Tag Archive | children

The best I ever had

Here’s the song reference.

Nine years ago, I married the love of my life, the song in my heart, the light of my eyes.  Without him, there would be no Dailymomprayers.  It is something of a family joke that our priest obtained dispensation for our marriage to take place on All Saints’ Day figuring, having met the two of us, that we would probably need the intercession of the entire communion of saints along the way.  I’m of Irish descent.  He is of Italian descent.  Our kids got both, and there are certain stereotypes about tempers that are funny because they’re true.  And yet, here we are, still very much in love and still building our family by the grace of God.

Last night, after I had finished writing the blog post, Manie looked at me and grinned.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, the conversation that ensued will probably make you smile, but not surprise you.

“So what do you want to do tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.  It would be nice to go out to dinner.  When I talked to your mom this morning, I asked her if maybe we could come over for dinner.”

“I feel awful.  I didn’t get you anything.”

“I didn’t get you anything either.  I didn’t even get a card!”

“I’m a rotten husband.  Come on, there has to be something you want.”

“Yeah, a nap.  Really, it would be nice to go out to dinner.”

“We should probably do something with a play area.”

We left it at that, and curled up to watch the end of Apollo 18.  The movie was forgettable, but the company was terrific.

Although he was off today, Manie went into work for an hour to get a couple of things off his desk.  By the time he came home, Bugaboo and Beanie had finished their breakfast and were attempting to coordinate a raid on the Halloween candy.  The secret to their lack of success was their inability to agree who would be the mission leader.  I suppose I need to work on teaching them to cooperate, but it’s so terribly convenient when their bickering over who gets to be in charge keeps them out of the pantry.  While the girls were having their breakfast, Deedaw called to see if we might, perhaps, like to come over for lunch.  That sounded like a terrific idea, so I offered to run to Wegmans and bring lunch.  Nonno was in the hospital again last week, and is still a little weak and weary from it, so I didn’t want to put Deedaw to a lot of trouble cooking unless she was looking for a diversion.

Deedaw liked the Wegmans idea, so when Manie came home, he helped me get Mr. Man and Baby Guy some waffles to eat and clothes to wear, after which we bundled the bambini into the van and headed off to acquire the makings of an anniversary lunch.  Suffice it to say that sushi, cream of crab soup, salad and a roast chicken were involved.  We had a feast indeed for the Feast of All Saints; it was good to see Nonno and Deedaw laughing.

After lunch, we trooped home and settled the tiny people in for a desperately-needed nap, then sprawled ourselves across the loveseat (he) and the couch (me) to relish a few moments of quiet relaxation.  We talked for a while about things we needed to do later in the week, had a desultory discussion of some long-range plans, then enjoyed a warm silence for a bit.  I was pondering, with great wonder, the miracle of our little family, recalling the years before the children came, when we prayed and prayed to be entrusted with even one little life on this earth,and our joy when He answered our prayer with Bugaboo, then answered it again thirteen months later with Beanie, twenty-two months after that with Mr. Man, and fifteen months after that with Baby Guy.  For the record, there are presently no buns in the oven, as it were.  As I considered, smiling, that vow we made, nine years ago, to welcome new life joyfully, I realized there was a pretty good opportunity for a somewhat unorthodox prayer of thanksgiving to our mighty and merciful Lord.

“Hey, I know where I want to go for dinner tonight.”

“Okay . . .”

“Let’s take the tribe to Chuck E. Cheese.”

“Perfect.  We’ll have fun!”

And so, there we were, planning our anniversary dinner at the Rodent Redoubt, thanking God for blessing us with the children who made us want to do such a thing.  He and I agree that there will be many years for the quiet, intimate dinners at fancy restaurants, but the Temple of the Rat years are precious and few.  So, for now, we trade neckties and pearls for strings of plastic beads and mouse stickers . . . and count it as the most extraordinary of blessings, worth savoring and cherishing.

