/> Raising Angels: October 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crazy Day

I fell asleep watching a movie with Nelson last night...at 8:45 PM. Let me tell you why.

It was Thursday.

Get ready. Here goes:

*Up at 5:30 to run at 6.

*Back by 7 to help Nelson deliver breakfast in bed to our birthday boy, Dawson.

*Get kids off to school and go to get in the shower when Nelson reminds me the bug guy is coming so I put off the shower.

*Need to start dinner for another family but needed their crock-pot to do it. Couldn't get it because I was waiting for the bug guy. Started their dinner in my crock-pot, will have to wait on my own dinner.

*Bug guy arrives 30 minutes late and I have to unlock all the doors and follow him around.

*Realize Max needs to be at Catechesis in 10 minutes so shower has to wait. Decide instead to throw on some deodorant, clean clothes and rush him out the door.

*Hit my prayer group because I figured with the day ahead, I was going to need some prayer.

*Picked up Max and then picked up his play buddy for the day.

*Ran to school to pick up Dawson and take him and the two three-year-olds to lunch at Checkers.

*Got ready to order and Max had to pee. Had to walk through the parking lot to use the bathroom at Auto Zone with three vivacious boys. Nice.

*Ordered the food and tried to keep all boys from running in front of traffic. Then had to fend off a stranger who tried to take them into the driveway to feed the birds. Scary.

*Got Dawson back to school and finally made it to my friend's to grab the crock-pot.

*Took the two boys back to my house. They played dress up and I finally jumped in the shower, which on most days by this time I figure what's the use, but today was also the day we were having the family photo made for the parish directory. Definitely do not want the greasy, dirty hair look put down in history.

*Out of the shower with dripping hair and decide to use the two hours I had left to make cookies for the shower next week.

*Between trying to double a recipe that was entirely too big for my mixer and supervising two little boys, only got about 2 dozen done before it was time to run carpool.

*Got the three big kids home and let them snack on the one batch of cookies I forgot were in the oven while quizzing them on spelling and getting back to rolling and sprinkling cookies.

*In the middle of greasy hands and cookie crumbs everywhere, got a phone call from mom telling me she was bringing by some dear friends who dropped in from out of town for the day. Is now a good time?

*Yikes! Blitzed the house with the kids and had it picked up in about 20 minutes right as they pulled up. Toured the entire house and visited with the friend while trying to act as if I had nothing else to do.

*Finished with that tour about 10 minutes before my dad dropped by with the friend's husband and he too wanted the tour. Visited again and had to toss one more batch of cookies I forgot about again.

*Suddenly realized I had about 30 minutes to get kids in and showered for pictures and finish the meal for my neighbors so I said goodbye to the guests and finally threw in the towel about getting cookies finished today.

*Put on some rice, green beans and got rolls ready as I supervised all 4 taking showers and in between all that I ran up to get their clothes for the pictures.

*Nelson came in the door and noticed I was not ready for the photos. Do you want me to cancel? Seriously? No way, I told him. Do not want to try to do this again. Give me 10 minutes and please take dinner down the street to friends.

*Did my hair, make-up and got dressed in 10 minutes as well as doing Mackenzie's hair and taming the boys' hair and brushing their teeth.

*Bolted to the car and got to the church at the precise time of our appointment only to search all over for the location of the photographer.

*Got pictures taken and were done with the sales pitch in 30 min.

*Let Dawson choose where we picked up dinner as mine never made it into the crock-pot.

*Nelson went to pick up food while I went home with the kids. I wrapped gifts while the kids packed their lunches.

*Picked out movie we promised Dawson he could watch while he ate his dinner. Then let him open his gifts as Max passed out on my lap.

*Got kids to bed and cleaned up mess in kitchen and family room and wondered how in the world my day got so crazy.

*Should have felt like Supermom at the end of this day but definitely did not. Felt more like an exhausted, over-committed crazy woman in desperate need of some sleep. Actually left Dawson’s gifts scattered across family room and hit the sack.

