No future in basketball or office administration

“Mom, where are my brown shorts?” asked Jenny.

“Brown shorts?” I parroted back.

She looked pointedly at the laundry hamper from which I was loading the washing machine.

“I wore them yesterday,” she said.

“Well, this is your hamper,” I replied, digging around, “and here is your matching shirt, but I don’t see your brown shorts.”

“Oh, that’s right.  I misfiled them.”

Misfiled them?”  I parroted again. *(see note)

“Yeah, I threw them at the basket and missed.  They must be on the floor upstairs.”

* Note: this parroting technique is taught at communication seminars and in marriage counseling classes.  By reflecting a person’s words one is able to confirm that the correct message is being heard without adding judgement or criticism.  This enables the speaker to clarify his or her message without getting defensive.  Do not confuse the skillful use of this method with the symptoms of DMS/DSS (Distracted Mother/Spouse Syndrome) wherein the person afflicted merely repeats words without true comprehension.

Jenny’s Special Day

Jenny made her First Holy Communion on Friday morning.  God is good.  Our pastor does not normally permit families to present a child for sacraments without going through the CCD program.  His consent is the result of much fervent praying.  And perhaps gentle diplomacy.

It was a hot, sunny Georgia morning.  But the Mass was beautiful, and so was Jenny.

Jenny and Father Joe

Happy parents

My parents

Aunt Barb

The cousins (missing one…wish you were here T)

Bill’s parents

Aunt Beth

Aunt Margaret

Uncle Glenn
Parents and Godparents and unhappy 3 year old.

 Jenny’s Uncle Bill, her Godfather, is in Iraq.  He was missed.  I left a blank spot in this photo to show where he should be.

Jenny’s Baptism

Uncle Bill was attending school in California when Jenny was baptized, so he missed that one too.  My dad was the proxy.  Yes, that’s my sister.  She’s come a long way, baby.  It’s ok that Uncle Bill missed the baptism since her dad missed it, too.  He was deployed to Kosovo.  Hell Year.

Aunts and Uncles (missing 4…we were sad)

not sure what’s going on here

Hot, tired, impatient family

Time to go home and NAP

From my SIL’s camera:

Mary’s garden

parents-Godparents: “hurry up, the 3 yo is whining” photo

Arranging marriages

The girls were moaning because their friends had gone to their grandparents’ house.  I explained that they had gone to do yard work and other helpful things.  “When I’m an old woman, won’t you come to my house and do my yard work?” I asked.  “Won’t you drag your children and make them help?”

Katie said she would, but she said she would live next door to help all the time.  I suggested that perhaps her husband would not be interested in living next door to his mother-in-law.

“Then I won’t have a husband,” she declared.

“You’d best not have any children either,” I reminded her.

So she thought perhaps all would be well if her husband’s parents lived on the other side.

“That would be a cozy neighborhood,” I said.  “Can I pick your husband based on who I’d like as a neighbor?  How about the M** boys?”

“Oh,” she practically gushed, “Thomas and Anthony are nice boys!  They would make good husbands.  They won’t beat us.”

Such high standards.  I shall remind her in 20 years when her husband is working 2 jobs so she can stay home with their growing family, and she complains that he never buys her flowers or writes romantic poetry, that all she cared about when she was 9 was that he wouldn’t beat her.

“We don’t get to pick our husbands,” said Jenny.

“Yes, we do!” insisted Katie.

“No,” Jenny said firmly, “They have to propose.”

True, that it is something you have to work around.  And Thomas and Anthony’s mother has declared her boys all future priests (although her daughters are available for marriage, a point which I have mentioned is grossly unfair to those of us with girls).  Perhaps though, if I assemble a suitable dowry, they can be persuaded…

Random Procrastination from my Chores

Given the long list of things I have to do to prepare for an impending vacation (laundry, putting away Christmas decorations, calling the kennel), it was with amusement that I discovered myself vacuuming the garage.  I’m sure there are many who will think that vacuuming the garage ever is sheer lunacy, but for every one of you, there is someone else nodding her head in agreement.

And for every one of those, there is someone else saying, “What’s the big deal?  I vacuum the garage weekly.”


