/> Raising Angels: May 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mud in the Eye

On our way home tonight the kids were listening to this. I love it because it has them begging to hear more Bible stories and singing portions of the songs all through the day.

We pulled into the garage and turned off the car just as the story about Jesus spitting in the dirt and putting mud on the eyes of the blind man was ending.

Dawson piped up. "He SPIT in the dirt?!" he asked incredulously as if he could not believe that Jesus would be allowed to do that.

"Yes he did," I answered.

"He put MUD on his EYES?" was his next question.

"Yes buddy. That's how he healed the man’s eyes."

There was a brief pause. "Oh," he said seeming to understand. "Then he taked a bath?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Field Day Fun

Even though it was in the 90's again today, all of the students managed to have fun at field day. In the shade it actually wasn't bad at all. Of course, the snow cones and Gatorade helped out a lot.

There were a lot of games to choose from. Here is an example of the "Bucket Brigade" in action. It was an assembly line of sorts that passed water from cup to cup to fill up a 2 liter bottle. No one seemed to mind much if the water spilled.

One of the games I supervised was the 3-legged race. If you've never watched Kindergarteners and First Graders do this event, you should. It was pretty hysterical. Luckily, no one was hurt...too much.

The big event at the end is the Tug-of-War. This event is always highly anticipated. And yes, someone ALWAYS gets hurt. But I guess tradition must go on. And, well, look at those faces. They love it.
I think the best part is the watermelon at the end. After standing out in that heat, it always hits the spot. These girls agree.

By far, the most miraculous event of the day is when the P.E. teacher assigns every class a clean-up duty and they actually do it. Popped balloons are gathered, trash is thrown away, and signs are picked up. It's really amazing to watch the students at work.

To top it all off, lunch was a cook-out that they got to eat at picnic tables (in the shade) outside. All in all, it was a pretty exciting day for my little first grader.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pool Party

Where oh where does the time go? It seems like yesterday that I chaperoned Mackenzie's Kindergarten Class' Pool Party. You can see from the picture that it's still the same kids and same place, just a lot more missing teeth and a new teacher a year later.

It was in the 90's today so the pool party was a welcome relief from the heat. And, minus my two boys plus a lot of great moms to chat with, it was actually a semi-relaxing time at the pool.

There was a time, not too long ago when I actually thought Mackenzie might never walk. There was a time I felt sad that "Dada" came out before Mama. And, there was a time, for almost three whole years that she was my only baby.

Now look at you girl! You not only walk, but run with such grace. You've learned to cartwheel like a champ. You read better than some high school students I've dealt with in the past. You write better than some adults I know.

I look forward to having you more to myself this summer. I can't wait to see what the next year has in store. I hope you always want me right there with you sharing moments like these.

I love you!

Monday, May 28, 2007


Just doing the normal stuff for this time of year. Making phone calls to gather money for a class gift for Mackenzie's teacher. Wrapping up and passing out other teacher gifts. Chaperoning pool parties and field days. Putting together a little something for my brother's ordination. Shopping for stuff for the new house and the gift for Mackenzie’s teacher. Cooking, cleaning, folding, and ironing. Trying like crazy to come up with a summer plan for me and the kids.

It's nothing extraordinary. It's what most other moms I know are busy doing this final week of school. It's busy. It's exhausting. It's fun. It's wonderful. It's life. It's mine and...I love it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Last Letter to Rome

Dear Aaron,

I tried in vain today to mail you one final package before you come home for ordination. Imagine my disappointment when the post office said they couldn't guarantee it would get there in time! "Isn't there any way I can get it there before June 5th?" I asked nicely.

The answer was yes. Only it would have cost me $35 to do it. I'm sure you think that the kids’ artwork is as invaluable as I do; but, when you put an actual price on it, I thought you might chastise me for spending that much to send you some pictures and a letter.

Instead I had a great idea. What better way to send you a letter than this. You get it immediately and it costs nothing.

Can you believe that your six year journey (eight if you count the two years with Fr. Brett in Macon) is almost at an end? I know it must feel like eternity but I can still remember the day you told me you were going to give the seminary a try. I remember the call when you told me the bishop was considering sending you to Rome and you asked me what I thought. I remember asking you every six months whether or not you felt certain of God’s plan. I also remember the last time I asked and you told me you were at peace.

