Friday, September 28, 2007

Favorites Friday

This weekend, I am heading out for a weekend away with 4 of my closest friends from my college years. (Actually, one of these gals and I have been friends since I met her in the 8th grade.) But anyway, many years ago, when the hustle and bustle of new careers, new husbands, and new kids began making monthly (or quarterly or yearly!) catch-ups very difficult we found ourselves feeling disconnected and drifting out of each others' lives. So, we hatched the plan to pick one weekend every year and "get away together." Even if it ends up being a fairly short notice trip, so far we've made these excursions together at least every 14 months or so. Re-connecting and "getting away from it all" have become a winning combination for all of us - even though we all lead very different lives now. We've been to the Jersey Shore at a quaint little B&B in the off-season, we've been to Messiah College's homecoming weekend, and we've tried gathering at each others' homes. This time, one of the gals arranged for a condo in the Poconos for a great weekend rate. No matter where we end up, the conversations are always like a great Thanksgiving feast: nostalgic and mouth-watering in the preparations; memory-evoking and satisfying to the point of feeling stuffed in the sharing, and over way too quickly! I look forward to this time with my girl friends almost as much as I enjoy the actual time away. Today's Favorites are in honor of my amazing friends!

My Favorite Things about our Roomie Reunions:
  1. No matter how long it's been between conversations, we can pick up and get current with each other pretty quickly, like no time has passed between visits.
  2. These friendships represent a sense of history to me: they know me, they have been there for me in so many different stages of my life, and they accept me as I am. "They love me, they really love me!" :)
  3. My friends challenge me to go deeper in my walk with Christ, in my relationships with my husband and kids, and in my church family. They don't preach this at me, rather they model it in their conversations, by the sharing of their life experiences and by their actions in their own lives.
  4. These women are all strong, healthy, focused gals: they know who they are and where they are going and pursue it well. They read great books, get involved in their local churches and are active participants in their own lives. And in the lives of others around them.
  5. We have fun together! We laugh, we share funny stories, we stay up late giggling and talking, and we open our hearts to each other. We eat out, tease and flirt with the (very!) young waiters (harmless, I promise!), and we shop. And the running thread through it all is the deep love and appreciation we all have for each other and for this "roomie reunion" that we do each year.
I love you guys! I couldn't have made it and become the woman I am today with out the input that each of you have contributed. You are each so unique and bring such a special "something" to my life, that no one else has ever matched. Thanks for loving me, and thanks for making this weekend away a priority in your life as well.

And a special thanks to the hubbies that let us escape each year -
you guys are GEMS and we all love you very much :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More On The Rocket

Just in case you didn't get enough of my obsessive rantings about Rocket Ismail here, a friend directed me to the Trinity Broadcasting Network's website. Seems Rocket is on the interview circuit. Follow this link, go to the September 25 archive and you can hear for yourself a little more of Rocket's testimony of salvation and the ministry that is burning in his heart now. I got goosebumps watching it this morning, and I'm so incredibly grateful he's on "our team!" in this war against the enemy!

Incidentally, I did a little digging after I saw him on CMT's Celebrity Bull Riding and found out that he's happily married, a daddy to 4 little Rockets, and working on starting up a music production company. And he has a myspace page. I haven't been on it yet. But I'm not registered for myspace yet either. I'm thinking on it. I just don't want to turn into an obsessed, middle-aged (?!) freaky stalker. At least not so anyone would KNOW about it . . .

Conversations In The Car

While riding home from the grocery store today, Baby Blue Eyes and I were talking with our friend JJ. Baby Blue Eyes was very concerned that he hasn't had his birthday pictures done at Sears yet, and I was explaining why I couldn't do it today. Too far in the other direction, need an appointment, must wear a clean shirt, preferably not a t-shirt, especially not THAT t-shirt, etc. JJ just listened quietly, and told us about his school pictures. Conversation drifted off for a few minutes, until . . .

Baby Blue Eyes: "Why can't I wear this t-shirt, Mommy? It's my favorite coyer you know."

"Yes, Baby Blue Eyes, I know blue is your favorite color. But that t-shirt is really old. And besides, it might be nice if we brush your teeth and comb your hair for the picture. You didn't brush your teeth today, did you?"

Silence from the back seat. I look in the rear view and see his sheepish grin. Moments pass.

Baby Blue Eyes pipes up:
"Wew, you ahways have bed head Mommy. So why do I haf to bwush my hair?"

Mommy, with some degree of exasperation:
"My hair is SUPPOSED to have that messed up look. It's not called bed head when you are a mommy, it's called a style."

Baby Blue Eyes, grinning:
"I know. But you still yook pretty, Mommy. Even if it is messy. Cuz you my guhlfriend, right Mommy?"

Mommy, exasperation melted:
"Yes, Baby Blue Eyes. I am. And I don't look messy. But I am your girlfriend. And I always will be, no matter what you say about my hair!"

