Just A Look

That's my Dad. He used to do the same thing for me and my sisters and brothers when I was young...pull us on the back of the tractor. It was so fun...I'm not sure why, really, because it doesn't seem so fun now...it seems like the perfect recipe for smelly fumes and motion sickness.  Patrick and Andrew loved it as much as we did long ago.


What NOT to Regret-A Life Lesson

I remember, after I had 3 children, I needed to do some soul-searching and life-changing. Out of necessity, I had grown a hobby into a business. I was still at home all week, but I would fit "work" into times when my husband was home...on a week night or a weekend. It was a lucrative business, and it helped so much during the years when we needed it to. (I did faux painting and murals for interior designers and clients.) I worked hard at both jobs...being at home and painting...taking care of my kids and my clients. I often did samples at nap time, returned phone calls when kids were busy, and met with decorators in the hour or two I would employ a sitter.

It seemed like the dream job because it allowed me to do both things, stay at home and make great money. But the truth was, when my 3rd child came along, I was running myself ragged. Stretching myself thin, trying to do to much. My heart was in one place, my mind in another. It was nice to not have to budget so much, to have extra money for "things", but after awhile I began to realize that I was sacrificing my state of mind and more than ever, my family, my little ones, needed me to have their full attention.

I think when we mothers try to do too much something or someone pays the price. Sometimes it's the kids, sometimes it's the marriage, sometimes it's us. In this case, it was me.

I remember older ladies stopping me in the grocery store and admiring my children and saying,
"Those were the best days of my life."
"What I would do to have those days back."
"It goes so fast. It's gone in a blink of an eye."

I felt at the time, this general malaise in my heart.

I did some soul searching and talked (and probably cried) with Jeff and made the decision that if I would regret anything in life, it would NOT be spending these precious days of raising my children without a feeling of peace. I want to know, when I am that old lady in the supermarket that I spend quiet days, loving and having fun, and learning and NOT missing the small moments. I did not ever, ever want to have regrets. I don't think I could live with myself.

I quit. I was proud of the business I grew, but it had served it's purpose and I let it go without a look back. Things were tight again, but I was OK with it. Because the peace in my heart was worth more than anything.

I have found one of the best ways to examine the course of my life is to ask myself, "Will I regret this?" I picture myself in a rocking chair on a front porch, watching my grandchildren, or great grandchildren play on the lawn. Will I look back with peace in my heart? Will I say,"I wish I would have slowed down and savored every moment?" It's not really a fun thing to do, but it always enables me to spit out the right answer.  It enables me to stay focused, run against the grain of the times, and enjoy the small moments. It reminds me to stay strong and centered about what I want to believe...that simply raising my children, being a mother and a wife, is enough, when everything we read and hear and see is sending me the opposite message.  It helps me establish priorities and to say yes to the things that really count in the end.

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you. ~John De Paola


Big and Little Brothers


Why I Stay Home

After 18 years at home, the reasons why I'm so grateful I made the decision to forgo work while the children are little and very dependent are not the reasons that I would have ever thought.  The first reasons that would come to mind are those big milestones-first smile, first steps, first words-those type of "I never want to forget it" things.

That sounds all nice and warm and fuzzy, but to tell the truth, I can't remember any of those...I'm sure it's marked in baby books somewhere. I DO know the last two took their first steps to Grandma and Dad respectively. Traitors.

The times when I have been so thankful that I made the decision to stay home and thought, "Oh God, what if I wasn't here? What if the daycare, the nanny, the sitter was here instead?" ...those are the times that have cemented any doubt in my mind that home is the best place to be.

This last week or so has been a time when I think, "Thank God it's me." Patrick has been SO difficult. He's such a sweet, happy fellow, but this week....I'll tell you...I don't know if it's teeth, or the kids being gone at school, or just a new little stage, but he wants ME almost every minute. He's 30 pounds and it's not easy lugging this kid around. If he happens to be settled and busy it just means he's up to no good. He'll find a pen or a pencil laying around-my walls his canvas...or he stands on his tippy toes and fishes one out of the drawer and just writes everywhere before I even get a chance to stop him. He's hurt me, physically, 10 times this week. Slammed a door shut on my ankle, given me serious love bites, head butted me (the kind that make your teeth click!), all on accident of course. He's smooshed my lipstick, dumped bags of cereal when given a second. Crinkled my new magazine, ran his stroller into my ankles. When we went on walks, they were as far from enjoyable as you could get. Down every one's driveway, in the street constantly, in and out of the stroller every minute, mad as heck when he didn't get his way and we headed home. Tons of whining. Tons.

Do you get the picture? Tested every ounce of my patience. Very unlikeable, but I love him.

That's not to say a break, a fresh set of hands, is not welcome once in awhile. But if I left him all day with someone, they would seriously dislike this usually sweet good-natured boy. No doubt in my mind.

It's the little things like this...the things that come up once in awhile, the bouts of colic, the annoying stages, the private bathroom dilemmas, the runny noses, just a bad days (or weeks)...those are REALLY the reasons I stay home. I want ME and his father-the two people who love him more than anyone else in the world- to be the one that takes care of all those things. The hard things-the "no fun" stuff.

Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself.
Jean Anouilh



That's 4 boys worth of Thomas the Trains.
Can you name them all by sight?