Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Four Months Old Already

Plus almost a week! Time flies...

Anyway, Isabella is now old enough to enjoy what one of my friends called "baby Vegas", her very own station of fun to be enjoyed while mom is preparing dinner, rotating laundry, or whatever needs to be done without a baby in arms.

I couldn't get a great shot of her because she was so busy bouncing up and down and reaching for the toys, but at least you can see that her signature tongue is still frequently on display.

Jay will be assembling her crib this week. She has become such a nighttime scooter that she is becoming a hazard in our bed. She lodges herself in the space between the mattress and the headboard and tunnels through barrier pillows as well. It's about time the all night snack bar closes for her as well. We will all sleep better, I'm sure. But I still am always sad when this milestone arrives, because I love her snuggled next to me.

Happy 1/3 birthday, my growing girl!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Shouldn't Have Answered the Door Today

There is a boy who lives across the street from us who loves to come over and play. He is a nice enough kid, about 6 years old, who is an only child of dual working parents. He is alone a lot and likes the contrasting liveliness of our house. I welcome him over to play with the kids because I think it is good for him, and because my kids enjoy the addition of just about anyone to their mix.

Unfortunately, however, he is one of those kids you have to watch all the time because he seems to be lacking in common sense and the ability to follow directions. Most of the time my life gets easier when another child comes to play because it engages and occupies my children. But when this kid comes over it is work for me. Today was no exception.

It started with the dog. Our neighbor boy is a small child and claims to be afraid of the 200 pound puppy (now, who could believe THAT?!). So, I gave him very specific instructions about how to avoid engaging our playful giant. "Ignore him, don't run by him, pretend he's not there and he'll leave you alone." Simple enough, and quite effective when employed. So what does he do? Finds a squirt gun and walks straight up to the dog and starts shooting him in the mouth. Then he acts indignant when the dog runs after him barking. The boy was kindly corrected, took about a 10 minute break from this activity and then began anew. The second correction was not as kind and seemed to sink in.

Next came an aquatic adventure. The safety cover was off the pool because three of my kids were actively swimming when our friend arrived and continued to do so throughout his visit. Now, this boy cannot swim, so we've had many, many conversations with him about how it is NOT OK to come in our gate, walk by the pool, etc., etc. Luckily, I never considered for one second that any of this actually penetrated his consciousness and I watched him very carefully during this visit, even more carefully than usual because the pool was open. So, when I saw him approaching the deep end of the pool pushing a bicycle, I was already on my feet and headed his way when he inevitably plunged in, bike and all.

I am a trained lifeguard and water safety instructor (I even rescued a six year old boy back when it was my summer job), so I was never actually scared. It was not difficult to pull this spluttering, sinking, completely panicked child out of the water. No, I was not afraid. Just annoyed. REALLY ANNOYED. Because I had to jump in the deep end, fully clothed and rescue this kid because he is clueless.

The poor kid was really shaken up, although I still cannot understand why he was surprised that he sunk when he knows he can't swim and he, to my eye, almost dared himself to fall in. I have never seen eyes so wide. He kept saying, "I am SO sorry, I am SO sorry." I tried to be kind, and I think I marginally succeeded, but even as I was swimming him to the side of the pool I was already reading him the riot act. I might have waited until he was dry, but I could not. I didn't even think to give the poor kid a towel (it's OK, it was 98 degrees outside) much less any sympathy. I marched him, both of us dripping, right across the street and delivered him to his mom who seemed relatively unconcerned about the incident, simply telling her son that if he didn't listen better he couldn't come play at my house anymore. To top it off, she looked at me and said, "Oh, it looks like you went swimming too." That was too much for me. I emphatically said, "Yes, I HAD TO JUMP IN AND SAVE YOUR SON BECAUSE HE FELL IN MY POOL AND HE CANNOT SWIM!" She answered this by letting me know that he was taking lessons. I can only give her the benefit of the doubt and say she must have had trouble processing exactly what happened. Either that or we simply have drastically different parenting styles.