JJ, with eyes were as big as quarters:
"Girlfriend? Eeeew! BBE, she's your MOM!"

Maybe it's time for a new look.
I'll have to consult my stylist and see what she can do about that!

And don't even get me started on the whole girlfriend thing.
Yes, he melts my heart.
Yes, he knows he's doing it.
And yes, his older brothers are completely grossed out by it
and try (IN VAIN!) to break him
of what they consider a "nasty" habit.
I shush them. Time enough for that.
Time enough.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Redirected to Truth

Many of you already know about the great series of essays written by the guest blogger over at "Like I Was Saying," (this link should scoot you right to Part I) but for those of you who visit my blog and aren't connected to that network of gals, I'd like to encourage you to head over there now to read the 3 part series that's been going on for a few days.

Over the years, I have talked with many women and found the topic of judgements and divisions among women to be a fairly universal struggle. Because of the culture in which we live, the temptation to compare and contrast our lives with the others around us can be overwhelming. Powerful. Because of our sin nature (and we are ALL born with it!) for many of us, it comes out our mouths in harmful and wounding ways. Reading the series that Stephanie has laid out, I've been more convicted than ever to dig into the Word and seek the Truth about who I am - according to the only standard that ever matters: My Heavenly Father and His Written Word. This sequence of essays has sparked to be one of the more logical and concise discussions on the topic that I've read. And one of the more difficult conversations I've had with myself in a long time.

Leading up to this discussion of unity among women, I found myself thinking things that weren't holy or loving. Worse, I've said things out loud that first of all, I'm not used to saying out loud, and second, that I've had to go back and apologize for. They were things that most wouldn't think to repent over and I got some funny looks and assurances that it was "okay." But it wasn't okay for me. It was wrong and as humiliating as it was, I had to repent. It actually happened a couple times in the week or two before this series started. My Heavenly Father was graciously prepping me for the work He wants to renew in my heart.

This year I've begun volunteering with our Home and School Association whenever I can lend a hand. I've also offered my services to classroom teachers and the librarian. Whenever I'm with those moms, I tend to get very quiet and hold myself back. Some of it is my insecurities and sometimes false humility. I still don't know how I'll be accepted. But I feel fairly certain that I've given a wrong impression of who I am and what I'm about in those times. "I don't always know how to respond to some of the conversations around me," has been my excuse. But it's just that: an excuse. I do know how to respond. The Word says that a gentle answer turns aside wrath. The Word says that gossip is wrong. The Word says that I must speak with love. That I am a child of the King. The Word says that I have something to offer - and that something can change the world. And the heart. I DO know how to respond. I just haven't been faithful to do it.

As a result of this series, I am also feeling convicted and encouraged to adjust my tones and thoughts and words in regard to the women around me. I'm feeling pressed to look at the Moms in my life and find ways to further encourage and strengthen them in their walk with Jesus and in their parenting journey. I'm feeling very pressed to be a warm, loving, safe friend whenever I can, where ever that leads. Thanks to "Like I Was Saying" and guest blogger, Stephanie, I've been redirected to the Truth in this area of my life.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sneaky Mom, Me!

I've never really been a big pro-sports fan. In fact, in years gone by, I actually was quite scornful of the ridiculous idolatry that this nation perpetuates regarding our sports figures. But recently, I've been re-thinking this stance slightly. Only very slightly, and only as it pertains in particular to one sports team.

I have become an Eagles fan. Not a cutesie, hat-wearing, jersey and jeans kind of fan. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Rather, I've become a "Look what Eagles Football is doing for my family!" kind of fan. Let me explain.

When we moved to the greater Philly suburbs, my oldest two boys weren't (yet) huge sports fans as far as watching any one sport religiously or following one particular team or player with gusto. But this area is fanatical about Eagles Football: our local elementary schools sponsor Eagles Spirit Days, it's mentioned regularly from the pulpit and flags fly all over the neighborhood. It's like its own religion; not in a bad way, but with great fervor and excitement. I observed this closely the first year we were here and just "kinda" got into it for the sake of cuddling on the couch with The Boss for a good Sunday nap while he watched the game. The kids would come in and out, depending on the weather. As the season wore on, the Eagles became a huge topic of conversation among the "guys" of the Gang. I hosted a Super Bowl parties, complete with football and helmet cookies. No big surprise there, some of you have been to my Super Bowl parties. Fun, but not the driving force of our fall and winter entertainment.

