Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh, Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

Eight years ago I was single (DESPERATELY HOPING TO GET MARRIED) and not really thinking about children (BUT DESPERATELY HOPING TO GET MARRIED). I moved into a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house after walking through the house twice. It was the only house I looked at because, at the time, I wasn't looking to buy a house. In fact I had never before looked through a house and had no idea what I was doing (OTHER THAN DESPERATELY HOPING TO GET MARRIED).

There was no thought put into this decision other than oh, that is a great house and I love it. I would love to live here. It has a great backyard which Joe (that man I was hoping to marry) thought was great (although there was NO INPUT from him whatsoever, he was not so the time.....that came later.....) and it was three streets from my parents which I think they thought was great, although I can'tbe too sure :)

I look back and I have to think it was a moment that was orchestrated or at the very least used by God. A moment in which the rational thing, the seemingly sensible thing to do was the exact opposite of what happened (although I think the Codispoti clan call this a "Kossler Moment".....). It still seems to not make that much sense, that we have 5 in a now, what I call, 2 and 1/2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. We are hoping for another one through the foster care system (I am constantly paranoid that in talking about a 4th child someone will look at me andsay OH YOU ARE PREGNANT - CONGRATULATIONS and then my husband will have to suffer the consequences for about 2 weeks after) and can't say that we have any plans to move.

God, I believe, has placed us in this house - giving us all that we need and much much more. We live in a house that we can comfortably afford on one salary. We are three streets from MY PARENTS, people!!! This takes on a whole new meaning after kids. Not are we three streets from my parents but.....GRANDPARENTS....ahhh, the luxury of it all! And we live in a neighborhood not filled with children but filled with a community. It's amazing to me how God knew that it was not children that would be the best thing for our little ones but a community of people that love and include them in their every day life. We are able to walk in and out of houses. We have babysitters and playmates, none of which are younger than 60 (except for Yumiko - I forget her age but in case she ever reads this she is VERY YOUNG - or at least not yet 60). It's this crazy thing that has us walking up and down the street and chatting and peeking in windows and exchanging baked goods and favors. It's this place where my children run, by themselves, down to my aunt and uncle's house for afternoon playdates. It's this place where Nico can watch Nascar with the 80-some year old man two houses down (one time they both fell asleep in their recliners at the same time :) We are so blessed and it's nothing we would have ever chosen for ourselves. I would have looked for more families or children perhaps - another bedroom :) Joe, I imagine, would want two garages instead of the cramped one car garage we have, at one time he imagined a workshop (HA! I think of the time we thought we would have........, I imagined a room that held all my books and would be a library of sorts - I now call that room our bedroom and it houses whatever library books I have checked out because we sold almost all the books we owned to make more room for the kid's stuff). We would have maybe nitpicked a bit more and looked for something different. But every time I look at this house I feel contentment (now that that nasty carpet is up................) and I think that God placed us here. I don't know what the future holds but I am so grateful for the time we have here now.

Here are a few pics of the "Codispoti Carnival" - orchestrated by the new Big Man on Campus, Nico. Now that big sis is gone for the day he took over making the grand plans.........and you will see what I mean about our neighbors and my parents being such a WONDERFUL community and such great sports. They all came over and let my little man tell them exactly how to play the carnival games. They played the games with enthusiasm and even helped with the clean up.

Nico waiting at the end of the driveway for everyone to come
He thinks this is his "cute" pose.........

The fishing game

Steve and Francesca

The kids in their costumes trying to win for best costume (or just eating the prizes)

Our crazy community - one dog walker got quite a kick out of our front yard festivities!

Monday, August 29, 2011


I tend to be the type of person that follows WDMID instead of WWMID. This can be a problem. I love historical fiction (I have tried to do the whole nonfiction thing and there are some INCREDIBLE nonfiction books out there but by and large I love the stories thrown in the fiction books that may not be historically accurate but are just so fun to read - check out Rutherford, Jakes or Follett for some WONDERFUL reads). point, yes there is one. (Are you still wondering what on earth WWMID and WDMID mean?)

I read Roots when I was pregnant with Sofia and the ending was a COMPLETE surprise, I remember gasping (and mostly likely hitting myself in the chest because every time I swear I am not JUST LIKE MY MOM I discover I really am) and just being bowled over by the entire book. I was particularly affected by what the women went through, not only the women but the mothers. In reading all this historical fiction you discover how easy you have it and, as I have said before, sometimes blessings while always welcome can sometimes seem to be somewhat of an embarrassment. I mean if I can't pull it together with only three children, a wonderful husband, indoor plumbing, electricity and all the comforts that I have.......


And that is when I had a revelation - I needed to think more in terms of "What WOULD Ma Ingalls Do" instead of "What DID Ma Ingalls Do". Fia and I had been reading the Little House books and I found myself getting sucked back into that world where I questioned who I was and my ability to do my job. Again, I live AN ABUNDANT LIFE - why am I tired? why do I have laundry piled up? why do we have egg based meals so much? Why can't I handle life sometimes when Ma Ingalls was able to cross many states in a covered wagon, fording rivers, making rabbit stew and milking cows? And then it dawned on me............

