A Series Of Events

We started out last week with the Senior Baccalaureate Mass at a beautiful cathedral.

This was a picture Jeff took of Isaac in kindergarten.  It's my favorite picture ever of him.  He just looks so cute, and confident and sure of himself.

I asked Isaac if we could go to the same park and take the same picture and he was totally into it...from finding the right shirt, the exact bend in the road, the perfect stick to hold.  We laughed so hard when he made the exact face I could hardly take the picture.  I have both photos framed now.

Right before the graduation ceremony.

 It was awesome.  I am just so happy for him.  I didn't do the ugly cry just so you know.

That night we gave Isaac his present.  It was a big surprise we were keeping for months and months.  I made sure he knew it was NOT a car or an IPhone just so he wouldn't have any false expectations.  He wanted to me to tell him so badly, but I am awesome at keeping secrets and it wasn't hard to keep this one...there was NO way he was going to guess it anyways.

We had him unwrap little hints and he had no idea till the last present was unwrapped.  It was a flight to Ireland to visit my brother and sister-in-law and their sweet little boy for 10 days.  He was SO surprised and happy and grateful and nervous too...but excited nervous.  (And yes the "hints" were super queer...what does Lucky Charms have to do with Ireland?  But I did the best I could with what I had access to!  See the toy airplane from the Thomas the Train set?)

We had gorgeous weather for his graduation party 2 days later, thank you God.  The weather channel called for thunderstorms and 90+ degree heat but they were wrong, wrong, wrong and I was sure happy about their bad call.  It was breezy and balmy.

These were my simple and easy center pieces.  You know I'm into simple and easy right now.

I set up a table with his scrapbooks and this beautiful quilt made by my friend Jane.  I'll show more of it later...I love it and so did he.

And two days later he was off.  I didn't realize how hard it was going to be to tell him everything he needed to know:
1. He hasn't flown/been in an airport since he was six months old.
2. He had a connecting flight to make at a huge airport.
3. He was flying to a different country.

We did the best we could with our instructions, and prayed that there would be no major glitches.

So far so good-at least we know he made it to Ireland and Andy and Rose have him in their possession.  I just can't wait to talk to him about it all.  I told him-if you can navigate this all by yourself-baptism by fire really, you will have the confidence to go anywhere in the world for the rest of your life.  And I want that for him more than anything.


Two In One Day

Don't forget to enter 3M Projector and Venus Razor give away here and here.


A New Phase Of Parenting: Graduation Week

his first day of high school

after the last day (his dress shirt and tie already shed)

This is Isaac's big high school graduation week.  His last day was Friday.  For the last three weeks he has been doing Senior Project which is a super smart thing invented by the Jesuits at his all-boy school that requires all the seniors to shadow professionals in a career they may be interested in.  It's not only super smart for the obvious reasons, it's super smart because it takes all the crazy, hyper, "I'm done with school, let's party" seniors out of the school for the month of May.  They have to set this all up themselves, then keep a journal, write a paper and do a presentation on the entire experience before a panel of teachers.  And then-DONE!  I can't even believe it.

Isaac followed an attorney at the county prosecutor's office, an accountant, and a teacher.  He had such good experiences at all of them.  Eye-opening really.  What I thought he'd like he didn't at all, and what I thought would bore him to tears (accounting?) he loved the most.  Just goes to show me that I'm glad I stayed the heck out of the whole dealeo and let him pick and choose.

He also procured a summer job.  A bagger at the local grocery store.  I couldn't be more proud because he did this all himself...put in his application, called, called again, dropped off a resume, called again...basically did exactly what you have to do to get a job nowadays.  On his first day he pocketed a few tips, and came home and asked me for some advice on bagging.  I said, "It's all about the bread. Watch the bread!"  I thought it was nice he cared enough to ask.