I am so proud of you. I’m proud of the leap of faith you took to enter the seminary even though you weren’t sure you were called to the priesthood. I’m proud of your perseverance through school. I’m proud of the stands you’ve already taken for the truth within your own seminary.

I can’t wait to see you. I can’t wait for your ordination. I can’t wait to introduce the kids to Father Uncle Aaron. I can’t wait to watch you give Mackenzie her first communion. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you and the people you will shepherd.

I can wait, however, for you to hear my confession. Yeah, I don’t think that will ever happen.

I love you,

Thursday, May 24, 2007


The outdoor adventures of the boys continued today. At my first check they were racing their bikes. Second check they were "fixing" their bikes. Third check they were "feeding little green berries to the ants". Fourth check they were playing with the rakes.

I was busily crossing stuff off my "to do" list when Aiden hit the door. "Mama! You have to come and see what happened!"

I stayed seated and did a quick mental check. No one is screaming. No one is bleeding. Calmly I asked, "What happened Aiden?"

"You have to come and SEE!"

"Buddy, can't you just tell me about it?" I already knew the answer but had to ask anyway. Miracles still happen.

"Mama," Aiden started, exasperated with me, "I was playing with this big stick and it broke. It just came off and now there are no more leaves or ANYTHING!"

"Hmmm..." I stalled, still trying to work. This did not sound like anything unusual.

"MAMA PLEEAAASE! Can't you just come and look?"

I followed him outside and headed to the row of bushes and hanging branches that line our driveway. Then I noticed that Aiden had not stopped. Instead, he ran to the front yard where we have two trees given to us when we got married.

When I looked where Aiden was standing, I noticed that something was missing. There in his hands was one of our trees. Granted, it was the one that had never flourished, but it had stood there since we moved in almost nine years ago.

Dawson stood with the two branches in his hands. Aiden looked at me with his devilish grin while he held the trunk in his hands. "Do you think we can play with these now?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Presently Homesick

We're on day eight of a ten day stay of one of Mackenzie's classmates. I have kept a few other children before but never anyone for this long and I was a teeny bit nervous about how she would do.

It has gone amazingly well - almost eerily well. She fits right in and the girls have gotten along great. In fact, we've heard no mention of her parents at all. I don’t think I’ll tell them that!

We were getting up from the table last night when she asked me, "Um...how long until my mom and dad come home?" She didn't sound sad or upset, just curious.

I brought her over to the calendar and pointed out what day it was and showed her Friday. "You only have three more days. They will be home really late Friday night while you are sleeping. They will probably get you Saturday morning as soon as you wake up."

Her eyes lit up as she asked, "Well, um...do you think I could get up in the middle of the night and go home?"

Uh oh, I thought, here comes the homesickness. But before I could feel sorry for her she blurted out, "I just really want to see my present!"

I don't think I'll share that with her parents either.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More House Thoughts

God's been showing me lately how this epic house building project is like having children.

When the house is just an idea, it's an exciting time - like pregnancy. You spend time dreaming about the life growing inside of you. You pour over every baby magazine and book you can find. You make a million plans about how you will and won't raise the child. You run into bumps like "morning" sickness and multiple, middle of the night trips to the bathroom. You hit the nesting phase and make some real preparation progress. You get everything ready. You even think you're ready.

Then...you have the baby. You break ground and realize that the real work begins now. You discover that every plan, every preparation you've made does not even touch the task before you. You're plagued by sleepless nights, loads of hormones, and the internal question of whether or not you've made the right decision. Whatever the answer is, you realize it's too late to back out now and you dig your heels in and brace yourself for the years ahead.

Each little stage is an accomplishment. You rejoice over the first night of five hours of sleep in a row. You're relieved when they sit on their own and switch from the breast to a cup. You cheer for the first word, the first step, the first anything. Then you hit the big one - the first birthday. You look at the frame and realize how fast it went up.