If a U-Haul would have passed Ma Ingalls' covered wagon on the way to the prairie and offered her a ride would she have said, "No, thank you. I prefer my covered wagon. It's so cozy in here with all my wordly possessions and my three children. Oh, and we haven't even forded the river yet! That is just pure excitement! I never know if we are all going to make it to the other side or not"? HECK NO! That woman would have RUN, FLYING INTO that U-Haul probably thanking the Good Lord every second of that ride to the prairie.

What about in the dead of winter when the girls and Ma are stuck inside with the wind howling, snow blowing and have been there for DAYS ON END.........................what if, GASP, a TV landed in the middle of their cabin? Would Ma say, "Oh, please take away that heathen item with it's mindless, endless programming - we are so happy playing here for 13 hours a day with our one corn husk doll and sewing projects."? Again, HECK NO! They would have sat down and after initially watching for all 13 waking hours every day for about a week probably Ma would have gotten it together and limited their tv time to an hour or two a day and done so guilt-free, thanking the Good Lord for this miracle that descended into their home. (Oh and I don't think that TV is a miracle from God and yes, it can be used excessively and there is endless HORRID programming but Ma Ingalls is a good, Christian woman and I am sure she would keep her girls away from anything indecent ;)

My point is.........instead of thinking about all these things that other women did before me, generations before me........I should count my blessings, knowing that they wouldn't begrudge me the conveniences and abundance of this time, right now. I should look at my day and see blessings, not inadequacies. And maybe your struggle isn't with Ma Ingalls or the women found in historical fiction books but with the woman who is line with you at the store (I almost cried when I first had Sofia and I saw a perfectly made up, thin woman at Babies R Us with an infant about Fia's age - I wanted to go up to her and say HOW DID YOU GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE LOOKING LIKE THAT? I half hated her and half envied her) or the mom next door or your own mom or grandma.

Who do you measure yourself against and come up wanting?

Well, STOP. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. It's not worth it. Circumstances, life, people are different. Chances are you are doing just fine, even better than fine. And so today, join me in doing what I believe Ma Ingalls would do..........counting my blessings instead of my inadequacies.................

1. A beautiful feeling like fall day

2. Hot coffee

3. My girl seeing a new friend at school and shyly waving hi

4. A morning spent at the museum and park

5. Max and Ruby :)

6. Wonderful, seem like they've always been there friends

7. A husband who thinks of me first and himself second

8. A forgiving, merciful God

9. A warm bed

10. Seeing a mess and knowing that it comes from a beautiful place

11. Massive Schnabel equipment.............and the generosity and love that come from such people in the sharing of all they have

Friday, August 26, 2011

School Days

I have been a little frazzled as of late. This whole school thing has me spinning. You wouldn't think this, but it's true. I have been putting on an act for the last five years in which I appear to be a somewhat organized, schedule oriented, with-it type mom (or maybe not and you all see me as I really am....that's so scary I can't even go into it right now........). I am not. Well, the schedule is key but I am not really organized and I hate having to be somewhere with something in hand. I don't do deadlines well and I am not used to having to keep track of things. This just makes me anxious. Joe handles all bills, paperwork, insurances, car appointments, EVERYTHING. In fact just a few weeks ago I got a check from someone for looking over their homeschool work and I was completely stumped. Huh. A check. What on earth would one do with such a thing?

I actually had to call my husband.

He instructed me to go to a bank. Ummmmm, what bank? He informed me that we had a lovely little bank down the road from our house that we put our money in. Great. Ummm, now when I get there do I have to fill out one of those slips (those slips make me so anxious...what do I write on them? do I need a special number for them to give me my money that comes from this check? Oh the questions those slips generate..) Luckily, it seems I do not need a slip if I am just cashing a check. So I go to the bank, armed with my twenty five dollar check and I gather my courage to approach the teller. I hand her my check and drivers license and say I would like to cash it. I am uncertain at this point if this is really going to work (not only do their slips make me anxious but so do the actual institutions)

It doesn't work.

My name is not in their computer (see I have these anxieties for a reason, people, sometimes these things just DO NOT work). Apparently, Joe forgot to put my name on the account. Isn't this reassuring? If something happens to Joe how on earth am I suppose to get any money out or even remember what bank it is in? I just took the check home and let Joe deal with it.

ANYWAY...........this school thing makes me anxious not only for Sofia's personal happiness but HOW ON EARTH AM I SUPPOSE TO REMEMBER ALL THESE SCHOOL THINGS? I know, I know. Everyone does it and some do it for 6 kids. It's been two days and all I have had to remember is the reams of paperwork that is needed to enroll your child in kindergarten (apparently my child may need to be whisked off to the hospital for emergency surgery and is it ok if they cannot get a hold of me using the ten phone numbers I had to give them and if two medical professionals deem it necessary that they do whatever procedure is needed to be done? I mean what on earth do you say to that? I just checked the yes box) and make sure her lunch is packed and she is ready for spirit day today. Getting out the door hasn't even been that bad because we have moved up bedtime so that Fia can get enough sleep and everyone is now back to their infant schedule of getting up at 6:00 or 6:30.

This is just not natural for me - this organization thing, this having all my ducks in a row. I do much better with the zoo days and play all day in your pj days and baking and cooking and all that homey type stuff. I feel as if I am going to be graded this year. I wonder how I will do?

