Monday, July 31, 2006


I didn't think I could do it.

I never dared to try.

But in a bold movement yesterday morning--before church, no less!--I personally gave Meghan her very first haircut. Just a trim, really, but for me it was a momentous occassion. With a few snips of the scissors I eliminated the "wings" that had sprouted above each ear and trimmed the bangs that brushed her eyes.

With each of the two older kids, at a point well after their first birthdays, I made ceremonious appointments for them at my aunt's hair salon to properly honor that significant ritual. But with each of them, I had become so emotionally attached to their soft baby curls that seeing those delicate wisps fall to the floor caused me very real pain. Trimming Meghan's hair myself was much easier for me, and, I expect, much nicer for Meghan, too. In fact, I think we may have established a new tradition for this household...haircuts by mom before the curls begin to rule my heart!

Also worth noting is that Meghan chose yesterday afternoon to begin crawling! My mom joked that it would have happened sooner had Meghan not had so much hair covering her eyes. At any rate, she's really moving now...eyes wide open and full speed ahead!

Monday Musings

Darren returned to work this morning, concluding his ten day vacation which passed all too quickly. I missed him almost the second he was gone. These past few days have been busy in the best kind of way--we put some final touches on the girls' room, completing the makeover that began before our trip to Amarillo; redecorated the kids' bathroom; and added five trees, two rose bushes, and one swingset to our backyard, which Dylan and Caitlyn have been enjoying immensely.

I've been leisurely perusing the Catholic Herritage Curricula catalog I recently received in the mail, and I think I'm just about ready to place an order. Since Darren and I are still somewhat undecided about whether or not we will homeschool, and since Dylan is still too young to begin either public or parochial school this year anyway, we've decided to give homeschooling a "trial run", so to speak, during this coming school year, and see where we stand by the time he's ready to officially begin Kindergarten. We've already been working with him a lot with letters, reading, numbers, and math, and he is doing so well. But I'm really excited about adding a bit more structure to our learning, as a rehearsal for bigger things to come. Two books I've really enjoyed during this time of prayerful discernment are "Catholic Education: Homeward Bound", by Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson, and "A Catholic Homeschool Treasury", by Rachel Mackson and Maureen Wittmann. A wealth of inspiration and encouragement are contained in those pages, and I find myself referring to them often when the enormity of what we may be undertaking threatens to overwhelm me.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Happy Day

What a perfectly wonderful day.

When I got ready this morning, I lingered just a little longer in the shower. I indulged myself with fragrant lotion. I painted my toenails. I straightened my hair. I put on make-up. I wore a skirt!

I had a lunch date with Darren!

My mom came over to watch Dylan and Caitlyn, and Darren, Meghan, and I escaped for two glorious hours. We ran a few errands, then enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch together at a new restaurant we'd been wanting to try. It has been so long since we've had any significant time alone together. And when I say alone, I mean no disrespect towards Meghan...she was a perfectly lovely companion on our "date"! What I mean is, it has been a very long while since Darren and I have been out together, especially for a meal, when one or both of the older kids weren't, by the very nature of kids, demanding our attention. Over lunch this afternoon, we were able to carry on an engaging, uninterrupted, adult conversation!

Today I was reminded of all the many reasons I fell in love with Darren nearly ten years ago... and why, after all this time, I have so many more reasons to love him still.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Road Rules

A few insights from our trip:

You can have every intention of leaving your house no later than 6:00 a.m. on the morning of your departure; you can pack in advance, lay everything out, set the alarm for an outrageously early time, forgo a shower since you so cleverly showered the night before...but you will not, by any stretch of the imagination, actually leave your house before 6:00 (or even 6:30).

To a two year old who has recently mastered potty training, the best way to break up the monotony of a long boring car ride is to announce, loudly and at frequent intervals, "I NEED TO GO POTTY NOW!"

The Wiggles really do make some pretty catchy music, perfect for singing along with in the van(much to the annoyance of one very dear, tolerant husband...but secretly, I suspect that even he actually likes them, too.)

There is nothing that can't be cleaned up with a few simple wet wipes.

Checking in to a hotel with your husband with three small kids in tow can feel an awful lot like a second honeymoon...were it not for the three small kids in tow.

Ten seconds with the TV remote control and your four year old will know exactly which channels correspond to the channels he's allowed to watch back home.