People ask me if I'm emotional with him graduating.  Yes and no.  Of course I think of all the darn work it took to get this far.  School never came easy to him and boy, he MADE it and did great!  And worked really really hard to do so.  So I am SO proud of him and when I think back on all those homework struggles, all the little disappoints after studying hard for a test and just doing "ok", the times we were frustrated or worried endlessly about him, it makes me emotional.  I finished his scrapbooks and gosh, he looks SO young all the way through-SO much younger than everyone else in all his classes from kindergarten to this senior year.  And he kept up!.  Because he had to.  And that required a huge effort on his part.

He has been such a good, sweet, happy kid to raise.  (I'm not done yet, I know!)  He has always been so respectful to us, and just has taken his role as the oldest in this family to heart and set a wonderful example for his younger siblings.

I've always told Isaac, "You know you are our first, so we have NO idea what we are doing-you have just been a giant experiment for us."  But I make sure to thank him-because he has been forgiving, and kind, and so much fun, through the entire 18 years, and has rolled with the punches of our constantly changing and growing family.  More than rolled with the punches, but never even had a moment of sibling jealousy-he was more excited about each new baby than ever.  And this new one coming (my due date is two days before his college move-in date) is no different.

But part of me doesn't want to be too emotional.  First, there is the pregnancy thing.  Emotional=scary.  You know it does!  For God's sake, if I start bawling in public, it's not going to be tearing up, it's going to be an endless downright river and I do NOT want to do that.  And the more important reason-it's not the end!  It's just high school.  Honestly, that's the way I feel.  It's the beginning of something SO exciting for him-we have years to go, huge growing up years, and I can't wait for him to experience this next phase of becoming an adult.  Sure, I can work myself into nervousness and no doubt that hysterical river of tears will happen when we drop him off at college (me with either pregnancy hormones still raging or just-gave-birth hormones which maybe even by more frightening?), but it's just one more new phase of growth for him, and a new phase of parenting for me.  It's called the letting go phase and you know what?  It feels right. More right than I could have ever imagined. It feels like we will be OK.  It feels like I've gotten him in the right place for that to begin to happen, and I'm so excited to watch the rest unfold.


Ordinary Days

My brother called last week and informed us that one of us Marine buddies would be flying over our house.  The kids were all excited as we waited to hear the chopper blades. 

And someone else was too.  The kids are used to this sort of behavior and hardly bat an eye at their weird Dad who tries to embarrass them constantly-or just to make them laugh.

We are finishing up soccer, and Patrick has been over-joyed at the fact that I FINALLY signed him up for a a sport.  He got to be a "big kid" for one season and participate.  Once he received his soccer uniform he wore it everywhere.  The shin guards and socks and cleats and t-shirt-EVERYWHERE, all day. He is pretty darn good for a four year old, but then he's watched a heck of a lot of games, and practices constantly, and spends most of the time playing with kids much much older than him who don't give him much of a break so of course he would be.  I just can't stop laughing the whole time I watch him.  He told me, "Mom, just sit here and say- Go Patrick, go!- when you watch me OK?"  He must hear me say that to the older kids and wanted a piece of it for himself.

His "coach" is from England and is so cute, and is also just great with this age group.  After listening to him talk in his awesome accent, my Matthew said, "I'm going to go live in England one day."  I said, "Sounds good to me, I'll visit you often."

I needed some new recipes and love, love, love this this book I bought.  Really family friendly.  I am hoping to work through the whole thing this summer.  I am sure my family is hoping so also since we've had my grilled chicken or spaghetti or calzones again and again and again.  I'm burning them out.

The weather has been gorgeous lately but one day a storm rolled through...I thought the sky was beautiful.

Matt won the 2 mile race for his class-his 6th grade class started training for the race that the 7th and 8th graders have to participate in next spring.  The two top 7th graders were very interested in Matt's time anticipating some fierce competition.

There is always someone laying on my kitchen floor.  Why is this?  There are more comfortable places in the house.  (Notice the soccer uniform-sans socks and shinguards, which I made him take off since it was close to 90 degrees all day.)

I never did a Mother's Day post, but mine was perfect this year.  Super low key just the way I love it.  I sat and watched this soccer game as the day came to an end.