Sofia, on the other hand, is just amazed by how easy kindergarten is. She loves seeing friends and recess is her favorite thing at school. It seems, for her, my organized one, my responsible one, my "happy as long as I have a friend" one that she will do just fine. We will see how her mother fares............

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dearest Jani...........

A little over five years ago a babe was about to be born. It was a babe right from God, in God's perfect timing. For she came the year of a shortened school year, a longer summer. It was a time her teacher mama was to remember because she was given an entire month before her girl's arrival to..............

REST. And rest she did........

She took long walks with her brother about to be married. She watched movies when it was light out and there were more productive, more active things to do but a baby was coming and the belly was big and it seemed the right thing to do. There were games of Scrabble on the porch of her parent's house, eating chips and drinking Pepsi. There were whole afternoons of reading on the couch, oh how wonderful that 1000 page Edward Rutherford book was, more often than not followed by a lengthy nap. Her husband marveled at her ability to sleep at all times, any time, anywhere. He might also have wondered how on earth his lovely wife was to survive the coming months after that precious babe was born.

Those days were lovely. They were perfect. Not always are we to be productive and performing and doing, doing, doing. There are times of rest and relaxation and just being. There are times to store up the energy and the momentum for what is to come.

For one day soon you will be called upon to be up and to be giving of yourself to another. This nine months, I feel, was given not only for nesting but for resting. This time is to give your energy, your productivity, your time for the little one inside. You are growing a little baby boy. He needs you now. He needs you to kick back and relax, to read lengthy books, to watch multiple episodes of a tv series, to spend mornings on the deck drinking tea or sipping coffee, going out to dinner with your husband. He needs you to laze about, wondering who he is, what is to become of your life with this new life about to be born.

Sweet Jani, don't waste time thinking about things to do, what HAS to be done. For nothing HAS to be done. This time in your life comes but only once. For the next time you find your belly big, your feet all swelled up you will have a little Perrin to chase about and meals to be on the table and a boy to put to bed and a million other things that come with a small one about. You will think about him first and yourself second. You will want to squeeze out every second with him while waiting for the second for you will know that your time with him and him alone is coming to an end.

This time is for you. Take it and rest with it, not run with it. You will not regret it. Your life is about change in a BIG way and in the best way. Yet, it is an ending of sorts. An ending of endless time for you. Take advantage of the time you have now. Everything you might concern yourself with now will be there next year.................

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

For The Record......

I feel as if I must write something about this day. THIS DAY being the day I have half dreaded since June 17th, 2006. Today was Fia's first day of kindergarten.

We have been incredibly blessed with a teacher who is experienced and kind and organized and will be a good disciplinarian. There are nice girls in her class who I had hoped would be there. There is even an aide I met this morning that I have known since I was little. The whole building is on high alert looking for Linda Kossler's granddaughter, Joe and Mandy Codispoti's daughter. We are blessed.

But it's still hard. It's my girl. The one who is my heart. The one that I probably worry about the most. For there is uncertainty within her little body. She is not one who embraces change or adventure or new experiences. She is like her daddy, like her mommy. Maybe not the people that we have become and learned to be but the people, the children we were when young.

Yet in other ways, I think she is better than we are. She has a kindness and generosity that goes beyond her years, beyond her genes. She is what we prayed for when we were still just thinking of what may come. In the womb we asked God to bless our child with these qualities. Back when we had long hours to talk and wonder and imagine we each picked out a quality that, for us, was above all others. We talked about how to encourage these in our child that was to come. We prayed for these qualities. Joe's was generosity, mine was kindness. It's amazing to see how God has answered prayer in that manner. For my girl has a heart for giving and a heart for showing others kindness. Just the other day she talked about Christmas and after going to grandpa and grandma's house to open presents she would like to come back to our house to wrap presents and make presents for other people that don't have very much, maybe in other countries. The week before she thought maybe we should put on gloves and take bags around the neighborhood to collect trash. She is quick to think of others.

I pray that she is indeed a light to others at school. That she live out our prayers for her. I pray God's protection over her, these hours that she is away from us. I love this little girl and today I have missed her. It seems there is a bit missing from our day. It was such a beautiful day and how I longed to have her on our walk with us, at the rock pile and reading books on the couch as the sun shone in. I know she is where she is suppose to be, God has assured my heart with every single blessing I asked for and more.

But it's hard.

My girl

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Very UnPC Tale of Two Dead Parents

Fia loves to pretend play. She can talk FOREVER about her "children" and all the mishaps that occur. And in the last few months there has been much focus on her "parents", specifically her dead parents. I have no idea where she got this from other than the fact that we have been talking about fostering and adopting for quite awhile but NEVER about parents that have died. It has always been said that some parents aren't unable to take care of their children and that we were going to help them out by caring for whatever child comes into our home. I can only imagine what she must have inferred from this. The following is a story she told me yesterday............

Fia: My parents are dead. (Always a good opener for a story)

Me: How did this happen?

Fia: Well, my dad went to England. He's a strong dad. My mom was at home. An Indian came
over and she was really nice. She took care of him. He gave her some tea. She drank all of the tea but it was poisonous.

Me: Oh no! Poisonous tea?

Fia: Yes, it was poisonous tea and I didn't get home in time to save her. She died.

Me: What about your dad?

