One more day…

…to say “I love you” face to face.

…to hold your hand.

…to feel your arms around my shoulders.

…to put my head on your chest and cry.

…to sit in your lap.

…to ride while you drive.

…to fetch your coffee.

…to feed you fattening desserts.

…to listen to you read me news stories.

…to have you take care of something that is broken.

…to have you amuse the baby while I cook dinner.

…to follow your lead during family rosary.

…to let you grill dinner.

…to curl up with you at bedtime.

…to wake up in the night and feel your presence.

…to wake you up to hear the strange animal noises outside.

…to let you sleep late.

…to kiss you goodbye.

Woman vs. Wild

Me against the lawn with only a mower to protect me.

It was not a pretty sight. The back is swampy woods with 3 foot high vegetation or bare dirt dotted with dandelions or moss with spiky weeds or lush beds of clover. The front includes a steep hill; sandy, rocky soil with sparse grass and weeds; a huge bed of insidious English Ivy; a dozen trees to mow around; and deep channels of soil erosion.

I managed to avoid sunburn, and kept dehydration at bay with ice cold lemonade breaks (the drinking of fluid from elephant dung was, fortunately, unnecessary). I did get one nasty blister on my hand from the mower before it occurred to me to put on work gloves, and my right shoulder is very sore this morning.

It took all day, but I now have 3/4 acre covered with trimmed “grass.”I think I’ll have my husband teach me how to operate the riding mower before he goes.

Keeping busy

Not much posting going on. Trying to “enjoy” Bill’s last week. Trying to keep busy so I don’t have time to think. Blogging also requires thinking. Thinking generally includes crying. Better not to think, so better not to blog.

Perhaps you understand.

Went to see Up yesterday. Loved it. Go see it. Do not think that because it is animated your children, and hence you, are too old for it (yes, Barbara, that is directed specifically at you). I almost didn’t go to avoid taking the baby. She was good as gold, and I am so happy I could share that hour an a half with my husband.

Movies, even matinees, for large families, are way too expensive. $7.50 for kids (all the time). $8.50 for adults. Popcorn and soda for 8? Oh my goodness. I need to take out a second mortgage.

The theater was mostly empty, which was good. Real good. The kids were fine, as I expected. Had we been in a crowded theater, other people might have assumed that my brood was responsible somewhat for the din that is likely when you fill a room with children. I normally wouldn’t mind that, but yesterday, as we left, a young and very pregnant woman (with her husband) told me how great my kids were. She looked like she was having her first baby, and I’m happy that we had an opportunity to show them both that large families are not insufferably chaotic.

Today, a visit to the lawyers to update fun things like wills and powers of attorney. Then we’ll go to DC for a “London Bus” tour. Each of the kids picked out a fun activity. Katie picked the movies. Peter wants to do the bus with the open top. Fortunately, we can get discounted tickets on post.

Why do they call them Army “Brats”? Because mom and dad try to compensate for lost time together by spending ridiculous amounts of money.

Home again home again jiggity jig

I enjoy traveling, but I really enjoy coming home to my own bed and my own pillows.

Took the kids on The Loch Ness Monster and my first thought was, “Oh boy, I’m going to toss my breakfast,” and my immediate second thought was, “I am getting so old.” Later, I dragged Fritz on Alpengeist (he’s the only one of my kids tall enough to ride), and when it was over, so was he. For the rest of our day, he contented himself in taking Mary on the kiddie rides.

We’re at a point now where half the kids can ride most of the rides. They are also old enough to go on certain rides together, but without adult supervision – namely the ones involving centrifugal force. I stopped enjoying those a decade ago.

Side note: an overcast Tuesday in early June is the perfect time to go to Busch Gardens. The lines were short and the streets uncrowded. And there was no brutal sun beating down on us all day long.

We only had a few hours yesterday to go to Colonial Williamsburg. An adult ticket costs over $36! You can walk around for free, but there isn’t much you can go inside to see. Since we had so little time, we walked around for free. I considered it a scouting mission. Definitely worth returning to, but I think we’ll save it for the annual “Homeschool days” where all tickets are $5.

