Thursday, August 30, 2012

Still here...

I am here and we are doing great! The last two days have been filled with final summer happenings, school open houses, and quality time being together at home. I am a day behind on my postings and will have some good stuff for tomorrow. Check back in... TGIF, here we come!! Nghty Tight,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Prayer Warriors

When you read this, could you offer up a quick prayer for this little girl and her family?

Isn't she a doll?  This is our sweet neighbor, Harlie Holton, who's family are friends of ours.  She is turning 6 in Sept after being born with a 5% chance of surviving.  She is amazing, as are her parents, Tom and Christy, who blogs here.

Harlie had surgery last Friday in Boston to help repair facial abnormalities resulting from Goldenhar Syndrome.  It was her 30th surgery and she's been such a trooper all the way through.  She always could use prayers, but definitely needs some tonight as she surmounts some new obstacles post-surgery.  We are specifically praying for her lungs and her ability to fight off pneumonia and other complications that will make her recovery a more painful, slow process.  God speed healing, dear Harlie!

I speak for both Christy and Tom in expressing their heartfelt gratitude for your support.  Thank you for praying for her!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Getting It Together

I'll let you in on a little secret: I love to be organized.  Like really, really love it.  

I think it has something to do with my inner control freak and my outer chaos, which results in the freak trying desperately to rein in control on the chaos whenever possible.  If my environment is under control, then I can be more in control as a mother and homemaker.  Same was true in college--I could not study for a test unless my room was anally in order.  Then I could get to work and focus on the matter at hand.  

All in all, this love of organization is fine unless control becomes an idol.  Bring in 5 kids under 7 and the OCD thankfully has to take a backseat.  You just can't be organized in everything, all the time.  It is not remotely possible and I would lose my mind trying to make it happen.  I have to give things up, learn to go with the flow, roll with the punches, and allow messes and mishaps throughout my home and life.  Having oodles of kids is actually really good for me!

These days if organization happens, it's usually in a small corner of my life--a drawer de-cluttered, the van vacuumed and detailed, my closet purged and reset.  These are small celebrations of organization in which I delight.  They are my chances to celebrate one small area of control in the madness of life!

So here you have it, some recent triumphs of organization and accomplishment in my little world...

1) Toy Decluttering
Of our three kid bedrooms, each has toys, legos, and books particular to the ages of children in the room.  We also have a general toy area in the attic for train sets, etc. and a different space for books on the first floor.   Having all of these spaces for play is awesome because it allows everyone personal room to spread out, but it is totally crazy for a mom who's trying to make sure the right pieces end up in the right rooms.  They seem to migrate from room to room somehow??? ;)

We often end up with a lot of bins that look like this:
Nothing but bits and pieces of just about everything.  How do the kids play with junk?
So while the boys were away, I took it upon myself to start finding homes for all the pieces.  This actually wasn't too dismal of a process--our annual pre-Thanksgiving toy purge has really helped to keep down the excess, but we'll be ready again in November!
Here I was mid-sort
And by the end, everything had a home!  Hooray!

Imagine a set of instruments that are stored together?  Amazing! ;)
Or a piggy bank and a cash register with... coins?!  Outstanding!  These toys are suddenly popular again!
2) Shelving
We have been looking for a way to store some beautiful dolls my in-laws have brought back for the girls from their worldly travels.  The other month (possibly year?) we spotted a hunter green wooden shelf in their attic and asked if we could re-purpose it for the baby's room.  Many, many, many months later, I finally spray-painted the beaut white to match...

My sweet baby model

This is the wall where we will hang the shelf.  Haven't gotten that far, but you can imagine it up there with pretty little dolls adorning its shelves.  I predict it will take at least another 3 months to get it there. lol  ;)

3) Project Gift Bags
I'm apparently a crazy gift bag hoarder (that or I don't give enough gifts in return!  Yikes!!) It was so out of hand that a good portion of a large upstairs closet was devoted to the excesses of our gift materials.  It was getting totally ridiculous.  So, over the weekend I cleared out the closet and brought everything down to our main floor.  I really wanted a gift set-up nearer to our everyday life where I could grab a gift bag, tissue, and go, rather than have to rummage around in an upstairs closet when we're running late to a birthday party!  

Thankfully, I had two cabinets in our butler pantry that were being ill-utilized.  It was time for a change.    After much gift bag purging, bada boom, bada bing, I give you our new gift station:

The best is that each drawer pulls out for easier access.  This side has regular and birthday gift bags, tissue in the top drawer, and ribbons/random items in the bottom (and yes, that is a balloon blower for making balloon animals--you can hire me for your next party! ;)
The other side has Christmas and baby shower gift bags, Christmas boxes, contact paper, and the flags for the front of our house (random but it was a flat spot to store them!)
So there you have it, folks!  Organizational successes to be celebrated.  Where will you organize today?  It's all in the little things!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

When A Boy Turns 6

When a boy turns 6, he wants a party just like his big brother.
Ninja time!
(Score one for mom and dad, who have a ready-made ninja party at hand!)