Fia: Well, he was in England and an Indian came with over. He had a gun. He shot my dad in the eye with the gun. I went over to England to try to save him but I was too late. He died.

Me: Oh my! So what are you doing now?

Fia: I got a foal and I am happy now.

So there you have it matter what tragedy may occur in your life, a foal is the cure for everything. It's nice to know that if anything ever happens to me that life indeed will go on as long as someone buys her a baby horse. Oh and please excuse the quite negative references to Native Americans. I am guessing this is from reading the Little House books in which sometimes there can be some mean Native Americans. The extensive talks we had about how the Native Americans were here first and had a right to the land and were justifiably angry did no good. Also those talks about how there are mean people of all types everywhere just as there are good people of all types. Apparently the only thing that stuck out to her was the chapter where two Native Americans showed up and took some things from the cabin, scaring Ma and the girls.

I can't IMAGINE the things her kindergarten teacher will hear this coming year. She starts tomorrow.............good thing we met Mrs. B last night so she knows I wasn't poisoned with tea and Joe wasn't shot in the eye..................

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Serious Disorder Affecting the Male Population of the United States

............otherwise known as "Piles". I think that this is an actual disease - Ashley, please let us know so Jani could tell us a home remedy which would then be furthered treated by my oncall specialist, Bekah's husband, and then we could always ask Jen who has probably had it.

I digress..........I started noticing 2 years ago that my son had issues with this. It only took about two months into my marriage to notice that, indeed, Joe was already a goner and that my job was to just treat the disease not to cure it (I hope that my husband is in a good mood when he reads punishment will, of course, be my next post which will be titled "How I Can't Keep a Closet Organized to Save My Life or My Life Long Struggle With Folding a Towel Properly"). When Nico was two and barely talking at all he had a shelf in his room with his "treasures". He would take guests into his room and tell them all about his treasures - a rubber ring from the salad spinner, a car, pieces of paper, etc. One day I got so bothered by this "pile" that I swept it all in a basket and put it under the shelf.


He was VERY upset that his treasures were gone (I should have recalled the many times I tried to move his father's "treasures" into my version of a more organized pile or place......). He proceeded to take them all out of the basket and put them back in THE EXACT SAME SPOTS. He was 2, people, and these were RANDOM BITS OF, TREASURE......and they were put back with precision, about 15 items. I didn't make that mistake again.

I walked into his room today to find this:

It had happened so gradually, after changing his room, that I hadn't noticed the disease had reared it's ugly head once again. To anyone else this may look like a random assortment of trash and you might think that it's time to clean it off. But OH NO I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON (Yes, Joe, I know that after 7 years I have yet to learn my lesson with you but I am trying honey, really trying and yes, I know that I really have to start aiming better and really trying to get the diapers IN the basket in the garage because you work very hard to keep it clean and it DOES NOT help when I just throw things in there willy nilly). That huge loopy thing is a toy bought at a garage sale for TWO DOLLARS and we HAD to get it because the main reason that he loves to go to the Arways' house is because of all their super cool hot wheel stuff. The Justice League of America clock is my brother's from when he was little that grandpa thought he would like to have. There is a christmas music box from Aunt Susie, a paper airplane Joe made, a stuffed turtle from a neighbor, two pretend trophies that he made from blocks, a night light, a torn Diego birthday card, a flag and two cars. Now you may think just clean it off, Mandy, he won't notice some missing things. I HAVE TRIED. Without fail, the same things will show up on the dresser IN THE SAME PLACE later that day or the next.

I think this is the beginning of a life long struggle. I want to apologize to Nico's future wife and say that I will work on it. If you, all 4 readers out there, find or have any cure for this disease please pass it on. My entry way needs your help:

Yes, honey, there will come a post in which I go through the cupboards and take pictures of every dish that I completely and INADVERTENTLY put away with just a few little spots on it. (Ok, to be honest there have been many GROSS dishes put away, things I wouldn't even eat off of....I mean ENTIRE BOWLS with pesto residue caked on it after 8 cycles through the takes me a while to admit defeat and actually wash the dish myself)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lazy Days.........

Today was a perfect day, my kind of a perfect day. We did puzzles at the table and had pancakes for breakfast. We read Richard Scarry books and played with paper dolls. We didn't get out of our jammies until well after 10 o'clock. We shucked corn and played outside. We jumped on couch cushions and then watched Ice Age before nap. We fingerpainted and Nico read us a book about animals because he is "an animal expert" (apparently tigers eat sheep, baby horses are called calves and, by the way, fireman aren't furry and don't have nipples so he has to become a daddy now).

I love these days, these lazy days when we are all curled up together. I love that we spend the entire day doing nothing but playing and doing chores about the house. I love seeing the relationships that grow between my children because they have all this time together and are pretty much forced to play with one another. I love that Nico is a rough and tumble type boy but shows a gentleness that comes from being a brother to two sisters. He is always sure to notice when Fia or Francesca or momma, for that matter, thinks they look pretty special. He will tell us that we look beautiful or cute or pretty because he notices this. I love that Fia jumps right into finding worms and bugs and all manner of gross things outside with her brother. I love that Francesca's most used phrase is now "ME TOO! ME TOO!"

Tomorrow is a baby shower where we have to write one piece of advice to the new mom. For some reason this has been on my mind a lot. I wonder what to squeeze onto a piece of paper. What is the most important? What tidbit was passed on to me? What have I learned in these five short years?

