Thursday, February 7, 2019

"Sry to disturb."

I came home to this note from Jessi (age 10) on a Wednesday night after a long day at work and an evening commitment. The kids were already in bed when I got home, and finding this hand-written treasure brought a huge smile to my face. There are several things I love about this note:

1. Preparation. Thursday was a dress down day at school. I’m so proud of my kids when they are independently thinking ahead and preparing for what’s to come. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I just find this so impressive at such a young age and in a generation where we hear so much about lawnmower/helicopter parenting and how kids are losing the ability to think for themselves. It’s just not the case with these munchkins! And I hope it’s a testament to our parenting skills but most of the time, I just feel like the luckiest mom on earth!

2. Homage to my sewing skills. My kid is asking me to sew something? Have I really become the kind of mom that can thread a needle and fix something? I feel like I've "arrived" and it's a dream come true for me.

I’ve hemmed skirts, fixed favorite sweatshirts, "saved" stuffed animals' lives and now mended a pair of ripped jeans (“No ripped jeans” was a rule for dress down day.) I feel like a Super Hero when they look at me in awe of my “skills” when really, I’m not that good. LOL. But… this was a personal goal of mine for many, many years. I remember my grandmother, Mary, with thimble in hand, sewing all sorts of stuff. And it stuck with me. And I wanted to do that someday. I’m not quite at the skill level I'd like to be, but to have my kids' total confidence and admiration during these moments just feels so good.

3. Thoughtfulness. My kids aren’t perfect. They don’t always put other's needs before their own. But generally speaking... I am so proud of them for who they are. They do think about others. And they think about me. “Sry to disturb.” is the sweetest thing to say at the end of this note. To me it demonstrates a level of humility, and empathy, and self-awareness that many adults don’t even have! I’ve gotten texts from them after school, while I'm still at work that read, “I hope I’m not interrupting anything, can I ask you a question?” and I think to myself: who taught you to say this? It really blows my mind that at just 10 years old they know this stuff. (And it’s not just the twins. It’s really all my kiddos!)

It's these little moments. Getting home. Finding a handwritten note on the counter. Feeling so tired but suddenly getting completely re-energized by a note with 18 words on it. 18 words that mean more to me than she would ever know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What no one tells you about big families and kids growing up

There’s an interesting camaraderie that exists among moms & dads that are raising large families. It’s like an instant connection when you are parents that find yourself outnumbered by children.

I classify 3 kids or more as “large”! Once you go from man-to-man coverage to zone, it’s a whole ‘nother game!

When you talk to other parents of large families, it’s great to be able to laugh about shared experiences like: how different you were when it came to germs and your first child as compared to your last; ideas for time management and keeping everyone’s schedules and extracurricular activities straight; tips for managing the never-ending piles of laundry; deals for vacation spots and restaurants where kids eat free on Tuesdays… but there’s something that no one, not once, ever told me about. Ever warned me about… and that’s how to deal with the phase of life when your large family starts shrinking.

You see… as they get older, the kids start doing their own thing. It’s such an important transition and it really becomes the first time in years where you feel like you are entering unchartered waters. How much freedom do I give? Too much and it may feel like I don’t care as a parent. Too little and you risk stifling their opportunities for growth and hurting your relationship. But one way or another... it just starts to happen. They make plans and you find one night that instead of “party of 7” you’re a “party of 6” and it just. doesn’t. feel. right. Even the other kids in the family will notice. And then your second child starts getting older, and also starts making plans of their own, and instead of “party of 7”, you’re now a “party of 5” and that’s just plain WRONG.

So what’s a parent to do? How are we to cope? I haven’t quite got it figured out yet! But, just as with every other phase that’s been part of my parenthood journey, I’m sort of “making it up as I go along”, sticking to my values, and counting on love & faith to carry me through.

