Thursday, May 7, 2009


Entry for October 31, 2007
We went trick-or-treating today and it was fun. We have enough candy to put all the kids in Portugal on a sugar high for four days. But no smarties. Darn! I LOVE smarties and usually steal them from the kids' treat buckets. Maybe they got wise this year and ate all the smarties first.
The kids saw lots of scary stuff today. There was a zombie that delivered candy, a spider that came down from a ceiling, a spider that was eating a kid dressed as Spiderman, etc. Now, given that I had a 3 year-old and a very shy 5 year-old with me, I was cautious and tried to shield them from the very scary stuff because I don't want them to be in therapy when they are 20, blaming me for their phobias (and also because I'm their Mom and I care about them).
So what was the scariest scary thing they saw today? It came running out of a house. My kids rang the bell and the owner opened the door and out ran a SMALL DOG. Genevieve and Angelina started screaming bloody murder. They both jumped right out of their skin, did 17 jackknifes in the air and landed back in their skin, still screaming. Then they clutched at me as if the Creature from the Black Lagoon was slithering after them while they were stuck in quicksand.
The dog lay down and let the other kids pet it. It didn't even let out a yip. I stood back and protected my girls from the animal, which I found out was a yorkie-chihauha mix. Yes, it was that tiny. You never know what will set them off...
Now I am changing the topic and was completely unable to come up with a suitable segue, so here it is, all awkward and choppy. Sorry. It's late and I'm tired.
Anyway, yesterday was one month exactly since I wrote my first blog entry and it has gotten over 450 hits. I don't even know 450 people. Is it one person, checking the blog 15 times a day? A handful of people with nothing else to read? I don't know, no one leaves comments, except Mary Kay, who, besides being a friend, has sort of become our family cheerleader. Well, whover you are, I am glad that my public humiliation makes your life richer in some way. If these entries give you a little lift, then I am glad. And knowing you are out there helps me, too. The next time I am dealing with a tantrum in a very public, but quiet place, surrounded by gaping onlookers I will be able to say to myself, "No matter how weird this gets, the blog people will appreciate it."

Entry for October 28, 2007
I went and saw the movie Bella. It was AMAZING!!! All of you go see it, right now. Outside of The Passion of the Christ, it was the most powerful movie I have ever seen.
Anyway, Joe was home this weekend (yay!!) and instructed me to get out of the house (he must have noticed the tics I am developing and the chunks of hair missing from my head). So my buddy Janet and I went to see the movie. We got there before the movie started, but it was PACKED, so we had to sit in the front. Not the very front row, but about the third row in. Still, I had to lean back and tilt my head to see.
The movie is beautifully filmed, but gritty and raw in it's style, which I liked. But quite a bit of it takes place in either a car or a train and, believe it or not, I GOT MOTION SICKNESS. That's right, sitting still in a movie theater, I got nauseous. By the time the movie was over, I thought I was going to lose it. When we got into Janet's car I was getting the chills and when she backed up to get out of the spot I felt like my stomach was going to fly right out of my mouth, hit the dashboard and smack me in the head.
Luckily, Janet is a good friend and noticed that I wasn't just a bit queasy, but that I was ready to hurl. She thoughtfully pulled into a nearby McDonald's parking lot, got me out of the car, bought me a vanilla shake and instructed me to drink. Surprisingly, it worked. Then we sat and chatted for awhile, which was great fun. We actually closed the place. What wild women we are!
My kids will like that I wrote about being nauseous. They think anything that has to do with throwing up is just hysterical. Isabella knows a bunch of different ways to say "throw up." Let's see if I can remember them all:
Ralph, hurl, worship the porcelain god, do the technicolor yawn, upchuck, spew, drive the porcelain bus, blow chunks and, her all-time favorite, running the stew master.
Disgusting, but funny-- to an 8 year old. As for me, the next time I head to the movies, I'll pop a Dramamine, bring along a motion-sickness bag and hope for the best.

