too little.

Second, I have found that ignoring any area of life doesn’t make that area any easier; in fact, it just complicates things further. Going back to those post-partum days, the simple process of getting ready for Mass would become an ordeal when I had nothing to wear. The entire family would be headed for the van as I stared at a bed covered with three blouses, two skirts, and a slew of bras.

I recently enjoyed several good hair days in a row. The reason? An updated haircut. A little maintenance, a little attention and these areas of life are less of a headache.

I am not a nun who dons a wimple each morning. While there are moments when shaving my head sounds tempting, that is not the life God has called me to lead.

So here I sit still waiting for my fashion decoder ring to arrive. In the meantime, I can always count on Lands End.

On the Mend

Thanks be to God and Zofran, we are on the mend.

I have a shower curtain and a bath mat left to disinfect. Yes, this was one messy bout.

The Land of Ick has morphed into The Land of Make-up Work. From the next room, I hear Kolbe call, "Good! I've finished another test." Progress, progress, progress.

God bless the homeschoolers of the world. I share their love for the art of teaching. I understand the desire to pass a love of learning on to your children. I can't fathom how anyone gets a lick of school work done with toddlers in the house.

I leave the dining room for a scant second and return expecting to see a studious third grader and a diligent seventh grader, noses to their respective grindstones. They have vanished without a trace.

Instead I find a one-year-old basking in her new-found ability to climb, climb, climb! You know, there's no good day for a toddler to learn to climb on the dining room table, but truly some days are worse than others. Ditto for her ability to climb the ladder-back chairs.

I have visions of stitches dancing in my head.

Did I just refer to my baby as a toddler? Say it isn't so.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Becusting and Wame

Between mopping floors, dosing kids with phenergan, and transferring laundry, I've enjoyed a few choice Johnisms:

On seeing Ainsey lose it: She frowed up. It's becusting.

On the latest video selection: I don't wike Tom and Jerry. It's wame.

Laughter is welcome here in The Land Ick because it is indeed becusting.

Happy Anniversary!

Dave and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage yesterday. We spent the evening dosing kids with Tylenol and mopping up vomit.

Warning to my neighbors: I don't have a skull and crossbones to post on the front porch, but consider yourselves forewarned. Free range germs in the house! John was burning up with fever while Ainsley and Kolbe tossed their cookies in stereo. Tim got into the action this morning.

All of this is further complicated by the fact that my half and half - dated 10/31 - has curdled so I am facing four sick kids and a mountain of n-a-s-t-y laundry caffeine-free. This simply will not do. I plan a quick trip through the McDonald's drive through.

I'm angling to write a bright, uplifting piece about the joy and fruit that has come from these years of married love, but Ainsley is at the door wailing, "Mamamamamama!" and John has just informed me that his pull-up is poopy.

On a lighter note, I just found a Netflix DVD that has been missing for a month. In fact just yesterday I called Netflix to find out what I owed them. I think Season 1 of Monk will bring some much needed levity to this dreary day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Rainforest Cafe

Warding off gorillas and monsoons.

Excitement Behind Every Door

Burger King off of I-95.

I walk John into the bathroom stall and shut the door. His face lights up with excitement, and he does this maneuver with his shoulders that shows he's anticipating big time fun.

"Are we hiding," he asks, barely containing his enthusiasm.

Sorry to disappoint, my precious bundle of joy. We're just going potty.

Another Sous-chef in Training

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Seven Quick Takes - The Vacation Edition

Jen hosts Seven Quick Takes. Here are a few blurbs about life around here...

1. Tuesday night we returned from a potluck dinner and found two gift bags sitting on the dining room table - one for Tim, one for Kolbe. Inside were guides to Disney World. We leave this morning, er, um, sometime today.

2. It appears that Winnie the Pooh has made other plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, midnight snacks, etc.. Please pray that if we can't eat with John's favorite bear, we can at least have a nice chat and photo-op. If we miss Pooh, mother and tot may require therapy upon our return.

3. We've been planning this trip for a l-o-n-g time, but kept it under wraps until a few days ago. This made for lots of excitement for the older boys. With John, however, I now know that we should have told him as the tram was pulling into the Magic Kingdom. Every time we get into the car, he thinks we're en route to Disney. He flipped when I drove him to school the other morning. He loves 'cool, but it doesn't hold a candle to Disney World.