Cut to last season, our third fall in Eagles' territory. I began preparing special "game day" lunches, and re-arranging the couches for optimal viewing. And turning off the phone (not that anyone around here wastes time on the phone on game day!) and inviting friends to join the fun, and getting the boys to STAY HOME and invite their friends to pig out and scream and yell along with The Gang. And I noticed that all 6 of us began looking forward to Sunday afternoons and evenings in a whole new way. And The Boss and I started planning fun meals and cooking together while we all cheered and yelled. We all hung out. TOGETHER. All. Day. My mental wheels were turning then! I found a key to prolong family togetherness, have fun, build memories and create connections. I even fly a gorgeous green and silver flag during parts of the season, especially when they make it to the play offs. And I get to be the cool mom - AFTER the pool closes :)

So now, I'm a rabid, all-out, crazy, screamin' yellin' cheerin' Eagles fan! And I'm loving every minute of it. I know more about the game than my boys give me credit for and I don't ask stupid questions any more. I know players, positions, strengths and weaknesses. And I even find spiritual lessons in things that happen or things commentators say. And The Boss and I look across the crowded, noisy room and smile. Yes, we are Eagles fans. And yes, I've snuck one more meaningful, memory building time in on those kids of mine. Sneaky Mom? You betcha!

My question for you today is this: what do you do to build memorable family times in your home? Maybe you could come up with something new, maybe even "out of your box" for the sake of the greater purpose of making connections and memories together?!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Favorites Friday

Today is bittersweet. Baby Blue Eyes is 6. With all the joy and enthusiasm of a little boy, he bounded out of bed at 7 a.m. expecting the showers of attention and hugs and kisses and songs that a birthday brings in the Gang's house. And he got it. Lots of it. So, today's post is in honor of my sweet Baby Blue Eyes. My baby is 6 today. I'm so happy for him, as he's been counting down this day for over two weeks. But I'm sad at how quickly time has flown and that I can't really call him my baby any more (at least not in front of the big kids). "Cuz, 6 isn't reawwy a baby anymohe, huh, Mom?"

My Favorite Things About Baby Blue Eyes:
  • He has a sweet, tender and gentle spirit. He is crushed at the thought of hurting some one's feelings and devastated when he knows he's disobeyed or disappointed us. He is quick to repent and quicker still to offer his forgiveness.
  • He is the glue that holds us all together. Today for his birthday, he wanted all of us to stay home together, all day, for a family day. He is our little barometer, following in Dr. Doolittle's footsteps, to help us gage when we need to slow down and re-connect.
  • He has a very light-hearted, funny way of looking at things. He finds joy in the simplest things: a caterpillar, a butterfly, holding my hand. And the funny things that he says about his observations melt my heart.
  • He also has a very sly, witty sense of humor. He loves to play little practical jokes, to tease us good naturedly and has some pretty snappy comebacks (like these!) that one would not expect a 6-year old to "get" let alone think up on his own. When I see his sly little smile coming along, I know it's gonna be a good one!
  • Finally, he still loves to snuggle. In the mornings when the others are bustling around getting ready for school, or in the evenings when we're tucking him in and playing the kissing game or the "I love you more than" game. And best of all, sometimes when he's just running by doing his little boy stuff. He just stops, back pedals and throws his arms around my waist for a quick hug and "Love you Mommy!" as he heads off to play again.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Baby Blue Eyes. Mommy knows you aren't a baby anymore, but you will always be my baby, in my heart at least. And I'm so proud of you today. Proud of the boy you are and of the boy you are becoming. Keep letting Jesus make your heart soft and tender like His. There are great and amazing things ahead for you - and no matter how hard the world tries to crush your spirit, you will always have a safe place in Jesus and here with Mommy and Daddy. You are a gift to all of us and we thank Jesus for you every day! Every day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Genesis In Concert

Last night, we got a rare treat: a free night in the city, just The Boss and I! We were given free tickets to see Genesis in concert at the Wachovia stadium. Earlier on Wednesday, The Boss went to breakfast with a friend who'd been to the same concert the night before and totally primed the pump for our expectations. And we weren't disappointed! It was a great night of music and fun. They put on an awesome show. The best portion of the actual show for me was the dueling drums and when they sang "Throwin' It All Away." I'd forgotten how much I loved that song - it should have made my top 5 list a couple weeks ago when I first mentioned the concert. They did a great job of audience interaction and mixing up tunes from the band's history. There were even some great montages of the band through the years. That was a fun treat - to see all the different members in their various eras of bad hair days!

But the best part of the whole night for me was the people watching that The Boss and I got to indulge in. What is it about a concert like this that makes people drag out their bad jeans and shiny shirts and ridiculous hair styles for the evening? Or worse yet, do these people not recognize that 20+ years have passed and jeans up past your belly button are sooooo over?? We had a blast watching the styles and the "looks" pass us by all night - we kept leaning over to each other to say things like, "Hey, I had a shirt just like that in junior high!" Or "I wonder what ever happened to my moon boots," or better yet, "Do they still sell hair spray that makes your hair DO that?!" It was a riot, all in good clean fun, to walk down memory lane (albeit vicariously!) with The Boss.