Then one night you go to bed and it dawns on you that this whole year doesn't even scratch the surface of the work in front of you. Sure you've got it framed, but now comes all that time when you work on the interior. You train and you train and you train. You pour your heart and soul into this person. You make decisions that you know will affect the child for the next several years, if not forever. And it’s rare that anyone, including you, can see any real progress. It is slow going.

There are other big stages that will offer some outward signs of progress like sheet rock/graduation and finishing touches/vocational decisions. And before you know it, you're sitting in your new home with your feet up drinking a glass of wine in front of the fire.

But here's the thing, you're not really done yet. There are changes to be made, details to be added. In short, it's always going to be a work in progress. The longer you live in it, the more ways you will find to make it your own. The more thought and work you put into it, the more you appreciate it.

We don’t quit being parents either – the job description just changes. Their needs will be different, and so will our worries. God is the same with us. He never gives up on us. He never stops allowing us to change and grow. And, in the end, if we allow Him, the product is something more beautiful than we ever imagined.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Pair of True Super Heroes

Saturday afternoon the kids went outside to play. Aiden came back in within minutes to ask if he could dress up. Of course Dawson was right behind him and, after "caping" them, off they flew to save the girls from…whatever.

Cries of, "I'M SU-PER-MAN!" and "I'm BATMAN!" echoed through the yard. Arms were out. Capes were flying. They weren't exactly sure who needed saving but they were certain that whoever it was, they could help.

Today when they asked what was on the agenda, laundry was on the list. Aiden, who has become the resident “go to” BIG man of the house, begged to help. And, you guessed it, Dawson did too.

I find it funny that I can hold up helping with the laundry as a reward these days. Although it continues to surprise me, I've made a conscious effort to tap into this early desire to help. They help with the vacuuming, the cooking, and the laundry. I'm dreaming that somehow it will instill these good habits throughout life. Maybe even one day, a daughter-in-law might thank me.

Of course it always doubles the time of the task to have two extra sets of hands chipping in but, most days, I make the decision that this is my job, it's educational, and it's worth the extra effort.

We gathered the laundry from each room and dumped all the clothes in a big pile. We had a race to see who could find the most white items and throw them in the brown basket. Then the colored items were tossed in the blue basket. Believe it or not they were having a blast.

Next the two of them carried the basket into the laundry room. I sat them on the corners of the washing machine and let them dump the clothes into it. They sat there with the lid up so they could watch it agitate a few times. This provided another lesson about full, turning, and how the clothes get clean. As soon as the buzzer went off, they ran to help put the clothes in the dryer and put the second load into the washer.

They were happy and proud. The clothes were clean. They were learning. And, most importantly, we were making a memory - together.

Then it dawned on me. They may not have been wearing their capes, but they found someone to save today.

One day boys, when you're much older, I'm going to pull this out and talk to you about being a true hero.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Phrase of the Day

Today I cut down on the errands so I could clean the house and enjoy the weekend. There was just one phrase that repeatedly came out of my mouth - I can't wait!

As I was lugging huge things up the ladder into the attic I said, "I can't wait until I move in the new house and can just walk into the attic."

As I stepped over big buys from Sam's on my way to the washing machine I said, "I can't wait until I have my very own pantry to store this stuff."

As I picked up toys over and over and over again I said, "I can't wait to have a house big enough where every single thing will have its place."

As I vacuumed the carpet that seems to be a magnet for everything unclean I said, "I can't wait to have more wood floors and carpet that actually hides the dust instead of magnifying it."

By the end of the day...well, okay, I still have laundry to fold but it's almost the end...I felt a little accomplished but also a tad frustrated.

Oh please Lord help us finish the house SOON! I can't wait!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Story Time

Mackenzie is only two weeks and one day away from the end of first grade. They've finished spelling and vocabulary so, besides some memory verses and math pages, her homework this week was to read to me for 15 minutes a day.

On Monday I took the boys to the library and picked out a few books to bring home. I read a few to them before their naps. When Mackenzie came home from school, I told her to read those books to me for her 15 minutes. I was busy prepping for dinner so I told her to read them out loud. Because I had already read them, I would know if she was reading correctly.