4. Packing up is always interesting as my "quick and dirty" style meets Dave's "slow and methodical" one. All I can say is our marriage has come a long way from those early trips.

5. One of my frustrations with packing up is that if we tarry long enough, we eventually seem to move in reverse. Messes get made, people get hungry, perhaps someone narrowly misses the potty. I found Ainsley rummaging in my purse. Among other things, she managed to find the ziplock bag holding the cache of pacifiers.

6. We nearly had a breakout when one of the boys left the back door open. Ainsley would have escaped but she made the fatal mistake of considering provisions. I found her standing in the doorway throwing the two extra pacies out before she scooted. Plans foiled again!

7. I think I am more excited than the kids.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Birthday

This blog is celebrating its first anniversary.

A year ago today John made me laugh, and I took the time to contact blogger about the blog I had created years ago.

Many writers have attempted to analyze the old blogosphere.

I love Amy Wellborn's little snippet here. I love that Danielle Bean has a picture of one of her children looking at his tummy along with a caption about navel gazing. Yes, this blogging thing does feel like so much self-indulgent, navel gazing.

But it sure is fun.

One of my inspirations for this blog was my friend and fellow veteran yearbook advisor, Amy Parris. After a few children, Amy gave up on baby books and Creative Memories and embraced blogging to capture those special moments. I am one with Amy on this. I am not sure John even has a baby book. Kolbe's is filled poignant details such as "You are so cute!" and "We love you so much!" Lame, lame, mega lame.

My mother produced baby books that are true works of art. Every tooth that erupted, every shot given, the day my poor sister Karen had something horrible lanced on her rear-end - every detail is dutifully recorded in that flawless Catholic school girl penmanship. No can do around here. But I can blog.

I love looking back at faces and funny comments of this precious family God has given me.

I love to write! As a former English teacher and a lover of both grammar and punctuation, I have been sadly shocked at the number of errors I make. Twenty years ago I would have abandoned the whole project for just this reason. If I couldn't do something perfectly (in my estimation), I wouldn't do it all. In this small area, I am older and wiser. Why give up something you enjoy just because you tend to type "they" instead of "the"? Blogging has helped me grow in humility.

I love to see the bigger picture. John is potty trained and doesn't escape nearly as often as he did a year ago! The obsession with peanut butter has passed! We are all getting flu shots this year!

I love laughing at Kolbe's jokes all over again.

I love the encouraging women I have encountered in online world, women like Mary and Farmer's City Wife, to name just a few.

I love to share the tidbits of my day with family far away in Michigan. One of these days I'll convince one of my relatives to leave a comment!

Happy birthday to you, oh humble blog! Thanks for capturing my memories.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Birthday

He's now nine years old, so I suppose I should stop calling him Sunshine. But the name just fits. Kolbe arrived after a long four year wait. He brought light, joy, humor, and spice to our family.

He brings them still.

We joined the YMCA when Kolbe was about four. Everyone lined up for I.D. photos. Click. There's Mom smiling nicely, hands folded. Click. There's Tim smiling nicely, hands folded. Click. There's Kolbe dancing, hands waving in the air. I still have his original I.D. because it still cracks me up.

I'll close with his latest joke: Why doesn't the cannibal eat clowns? They taste funny.

Bon Appetit!

With Kolbe’s two birthday celebrations, we’ve been keeping the new oven busy with chocolate confections and lots of them.

I am no great chef, but I can whip up a few snazzy desserts. The older boys, however, have recently come clean with me – they prefer box cakes to my chocolate torte.

“That frosting that comes in a can - it’s awesome,” they tell me. I’ve learned to swallow my pride and embrace a cheaper and quicker way to celebrate birthdays.

This morning cupcakes are on the menu. John is offering his assistance. Alone, this job is quick and clean. With assistance of the toddler variety, it is slow and sloppy. But one look into those gorgeous brown eyes, and who can say no? They are darker than Duncan Hines chocolate fudge frosting and just as irresistible.

So we begin. Step 1 – rip open the bag and promptly spill it all over.

“Look at this mess!” John says with dismay. “Cwean it up, Mama!”

Did I mention that my pint-sized sous-chef is also bossy? We dump and stir and taste until John’s entire face is the color of his eyes.

“Wooo whee!” he yells. “This is so much fun!”

