Monday, February 23, 2009

Pennies From Heaven

Our family spent the weekend in Big Bear. We had a beautiful cabin to enjoy, lots of snow to play in and snowboarding/skiing fun for Jay and the older kids. It was really a fantastic weekend for our family in every regard.

We went to mass on Sunday at St. Joseph's, the parish serving Big Bear Lake. We had never been there before and found the church to be very welcoming to visitors (they must be really used to them). In fact, as you will soon learn, I have never felt quite so welcome in a church other than my own!

After experiencing the usual struggles one endures having seven children in church, an older man approached us just as mass ended. He asked me if all these "angels" (his word!) were mine. I replied that they were, all seven of them. His eyes filled with tears, he grabbed my hand and stuffed something into it and said, "Do me a favor and buy them all an ice cream cone. I never had seven, but I had five under five once and seeing you brings it all back. God bless you for what you are doing."

I correctly assumed the "something" he had stuffed in my hand was money, and while normally it would be my inclination to say I couldn't possibly accept his gift but thank you very much, the look on his face let me know that I should just graciously accept it, so I did. Very obviously, the giving of this gift gave him enormous pleasure.

As fast as he appeared, he disappeared, and when he was gone I looked at what he had given us. To my utter amazement, it was a $50 bill. I was absolutely speechless, and this time it was my own eyes that filled with tears.

You know how on TV there are shows about God walking on earth looking like an ordinary person, subtly changing the lives of people he encounters? I felt like that. Like God had touched me very directly through this man. Like He was affirming our choice to raise a large family, and our efforts (more intense lately due to general economic conditions) to save more and spend less.

It will be a very long time before I forget this encounter--it impacted me far more than the actual cash value of $50. I hope to pay this forward to a young family some day. I already know I will enjoy the giving even more than the receiving, as did our benefactor.

See? I've been trying to tell you: it pays to go to church!

Monday, February 16, 2009

We're Buying A New Vacation Home

Unfortunately, it's not for us. It's for our orthodontist, who began treatment today on our second of many children with teeth alignment issues. We'll be paying Dr. Buckley for many, many years and can only hope he chooses something with a nice ocean view as a tribute to the family that helped him obtain it!

Seriously, Dr. Buckley is a very nice man, super generous to the community, the first to sponsor his patients' sports teams and various endeavors, active in his parish and in the Knights of Columbus with Jay, so if we have to give it to someone, I'm glad it's him. And, our insurance pays nearly half so it isn't as bad as it could be. But my kids had better take care of those teeth--every time they smile I see dollar signs!

Lucky Joey has the best teeth in the family (no cavities, ever, and no orthodontic treatment required as of yet--maybe something minor later, but so far so good). Lindsey is done with phase one and is looking lovely. Sam begins next week with the medieval stretching torture device that will make his jaw big enough to accomodate his giant man-teeth. Julia hasn't even lost a tooth yet and she can take her time...we are on a one child at a time treatment plan here.

Well, here we go again. Here's to wires, bands, brackets and children who won't truly appreciate our sactifice for many years to come. Yippee!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thumbody's Grateful

This is Lindsey's thumb about 30 minutes after it was jammed by a softball tonight at her team practice.

My cell phone camera did not do this injury justice. By the time she saw the doctor (another 30 minutes after this shot) it was nearly completely black and totally swollen out of shape.

My poor girl. She was screaming and wailing so loudly that everyone in the urgent care was quite unsettled. It is awful to see your child in so much pain.

Now, several hours after the fact, she is sleeping peacefully and is expected to be playing softball again next week. Diagnosis: a minor crack near the top of the bone (not at the joint, so it is not a big deal) and a nail that is sure to be lost. Once they relieved the pressure from under her nail, she felt better right away and should heal quickly.

In the aftermath of this, I am left feeling nothing but grateful for all this experience has reminded me that we have.

How lucky are we that there is an urgent care--with an on-site X-Ray--only a mile or so from the softball field, and that I was able to get Lindsey there within minutes of her injury? How happy am I that I was nearby when it happened, as I am so often not at the field with my kids during their practices? (I have kids practicing at 3 different fields all at the same time on Wednesdays...)

Fortunate was Lindsey that this was an injury to her thumb and not her skull or torso. Lucky was I that my mom was already with two of my kids and could run right over to watch the others for me.

What I am most thankful for, however, is our fabulous health insurance. Lindsey received medication, an X-Ray, a Lydocaine shot, a triple-puncture procedure to her nail, a pressure bandage and antibiotics, and it cost me $17. I thought a lot tonight about all the people without good health coverage or who don't have access to good health care facilities. We are so very fortunate to have this benefit and I will never, ever take it for granted. Tonight when my daughter was sobbing, "Make it stop!" I was able to do so within an hour and at barely any cost. There are many parents who can't do this for their children and I am so very sorry about this.

And Lindsey? She is grateful that she didn't have to do her homework tonight and that she got a milkshake on our way home.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Happy Is The Husband

Happy is the husband who found himself in NYC this week on business.

Happy because his hotel was right next to the Carnegie Deli. So happy that he paused to email me this photo of his lunch before he attacked it.

Now that's love.