Afterwards, when the kids were loaded into the van for the ride home, Manie and I paused for a moment.  We looked at each other, started giggling, wrapped our arms around each other and chorused, “Best . . . anniversary dinner . . . ever!”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed our marriage with love, laughter, strength, and grace.  Your design, from the beginning, was that two should become one in flesh and spirit, and we praise you for Your wisdom.  Thank You for blessing us with children, and for the wisdom to recognize the beauty, wonder, and brevity of their childhood.  Please help us teach them that all blessings come from You, and that a stalwart, humble faith in You, coupled with reliance on the guidance You left in Your book of love letters to us, will provide them with everything they need to love as they should.  What You have joined, no many may put asunder, Lord, and we thank You for joining us together forever.  Please mold us into an example of Your will for married couples, and grant that our hearts may turn always to You, whether we face exhilarating joy or exhausting grief, with a psalm of praise.  Keep us ever mindful that marriage is so important to You that You performed Your first public miracle at a wedding, and keep us ever mindful of the sanctity of the sacrament You created.

Let the rain come down

Here’s the song reference.  I had Prince on the brain yesterday, thanks to a posting by an old friend.

The weather forecast yesterday was for rain, rain, and more rain, which didn’t exactly inspire me with confidence that we would have a joyful day.  One of the main ingredients for peace in our house is that the tiny people are able to get out of the house for a while every day, and, even with my wretched housekeeping skills, there’s only so much mud I can tolerate.  The Lord is merciful, however, and the morning was reasonably dry, so as soon as breakfasts had been bolted, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man headed outside to play ball with Smudgie and invent all manner of games.  Now that the three of hem are big enough to use the teeter-totter without adult assistance, they spend a lot of time pretending to fly, although I’ve overheard them also pretending that each seat is a different pony.  Mr. Man takes a particular delight in rocking his sisters as hard as he can from a perch on the ground, which means my watchful eyes are frequently at the window.

Once the rain started, they bolted back into the house to see what chaos might be caused indoors.  Since I was cleaning the kitchen counters and singing with Baby Guy, they decided that a snack and an episode of Spider-Man would be a grand way to pass the time until the terrific trio decided what else they’d like to do with their morning.  I finished my chore about halfway through the show (here’s the episode — Rhino sort of reminds me of Beanie and Mr. Man), by which time Baby Guy had wandered out into the living room to play with the marvelous toy, so I took a break and watched the show with the tribe, smiling and laughing as they shouted out helpful advice to their favorite superhero.

While there was a certain amount of complaining about the TV being turned off after the show, Beanie, Bugaboo, and Mr. Man were quickly mollified by my suggestion that since it was raining outside, it would be a perfect day to paint.  Three little streaks of lightning bolted into the kitchen, where they were quickly supplied with tempera, brushes, and paper.  I also showed them the old “put a blob or two of paint on the paper and fold it over to make a butterfly” trick, which they absolutely loved, and the overhang by the kitchen window was quickly adorned with scads of vivid artwork, fluttering in the breeze from the ceiling fan.  Beanie exclaimed, “Look, Mommy, our butterflies are flying even though their wings are wet!”

I could actually get to like rainy days.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who delight in the simplest of pleasures, and who derive joy from creating images of Your beautiful creations.  Please grant me the grace to always see the opportunity to exult in grey skies, and to teach Your blessings that the most joyful days don’t have to involve going anywhere but our kitchen table, if we are grateful for the gift of the family You have built.  Kindle in us the wisdom to see Your unwarranted generosity in every event of every day, and to find the rainbows You set for us as a reminder.

Postscript:  After doing my morning reading, I added a link to a blog post about the grace of being grateful for the Lord’s essential gift of fulfilling our basic daily needs; click on “unwarranted generosity.”  SR’s post is well worth the read.  I’ll be considering today what the things are that enslave me, that keep me from joy.

And they call it kitty love

Here’s the song reference.