And it was.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Small Successes


Join the women of Faith and Family as they encourage each other. We have survived two crazy weeks. Today is the first day I am able to draw a breath. A few highlights:

1. I have a new phone to replace the one pictured below! Thankfully it was a whole lot cheaper than the dishwasher, oven, or microwave all of which we have replaced in the last month. May nothing else die until the bank account recovers.

2. Ainsley walks!

3. The weather may dip below 90 by Sunday. Originally, Sunday was supposed to be 87 and Monday was looking like 82. Eighty two!!!! The revised forecast says 90 and 89. Augusta is nearing 120 consecutive days above 90 degrees. Today's heat index is 100. And that rain we enjoyed all Summer? Gone, gone, gone. We are so desperate for a break.

Did I mention we are going to Florida for vacation next week? What were we thinking?

What's happening with you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I thought the phone had survived the dip in the lemonade, but, alas, its dicey performance called for a full-scale take apart. The results were grim. The main ribbon that allowed the slide phone to slide was tacky and shredded.

No wonder I didn't get any of the eleven calls Tim placed Monday afternoon when John had, ahem, lower g.i. issues all over the house.

Life can be messy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Self-esteem Issues Here

We are reviewing the menu for tomorrow's birthday bash.

Kolbe: Hot dog and hamburgers. The hamburgers are for Tim.

Me: Kolbe, you are kind and considerate.

Kolbe: And gifted!

Me: And humble!

Kolbe: Humble. A humble genius.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010


While John's language is developing rapidly, we still get the occasional treat such as: Ah go a 'cool with Hendwy.

Translation: I go to school with Henry.

It's interesting that John says Tesame Tweet instead of Sesame Street, but also cwash cwuck rather than trash truck.

If there's some developmentally logical reason for all this, I don't really want to know what it is. Speech at this age is just plain sweet. I coaxed John into saying squirrel - he says 'quirrel - three times this morning.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interesting Piece

Click here to read an interesting take on one small way the internet affects English usage.

A Prolific Writer . . .

I came home yesterday to see Kolbe's latest, Survival: A Novel About War, sitting on the desk:

A few of his past books sit nearby:

Kolbe rushed into the house after school today anxious to keep writing. Panic set in when he couldn't find his manuscript.

"All that hard work for nothing," he groaned.

A little shuffling of the papers, and there it was. Makes a mother's heart sing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me

Rachel tagged me to list ten little known facts about yours truly. Thanks, Rachel! Here goes:

1. My husband and I met and married in Augusta, but grew up eight miles apart in suburban Detroit. We had the same French teacher in high school, attended the same university, and even worked in the same place one summer.

2. My childhood dream was to be a journalist.

3. I have a pathological fear of snakes. I don't even like typing the word snake. John just arrived home with an art project that had a rubber worm stapled to it. I jumped when I unfolded it.

4. I love reading children's and adolescent literature. When I'm exhausted or anxious I reread The Chronicles of Narnia or The Little House books. Tim and I fight over books all the time.

5. C.S. Lewis is my favorite writer.

6. My favorite household job is washing floors. My least favorite is ironing.

7. When I read the Sunday paper in the Fall, I grab the sports section, check on the Wolverine's last game, scan the top 25 to see how they're doing, and conclude my ritual with a groan.

8. When I read the paper the other six days of the week, I grab the sports section, check the forecast on the back page, and conclude my ritual with a groan.

9. My parents now live on an island in Canada.

10. Sixth grade was the worst year of my life for many reasons. The bright spot was going fishing with my Dad almost every Saturday of the Fall of 1976.

I tag: Amy, Karen, and Michelle.

Girly Girls

No one would ever accuse me of being a girly-girl.

Yes, I have a large collection of tea pots and tea accessories. True, I have watched nearly every episode of Little House on the Prairie, some many times over. But beyond these two facts, my girly-girl resume is sparse indeed.

Ainsley’s birth may change all that.

Her arrival brought an avalanche of pink that has just barely begun to ebb. Let me put her birth in proper context. My oldest three children are boys. My husband is one of four boys, and one of six male cousins in that branch of the family. As of Summer 2009, these six cousins had produced twelve grandsons. Ainsley was lucky number thirteen - the first girl in over 70 years.

Minutes after her birth – I’m not sure she was even bathed yet – we had the cell phones humming, calling relatives and friends with the particulars. I rang my friend Kathy and got her son on the phone.

“She’s out buying something pink,“ Tony informed me. Ainsley wasn’t ten minutes old. Apparently good news does indeed travel fast.