Another really important task that absolutely had to get done before vacation was dropping off the various bags of items I’ve been assembling to give to Goodwill.  As I furtively loaded the car, I impulsively grabbed the exersaucer and loaded it up too.  I’m not sure if this means I’m (a) admitting I am done having children, (b) thumbing my nose at Murphy and his laws, or (c) sick and tired of the bulky thing taking up space in my garage.  I’m leaning toward the last one.


When I stopped at the recycling center, I learned that they no longer took glass.  I rarely have aluminum cans, but always have some glass to recycle.  When I bemoaned this fact to a long-time resident, her response was, “What recycling center?”  I will never again feel guilty about tossing a cereal box in the trash bin.


I don’t get 9 year old girls.  They are foreign creatures, and I deny ever being one.  Case in point:

“Katie, would you please play Play-Doh with Mary instead of doing your school work?”

Moan, whine and wail: “But then I have to clean it up!  Why do I always have to clean it up?  I don’t want to play Play-Doh with Mary!”

“OK, then.  Fritz, would you please play Play-Doh with Mary instead of doing your school work?”

“Oh, sure!”  For a 12 year old boy, the choice between Play-Doh and schoolwork is obvious.
Moan, whine and wail: “But I want to play Play-Doh with Mary!  How come I never get to play Play-Doh with Mary?!”
Sorry…I thought “I don’t want to” meant “I don’t want to.” 
My husband has explained to me that this behavior is typical of all females of every age.  When you see him, ask him if he gets a good night’s rest on the couch.
The 3 year old girl is doing her best to exhaust me.  Frequently she interrupts my day to announce, “I have to go potty.”
“Then, GO,” I will say.
She will start to leave, but then will tum back and say, “You’re not coming, Mommy!”  And she’ll wait for me to get up and come.  If I’m not fast enough, she’ll do a little dance to show how urgently I need to move.
When there, I’ll try to help her pull down her pants.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  I’ll try to help her up on the pot.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  I’ll try to help her wipe.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  Pulling up her pants, washing and drying her hands: “I DO IT!”  Fine.
But that’s only half the time.  The other times, she needs me to do everything for her, and there’s no telling which mood she’s in.  If I leave her independent self alone in the bathroom, she’ll call me back in.  I’m beginning to think she just wants the company.  Katie and Jenny tend to go to the bathroom together, another behavior I just don’t get.  I generally manage to hit the restrooms without a partner.  Maybe I can get Mary to ask her sisters to tag along instead of me. 
But then I’ll probably hear moaning, whining and wailing.  “I don’t want to!”
It’s been a long time since I had a little 5 year old boy to school.  Peter, who has always charmed me with his brilliance, is nevertheless still just a little boy.  He’s not too happy with school, because I actually want him to sit down and do it.  I watch him squirm and fidget and move up and down and all around, and it drives me nuts.  For the first few months of the school year, I seriously thought there was something wrong with him.  Jenny wasn’t like this; Katie wasn’t like this.  But then I stopped to think.  Jenny isn’t a boy; Katie isn’t a boy.  Billy?  Fritz?  Oh, yeah, wiggles and wriggles big time.
I pity kindergarten teachers.
Fritz had to write a ~700 word essay.  He chose to write about the Greek gods. 
Editing that paper was…painful.
I pity middle school teachers almost as much as I pity kindergarten teachers.
And since I feel bad if I mention only 4 children in a random post, I have to add a few things about my other 2. 
We did a morning chore swap, and now Katie and Jenny are emptying the dishwasher instead of Fritz and Peter.  While I no longer have to help Peter differentiate between the big and small forks (which have different receptacles), I now have to guess in which drawer Jenny decides various utensils belong.
A friend loaned me the complete Harry Potter series, and I’ve worked my way up to the 4th year (I had read books1-3 previously, but I re-read them so I could remember what happened).  Billy discovered the stash and dove right in.  He now disappears for hours on end, and is up to the 3rd book (I need to get moving!).  Unfortunately, I have to hide the book in order to get him to do chores, schoolwork, eat, go to the bathroom, play outside in the sunny, mild weather, etc.  It’s a good thing breathing is an automatic thing.
And now, back to work.

Definition of…

I have been blessed with a daughter who likes to dust.  Yesterday we were all tidying up the house, and I asked Katie what she wanted to do.  She offered to dust, as I knew she would, and I told her that was a great idea.  I do not prefer to dust.

