Thursday, May 26, 2016

Random Round Up {phfr}

A round up of some of the random pieces of life around here...


The lilac season is just about over but the bush near our house had a lot to give this year.  They don't last long cut but they make the house smell amazing!


Sunshine and babies and bubbles

The three older boys are part of a cross country team with our homeschool group.  The older ones run 1.8 miles and the littler group runs one.  It's really relaxed and low key which I appreciate.  They've been getting better and better at each race and we were so proud when David finished the whole thing last race after not being able to the first two races!

Happy baby loves a swing (hence that birthday gift the boys made for him!)


And loves playing in the grass and discovering all the new things.  Also doesn't mind wearing 14 year old hand me downed hats.  (Was 2002 really that long ago??)

Michael and David are both playing baseball this year and David lives up to his namesake.  He is small but fierce.  Seriously, he is like the tiniest thing out there but he more than makes up for it in his enthusiasm.  It's hysterical.  He dives at each base whether or not the ball is anywhere near him.

We've also reached the stage with this one of diaper changes being a wrestling match.  I grab the closest thing I can to give him something to distract from grabbing parts or writhing away.  Last change I grabbed this Mary statue I got in Africa that was nearby and kissed it and handed it to him.  He then started kissing her, too <3 


For Mother's Day I asked that if possible the boys and Brian mulch the front and side beds.  That's all I really wanted and they did it for me the day before.  It was so nice and freeing to be real, just say plainly what I was hoping for, have them do it the day before, and then not have any unrealistic expectations or pressure for Mother's Day.  I don't much care for some of the ways that Mother's Day has morphed, maybe I'm a weirdo, but it was really a grace to just have it simple and to truly appreciate the gift.

Hope you're having a beautiful day!  

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Carpet Smells Like Kindness

We got our first ever carpeting installed today in two bedrooms.  I know.  Carpet is definitely not my thing.  In the three houses we've owned, we spent many hours ripping out carpet, much preferring the look and farmhouse authenticity and cleanability of wood floor.  But we'd like this house to be marketable and while we have no immediate plans to move, there is a freedom I feel when a house feels "ready" to go should God give us a nudge.   And while *I* thought the painted (extra extra) rustic subfloor was quaint and Pottery Barnesque (or at the very least tolerable), most other people probably wouldn't agree.  So after much angst and sticker shock and hemming and hawing I finally picked one out and it was (finally) installed today in about an hour.  

Once the crew left the boys dropped to the floor and rolled and tackled and did carpet angels and marveled in what seemed to their virgin carpet skin as the most decadent luxury despite my cheap lower grade selection.  And as soon as I inhaled that new carpet smell that filled our upstairs (even before wondering just how toxic it might probably be) a strong memory of my childhood triggered and filled my mind and heart.

We lived in an old farmhouse.  Like old old.  When we moved in there was still an outhouse in the backyard.  My parents had gotten a deal because it was such a fixer upper and needed to be completely rehabbed.  But it enabled them to move their current five kids from the city to the suburbs where there were yards and gardens and safer places to play.  I was one year old and don't remember much of the beginning years.  But I do remember something that happened at about eight or nine years old.  The floors of that place were rough rough unfinished old wood.  I remember the slivers we would get and the weekly needle surgeries on tiny punctured feet.  I remember how cold the house was and how tight the money with now seven kids on a truck driver's salary.  We made it okay and we certainly weren't in poverty (though I bet we would now be considered so) but things like new floors or carpet were never even thought of as an option.  

But then someone somewhere anonymously gifted our family with a certificate to cover brand new carpeting for our downstairs.  Anonymously.  Hundreds of dollars worth of carpet.  For some reason it was installed late at night which is really weird now that I type that out but it certainly added to the mysteriousness of the whole situation.  My mom had picked out a variegated brown sculpted number (eighties) and as the crew unrolled and measured and stapled, the distinct strong smell of new carpet filled the house.  And the first thing we did when the crew left late in the night was to roll and tackle and do carpet angels and marvel at how luxurious (and mysterious!) it was.  It's amazing how a smell can bring you right back.

I'm not sure what my point is in writing this all out except that I'm grateful for that anonymous person who wanted to do something kind for a struggling family with seven kids in an old cold sliver-filled farmhouse.  We never did find out who it was but their act of kindness and generosity left an impression on that young girl's heart.  She learned a little bit about what it means to love, to be kind, and to give without expecting anything in return.  The warmer and less wounded feet were a gift but even more so was the lesson in generosity and in true "do not let your left hand know what your right is doing" charity.