Of course my friends insisted on a shower, even though this was my first fourth baby. Oh the fluff! Ainsley owns two tutus. When Rachel Balducci shared that Isabel’s birth brought so much girly stuff that even the dryer lint turned pink, I knew exactly what she was talking about.

Still, I didn’t think I myself had changed. Sorting through clothes one afternoon, I pulled out a tiny pair of overalls that had survived the infancy of all three boys. I’ll put them on Ainsley, I thought. Jeans are unisex, right?

Ummm, no. One glance at Ainsley in boys’ pants convinced me that this was just plain wrong. Something clearly was lacking. A grosgrain ribbon on the cuff, a ruffle on the backside, a flower here or a strawberry there. Back to storage they went.

My recent attempt at mass consigning brought me up into the attic once again. All infant items are headed across the street to a pregnant friend or across town to the consignment sale. As I climbed out of the attic, I grabbed John’s potty chair.

“Ummm, don’t you have one more kid to potty train,“ a curious friend asked.

Why yes, yes, I do. But as I carried the potty chair down the stairs, I instinctively knew that Ainsley will have a pink potty. Will it sport Dora or – big cringe here – Barbie? I can’t say for sure, but it will be pink.

An odd but unmistakable metamorphosis has occurred around here and in me.

Most of the time, the boys take the fluff in stride. They flat adore their baby sister, so they’re willing to tolerate the rush of girly-girl stuff. I did find her doll trussed hand and foot and lying on our prayer table as though ready for a fake human sacrifice. Another doll was rescued after being stuffed head first into a bongo drum. When Venus and Mars collide, there’s bound to be some collateral damage.

No matter how you slice it, Ainsey-girl and I are still in the minority. Planes, trains, and automobiles outnumber dolls a thousand to one. Ainsley continues to teeth on Legos and match box cars.

As for me, I am enjoying all the pink and looking forward to the day I add Little House on the Prairie to our Netflix queue.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Small Successes


What a week! Life has been fast paced around here, and we're just getting warmed up. A few points of light:

1. I found great bargains on cute clothes that don't leave me looking like an extra on Baywatch (minus the flat stomach, the firm thighs, and the cute hair). Okay, so maybe there's just one aspect of my appearance that is reminiscent of Baywatch. When you've endured a scorching summer and wanted nothing more than to don a cotton tank top but then caught a glimpse of yourself in the tank top and immediately threw on a two piece layered outfit that made the sweltering heat far worse but at least wouldn't scandalize the neighbors . . . Sorry. Let me find the mute button.

I am excited to find cute clothes that fit well.

2. I am in the middle of a massive overhaul of the attic, the closets, the dressers. To the consignment sale it all goes!

3. We have a shiny new oven to match the dishwasher!

How was your week?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

John Hands Me Two Cookies . . .

And then says, "I want to go pee pee some more. Don't eat this. It's mine."

I'm Not Consigning My Memories

A church up the road has a massive consignment sale twice a year. I've found high quality items for all ages. The prices, however, tend to run from cheap! to You've got to be kidding me!

"I'm not spending $12.00 on a used dress for a one-year-old," I commented to a friend as we were shopping.

She's convinced that baby clothes are over-priced because mothers are really ambivalent about parting with them. We shared a laugh over that thought.

This year I am consigning, rather than just buying. This is my second foray into the wide world of resale. My first attempt netted precisely nuthin'. Not a dime. All I had for my troubles was a run-in with a rather snooty store owner.

The mean part of me was dying to point out that she was running a second hand shop in Augusta, Georgia, not Giorgio Armani on Rodeo Drive. I managed to stifle my oh-so-charitable thoughts and leave my sorry items that clearly never sold.

Up to the attic I went this morning. With John in front of Sesame Street and Ainsley playing in box (she's part Siamese), I had a half hour to pillage through tub after tub of little boys' attire.

I bawled my eyes out.

Forgive me, dear women with over-priced baby items. I understand your ambivalence. I held it together until I spied John's jammies with the baseball bats. Then there were the jammies with the little frogs. And the ones with the space ships.

Tim's microscopic onesie about did me in. This belonging to the kid who now mows the lawn?

Oh, the cliches that run through my head! Where does the time go? Where does it go? In heaven will we be able to instantly and clearly recall the sights, smells, and sounds of those fleeting baby years?

The good ones, I mean.

I hope so. In the meantime, excuse me while I grab some Kleenex and my baby.