She was busy reading when Dawson woke up from his nap. He pushed a chair over to where she was and listened to the story. When Aiden woke up, he did the same.

It was so precious. I still think Mackenzie reading is nothing short of miraculous and to have her brothers peacefully listening to her...well that's simply off the charts.

What a gift! It's the gift of reading paired with the gift of family. Amazing!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Taking Sides

We're watching one of Mackenzie's classmates for the next ten days while her parents are in Rome. Tonight, after our first dinner together, I sent them all outside with popsicles.

When I went out to check on their progress, I sat on the steps next to Aiden. He looked around and commented, "Hey...now we have two boys and two girls!"

"That's right Aiden. We sure do."

He quickly walked over to Dawson and said, "Dawson, I'm on your team!"

Monday, May 14, 2007

The End is Drawing Near

The end of another year is drawing close. The boys had their last day of school Friday and included several songs from each of their classes.

The first is one of Dawson's in which he sings not a word but seems to have really mastered the maraca.

What follows is one of Aiden's songs. This is one of my favorites. I love watching him sing it and I was rather impressed by his ability to keep count on his fingers.

And tonight was Mackenzie's final gymnastics class before the summer. I know she's mine but that's a pretty darn good bridge if I do say so myself.

Some days blogging just has to consist of a little bragging. Thanks for indulging me.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

As we worked out the plans for Mother's Day over the past week I became just a tad disappointed. Well...to tell on myself, it was probably more like a tad selfish. By the time we made the plans to honor my mom and Nelson's mom, there was no time left for me. I didn't linger on these feelings, but they did float through my mind.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mother. In fact, the more time I spend as a mother myself, the more I love her. She has taught me so much about the selflessness that is being a mother that I am really ashamed that I even felt the way I did.

And Nelson's mom, well let me just say that I have a mother-in-law that I not only tolerate, but who I truly love. The greatest part is that I know she loves me too. The more time I spend with my wonderful husband, the more I appreciate and respect her for the man she raised.

So, now you may understand that although my "me" feelings did come in, I didn't invite them to stay. I know how blessed I am to have two women in my life to honor on this day. I feel sure that all too soon there will come a day where Mother's Day becomes mine alone and I will long for these days.

After my husband informed me last night that he went to pick up my present at 2 p.m. from a place that closed at noon, I went to bed with zero expectations. I wasn't sad. I wasn't depressed. I just looked at it for what it was and counted my blessings.

This morning I was awakened by my loving husband and my three precious blessings bringing me breakfast in bed. Not just any breakfast mind you, but French toast (my favorite), bacon, and strawberries sliced in perfect fans. It was a wonderful gift. I sat up in bed as three pair of hungry eyes gazed at my food and waited anxiously for my verdict.

I took a bite of the toast and oohed and ahhed over it. Then the requests poured in. "Can I have a bite of your toast Mama?" "Can I please have a bite?" "Me too! Me too!" I lovingly cut away and doled out bite after bite. Next, of course, came, "Can I try the bacon too?" "Ooh yeah, can I please have a bite?" The next thing I knew, the last request polished off the half of piece of bacon I had left. "Oops! Sorry Mama.” In the midst of all of this the cat jumped in and out of bed several times ending up on the bedside table drinking my glass of milk. It was the perfect mom morning.

As I sat in church before mass and watched Mackenzie bring flowers to Mary's altar in the May crowning procession, those sweet, hungry, excited faces came back to me. I thought of my other mother, Mary, and all I've learned from her. Then I recalled one of the most important lessons I've learned about motherhood.

When you become a mother, you're faced with the hard cold fact that the world no longer revolves around you. With the entry of your first little one into the world, you learn very quickly that it's no longer about what you want. With each additional child, you lose a little more of that selfish side of you. It's not often an easy departure but one that is taken on lovingly and willingly because all that energy is much better invested in these little souls given to you by God.

I became a mother when I had Mackenzie, but it's taken me awhile to learn how to be a mama. Being a mama involves so much more than having a baby. It means no longer sleeping when you want for however long you want. It means giving over your body to a hungry infant. It means eating cold food because of multiple trips to the bathroom. It means learning to change a diaper and breastfeed in public without being conspicuous. It means repeating yourself dozens of times a day and answering questions by the hundreds.