I have also been blessed with a daughter who likes to clean sinks.  Jenny enjoys swishing the water around.  I have sent her off to clean sinks many times before and not been overly impressed with her efforts.  She is only 7, and I haven’t been there showing her how.  By the time I check up on her work, she’s off and playing.  I keep forgetting that “next time” I need to supervise her.

Yesterday, again, I asked her to clean just the downstairs bathroom sink.  I had cleaned the upstairs bathroom during bath time the night before and had spot wiped the downstairs toilet.  The sink area, though, really needed attention.  I asked Jenny to do it, and she readily agreed because she likes this chore.

Just the sink?” she asked for clarification.

“Yes, honey, everything else is fine.  It’s just the sink that needs to be cleaned.”

I was busy elsewhere, and forgot to supervise her, again.  When I checked later, the sink looked like it hadn’t been done at all.  Yet I had seen her in there, running water and having a great time.  I stopped and looked closely.

The porcelain, the bowl of the sink, sparkled and shone like a jewel.  It was the counter area that looked deplorable.  But I hadn’t told her to clean the counters.  I told her to clean just the sink.  So she did.

Next time…

Good times

Oh my.  What a day.

Confessions are at 11 am at the Cathedral on Saturdays, so we hauled our sooty little souls down there this morning.  I noticed the line was moving quickly, which meant our usual favorite priest wasn’t there.  The kids went first, then me.  Bill was hanging in the back with the little ones and went after the three people behind me.

A sign inside explained the short confession time:  Deaf Priest.  Do not whisper.

This would have been a good day to have mortal sins.

So, no lengthy explanations, no probing questions, no nothing.  State your sins, say you’re sorry, get forgiveness, get out.

After confession, I like to compare penances.  I got one Our Father.  Billy said he got three Hail Marys.  Goodness!  Fritz admitted he couldn’t understand what the elderly Irish priest had said, so he did the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Angel of God and St.Michael prayers.  Covered his bases.  Katie said she, too, had not understood so she did three Hail Marys.  Then Billy admitted he didn’t understand the priest either.  (Was that a lie he told right after confession?)

I asked the kids if they saw the sign that said the priest was deaf. 


They asked about the man being Irish.  Jenny, being somewhat out of the loop since she hadn’t gone to confession, asked, “Are all Irish people deaf?”

“No,” I answered, “He happens to be Irish and he happens to be deaf.  Not all Irish people are deaf.”

“Oh,” she said, “He’s deaf and he’s Irish.  All Irish people are deaf.”

“No!” my husband said.  “You’re part Irish.  Are you deaf?”

Cheekily, my 7 year old asked, “What did you say?”


Then we went to the store to buy some pants, socks, and shoes because my children keep growing despite my expressly stated order that they should mature, but not grow.  Growing can be done when they have jobs to pay for clothes.

By this time, they were starving, and we decided to feed them even though, for sure, my son would grow a half inch during the meal.  While we waited for our food, I suggested we play a game to keep everybody’s mind off the fact that we were waiting for food.  I suggested that everybody pick a new name and we would all call each other by these different names for the rest of the weekend.

“My name is Empress Maria Theresa.  You may call me Empress or Your Highness and you certainly may curtsy or bow when speaking to me.  Please speak in German or Czech.”

Bill selected Hector.  Fritz wanted to be called Bob.  Billy, Hades.  Katie, Nancy Drew.  Jenny picked some fairy name, then said she didn’t want to play.  Fine.  Foo on you.  Peter first picked Carson Palmer.  Mary is Mary.

At one point, Peter was acting like a 5 year old and Bill suggested that he act like Carson Palmer, meaning, like an adult.  Images flashed in my mind of the notorious behavior of professional athletes, so I began to protest, “Well, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…”  Then I pointed to Billy, “He’s HADES.”

“Good point,” said Bill.

Peter changed his name to Joe Hardy.


It was a steak place, this restaurant, but the children’s menu did not have steak on it.  The adult menu had 12 oz steaks or larger (or a 6 oz filet mignon for more than the 12 oz sirloin).  There was no steak salad or steak burger or anything small and less expensive, so I told Billy he could not have steak.  Feeling bad for our carnivorous young son, my husband ordered a steak and gave him some to supplement his chicken finger lunch.

Billy, I mean Hades, when given his portion, responded, “Thank you for your offering.”

If you don’t quite get that, you obviously haven’t read the Percy Jackson books.