I'm still trying to recover from the late night today - after I spent most of last night trying to recover from my rough day yesterday. I'd gone for a yearly physical scheduled for mid-morning, got lost on the way, had to reschedule for later that a.m., and couldn't eat anything because of some fasting blood work they wanted to run. I was so run down and worn out from fasting till 1 p.m. that I had a headache till we pulled into the parking lot. And boy, was I hungry! Even after eating a healthy (late!) lunch, a large snack and a large coffee, I INHALED dinner at the club box buffet! The Boss said something about it not being the best food he's ever eaten at a club box, but I didn't even notice. I was too busy scarfing down my plate and part of his! I don't think I've ever eaten a plateful of food so quickly. So today, Baby Blue Eyes and I are in low gear, just hanging out and catching up with each other and the house. I'm humming "Land Of Confusion" as I type and thinking fondly of the 80's and my big hair days. . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Secret is Out!

Back about mid-August, I was up late on a Friday night channel surfing while The Boss snoozed by my side. It was a normal Friday night, quiet with the kids tucked in after a night of swimming and hanging out with the neighbors. But when I clicked over to CMT (Country Music Television), nothing about my Friday night stayed normal. I found a new secret addiction. I'm hooked. And slightly shocked and a little embarrassed at just how much I love this new addiction.

Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull-Riding!

Yes, I know, what's a nice suburban girl like me doing watching CMT, let alone BULL RIDING? But wait, before you think I have completely wandered off my nicely paved roads and prettily landscaped sidewalks onto a meandering country lane in the middle of nowhere, let me explain myself! See, the promos were running for the show and I caught a glimpse of one of my favorite Christian celebrities: Stephen Baldwin. Now, say what you will about the famous Baldwin family: this boy has it GOIN' ON! He's relatively new to his Christianity, having dramatically committed his life to Christ in the aftermath of 9/11. I'd seen stories and interviews about his conversion and have loosely followed his walk and growth in the faith since then. I even read his book, and reviewed it for you all here. I like what I see in this man's life. I love not knowing what's gonna come out of his mouth next! He's a bit more "out there" and waaaay more blunt than I ever am, but I think that's what I like best. He often gets caught saying what a lot of us may be thinking about this thing called Church and this walk called faith. So, I was intrigued about his place on the new reality show being advertised before me.

Then, the icing on the cake. "Rocket" Ismail. Let me tell you, I have a history with this man. No, no, no, not that kind of history! Allow me to explain. Raghib "Rocket" Ismail went to one of our rival high schools, in the Wilkes-Barre area. I'd heard of his small town celebrity, but had never seen him play football in person. I think I'm a couple years older than him, as much as it pains me to admit that. Anyway. But one year, my Li'l Sis had made it to some regional track & field event and he was competing. I. got. to. see. him. run. Watching him run hurdles was a thing of beauty. There's no other description for it. He was fast, he was clean, and he ran like a gazelle. I was amazed. I'm no athlete, but I grew up in a very sports-minded (read "Notre Dame & Syracuse football") family and I know true art when I see it running by me in a blur of beauty and grace. Several months later, (the timeline for me is fuzzy here, sorry if my facts aren't totally accurate!) our church joined with a few other regional churches for a family baptism service. Li'l Sis was being baptized by my dad and lo and behold, so was "Rocket." I got to see "Rocket" Raghib Ismail declare before our little company of people that he was a new creation in Christ and was commiting to serving Him to the best of his ability all the days of his life. My Dad dunked Rocket Ismail! (Incidentally, his brother, Quadry a.k.a. "GQ" cuz he was such a spiffy dresser, was also baptized that night) "Rocket" went on to star in Notre Dame's starting line-ups during his four years of college and on to the CFL and ended his NFL career in Dallas. Let me make this point abundantly clear, I am NOT a Dallas fan, but I still loved watching that man run. That man CAN RUN! Imagine if you will, my DOUBLE delight that a show would be featuring two of my favorite Christian celebrities, in one exciting, dangerous, and addicting reality series. And so, Friday nights on CMT became my very own little secret treat.

For the past few weeks, I have been up late watching the reruns that I've missed of CMT and Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding. Watching these two men conduct themselves with honor and integrity. They were consistently gentleman-like, polite and amazingly encouraging to the other men on the show. I think it's safe to say that they were an excellent representation for Christ. Rocket, in particular, was such a motivator and encourager that Ty Murray deemed him the team captain. Stephen was laid up early by a nasty break to his shoulder, so ended up only in 3 or 4 episodes. One late episode, before the nail-biting "big ride" at a Professional Bull Riding competition, showed these two men (Baldwin returned for the finale) and another cast member attending "cowboy church." If I wasn't ecstatically insane about this show before, this episode SEALED. THE. DEAL. Bunches of jean-clad, 10-gallon hat wearing COWBOYS gathered around the bull-riders, LAID hands on them and prayed over them. Prayed over them on NATIONAL TV. ~sigh~ I'm so totally hooked. Totally in love with this show.

