Monday, March 30, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Yesterday, my daughter's hair looked like this.

Today, it looks like this. A bit shorter than I would have liked - but I think Daddy will be thrilled.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Word of God - In Practice

We take our kids to Mass every Sunday. No, we don't split up. No, they don't have a nursery. No, they don't always behave as they should. But I believe that God looks fondly on our effort. He knows that it ain't easy and that we are doing it for the greater good.

So today, in between picking up our 4-year old off the floor of the church (yuck!) and placing him back in his seat for the 45th time and stifling giggles in the oldest when the youngest was sticking out her tongue at him (funny, I'll admit) I heard something profound. As a part of the homily, the priest said that on our journey to Holiness, we need to learn to see Christ in everyone. The infirmed, the elderly, the poor, the downtrodden - each was made in the image and likeness of God and we need to treat them as such.

Sounds pretty basic, huh? Christianity 101. Allow me to proceed with my story.

Two hours later we found ourselves in the middle of Washington DC. We decided to make a trip to the Franciscan Monastery to walk through the lovely gardens, breathe the fresh air, and spend some time together as a family. But first we needed to grab something to eat - because nothing spells meltdown like trying to contain four young hungry mouths in the middle of the great outdoors.

If you've never been there, the Franciscan Monastery in DC is a sight to behold. The gardens are breathtaking, meticulously kept and expansive. It is truly one of my favorite places. But, outside the grounds of the monastery, there is a different story to be told. The neighborhood is very urban, mostly black, and a bit intimidating for a bunch of kids who live in the 'burbs of Virginia. On our way to the gardens, we sat down to have a sandwich in a tiny Subway on the threshold of the 'hood.

At first we were the only patrons in the Subway. We ordered our food and sat down as other patrons began to filter in. I could see my kids eyes widen. Their lively chatter decreased to a whisper as my 6-year old leaned in to me, "Mom, that guy is scary."

It hit me. These kids have had such limited contact with people who don't look and act like we do, their first reaction is fear. They had no idea what the priest meant when he implored us to see Jesus in everyone. To them, Jesus looks a lot like Daddy, or Mr. Brown or Mr. Baker.... all the people of our neighborhood. But He looks like the people of this neighborhood, too. And they will do well to figure that out sooner than later.

So, we had a great moment where we could bring the Gospels and the homily to life. Who knows if they got it, but I believe that the seed has been planted. I believe the the Lord looked fondly on my effort. We are working for the greater good.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Front Yard Smells Fabulous

There was a point in time a year or so ago that we gave up on our yard. We had such high hopes 5 years ago when we bought our 1/4 acre of the world - I dreamt not only flowers but a cutting garden, fresh herbs and tomatoes, a lush green lawn, a hammock... you get the picture. I could write a list of excuses why we don't have such a botanical paradise but the truth is that we have four young children and not enough time to keep a lovely yard. I mean we mow and prune occasionally but for the most part our yard looks something like a dog track. Muddy and trampled. Plus, trying to transform our yard into a beautiful garden would mean that we would have to control the children in the one place that they can run and scream with abandon. So, we have learned to accept it.

Yet this morning on the way to Mass, something triggered that desire to have a beautiful garden. It was the smell of freshly spreaded mulch. That woody, dirty smell that a "finished" garden always has in spring. After all the spring planting has been done the mulch is spread signaling the beautiful doneness of the garden. I love that smell. It makes me swoon. It makes me want to grill in our back yard. It makes me want a garden of my own.

All of this gave me an idea: Just buy the mulch. So I did. I went to the garden center and loaded up that back of the van with enormous bags of shredded hardwood mulch. The kids made me keep the windows open in the van for the drive home because they said it stunk. They'll learn to love it. Once home we drug the bags to various points in the yard and started ripping. We mulched everything. Our barren flower beds, underneath our tree, in between the overgrown bushes. And while we don't have a beautiful looking garden the smell says otherwise.

After all of the work, I grilled a steak in the backyard and sat in my porch swing while the kids did laps on the dog track. Life is wonderful, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Potential


There is a trend that I love. There are people who are buying older homes with original fixtures and keeping them in their original state. Instead of renovating these homes they are restoring the integrity of the structure. One particular blogger had a photo shoot in her Retro House because the ambiance is so cool.


This got me to thinking about our bathroom. Maybe instead of thinking of it in terms the dark secret of our house or the armpit of our lovely home, I could start thinking of it as "Retro." I mean - this is a 30 year old home and everything in this bathroom is original. Doesn't that make it antique? Or kitschy?

So, with my newfound change of perspective, I hired aspiring photographer and chef Michel-Kolbe to take some pictures of me in "Retro Bathroom." I think he really captured my Retro essence in the relic of a bathroom. If you would like to stage your own photo shoot in my bathroom, we will be accepting reservations starting immediately. Michel-Kolbe is available to take your photographs. Time slots will be filling up quickly. Reserve your spot now.



Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chemistry

Some days it works. Some days it doesn't. Trying to create harmony among six family members isn't an easy feat to achieve, but there are times that it works. Today, it worked.

I had to scale back on the paparazzi routine because I think that eventually somebody is going to strangle me with the camera strap out of pure frustration. But towards the end of our peaceful, lovely day I managed to catch some of my young 'uns and their bubbles. Bliss.








Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow!
















I try to have a "can-do" attitude. I really do. When the kids want to go sledding and I am thinking to myself, "This is going to be a disaster. You will spend an hour layering these kids and when you get them to the best sledding hill someone is going to melt down. The baby will cry... don't do it.... It's too windy... " And then I look at their puppy dog eyes and realize that this is probably the last snow of the year - optimism trumps realism and I take them sledding. I spend an hour bundling them up, we load the sleds into the van, we drive to the greatest sledding hill ever....

and...

we went halvsies. The big boys loved it. The little ones, not so much. I dragged Annie kicking and screaming up to the top of the hill, plopped my exhausted rear end in the sled, and went flying. She stopped screaming for the duration of the ride and quickly resumed upon stopping. (This is the point of the story where I can hear my parents laughing all the way from California, because legend has it that I may have caused my parents this same kind of duress. )

So, I plopped the little ones in the van with a juice box and the satellite radio and they were ok. The big guys got to sled for an hour.

Did I say earlier this week that having 4 kids was easier than having 2?

So what is a lemonade-from-lemons type of gal to do in situations such as these? Laugh at a picture of them in all their grumpy glory........




Monday, March 2, 2009

It's a good day... A very good day.

Late yesterday, snow started to fall in Virginia. When I say snow, I mean lots of snow. (Well, for us, that is.) The kids woke up this morning to a neighborhood covered in a big fluffy blanket of white. School was cancelled and we got to snuggle in bed for an extra hour or so, drinking in the coziness of a snow day in March!

While we lay in bed, we kept the phone next to us because we were expecting a phone call. The kids waited and watched the clock because they were awaiting some very exciting news. A new cousin was scheduled to make an arrival this morning. What could be better than a snow day AND and a new baby?!

Well, the phone did ring and the news was heralded around the house. Joyful shouts of elation:

IT'S A GIRL!!

Aunt Megan and Uncle Enzo welcomed the newest addition to their family this morning. A sweet little girl named Elizabeth Jane. She weighs 8 lbs 9 ozs and the first descriptions of her included details of her long eyelashes and lots of black hair. Aunt Megan says she looks like Maria. Uncle Enzo thinks she looks like Matthew. Whomever she looks like, we know she will be adorable. She is joining a family that is so thrilled to welcome her into their lives.

God bless you little Elizabeth. We love you already.
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