I think after today I have figured it out. Two words that seem so simple yet so important.

Stay home. Whether it is a daily thing or something that happens on weekends only......stay home. Drink in this time. You will have so many things to do, places to go when they get older. When you can, stay home. Spend whole days in your pajamas, read books on the couch for an hour because you can. Don't rush here and there and miss out on just being with your kids. I see it happening already - already they are starting to want to do their own thing. They are feeling a bit of their independence - playing outside on their own, involved in games not for mom. Laying in bed reading books, not wanting to be read to all the time. They are forming a bit of a group of their own - loving on each other, sharing little secrets and giggles and fun.

I am happy for them, I am. This is what I have wished for.

But I am not really ready quite yet. I have come to love my days at home, spent with my little ones. Something that was not always so. I had a hard time at first, staying at home. I wouldn't have had it any other way but it's hard with a baby and no friends at home and nothing to do all day but stare at your sleeping or screaming baby. I use to try to find somewhere to go each day, to run away from my house, my boredom, my frustration. But now, now oh my how much I have come to enjoy this time and how much I want to hold so tightly on to these children, my babies and this moment.

So maybe, this year, while one is exploring and entering a new world I will remember my own advice. Perhaps this coming season there will be more jammie days and lying about days. Days of hot cocoa and books and games and puzzles and basketball contests in the basement.

And, hopefully, there will be a few snow days..............................

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What They Don't Tell You

I was fully prepared to give birth, A little terrified but I knew once she was in, she had to come out and I was ok with that. It seemed I was the last of my friends to have a child and there was a lot of yearning in my heart for a child. We would actually borrow Joe's little brother and sister to do all the kid things that other people were doing or to have kid events at our house. I was so very ready. So when I went to the hospital and out popped little Sofia, I was happy - all was well. There was one stitch, very little pain and then I was back to normal. Or so I thought.....

Everyone tells you about their labor experiences and then your trusted girlfriends tell you about the hideous mesh underwear that really is a life saver, the nonstop bleeding and how AMAZINGLY GOOD THAT FIRST SHOWER FEELS. Yet after you are all stitched up, put back together and ready to face the world again there is something missing. I feel as if I went in the hospital and came back out without my protective layer (not to be confused with the extra layer of padding around my body - that never did get lost and WHERE ON EARTH DID MY WAIST GO?).

This layer that prevents a person from feeling too much, crying at the drop of a hat, it's the layer that when scrapped off can bring about both intense joy and then at times intense pain. When scrapped off you find yourself facing the world just.....well, raw. And now, it's not just you, it's another little body that carries around all your hopes and dreams and love for them. When that little one feels do too. All the while, you have lost that second skin, that coating that makes life a bit simpler to navigate and you are raw to the stings and barbs of life.
There was a wedding a few months after Fia was born, a family friend wedding. One of our friends had a daughter who died when she was 19, she should have been at the wedding. I remember sitting in the church, tears streaming down my face because I was raw, broke apart by the fact that this beautiful girl wasn't here to share this moment. I thought of my own girl in that moment and thought of being left behind on this earth while she went on. It was too much, I wasn't sure how I would or could do it. I wrapped my arms around that mother and for a moment we shared the unfairness and sorrow of it. I didn't realize that having a child could cause so much feeling, so much aching that would leave me vulnerable for moments like this.

And yet, this removal of a layer brings such joy to the surface. I found myself, just yesterday, crying in the kitchen because I was filled with a sense of peace and happiness. Why? Because there was such beauty all around me. The dishwasher was humming, the light was shining in from the windows on our "new" hard wood floors, the garden was in full bloom - just brimming over with fresh produce and my children were making happy sounds throughout the house. I thought this is it, this is all I need. My home was happy, my heart was happy. Never before this peeling back had I been able to see, really see, all the blessings that life had to offer. I feel as if I was constantly searching for ways to fill my time, my heart. I don't think allowed myself to slow down, to drink in entire moments at a time.

Throughout this birthing and child raising process, God has brought me closer to His heart. He has stripped me of layers that I had built up. Layers that I built, meant to save myself. I wanted to save myself from ever really feeling, I wanted to be protected from all that goes along with giving parts of myself away. So God gave me these little ones - to save me from myself. To open up whole worlds of joy and beauty and pain that lead to a life worth living - not the safe one I was prepared to live.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Confessions of a Bad Mommy #10

1. I found poop on the living room floor the other morning (at least we have hard wood floors now). The night before Francesca had pooped, right before Joe put a new diaper on her. Obviously, we didn't notice ALL the poop and, yes apparently, some people's sh** really doesn't smell. Never noticed it.......until I practically stepped in it the next day.

2. I missed Sofia's safety city "graduation". I had NO CLUE this was going on.

3. Part 2 of missing said graduation was that I sent my poor mother with the two younger kids to pick up Fia. I was WAY TOO BUSY at my hair appointment. In my defense it was the first time in about 7 years that I had my hair cut in a place other than a quickie great clips kind of place or at a friend's house.

4. I took all the curtains off the windows in all the main living areas with the intention of replacing them with something. I give it about 5 years before anything new is put up. I run out of steam quickly when doing things to the house.