But, now my secret is out. I've come clean, in the vain hope that others will pick up my obsession and pass the word around. This show is good, clean fun with just a hint of danger and an element of surprise. After all, who knows what's going through that 2,000+ lb. bull's mind? And I guess I also came clean because I'm finally coming to grips that I'm a little bit of a hick. I love country music, as I've shared here, and I guess it's time I admit that actually spend a good bit of my channel surfing time on CMT. Okay, okay, the secret is already out, I may as well admit: CMT is actually programmed into my favorites. And has been since we got our new provider back in May. I'm hooked, the secret is out and I'm not even embarrassed any more about this addiction! Not even the teeensiest bit! I'm not. . . .

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend Wrap Up

We had a wonderful mini-reunion together this weekend. Suzy Q and the Norwegians piled in around 9:30 Friday night, after they spent some time at Li'l Bro's house oooohing and aaaahing over the new baby. (OOOH, she's sooo tiny and cute!) While we waited for them to arrive, The Boss played old family videos from when Shaggy and Dr. Doolittle were babies. I spent most of the night fighting the tears, remembering the days of new babies, new parenting, and tiny little arms wrapped around my neck to give me sticky apple juice kisses. For me, it was the perfect way to start the weekend together. I felt a brand new appreciation for the gifts I've been given in each of my family members. And as the weekend progressed, I was increasingly aware of how precious each one is to me. Thank you, Boss, for cleaning out the basement and for finding these lost treasures that remind me of where I came from and what's really important in my life!

Saturday morning began with lots of drizzle and cool breezes as The Boss and Suzy Q headed off to run a 5K sponsored by the kids' school. The rest of the Gang and The Norwegians all followed a little while later and we met Li'l Sis and her oldest to do the 1 mile Fun Run together. The boy cousins turned it into a competition, which my dad assures me is totally normal and healthy for boys to do. I'm thinking, "you only see each other a couple times a year, why not run together and talk and laugh and enjoy yourselves?" No, they basically killed themselves trying to best the other and make the guy behind them "eat their dust." After some good natured ribbing and lots of sweaty hugs and back slaps we all headed home for the main events of the day. By the way, The Boss placed in the top 1/3 of the race, despite the hilly course and not having run much in the past few weeks on a sore ankle. I was so proud of him. Suzy Q did really well, but I can't remember how she placed. As a fellow mommy of 4, the fact that she was still standing and talking and laughing after running a 5K was inspiration enough for me! As for me, I ran and walked the 1 mile course, pushing my VERY heavy youngest nephew in a stroller while he chattered through his pacifier and through the wind blowing in his face the whole way. I can't believe I did the whole course that way. I can't believe HE did the whole race that way!

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent hanging out and talking and eating (omigosh, the food was amazing! Oh yeah, THAT's why I did the whole course in the a.m!!!!) and laughing and eating some more. The only mar on the day was that my dad has developed shingles and he was in a good deal of pain during the day. The kids played so well together, not one fight or problem between them. And considering how many boys were running around my yard and my pool area, I'm incredibly thankful that NO ONE got injured! (The competition and egging on did not end at the finish line of the 1 mile race!) By far, the best part of the whole day was that fact that all 22 of us stopped our regular, busy, fast-paced lives to spend the time together. And let me tell you, with 4 of the 5 men in full-time ministry, getting us all together for a weekend is no easy feat.

The Boss took a lot of beautiful family photos, to add to the collection that has grown over the years. It reminded me of the early ones, of just Mom and Dad and us four kids. And now we are 22 strong and still going. The most poignant moment for me was realizing that we (The Boss and I) still get to add to this clan - that although she isn't here with us physically, Aidan is part of us and there IS a day coming when her sweet little face will be added to the family history book. I can't wait to see her dark little eyes and glossy black hair popping out from the photos! And make no mistake, she will pop out - in this crowd of red-heads and blondies, there are only a couple with dark hair and NONE with dark eyes like she'll have. I can' t help but think what a LOVELY perspective she will add to this already amazing crowd.

So, I begin my week with a grateful heart: I'm blessed that I get to go through life in real relationships with these amazing and interesting personalities. And I'm incredibly grateful that I get to spend eternity in the company of the ones He's given me. Have a great week, all!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Favorites Friday

I'm so excited! In less than 12 hours, my whole family (all 22 of us!) will be gathered in one town for a mini-reunion of sorts. The Norwegians are traveling in tonight, my folks are staying with Li'l Bro and his wife and new baby around the corner. And tomorrow, there's a day of festivities slated for family fun and bonding. I'm a family gal. I'm always happiest when I can find some way to be with my family, whether it's just the 6 of us in the Gang or the rest of the crazy folks I call family. Today's favorites are dedicated to them.

