Archive | May 2012

Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself

Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo and Beanie both awoke on the pugilistic sides of their beds yesterday, which made for something of an eventful morning.  Nothing either of our daughters did made the other happy, and there was a great deal of complaining along the lines of “she did this,” and “she said that.” This is slightly nerve-wracking on a normal day, but on a morning when Deedaw is in the hospital (for the record, if you have a stomach bug that lasts more than three days, call a doctor), it’s positively maddening.

After the morning phone calls were finished and all four tiny people had eaten breakfast, it was time to go to the farm to pick up our week’s share of produce.  Since yesterday brought a sullen rain and ominous skies, we did not  have recourse to our usual Wednesday diversion of playing on the farm, which usually de-escalates the tension between Bugaboo and Beanie.  Bugaboo prefers to hang out in the playhouse pretending to be a baking talent fairy, while Beanie prefers to play in the sandbox.

As we drove towards the farm, I could hear them in the back of the van, arguing over what kinds of clouds filled the sky, whether they were rain clouds or the innocently lovely kind, whether that small patch of sky was a hint of blue to come or just a bluish cloud, whether there would still be clouds when we arrived at the farm.  It was one of those funny arguments where each girl took both sides of the argument — as soon as one got the other to concede the point, she immediately assumed the opposite position in the debate.  I’m hoping this presages great accomplishments for both of them in forensics.  Yesterday, it reminded me of the parable about children arguing in the marketplace.

I must admit I was hoping that the disputes in the van would get the argumentative spirit out of them; sometimes, if they can just spend a half hour disagreeing with each other, they remember that they actually do like each other and work on finding ways to play together, so I limited my intercessions to gentle reminders about appropriate tone of voice.  They seemed to be recovering from their discordant moods on the way home, so I started a spelling game with them on the way back.  The game’s very simple, really — start with a two-letter combination like “ab” and run through the alphabet, asking, “So how would you spell ‘cab?’  What about ‘dab?'”  Bugaboo is an expert at it, Beanie sometimes chimes in, and Mr. Man parrots.  It’s a fun time-passer while driving, and if you’re not driving, you can add in the ASL signs for the letters or write the letters in the air with a finger while you’re doing it.

I could see Beanie writing letters in the air with her finger in the rear view mirror, but she opted not to call out the letters.  This gave offense to Bugaboo, who stridently informed me, “Mommy, Beanie’s not playing!  She’s not saying any of the letters. She’s making me do it ALL BY MYSELF!”  Stifling a chuckle, I reminded her that sometimes Beanie learns by listening to her big sister, as do Mr. Man and Baby Guy, and that one of Bugaboo’s frequent complaints that morning had been that Beanie kept interrupting her.  “So, sweetheart, do you think maybe she was paying attention when you said it made you mad when she talked at the same time as you?”

“No.  She just wants me to have to say all the letters myself.”
“Hm.  Well, do you want to keep playing anyway?”
“Yes, I do.  But Beanie should help play the game.”
“We’ll see what happens.  How do you spell ‘jab?'”

You know, I  should have chosen a different letter combination yesterday.  I saw Beanie’s hand dart sideways in the rearview mirror, then kept my eyes riveted to the road before me as Bugaboo shrieked at her younger sister.  Mr. Man’s giggling made it even harder to concentrate on driving.  Beanie, of course, had chosen to demonstrate the word rather than spell it.

“You can’t say I didn’t play with you no-o-o-o-w!”

Once I had choked back my laughter, I reminded Beanie that the automotive version of the spelling game involves saying or writing the letters, not acting out the words.  Fortunately, we were stopped at a red light when she responded, “But you said it was okay to use our fingers.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for four little blessings who are sound of body and nimble of mind.  Please help me teach them that You would have us dwell joyfully with one another, and to play kindly with one another.  There are such things as arguments that nobody wins, and that leave everyone dissatisfied and angry.  Help me teach them to save the fighting for things that are of true and lasting importance, and even then, to do it with love for You and for each other uppermost in their hearts and minds.

And Lord, please send Deedaw Your healing mercy.

Consider the lilies of the field

Here’s the song reference.

Beanie loves to bring me flowers, and I’ve written more than once about the bouquets of clover flowers and dandelions which she regularly bestows upon me.  It is with some difficulty that I’ve managed to convince her that she should not pick the tiger lilies whose orange roars grace our front walk; beautiful as they are, I’m horribly allergic to them, so they are relegated to showing off their beauty outside.