5. We now have WAY MORE pictures of Nico than anyone else on the walls. What can I say? The kid has a great smile and hams it up for the camera. I still feel bad about it though......

6. I had NO IDEA that you would ever clean an oven.....I mean, it's suppose to look like that right?

7. I am seriously considering letting Shawna come over and clean said oven. In fact, someone who has Shawna's e-mail please considering forwarding this post. She said it would take ONLY an hour. Seriously, if I have an hour of free time it sooooo isn't going to be used to clean the oven. I love you, Shawna, but really AN HOUR? I would so much rather bake some bread or read a book or even dust - ok, I lied on that last one....... (I am home most days of the week, come anytime).

8. Last night I put one of those pampered chef small loaf bread pans (baked 5 regular loaves of zucchini bread, 4 small loaves and a dozen muffins yesterday - I am not lazy, people, just particular with my time :) in the oven because the thought of cleaning it with one of those scrapper things was just too much for me at the moment. And I would be lying if it didn't occur to me that Shawna just might find it and by the very nature of her personality be forced to clean it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Better Than I Could Have Imagined

The most outstanding feature of my wedding? A trumpet. A trumpet that heralded my entrance into the church. My sweet father, knowing his girl's heart, asked if I wanted to walk slower. Only I wasn't walking, I was floating that day. The trumpet sounded at both my entrance and our exit. For weeks I had dreamed of that sound.......and it was even better than I could have imagined.

Just like that trumpet sounding on my wedding day, I had dreamed of being married for so many years. I had dreamed of the day, the man, the dress. I had pictured family and friends and the ring and the party that would follow. I was ready.............and it was even better than I could have imagined.

For the year that Joe and I dated and the seven months engaged, I dreamed of the marriage. I wondered what it would be like to wake up each and every day with this man. What would it be like to create a home, a life with someone else? I dreamed of the dinners and the parties and the talks and the cuddling, the CHILDREN, oh how I wanted to be a mother. I couldn't wait to get there...........and it has been even better than I could have imagined.

Just recently we celebrated seven years of marriage. And, oh, how I love this man. More than the day I met him, more than the day he proposed to me and more than that magical day when we wed. I think that we talk about the commitment and work that a marriage takes. That marriage is a place, a time where love goes to fade and grow old and comfortable with one another. That love takes on a new hue and that you can get to a place where it is deeper and richer but not as passionate. I would like to disagree. Yes, I will never again kiss my dear husband for the first toe-curling time but after the kids are in bed and the lights are low and the wine has been poured I will kiss him for the 5,000th toe-curling time. It still happens. The toes still curl.

Marriage is not a place where love goes to die or wither or grow old and ONLY comfortable. Marriage was given to us from GOD. God is a passionate, loving, faithful God. The God I have read about and know does not know complacency. I am not a biblical scholar nor particularly well-read so please disagree with my thoughts, it's ok. But of this I am sure. I am passionate about my man. This man that camps out with his children even though he has been working hard all day, at the farm, in the garden, on our house, providing for his family. This man who asks at the end of my day when I am reading in bed if there is anything I need while he still has hours to go. This man who does a final check for his family, locking all doors, checking all cars, peering in on and praying for all his children. This man is our rock, our center, our stability, our protector, our joy all wrapped up in one sexy package. This marriage is not about comfort or duty or anything less than the love and passion of two people brought together by God.

Not that comfort or growing old together is not in our plan for there is comfort in a forever love. There is the comfort that comes from knowing that this man who saw you not only on your wedding day but that painful day after the third birth when the body and the mama were all tired and ugly sounding, ugly looking. There is comfort in this love that shines through those times when both were angry and wanting to be right, wanting vindication so much so that the main matter was forgotten and all that matter was I AM RIGHT. There is comfort in getting through the arguments, the discussions, the disagreements, the times when passion was not at the forefront but a sliver of thread running through a faithful marriage.

But the sliver, the passion is always there. At times it is right on the surface, so much so that all you can do is just grab onto that man and hold on. At times it is the hum you feel, what you sense as you cuddle up close after a long and tiring day. But always, always I think...............this is so much more than I ever imagined.

Ti amo.


One of my favorite days - on a train from York some eight years ago.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dear Warstler Mom of Three,
Please forgive me. I, once upon a time, had certain thoughts and ideas. This person I was had no children. I would get up in the morning, read part of a novel, have a leisurely breakfast on the couch and got ready.............ALL BY MYSELF. I would set the table for dinner and have the place pretty clean before I left to start my day..........ALL BY MYSELF. When I got to work, I would prepare for the day, read a bit of my Bible and (in the interest of being truthful) drink an ice cold Pepsi.........ALL BY MYSELF. I would stand at the door of my classroom and greet my little darlings as the came in and I would find myself glancing at the moms dropping off their children, the mom that I hoped to become some day soon.

I would watch them come in with their children - other little ones in tow. I would often wonder at this one mom - thin, nice-looking, kind know she is a good mom and you would want her children in school. But I can still see her - her oldest in kindergarten and two other ones in hand - she would wear old t-shirts, sweatpants and have her hair pulled up in a messy ponytail or bun (you may recognize this hairdo because it is the one I sport on an almost daily basis). I would stand at my classroom door and swear that would never be me and why on earth wouldn't this cute young mom take the time to comb her hair and put on something a bit more flattering?

HAAAAHAAAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! That's God and the rest of the world laughing (well, the rest of the world that has kids or a clue as to what it takes to get yourself and three young kids out of the house by 9am every day).

Now, it seems, the shoe is on the other foot. For this nice-looking mom now has three somewhat independent children and she is working - looking cute and put together each day. While it is I who am struggling to get these three out the door each day - fed, clothed and one ready for school. What's that you say? Ok, ok - so clothed may be a stretch but there is underwear and covering on each one - not always is the hair brushed, yes, Francesca has left quite a few mornings with marker all over her face or arms (her version of makeup) and well, let's just say it is a good thing that I am a natural beauty and don't have to rely on hair, makeup, style or clothing.......... :)

I was going to post a picture of myself from that before time but apparently we didn't exist until we had children because I wasn't able to find any. Well, except for ones where I was pregnant with Sofia but those wouldn't work. It just would not have proved my point very well - I was tired looking, my face was thicker and I am way cuter now........

I guess a healthy dose of good self-esteem and delusion will help me through these not so put together years of young children.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some days

Some feels like.....well, ALOT. It seems as if the laundry, the dishes, the piles, the beds, the produce from the garden and the cooking is endless. It seems as if too much time is spent on these things and that your job is never done. My house, my family requires lots of time and upkeep.

When there were 2, I swept once a week, did dishes every other day, laundry about 1-2 times a week and cleaned for big events about once a month. Now that there are 5, I sweep almost every day, sometimes 2x a day, the laundry SHOULD get done every day and when it doesn't it's almost too much to look at - the massive pile gets to be so intimidating that I just have to shut the door and give it a few more days until someone runs out of something. The cooking is a constant throughout the day - whether baking bread, canning, preserving or simply getting a meal on the table. This means that the dishwasher is usually run at two times a day. I am constantly picking up, organizing, sifting through, cleaning something. I feel like an underpaid, overworked housekeeper with nothing to show for it....................some days.

Some days.................I am a martyr. This is NOT an attractive nor godly quality. That last paragraph was the paragraph of a mommy martyr. Yeah, all that stuff happens and some is boring and tedious and with three kids underfoot a bit daunting but it's not hard labor, this isn't some sort of prison camp. I am healthy, I have a wonderful husband, I have fabulous kids, I have support like you wouldn't believe in the form of family and friends and truth be told, I feel as if God created this whole wife/mothering/homemaking thing for me, I enjoy it................most days. But it is just so "fun" to be the martyr, to scream out NOTICE ME! NOTICE MY SACRIFICE! DO YOU SEE ME, WHAT I DO! AREN'T I AMAZING TO HANDLE ALL THIS? And, without prompting, my husband does but sometimes I want more, I want someone else to admit that I am amazing, that they see the work that I do. That they see me. They see how hard this can be to do it and do it well (and it's not as if I always do it well, either). And I think that is what is hard about this job...........some days.

There is a general recognition of motherhood, of homemaking. There is a recognition of the fact that it is a job and that it's one that has it's ups and downs. But some days.............I want a letter, like one I use to get when teaching. I use to get GREAT letters. I think first grade parents tend to be involved and worry more about their kids so they tend to be ones to write great letters. I was told how wonderful I was, I got presents, I was told what a difference I make. It was pretty gratifying for an approval hound such as myself. So some days........without that letter, without that recognition I become a martyr. I start to seek that approval, that recognition in the most unhealthy of ways.......I start to whine a bit, complain a bit, start listing my to do list and compare it to others. It makes for such a whiny, nasty person, this martyrdom thing. It puts the focus on myself and I forget that other people crave what I crave. That they to lead lives that matter. They, too, work hard. They have chores and tasks that God charged them with.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Some days................I want to just tell Paul to can it but the man is right. I think today I will be a mom without the martyr attached to it. Also, I wanted to let you know.......I think you're great.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Movin' On

Today I went grocery shopping with two children. One in the cart, one free to be very helpful - selecting bananas, filling bags with popcorn kernels and grabbing a bag of apples. When we got in the car there were only two car seats to buckle. We had to make another stop at Acme - there was no fighting over who got to ride in the car because there were two seats and wow, only two kids here today.

When it was time to watch - everyone wanted to watch Diego! YEA! When it was time to play there was no struggle to play two completely different things and they both wanted to read the same books.

However, at lunch there was no talk of Olivia (fia's doll and quite active child apparently) and there was no pleasant conversation. Nico did sing us his favorite song of the moment, "YUCK! YUCK! YUCK! YUCK". It seems this is a VERY funny song that cheers people up when they are sad, or so I was told. Francesca found it to be HILARIOUS. There was no playing mom and dad altogether. No playing Monopoly Jr. or princess bingo while discussing girlie things. Nico was left without his best bud telling him/showing him what is the MOST fun thing to do.

It was different.

It was good.

I suppose it's time for a little letting go, a little growing up for us all. For Fia to make friends and become confident in being who she is without the clan backing her up all the time. (Today she whispered to me in the car that she PLAYED A GAME! So proud of herself - for she spent 2 years in Awana NOT playing games, fearful of eyes on her, fearful of not being good enough) For Nico to become the big kid and do a bit of the telling and bossing himself. For Francesca to be included in big kid stuff and be the one to play and follow rather than always being left behind with mama.