My Favorite Family Memories
(recent and ancient):
  • Popcorn with real butter while watching shows like Little House on the Prairie, McGuyver, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, or The Waltons as a family.
  • Family trips to the lake. Yes, I know I griped and complained about being away from my friends and my radio when I was a teen. But I am mature enough now to fondly remember the roasted marshmallows, the sleeping in, the rides out on the lake and the together time. LOTS of together time.
  • Sunday church together. It didn't matter what we all had going on in our individual calendars, our family stopped and worshipped together EVERY Sunday morning. The "services" I liked the best were those family times at the lake. Without anyone else but the 6 of us.
  • All our family weddings - ours, the cousins, and family friends. Man, our family knows how to have fun together and each wedding I've attended with my family members has been full of laughing, dancing, more laughing and sharing of cherished memories.
  • Weekends like this: all the siblings, in-laws and outlaws gathered to celebrate each other and honor the new life that's come to us. I know this one will be full of fun and laughs and maybe even some tears. They'll probably be mine, as I stand there and watch the love flowing like visible currents from person to person. That gets me every time.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
I hope you are as blessed to be surrounded by family as I am.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Day In The Life. . .

Today’s post is a little glimpse into the rhythms of our day when “The Gang’s All Here!” In a previous post, here, I mentioned that The Boss was beginning to work from home. Well, in an effort to maximize the purposes for doing that, he’s started by scheduling his telecommuting days for the same days that The Gang will be home from school. I’m not sure yet how this is working out for me, but everyone else is having a great time with it and I actually got a lot done today. In fact, I think if The Boss is careful to set himself up in a separate room than me when he works at home, this will be really great. Otherwise, his close proximity and startling sexiness will be a distraction and I’ll never get anything done ;) Especially if he wears that darned cologne when he’s here! Sorry, I’m pretty sure that’s not really what you wanted to know about our daily life . . .

  • 7 a.m. The Boss heads out for a early breakfast with the boys’ ministry leader from church. I roll over and burrow in a while longer.
  • 8:20 I stumble out of bed to find Shaggy, LadyBug and Baby Blue Eyes just “chillaxin’” on the couch together (they have the day off for Rosh Hashanah).
  • 8:45 Dr. Doolittle joins us to watch Kenny Chesney's concert on the roof on Good Morning America.
  • 9 a.m. I fill my travel mug, grab a breakfast bar and head out for a haircut and a couple errands at the mall. The Boss and I pass parental duties off at the kitchen door.
  • 10:30 I arrive home to find The Boss hard at work in his grubbies at the family room coffee table: papers and phones spread everywhere. The little Gang members all have dispersed to various neighbors' homes to play. I start the church bulletin, update Meals Ministry team information, update LIFE Group sign ups, and organize my PILES of paperwork that have accumulated since last night.
  • 12:30 p.m. I eat a microwave pizza with The Boss while we watch Fox News and chat about the world's political scene. (Not nearly as highbrow as it sounds, more like snarky commentary on North Korea's nuclear stupidity and Syria's hypocrisy.)
  • 2:00 The church bulletin is finished early(!), unless some ministry leader has a last-minute change or addition. I've even found time (while little Gang members are eating lunch at the neighbor's) to start planning for my MOMS' Group fall meetings and sort the mail. The kids are all frolicking in the pool and The Boss is now working poolside.
  • 3:45 I'm off to do a quick work out at Curves and come home to do an early dinner. The rest of the night should be spent cutting coupons and planning a list for a trip to Giant tomorrow. I have an early dr. appt. (I'm okay, it's just a yearly exam- fun, I know!) and then I must get my bi-weekly ton of groceries before my sister and her 5 Norwegian men descend on my home.

So there you have it, a glimpse at a day when

"The Gang's (truly) All Here!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

From The Mouths of Babes

Funny conversations over heard in my home - in just the past two days. Minor details have been embellished for readability; pithy quips by Baby Blue Eyes are exact quotes. What you have to imagine is the old-man mannerisms and finger pointing that accompanied them!) Enjoy!

Scene 1: Our living room, where I'm busy prepping the bulletin or some other big project contributing to world peace and clear communications within my church family.
The Boss: Hun, where does this basket of remotes and video games belong?
Me: Over there on the cabinet, next to the tv if you can fit it. No, no, no, the other cabinet with the tv on it.
The Boss: Here? It doesn't really fit. Are you sure? It seems too crowded to me.
Me: Yes, just put it there, I'll figure out a better place later.
Baby Blue Eyes: Yeah, Daddy, you heawd da woman!
Scene 2: The dinner table, where conversation is raging over who should have poured drinks tonight, who should have put the salad bowls out, and why there are no steak knives present. Everyone is talking at once, and The Boss and I are getting red in the face(s).
Dr. Doolittle: Why do I have to pour drinks? I always pour drinks. And can I have lemonade ?
Me: Please, just pour the drinks - lemonade for everyone, please. LadyBug, sit down and be quiet, PLEASE! Dr. D, I said just pour drinks!
Shaggy (across the table, to Dr. D): You don't pour drinks every night. And you forgot the salad bowls, not me.
Me (starting to raise my voice): I don't . . . .
Big Interruption by Baby Blue Eyes: Yeah, she don't give a wip who pohed last night. Just poh dwinks, Dr. D!
Lovely, isn't it? Just think, someday all that wit and charm is going to be set loose in a junior high classroom or in a youth group! Aaaaaah, the funny things kids repeat. I mean, say!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another First Day of School