Today I said a prayer for that person.  Whoever they are, wherever they are, I hope they felt it.  Their generous selfless gift that they probably don't even remember lives on some thirty years later in the heart of a little girl who experienced their kindness.  As I inhaled that new carpet smell again, I remembered the joy of such a gift and the beautiful lesson in love we received that night.  I remembered that beautiful generous people in the world have always been around and that the purest gifts of all are the ones without any strings attached.  I hope and pray I can live the same way.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just Because We Can

We needed a day off.  As much as I felt compelled to go all hard hammer mom and push more lessons and make sure all the chores were done (they never ever seem to be done lately) and drill sergeant them into submission, I fought the urge.  We haven't been enjoying each other these last few days and while my first instinct is to try to fine tune and problem fix, there are times when I've learned that the answer (or at least a coping mechanism) is to take a step back and have the day off and remember, at least a little, why I'm doing this all in the first place.  Besides, these glorious May days when the sun is shining and the parks are virtually empty can't go unused.  That's one of the best perks of homeschooling, I say I believe.  The freedom to seize the better even if it's not in the plans.  So instead we had a just because we can sort of day.  

We went to Mass and then headed to one of our favorite local parks.

There were only a few other people and the boys had a ball climbing the rocks and playing chase and throwing rocks in the pond and trying to lure the ducks.

I could hear them squealing and playing and saw them running full speed down hills and climbing tall ravines and resisted the urge to tame them.

The sun shone down and it was good.

This guy hung back with me and soaked it all in.

It's prooobably not all that virtuous that May is one of my favorite months as a homeschooler because the weather is (or should be) glorious and (if I can peel myself away from the tasks) we get the parks and neighborhood to ourselves.  The schools don't get out here until late June.  

The other things and tasks are important, yes, but so is this.  Playing, wading, climbing, yelling, exploring, being free.

I wish I had all the time and energy in the world to give to each one of these boys.  But God makes up for what I can't give.  I trust in that.

We snacked at the park and then I found out that my brother-in-law's food truck was right in the area which was clearly divinely inspired for our just because we can day.

But first I forced them casually took some pictures of all of them.  If I give you a day off of lessons, you can give me a few smiles...

"No knowing where we're headed next until you smile like you mean it!"

A better spot and you can barely see the coercion ;)  Kinda kidding.  They're not too bad but I definitely don't feel guilty about using the promise of fried wontons to get them to smile for a nice picture.  That's totally not bribing.  Not at all.  It's incentive.

We stopped and shared some treats from the truck before heading home.  Then later I got to visit with a friend before we ate dinner and headed back out to a baseball game for Michael.  We may or may not have used up some of the saved concession tokens we had for an ice cream splurge.  (May.)  

I know now that it's naive to think that one simple little splurge of a day will make everyone's attitudes perfect and vices disappear (not that I still don't hope) but at the very least these days give us a bit of a break from the grind.  If I let them, they remind me why I put in the work and time that I do with these little people that I've been loaned.  They give all of us a chance to take a step back and realize that while lessons and school have their place, so do waterfalls and parks and soaking in the sun and simply taking a day off to just embrace the gifts and freedom we've chosen.
Just because we can.  

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Monday, May 23, 2016

The Ben Babe Is One!

I know everyone says it, but it's flown.  Our Ben baby turned one yesterday on Trinity Sunday!  I can hardly believe that it's been a full year since that crazy day when we met this beautiful boy.  What a gift he's been to our family.  We were blessed with a sunny day and we celebrated simply.  

Brian and the boys put together a little swing for him as his gift which he's going to love this summer.

And we all decided that his cake should have a smiley face so I made it a simple smiley sunshine cake.

We sang and he did what every other one of my boys has done when their first cake was put in front of them - pick at it somewhat confusedly, take a small bite, and just kinda play with the rest.  But tradition, right?

Crazy post nap hair don't care

Two of the older boys also made him some cards that he really appreciated and treasured (or tried to crumple up and eat) ;)

I'll save the excessive emoting for now but suffice it to say that it is there, filling my heart and mind with confusion and wonder and gratitude and bittersweetness and joy that this little man is ours and that he's already so big.  Just a few weeks ago I referred to him as a newborn...sooo yeah.  Clearly, this time thing does move faster the older you get.

We love you, sweet baby.  I hope you always know what a gift you are to our family.

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