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the morning on the telephone, finding a park where we could have Beanie’s birthday festivities, checking in on Grandma and Deedaw, and updating Daddy on news from around the family.  The tribe spent Mommy’s phone time running around the backyard and playing with the big box of MegaBloks I retrieved from its storage spot downstairs.  The delightful thing about MegaBloks is that even Baby Guy can play with them, so we had a squadron of miniature engineers squabbling over who needed which blocks.  We recently decided that, for at least an hour every day, something like the blocks or the Thomas gear needs to be spilled all over the livingroom, so that the tribe can practice playing together and sharing properly. It’s much more fun to do it with actual toys than with role playing.

The boys’ nap was over at an unusually early hour yesterday, so we decided that some sort of brief outing was in order, although I had planned to save gas by not going anywhere.  After a short discussion with the tribe, we resolved to go purchase a bag of M&Ms forasnack, since we all thought it was a good day for chocolate, the day was hot, and M&M’s don’t melt in your hands and make lots of gooey chocolate stains for Mommy to clean off the furniture.  When we returned from our sweet errand, Beanie and Mr. Man both headed straight for the tiger lily patches and had to be reminded that we do not pick those, because they are outdoor flowers.  Both were a little downcast, but the promise of chocolate ot come redirected both of them into the house, up the stairs, and on their chairs at the kitchen table.

Once the candy had been eaten, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man pounded back down the stairs to go play in the back yard.  Bugaboo doesn’t tolerate heat very well, and she wandered back in about 20 minutes later to see if Baby Guy would play blocks with her.  Mr. Man was cheerfully transporting dirt from one spot in the yard to another with a purple plastic shovel, and Beanie was swinging on her tummy, as she is wont to do when swinging in a more conventional pose would put the sun in her eyes.  I started peeling kohlrabi for dinner.

Last year, for Mother’s Day, Daddy gave me one of my favorite flowers — a purple calla lily.  Once it had finished blooming, we found a suitable spot in the back yard to plant it, so we would be able to enjoy it for years to come.  As it happens, we awoke Sunday morning to a flourish of purple near the birdbath, and my Monday and Tuesday mornings began with a little frisson of joy as I spotted the little flower while letting the dogs out.

As I was slicing the kohlrabi, I heard Beanie’s little singsong voice ascending the stairs. “Mommy, I have a flower for yoooouuuuuuu!”

She continued as she handed it to me, “I found the prettiest flower in the whole wide world and I picked it just for you!”

I gave her a hug and a kiss, and thanked her for wanting to give me the prettiest flower in the whole wide world.  Beanie then reminded me that I should put it in some water, so, finding a Turkish coffee glass, I asked her if it was pretty enough for the prettiest flower in the world.  She deemed it appropriate, grinned broadly, then capered back down the steps to play some more.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You instructed us to consider the lilies of the field, how You provide for all their needs.  Help me teach Your blessings that while we labor, and give thanks to You for the work we have, beauty is a gift freely given by You to us. Thank You for the loveliness of the flowers, and of Your little blessing who finds me worthy of their beauty.

Spring and summer ever after

Here’s the song reference.  Here’s a second reference, brought to you by Bugaboo.

We awoke yesterday to a heat advisory.  I had planned to make a quick run out to the store for milk and eggs, and once Bugaboo, Beanie, and Daddy were moving about the house, headed off on a resupply mission.  What started out as a quick trip to the grocery store morphed into a run to two big-box stores, as the first one’s entire supply of milk was dated for yesterday, and I had realized while driving that we were also low on sunscreen and mosquito repellant.  In the end, I returned home with ten bags, to a very warm welcome from four tiny people and my husband, all of whom were intensely curious as to what the bags might hold.

In addition to the milk, eggs, sunscreen, and bug spray, I’d picked up some chicken for a cookout, a huge net bag of freezer pops, new crocs for Mr. Man . . . oh, and a sprinkler.  We had a most excellent beach ball-shaped sprinkler last summer; unfortunately, Smudgie decided it was a most excellent tackling dummy.  Puppy teeth and vinyl inflatables mix poorly, we’ve discovered, and thus we were sprinklerless for the first genuinely hot day of the year.  As I was unpacking the goods, Daddy advised me that Deedaw was still ailing, and after a short discussion, we decided this would be a “stay day” for us.