Entry for October 24, 2007
Let me start out by saying that I spent an hour writing a blog entry and Yahoo wigged out, so I lost the whole thing. Thanks, Yahoo.
It's been a hard week. Joe has been in KC for a week and won't be back till Friday night. The kids are punished. Well, the younger four. Somewhere between Friday and Sunday, they did something to the upstairs toilet bowl so now it can be picked up off the ground. There is also a hole in the ceiling in Noah's room. No one fessed up. They are all punished. Except it is really me that is punished, because they are WITH me and they are BORED.
In India they are having a problem with a pack of roving macaques terrorizing people. They attack people and steal tourist's food and generally are very destructive. Frankly I don't think it is a roving pack of renegade macaques-- I think it's my kids. Somehow they figured out how to transport themselves halfway across the world for kicks. Then they forget and do the same stuff at home. That's when they get punished.
Today I was in the dining room yelling at, uh... doing school with my kids when the doorbell rang. As I opened the door I could hear angels singing. A heavenly light shined through and the fragrant scent of cinnamon wafted through the screen. There was an angel there with a cup of Starbuck's coffee. Coffee? For me? For a moment, time stood still and it was just me and the coffee ...
"MOOOOOM! Angelina won't leave me alone!" ZAP! Back to reality!
It was LeeAnn with the cup. LeeAnn is a fellow homeschooling mom. She is a very busy, talented woman and a homeschooler extraordinaire. She's functioned as a sort of homeschooling doula for quite a few women, including me. She has the cup of coffee in one hand and in the other is a little bag; the kind that says, "Inside me is something that has A LOT of carbs." Now, this was not just any cup. It was the VENTI. What a gal!
"I understand you've had a hard week. This is for you." I thank her profusely and invite her in, but she can't because her 3 year old is sleeping in his carseat. She stands on the porch so she can chat and keep an eye on him.
The children are curious. They start to swarm. Isabella tries to steal the coffee. I have to keep swatting her away. Angelina is prancing around. Noah, surprisingly, is nowhere to be seen. All of a sudden, I hear a sickening thud and a wooden stool comes down the stairs, with Genevieve behind it. I scoop her up and she is crying so hard she's not making any noise. She begins to wail, which makes me feel less freaked and then I rock her until she calms down. She is shaken, but OK.
"Isabella locked Noah in the basement and I was trying to get him out, Mommy," she sniffs.
I get the rest of the story from the girls. Apparently, Angelina was bugging Noah so much that he ASKED Bella to lock him in the basement (hasn't he heard of locking himself in the bathroom? I do it all the time). She eagerly complied. Genevieve saw this and wanted to save her brother, but she needed the stool to reach the lock on the door.
All of this happened in the span of about 8 minutes. LeeAnn stayed to chat for a few more minutes while I held Genevieve. Then I found out that she had a hard couple of days and it should be me buying her Starbuck's (except she doesn't drink coffee, so it would have to be something else). Then my coffee angel had to leave and get back to her busy schedule.
I sit down at the dining room table and take a sip. MMMMM..still hot and SO cinnamony. Again, they swarm. "OK, you coffeeholics, ONE sip each." I open the bag. A cinnamon scone!! I know she brought it for me, but I just had to share. It was decadently delicious!
Somehow, after that, school miraculously got done. I also had time to snuggle on the couch and read the girls some stories and help Charlie try on his Halloween costume that had just arrived in the mail. Then we headed over to my parent's where we were invited for dinner. SO great not having to cook.
At bedtime Genevieve was particularly mushy. We hug, we tuck, we sing. "Hugs, Mom! C'mon, hugs!" I hug her tightly and give her a kiss. "No kisses! Just loving, but no kisses wif the loving." OK, so we hug. "OK, kisses now, kisses wif the loving and say yum-yum-yum." I kiss her chubby cheek and say "Yum-yum-yum." "Louder, Mommy, like this: YUM-YUM-YUM!!!" I comply.