Anyway, today I had a healthy reminder of what a liability both a backyard pool and a large dog can be. No matter how clueless a child or indifferent his parent may be, if something were to happen to this child at my home, it would be my fault. The very thought makes me want to fill in the pool and sedate the dog. Or never, ever, have anyone over. Ever. But we can't live life like this, can we? We can only take prudent precautions and pray, pray, pray. If we start engaging in "what ifs", we would cease to live at all.

But perhaps, just to be safe, this particular child should not be allowed in my yard in the future. Let's just hope he can't find anything life-threatening upstairs in the play room. Wait a minute...are the screens barred?!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Brownie Points

If you're a girl in a huge family who just wants to spend a little alone time with her parents, I recommend that you join a Brownie troop. Through the various events sponsored by an active council, you can be just like an only child...for a few wonderful hours.

Last Saturday Jay and Lindsey went to a Father-Daughter dance. Needless to say, this mom got a bit emotional seeing the two of them go off together, all gussied up and delighted to be in each other's company. I curled Lindsey's hair (for the first time!) and she looked like a true princess in her gown with her ringlets. There were corsages and boutonnieres, lots of fun (Macarena, anyone? Electric Slide?!) and, of course, Cold Stone Creamery afterwards.

Before they went, Lindsey asked me what they would be doing at the dance since it is a well-known fact in our family that daddy doesn't dance. Ever. I assured her that Jay would muster up some dancing because he loves her so very much. She didn't miss a beat when asking why, then, didn't he allow dancing of any kind at our wedding. Didn't he love me too, she wondered? Hmm. Good question, Lindsey. I'll have to think hard about an answer to that one. Still thinking...

A few weeks before, Lindsey and I (and Isabella, of course) went to Brownie Mother-Daughter Bowling. We had a really great time. The only sad part was that, even with the gutter rails up, I STILL couldn't break 100. It's an embarrassment, really. But it didn't mar our day at all.

While we're on the topic of Lindsey, I should report that she had the pleasure of seeing the orthodontist today.

As you can see, her permanent teeth are coming in crooked and, as I found out, orthodontic treatment begins much earlier now than it did when I had my braces (at 14-16 years old). Apparently, her jaw is too small for the teeth that are coming in. At one time this was corrected by extracting teeth to make more room, but now her mouth will actually be spread to be made big enough to accommodate all her teeth. This process began today with molds and spacers and will continue with a spreading appliance placed in about two weeks. In about three months she will get braces, which she will wear for approximately 15 months and then we will wait and see whether she needs further treatment after the rest of her permanent teeth come in.

I was delighted to learn that we have orthodontic benefits provided so thoughtfully by Jay's employer. They cover half of this first phase and I am tickled pink. I have decided that he is not allowed to leave his employer until all of our children have been evaluated for orthodontia. Not that he wants to leave this job that he loves, thankfully! But I'm just being practical. Six kids, you know. That's a lot of teeth.

So, to summarize the message of this post: join a Brownie troop and find a job that offers good dental insurance. My advice, for what it's worth.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


What do you do if you're outside and and you decide you want a drink?

If you have opposable thumbs, you simply turn on the hose bib and help yourself to some water.

If, however, you happen to be a 200lb puppy, you just rip the entire hose bib out of the wall and enjoy the gushing, unstoppable fountain of water it produces.

Never mind that there was an ENTIRE bucket of water right next to the hose from which you could drink...because the resident toddler threw some dirt in there and, even though you might eat some pretty disgusting things, you most definitely draw the line at cloudy water.

Thumbs. Who needs 'em?

Saturday, June 09, 2007


It is very quiet in my house.

This is quite unusual. Normally, if I want quiet, I have to leave. But this time, the noise left me! Or most of it, anyway.

Tonight Jay, Joey, Lindsey, Sam and Julia are camping out on the field of the Lancaster Jethawks stadium. (The Jethawks are a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.) It is Girl Scout Night, so many local troops are camping there, about 200 people in all. Lindsey was happy to share her Scouting event with the whole family...unlike another, nameless family member who wants it to just be dad and him when it is Boy Scout night. We don't call him "daddy hog" for nothing!

