1.31.2011

"P" Week Snacks

P week was rather, pathetic.  There are so many great P snacks, but we were busy that week and only got around to pickles and popcorn.  Pretzals dipped in chocolate, mini pizza's and peppermint ice cream would have been great too.

1.30.2011

Praying and Playing on Saturday.

Before I begin this post, I would just like everyone to know how much I love my husband. Really, he is awesome. I know that we all have awesome husbands, but today, mine rocks. Last week he said to me out of the blue, would you like me to start taking the kids to school every day? It makes more sense since I am already leaving the house and that way I can spend some more time with Thomas and Annie in the morning.

After picking my jaw up off the floor and asking Thomas to pinch me, I managed to muster out a thank you. Now I can let George and Evie sleep in the morning instead of dragging them from their warm little beds. Now I have an extra hour in my day. So, here I am, Monday morning. I'm still in my ski socks, shrunken jammie pants and warm, fuzzy, robe. I'm sitting in front of the computer, coffee in hand, getting ready to write this post. TJ calls, it's 9:15. He told me that he just got into work and how it took him one hour to get the kids to school. The roads were so icy that traffic was just crawling along.

God bless you TJ. I love you. Thank you for spending an hour and a half in your car this morning taking our children to school, so I could stay home, warm and cozy, drinking coffee. It's not fair, I know. But I love you and appreciate all that you do for us.
THE WALK FOR LIFE
Saturday was the annual Walk for Life. We went and walked and prayed for an end to abortion and for all those unborn babies. It was really a beautiful day. The weather was pleasant. Mom, Laura, Jarod and Andrew even came, so they could walk as well. They know all too well how precious life is.




Pink and blue balloons were released, symbolizing all those little souls in heaven.
I couldn't help but think of our little Joseph as I saw this one lone blue balloon drifting heavenward. It was one year ago yesterday that we knew he had died.




After the walk, the Vaceks and us decided to go to Ya-Ya's pizza downtown for a little lunch. We were inspired from the Walk for Life and decided there was no better way to promote LIFE than to take nine children into a restaurant during the lunch hour.



Did I mention that the pizza rocked. I've never had Ya-Ya's before, but man, was it yummy. As you can tell, I enjoyed it. Thanks TJ for the picture.



TRIVIA NIGHT
And now for the playing part of our day. Our church hosts an annual event called Trivia Night. Last year the Boevers, Rutledges, Vackes and us all formed a team. We had such a fun time together and even though we didn't do too hot, we still had fun. After that night, we decided to stick together each year as a team....forever. We'll all be sixty and still playing Trivia Night together. Maybe by then we'll even win.
We started the evening at Grandmothers, of course. Craig had been texting the guys the day before with random trivia questions, getting them ready. Some of us even received an automated voice message reminding us to practice.....courtesy of Craig.

There are about thirty tables of eight that make up this event. Tables even dress up in costumes. It is so much fun!!

Our table and team name....

I had never laughed so hard. My stomach seriously hurt from laughing. We quickly realized that next year we better start practicing much sooner than the day before.

Jillian, our appointed writer of the answers. She did a fabulous job!





Our table was right next to the "cunning" hams. They are funny.


And the bonus for the night was John and I winning ten dollars each. He got on stage and ate a spoonful of wasabi sauce...and I, well I got on stage and did the splits. We're a talented table, we know it.

Making outfits out of black trash bags....




They both were too funny. Tim even has a nice strut.

Concentration...

Questioning...

Confusion...

and determination.

Next year guys, we'll get 'um next year.

1.27.2011

Love.

I love the season of Ordinary time which begins after the Baptism of the Lord and lasts until Ash Wednesday. I love that St. Valentines Day falls in this ordinary time. I get to fill our home with pink and red and adorn our space with shining hearts before it all becomes barren as we focus on Lent.

The word love is so overused. We love good food, we love to go to the library, we love swimming, we love to go skiing, we love our home, we love each other, we love ice cream, we love to be outside, we love Star Wars.....But love is so much more than a feeling. Love is a choice we make. We can choose to love someone, no matter what. I'm realizing this the older I get, that love doesn't just symbolize the good either. Love is so much more. Love is actually more present in what is hard, and difficult. Love is there in the suffering, and the sick. I'm learning better ways to show my love.

I was reminded the other day of advice I gave to a friend a long time ago. When getting up all thorough the night with a new baby, to practice saying, I'm coming Lord, when hearing her cry again. To come to that baby as if it was Christ himself calling out to me at 2:14am. That is love.

To clean the kitchen, again, for the fifth time that day. Making the counter shine because I love the people who are sitting there eating. That is love.

To sit up a good portion of the night with a child who is having growing pains in their leg. To rub that leg all night until they can finally fall asleep, and while I'm at it offer up the lack of sleep for the many who are suffering with cancer right now. That is love.

To let my tired husband head to bed at 7:30pm without harassing him to stay up and help clean the kitchen and put the kids to bed. That is love.

To patiently ask my children to not interrupt (for the twentieth time) and then to look directly in their eyes while it's their turn to talk to me. To listen to what they are saying. That is love.

To be patient with them when I didn't take a nap and am exhausted. That is love.

