Tag Archive | sharing

This is Halloween, this is Halloween


Here’s the song reference.

Tonight’s post will be short of necessity; it’s late, and I’m very tired.  That said, we had a wonderful day with the tribe.  We made butternut squash bisque and pumpkin pie from scratch, roasted a pork loin in cider and cumin, mashed potatoes the old-fashioned way, and enjoyed a visit from Grandma before costumes were donned and candy was cadged.  One of Bugaboo’s friends joined us for trick-or-treating, and Grandma graciously volunteered for treat-giving detail so we could take all four of them out to see the costumes and fill their plastic pumpkins with sweets.

I am well and respectfully aware of the objections to Halloween festivities.  To our kids, it’s a grand dress-up party and an opportunity to give candy and toys to all their friends in the neighborhood (we give out goody bags with a couple of small sweets and a couple of small toys — this year, we also gave out lightstick bracelets, to the grand delight of kids of all ages) and collect a few of their own.  When they are older, we will teach them about the sort of idolatry that one characterized the day, and why we don’t do evil character costumes.

Enjoy the pictures — and if you partook of the festivities, I hope all of your candy was the kind you like best.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the time spent with family, for the joyful work of our hands that created meals to share and assembled bags of sweets and toys for the neighborhood children.  Please help us cultivate innocent imaginations in our tribe, the kinds that lead to heroic dreams, and bless them with friends who dance when they sing and weep when they grieve.

Better together


As part of her schoolwork today, Beanie made a largish lump of play clay.  While flour, salt, oil, water, and cream of tartar were being mixed and cooked, Bugaboo was sourly practicing her addition facts and lamenting that her day’s assignments did not include the concoction of moldable substances.  Beanie managed not to look too awfully smug, and I reminded Bugaboo that there are days when her own schoolwork includes a spiffy craft and Beanie’s is mostly drill.

Around 10:00, all the day’s assignments were completed.  This was about a half hour after Baby Guy decided he’d had enough of this morning and went down for an early nap.  I credit Mr. Man, who decided that he and his brother should both awaken and play a game of catch the bear between their cribs at 5:45 a.m.  Beanie snagged a couple of wipes to clean along the baseboards, Mr. Man headed for the living room to pick up the fluffs of Smudgie’s fur that seem to reproduce overnight, Bugaboo grabbed the dustpan and brush to sweep the hallway and around the living room carpet, and I started in on the breakfast dishes.

A few moments later, Beanie came skipping through to deposit her grimy wipes in the trash cans, and rendered me nearly speechless by asking, “Mommy, do you have any other chores I can do?”  Once I had recovered, I told her she could take the other dustpan and brush from behind the trash can and see if Bugaboo or Mr. Man needed help.  Shortly thereafter, Beanie and Mr. Man came giggling into the kitchen, balancing a dustpan full of dog hair between them, and managed to empty most of it into the trash can instead of the dogs’ water dish.

The rest of the day was relatively peaceful; we read stories for a while, had warm biscuits, honeycrisp apples, and slices of nice sharp cheddar for lunch, then the tribe caught the Barney Halloween special on Netflix while I dozed on the couch for a few minutes (I was up an hour before the boys, for the record) before we all headed to the back yard to play “chase the puppy” on a glorious October afternoon.

After dinner, we dropped Bugaboo off at Faith Formation (think Sunday school, but on Monday night), then came home for some more story time, a can of enormous olives, and some desperately needed baths.  Beanie generously ceded the privilege of story choosing entirely to her little brothers.  Once we had tucked them in, she and I headed upstairs for our Monday night Mommy and Beanie time (Bugaboo goes fencing with Daddy after Faith Formation).  After she put her toys away, she danced over to the kitchen table to see what tonight’s adventures might be.  She helped me chop dates, nuts, and candy for an orange slice cake, then, to her very great delight, got two make-your-own-Halloween-sticker-scene sheets for her very own.  Beanie is FANATICAL about stickers, and she set to decorating a couple of haunted houses with great glee, narrating what was happening as she built each one.  I love her stories, because everything is innocent and sweet.  Even the ghosts are nice in Beanie’s stories — they’re the ones that know the best candy to put in trick-or-treaters’ pumpkins is the chocolate kind.

Once she was all stickered out, she polished off the rest of the olives while I got her play clay, now cooled, from the refrigerator.  She gleefully dumped it out of the bag, dug her little hands merrily into it, and started to build a big snowman.  After a few rolls of the dough, she sighed and slumped back in her chair.

“What’s wrong, Beanie?  Do you need some help?”

“No, I don’t need any help.”

“Is the dough too cold.”

