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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Birthday wishes

I love this kid...just wish I could have spent all of his birthdays with him. Here he is on the first birthday we ever got to celebrate with him back in 2003. What a cutie, right?  Today he's 19 and he still owns my heart!

Happy Bday, son!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's my mom's birthday

Nine years ago tonight was the last visit I had with my mom. It wasn't a conventional birthday celebration at all. There was no cake, no presents, no candles to blow out. It was nothing like our usual birthday bashes...but that was because my mom was reaching the end of her life.

Nine years ago tonight, I sat with my mom for the last time. I held her hand. I painted her nails. I talked to her. I told her that I would always love her and miss her...but that if she needed to stop fighting for her life, I could let her go. I told her I would be OK, that she had raised me well and made me strong enough to survive whatever life would throw at me. I told her that I was happy and safe, married with kids of my own. I told her stories, reminded her of family memories, was rewarded with a gentle squeeze of her fingers on my hand that let me know she could hear me even though she was beyond speech. At a little past midnight, I heard her draw her last breath and then go peacefully. I will always believe my father was there to greet her as she passed...just as I believe he was the one who insisted I get out of bed to check on her seconds before her passing. I felt their presence keenly that night...and they still touch my life, even after all these years. My mom in particular is a strong presence every day. I miss her still...always will...but her gifts are with me. They sustain me as I strive to raise my own kids, to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good person.

I made spaghetti sauce today, Mom. I used tomatoes, peppers, and herbs from our garden. I filled the house with the rich scent of summer and love. As I stirred the sauce, I remembered coming home from school to the same aroma in our house when I was a girl. I remembered you listening to me, to the trials and tribulations of my school day. You always managed to make your cooking seem like time set aside just for you and me! To this day, I associate cooking for my family with the deepest kind of love.

I felt you at my shoulder today, teaching me still, lifting me up even after all these years. I'm so grateful for your strength, your love, all that you passed on to me. I'll keep trying my best to do as well by my own kids.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What we did on our summer vacation...

It occurred to me several months back that we might be getting to the end of our opportunities for a vacation with our whole family. After all, with 5 teenagers who are in college and high school, carving out family time takes a herculean effort and a lot of foot stomping. Our kids have their own schedules now, school commitments and summer jobs, friends that they don't want to leave, social groups and activities, etc. By next year, who knows if we'll be able to pull off a family adventure...but we did manage this year!

For our family trip, we went to Chincoteague Island in Virginia. Why? Because Mom got to pick, that's why. I figured if I was going to drag our whole clan of bored, cranky teens off on a road trip in our van, it might as well be to place I really wanted to go. I've always wanted to see Chincoteague and the wild ponies of Assateague, especially during Pony Penning week. (Ever read the book Misty of Chincoteague as a kid? I did...and I never forgot it. ) The island also offered something for the rest of the crowd, too...beautiful beaches, a lighthouse, awesome nature hikes, kayaking, riding lessons, crabbing and clamming, boat rides, great seafood, and the best ice cream and fudge just down the street. The house we rented had 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a big yard for playing soccer and lacrosse. It also came with bikes, a kayak, and a family of ducks that came to visit every day. Even with all that, it still took a few days to pry the kids off of their electronics and get them outside...but after a while, we all managed to embrace island life and have fun. Here's some of what we did in pictures:
I had to buy loaves of bread for the ducks...worth every cent!

Finally got the gamers off screens!
Tanya got Mama and the babies to eat from her hand
Even my oldest boy wasn't too cool for the ducks












Then there was my favorite part of the week...we got to see the Saltwater Cowboys (AKA Chincoteague volunteer firefighters) herd the ponies down Main Street to the fairgrounds for the annual auction of foals and yearlings which takes place only at the end of July each summer. Wild ponies of Assateague Island swim the channel and then parade down Main Street on Chincoteague? I've only wanted to see this since I was about 8 years old and I was close enough to reach out and touch them. Pretty darn awesome!