Anyway, we all went to the game, and then I brought Tony and Isabella home. Even though camping on an outfield of a sports stadium is WAY preferable to sleeping in dirt as far as I'm concerned, I was still not willing to spend the night in one tent-room with a toddler and an infant. Call me selfish if you want...

I just talked to Jay and heard that they are having a great time. They were eating s'mores and getting ready to watch a movie on the stadium's jumbo-tron. I am very glad he is willing to do these sorts of things with the kids, because if it were up to me they would likely have been deprived of this wholesome event. Hauling tents, sleeping bags and coolers is just not up my alley. But I'm really glad they are enjoying it together.

Meanwhile, having just two little ones at home with me this evening is a relative piece of cake. It is hard to believe that at one time I would have been completely overwhelmed with a toddler and infant alone (I was, of course, when Joey and Lindsey were little). I can see from this how I have grown as a mom, that with experience all things become easier. I'm glad I have so many kids so I can enjoy the fruits of my hard-earned experience!

Well, my NICE, SOFT, CLEAN bed is beckoning. I will be appreciating it--and Jay--all the more tonight, knowing that Jay is on the ground for love of the children.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tagged for "8 Random Facts" Meme

I have been tagged by Nutmeg to complete the "8 Random Facts" Meme.

“For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”

1. I can't stand to have dirt on my hands or feet, nor can I stand it when they are excessively dry. I am constantly washing and applying lotion to both. For this reason, I won't wear sandals anytime I might be walking in dirt, and I almost always wear socks or slippers, even when it's really hot. This persistent quirk of mine virtually eliminates camping from my list of "fun things to do with the family" and has kept me from gardening (until recently, when I discovered the joy of garden gloves).

2. I can resist many things, but I nearly always succumb to warm chocolate chip cookies (without nuts).

3. Planning for, cooking, and cleaning up after dinner are less effort for me combined than actually plating the food and getting it to the table. I don't know why this is.

4. No matter what I'm doing, I always feel like I should be doing something else. This is somewhat unsettling.

5. I like (and watch) some morally void television: Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, to be specific. I love these shows. Somewhere deep down my conscience is telling me that I should probably watch things more consistent with my personal values, but for now I am adopting Scarlett O'Hara's motto: "I'll think about that tomorrow." Because the truth is, I am not ready to give these up. And who says I'm getting no moral direction? After all, I've most certainly learned from Gabrielle Solis to never, ever sleep with my gardener (if I had one, of course!).

6. I am currently engaged in a "100 day challenge", sponsored by myself, to stick to the Weight Watchers program. I am competitive by nature and find it easier to work toward a challenge than to simply watch what I eat. For each of 100 consecutive days that I stick to the Weight Watchers point system, I will allow myself $5 toward the purchase of living room furniture (our living room has been empty ever since we moved in, more than a year ago, and only I care about filling it so it has never bubbled to the top of our priority list). I am currently on Day 10 (10% done already!) and will end September 6th. I hope to lose 20 lbs (10 from Isabella and 10 from Tony), but my final weight is less important to me than simply sticking to the plan for 100 days. Wish me luck!

7. I am not a dog person. I used to be, and I wish I were still, but alas I am not. This quality left me right about the time I had children. At some point, dogs became messy and inconvenient rather than cute and companionable. I mourn this change in my character, all the more actively because of the very messy and inconvenient presence of our soon to be 200+ pound Mastiff puppy. But, as I heard Dr. Laura advise someone just today: keeping a harmonious home, where the people matter more than the mess, is the "right thing to do". That ridiculous animal makes my husband really, really happy, and he matters more than the mess and inconvenience.

8. Speaking of my husband, I would rather spend time with him than do anything else on earth. Period. It doesn't have to be alone time (although I love that rare treat too!)--I am delighted to share him with the kids, extended family and friends, as long as he is here. I am only truly settled when we are in the same place.

