Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Princesses in Training

Before I had a daughter and was stuck in the land of trucks and balls and superheroes (which is an amazing land, I'm not complaining) I would wonder if there would ever come a day when I would have a little girl to do little girl things.  Like pretty dress-ups, and tea parties and princess gatherings.

And then, voila, I got the most wonderful and stubborn and beautiful and spirited little girl of all time.  She grew up in the blink of an eye, and now we get to experience events like this past weekend's Tea with Belle at our Catholic high school.  The high school's spring musical this year was Beauty and the Beast, so they decided to host this Tea while they had the costumes and set already in place.  

Maggie and her cousins.

Belle and Mrs. Potts.

Maggie, cousins, and friends.

They got to decorate a cupcake!
And even eat it! (very un-princess like)
Lovely Belle posed with the girls.

Maggie's "sister" Madison in the middle, and another schoolmate on the left.

"Mom take my picture in front of the library.  Wait, is that a real library?"

Belle reads aloud to the pretty princesses in training.
So as much as I tend to whine about how difficult Maggie can be, I also know that I am so so blessed to have a daughter.  

Girls...go get you some.

Monday, April 29, 2013

He Said, She Said

J-P: (trying to convince me he's old enough to watch The Hunger Games) But Lily has watched it 15 times!

Me: So, you want to be just like Lily?

John-Paul: Yes.

Me: (sing songy) Because you looooove her?

J-P: NO!  Ugh! (smiles)

Me: Because you love her a leeeeeetle?

J-P: (blushing) yes.

Me: Wait, WHAT?!?!?!?!

When we went to the Air & Space Museum, I took Maggie to the bathroom, and had the following conversation:

Me: Maggie, just in case we get separated, do you know what to do?

Maggie: Yup!

Me: OK, so if you get lost, you should...

Maggie: Just go with another person.

Me: (sigh)

Eamon to Alexander: What does Eamon say?

Alexander: Beep beep.

Eamon: No, I say "Dude!"

Maggie to Alexander: What's a Maggie say?

Alexander: Honk honk.

Maggie: Nope, I say "I'm a pretty, pretty, pinky, pinky princess!"

Maggie: (as we pull into a shopping plaza) Oooooh, let's go there!

Me: Where?

Maggie: To the Chocolate Mexican Girl!

Me: It's Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Maggie: Oh, nevermind.

Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes: The We Love Ron Swanson Edition

Jen's back!  Joining her and the other Quick Takers with one of my all time favorite TV characters, Ron Swanson:

"Normally, if given the choice between doing something and doing nothing, I'll do nothing. 
But I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. 
I'd work all night if it meant that nothing got done."


“Excuse me. There’s a sign at Rampsit Park that says ‘Do not drink the sprinkler water,’ so I made some tea with it and now I have an infection. Sir? Sir, are you listening to me, sir? Sir, I’m talking to you! Sir! Sir, are you aware that there is waste in your water system?” 





Have a great Ron Swanson kind of weekend, my friends.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset

As a girl, I wanted to have the song "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof as my wedding song.  


I was a strange little girl, and for some reason that song moved me.  

So when Cari asked for Sky photos for her Theme Thursday, I just had to present you with:

Taken one morning when a restless baby had me up way too early.  I was feeling all sorry for myself and then I saw this masterpiece that I otherwise would have missed.


Taken on an afternoon walk, while solving all the world's problems in my head.

It's like God paints the sky for us every morning and night.  Beautiful!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Five Faves

Joining Hallie for some weekly favorites, because, ya know, linkups are my favorite!


Today my kids are allowed to wear a Boston sports team shirt in solidarity for the tragedies at the Boston Marathon.  I hate to see terrible tragedies like this, and haven't even talked about it yet even though it was soooo close to home.  Too close, actually.