It also means being the recipient of millions of hugs and kisses. It means holding that tiny hand in yours knowing that you just joined with God himself in creating this miracle. It means staying awake just to listen to the faintest sounds of breathing. It means celebrating the REALLY big moments of life like taking the first steps, saying the first words, going potty on the potty the first time and losing the first tooth.

These are lessons that our moms already know. They are lessons that I continue learning with each passing day. I am so grateful to God for saving me from my own self-centeredness and throwing me into the depths of self-sacrifice. I am a better person for it.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

The House May Be Bigger Than We Think

The kids and I stopped by the new house today. My dad happened to be over there lending a hand so he kept a close eye on the kids while I went from closet to closet with the cabinet guy.

When I finally finished, I hollered, "Come on guys! Time to go!" It was a little tough to round them up because they always have a blast in the middle of the construction. In fact, they had been playing hide and go seek.

When I finally got Mackenzie and Aiden out the door, I had to go back in for Dawson. He did not want to leave. To help me out, my dad started calling for Dawson from the roof outside.

I walked out the door and called for Dawson. "Dawson, come out here and see if you can find Dampa."

He started out the door but not before Aiden looked to the sky to spot my dad on the roof. "Dawson," I tried again, "do you see Dampa?"

"I see him!" shouted Aiden. "He's up on top of the castle!"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Playing Pirate

Last summer we learned that a pirate always says, "ARRR!" This summer it looks as though they might be branching into football!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Muffins for Mom

This morning I was honored to attend Muffins for Mom at the boys' school. We ate the muffins together and then they both presented me with homemade gifts for Mother's Day.

Aiden presented me with this. And, yes, that's a picture of me.

It was a throw back to the Mad Libs game of old where they just asked each child the questions and wrote down exactly what he or she said. First of all, I think I've asked Aiden to make his bed a total of 5 times in the last year. I'm guessing the day they did this was one of them. Second of all, I think he likes to eat bacon WAY more than I like to cook it. Third of all, at least I know he appreciates it now:).

I was still a bit giddy from my moment of love yesterday so I asked one of the teachers to take a picture of us to capture this one on film. What follows are a few of her valiant attempts at the perfect picture. And...well...I love them so much I didn't care that they weren't perfect - neither are my boys. That is part of why I love them so much!

When Mackenzie came home from school, she read the framed art herself. She stopped at the first one. "My mom is 7 years old. SEVEN!! Why did he say that? You are NOT seven years old!" She was giggling at this point.

"I know, I think they just wrote down whatever he said," I told her.

"Oh! That's kind of funny. You know...because you're REALLY NOT seven years old," she emphasized again. "You're like 25…right?"

"Exactly," I told her with a grin.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Just an Ordinary Day

Today I left the house around 10 a.m. and didn't return until after 3. I had the boys with me. It was just one of those new house errand days. We hit the Y, Home Depot, a flooring store and then my young moms’ prayer group.

At noon I realized that although I can skip lunch on busy days such as these, my boys cannot. I got them some fast food, doled it out, and then headed on to the next stop feeling a little guilty about the bad habits I may be forming in them.

When the car came to a stop I turned around to see to happy boys calming holding their honey mustard in one hand and their chicken nuggets in the other, chocolate milks clinched between their legs.

I'm not sure what happened but looking at those two grinning boys buckled down in their car seats munching away, I was completely overwhelmed by how much I love them. I can't describe it except to say that at once I was bursting with joy, thankfulness and total, unconditional, only a mama can feel it kind of love.

After staring at them goo goo eyed for several seconds the emotions finally erupted from my heart and out of my mouth. "I just LOVE you both so much! You are so cute. I am SO thankful that God gave you to me. You are such perfect gifts. I love you! I love you! I love you!"

They caught on immediately and grinned bigger with each affirmation. And, when I was finally able to get it in gear and move on, they looked back at me and said almost in unison, "I love you too Mama."

In one sense it was nothing profound - just plain, simple, every day life that all too often passes me by. On the other hand, it was unbelievably earth shattering to drink in that moment of divine gratefulness - to see the gifts God has given me for what they are - to enjoy the emotion that makes me Mama.