Actually, it wasn't such a bad day after all. Amazing what a cup of kindness can do.

Entry for October 18, 2007
I am writing this at the request of my children. Otherwise I would be in bed. I am completely and utterly exhausted.
We picked up Noah from his friend, Matt's house today and on the way home. Genevieve had another screaming fit. I was actually going to let her scream it out and just drive home with her howling, but I got bitten by the stupid bug and instead pulled over and tried to calm her down. Rule #1 for a tantruming child: IGNORE THE CHILD. I broke the rule.
So, here I am, on the side of the road, with my blinkers on, trying to peel Genevieve off the floor. Instead of flailing, she has changed her approach to tantrums. She now goes limp. It's like trying to pick up a fish with vaseline on your hands. I actually got her calm enough to where I could understand her. She wanted to sit in the middle seat of the van, instead of the back seat. Given that I had removed her from the back seat myself, I decided to indulge her. So, I took her hand to help her get into the car seat.
FOOOMPPH! She goes down like a ton of bricks.
Me: (incredulous) Are you OK?!!!
Genevieve: I'm trying to get in the seat but I keep falling down!
The other kids are chuckling and I make a scary face at them that says "Be quiet or she'll blow!" But I find myself biting my lip to stop from laughing. Such a poor role model I am.
Me: (suppressing the smile and extending my hand) Should I help you up?
She lets me help her up, turns around to climb in the seat and FOOMPPH! She's down again! What the...?
Genevieve: I don't want to sit next to Noah!!! I WANT TO SIT IN THE BACK!!!!
Noah: (laugh-whispering) Mom, you GOTTA put this in your blog!
Me: Yeah, remind me later. Let's get her in the back.
I sit Bella next to Genevieve in case she starts to scream again and I strap her in.
Me: You have not behaved like a preschooler. Preschoolers sit nicely in the car and don't scream.
Genevieve: (bottom lip quivering) Yes, Mommy.
Me: When we get home, you are going to sit on the steps until I tell you to get up, do you understand?
Genevieve: (tears welling in the big, hazel eyes) Yes, Mommy.
OK, I actually don't want to punish her. She's so cute and sweet when she is not acting like a rabid poodle in labor. But I have to or she'll walk all over me. Well, more than usual. She's the 5th child. I'm much more fatigued with her than I was with the others. And I think somehow, she's figured that out.
When we got home, she got on the step by herself and put her head down. When I went back to tell her to get off the step, she was sound asleep. {{{sigh}}} Wish I could have joined her.

Entry for October 16, 2007
Tomorrow is our 20th wedding anniversary. What on earth happened???? Wasn't I 24 last week?? Where on earth did the time go?
20 years is a LONG TIME. Charlie keeps walking around saying "Wednesday, 20 years." He's a cutie. He's just happy he gets to go to Grandma's for unlimited candy and TV. My parents are watching the kids while we are going out to dinner at a NICE restaurant BY OURSELVES. A rare occasion, let me tell you.
Although I can't remember much past last Thursday, I do remember a lot of our wedding day. I remember that I was a young, clueless kid who really had no idea what was going on. I looked good, though. If I could switch my body now with my body then, but keep my mind (what's left of it) it would be an optimal situation, I think. Seriously, I was 21. I was a little kid!!!
I remember all the big hair. Remember the big hair of the 80s and earrings to match? Sheena Easton? Prince? Van Halen? (I was so jealous of David Lee Roth's hair-- women should be so lucky! But now he's lost most of it...) My wedding reception was a sea of big hair, mine included.
I remember walking down the aisle and getting really freaked out inside. I had been so busy up until the day of our wedding that I hadn't had time to process anything-- that's how I was back then-- driven. I was always nonstop, gogogogo. Now, I wasn't freaked out that I was marrying Joe, but that I hadn't had time to prepare myself to enjoy the wedding and so I remember thinking that it was happening and it was going to be over soon and here I was. I wanted to shout, "Stop! I just walked down the aisle and I didn't even realize that I walked down the aisle. Can I go back and do it again?" Now I would have no problem doing just that. Why not? I've been publicly humiliated before. Back then I hadn't been. Well, not to the extent that I have in recent years!