And on those rare occasions where I have the gift of being a “party of 7” for the night… cherishing every minute of it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blessing of the Animals

In late September, the school announced that on October 4th all first graders and their pets would be invited to participate in a "Blessing of the Animals" in honor of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The flyer that went home included some guidelines and some *key* words:
"Bring your *friendly* and *well-behaved* pet to be blessed..."
"Every pet should be in a carrier or on a leash *and should be able to be controlled by an adult family member*"

In the ideal world, the first picture above is Sofia with her friendly, well-behaved, beloved dog "Bailey". In reality, that is a therapy dog that Sofia met at the library for a program called "Paws to Read" (or something equally adorable).

The second picture is the picture of our REAL pet. Angel. For those of you who have met Angel, you can easily understand why the "Blessing of the Animals" guidelines had me cracking up. "Friendly" - - ummmm... not really. Angel has a water bowl (purchased lovingly by my brother and sister) that says "Cat from Hell". And the idea that Angel could possibly ever be controlled by any adult is laughable. My husband comes close. Of all of us, he is definitely the least scared of her. (even writing that cracks me up.)

She is a 100% indoor cat that we've had since I adopted her 7 years ago at an "animal adoption fair" at work when she was about 10 weeks old. When I've taken her to the vet, they actually need to put her to sleep for the exam. Several vet techs have asked me, "You have kids? And is this cat loose in the house with them?"

But crazy as she is, we love her. A couple of weeks ago she had "escaped" when some repair work was being done at the house. And for about 18 hours, we thought she was gone forever. It was kinda sad! I even surprised myself when Chicago's song "Hard Habit to Break" kept popping into my head accompanied by a mental montage of all our fondest memories of Angel - hissing at my family members, pawing at the kids, making the twins cry...("don't know what you've got, until it's gone")

Anyway, I digress! Now going back to the Blessing of the Animals, thankfully, we had an "out". The flyer stated that "the child may alternatively bring in a picture of a pet they know." And so that's exactly what we did. And I know that our imaginary dog "Bailey" is feeling very blessed.

Friday, May 13, 2011

“How Can I help You” – A guide for husbands and older children

Being a working mom (even being a stay at home mom for that matter), maintaining a clean and smooth running household is a formidable burden and one which often falls primarily on the shoulders of Mom. From my personal experience and from years of informal, non-scientific data collecting from other mothers (aka venting sessions), I have written this article as a point of reference for husbands and older children everywhere who ask the question, “How Can I Help You?”

Guideline #1 – and this is the most important piece of advice I will share with you – please don’t ask mom “how can I help you?” Do you wanna know what mom is thinking when you ask this? Mom is thinking, “why don’t you open your eyes and look around this place and figure it out yourself!?” The truth is that to maintain a clean and smooth running household there are about a million things that need to be done at any given moment. And all it really takes for caring and interested family members to help is to just do any one of those million things instead of asking mom for direction.

Just in case this is still confusing, I have a put together a generic list that can probably apply to any household that includes things you can do at any given moment without asking the question, “how can I help you?”

1. See the bed that hasn’t been made? MAKE IT.

2. See the piles of folded, laundered clothes sitting on top of the bed; on the treadmill; in a laundry basket; on the dining table; etc.? PUT IT AWAY.

3. See the little plastic sleeves that previously held a straw and were attached to a juice box and are now strewn all over the house? PICK THEM UP AND THROW THEM AWAY.

4. See the clothing thrown on the floor? (Is it dirty? Is it clean? Was it clean but now it’s dirty because it was lying on top of dirty clothes?) PUT IT AWAY IF CLEAN or PUT IT IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM if dirty. (This may require you to perform the “smell test” which is a task that mom does not particularly enjoy.)

5. See the large pile of dirty clothes in the laundry room? SORT IT.

6. See the pile of dishes sitting in the sink? WASH THEM.

7. See the dishwasher full of clean dishes? PUT THEM AWAY.

8. See the light bulb in the garage; in the hallway; above the bathroom vanity that has been out for weeks (or months!)? CHANGE IT.

9. See the empty roll of toilet paper or paper towel still attached to the holder? THROW IT AWAY AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW ROLL.
Don’t have a light bulb? Out of toilet paper? Out of paper towel? GO TO THE GROCERY STORE. (Kids, if you don't have a driver's license, leave this to the Dads.)