There is no better eatin' than Papa's homemade barbeque.

You can spend all the money in the world on food, toys, souvenirs, amusement park admissions...but the most memorable times will be those that didn't cost a cent--swimming in the hotel's pool, touring Daddy's childhood haunts, playing catch with Papa, drawing pictures for Nana, meeting your cousin for the very first time, visiting Great Grandpa, and picnicking in the most magnificently beautiful spot where Daddy frequently camped years ago.

A long road trip with three young children is a lot more fun, and a lot less work, than one might have expected.

You can pack for your kids way more clothes than you think you will ever possibly need, and still manage to go through every single article of clothing, even going so far as to, for the return trip home, dig through the suitcase for the least dirty outfit to put on your two year old who somehow managed during breakfast to spill half a glass of chocolate milk all down her front.

And finally, as you pull into your driveway when the journey's said and done, you will be so immensely thankful for the many happy memories...and so immeasurably glad to be safely home again.

Well, Sure...But Where Would He Sit?

Caitlyn has, over the past few months, developed quite an aversion to flies. To be more accurate, just so we're clear, I should say she is terrified of them. Ants? Fine. Ladybugs? Fine. Beetles? Sure, they're fine, too. But flies always and completely just freak her out.

At one point during our trip, while we had stopped for gas, two of those loathsome pests found their way into the van. We didn't realize our great misfortune until we were already back onto the highway, and our attempts to direct them out the window were highly unsuccessful.

Dylan, from his seat beside Caitlyn, ever so patiently and lovingly shooed them away from her any time one came near. He kept it up for quite a while until, punctuated with a loud sigh, he said, "I wish we had a camel in here with us. That way he could just shoo these flies away with his tail".

Our trip was great, perfect in every way and just what we all needed. I'll be posting more about it later, along with, I'm sure, many of the one hundred plus pictures we took throughout our stay. It was so fun to get away...but it feels soooo nice to be home!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Here We Go!

Today I am the queen of laundry washing, house cleaning, and suitcase packing.

We're leaving early tomorrow morning for a long overdue trip to Amarillo. It's been a while since Darren's been back "home", so we're all very excited. A few nights ago, we made the mistake of checking out the Wonderland amusement park website while the kids were in the room, and now it's all they can talk about! So needless to say, I'm sure that's one attraction we'll be enjoying while we're there. Darren and I are looking forward to the simpler things: visiting with family, including our precious niece who we'll be meeting for the first time; showing the kids around Darren's hometown; a scenic drive out to Palo Duro Canyon, even if it is too hot to camp out; and just "getting away from it all" for a few days together as a family.

A wonderful time awaits us. I can hardly wait to get started!

The Ants Go Marching...

We seem to have a problem with ants.

Problem for me, that is. Dylan and Caitlyn think they're great.

This morning I found the two of them sprawled out on the kitchen floor, watching their "buggy friends" march along in perfect formation.

"Hey, Mom!", Dylan exclaimed, "Can you sing The Ants Go Marching?! Because look, these ants are marching!"

I really hated to offer them such a warm welcome, but I sang it anyway. With gusto.

I'm such a pushover. (Plus, I just really love that song.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Good Times!

Earlier today, Dylan and Caitlyn decided it would be great fun to put on a puppet show for Meghan. They had a blast!

For Meghan, the highlight was stealing the star of the show...

...she thought it was hilarious!

Favorite Song

Dylan has become quite proficient at "Google-ing" things which hold his interest--skeletons, Superman, character coloring pages--you name it, he'll Google it. This morning, while I was rocking Meghan, he came to me and asked, "Mommy, how do we type in Love Crucified Arose?" I was a bit surprised, since it's been a while since we've heard this song by Michael Card. (My brother Robby, the choir director for our church, sang it beautifully this past Easter). I carefully wrote out the words so he could type them in, and a few minutes later he came running back into the living room. "Mommy, come look what I found!" He was one very excited little boy! His Google search had turned up countless results, including a link to this page. I picked him up and danced with him as we sang along with one of our favorite songs. What a happy pair we were! We've listened to it several times today, and will undoubtedly listen to it a few times more before the day ends. I'm so glad he found it. I'm so glad he wanted to find it. What a sweet, sensitive kid. God, I love that boy.

Smart Boy!