Baby Blue Eyes and I began the exciting journey of home-schooling Kindergarten today! Over the past week, I'd been testing his skills with a few computer games and other tools I've used for the other gang members and discovered that he wasn't quite confident enough in his letter or number identification to begin an all-out phonics and math curriculum. So yesterday, while picking up tons of school supplies for the rest of the gang, I allowed him to pick out some "pre-K" level reading readiness and math readiness workbooks. I'm particularly partial to the Fisher Price Little People workbooks - I used them for the three older kids with great success in my pre-K and K curriculum; and I love the lingering sense of innocence and childhood that Little People embodies. We still have a ton of the toys out and almost all of the videos that came with the sets - and occasionally Baby Blue Eyes will sit and watch them when there's a toddler visiting our home.

So anyway, I specifically stocked up on a bunch of pre-K materials to give him opportunities to build his confidence and to work on his "good study skills" from the ground up. We also stocked up on Winnie The Pooh pre-K work books. (I checked, and am happy to report that Tigger makes quite a few appearances in these books - yippee, hooray!) At home, I pulled out a couple books on tape from when LadyBug home-schooled. I set him up today at the kitchen island, with his books and pencils and crayons and turned on some light classical music on behind us. I told him, "This is just our first day, so let's take it slow and get used to working together like this, okay buddy?" With a big grin, he said, "Yeah, SURE, Mommy!" and off we ran! He whipped through 19 pages of matching, patterning, and picking out what didn't belong. He succinctly described exactly why a pear does not belong with a basketball, a golf ball and a tennis ball. He connected dots and worked maze paths and kept smiling and asking for more. Finally, I got interrupted by another mom I'm helping for our school's upcoming Basket Auction. When she left, he was still asking for more. It was so darn cute, I couldn't refuse. So we sat down and made a binder cover for his "Home School Book," complete with his name and a cute puppy picture on the front. He watched me make a couple progress/tracking charts. Then, I had him listen to a story on tape till the rest of the gang got home for snack time.

Finally, he dragged all his stuff back out to show off to Shaggy, Dr. Doolittle and LadyBug. In their own way they all congratulated him on his first day. But I have to say, the most exciting thing he has to report about his first day of school is the treat that Aunt L'il Sis brought him: "A First Day (vanilla) Frosty!" Between the 1 1/2 hours of undivided Mommy time and the creamy, sweet treat from his aunt, Baby Blue Eyes is LIVIN' LARGE in the Gang House :) All in all, a very satisfying day for both of us, wouldn't you say?!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Favorites Friday

In the spirit of accepting my lot in life (ooooh, doesn't that sound so melodramatic and Emily Bronte-ish!!), I will share with you my favorite things about September. It's still way too new and a bit too sad to tell you what I like about the kids climbing aboard the big, bad yellow bus; but September does have at least 5 redeemable qualities, I'm sure!

My Favorite Things About September
  • I love the first day of fall. Fall is my favorite season, and in my opinion, Sept. 22 should be a national holiday where every one wears khaki, brown, gold, rust and red clothes all day long. Regardless of his or her "season" or coloring!
  • Baby Blue Eyes has a birthday in September. In fact, his birthday is the last day of summer, so it always turns into a 2-day celebration around here: big birthday bash and end of summer bash; then we wake up and do the Snoopy dance to celebrate fall's arrival.
  • September feels like a new year - the beginning of school creates the feeling of a fresh calendar, a new slate. The ultimate "Re-do," if you will.
  • I love the crisp, cool evenings toward the end of the month. Dragging out the soft, comfy throws and the fleecy slippers is cause for a mini-celebration here. Gimme a homemade chai latte, a good suspense novel, and the party is complete!
  • For all you fellow decorators: I love the rich, bold colors that begin to appear right about now in all the stores. The soft umber colored throw pillows, the apple and gourd wreaths that appear on every door. And the mums. Oooooh, I love the mums. Real or silk, I love the depth of color and the happy blooms. They really are the perfect pick-me-up for the back to school blues!
There you have it. Now, I'm surprisingly excited about September! I've got a leg-long list of To Do's for this month and next and although I still miss my kids in the daylight hours, I find myself looking forward to the crisp newness of fall. And while I'm out running my errands this morning, I think I'll stop and get myself some mums. Maybe some of those new "sunflower mums!" Have you seen those things? They are GORGEOUS, just amazing in their vibrancy and cheer. So, 7 days in to it:

Happy September Everyone!
Go get yourself a mum :)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

When Will I Learn?!