Besides Williamsburg, we went to Jamestown and Yorktown. On the way home, it happened to be Katie’s turn on the DVD, and she had happened to select Felicity – set in Colonial Williamsburg during the Revolution. “Wow, great karma,” I told Bill. He reminded me that in the West we call that “Providence.” Either way, it was a perfect cap to an educational and fun trip. Pictures and more details when I get to it.

The start of summer vacation

Last Sunday was the kids’ piano recital.

Painful. Mercifully, most of the children had only one piece less than one minute long. And now piano is over for the summer.
Yesterday was the girls’ ballet recital.
Torturous. They didn’t have the wee ones performing, but the five year olds were bad enough. To make things worse, Jenny’s class was combined with another class. Each group was doing their own thing, but the teacher, in the wings, was trying to show both groups what to do at the same time, and this only made everybody totally confused.
I laughed so hard I cried.
But aren’t they lovely? Bill bought them each a small bouquet of flowers. It was the best gift ever from Daddy. He will miss their birthdays this summer, and I told him to send them flowers. In fact, he should just give them flowers for their birthdays from now on. It was that big a deal to them. He thinks this is a good plan, since future boyfriends will have a very tough time competing.

Ballet is over!

The last baseball game was Saturday!

The last Scout event was Saturday. Billy is now a Webelo. In two years, he will move into Boy Scouts just as Peter becomes a Tiger Scout. I think we’ll be in Cub Scouts f o r e v e r. But at least it’s done for the summer.

Today we head down to Williamsburg for “vacation” (aka: Reitemeyer Family Team Building). It’s only a few days. It will be good to get away, and I’m glad we made the reservation weeks ago. Had we not, we would be very tempted to blow it off. There is so much to do in these few weeks. I’m looking forward to a few roller coasters taking my mind off the impending doom.

One day at a time

Friday: Mom’s day off for the IHM Conference. Hooray!

This week has been baseball, baseball and will-we-or-won’t-we-baseball due to the weather. Game tonight. Maybe a game tomorrow. Then, done. I love baseball, until the last week, and then I hate baseball. I will love baseball again next week when my boys aren’t playing it.

I have also been sorting books and putting together my shopping list for the conference. If you’re friends with me on Goodreads, you may have noticed sudden activity as I have finally decided to inventory my books – well, the school books. We probably have 400 or 500 children’s books that are not for school. Only perhaps 50 would be worth inventorying, if I thought they could last longer than a few years (I have owned at least four different copies of Goodnight, Moon because the book gets read and chewed and abused…out of love, I’m sure).

So, it’s been a busy week. And over it all is this black cloud of impending deployment. Bill and I went out to dinner last night and discussed the various options of getting him where he needed to be and when, which involved him leaving one or two days earlier than planned. After a few minutes, there was a pause and we both agreed we needed to change the subject.

What’s funny is that I have been reading The Temperament God Gave You (thanks, Becky), which says that a choleric (that’s me) does not like to express his deepest, innermost feelings. Spot on. Most of the time, I am pretty even-keeled and my deepest, innermost feelings are relatively benign. Right now, my deepest, innermost feelings are not benign, and it’s a definite struggle to repress them. Repression is good, and don’t let any psychologist tell you otherwise. I mean, what is there to say? The love of my life, my rock, my best friend, my sounding board, my sanity, is leaving me. It’s not hard to imagine how I feel, so why express it?

But today is the IHM Conference, and I am focusing on the positive. Today will be a good day.

End of the school year survey

What is your favorite subject and why?

Fritz: History because all you have to do is read.

Jenny: Math sticker book

Katie: Art – you get to make stuff.

Billy: History because you get to read all these great stories about the people who started our country.

Fritz: Oh, that too.

What is your least favorite subject and why?

Jenny: I don’t know.

Katie: Math – it’s hard.

Billy: Math – it’s hard.

Fritz: Math – it’s hard.

What is Mom’s favorite subject?

Peter: Running on the treadmill.

Jenny: I don’t know.

Katie: Math.

Billy: Math.

Fritz: History.

Mom: Poetry (but I love history and math, too).

What is Mom’s least favorite subject?

Jenny: disobedient children.

Katie: Religion.

Billy: I don’t know.

Fritz: None of them.

Mom: Latin – it’s hard.


You know you are under stress when you and your husband get snippy when discussing plans for picking him up from the airport after the deployment for which he has not even yet departed.