This week's agenda: Exams for Abbey-super stressful, glad it's not me, trying to be supportive, graduation for Isaac!!!-party on Saturday, Patrick's last week of preschool-can't believe it, Matt and Andrew hanging in there for one more week till summer vacation.


Slow Days

Patrick and I headed to the park the other day to play baseball.  That means we take turns pitching and hitting-thankfully mostly ME pitching and HIM hitting.  The first time I hit, he "made" me run the bases (run for me right now means a fast walk) and then said, "Mom, why aren't you sliding?  You have to slide!"  It reminded me of the shin guard comment I got the other day and made me laugh.  I said, "Patrick I can't slide, I have a baby in my tummy!"  He looked at me like that was sort of a cop-out excuse.

Someone emailed me and asked me how I get everything done on my to-do lists and manage to not feel like I am going crazy.  Sometimes I DON'T get everything done on my to-do list and it just keeps getting transferred on down the line of days, which is OK because I know it will get done eventually. And sometimes I DO feel like I am going crazy keeping up but I know I don't have to feel that way, and if I do consistently, I need to make changes in my life.

But I thought about the answer to that question and I've said it hundred times, but I feel best when I am ahead of the game, so I try really really hard to do that-to stay ahead of the game.

1. I try not to waste time.  On this here computer, on too-long phone calls, or errands that aren't necessary.

2. I try to have a daily to-do list or schedule for the next day...that I make in the evening, NOT the morning when I almost feel like the day gets away from me if I don't start out with purpose.

3.  I stay home as much as I can.  I keep ahead on cleaning and laundry, doing a little here and there every day.  I say no to lots and lots of things that pull me away from my family life here.  I try to live my life knowing that being a mother and a wife and a house keeper is a huge job on to itself and I want that huge job, the most important one I'll ever have, to be enjoyable.


Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Patrick and I made these yesterday-I was desperate for a little change for our stand-by chocolate chip cookies.
They were delicious.

1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl mix butter, sugars, and eggs till smooth.
3. Add flour, baking powder, soda, salt and oats to butter mixture.
4. Don't forget the chips!
5. Drop on lightly sprayed cookie sheets.
6. Bake for about 9 minutes until brown and crispy around edges.


We Are Ready

I feel sorry for all teachers right now because I think these last few weeks of school must be so hard.  The kids are DONE.  I know mine are.  It feels like summer weather outside and they've sat in the classroom for the last 9 months and they want to play and be free.  I have to remind mine to finish their homework and there have been a few rushed mornings when they've forgotten.  Like forgotten on purpose.

There are two little five year old boys that I watch some days in the pre-school pick up line.  After they exit their preschool doors, they race full speed down the sidewalk (it helps that it has a downhill grade) with their moms following close behind straight to the playground behind the school.  Every time I see them I want to run out with my camera and get this picture.  Their arms are pumping hard, their tongues between their teeth, their eyes glancing at each other (because you know all boys have to race!), and this is the best part...their feet hardly touch the ground except a quick slap of the pavement with their little tennis shoes.  They are suspended in air time and time again, while their legs cycle round and round.  It's straight out of a Norman Rockwell print and it makes my heart just burst.

But then the girls.  Oh boy, with the pigtails.  Or just the talk, talk, talk.  There is nothing like a conversation with a little girl is there?  You can take away all the knowledge in the world and you only need about 20 minutes.

We have new neighbors behind us and the kids are so excited...they are good pals already.

I have new sand in our sandbox.  We bought new crayons.

I've planted a few pots of flowers.  My peonies are blooming.  I've done as much weeding as I will ever manage this summer.  

It's going to be a fun low-key back yard summer, and I'm as excited as the kids are.


Ordinary Days

Holey, Moley, we are busy here.  May can be crazy can't it?  I keep telling myself in a few weeks things will quiet down, but I won't count on that, just in case.  Soccer and crew and tennis and school are winding down-but of course it first has to wind UP before it winds down.  