The city that's right next to our town, and where my kids go to school, was being blasted all over the news because that's where police went to question the terrorist's friends.  The town where we work is the same town where he attended college.  The gas station where we always buy our gas caught him on the security camera after the bombing.  He was lurking all around our area after committing the evil.  My brother works at MIT where a security guard was shot execution style in the same building as his office.  Everything was on lockdown around here, and I am so so glad we were away the week it happened.

But this is about favorites - and my favorite thing is seeing the way people support one another, donate time and energy and money, come back to their prayer lives, realize what's most important in life, etc. in the wake of terrible news like this.

 Ok, that was heavy.  How about something light?  Like the greek yogurt I love to eat:

Friends getting pregnant!  Four of my real life friends are all expecting together.  It makes me so happy and sort of kind of maybe want to join in ;)

Scooters.  Totally worth their money for years and years.  Easier to put in the car than a bike and my kids learned how to use them much younger than a two wheeler.  We brought the boy's scooters on our vacation, and they were on them every.single.day.  I just ordered Maggie a pink one because she felt very left out and kept stealing her brother's.

Today is Administrative Professional's Day, and some of my favorite people work in that field :)  Make sure you tell the Administrative Professionals that you know to have a happy day!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's OK

Oh honey, said the elderly lady at the store looking at the colicky newborn in my cart, cherish these years with your little ones.  They go so fast.

 It only gets harder as they get older, said the frazzled mom of two teenagers to me in line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles as I chased around a toddler with my 9 months pregnant belly.

I wanted to cry.

Every time somebody would tell me that raising a bunch of little kids was the easy part, or should be the best time in my life, I wanted to cry.  It can't get any harder than this, I would think.  I'm exhausted every day, I don't know what a full night's sleep feels like.  I actually dread going to bed because somebody will be waking me up in a few hours.  I can't fit in my clothes and there's never enough money.  All I do is clean and cook and cook and clean.  My kids are going to hate their childhood.  How did our mother's do this??

I was so hard on myself, as I think a lot of young mothers are.  With all the various technology that allows us to see how other moms are raising their well-behaved, well-educated, well-dressed children, we look around our messy house, and chocolate covered faces because cookies are much easier to hand out than balanced meals, and wonder why our kids can't quite seem to understand that hitting the baby is not funny and Mommy means business!  

If the homeschooling mom of 15 kids seems to have it altogether and doesn't have the constant glow of sweat that seemed to be my daily companion in those early years of motherhood, then why can't I?  How in God's name does she handle it all with grace and ease?

I'll let you in on a little secret.  She doesn't handle it ALL with grace.  She struggles with the things that are difficult for her, which may be vastly different from our temptation and weaknesses.  She doesn't blog or tweet or instagram her worst days, she shows pictures of her best moments.  Or if she does give us a *real* glimpse into a chaotic day, she makes it seem funny and entertaining.  Maybe her kids are learning Latin and can play classical piano because that's what is important to their family.  It doesn't have to be what's important to my family (and it's not).

We can't compare our interior with another's exterior, said the wise Danielle Bean.  

Comparison is the thief of joy, said Theodore Roosevelt.

It's okay to have feelings, said my handsome husband.  It's how we act on them that can be judged.  

It's okay to feel overwhelmed and exhausted and unhappy at times.  Raising children is hard, hard work.  It's messy and tiring and draining and sometimes thankless.  But we don't give up.  We don't stop loving and serving them.  We look at our struggles as opportunities of growth, as ways to fight vice with virtue.  

Because, no matter how challenging being a mother can be, it's also an awesome gift from God.  God didn't have to let us participate in the care and guidance of our children's bodies and souls.  He could have just created adult human beings that didn't need families at all.  How boring would that have been?

Getting out of the house with four babies aged three and under = a successful day!