Bugaboo was the first to figure out that the mysterious, ropy object with all the bright colors was a sprinkler, and brightly informed us that she was the proud owner of a bathing suit which would be eminently useful in playing with such a thing.  Daddy and I grinned, I cut open the packaging, and we set about attiring Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man in their swim gear.  Mr. Man was quite upset that he would not be permitted to wear his brand new Spidey sneakers to play in the water (and resultant mud), but, upon peering out the window and spying the fun his sisters were having, consented to wear his new crocs.  Baby Guy and I played in the boys’ room for a while, then headed upstairs to make lunch.

Yes, there is a photo gallery, but the videos are better.  Trust me.  I almost burned the barbecue because I kept watching them from the kitchen window, narrating the goings-on for Baby Guy, who was happily cruising around the kitchen.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing in each other’s company, with no place to go, no pressing obligations, and not really paying attention to the time.  I took several opportunities to explain to the girls what Memorial Day means, and that at every opportunity, they should pray for the families of fallen soldiers, for the children whose mommies or daddies can’t be there to grill chicken or set up sprinklers.  I told them every man and woman who serves in the armed forces takes the risk of not coming home to his or her family, and they do it to protect us.  Soon, we’ll start a summer project of sending cards and letters to wounded veterans.  Being free has a price, and we want our children to understand how important it is to thank those who offer to buy the tickets.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You blessed us with a land in which we may come and go as we please, in which we are free to worship You, in which no man may tell us how many children to have or what we must think.  Thank You for the freedom to live according to Your law.  Help us teach Your blessings the difference between freedom and anarchy, and that the greatest and most lasting freedom comes from obedience to Your law.  You taught us that if we know Your truth, we will be truly free.  Thank You for all those who have died to preserve the freedom to know Your truth for us.

Sundays in the park, twice if it’s Memorial Day

Here’s the song reference.

Deedaw has been under the weather for the past couple of days, and since she did not wish to share her bug with the tiny people, we found ourselves with a planless Sunday.  Since the tribe was manic, and Bugaboo was agitating for an opportunity to ride her spiffy new scooter, we quickly changed them into playclothes, tossed some juice and snacks into a bag, and sped off to a local park for some fresh air and sunshine.

Once we arrived at the park, Bugaboo promptly decided that the playground equipment looked like more fun than the scooter, so it stayed in the van, while the Presidential Limo (our pet name for the big double stroller that has been our saving grace since Beanie’s arrival in 2008) was loaded with the Baby Guy crawling blanket and the rest of our supplies.  I pushed the stroller, and Daddy walked ahead with our two very excited daughters.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to check Beanie’s wardrobe choice before we left the house, and as she scampered up the sidewalk to the playground, she found herself suddenly hampered by the descent of her shorts to  her ankles.  It seems a pair of Bugaboo’s drawers had accidentally made it into Beanie’s drawer, with the predictable result.

Apparently, sometimes Mommies DON’T realize their children left the house in THAT . . .

One quick knot and two unbuckled boys later, we had four kids on the loose, making new friends, inventing new games, climbing, swinging, running, laughing, and sweating.  Daddy took swings detail, while Baby Guy and I set up camp under the single shade tree.  Our youngest made the amazing discovery that if one tips one’s chubby little self over to the side whilst sitting on a hill, one rolls in a highly entertaining manner.  After about an hour of fun and frolic, everyone was hot, tired, and hungry, so we headed home for lunch.  Poor Mr. Man had worn himself out to a point that he didn’t even want to eat, and for the first time in recent memory, didn’t protest when I tucked him into his crib for a nap.  Baby Guy followed after demolishing a hot dog and half a banana, at which point Daddy and I decided we could use a nap, too.  He stretched out on the couch with Beanie, and Bugaboo followed me into our room with an armload of stuffed animals.

Not much napping was actually accomplished by either the girls or Daddy and I, but it was thoroughly pleasant to be able to relax horizontally for a couple of hours.  Having rested, although not with any measure of sleep involved, the girls were ready for more adventures before their brothers awoke, so Daddy took them outside with a little plastic tub to see if our raspberry thicket had borne any edible fruit. As it happened, the three of them harvested about half a bucketful of sweet golden and purple berries by the time the boys awoke and drank the cups of milk that function as their coffee.  My poor husband scarcely had time to give the berries a quick rinse before the tribe descended upon him like locusts, and he had to enforce turn-taking to ensure that each tiny person received a fair share of the fruits of our horticultural labors.