To say more sure honey and yes and you bet and I love it to them. Sometimes all they need to hear are those words. That is love.

I love TJ and our children. Desperately. I think because I love them so much is why is get frustrated and anxious and yell. I get scared that they are sick and my fear takes over, so I yell. I'm learning to recognize when this happens. To not let my fears control my actions. To let my love for them be greater than anxiety of them getting cancer, or not learning something in school, or not practicing their manners. I shouldn't just love them when they are respectful to each other and others, or when they are obedient and helpful. I need to show my love throughout the yucky stuff of parenting as well.







And well, she's just lovely to look at.



One other thing I thought of...
Last night I watched American Idol for the first time. There was a guy on it, who was getting ready to sing. They asked him how old he was and if he was married. He said that he is engaged, and then went on to tell a story about his fiance. They showed footage of him proposing to her and how excited they were, they were kissing and hugging, very obviously in love. Two months before their wedding she was in a terrible car accident and was in a coma for a month and a half. When she came out of it, she had severe brain damage. She is in a wheel chair and cannot walk or talk. He has chosen to be her care taker. He won't leave her. He said, I was ready to make vows to her for the rest of my life, the accident happened two months before I made those vows. What kind of man would I be if I left her now?

That is love.

1.24.2011

A Weekend Away

For my birthday this year, TJ wanted to take me to his favorite place in the world, Colorado. His original plan was to come home from work the day before my birthday and surprise me with... pack your bags honey, were going to Colorado tomorrow! But after some thought, he decided there was no way to pull that off. The thought of driving eight hours ANYWHERE with children just absolutely makes me shiver. Its everything from gas station bathrooms, to eating fast food in Sherman, to no one wanting to stay in a seat belt, to changing diapers in Sherman, to hats, coats, gloves times four, to climbing back and forth over the seats, to packing up our entire household just for one weekend, and their blankets being dragged across hotel floors and then snuggling their faces in them. I am not a good traveller, period. BUT, I was excited nonetheless when TJ mentioned a ski trip.

Having decided that packing up the family was a bit too much right now, we were content with not going. UNTIL....

My dear friend Lindsay offered to watch all of our children so we could go ALONE. I should say, she didn't offer, she insisted. When we told her that we would even take George and Evie with us she said, We're watching all of them, or none of them. She wanted us to go alone that badly. She and John have the most generous hearts. They were willing and wanting to spend four days with our combined ten children. We have NEVER left all four of them with anyone for a weekend. Four days actually. The thought of leaving them was really hard for me, but then the thought of being alone with TJ for four days was really exciting. The Vaceks offered to help us on Thursay with Thomas and Annie and we knew all the kids would have fun, so we left them with the Boevers and away we drove.

We drove to Colorado for our honeymoon nearly ten years ago. This felt like a second honeymoon. Our favorite bar to eat at is called the Dam Brewery in Dillon. That was our first stop.
Just to warn you, I took A LOT of pictures of food. Hey, when I don't have kids around to snap shots of, I turn to food. Plus, it's easier. Food sits still and always looks pretty.

Our mornings were so lovely. I woke up and went to the treadmill to run inside. To sweat. It felt great. Then I came back to our room to find coffee and this little treat...TJ is a great cook. We just sat there together. SAT. It was a weird feeling not to have to help with this or that, or to wipe this or that. I almost found myself wiping TJ's face for him....you know, out of habit. I felt the urge to clean someone.


I was a little anxious and nervous to ski seeing as it has been five years since I'd last done it. It was fun getting all dressed and bundled up together. And weird, not having to help anyone get their things on.



The first morning we were up and ready to go when the lifts opened at 8:30. They were closed until 9:30 because of the snow and wind. So, we sat in Starbucks together, drinking coffee, watching people, and looking out the window and the snow falling and wind blowing. TJ was pumped, while I panicked. We decided that I would wait to ski until noon when the snow was supposed to stop. But until the lifts opened we just enjoyed sitting together.


TJ even showed me how to use his phone. I sat there in Starbucks for two hours by myself while he skiied, reading a book and looking at blogs. It was so much fun.



Skiing was awesome. I forgot how much fun it is to fly down a mountain. And I did a pretty good job for a, ahem....thirty four year old.










He was such a big kid. I loved watching him be so happy to be there.






On Friday night we tried a restaurant in the village. It was the BEST meal we had ever eaten. Seriously. We were in heaven, as the yummy sounds kept flying out our mouths. So the next night we went back. Back to the same restaurant to order the very same meal we both had the night before. We were chuckling as we hoped we weren't going to have the same waitress.


This was the best gift I have yet to receive, other than our children of course. Time alone with TJ. Time to just be together, eat together, watch movies together, talk together. I love you TJ. I love that we got to go on our first weekend away together. I had the best time.


Thank you John and Lindsay. Thank you John for sleeping on the floor in the kids room all three nights. Thank you for making sure the thermostat was at 73 degrees so that I wouldn't worry that they were cold at night. Thank you for taking ten children to mass on Sunday. Thank you for bundling them all up one thousand times so they could play in the snow. Thank you for telling me every little detail of what Evie and George did all day. Thank you for loving them and protecting them so that we could enjoy ourselves and not worry.


Hello, sun.

Good by, Colorado.