10. See the pile of mail, catalogs, junk mail? SORT IT AND THROW AWAY WHAT’S UNNECESSARY.

11. See the shoes lying by the front door, by the back door, on the stairs, under the table, in the toy chest, etc.? PICK THEM UP AND PUT THEM IN THEIR DESIGNATED AREA. (Addendum: KEEP PAIRS TOGETHER. A mom would think this is a given, but I feel obliged to point out the obvious here for the dads and kids.)

12. See the empty carton of milk; empty box of soda; empty box of Capri sun; empty cereal box? THROW THEM AWAY.

13. See that wet towel on the bed? HANG IT UP.

14. See that toddler waddling around like he’s carrying a 2 lb. weight in his diaper? CHANGE HIM.

15. See the poop stuck to the side of the toilet bowl that was left by you after your last BM? GET A BRUSH AND CLEAN IT. (oh yeah… I went there.)

Note: This is not an all inclusive list, but I think it’s enough to get started. And enough that there is no reason to ever interrupt mom when she is going off on a wild tirade about how no one ever does anything around the house to ask the ever annoying and obnoxious question, “Well, then, how can I help you?” (another unacceptable variation is “Just tell me what you want me to do.”)\

In closing, I just want to send a message to the moms out there whose tireless efforts often go unnoticed and consequently unappreciated:
Keep at it. Sometimes you just have to scream and let all your frustrations out. But in the end know that those little monsters (including the husband) do actually love you and would be lost without you. You are doing God’s work (yes, even when doing the laundry smell test).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Video Post

At school they opened a contest to the students to create a video to promote reading. The rules of the contest were that the video needed to be created 100% by the students, no help from parents (including filming!) So Gabi got together with a couple of friends and create this masterpiece. What most impresses me about Gabi is that she is fearless. She has never filmed or edited a video and yet she got this done 100% on her own. Found the software to edit, figured out on her own how to use it, and did it. AND dit it well! I am so proud of this girl. She never fails to amaze me. I love you, Gabi.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One of the cutest videos EVER

I came across the cutest video while searching my files for pictures of Nicole, who happens to be "Super Star" in her twos class this week.
Nicole, our superstar

Anyway, I must have watched this video at least 30 times since finding it. This was the ride home from the hospital with Sofia (March 2006). Gabi was exactly 7 years old (she was born the same exact day as Sofia, March 20th, but 7 years apart.) Stevie was about to turn 5.

It's just the way they are looking at her and talking to her... so much love, caring, happiness and innocence. I love Steve's proud smile at the very end. I know you will enjoy this as much as I did:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reflection on 9/11

I just watched a video about 9/11 that a friend posted on Facebook. Wow. I will certainly never forget that day.

I had recently returned to work after the birth of our 2nd, our son, Stevie. Of course, immediately after the disaster, news started traveling fast around the office. Our AV department set up the TV in the cafeteria; many people left for the day - worried about family members in NY and probably a bit worried for their own welfare too. I don't remember the details of whether Steve & I left early that day or if our company let everyone leave early, but what I do remember so vividly are the feelings of sadness, fear, worry and gratitude I had that night.

That night we went to bed pretty early - tired and overwhelmed by sadness after watching so many hours of those awful images on TV. In Miami that night there was a terrible thunderstorm. The thunder sounded like bombs to me. I remember crying in bed, nursing my little baby boy lying next to me (4 months old), and thinking that for sure the world was coming to an end.

I remember thinking that the thunderstorm and rain were the anger and tears of God for what had happened that day. As I thought about the end of world, I remember being grateful that I had been blessed to experience marriage, the birth of a daughter and the birth of a son. And then my thoughts turned to those that had lost a spouse, a child, a parent in the events of that terrible day. I prayed that they would find peace and comfort - but I imagine that even today, 9 years later, the loss is as difficult as ever.

So today, I pray for them once again. I also pray for peace and for God's wisdom to guide our leaders, so that we never have to experience another 9/11.