I won't have a nice Mother's Day post up this year, I'll be warning you now.  I am too busy doing that mothering thing to even think about Mother's Day.  It always catches me off guard anyways-I've written before I MUCH prefer this little holiday low-key.  No breakfast in bed, or fancy things.  I bought myself a new vacuum a few weeks ago and I'm telling Jeff and the kids they can roll with that for the gift.  I'd rather just have an ordinary day anyways-that's the best gift of all in my book.  

Here's Patrick out waiting for the "boys" to come home off the bus:

And Andrew helping Patrick climb a tree.  He needed a ladder boost:

The three little ones had school off on Tuesday.  We all did some yard work, the reward being, of course, Mr. Freeze.  I wanted to shed some more light on our play area/sandbox so I asked Matt to climb the tree and cut a branch off for me.  He was more than willing than to stand 20 feet off the ground with a saw.

Last weekend we had SEVEN soccer games, no kidding.  (Rain dates caused that little fiasco.) Jeff had to handle five of those between two hours all alone because I was with Abbey at the one regatta I was able to attend this season.  I caught Matt's game on Sunday.  He is a good soccer player and it's fun to watch him.

Over the last 3 weeks I've caught up, here and there, on my scrapbooks.   My motivation was to have Isaac's complete by his graduation party, mission accomplished, and I managed to get the other four caught up at the same time.

Stopped by the library, paid my large fine, and grabbed a few books quickly.  I have NO idea if they'll be good or not...I've already rejected a few by the first chapters.

Abbey's regatta.  Boy oh boy, crew is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of time, or the faint of travel, or the faint of opening your wallet.  (I have said a few times, "Don't you just want to run cross country?  Or how about tennis?  That seems easy enough."  No-she loves the boat and as much as it requires those big commitments above, I do think it's a pretty cool sport.)

This was the "easiest" regatta-a one day event (no hotel stay in another city), and was only about 90 minutes away...on what turned out to be a gorgeous day.  We left at 5 a.m. and returned at about 7 p.m. and that is one long day.

Abbey is in the first boat-looks like they are winning, but the course bends a little so alas, that wasn't the case. I think crew is a little like ballet-it looks so peaceful and pretty, but it is super hard work to get the "peaceful and pretty".  I am dying to get myself into one of those boats just to see what it is like.  I guess they have a parent-try-it day in the summer, but I'll spare myself and Abbey the embarrassment and the risk of a sinking boat and hold off a year.

 At this location, they had one dock to load and unload...which meant the unloading took place in the water.  I cringed when I first saw this-I am not a lake/pond/river swimmer (only ocean on a warm day in clear water) and there is nothing grosser to me than the mush at the bottom of a lake.  My sister-in-law and I had a good laugh because when Abbey got out of the boat to walk in this was her face.  I would have been making the same one. (She is the one in the back with the pink head band.)

I have to laugh because she can barely reach that boat.

Here's a funny video Jeff took of Abbey learning to drive.  She has her temps now, and by golly, she will have her license about 3 weeks after Isaac leaves for college.  An extra driver is a God-send, even with the heart palpitations and endless worry it causes.  She has an issue with using the windshield wipers to put the car in drive but I hear she is actually a great driver (I pass the driving lesson duties to Jeff that's why I don't know firsthand.)


First Communion and A Birthday

Last weekend Andrew made his First Communion.  This is a big deal for me...I love First Communion. Here he is in his finery...I let him pick his tie out (not as fun as the girls are with the dresses and flowers and hair and all but I try!).

We also celebrated Matthew's 13th birthday. (And smart girl that I am I combined those two parties into one compressed one, without ever looking at ideas on Pinterest but keeping everything really really simple knowing that for me right now, that is the best way to go.  Actually for me, forever, that is the best way to go.)

So I officially have THREE teenagers living in my house.  I can do this right?  RIGHT???

On to the next event...Isaac is graduating in a matter of weeks!  Wowzerrs!