Thursday, June 30, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Joining in with the lovely ladies of Like Mother, Like Daughter to
~ Capture the context of contentment in everyday life ~

This is my new hydrangea. After a grueling month of yard work we (and by we I largely mean dh) have cut down and removed two trees, one massive bush, and an evergreen. We also had a weekend of mulching, and bit by bit we have been replanting. I have always wanted a hydrangea and while I still have an affinity for the really old varieties, I am looking forward to watching this one grow.

My petunias are also really taking off this year. For the past three years I have ordered them from the Boy Scouts. They now seem to be reseeding on their own and the profusion of flowers makes a beautiful path to our front door.

On Sunday we took a walk through the "downtown" area of our small town and had a beautiful afternoon. These little ones, despite (or perhaps because of) their boundless energy never cease to bring me joy. 

At the end of our walk we stopped to see our community garden plot. Happily, we are starting to see quite a few fruits, or rather vegetables, of our labors. The girls were particularly glad to see this year be more successful than we were last year.

I couldn't help but post another picture of Gabe at the piano. He just cracks me up. He loves to sit there and although he only hits a few keys, he sings his little heart out. 

Can you imagine what I am in for when this little three year old is thirteen?

Monday, June 27, 2011

To Call or Not To Call

Dh often jokes about the phone calls he gets from me at work. You know the type, the ones where he is diligently working to support our family, the demands and pressures of work exacting all his energy and then I call... AARRGGHH both boys are in the bleach I will be cleaning it up all afternoon... AARRGGHH if I hear two girls bicker for one second longer I'm gonna blow...  AARRGGHH there's a toothbrush in the toilet what do I do... AARRRGGHH such and such appliance broke and I can't do what I need to do.

Today was one of those days. While occupied, I heard quite a thud. Since I didn't hear screams, I assumed all was well. Turns out, all was not well. Our large picture mirror had fallen off the wall and broken, thankfully no one was in the room. I spent lunch sweeping up pieces of it. I thought about calling dh to vent about things falling off the walls, messes that take hours to clean, and little ones who seem to be inexorably drawn to such things when I desperately need them to stay elsewhere. I thought about calling but remembered how frustrated he already was.

I had just gotten off the phone with him. He was frustrated at the news that the Consulate had rejected one of our adoption documents because a staple had fallen out as he was trying to photocopy the document. Yes, because of one little staple we now have to regenerate a document, take it to the bank to be notarized, then take it to the County Clerk for certification of the notary, then take it to the Secretary of State for certification of the County Clerk. After all this, he will have to hire the courier again to walk it into the consulate to get authentication. Needless to say this will take a significant amount of time and money-- all because of one staple.

I thought of all this and quietly cleaned the mirror, put lunch on the table, and went on with my day. Then this happened:

And I really wanted to call. 

Instead, I quickly went to work and bathed two boys, then washed the cans and bottles (did you see the syrup dripping down the bottles?
 Then I mopped the floor.

Dh came home to two freshly bathed boys already in their jammies, a clean kitchen, and a mopped floor. Needless to say, he owes me!

P.S. When dh was reading this post he graciously reminded me of these phone calls too:

AARRGGHH the printer won't work...
AARRGGHH a bird just died at our back door...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Child Prodigy

My dear little Gabe has acquired some new skills.
It turns out he is quite the musician. 

If the whole professional rock star thing doesn't work for him though, he'll have his monster computer skills to fall back on.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mommy's Takin Us to the Zoo Tomorrow

This week's installment of {pretty, happy, funny, real}

 Pretty doesn't begin to describe the weather in our part of the country. The last week and a half have been simply beautiful -- not too hot, not too cold. I felt compelled to take full advantage of such beautiful days and have taken the kids to the zoo three times. The first time I even braved it on my own. The kids behaved so well I even sprung for the train ride, not a typical occurrence for this cheap frugal mom.

My Banana sure is pretty too. Growing much too quickly. She was such a helper as I schlepped all the little ones around at the zoo.

 This little one was quite happy to see a pink bird. Pink being her absolute favorite color.
 And this little one was happy to ride the carousel, which made me very happy. Last year the noise and unfamiliarity of the carousel left her crying and screaming almost the whole time. This year, she asked to ride and although I see a trace of fear in her sweet smile, I was thankful she was willing to try it. By the end she was grinning ear to ear.
 Having this stroller made me happy too. Being able to have all four little ones hop in so we can move a little more quickly made our trips that much more enjoyable. I was tempted to go with a smaller model to save the trunk space, but I have found the convenience of this stroller outweighs the inconvenience of no trunk space.

 Meet Gabe the goat whisperer. I am not sure what these two were talking about, but they were having quite the conversation!

 Joseph my goofball!

 Little boys and snakes. What can be more real than that?

Friday, June 10, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Grandma Edition

Grandma spent the afternoon here last Saturday and after baths offered to roll the girls hair in rags so it would be curly for church. They all came out really beautifully. She also took the girls shopping so most of them are wearing new dresses to add to the prettiness.


It makes me happy to see all the kids piled up around Grandma reading a book. I cherish these memories of my mom. Trust me, it is not an easy feat to read a book to that many little ones precariously perching on every available space on the rocker.


The "before" picture of the girls in their rag rollers.


The boys also got new shirts, but trying to get a picture of them was not so pretty.