 He lets his dad dress up like a Ninja Master in a bathrobe and lead little boys in ninja training.

 He's brave enough to show his taekwondo moves to his friends.

 He even lets his little sister observe from the sidelines.

 He and his friends circulate through stations to practice punching, kicking, and ninja stealth.

 Then they take a break and eat apples, popcorn, and goldfish while watching a ninja show!

He then allows his parents to lead he and his friends in silly games like "pin the golden weapon on the ninja".  He also will gladly allow his friend to win the candy prize.

 He will be full of smiles with an ice cream sundae treat.

 And so will his friends and siblings!

Because when a boy turns 6, he's king for the day and reaps great rewards for another year conquered! Happy Birthday, dear T!  We hope you loved your party, little ninja!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Great Day

T's birthday party this morning (pics to come)...

A family trip to Reconciliation this afternoon...

Dinner at home, watching Star Wars together...

Organizing, cleaning, being.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the goodness of today and the promise tomorrow holds.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Little Too Late!

It is unthinkably too late--I had intended to sit down here two hours ago and write a quick post and then to bed.  Alas, here I am at 3 minutes to midnight... :)  I am a horrible computer time manager (though in my defense, I was writing a Friday post for over here.)  Better to get things wrapped up tonight than leave them waiting for the morning.

I leave you with a few additional Maine pics.  We are scheming over here in G-Ville how to make summer camp a reality for our boys every year (for 3+ weeks!).  We'll see...  If we win the lottery, it's a sure thing! :)  I am just completely sold on the idea of boys getting to be boys, in the wilderness, with no technology, running, playing, developing cool skills like archery, learning to make friends and be responsible.  I could go on and on.  GG has made me a boys' camp convert, for sure.  I love seeing their faces light up as they share about their adventures.  M could have stayed there for good and been completely satisfied...

I must get to bed.
God bless,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

They Made It

Such a special time in Maine at Camp Winona

Visiting Old Ironsides in Boston
Seeing G family in Boston--can you spot Papa's brother?

At Lexington and Concord battle site
Heading home, much to mommy's delight!
Tired and ready to get back into life here in VA.

We had a joyful reunion today, full of hugs and smiles. I can't think of a time when it felt better to hug my boys. Love it! All the kids are nestled now in their beds and I'm a content mama. I've had some days with more peace, but I now know I much prefer the noise and craziness of my five angels and their daddy. It is the best kind of busy... Thank you, Lord. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Tell You, Me...

The title of this post was one of my nana's favorite expressions.  She would stand in her kitchen with her hand on her hip and look straight in the mirror at herself (she had a large mirror in her kitchen!) and say with determination, "I tell you, me..."  Then she would launch into some issue she had with something or someone, some beef she needed to get off her chest.  Inevitably she would start to laugh because everything my nana did always ended with a good belly laugh.  She was a great lady and I miss her.

So imagine me right now with my hand on my hip, looking straight past you and talking to myself in the mirror...  "I tell you, me...  I am SO annoyed right now by the fact that I can't go and eat at a restaurant without having to opt for, basically, lettuce.  Since I am on a limited diet while breast-feeding due baby G's dairy and soy sensitivities, menu options reduce dramatically.  "Here is your leaf of lettuce, ma'am.  Hope you enjoy it."  Ugh!  Lettuce. 

The reason all this is coming to the surface--the girls and I have to hit the town for a few final errands before the boys get home.  Among the errands we have to accomplish is a trip by a local chain restaurant to pick up a gift certificate for a friend.  "Hey," I thought to myself, "Why don't we just stay for dinner and enjoy a final meal together.  That would be fun!"  (Yes, my thoughts even had an exclamation point!  I was excited by this prospect--dinner out with the girls!)  This restaurant happens to be one of my favorites, but GG has had a few bad meat experiences there, so we usually don't choose to eat there as a couple.  This would be the perfect chance to enjoy a meal with him out-of-town.

Being the dutiful, breast-feeding mother I am (ahem), I went ahead and looked on the restaurant's website to find out allergen information before heading out.  You'd be surprised what random things have dairy and soy (pretty much everything, but, oh yes, lettuce.)  Just the other day I was making myself some hot tea and thought to randomly check the ingredients just to be sure.  Soy lecithin.  It's an emulsifier and it's in everything.  Some babies don't seem bothered by it, but baby G still has blood in her stool, so we're trying.