The girls got to take riding lessons at the Pony Center on ponies that were once on Assateague...very cool!

Tanya on Teaguer

Kate on Misty's Morning Glory

The boys went crabbing and clamming just down the street from our house; some of the locals taught them what to do and they came home with their catch to add to dinner!




Dad and I went hiking on Assateague, we toured the lighthouse with our girls, and we all went to the beach. I did a solo walk on a marshland trail very early one morning, so beautiful and peaceful! Also caught sight of a bunny hiding in the grass...can you find him?








Loved the week we spent here...and now Craig and I are looking at properties on Zillow and wondering if this might be a good place to retire some day. Hmmm...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July already?

How did that happen?? June flew by and I barely had time to breathe with all the big events for our kids! We celebrated a high school graduation (our oldest son,)


 a middle school graduation (our youngest son),


a birthday (mine),

and moving on ceremonies for our two kids who will be going into 10th and 11th grade.


We also celebrated Father's Day in honor of a great Dad!
Suffice it to say that June 2014 brought us a lot of joy and pride interspersed with the challenges of living with 5 teens and the positive energy was stored up to sustain us through the tougher times...drama, angst, and instability reign more often than we'd like in these parts. Wish I could say it was all rainbows and sunny days around here but I'd be lying...some days, I'm sorely tempted to make good on my threat to run away and join the circus. At times like those, my dear husband reminds me that it would be wrong to leave the children without either parent. You see, he's of the opinion that if I leave/die/lose my mind completely and he becomes a single parent, he will either be driven to throw himself off the roof or will be sent to the big house for murder of a teenager or two. Isn't it sweet that we have each other's back in this adventure we call parenting?




Seriously, so lucky to have this man in my life...he's my rock and the only reason I haven't been carted off to the loony bin yet! He's the best of men...his mom did a great job with him and I would like to publicly thank her here and now for raising him to be such a fine person. I'll feel blessed if my boys turn out as well and my girls marry someone just like their Dad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's a wrap

Today my oldest son finished the very last assignment for his senior year. He completed his final English project, a power point presentation that he's been working on for a while. The end result? A 3.8 out of a possible 4.0. Not too shabby for a guy who didn't speak a word of English 5 years ago, I must say.

Well, it appears we've reached the finish line. After much blood, sweat, and tears we're here, a few days from graduation with all the work done and all the grades recorded. (Not a small feat,by the way...but we got it done.) I asked my son if he was proud of himself today...he said he was relieved. I punched him in the arm, admonished him to enjoy the moment and said I told you so. Last year around this time, he fretted that he would never be able to graduate.  Umm... I love you but you were wrong, son. Score one for the Mama.

Graduation is Friday............and the future's bright.



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Today is my birthday and it's been one of the best of life. Considering how long I've been alive, that's saying something. First of all, let me say thanks to the family and friends who sent me birthday wishes; I'm so touched by your kindness! I'm also very grateful to my wonderful husband and kids who really stretched themselves thin to make my day special. I love that each of you thought long and hard about what would make my day...from the son who wanted to stay up until midnight so he could be the first one to wish me a happy birthday to the daughters who each made my day special in her own way. Kate, your bday cupcakes were the bomb and  the fact that you fed me breakfast and also gifted me with yummy homemade delicacies for my special day were both great gifts! To my monkey, your lovely bracelet touched my heart and I'll wear it proudly with your love. To my sweet husband, I know it wasn't easy helping the kids with all their grand plans but I'm grateful and touched...it's a great gift to them and to me! To my younger boys, thanks for the lovely aromatherapy and bath gifts, nothing is quite as lovely as a nice bath or a scent of lavender in the air. I love you and cherish your kindness today!

I'm so lucky...feeling blessed. There's plenty of craziness on the horizon, a high school graduation is up next, then an 8th grade graduation, then Father's Day, then another birthday. So much happening but then I remember to breathe. Let's pause here, smell the roses (or lavender), and worry about life tomorrow.  Enough said.