After the raspberries had been devoured, Bugaboo started agitating for another opportunity to ride her scooter, since she had eschewed her earlier chance.  Daddy looked at me and, after a moment’s thought, I started tossing the makings of a picnic supper into  a bag, calling over my shoulder that the boys probably needed to be changed and all the ambulatory members of the tribe needed shoes. Within five minutes, we were back out the door, headed for a different park.  We did make a quick pit stop at Arby’s for a handful of roast beef sandwiches to round out our meal.

The tribe thoroughly enjoyed an alfresco dinner, then scattered across the playground at the second park of the day.  Bugaboo and Beanie made a brief plea for a visit to the pool, which was quickly quashed by the reminder that none of us had either swimsuits or sufficient cash on hand to make a pool visit feasible.  It took considerably more persuasion to convince Baby Guy that the mulch with which the playground surface is covered does not make a suitable dessert.  I’ll be glad when he gets past the age where he will pass up a cookie to eat whatever he’s found on the ground.

On both visits to the park, we left our watches at home and our cell phones in the van, as is our custom when we’re out with the tribe.  We don’t have so many hours where all of us can be together, rejoicing in each other’s company and the day the Lord has sent, that we want gadgets to rule or even intrude upon that time.  It always saddens Daddy and I to see the parents sitting on the park benches, eyes glued to the screens of their smartphones, disregarding their children’s pleas for a push on the swings or their summiting of the giant rock wall.  They always seem to be in bad moods, too.  We’re choosy about where we direct our attention, I guess.  There’s a time for electronics, and there’s a time to enjoy all the beauty that the unofficial beginning of summer holds.

When all the water bottles were empty, it was time to head for home, with very little objection from the tiny people.  Baby Guy was actually the last one standing this time, and the only one to utter a protest as we left the park.  Once we got into the house, I asked if anyone would like a bowl of frozen rainbows (local argot for rainbow sherbet, a summer staple at our house), and was met with a chorus of affirmatives.  Bugaboo, after two bites of sherbet, decided she would rather have a popsicle, so Beanie found herself with a bounty of fruity frozen goodness.  Four baths later, we assembles the troop in the living room for prayers, lullabies, and stories, the NASCAR race muted on the TV (NASCAR is great when you have kids who are learning numbers and colors).  By 8:01, we had four contentedly sleeping tiny people, and thanked God for a day where the rejoicing enormously outweighed the reprimanding.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a Pentecost Sunday on which the bright summer sun reminded us of the Holy Spirit’s fiery descent from Heaven, covering us with warmth and filling us with joy in the knowledge that You surround us everywhere we go.  Thank You for bright light and heat that are blessings, that signify life and mirth, and remind us to always keep those for whom they were the end of their days on earth.  It is fitting that on the weekend our country honors those who laid down their lives in defense of their brethren, we also celebrate the day You sent Your Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, and keep us.  Please grant wisdom to our leaders and grace to the families of those who stood in harm’s way by the orders of those leaders, and help all hearts open to Your Son’s message of love for neighbor.

Clover and over

Here’s the song reference.

Beanie has designated herself the official flower picker of our household.  As soon as she is given permission to go play outside, her first order of business is to minutely inspect the clover that grows in random patches in our back yard, find the fluffiest flower heads available, and pick them until her little fist can clutch no more.  When she has gathered what she considers an acceptable handful, she delightedly capers up the stairs, cooing, “Mama!  Mama!  I have something foooooooooooor youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

Yesterday morning, she repeated her ritual after scarfing down half a banana. While she had been dawdling over her little breakfast, I had emptied the (very) old cream pitcher I use to display Beanie’s offerings, and remarked on the light, cheery fragrance of fresh clover blossoms.  Once the banana was eaten, a small flower-seeking missile zoomed out of the kitchen, donned shoes, and flew out the back door.  Some moments later, I heard the telltale thud of size nine feet on the steps, and turned to see a hugely smiling Beanie, clover stems dangling from between her fingers and an impressive puff of white flowers crowning her fist.  She presented her find to me with a little flourish, and the announcement, “Mama, here’s your Beanie love present!”

It boggles my mind that with all the toys and all the things to explore in our back yard, the first thing Beanie wants to do when she goes outside to play is bring me flowers to say “I love you.”  If this is what our days being like grass means, I’ll take it.