When he comes home he will report to the station which cleared him for deployment. From there, he will fly home. He just learned yesterday that his time at that station could be nine hours…or nine days. A military family’s motto is Semper Gumbi!

When he called last night, instead of saying that, he said something about calling me from the airport to tell me he’s ready to be picked up. Or maybe he said he’d call me and tell me that he was getting on a plane and would arrive in a few hours. But all I really heard was “airport” and “home” and “zero warning” (my personal translation).

Now, first of all, I am still upset about his last surprise return. I do not ever want a repeat of that. Not funny. Plus, I imagine him returning to a less than clean home and my hair is in curlers and I’ve got avocado on my face and I’m watching a chick flick that is making me cry so my eyes are puffy and red and my head hurts.

Secondly, I have my own vision of what his return will be like. I am already planning it, even though he hasn’t left yet. It’s a comforting daydream. It involves bathed children dressed in nice clothes. It has me looking gorgeous with hair I actually blowed dry and I have make up on and I’m wearing that attractive black suit that has hung unneeded in the back of my closet all these months. It has a nice meal waiting for us (at home or a restaurant, I haven’t worked out those details yet). No curlers or avocado or chick flicks in sight. The house is clean.

But instead of saying all that, I said something about “what if we have plans” and “what if I’m not home when you call” and stuff like that.

And he hears: “Previously arranged playdates and other appointments are more important than you.”

Which is not at all what I meant. And he knows it.

After a few deep breaths, we started over. He explained the uncertainty of the length of his redeployment, and I assured him of his preeminence in my life and my understanding of the flexibility that was required of us.


We will get through this. But first we have to get through this month, which will be harder than the deployment itself, I think.

Faking It

I had to go to the public school yesterday. Another time I’ll blog about the details of why and the “horrors” of the whole experience, but for now, I just want to comfort every parent who has ever spotted a “perfect” family and felt inferior: maybe it’s all a farce.

Knowing that I had to make this little trip with all six kids in tow, I made sure that everybody was dressed decently: not Sunday best, but nothing was dirty, stained, ripped or mismatched (and that is quite a feat for an early Wednesday morning).

I brushed the girls’ hair (a really big deal).

I had my three oldest get the books they were reading for history. I had my three youngest select picture books of choice. Naturally, one child had to pick a coloring book and then wanted to lug the big bucket of pens, pencils, and crayons along. I told her to select 5 crayons; she picked 5 colored pencils. Whatever.

I sat the girls down and talked to them, and then a bit later called the boys to attention (they love drill and ceremony and know I’m serious when I call them to attention and deliver “marching orders”). I explained that public schools do not tolerate barbarians. I laid out my expectations in the sternest terms: speak only when spoken to, no yelling, no running, no arguing (with each other or me).

I told them they were to sit quietly and read their books the entire time we were there. This generated arguing on the part of one child (unnamed) who felt that this was tyrannical. (S)he felt that reading for a bit and then doing some other activity should suffice and that (s)he was perfectly capable of good behavior without a specific task to keep her/him occupied. This is the exact reason I explained my expectations clearly, in advance. Said child was sternly reminded of her/his call to obedience and told that this was absolutely not a situation where any flexibility regarding the terms of behavior would be granted.

And then we went, and they sat, and they read, and they spoke when spoken to and not otherwise, and they were, in all ways, perfect. Model children. Beautiful.

Even the baby was perfect: she kept walking out the office to stand in the hall and had to be brought back in; she had a temper tantrum in the conference room because she was bored and upset that she had to stay with me and not her siblings; and she emptied my purse and got really, and loudly, mad when I took all the coins away from her. This is perfect because she behaved just exactly right for her age which proved that my children were normal and not robots or extraordinarily passive-submissive types.

I was beyond proud of my kids.

And then, immediately upon leaving the building, they started fussing with each other, jostling over who would get in the car first, whining about being hungry and thirsty, complaining about my proposed snack upon our return home, arguing over the need to do schoolwork after snack, and crying because somebody in the back row kicked the seat in their row and it “hurt.”

Grace period: over.

So, the next time you see immaculately dressed children sitting perfectly still and behaving in such an exemplary manner that you are tempted to judge yourself an inadequate parent, consider the possibility that it is all a show. And although I can’t speak for the Smiths or the Joneses, I will say that if the last name is Reitemeyer, we’re just faking it.