And Friday, well it was kind of the same but I will not write about that so you don’t feel compelled to tell me that I should be committed. I blitzed through it at about the same pace as I did Thursday which explains why at 8:30, when I threw in the towel and decided to put my feet up and hang out with my husband, I promptly fell asleep.


I don't know what happened or what made me remember, but I was remiss to mention Mackenzie's birthday this year. So...I went back and did it. And so you don't miss out on my one and only girl, you can read about her here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dawson's Day


This morning before the sun or you had risen, I prayed for you. I do this every day but today I asked for a special blessing for you on your very special day. However, before I could say many prayers, I found myself awash with gratitude for you.

I thanked God for sending you to us. You have been a sweet boy from the moment of your birth. There is tenderness in your heart that is completely enduring. It is a tenderness that I hope you keep your whole life.

Your teacher honored you today for your thoughtfulness and I think she was absolutely right. You are generous and kind and I think both those qualities stem from your thoughtfulness.

I love you so much buddy and have loved the last seven years with you. I think the next seven will be even better.

Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Read It, Believe It

I was at a retreat a few weeks ago that focused on beauty, namely how beauty comes from within - from God. It was an inspiring, and genuine retreat. The women who gave the talks did a fantastic job and the ones who shared really bared their souls.

As I walked outside, I found myself almost feeling guilty for being happy and really relishing the beauty God has put within me. I have had some trials in my life but they don't compare with the suffering some of these other women have experienced. I felt that the absence of such pain made me somewhat less significant.

And yet, I couldn't wipe the silly grin off my face. I am in a good place and the talks over the weekend encouraged and inspired me. In short, I was feeling God's love and it brought forth an uninhibited joy that I could not deny. As the smile spontaneously spread across my face, I felt that gentle nudge from God. "It's okay," I heard Him say, "to be happy."

For the next thirty minutes or so, God and I had a running conversation about having confidence in Him and the gifts He's given me. Again I was encouraged and called on to use those gifts to bring Him glory.

When I came back inside, one of the women got up and read the following quote from the movie Akeelah and the Bee. It was exactly what I had heard God say to me in my prayer time. I left that retreat on a high and have been there ever since.

Dear readers, I want you to experience this feeling I'm feeling. Read the quote. Copy and paste it somewhere you can read it often. Then read it every day until you start to believe it. Once you believe it, live it. Then you too will feel the joy.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How Is It...

that I can feel so incredibly accomplished knowing that today I did every single load of laundry in the house (I mean it's washed, dried, folded and put away. I also did all the ironing AND mending) and yet feel like I achieved nothing?

At the very moment I was feeling oh, so proud of this great achievement, I saw the dirty clothes on the floor in the space where I put back the hamper. I saw the empty grocery list and menu plan for tomorrow's shopping trip. I also glanced at the major "shower to do list" that only has three jobs checked off. Now I sit here wondering what else I could do to cross something...anything at all off of those lists.

Right now I’m thinking of adding sleep to the list so I can go to bed and cross something off at the same time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Peace and Water

Today we celebrated Dawson's birthday a little early by taking him and all his buddies to Steed's Dairy Farm. We gathered at 9:30 AM after getting up early to make the requested banana pudding and blitz the house (why I feel the need to do this before it’s hit by a group of young boys is beyond me, but clean I did). We stayed at the farm until 2 at which point we came back home and had the pudding and opened presents. That was followed by a backyard soccer game, seeing off the boys and then cleaning the house again.

Needless to say, after whipping up some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, I was pooped. As I ushered the boys into our shower, I spotted the computer on my bedroom floor. Once the water was going, I plopped myself down in front of it and, well...kind of stayed there.

I only felt slightly guilty about taking 10 minutes of quiet for myself. A good soaking, I told myself, is precisely what they need after today's activities. They were washing quietly and playing some game that required making very odd sounds with their mouths (sometimes, it's best not to know exactly what is going on). Everyone was happy.

In the process of typing this I've heard the following:

Boy 1: "Hey, what do I look like?"
Boy 2: "Uh, a naked guy walking around."

Boy 1: As the water was turned off, says, "Look at our faces. Dude, we need to rinse them off."
Boy 2: "Are they really dirty?"