More errands.  Mary falls asleep.  The kids are given an option to stay in the car instead of going into Home Depot for air filters and light bulbs.  Katie and Jenny want to come, but the rest will stay.

“Fritz, sit up front and look 12,” I say.  He’s been affecting a “mature” look since he was 11 1/2 so I could run quick errands while leaving a sleeping tot in the car.

“I am twelve!”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Good.  Sit up front.” 


At Bass Pro shops, nobody wanted to stay in the car.  That’s OK.  I came prepared with a book.  I happily stayed with Mary.

Bill wants to take me out to shoot shotguns.  I know, I know.  What a lucky lucky gal I am to have a husband with such romantic ideas for dates. 

He said he needed ear protection.  He said he knows I’m sensitive to things touching me, and thought perhaps the stick-in-your-ear ear plugs might annoy me.  “It’s OK.  I’ll just go deaf,” I said.

After the errand, he showed me the stick-in-your-ear $0.99 ear plugs he bought – for him.  And he showed me the full-cover-over-your-ears, much-more-than-$0.99 ear protection he bought – for me.

This is love.


On the way home, I read him a few snippets from Rachel Balducci’s book.  The theme of these excerpts was Chuck Norris.  Chuck Norris is not well known in my home…yet.  I noticed how eerily quiet the car became when I was reading.  My cell phone rang, and I spoke for a minute to a girlfriend.  The din from the back of the van was the usual volume – loud.  But when I hung up and went back to the book: silence.


We went home and somebody said something else very funny.  I can’t remember it.  But I do know that Fritz said, “Mom, you have to put this on your blog!”  It doesn’t matter what it was, really.  His comment wasn’t at all narcissistic, self centered – somebody else was the clever one.  And he has very little clue that complete strangers read this blog.  He knows my blog is our family history.

We ran errands and took care of business.  We ate lunch and spent the day together.  We had fun.

It was just an ordinary mundane Saturday, but we want to remember it.

On Camera

Why, yes, I would like a sippy cup while I
pay bills and listen to Baroque classical music.

Aw, she found my hiding spot.

I’ve found the problem with your sink.

It’s seriously clogged.

Because the linen closet is a great backdrop
for a picture.

Math Concepts

Consistently, every single one of my 1st and 2nd grade students has had difficulty with addition problems where one addend is missing.  4 + ? = 10.  ? + 3 = 7.  They just could not “get” that the answer was given to them. 

I would pull out blocks.  “The answer is 10,” and I would show ten blocks.  I would separate the blocks into two piles.  “You have 4 blocks.  How many more blocks do you add to get ten?”   I would point to the other pile.  The student would count the blocks and write down the correct answer.  Then I would try the next problem.  “The answer is 7,” and I would show a pile of 7 blocks.  This time I would not divide the blocks into the correct piles.  “You have 3 blocks.  How many more do you need to make 7?” 

Blank stare.

I tried examples and other manipulatives.  “There are 10 superheroes.  4 have eaten lunch.  How many more need to eat lunch?”

“There are 7 little ponies.  3 are in the stable.  How many more need to get in the stable for bedtime?”

More blank stares.  And lots of frustration on both sides.

Jenny has reached this stage in her math.  Most lessons include this sort of problem.  We’ve been having some tense moments.  Fortunately, I remembered today the one example that has worked flawlessly with every single child thus far.

“It is Billy’s 10th birthday.  I am putting the candles on his cake.  I put 4 candles on but then I have to go clean up a mess that Mary made.  How many candles do I have left to put on the cake?”  I used colored pencils and demonstrated the problem.  I could see the light bulb going off right away.  As I walked away, I could hear her saying, “It’s my 7th birthday.  I put 3 candles on the cake.  How many candles are left to put on the cake?”  When I returned a few minutes later, the problems were finished.  Each one was correct.

No more blank stares.  Hooray!


The whole gang.

Super fancy cake with Base 10 blocks as decoration.
Katie’s first cake, too.

Jenny’s 7th birthday.
The serenade.
Surrounded by friends.

My favorite apron.

I’m behind on posting photos, and have finally emptied my camera.  Here are the ones from the past two birthdays.  Blogger has this new editing thing.  I really don’t have time to learn new stuff right now.  I’m sure it will be great once I get the hang of it.  But for now, I’m very grumpy with Blogger.