Later in the day, Uncle and Cousin, who live not far north of us, stopped in for a visit.  My husband was delighted to have another music guy in the house, as he is currently constructing a FrankenFender, and Cousin was only too happy to test it out for him.  Before long, another guitar materialized, and the two of them sat and talked instruments while Uncle and I smiled and offered the occasional comment or question.  When I checked to see if anyone might be interested in lunch, the response from all three men was quite enthusiastic, and shortly thereafter, we all settled in for steak sandwiches.  Baby Guy slept through their entire visit, unfortunately, and Mr. Man gave up the napping ghost not long into lunchtime.  We knew he had to be tired when he turned down steak and bread.  The girls had a game going involving Polly Pockets, Transformers, and assorted other dolls in their room, and we really hadn’t heard much from them.

The sound of plates hitting the table, however, brought a smiling Beanie from the girls’ room, and she happily accepted a plate when I returned from tucking Mr. Man in to his crib.  All four of us grimaced, then stifled laughter, when she decided to wash down a mouthful of pickles with blueberry juice.  Uncle, to my delight, kept remarking on how all the tiny people seemed happy.  I was glad to be able to share a meal, some music, and some life with the branch of the family tree I hardly know, but whose members are decidedly pleasant and welcome company.  Hopefully the general clutter and chaos that characterizes our house didn’t scare them off.

After Uncle and Cousin left for their next destination, Daddy and I discovered that the boys were still asleep, so we turned on Dinosaur Train for the girls and stretched ourselves out on the living room couches to get a little rest.  Beanie decided to abscond with Daddy’s socks, as she frequently does unto anyone who reclines on a couch with socks visible, and catch a few snuggles.

I guess we were all a little tired.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a peaceful day spent with family, and thank You for the safe travels You granted our uncle and cousin.  Thank You for the food You send to nourish our bodies and souls, for a shared love of teaching and learning, for our family’s passion for music and instruments.   Thank You for teaching us that houses divided do not stand, and for giving us the opportunity to strengthen our family’s house, building it with love, bread, and joy.  Please help us teach Your blessings that building each other and our family up is a gift and privilege from You, and that love shared is never wasted.

This is the day that never ends

Here’s the song reference.

Whether I woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday or had my peace disturbed by two wee girls whining at everyone before 7 a.m. I could not say, but we had an epidemic of crankiness around here yesterday.  I really wanted to do some major housecleaning yesterday, but it did not happen because every time I stood for a moment to think about what needed to be done, one or another of our little blessings emitted a shriek of a pitch and volume that indicated a possible injury.  This makes it hard for me to concentrate and to remain calm.

By around 9:30, I was snarking at all four of them.  My usual fail-safe, sending them all into the backyard for a scavenger hunt or soccer game, didn’t work.  Bugaboo stayed outside for roughly ninety seconds before returning to where I was trying to clean the kitchen counters while providing a standing support for Baby Guy, whining wretchedly that there were bugs in the yard, it was hot, there wasn’t a flat place where she could ride her scooter, it was humid, a bee had buzzed at her, and the dew on the grass had gotten her shoes wet.

I resorted to Netflix.  We have about a dozen “vintage” animated series in our queue, and I declared a day of watching one episode of each show, then pretending to be someone from the show.  The only flaw in my otherwise awesome plan for keeping the kids occupied and entertained was that Bugaboo was the only child who was even remotely interested in watching a video screen yesterday — and she wasn’t interested in doing anything but watching the video screen.  Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy are more or less indifferent to television and movies, although Beanie likes to watch hockey, football, and judo.  Ironically, she is the same child who loves Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, and all things pink.

Rather than describe the frustration of the day in minute detail, suffice it to say that very little cleaning got done, I spent entirely too much time and energy hollering at the tiny people, and they responded in kind.  The alacrity with which they follow whatever example I set for them is a little chilling sometimes.  It’s a rare day when not even storytime can settle us all down, but Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man whined and complained through each other’s chosen stories, which definitely takes the fun out of that pastime.

Near the end of the day, Bugaboo was curled up watching Dumbo, which was airing on one of the Disney channels last night, Beanie was happily playing with Polly Pockets in the girls’ room, Baby Guy was playing with Daddy in our room, and Mr. Man was bringing me his books to read, one after another, all his favorite rhythmic stories from Dr. Seuss and Bill Martin.  I paused in the middle of Green Eggs and Ham, realizing that no one was complaining about anything, and smiled.  Mr. Man looked up to see why I had stopped, patted my shoulder, and said, “Mama smile.  Nice Mama.”