“No, the dough’s not too cold.  It’s just not as much fun without Bugaboo.  Will she and Daddy be home soon?  I miss making things with her.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, for whom we prayed for so long.  Thank You for guiding us to teach them that they are each other’s first and best friends, and that every joyful thing becomes even greater when it is shared.  Help us to continue and extend that lesson with the, Lord, that whatever they have can be shared with whomever they meet.  Please remind us that whenever two or more are gathered together in Your name, You are there, and that whenever we reach out a hand in love to share the bounty with which You have blessed us, we honor You.

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.

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.

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.

Sisterhood social


Inexplicably, Mr. Man decided yesterday morning was the ideal time to see how many Kleenex he could stuff in his mouth, and what sort of noise he could make through them.

Often, I spend a good amount of our daily “quiet time” — that time when Mr. Man and Baby Guy are napping — refereeing disputes between my daughters over everything from who gets to curl up behind my legs on the couch to whose favorite storybook should be read first.  The phrase, “You don’t love me!’ is heard with lamentable frequency, directed either from Beanie towards Bugaboo, Bugaboo towards Beanie, or either girl towards me.  It would be impossible to count the number of permutations my “just because she wants x, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, we love people and use things” spiel has undergone, and I’m probably perilously close to repeating earlier versions.

Yesterday afternoon, we passed a pleasant hour of quiet time watching the girls’ favorite television show, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” As it happened, the “Sisterhood Social” episode was airing in the second half of the hour.  For those unfamiliar with the show, I highly recommend it for both little kids and the kids who have reached the age of majority. The link in the episode title goes to the full episode.  Watch it, especially if you have siblings or more than one child.

Children’s animated shows may seem like an odd source of wisdom, and perhaps even an unlikely teaching tools for a lesson that matters more than most to me.  However, on this particular day, it worked.   The tribe had been playing with Legos for most of the morning, and the girls were still playing with them after their shows went off.  Bugaboo was issuing a steady stream of orders and criticism to Beanie, who wanted to take the Lego creation in a different direction than Bugaboo’s vision, and both girls were becoming frustrated.

In the “Sisterhood Social” episode, the older sister (Rarity) is so bossy and self-centered that the younger sister (Sweetie Belle) eventually declares that she no longer wants a sister, essentially disowning her only sibling.  This being children’s television, there is, of course, a happy reconciliation at the end.  I called my daughters over to me and asked them if they remembered what had happened in the show, what Sweetie Belle had said to Rarity, and when two little heads nodded, I asked them if either of them really wanted the other to one day decide she doesn’t want to be sisters anymore.  They both looked at me a little strangely, and both said, “no.” Bugaboo continued, “Mommy, that was just TV, and like you always say, TV isn’t real.”

I replied, “That’s true — My Little Pony isn’t real.  But sometimes, the things they talk about on your shows ARE real.  Sisters really do sometimes get so mad at each other that they stop talking to each other.  Sometimes brothers do, too.  Do you remember when we read in the Bible about Cain and Abel?  Sometimes brothers and sisters even get so mad at each other that they kill each other.  Really kill each other.  Sometimes they just never talk to each other again.  And it’s usually over something that if both of them had just remembered to love each other instead of seeing who could get their way with the Legos, wouldn’t have been that important at all.”

My oldest daughter looked at me and said, “Mommy, I don’t think Cain and Abel had Legos.”

I replied, “You’re right, they didn’t.  But they found other things to fight over, didn’t they?”

“Yeah.”

“So do you think you can find some way to either build together or share the Legos so each of you can make something cool?”

“Okay.”

I hugged them and kissed them, and sent them on their merry way.  After a brief conference, Beanie decided that she would be the Lego scavenger hunter for Bugaboo’s building project, since she didn’t really want to build, but to sort the different colors and sizes of little bricks.  It ended with laughter and, when they both got tired of blocks, a request to go play outside to see if the local butterflies had returned after the rain.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have sent us four little blessings.  Help us teach them it is better to be siblings like Moses and Aaron than like Cain and Abel.  You came to teach us to love every human being as a brother or sister; please keep us mindful that if we are not loving our own siblings as brothers and sisters, we’re doing it wrong and need to seek Your forgiveness and Your guidance on how to reconcile ourselves to Your way and our family members.

Wonderfully made


While I have always loved honoring my mom, my stepmom, my Granny while she lived, and now my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day, there were years when I dreaded it.  Having had four children born too soon before Bugaboo arrived, and two more born too soon in between Beanie and Mr. Man, made Mother’s Day a day when I really (and selfishly) didn’t want to go out of the house.

Yesterday, I began my day with a prayer for all the other moms whose children await them in Heaven, for all those who have been called to mother children with whom they share no DNA, for those whose mothers are no longer reachable by telephone.  I prayed for those who have lost their children to choices and misguided “acts of mercy,” and for those who have gone through adoption proceedings stretching out for years, only to have their hopes dashed at the last minute.  Then I prayed Psalm 139 to thank God for His gift of life, no matter whether those lives are numbered in days or decades, and asked him to bring comfort and peace to those who still wait for their Mother’s Day.