Beanie is something of a legend at our county’s parks and recreation department.  Last spring, when I was picking up the supplies for Bugaboo’s soccer team (Bugaboo, Beanie and Mr. Man in tow, Sal practicing corner kicks in my belly), the nice gentleman leaned over to address our younger daughter and asked her, in the singsong voice some adults use with very young children, “And are you going to play soccer like your big sissy?”

I should mention here that Beanie is altogether disdainful of anything that remotely resembles condescension.  We have NO idea where she gets that.

At any rate, she looked up at the gent with a facial expression that suggested she was questioning his intelligence, then slowly replied, “Nooooo.  I want to play football.”

Continuing with the singsong tone, he cooed at her, “Aww, are you going to be a little kicker?”

She regarded him again and sighed with the mild exasperation she often expresses when she has to explain something that, to her, is patently obvious, before replying, “Noooo.  I want to WHAMMO somebody,” while punching one little fist into the opposite little palm.

I should point out that at the time, Beanie was two years and nine months old, about 31 inches tall, and about 28 pounds.

The poor man snorted, then literally fell to his knees, laughing until tears ran down his face.  Some minutes later, as he wiped his streaming cheeks, he blinked up at me and choked out, “Lady, you’ve got A LOT on your hands.”  I somewhat smugly replied, “Mister, you don’t know the half of it.”

I am relating this tale as background to the story of my morning yesterday.  Beanie shambled out of the girls’ room a little after 7:00, and, after a couple of failed attempts, managed to clamber up onto the sofa and snuggle in next to me.  As it happened, I was perusing the Internet looking for party supplies for her upcoming birthday bash.  You see, this tiny titan has decided that nothing in the world will do but that she has a Hello Kitty-themed birthday party, complete with a pinata.  There are, fortunately, quite a number of purveyors of such pinatas, and a wide array of Hello Kitty goodies with which to fill them.

Since Beanie is the honoree of this particular shindig, it seemed appropriate to seek her input on the question of the pinata.  I pulled up the Google page containing a dozen images of the different types of Hello Kitty pinatas, then explained to her that we needed to decide whether she wanted a pull-string version or a bash-it-with-a-stick version.  She looked at me with a genuinely horrified expression, then emphatically exclaimed, “We have to have the string kind!  I don’t want anyone to whack Hello Kitty with a bat!  Poor Hello Kitty!  Hello Kitty is nice!  I don’t want anyone to break Hello Kitty!”

My comment on Facebook last night was, “I believe I may have to dress all of her siblings as Hello Kitty from now on.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who fill our days with laughter, and who derive joy from many different aspects of the world You have given us.  Please help me teach Your blessings to treat their siblings with the same tenderness they treat their imaginary friends and toys.  It is sometimes difficult for adults to treat gently with people who have given them offense, Lord, but please help me give them the right example of treating people more lovingly that we treat inanimate objects that cannot love us, or You, back.

And please, Lord, let me never lose the ability to laugh while I’m teaching, even if I have to do so silently.

All I want is a photograph

Here’s the song reference.

It has been a very long two weeks for all of us, complete with sick tiny people, two grandmothers landing in hospitals, and a promotion at work for Daddy which, while it will be very beneficial to our household budget in the long run, has resulted in the poor guy working a stretch of twelve-hour days trying to manage a mess that was left for him.  The kids have been troopers through Mommy being on the phone for hours and, in the boys’ case, Daddy leaving for work before they awaken and returning home after they are abed.

We’ve been working on changing all of their bedtimes, in large part because Bugaboo and Beanie are at a point where they really don’t need to sleep for twelve straight hours at night, and also because we’ve discovered that the boys sleep better if we put Baby Guy down about half an hour before Mr. Man.  Mr. Man is delighted with this turn of events, as that half-hour tends to be his special big guy storytime with Daddy.  Once he goes to bed, Beanie gets her own story or art time with Mommy and Bugaboo gets her storytime with Daddy.  It means Daddy and I eat dinner at 8:30 some nights, but the relaxation and joy we derive from the extra time with the tiny people makes a late dinner worthwhile.