And mama? Well, I must admit 3 to 2 for a few hours is nice, it's easier, much more than I would have thought. I miss my girl but am excited for what this new time holds for her. Plus you know what happens after you start getting comfortable and life gets a bit easier right?

We'll get a call (just certified as foster parents for whatever little one, 0-2, who needs us)............and 3 will become 4 and 2 will become 3 during the day and life will be back to our "normal". I'm trying NOT to get too used to this life of luxury..........

We're missing you, my girl.........but are so happy that you are loving this new life as a big kid.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thank You, Jani

The first time it happened was the day after Fia was born. A hospital photographer came around to see if we wanted to have some horribly expensive pictures of our scrunched-up, red faced baby taken so that we could remember this time forever.

Um, no.

This was the first of many moments when we said no to the whole picture thing. It's a bit embarrassing to admit to people (not on the internet, of course, because I don't have to see your looks of horror at my complete lack of love for my child that manifests itself through never having a professional picture taken of them) that we have never had pictures taken of our kids. It was common enough the first year that people would ask me do I have monthly pictures taken or do I wait every three months to have them done?

Um, neither.

To be perfectly honest it was a combination of not wanting to spend the money and the horror stories I have heard from EVERY mother out there. I have heard of long lines, kids throwing up, pictures being erased, screaming fits - you name, it has Sears, Penney's, etc. I thought why on earth should I endure this torture? Plus, can I be honest and say that I actually rather enjoy the amateur photos I take of my children while at play? Just simple glimpses of life as it is at the time - whether playing or eating or screaming.

Until one day I was shamed by my lack of professional pictures and decided to take Fia in for her year pictures. It didn't hurt that we did have a gift certificate to the mall photo store place. We went at the right time, her happiest time. She was dressed in a VERY cute outfit, even a bow in her hair. We played in the sand box with her, showed her all the fun toys in the super cute background/scenery place we chose to have her in..............we left without one picture being taken. At least one picture when she wasn't screaming her head off, looking as if we were imprisoning her in the fun beach area.

I actually took her back one more time.

Still no pictures.

I felt so vindicated.

All this to say that 5 years later and many pictures later that were all taken by yours truly we have met a professional. I knew if I waited long enough one would come to me..............

Thanks, Jani. Here are a few beautiful (and impromptu) shots she took (one her husband took of Francesca) at a recent, heavenly pool day.

Friday, August 5, 2011


This past week has been a CRAZY one and it all started with a dinner at a friend's house........

Last Wednesday night we walked into our friend's house for the first time for dinner and it just was, well, beautiful. Beautifully done, restful and I was struck for a moment with house envy. This might not sound like a big deal but I RARELY have house envy. I have been inside HUGE, beautiful homes, newly remodeled homes, spotless homes, well decorated homes and not once have I ever really felt house envy. Oh, of course, I have looked in bathrooms and imagined the luxury of not having my knees almost touch the tub when going to the bathroom. I have imagined what it must be like to have a bedroom bigger than a large closet for my big, beautiful baby boy. Yet, overall, I LOVE our house. It is home to me and is just absolutely perfect for us......until last Wednesday.

I have no idea why it struck me so hard but Friday after the dinner I looked at Joe and said we need to rip up our carpet NOW. It is 6:30pm at this point and next week Joe starts back to school, my parent's are on vacation and harvest is starting in earnest. This is not the time to be pulling up carpet but I feel the an URGENT need to pull up the carpet.......RIGHT NOW. My wonderful husband pulls up the carpet.

Today it is exactly one week from that Friday when the need was so URGENT and we have just come back from my parents. The kids and I lived there for a week while Joe worked day and night (literally, one night he crept into my parent's house at 1:30 in the morning) to get all the work done. For once the carpet was up in the dining room we noticed the ceiling really should be done in the living room since the paint was peeling. After all the carpet was coming up in there and the furniture all had to be moved ANYWAY.......this was the persuasive argument made to my husband. So the ceiling was scraped and primed and painted which led to the walls being painted which finally led to the carpet being pulled up. And so we are here to day back home and it looks great.

But what I have discovered is what I should have always remembered.............I am the messy mom not the beautiful, restful mom. My home and it's decoration or lack of is a reflection of who I am. And while I hope that no one would ever say my home is messy, I don't think anyone would ever come photograph it for a house beautiful magazine shoot. It's cozy and warm and where kids come and go and play and want to come back. It's a place to run and be free and not think that something will get mussed or dirty. This is who I am, this is the family we are and this is what my kind friend shared with me after I told her I had house envy. She was surprised and said that she wouldn't ever imagine anyone having envying her house. She made the comment that she felt our home was welcoming and that she felt part of the family when she came in. It was spot on and what I have always wanted out of our home. So while my husbandmade our space a bit easier to manage, without all that nasty carpet down and I would love to keep on this decorating spree and tear up other areas of the house it's time to get back to living and playing and being the messy mom. Hopefully I will remember this the next time I walk into YOUR house :) For somehow I have managed to always have beautiful, restful, clever, creative friends whose homes reflect that beauty................

Just a few of those beautiful friends at a Fancy Nancy Tea party we had for Sofia and some of her friends.