My own day was filled with the laughter of my children, priceless and long-awaited treasures that they are, and the company of family and friends at Mass and afterwards.  I love that Mass on Mother’s Day ends with “Ave Maria,”  to remind us of a frightened young mother who said “yes” to God and “no” to fear.  Do enjoy the Andrea Bocelli version the song title link goes to.  The link on Mr. Bocelli’s name goes to a little story he likes to tell.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You knit each of us together in our mothers’ wombs.  Thank You for the gift of every life, and for the wisdom to discern that every life has merit, wholly unconnected to its income-earning potential.  Thank You for the four little blessings You have vouchsafed to our care, and for all those who comforted us and bore us up with their prayers while we waited for them.  Please help us lift up those who still wait, and those who grieve, and please bless us with the grace of knowing where and when to find them.  Lord, You came to us of woman born.  Help me look always to Your mother, Blessed Mary, for the example of motherhood and discipleship I need.

The evil ego and the vice of pride


Yesterday was the last game of Beanie’s maiden soccer season.  I don’t know how much she’s actually learned about playing the game, but I do know she’s had a stellar time running around the big field with a dozen balls, twenty-some little kids her age, a half-dozen or so teenaged girls, and the boundlessly encouraging Coach Jackie.  As soon as she had wolfed down her breakfast, she sped off to her room to change into her royal blue shirt, white soccer shorts, tie-dyed socks, and her pink shinguards over her socks but under her Hello Kitty sneakers — then proceeded to carom around the house, knocking into things and shrieking randomly.  Her excitement was hilarious, if a little nerve-wracking.  Poor old Bo fled downstairs and curled up against the washing machine.

Since Beanie was the first kid on the field, Coach Jackie let her pick her own “coach” for the practice and the game.  It was hardly surprising that the smallest player picked the tallest teenager to be her coach, to a cascade of giggles from her adolescent compatriots.  While coaching Beanie is definitely the most physically demanding job on the field, as she has predilections for sprinting off towards the woods if she sees butterflies and climbing the net anytime she finds herself within arms’ reach of a goal, I’m told that the benefit of abundant Beanie hugs and kisses for the person who fetches her back are a good offset.

While Beanie was cavorting on the soccer pitch with the rest of the boisterous midget mob, Mr. Man was exploring the perimeter of the field, Baby Guy was cheerfully disassembling my diaper bag, and Bugaboo was pouting because big sisters of players don’t get medals or trophies on the last day of soccer season.  I tried to engage her with an extra soccer ball, to no avail; instead, she informed me that she needed to find a potty.

I’ve missed a lot of soccer practice this season taking Bugaboo to find the potty, which is inside the school building, about 200 yards from the soccer field.  At roughly yard 199, Bugaboo informed me that she did not actually need to use said potty, but had merely wanted to go for a walk with me, and that she was tired of everyone playing attention to Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy.

I took a deep breath.  Then I took another one.

As we headed back to the soccer field, our oldest daughter and I had a bit of a chat.  I reminded her that, last spring, Beanie had faithfully stood on the sidelines for each of her big sister’s games, and no one had cheered louder.  I also reminded her that when she needs help with her schoolwork, I gently ask her siblings to wait while she gets the assistance she’s requested, that she is the only one allowed to use the shower unassisted, the only one who has a stash of books she doesn’t have to share with anyone, was the first to go roller skating, the first to have a drawing grace the wall of our upstairs hallway — it was a pretty lengthy litany of special attentions paid to our first-born child.  Then I explained, as gently as I could, because this is a very, very big flashpoint in our extended family, that being born first does not cause the world to revolve around a given child, that we love all our children, and that while each one of them will have moments when she or he is the center of all our attention, that centering in no way diminishes our love for the rest of them.  I also reminded that part of being part of both our family and the Lord’s family is that we share in each other’s joys and sorrows, choosing a share in our collective happiness instead of choosing to sit, sour-faced, on the sidelines.

I’m not sure how much of it penetrated Bugaboo’s cranium, and I’ll wager the speech will be repeated, perhaps with different verbiage, several thousand times over whatever years the Lord sees fit to grant me.

After a brief stop to pick up a couple of lunch necessities, we headed home to share a meal, with two tired and hungry little boys singing a wordless duet about their troubles in the middle of the van. As I was flinging plates and food towards each child, the phone rang, with a call that, while it was not unexpected, was no less sad.  My Aunt, of whom I wrote in a previous post, had passed away while our branch of the family tree was on the soccer field.  I stumblingly asked my cousin if there was anything he and my uncle needed, kicked myself mentally for stumbling, and told him I love him.  If you have the time and the inclination, please pray for him and my uncle.