During the Mass, remember Fr. Rich Viladesau metioning little Jessica McClure, who fell in the well and how the fact that other people, who had no connection to her, were concerned for her safety; meant that we are all connected by something and that something is God. That always stuck with me and helped me. You see, on the day of my wedding I hadn't had my conversion yet. It would be years before I actually took an interest in God (although He kept trying to get MY attention in various ways!). But that is a whole other story.
At some point Joe leaned over and whispered something in my ear.
Joe: AnnMarie, a bird flew over and..
Me: What? You're not supposed to be talking to me, right? This is our wedding-- you can't talk to me!
Joe: No, I just wanted to tell you that a bird pooped on me.
Me: You know, it sounded like you said a bird pooped on you...
Joe: I was in front of my parent's house and I was putting stuff in the limo, so I took off my jacket and a bird flew over.
Me: This is not a good sign.
I could barely get through our vows. All of a sudden, the gravity of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm thinking, two minutes ago I was a kid. Now I have to be an adult, because there is someone else in my life that I am responsible for and vice versa. It took me so long to say my vows that some people thought I was bailing. Seriously. But I wasn't. I was experiencing a divine smack in the side of the head with a two-by-four. It was God saying, "PAY ATTENTION! THIS IS SERIOUS!"
The reception is a blur. I do remember that we ordered a chocolate wedding cake with whipped cream icing and what we got was a vanilla wedding cake with butter cream icing. I was angry. If something like that happened now, I probably would let it slide, but I stewed over that one. I remember dancing with my father and wishing I had the guts to tell him I loved him (our family is one that expresses our love for eachother through food and yelling, not just coming out and saying it) or some other profound thing that a daughter should say to her father on her wedding day, so that he would have a special memory to keep. I remember missing part of the tarantella because a pin came out of my dress and stuck deep into my side and I had to run out because I was in pain. When I got back I was too shy to ask the band to play it again. I remember wondering, am I going to get to spend time with Joe at this reception?
All these little bits and pieces of memory that make up the whole. Frankly, they don't mean all that much. What matters is the marriage, not the wedding. 20 years IS a long time. Together, Joe and I have learned a lot. We have learned to laugh, but, more importantly, we have learned to cry. And even more important than that, we have learned that it is OK to cry. We have experienced such suffering together. But without that suffering, we never would have been able to experience joy. Joy in this life that God has prepared for us.
We are a different kind of family. We don't have a TV. We don't own iPods. We follow the church calendar. We have a birthday party each year on the Blessed Mother's birthday. We eat angel food cake on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. My children actually ASK to go to confession. We celebrate Advent. We don't put up a Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. We say the Angelus before lunch. We sing "That's Amore" at the top of our lungs on road trips. We don't do two-piece bathing suits. We don't do Harry Potter, but we know all the characters in Lord of the Rings. Going to the library is our favorite family outing. All of us love fish (but Charlie is the only one who eats sardines). We are coffeeholics. We only have 3 coffee cups that match our dishes because Charlie smashed the rest. We don't get embarassed when Charlie takes a bird bath in the holy water font. All of our children use the word, "actually," about 87 times a day. We're different. We're quirky. But we're OK with that.
On my wedding day, if someone would have told me that 20 years into the future, I would be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, living in the midwest with my husband and 5 children I would not have believed a word of it. But now that I am here I would not change a thing. Except probably my wedding day. I would have enjoyed it more.
Jer 29:11-14 Look it up.
Tomorrow is a happy day for my family, but it will be another tense day for our friends Gina & Mark. Their 5th child was born a month ago, with a defect in his heart. His name is Fintan, but they call him Finn, and he needs a heart transplant. Please pray for Gina and Mark and their family. They need a miracle for their little son. Remember him in your prayers.

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