So I pulled up the allergen menu and looked through the items recommended for people avoiding dairy.  It looked nice and there were still a good amount of options from which to choose.  Great.  Then I scrolled down to the list for people avoiding soy.  There were literally, probably ten items listed there.  Ten.  And many of them were extras like pico de gallo and guacamole.  Then I did the unthinkable and cross referenced the two lists.  Guess what.  I could have a burger without a bun or fries or onion rings, but (you guessed it) lettuce.  It would be a burger sitting on an empty plate with a piece of lettuce and maybe some ketchup.  I'm splitting at the sides, it's so annoying.  It almost makes me want to log off and open a can of hypoallergenic formula.  Almost.  I am annoyed for two seconds.

Then as I type I hear my sweet little one upstairs and she's awoken and is crying for her mama.  And all my annoyances melt away.  Because she's totally worth it.  She's worth years and years of life without dairy and soy.  She's worth plates and plates of plain burgers with just lettuce.  Having the chance to breast-feed her is such a privilege and knowing I'm boosting her little immune system and providing for her is second-to-none.  It makes her strong and healthy and have a happy life and that gives me life.  All of my angels are worth any and every sacrifice I could ever offer.

For I am called to live out His legacy, to abandon myself in this life for others, namely my children and family, friends, even strangers.  It's not about me and never has been.  To God be the glory in all circumstances, especially petty ones involving food allergies, chain restaurants, and lots and lots of lettuce.

Monday, August 20, 2012

All's Quiet

Baby girls are in bed...  Projects are emerging...  The kitchen needs cleaning...  Boys will be calling...

T minus 2 days until they are home.  I'm starting to feel the pressure to get done what needs to be accomplished.  We crossed a few more items off our to-do list today.  We picked up the G's dog, Jackson, from the kennel (he was there to give me a true break!  ha!)  I'm off now to put a final coat of paint on the baby's room shelves.  I'll also tackle the toys tonight and there's a lot of little pieces that need homes.  Anyone know what I'm talking about?  More to come on that.

Two additional items of note: 1) Baby G is giggling.  Yes.  It is adorable!!  She and I shared some laughs together today.  If I could bottle her giggles and sell them, I'd be a very wealthy gal.  She is capturing her mama's heart and then some.  2) I ran over 4 miles on the treadmill today at a good clip and didn't feel like I was going to keel over.  Woo hoo!  Cheers to more consistent, enjoyable running in my future...

God bless,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Continued Adventures

It is so great to hear happy reports from the north.  The boys seem to be having a fantastic time.  M shared all about day #1 on the phone last night in vivid detail: "First, we started off with an amazing breakfast--donuts, sweet cereal, pancakes..." leading into "then we shot guns, Mom!  It was awesome!" and so on.  T elaborated with personal anecdotes, including their swimming/kayaking/canoe trip out to Treasure Island only to discover that "there was no treasure!" T said he searched all around but could not find any.  :)  And last was J, who got on the phone and said he wanted to come and be with me at home.  Sweet boy.  Miss those guys something crazy!  They were wrapping up an awesome day with s'mores fireside indoors.

Today Mimi reports that T conquered the climbing wall (shown below), making it to the top and besting his Daddy, who tried afterward and didn't make it (sorry honey!  We know you were just trying to help T's ego!)  Way to go, Monkey T!  That's him on the left...  Strike me if I'm wrong, but that's no joke for a climbing wall.  I'm so proud of my boy!

I had a feeling T would be the one to dare the wall.  He's my second-born risk-taker.  Meanwhile, M and J played in the sand pond-side after having a brisk swim (in life-jackets) out to Treasure Island, deer beach, and back.  Life is good in Maine.

I don't know about you, but I'm wishing myself a little Maine getaway right about now.  The house remains quiet and the girls and I are resting well, conquering projects, and today, hunkering down with good books.  Our outings included morning Mass and afternoon school supply shopping.  This is the second trip I've made to conquer the lists--the first was to Tar.get weeks ago and we accomplished most of our lists, but now we're onto the dreaded hard-to-find items.  Note to self in future years: start at Wal.Mart.  I made the mistake of beginning at St.aples and ended up buying everything twice once I got to WM and realized I had paid way too much at St.  Now, we'll be headed back to St. tomorrow to take the other stuff back.  Oh well!  At least I'm doing it with only two kiddos in tow. ;)

Tomorrow's projects include: finishing spray painting a wall shelf for baby G's room, sorting toys from all over the house (future post), heading to Goodwill to drop off a sizeable load, storing my wedding dress(!) and maternity clothes in the attic, finishing leftover laundry, and... working out at the gym.  Fun and exciting stuff here, folks!  ;)

Maine is sounding pretty good, indeed.
God bless,
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