Last night, Daddy was so late getting home that special storytimes were not possible, particularly since Mr. Man decided to play drums on the wall of the boys’ room instead of taking his nap.  He was a little put out by this, but he was so tired that he couldn’t keep himself from dissolving into fits of temper over things like the corner of his Cheez-It breaking off.  As I snuggled our hysterical older son and tried to kiss him goodnight, he spied a camera perched atop the toaster oven.

Mr. Man loves to push buttons, to the point that his second three-word phrase was, “I push button.”  His first three-word phrase was the classic, “No, that mine.”  Upon seeing the old Panasonic, he immediately set up a cry of, “I push button I push button I push button PEASE PEASE I want picture pease picture picture picture pease push button!”

While we are ordinarily inclined to keep breakable electronics as far away from the big guy’s clutches as possible, Daddy and I exchanged a glance, then a nod, and through a short series of questions managed to deduce that Mr. Man wished to photograph his father, then look at the picture on the viewscreen.  Daddy posed, Mr. Man pushed the button and managed to take a picture, and all was right with his world for thirty seconds or so.  It was still a wrestling match for my husband to get a tired two-year old down the steps and into his bed, where he wailed his objections to the sandman for another ten minutes, but his smile when he was allowed to push the button, succeeded in getting the camera to flash, and saw the picture he had taken of Daddy, was just fantastic to see after an hour’s worth of screaming and tears.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, sometimes the smallest, simplest attentions can bring happiness to Your blessings.  Please help me remember that sometimes, their upset is caused by having been told “no” too many times in a day over things that are really of no consequence, just because their desires are inconvenient at a particular moment.  Please grant me the wisdom to strike the proper balance between attentiveness and overindulgence, and stay me from compensating for having my attention elsewhere by overindulging them in material goods.  I would have them learn that time spent doing and teaching small kindnesses is more valuable, and more precious to You, than all the toys in the world that will keep them in a corner and quiet.  You sent me Your blessings to train up in Your ways; please grant me the wisdom to remember that while I am on the phone getting information about a family member in the hospital, it serves us all better to let them sit near me and color a picture for the afflicted than to shoo them away or hide myself behind a door.

Riders on the storm

Here’s the song reference.

We had some horrific lines of thunderstorms roll through here yesterday, and the three ambulatory members of the tribe spent a good part of the afternoon and early evening trying to watch out the windows.  I say that they were trying to do so because I kept shooing them AWAY from the windows, since the weather radio was lit up with a steady stream of tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.

During one break in the storms, Bugaboo observed, “There is a little peek of sunshine coming through the clouds.  That means there must be a rainbow.”  I complimented her on her recall, and invited her, Beanie and Mr. Man to check all the windows to see if they could find one.  Unfortunately, none was visible from our little corner of the world.  However, just before the girls went to bed, I chanced to check Facebook.  Lo and behold, a friend had posted a photo of a beautiful rainbow, arcing across the sky above Wegmans.  I ran into the kitchen, where Bugaboo and Beanie were cadging one last pre-bedtime snack from Daddy, and showed them the picture.  Bugaboo jumped up in her chair and said, “Wow!  I knew there would be a rainbow!  God always sends rainbows after storms!”

Yes, he does, my love.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the storms that deepen our appreciation for calm, and for the rainbows that follow lightning.  Please help us teach Your blessings that in every frightening or destructive thing, we can see Your beauty if we pause to consider Your promises.

Scout, Scout, I just want Scout, everything else I can do without!

Here’s the song reference.