For more contentment visit:
round button chicken

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ice Cream Cones For Dinner

Several years ago, when Banana was almost four and Bear was eighteen months, we had gone back to California to vacation and visit old friends. When we lived in California we attended daily Mass at a Carmelite retreat center. The daily Mass community, the priests, and nuns there became dear friends, so when we came back for a visit they offered us a room. The Bishop's room to be precise, the room right on the other side of the chapel and the tabernacle. I cannot put into words what a blessing that turned out to be for our family.

We left for that vacation when I was a little over thirteen weeks pregnant. I was entering the second trimester and had breathed a sigh of relief thinking my chances of miscarriage were now pretty slim. We enjoyed telling old friends, many of whom knew our struggles with infertility, about our coming bundle of joy and I was glad I was feeling a little better and could enjoy their company. During the second week of our vacation, however, I began experiencing symptoms similar to that of my first miscarriage.

As the grief began to fall over me like a tidal wave in that little Bishop's room I sank into bed just a few feet from the blessed sacrament and I cried. David did the best he could to entertain two little girls in a confined space and took them for a walk, but it was growing close to dinnertime and my girls were much too young to understand the emotions that seemed to be paralyzing me. Despite my overwhelming sadness, there were grumbling tummies and two girls who had been enjoying a nice vacation not sure why things were now so somber. Dinner plans had to be made.

Banana decided we should make a dinner of ice cream cones. It was a hot July day in Southern California and ice cream sounded like the perfect solution to her hunger. To that little four year old ice cream was the ultimate good. She had no comprehension of nutrition and even if I had tried to explain to her the ins and outs of the digestive system and the need for nutritious food, she wouldn't have understood. She only knew that ice cream sure sounded good and it was unfair that her parents were denying her that privilege. There was very little reasoning taking place with her. Eventually she had to trust that as her parents, the two people who loved her most, we wanted the best for her even if she didn't (couldn't) understand.

Later that night, after dinner (I can't recall what we ate but it was not ice cream) and a trip to the emergency room to confirm I had indeed miscarried, we returned to the Bishop's room. We put the two little girls to bed, and I laid on the bed just opposite of the Eucharist and cried more. David took advantage of the chapel on the other side of the wall and also went to pray.

In the midst of the grief, I realized that in so many ways I was just like my little daughter. I was the toddler who couldn't understand why such a good, this child I already loved, would be taken from me. I was angry that the desire for a child would be put so strongly on my heart and then taken away. Then, slowly, I began to understand that in the same way there was a gap between my understanding of nutrition and little Banana's four year old reasoning of digestion, there existed in infinitely larger gap between my reasoning and God's. The same way a four-year-old can't fully understand nutrition, there are mysteries that I, in my human understanding, would never fully comprehend.

Isaiah 55:9 reads:"As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts."

 In that moment, so near to our Lord,  I realized I was being a whining, temper tantrum throwing four-year-old. I began to comprehend how much I needed to trust that God, who loves me infinitely more than parents love their children, wanted the ultimate good for me even if, like Banana, I didn't (couldn't) understand.

After four more miscarriages and countless other opportunities to abandon myself to God's plan instead of my own, I am still daily learning that lesson of trust.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
with the lovely ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter

 Yesterday was an absolutely perfect day for a picnic. In God's divine providence, it turned out to be the day of our homeschooling group's Annual End of the Year Picnic.

This year Coach Q of The Homeschool Gym came with fun games for kids of all ages. Parachutes, balls, flags, frisbees, tons of organized games for all the kids to play. My girls had such a blast running and playing and enjoying the breeze, the friends, and the activities Coach Q put together.


 I was happy to have some help keeping track of all the little ones. Earlier this year we found MK who comes three mornings a week to watch the little ones while I school the older girls. Her help has been an incredible answer to our prayers. She came yesterday and it was so nice to be able to relax knowing there were two sets of eyes on my littles.

With the extra help, I got a chance to visit and enjoy the winding down of our school year. The kids also enjoyed being with friends, making cereal necklaces, face painting, and some older boys even made balloon animals! It was such a fun day for everyone!


 Did I mention my girls enjoyed the face painting? Doesn't this just look like a girl ready for the summer?

While not a fan of the face paint, Gabe did enjoy the watermelon. I have never seen a kid so serious about his watermelon. He is certain to get every shred of edible melon, and even then will not let go of the rind. He chose the melon over a popsicle so I guess I can't complain.

My real pictures should be of the hour or two before we left for the picnic because that was truly an ordeal. Alas there are no pictures of my destroyed kitchen floors, nor of the now faded kitchen mats. There are also no pictures of two little boys in brand new outfits, ready for a picnic at the park, now ruined by bleach stains and crying because of the soap in their eyes.
It seems no matter how organized I try to be, no matter how much effort I put into being ready to go the night before, it is inevitable that some disaster will strike. Yesterday, while I was in the shower, the boys dumped an entire bottle of dishwasher detergent on the kitchen floor. We found that one particular brand of our detergent has bleach (a lot of bleach) in it. We're trying to use it up and in hindsight I should have just thrown it away.

 Instead I do have pictures of the little work I did for our picnic. I set up a treasure hunt in the sand of our turtle sandbox, the sandbox that sits in our garage because dh doesn't like sandboxes.

It seemed to be a big hit. Although I suppose I could have had some great reality shots that evening when I had to bathe our boys because they were covered in sand and bathe the girls because they were covered in face paint...
Still it was a beautiful picnic and a lovely start to our summer!