How's that for random? I don't know 8 people to tag since most of the blogs I read have already done this one. So, I tag Andrea and all you non-bloggers who read this (just complete it in my comment section).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mottos For The Home Stretch

Summer is on its way, and no one is more excited than me.

The last few weeks of school are so stressful and busy that I actually need two full months to brace myself for the next school year!

"One day at a time" is my motto right now, because every day has its tasks: bring bagged lunches for the Kindergartners to donate to St. Vincent de Paul, remember to cut the 8th grade scholarship checks in time for their graduation breakfast (I'm the treasurer), don't forget to send in a special snack so the class can celebrate Sam's summer birthday before school lets out, etc., etc., etc. Obviously, these are all worthwhile items, but when there are three or more of these types of things for every single day between now and June 15th, it gets to be too much for this mom. And, don't forget, I'm trying to cram in the rest of Joey's lessons so he will be done at the same time as the other kids. Whew!

Usually, homeschoolers have the benefit of not having to jump through all the physical school-related hoops to balance all the time that giving the actual lessons takes. I, however, have all of those hoops (for two different schools) in addition to the homeschooling time because I'm the dummy that mixes the two concepts! But, still, I wouldn't change it. "What every child needs" is another motto of mine, and we are living that one.

At any rate, June 15th can't come fast enough for me. "I think I can, I think I can..."

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Our family spent a totally delightful afternoon at a Knights of Columbus BBQ today. It was specifically designed for the new Knights to get better involved with the organization, so there were lots of younger men with children there in addition to the old guard. There were sack races, water balloon fights, organized sports, horseshoes, a jumper, cotton candy, etc., etc. so needless to say the kids--and the adults--had a great time.

For those of you who don't know much about the Knights of Columbus, it is a Catholic, fraternal organization. It makes money through the sale of insurance (and, at least in our area, an active bingo program), and then generously delivers this money back to the community. Our Knights support the local Catholic schools, all sorts of youth ministries, the pregnancy resource center, the list goes on and on.

Jay has really found a home with the Knights. To him, it is the perfect marriage of prayer and beer. To me, it is a "who's who" in our community, a gathering of all the people who share our family's values. These are the people I want to invest time with, the people whose children I want my children to know. And they're all conveniently together in one banquet hall, event after event!

It was surprising to me, then, to hear that some people don't care too much for the Knights as an organization. The comment was made, by someone who was not from our area, that the Knights are Catholic in name only, that they are really just a social club. Here in Lancaster, that could not be farther from the truth. These are the men you see at daily mass. These men, especially the older ones, are doing everything they can to support and sustain young families. This organization, through their generous donations, helped to save more than 200 babies last year alone by keeping the pregnancy resource center open. These men support our priests. In fact, all three of our priests are Knights. Until I heard this comment, I had assumed that all Knights of Columbus councils are just like ours, but apparently they are not.

The same can be said of the Cub Scouts. I was talking to someone recently who was telling me what a nightmare participation in the Scouts had been for her son. Our experience with our den has been nothing short of wonderful over the past two years. The parents are involved, the kids get along well together, the pack is active. I did not know that this was not universal.

Before these recent conversations, I hadn't really considered how different the same organization can be in various places. We are so used to chains, like McDonald's, where no matter where you go the offering is completely predictable. But this is not true of social and philanthropic organizations, apparently. What matters is the people making them happen wherever you are.

But, as Jay rightly pointed out to me tonight, in addition to mattering where you are, it also matters who you are. People join these types of organizations for different reasons, and a lot of a person's experience depends on the expectations going in, and how much of oneself one is willing to bring to the table. Jay and I, for example, tend to be "joiners". We jump in and volunteer for lots of things, and, because of this, we get to know other members fairly quickly and feel comfortable in how things are done. Someone who prefers to get involved by sticking a toe at a time in the water might find it to be tepid and unfriendly.

Regardless of how or why, I believe that we have found some lovely (and, apparently, all-too-rare) microcosms in our life. We live in a community that may be physically dry and barren, but it is quite lush and fertile in producing people of character. We are fortunate to be among them.