So to Rosie (pictured above) and all the other wonderful young moms out there, chin up.  You're doing amazing things - you're raising saints!  Cut yourself some slack, and redefine your definition of a good day.  Maybe it doesn't mean preparing the perfect dinner or taking the kids to the park.  Maybe it just means stopping to say a prayer of thanksgiving that you get to be a mom and then getting on the floor with your kids and actually playing with them for ten minutes.  Confession: I used to have to force myself to do this.  Keeping the house relatively clean: check.  Cooking somewhat healthy meals: check.  Taking my kids to playgrounds and zoos and friend's houses: check.  But actually playing with my kids? That had to go on my to-do list.  See?  We all have our own struggles.

 I wish someone would have told me when I was in the trenches of my twenties raising lots of littles that those days were hard, and encouraged me instead of scaring me for the future.  It does get easier, they do grow up, and you will look back on these days with fond and funny memories (said the ancient 34 year old mom of five). Maybe I'm just in a sweet spot, or have gained more patience with each baby.  Maybe I have no clue what I'm talking about because I haven't yet had the opportunity to raise teenagers.  But all I know is that this stage is easier, and you will get here one day.  Trust me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

...And The Last Few Days.

...finishing up our week. 

On Friday, we went to the waterpark in the spooky resort, and surprise surprise, it wasn't creepy at all!  It was actually pretty awesome!
In the wave pool, sans waves.

At the "little kid" section.


Here come the waves!

Shooting some hoops outside of the pool.
They had a huge play area with slides and tunnels and such.  They also has 3 humungous water slides that were really fun - you could choose either a single tube ride, a double tube ride, or a family tube ride.  There was even a surfing section:
Andrew is so skinny that he kept flying off to the sides :)

I think this was actually the best indoor water park we have been to, and as my little sister says, we are water park groupies.  True story.

On Saturday, we made the drive from Pennsylvania to Connecticut to visit Clan Donaldson!  We were greeted by a jumping Lotus and entered their driveway as the bubbles flowed out of Joaquin's machine.  Cari had asked if we wanted to take a hike, and after I thought she was telling me to get lost, I realized she meant an actual hike.  To a real tower way up high on a mountain.  Off we went:

Oh these two just warm the cockles of my matchmaking heart.

Smart Lotus, get in good with the future sister-in-law.

Apparently I'm holding up the sky?

Looking at the frog eggs, also known as puddle caviar.  No it's not, I just made that up.

For Cari to reference when people ask her what she does all day.
"Oh, you know, I just hike up a mountain with one baby strapped to my back and one toddler strapped to my front."

Red shirt = John-Paul, Black shirt = Andrew, Wet pants = mine from peeing myself while watching them climb Tiki Mountain.  Just kidding, Ken assured me it was just like walking up stairs.
On the way up, Phil said "I feel like we're in a Dora episode.  First we walk up the Rocky Hill, then we climb Tiki Mountain, and finally we get to the Tall Tower!"

We did it, we did it, we did it, yeah!

So so gorgeous!

The Donaldsons even provided yummy snacks for the weary hikers and their children.

Phil handed back one M&M at a time to keep this boy happy.

Veronica is the best baby ever and I want her.

"Mom take a picture of me sitting on this cute bench!"
As if the hike wasn't entertaining enough, we returned to Casa Donaldson and Ken whipped up some homemade pizzas and french fries like it was nobody's business.  But it should be his business.  So good.
Could it get any hotter in this kitchen???

I had made a comment on Cari's last post about pizza saying I liked mine with blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions and a balsamic reduction.  Guess what was waiting for me?
Get in my belly.

While we were eating the pizza, 4 year old Jude looked perplexed and asked me "Is this real life?" I don't know buddy, it feels pretty much like the best tasting dream I've ever had.  Lotus even gave me a huge jar of her homemade magnolia flower perfume.  I can't wait to try it :)

We couldn't tear ourselves away until 7 pm which meant we didn't get home until 9:30 Saturday night, but it was well worth it.  The kids keep talking about their "best vacation ever" and even though they say that after every.single.vacation, it still makes me smile.

And now I'm done with pictures for awhile.  Maybe.