Last night, Dylan was sitting up at the kitchen counter watching Darren prepare our dinner of salad, fish, and potatoes.

"Poor fishies", he said mournfully.

Darren told him, "Sweetie, don't be sad. These aren't the same kind of fishies we have in our aquarium".

To which Dylan solemnly responded, "Well, they're still killed".

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lesson Learned

A seemingly long time ago (that is, before I had kids), I swore to myself that I would never be one of those mothers who hovers and frets over her kids at all times.

And I am, four and a half years and three kids later. And I hover. And fret.

I've even been called, on a handful of occasions, "controlling". Me! And the sad part is, it's true. I admit it. I am somewhat of a control freak, and it is a struggle I contend with every day. I so desperately wish for my kids to enjoy the carefree childhood I fondly recall from my youth, but at the same time, my mind is plagued with the worry of so many unimaginable "what if's...". I know that I will never be able to protect my kids from all harm, but I sure try.

Today was a lesson in self-discipline on my part as I turned the kids loose in the back yard and watched from a safe distance from inside the house, where I was entertaining a fussy, teething Meghan. The kids were beside themselves, free to play outside in the fresh air without an interfering mother, splashing in the sprinkler without a constant barrage of "No!" or "Stop!" or "Be careful!".

I learned a lot today, about myself and about my kids. I learned that it's O.K. to let go just a little...and that, given enough time, they'll come racing back to me, laughing and happy.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Last Week Was "Cars"....

I was braiding my mom's hair for her this afternoon when Dylan came running in to my bedroom, holding a picture of the Superman logo that he had just finished drawing and coloring.

"Mommy, will you please cut this out for me and tape it to my chest?" He could barely contain his excitement!

Dressed in an old pair of pajamas with the top turned around to the solid blue back, he had stuffed two old paper towel rolls into the front of his shirt to make "muscles", and a red sweatshirt formed the perfect cape. Such ingenuity!

My mom and I laughed at our cute and clever little Superman!

Christmas All Year Long

Quite often, as I'm loading the dishwasher or setting the table, it occurs to me that I really might want to consider storing my much loved "We Can Build A Snowman" dishes with all the rest of my Christmas stuff. I mean, it's July. And it's not like I don't have three other perfectly nice sets of dishes crowding my kitchen cabinets. And I did intend to pack them up with everything else, just as I do every year, once the holidays were over. But somehow, with the excitement and chaos surrounding a new baby in the house this past season, they were inadvertently overlooked. I let them stay put because, I reasoned, it was still winter, and didn't it just make perfect sense to enjoy them for a few more weeks? (And truth be told, I really didn't want to lug all those plastic tubs back in from the garage in an effort to find the appropriate storage container). But winter, as it always must, merged into spring, and the cheery snowmen continued to greet me every time I opened our cabinets. Now I find myself--in the middle of summer--still reaching for those familiar happy faces, but honestly, I don't feel too bad about it. Some may call it lazy (I really have no excuse now for not putting them back where they belong), but I'm perfectly content to keep them just where they are. I love being reminded of my favorite time of year every time we sit down to dinner. December is my absolute favorite month, with so many reasons to celebrate--Christmas, of course, which has always been my favorite holiday, but also our wedding anniversary and now Meghan's birthday, too. There's a sort of magic about that time of year that's recaptured, just a bit, each time we use those happy dishes.

So you know, those snowmen aren't going least, not any time soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lucky Me

Last night I was sorting through our most recent stack of photos, and I just had to smile at all the ones taken by Dylan.

Some of them were downright adorable:

Others were just plain silly:

And some, such as this one, simply took my breath away:

I love these sweet, unexpected glimpses into my little boy's heart and mind. I love that he is funny, and talented, and smart, and that, at four and a half years old, he appreciates the splendor of God's beautiful creation.

I love that I get to be his Mommy.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Unexpected Beauty

Darren is, by all standards, a self proclaimed "cactus geek". He loves the spiny little things to such an extent that, in our rapidly growing city, he rescues them from the desert before builders clear the land amid constantly emerging developments. This love affair began quite innocently enough when we were first married and our landlady gave him a single cactus in a terra cotta pot. For him, it was love at first sight, but quite frankly, I thought it was dreadful and, for the most part, chose to ignore it while patiently indulging him and his new treasure...that is, until the thing bloomed and I saw what a splendidly beautiful flower could come from such a menacing little plant! It was gorgeous. And to be honest, I was a little embarrassed that I had lived my entire life in the desert southwest without ever appreciating the potential these prickly plants possessed. His collection has grown from that lonely little cactus on our front porch to include, over time, hundreds more, many of which made the move with us when we moved to our new house four years ago. We've now got an entire portion of our backyard devoted to them, and I continue to be astounded by their amazing beauty.