For Mr. Man’s first Christmas, he received a charming toy made by the LeapFrog people.  It’s a stuffed dog named Scout, and it can be programmed with a child’s name, favorite food, favorite color, favorite animal, and favorite songs.  If you have a very tiny person in your orbit, I highly recommend it, as it is also very well constructed, and can survive a toddler and his two older sisters.  Baby Guy has one, too.  Many are the nights and mornings when Daddy and I have listened, grinning, to the baby monitor as Mr. Man and Scout have a crib confab.

We once made the mistake of trying to take Scout out of Mr. Man’s crib, in the interests of getting him to go to sleep when we put him to bed for the night.  That lasted roughly two hours, which was when we decided we’d rather hear Scout singing and Mr. Man babbling and giggling than our oldest son sobbing uncontrollably.  As it happens, the last we hear from Scout every night is the sound of classical lullabies, which play if you squeeze his left foot.

It is common practice at our house for the tribe to select something out of our Netflix queue in the evenings, after dinner has been eaten and before Daddy arrives home from work.  The recent craze has been Spider-Man, but the webslinging hero has recently been supplanted by none other than Scout.  A couple of days ago, we were surfing through the queue when Mr. Man spied Scout’s green-and-white face on one of the icons.  Normally, both boys are pretty indifferent to video entertainment — Mr. Man likes Spider-Man shows because he’s a huge fan of the intro music — but his crib companion’s visage absolutely got his attention.  I suddenly realized he was trying to climb my leg to get to the remote, and looked down into a pair of pleading, dark brown eyes.

“Wan’ puppy please?  Wan’ Scout please?  Puppy?  Scout?  Scout?”

Even Bugaboo and Beanie had to laugh.  The video in question was an alphabet learning flick, which I figured would do no harm and was definitely more constructive than Spider-Man (although we did watch that later in the evening, too, accompanied by the dance stylings of one Mr. Man).  We passed a good part of the half-hour running time of the movie instructing Mr. Man in the finer points of TV watching etiquette, which include not standing directly in front of other people who are trying to watch and not climbing the TV stand to kiss Scout.  Of course, part of the instruction was also directed at our daughters, who needed a little crash course in how to properly ask Mr. Man not to block their view of the screen.  Physical removal was not among the approved tactics.

Later that night, I trolled Netflix to see if there were any more of these spiffy movies.  There were, of course, and two of them just happen to star Scout and his sister, Violet.  If I can migrate half an hour or so of the kids’ screen time to alphabet and counting videos, so much the better.  I don’t think they actually learn much from the movies, but the songs and animation are fun, and the subject matter is certainly age-appropriate.

Last night, I set up Netflix while the kids were eating dinner, so that when they finished and headed for the living room, the queue was already on the screen.  It’s fun, when I know there’s something new in the queue, to scroll lackadaisically through it, hearing requests from different corners for favorite shows, and then hearing the squeals of excitement when they see the icon for the new selection.  In this particular instance, I had heard requests from Beanie and Mr. Man for Pingu, Spider-Man, and Thomas (they have very similar taste in videos), then the LeapFrog video they’d already seen.

Then, what has now been officially dubbed “the Scout numbers movie” came up.  Mr. Man’s eyes and mouth widened, and he charged the TV, arms thrown wide, crowing, “SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUT!”  I did manage to catch him around the waist before he caused any damage to either himself or any electronics and, laughing, asked him if he wanted the Scout numbers movie.

“Yes please Scout please puppy please please please please please Scout puppy please!”

We were all laughing, even Baby Guy, and settled in together to watch the puppies learn about numbers.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the moments of silliness at our house, and thank You for the innocence of Your blessings.  Thank You for these days when stuffed animals and storybooks are the best amusements, these days when we share everything.  Thank You for a house that is large enough to shelter  us all, but small enough that we cannot avoid one another, and thank You for the opportunities You send for us to learn to get along with each other, even on days when we’d rather concentrate on our own selfish interests than on loving each other and You.  Help us teach Your blessings always that, while we use technology to learn and to amuse, wise families use it to draw closer, not to separate.

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.

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.