It was just an ordinary moment of an ordinary day, but it is one that I will never, ever forget.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Boy of His Word

Today Aiden grabbed the big bag of Monster Cookies we made to bring to his pseudo birthday celebration at school. He was excited that he got to have a birthday at school even though his birthday is in the summer. He was excited about wearing the birthday crown. He was excited about the cookies we made together. He was beaming.

"Mama," he said as he grabbed the bag, "I'm going to tell Ms. Cheryl that if there are any cookies left, I want to save one for my brother Dawson."

"That's so thoughtful," I told him as we headed off for school.

When I picked him up this afternoon, his teacher reported that he had put in his request to save a cookie for his brother and luckily, there were quite a few left.

Aiden grabbed the bag from his shelf and blabbered on about his day. As we walked down the hall to Dawson's class, he carefully opened the bag. The moment we opened the door and he spotted Dawson, he ran to him, cookie in hand, and said, "Here ya go Dawson. I saved this one for you!"

Friday, May 04, 2007

That's What I'm Talking About!

Nelson and I have a birthday party for a friend tonight. I got dressed and popped a pizza in the oven for the kids. They were all going a bit berserk and playing around.

I finished dressing in time to run out to the kitchen and get the pizza from the oven. Dawson followed me saying, "I'm the monster! Raawr! Raawr!" He grabbed my shirt tail just as I was opening the oven.

"Okay buddy, time to stop playing. Back up. This oven is hot," I instructed.

He backed up a bit but as soon as I turned to open the oven, he was at my back again. "Raawr! I'm a monster! Raawr!"

"Dawson, come on bud. This is HOT. You have to back up."

One more time he obeyed but just as the oven door opened, he was there again. He grabbed my shirt tail. I was about to chastise him a third time when he yelled with enthusiasm, "Raawr! Mama's HOT!"

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nelson's Birthday:Round Two

We went bowling and then out for drinks and some live music for Nelson's birthday on Tuesday. Because it was a school night, we did it without the kids. Of course, those of you with kids know that you cannot celebrate a birthday without involving them, so tonight we celebrated again with our families.

We grilled ribs and had green beans, asparagus, rolls and roasted potatoes. We topped that off with my Snickers Bar Cheesecake. The weather was perfect so we ate outside and the kids had a blast.

Someone else who had a blast was my brother Brian. I asked him to take a few photos for me and after the obligatory ones of the cake and candles, I got what follows. All I can say Brian, is watch out what you put on my camera from now on. Don't forget I now have a blog that I can share with the world.

Don't ya just love a little payback!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday Nelson!

Dearest Nelson,

Somehow you always find a way to amaze me with your gifts. I knew when I married you that I was getting a strong man who loves God. I also knew you were intelligent and very much the gentleman. I even knew what a fantastic ballroom dancer you are. However, it wasn't until the last few months that I learned that I also got a plumber, an electrician and master house designer in the mix!

Those last few things may seem like funny things to honor you for but I think they say a lot about who you are. First, they demonstrate your love for learning. Most people would never even attempt to do what you are doing with the house. You’re not only doing it, but you understand why you are doing it and how it works.

These talents also make evident your determination and stick-to-it-tive-ness. You are a man of your word. When you say you will be somewhere or do something, you do it - no matter the cost. And, speaking of cost, all those late nights, blistered hands and sore muscles are not going unnoticed. You are amazing.

I still remember a conversation we had on a picnic the first birthday of yours we were together. I asked you what your goals were for the future. You said several things, but one that I remember distinctly was that you said you really wanted to build your own house one day.

Friday night, as we worked on the house together I had a conversation with your plumbing mentor. He said, "You know a lot of people say they built their house, but what they really mean is that they paid someone to build it for them. You guys are REALLY building your house and I just think that is so cool!"

I think it's pretty cool too. As a matter of fact, I think YOU'RE pretty cool.

I love you! Happy Birthday!
*Oh yeah...and last night, you proved once again in front of friends and family that you're a pretty cool bowler as well. Oh how the talent just goes on and on and on :).