Boy 3 walks in and Boy 1 says to Boy 2, "Do you think we need to wash him?" To which Boy 3 says, "Ah, yes."

Boy 2: "Look at that mess you just made. You better get that cleaned up before mom gets in here."

I think it's the longest shower in history...the water is still going and now they're singing Firework. But I'm still not feeling bad. No, I'm thanking God for the tankless water heater and pledging to take a really quick shower later.

Boy 2 interrupts me typing the final paragraph to ask me, “Do we really need to wash Max? We’re like done and out of the shower now.” And why I’d love to believe that simply standing in the water long enough will do the trick, I must end my moment of peace and do my job because the sooner I do, the sooner they can all pass out and I can have some real peace and quiet. That, and Boy 2 just informed me that Max likes it in there by himself.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes, No Words Are Needed

Doing the Gigantic

Today was one of those days when I had the rare thought, "I am Superwoman." You know, one of those days when you just seem to be able to get the million things done that were on your short list and a few on the long one as well.

Here's the day in a nutshell. With Nelson’s help, I got everyone everything they needed this morning to make it to school and had a little time left over to spend with him before he left for work. I gathered all that I needed for my errands and ran Max to school. From there I popped into my dad's office to cut the shower invitations I drew and Nelson printed...all 100 of them (and yes, it's at my house). From there, I ran to Wal-Mart to get ingredients to make the requested banana pudding for Dawson's birthday party Saturday along with some household needs to spruce a few things up for that shower. When I got back home, I unloaded everything and got a jump on dinner preparation before picking Max up. I also got the scoop on my duties as fundraiser for the 5K run at the kids' school, and made four phone calls. By then, it was time to pick up the other kids, get them snacks, help them study and referee their disagreements all while preparing a dinner that was much more effort than I remembered. In the middle of all that I found out that one son forgot the book he needed to study for his test and Mackenzie got invited to an impromptu birthday party that we had to find a gift for and then wrap it. I fed 11 people dinner and addressed all those invitations. We had a major discussion/furniture moving session with dinner guests about what to do with our cavernous family room. And finally, I got kids to bed and did the after dinner clean-up.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I had the rational thought that it is simply amazing what we moms do in a day without really "accomplishing" much at all. Besides food on the table and invitations ready to be delivered, I have nothing much to show for all the frenzy.

Nelson walked in at precisely the moment I discovered that the dining room table that the boys had set, was not up to par. The room itself also looked slightly like a tornado hit it while the table was being set. He generously came in the door, saw my face, pitched in and poured me some wine.

When I finally took a breath and thanked him, I asked him how his day was. "Well...kind of good," he noted tentatively.

"What does that mean?"

"Well I had a busy day where I did a lot but didn't really get anything accomplished."

Although I didn't feel that way tonight, I totally related to him because that is the way I feel most days. I mean, can you count something as an accomplishment if you need to do it again as soon as you finish (laundry and cleaning toilets in a house full of little boys, for example)? Yes, this is how I feel most days.

Today however I still had this quote at the forefront of my mind. It was also on my mind yesterday as Max and I spent some time pulling weeds and he asked me why we need to get rid of the weeds and I gave him this wonderful analogy about how weeds can choke the plants causing them to die kind of like the devil tries to do to us (of course I was much more poetic). It was just a few minutes but I felt it. I seized my opportunity to teach Max about the mysteries of the universe and it felt very important and worthwhile and it was all while we were knee deep in dirt.

A day like today is exhausting. It can make me feel at once a superhero and an insignificant speck. However, when my perspective is on the mark, I can see that I am at work building my family, my friendships and my life.

Today, in the million little things, I did the gigantic and world is a better place because of it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Short View from a Short Season

I mentioned briefly that we entered the world of school team sports this year. Mackenzie played on her middle school's volleyball team and loved it; even though she had never touched a volleyball before the first day of school at the team's first practice. Needless to say, the team's record was a little less than stellar.

They did win one match and that was totally exciting. It's funny how much you appreciate the little things when the big ones don't come easy. Every point earned was a victory for us.