There’s really nothing quite like being convicted by a two year old.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a home to clean, and for Your four blessings who help make the messes.  Thank You for the moments when their quiet joy reminds me that I have allowed anger to take root where love should live.  Please help me remember that I teach them in every moment, whether or not any school books are present, and that the lessons they learn may take Your own grace to undo.  Please grant me a gentle tongue, and remind me to pause before I use it.  Before I sharply send them away so that I can do something that seems important at the moment, please remind me that You Yourself instructed Your disciples to let the children come to you, and that the tenor of my rebuke can distance them from You.  Grant me the grace of recalling Your words before I utter my own.

Perhaps a little too much noise

Here’s the song reference.

Our playgroup met yesterday, and Bugaboo did, in fact, greatly enjoy showing off her new scooter.  I discovered that we’ll need to do a little work on the concept of sharing with our friends, since the friend who is always so generous with her own scooter would barely strap on the helmet before Bugaboo informed her that her turn was over.  It’s not the hardest lesson to teach, but it’s a tough one to learn — and it’s a difficult one to practice when you’re five years old and you’ve had your spiffy new scooter for exactly one day.

We had quite the rambunctious crowd, too, with about a dozen toddlers in raucous attendance. There are times when it’s a challenge for me to gauge the noise level in the room, as I can’t hear much out of one ear, but the other moms are wonderful about monitoring for overly loud shrieks and wails.  On some days, though, we get involved in our own conversations, and in grinning at the antics of our assembled broods. About an hour into the mayhem, I saw one of the lovely ladies who works in the parish office at the doors leading from the vestibule, so I headed over to meet her at the door.  “Too loud?”  I asked sheepishly.  “Yep, too loud,” she replied.  “We heard that one shriek all the way up in the office, and there are people praying in the sanctuary.”

Oops.  Since the parish office is separated from our playgroup space by the sanctuary and a flight of steps, that’s pretty loud.  I apologized, and we reminded our riot of little blessings that quieter, indoor voices were required.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Man was the source of the shriek that was heard upstairs, so I’ll likely need to redouble my efforts to find a way to get him to understand the concept of “volume control.”

After playgroup, it was home for lunch and naps.  I actually enforced naptime for Bugaboo and Beanie yesterday, since their sleep schedules went to pieces with all the excitement of the past week, with a resultant epic case of grouchiness yesterday morning.  While they slept, I managed to do a little cleaning in the kitchen, but not before I abandoned myself to an hour on the couch with my Kindle and a cup of coffee to read in the blessed silence of four sleeping children.  As the subtitle of the blog says, it’s all about “finding joy and a stronger faith in the little things.”

I must confess that one of the big joys that will derive from a little thing will be when Mr. Man learns the proper use of the cups he is constantly picking up . . . and when he stops responding to having them taken away from him with phenomenal displays of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for four little blessings who are full of life, energy, and enthusiasm.  Please help me direct their enthusiasm into pursuits and behaviors that are pleasing to You, but to provide that direction gently, that they will not learn to get their way by raising their voices.  It is Your way, not our, that we seek to obtain.  Thank You for all the wonderful examples of softly-spoken mothers You have sent to our parish moms’ group and to the blogosphere, and please help me follow the teaching You send me through them.  Please bless those ladies with the knowledge that they are teaching Your ways wisely and well, and grant them the grace of children who bring honor to their parents and glory to You.

I am re-blogging this because of an earlier technical issue with the photo gallery. As is usually the case, it was the wetware’s fault. Peace be with you.


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo’s fifth birthday was an absolute riot of activity and good cheer.  Time constraints will not permit me to go into a lot of detail, but if a picture really does say a thousand words, you’ll find the equivalent of War and Peace in the gallery.

Our day began well before 7:00, as both Bugaboo and Beanie were far too excited to sleep, and by the time Daddy left for work at 7:45, Bugaboo had opened all her gifts and was cheerfully playing with a few new toys.  We did “theme boxes” for her; she likes Tinkerbell, Strawberry Shortcake, Spider-Man and Transformers, so she had one box for each.  Each box had a small toy or two (except the Transformers one, which had a big Optimus Prime voice-changing helmet) and a quartet of books about the character.  She also received her first watch, which caused her to…

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You say it’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time

Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo’s fifth birthday was an absolute riot of activity and good cheer.  Time constraints will not permit me to go into a lot of detail, but if a picture really does say a thousand words, you’ll find the equivalent of War and Peace in the gallery.