Here’s the song reference.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, please have mercy on Your child, Geraldine, and welcome her to a joyful reunion with the family who preceded her into Your Kingdom.  Please comfort her husband and her son, and all of us who mourn her passage from this world.  Please soften the hearts of those who refuse to mourn, and fill them with Your loving grace.

Lord, thank You for the four blessings You have given us to raise.  Please help us teach them that while we are all part of a greater family in You, their first and best friends are the siblings with which You blessed them.  Please grant them hearts that are humble and forgiving towards all people, but most especially towards each other — and please, Lord, grant my husband and I the grace to show them, daily, what mercy, humility, and love look like in action.  Keep us mindful that no one of us is greater than any other in Your sight, and that to believe otherwise is to make the grounds of our souls fertile land for the seeds of envy, wrath, and pride, all of which serve to separate us from each other and from You.

Orange crush


We definitely painted the town – or at least the hall closet – orange yesterday.  While breakfast was devoid of citrus hues, as soon as the girls had finished eating, we grabbed a stack of old magazines and began looking for any orange objects we could find.  The girls were amazed to discover how many different things could be one color; before we started, I asked them what they could tell me was orange.  Beanie responded with “oranges, because that’s why they’re oranges,” while Bugaboo offered, “carrots, and sometimes the sun.”

As the girls pored over pages looking for images containing the color of the day, I cut out leaves and oranges from construction paper, and taped the skeleton of a tree to the hall closet door.  By the time I returned to the table, the girls had assembled an impressive pile of pictures and were chattering about all the things that could be orange, from dresses and butterflies to Easter eggs and book covers.  Anything, it seemed, could be orange — even carrots and oranges.  While I was explaining to the girls that the next step in our project would be to glue the pictures to the leaves so we could make an “orange tree,”  Bugaboo excitedly exclaimed, “Mommy!  Mr. Man will be so excited when he sees this!  You know orange is his favorite color!”

Orange is, in fact, Mr. Man’s favorite color.

The girls broke out their glue sticks and set to work.  As is usually the case, Bugaboo finished first, and thus was given the task of composing a prayer about orange.  She went with the simple, but effective, “Thank You, God, for orange.”  With a piece of leftover packing paper and some foam letters, she set about putting her words to paper, and we crowned our orange tree with her words of praise before decking the tree skeleton with rich paper foliage.

After we had leafed our tree, Mr. Man and Baby Guy awoke, in dire need of milk and Cheerios.  We are still attempting to convince our youngest that cereal is intended for ingestion, not decoration, but since we’re not making much headway with it, it’s fun to see where he’ll attach one.  Yesterday morning, it was his cheek, and Mr. Man kept pointing at his little brother and hollering, “Camwa! Camwa!”

While the boys were making breakfast a multisensory experience, the girls and I scattered throughout the house to find any and all books that had orange covers, orange letters on their covers, or orange spines.  We actually assembled too many to read in a single day, but each time we read one, we wrote the name of the story on an orange and attached it to the tree.  Mr. Man was very enthusiastic about this particular aspect of the  project; one of our biggest challenges was keeping the teetering pile of books on the loveseat from falling over when he spied one of his favorites in the stack and attempted to winkle it out.

I had hoped to look at some orange peel under the microscope, break out a bottle of orange tempera paint, and teach the kids the “O-R-I-O-L-E-S” chant, but we ran out of hours in the day.  In a way, that’s a blessing, because it means the next time the skies are cloudy and we decided to add vividness to our world by having another “orange day,” we still have plenty of different options to celebrate the color of late afternoon sunshine.

We did, however, manage to work in apricots and macaroni and cheese for lunch and carrots with our dinner.

The girls, upon hearing the news of Maurice Sendak’s death, have decided that tomorrow should be “wild things” day.  I approve.

Actually, Bugaboo brought a little mist to my eye when she saw the tidings.  My oldest brother gave the tribe a copy of Where the Wild Things Are for Christmas last year, and it is a favorite of all four tiny people.  We had explained to them that their uncles and their parents all loved the book as children, and we were happy to be able to share this piece of our childhood with them.  Bugaboo ran to the shelf, hunted furiously until she found the book, and brought it to me with the admonition, “Mommy, you need to email Uncle and make sure he’s not too sad, and please tell him his book is safe with me.”

Here’s the song reference.

Today’s prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for orange, for afternoon sunlight, apricots, carrots, butterflies, and everything else You thought to color with so cheerful a hue.  Thank You for the abundance of books, good food, and craft supplies with which our house is blessed, and thank You for little blessings who see You in all things bright and beautiful.  You advised us that Your people will be known by their fruits; please, Lord, grow our family tree into a beacon of love to nourish the hearts of those who seek Your kingdom.  Thank You for eyes to see the brightness and beauty of the days You grant us, and tongues to taste and proclaim Your goodness.