How wondrous is our God.

Sound of Silence is SO quiet! Meghan is sleeping peacefully, Darren is running errands with Dylan and Caitlyn, I've got some laundry washing...the house is tidied up, I just enjoyed a delicious bowl of ice cream without having to share a single bite, and I can actually hear birds singing outside! How can that be?! No arguing, no fighting, no obnoxiously loud toys... small voices, no happy laughter, no pitter-patter of tiny feet...

I hope they hurry home.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Where I'm From

I must admit that when I first read about this contest a couple of weeks ago, my first impression was that it seemed a little...well, silly. I mean, is it really so hard to insert a few words into this basic template? I had no intention of actually entering the contest, but a funny thing happened. Once I read a sample of the entries, I couldn't seem to get the thing out of my head! It really got me thinking. Just where am I from, anyway? And what little details might I want to share with my kids? I am truly amazed at how many seemingly insignificant pieces of my past came to mind as I was working on this exercise. Maybe it's not so silly after all! At any rate, though the deadline's long passed, here's my version, just for fun:

Where I'm From

I am from hot summer days, from Kool-Aid and Smarties and chlorine and sunscreen.

I am from the shade dappled house on the corner, from screen doors slamming, mothers calling, and pavement that burned my feet.

I am from overripe mulberries warm from the sun, and red juicy pomegranates tart on my tongue.

I am from backyard parties lasting long after dark and peeking out windows to watch the adults, from Paz reunions and loud Randall voices and Rob shy and sweet through it all.

I am from bright blue eyes and inquiring minds.

From "Bah" and "Imagine!" and "See how the Lord provides".

I am from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; from Mass on Sundays and Catholic guilt and incense and candles and stained glass windows.

I am from magnificent sunsets and dry spring winds, tacos and salsa and my dads homemade ice cream.

From a fast driving boy and a reckless young girl.

I am from pages and pages of fading old photos, loving letters written to me by my mom, and a baby album so much more detailed than any I have kept for my own kids...I wonder where, in thirty years, they will say they're from?

Oh, Brother

Dylan: Caitlyn is tooty this morning.
Caitlyn: No I'm not!
Me: Maybe Dylan's the one who's tooty this morning.
Dylan: I AM NOT!
Me: Well, how do you feel if we say that about you?
Dylan: Sad.
Me: And how do you think Caitlyn felt when you said that about her?
Dylan: Sad.
Me: Then I think you better apologize.
Dylan (in a very remorseful tone): O.K. ... I'm sorry, tooty Caitlyn.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Erin, This One's For You

Here is Dylan's "Napoleon Dynamite"...and for those who may be wondering, NO, he's never actually seen the movie! He just knows that it makes Mommy laugh, and as a joke for my birthday recently, Darren got me a whole bunch of Napoleon Dynamite pens, pencils, memo pads, a magnetic dry erase get the idea.

Here are a few pictures from shows he really does enjoy:

Woody and Jessie from "Toy Story 2",

The Koala Brothers, Frank and Buster,

Superman and Chicken Little,

And finally, the cast of "Cars", which he says is his favorite movie but which he hasn't actually seen...yet!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Weekend Review

We had the pleasure of attending a beautiful wedding this past Saturday. Dylan and Caitlyn were thrilled to find bubble blow that they were not only allowed, but encouraged to use! Unfortunately, Meghan missed most of the excitement...she slept through the entire ceremony!

On Sunday, we all had a great time at an early fourth of July party. Dylan and Caitlyn enjoyed swimming and jumping on the trampoline, and Darren and I enjoyed the company of some wonderful friends!

Last night, under darkening skies, we had our own little cookout...

...and tonight, we headed over to my brother Robby's new house for his annual July 4th celebration, where Dylan had fun dancing in the rain before watching us light his eagerly anticipated fountains!

These past few days have been wonderful. But now I'm exhausted! I think Caitlyn has the right idea...