Our day began well before 7:00, as both Bugaboo and Beanie were far too excited to sleep, and by the time Daddy left for work at 7:45, Bugaboo had opened all her gifts and was cheerfully playing with a few new toys.  We did “theme boxes” for her; she likes Tinkerbell, Strawberry Shortcake, Spider-Man and Transformers, so she had one box for each.  Each box had a small toy or two (except the Transformers one, which had a big Optimus Prime voice-changing helmet) and a quartet of books about the character.  She also received her first watch, which caused her to exclaim, “I must really be a big girl now!”

Grandma arrived about a half-hour after Daddy left, bearing with her a new scooter (and a helmet — Grandma worked in emergency x-ray for almost 50 years and has rather strong opinions about kids, wheels, and helmets), along with some snacks and crafts for all of  her grandbabies to share.  Suncatchers were painted, scratch art cards were scratched, and then everything chewable by Smudgie was hurriedly stowed for our weekly trip to the farm.

We passed a pleasant hour playing at the farm before I retrieved our big box of vegetables, made a quick stop at home to drop off the box (which also contained a half-dozen of the biggest eggs I’ve ever seen), then headed for the tribe’s favorite unhealthy lunch spot, Big Yellow M.  Grandma rode herd on the tribe in the play area while I waited in line for the food.  As I stood there, my mother suddenly appeared beside me and thrust Baby Guy into my arms, then turned and rushed back to the play area. I figured Baby Guy had gotten a little too wiggly, but then I heard the unmistakeable shriek of a frightened Mr. Man.  Casting about quickly to see what had happened, I spied Grandma spryly climbing the webbed-in steps of the kid Habitrail, where Mr. Man had become lost.  Bugaboo scampered past Grandma and played tour guide, and, after I had plunked our tray down on a table and secured Baby Guy in a high chair with a small pile of fries, Grandma and I switched places, as she discovered that there’s a bit of a trick to getting Mr. Man out of the Habitrail without injury to anyone.  We roundly praised Bugaboo for being such a caring and brave big sister, I gave Grandma mad props for getting into the Habitrail, and Mr. Man, after a little chocolate milk and a couple of fries, decided that he still likes Big Yellow M just fine.

After that, it was definitely time to head home for a nap.  Baby Guy, Mr. Man, and Beanie all went to sleep after brief protestations, but Bugaboo kept wandering out to make sure nothing else interesting was happening.  After about an hour, Grandma left to go check in to her hotel, and Bugaboo came back down the hall to see if, perhaps, maybe, there might be the tiniest chance that she could watch a little bit of TV to relax.  One “Tom and Jerry,” one “Puppy in My Pocket,” one “Mr. Men Show (during which she was joined by Beanie),” and one “Super Hero Squad” later, the rest of the tribe was awake, Grandma had returned, Daddy was on his way home from work, and Mommy was bustling about the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table at 5:00, which was when we had told Nonno and Deedaw (who were bringing little cousin Dubs with them).

One of our house customs is that if it is your birthday, you get to choose the menu.  Bugaboo decided that she wanted steak, macaroni and cheese, carrots, and bread for her feast, so at least there wasn’t any terribly difficult prep work involved.  Grandma did an heroic job of keeping the kids clear of the kitchen while I worked.  Nonno and Deedaw ran a little late, so by the time they arrived, we had fed the tribe and thus did not have to play musical chairs (we can seat eight at our kitchen table — ten poses quite the logistical problem).  As it happened, Nonno and Deedaw arrived with Dubs not long after Bugaboo, Beanie and Mr. Man had cleaned their plates, and thus were met by an excited birthday girl who was wildly curious about the contents of the brightly colored bags her paternal grandparents had brought.  To her very great credit, she shared all of her birthday toys with all of her siblings and her wee cousin, too, even the much-desired actually-transforming-Transformers she received from Nonno and Deedaw.

Once the adults and Dubs had eaten, and Baby Guy had polished off a second helping of macaroni, we cleared the table for singing and cake.  While we were putting the food away, Mr. Man ambled in and began requesting art supplies.  There is a special kind of chaos that attends a two year old boy using paint and markers while his parents are trying to put away food and wash dishes.  After we had sung “Happy Birthday” to Bugaboo and passed around slices of cake, we discovered that adding frosting to the aforementioned two-year old boy is something that has to be seen, because there are no words in any language that adequately describe the resultant mess — or at least none that I could use in this blog.

After all the grandparents left in a flurry of hugs and kisses, we tucked in the boys and let the girls stay up a few extra minutes for an extended storytime (sort of mandatory when one has almost 20 new books).  As we tucked her into her bed, Bugaboo declared she had “the absolute best and most awesomest birthday ever!”