I'm glad she did for all the reasons team sports are good for kids. It was a great chance for her to spend time with the other girls in her class (almost every single girl was on the team...small classes at our school). It was also fun for me to chat with the other moms in the stands. Of course the boys thought it was wonderful to attend the matches. Snacks, running up and down bleachers, playing in the courtyard of the school, and even cheering on their sister turned out to be super cool to them.

Having worked with these girls for the last several years, I couldn't get over how much older they looked the first time I saw them on the court in their uniforms. I also found myself exceptionally grateful that our conservative school frowns on the "spankies" worn by the other teams. If you're not familiar with this type of uniform, imagine the girls playing on the court in their underwear and you've got the picture.

I'm so proud of my anti-competitive (no idea where she gets that trait) girl participated. She gave it her all and improved a lot over her short season. I can't wait to see what she does next year!

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Motherhood

G.K. Chesterton said: " I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute..."

Amazing encouragement isn't it!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Soup's On!

I tried this for the first time tonight. It was easy, make ahead, cheap, delicious and every single person finished their bowls. In short, it was a total win! And, just because I love you, dearest readers, I'm going to share the recipe with you. Try it and let me know what you think.

Classic Minestrone (Serves 6)
This recipe is from the October issue of all*you magazine

2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes with liquid
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup small shell pasta or macaroni
1 cup shredded escarole or kale
1 15-oz. can cannellini or navy beans, drained
Grated Parmesan, for serving

1. Combine carrots, celery, onion and garlic in slow cooker. Pour in broth and stir in tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and Italian seasoning. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

2. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in pasta, escarole and beans. Cover, increase heat to high and cook until pasta is tender, about 30 min. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan, if desired.

Note: I added some cooked Italian sausage because if there's no meat in the dinner, Nelson is totally all "Where's the beef?" I also doubled it and it totally filled my giant crock-pot but now I have a meal for another night. Sweet!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dad E. Parris

Max to me: Is Daddy's first name Dad?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making Connections...In a Three-Year-Old Kind of Way

"Mama, where were you last night with Miss Nicole?" Max asked me this morning.

"I was helping her register at Bed, Bath and Beyond," I informed him.

"Was Buzz Lightyear there?"

Curious as to the connection here, I ventured, "Why would you think Buzz would be there?"

"Well you know," he said with amazing authority,” he’s the one who says that...'and beyond!'"

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Favorite Maxisms This Week

We've been playing quite a few card games this week. This morning Max asked me, "Mama, will you play Homemade (Old Maid) with me?"

We were spiking the boys’ hair for a mini-golf outing today...because it was easier than trying to tame it. Max, upon seeing himself in the mirror, said, "Look Mama, Daddy gave me a homawk."

Monday, October 03, 2011

Now This is Vacation

I am currently in Hilton Head Island for the week. We got here Saturday afternoon and have enjoyed every single minute.

Oh to get here was tough. I don't know how you homeschooling moms do it! I actually thought one of my kids may end up in the ER instead of the beach. Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to inflict some serious physical harm. Thankfully, those were brief thoughts that floated through as I reminded myself that the kid had just come home from a full day of school, grabbed a snack and started right back at it. Torture for us all.

Happily, we adjusted and did the bulk of the work before we arrived. We brought a few things to do here and have been chipping away at it and we've almost finished it. I'm enjoying this now because I think we're in the last few years of all being able to pull the kids out of school for an entire week. High school doesn't lend itself to week-long hiatuses.

We arrived here with no stops along the way. We have played cards, Bingo and other games. We have played rounds and rounds of ping-pong poolside. We have gone on bike-rides and runs. We've hunted alligators and fed turtles. We have had root beer floats in the middle of the afternoon and eaten cookies and ice cream for dessert (thus the runs and bike rides). We have put on PJs at 7 and watched movies until 10.

We have not hurried to do anything. We have not made one single solid plan. We have not yelled. We have not gone in a million directions. We have not rushed through meals.

Needless to say, I've enjoyed every waking moment...mostly because those moments come much later in the day than normal. I may blog some and I may not. I will relax, read, and have a few drinks poolside. I will recharge. I will enjoy my family. I will rest.

Thank God for the beach, time off and generous parents with a beach condo.