This morning, I re-discovered one of my least favorite things about a clean bathroom: scrubbing the toilet. Now, before you reel back in horrified shock that I'm just now re-discovering this, let me explain! We do, in fact, all participate in cleaning all the major elements of our home. The Gang is an equal opportunity training facility. However, due to the toxic substances found in your average toilet bowl cleaner and the fact that most contain some degree of chlorine bleach, we have reserved the toilet scrubbing duties for The Boss and I. And we do scrub them, almost weekly :) And certainly when we have company coming. I promise.

Today's re-discovery stems from the act of scrubbing recklessly and trying to multi-task while doing so. Kudos to TCC, by the way, for her multi-tasking recognition. I do multi-task also. I just remembered this morning why I shouldn't multi-task while scrubbing toilets. While scrubbing fast and furiously, I kept feeling these little pings and stings on my capri-clad legs. Ordinarily, I wouldn't even give it a thought and truthfully probably wouldn't even feel it, what with the forest of red and blond hairs growing by the end of the week on my stubby little legs. But today I'm wearing my new(er) cargo capris that are slightly shorter than my other summer wear. And I actually shaved recently, which is definitely out of my normal Friday or Saturday morning rotation of personal hygiene tasks. (I know, that's waaaaay more than you want to know about me!) So anyway, I'm scrubbing and spraying my hair and dancing to some blaring country tune and feeling these little pings. And then the caffeine must have kicked in because I realized that when I stepped back a bit and stretched, the stinging stopped. And I looked down to see all these tiny little droplets gleaming on my freshly shaven, lotion-shiny shins. AAAAAACK! I'm bleaching my legs - after I worked all summer to develop an even, healthy glow slowly with my 55SPF.

Quickly I rinsed down my legs and smacked my head V8 style. Duh, when will I learn?! I am the proud owner of a pair of slimming, sleek black running pants - with little red dots all over the shin areas. And I seem to remember a pair of well-worn, soft, comfy jeans with little white dots all over the calves. (How on earth I got the backs of my legs, I'll never know!) So I dried off, re-lotioned and quickly prayed for a spirit of wisdom and discernment to fall on me anew whenever I pick up that pesky toilet brush again. Maybe next time I'll learn!

And for those of you concerned about my new(er) cargo capris? They're fine: seems while I was bending over, they were hiked up just enough to expose my knees and be spared the destruction! Which makes me wonder, what else are they exposing when I bend? But that's another post for another day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dragged, Kicking and Screaming . . . . And Crying

Well, the return to our school-year routine was official yesterday. Sorta. Shaggy got himself up and showered and dressed and out the door by 7:25 and The Boss and I worked on motivating Dr. Doolittle and LadyBug into their school day routine as gently as we possibly could. The bus stop is at the end of our driveway, so after we indulged in the yearly photo shoot The Boss went in with Baby Blue Eyes to console each other and I stood at the end of the drive to cry with a neighbor from across the cul-de-sac. (An aside: Her youngest boys (twins) had their first day of all-day 1st grade today, so she's facing an empty house all day for the first time in 13 years. I can't go there - maybe I'll just keep adopting until I'm too senile to recognize that I'm faced with an empty house! I'll be the crazy kid lady in the neighborhood!)

The routine from there was not normal, yet: The Boss worked from home all day. He chose to do that to see the kids off (normally he's on the train by 7:20 a.m. and misses the morning routine completely) and to provide BBE and I with the emotional support we needed when sending all our playmates off for the day! ;) So we hung around the house together, I did my Tuesday morning weigh-in, and The Boss mowed the lawn on his "lunch break." It was way too quiet and peaceful here for my liking. BBE rode bikes with Neighbor Girl for a while and even that wasn't normal: she starts her first day of afternoon kindergarten today, so her availability will be limited now. And later, Li'l Sis and Redheaded Niece came to swim. That might be a bit of a new norm, as she's feeling the need to schedule some time out & about after 2 years of homeschooling all the kids and now only has Redhead to hang out with.

BBE and I will be starting his homeschooling next week, hopefully by Monday. I'm thinking of saving it till the afternoons, so he and Neighbor Girl can maximize their play times. That would also leave our mornings for errands, the library, the grocery store and laundry duty. MMMMM, doesn't that all sound delightful! Ick.

And so I go, dragged into the familiar (and yes, I admit, slightly comforting) school year routine. But I went kicking and screaming in my heart, and crying at the end of the driveway. But not where Dr. D and LadyB could see me - a Mom must be mindful of preserving her 6th grader's coolness factor in front of the friends, even in her agonizing heartbreak!

P.S. Shaggy is not pictured here because: #1 - he's out the door waaaaaaay too early for me to coherently figure out how to take a picture and, #2 - he's "so past that" at his 13-year old cool self!