Mission accomplished.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for five years of Bugaboo, for her wit, beauty, and kindness.  Thank You for the large and loving family with which You have blessed her.  Please help us all raise her into a woman who will be a joy to her family and to You.

Believing the unbelievable

Here’s the song reference.

I heaved a largish sigh when I awoke to more rain yesterday; as badly as this area needs it to offset the dry winter, rainy days make erranding with the tribe rather challenging, and there were two that could not be postponed.  Happily, the tribe gave me something of a staggered start to the day, awakening one at a time, and eating breakfast without too much complaining.  By 8:45, all four had beed fed, dressed, and shod, the morning calls had been made, and we were off to the Parks and Recreation office to pick up the packet and tee shirts for Bugaboo’s tee ball team.  I’m still not sure how that gentleman from Parks and Rec convinced me that being the team mom would be a good idea, but we do go forth in love and service to the Lord and others, right?

Our next stop was a clothing store, as Beanie and I were both in need of some shorts that fit us properly.  We are regulars at this particular store, and the employees there are always delightfully friendly to the tribe, especially Mr. Man and Baby Guy, who grin up at the ladies from the comfort of their stroller.  Finding the right garments didn’t take us terribly long, and we were in and out in less than half an hour.  As I loaded the tribe into our van, I noticed a lady sitting in a van parked near ours.  She was alone and weeping.  After buckling Mr. Man’s car seat, I retrieved the box of tissues that lives behind the center console and walked it over to her.

She wept because she had just found out the heart of the child she carried within her had ceased to beat.  I don’t know her name, but she has my phone number. Please pray for her.   I have been her, and my heart aches with hers.  Coincidentally, our last errand involved Bugaboo’s birthday dinner.  She was born at 1:57 a.m. on May 23, 2007, after about 36 hours of labor and years of hopes, dreams, and tears. Four siblings preceded her into our hearts, but were bound for Heaven instead of earth.  As we headed for Wegmans, I remembered those days of sitting in my car, feeling helpless and crying.  I pray that lady will have peace, grace, strength, and friends and family with enough wisdom to NOT say, “Oh, you can always try again.”  I also hope she calls.  We always have room for a new friend.

There was quite the little traffic pileup as I tried to exit the parking lot, and I nearly turned around to find another exit.  Since we weren’t really in a huge hurry, I figured it was a good opportunity to sing a couple extra songs with the tribe and stayed in the line of exiting vehicles, which is why, moments later, the van erupted with squeals of delight when we all spied the cause of the vehicular logjam.

We weren’t the only ones who really wanted pictures of the family of geese crossing the street!

Our trip to the grocery store for birthday dinner ingredients was full of smiles and giggles, helped along by the lady who was running the CocoPop machine’s generous gift of a whole pop cake each for the tiny people.  The kids could sit and watch that machine pop out treats for hours, I think.  Baby Guy was particularly appreciative, this marking the first time he got one of what his siblings refer to as “big giant chips” all to himself.  We also picked up a few things for the kids’ lunches and dinners, since our evening plans would not allow Daddy and I to eat dinner until much later, after the tribe was abed.  It was a busy morning, even by our standards.

Our parish had a special Mass last night for couples wishing to renew their wedding vows.  Daddy and I thought it quite appropriate that the Mass was held on the eve of Bugaboo’s birthday, the night before a lot of our hopes as husband and wife came to fruition.  We were blessed with Nonno and Deedaw’s company, and they decided to join in the renewal as well.  Afterwards, we joked that when the kids are older, we will tell them the story of how Nonno and Deedaw got married twice in one year.

We laughed, in spite of the behavior one might expect from four small children who are all up and at church past their bedtimes, and cheered the other couples who were celebrating what the Lord joined.  It is probably safe to say that absolutely no one who knew my husband or myself on New Year’s Day of 2003 would have believed that on November 1 of that year, we would be married.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for miracles, including the four with which You have blessed our marriage, and thank You for making every day a cause for some celebration.  Thank You for tissues and prayers to comfort the brokenhearted, and thank You for all those who have comforted my husband and I through the years.  Please help us to see Your face in every person we meet, and to teach Your blessings that there is no day that passes without the miracle of love.  Help us also to teach them that part of following You is keeping Your covenants, and keeping the covenant You called us to as husband and wife.  And thank You, Lord, for the examples of covenant marriage with which You have richly blessed us.

And, Lord, please comfort that lady from the parking lot.  Please send her many comforters and much love.