Category Archives: Family

Sunday Scenes – Bye, Bye Boy Scout

Bright & early on Sunday morning, Gavin left for a six-week stint as a staff member at Boy Scout camp.

DSC06858 DSC06862People keep asking me if I am going to miss him. I suppose that I am. He is very helpful and keeps us all laughing, but I think camp is exactly where he should be and he is doing exactly what he wants to do be doing. I am more happy than sad!

Breakfast brought cooking lessons. I am trying very hard to work my way out of a job.

The results were stupendous.

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Summertime is also an awesome time to learn new chores. I’ve got a list of things to teach Mikey & Sean – and just wait until Gavin gets home….

DSC06884 (1) DSC06886 DSC06885I am a gardener by no means. I have no talent for it and hardly enjoy it. But I dream of being good at it and enjoying it – so I keep trying. So far, the payoff is good.

Apparently, we also have a burgeoning comic book writer.

DSC06909 (1)Overall, these are my favorite scenes of any day, not just a Sunday. Keep ’em coming.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James

Beach Brawl

There are times I say nothing. There are times I decide that I’m going to let it go, rise above and turn the other cheek.

There are times I decide that I am not going to do that.

Ethan was having a particularly hard time on the beach last night. He is apt to do that. He went from ‘happy man’ to ‘I’m going home’ within the hour. Doritos and a coke had no bribery value. I believe he was using the ploy to visit the men’s room as a mode to get closer to the parking lot. He asked that I not come with him. So, I went incognito and followed at a distance. That’s when I saw it unfolding.

There were a group of what looked like 20-somethings following closely behind him. I saw the nudges and pointing before the comments started. I know how this goes. I’ve seen it far too many times.

There was laughing and whispering, pointing and a girl shrieking ‘stop it – you’re so mean!’

‘I want to buy the poor guy a donut’

‘Look at his head’

‘Nice shorts’

Then, ‘Fat r-word’

I waited for Ethan to walk ahead and enter the men’s room. Then it was my turn.

‘I hear you running your mouth you ignorant piece of crap! You must be some tough guy to pick on someone like him! Yeah, you – keep your head down and keep walking.’ Some more followed.

But from him and his pathetic, little group there was only more laughing and shoving of one another and looks of shock. They thought he was alone and they could carry on their recreational mocking in private. How dare I talk back, right?

Bullies count on you to be quiet. I explain it to the boys all the time. They expect you to be hurt and embarrassed. They expect complacency. They count on you to be placid. I tell them to meet those kind of people where they’re at – head up and mouth open.

On our way back from our journey, I noticed the same guy sitting with a large group of people. I expected it was his family. When Ethan was a safe distance toward our group, I approached him.

‘You know, jackass, his life is hard on a good day, on a bad day it is something that a piece of garbage like yourself wouldn’t know what to do with. People like you make my whole family’s life harder. He deals with more shit then you probably ever will and you need to know that ‘what comes around truly does go around’. I hope your family here knows what a scumbag you are.’

He said he didn’t do it. He said he didn’t say anything. He said he was ‘trying to help’. Lying sack of crap.

That’s when his dad got up and used ‘fat’ in front of the B-word. He said I was making a scene. I informed him that if his son wanted to make Ethan a spectacle, that I’d give the same back. Let’s make a scene. I may have referenced his height. I may have made my sailor-father proud with the string of swear words I put together.

And then, I walked away. Tears welled up and I started to break down. But that was ok, because by then I was back with the people who care deeply for me and Ethan and the rest of my family. I am glad they were there and that I was not alone.

I am writing about this scene, because it is rattling around in my head. It brings up my worse fears and greatest disappointments. I become sickly aware that someday Ethan will be a grown up and I will not always be there to defend him. Then I remember, that he has three brothers, being raised by me.

I am still debriefing this situation. I play out alternative endings and rehash my tirade. I am thinking about how I want these things to play out in the future.

I wondered ‘what would Jesus do?’

Jesus did some yelling and table-flipping.

I am not Jesus.

Theresa Giudice did some yelling and table flipping.

Oh well. I am glad I got this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

sunset

This is the sunset the boys and I pulled over to enjoy after we left the beach. Terrible picture, fabulous moments.

20 Years

“Twenty years now
Where’d they go?
Twenty years
I don’t know
I Sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone

And sometimes late at night
When I’m bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin’ a ghostly white
And I recall”

Thank you Bob Seger.
It is Ethan’s birthday. For me, this day marks 20 years of parenting with 100 more to go.
Many years before there were 4 boys comprising this crazy and chaotic clan – there was just three of us. Dennis. Me. Ethan. 5 1/2 years. Just us.
His Story is something I remember with emotions that can bubble to the surface even as I read it today. Living with Ethan is incredibly intense – that’s the truth. He is intensely complicated, intensely persistent, intensely funny
…and intensely loved.
Happy Birthday, Ethan!

Sunday Scenes – The Very Bad Mother Edition

I woke up VERY early for a Sunday. 5:48 to be exact. It worked out nicely, as I was watching my neighbors kids bright and early. It was nice to have breakfast guests.

DSC06584 (1)Although I no longer attend church and don’t see that changing at any point in the near future, there are some things I still find very meditative and comforting.

DSC06587I do not like contemporary christian music, but I do like old, very traditional hymns. It’s is ok with me if they are performed by contemporary christian artists but I still prefer Alison Kraus, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton.

DSC06588Then, this happened and I cannot stand it. Just can’t. Can you?

DSC06595Also, I allowed Ethan to leave the house wearing this. Do I think that it’s ok? I don’t. I was late for playoff hockey and fighting with him can take a VERY long time as Ethan can hold out on issues for hours at a time.

Speaking of being late for playoff hockey and fighting with Ethan…here is where ‘the very bad mothering’ happened. When I arrived at the hockey game, other moms greeted me with ‘Hi! Where is Sean?’

Well, he must be here somewhere, he came with Dennis. But no one reported having seen him. After a cursory search and confirmation that Dennis did not, in fact, bring him, I panicked. It took me about 10 full seconds to realize that he had been playing on the swing set in the yard across the street – WHEN I LEFT!! Yep. I finally really forgot a kid. The littlest one to boot.

I mean, sure it was cleared up in one quick phone call and he had all the time been the care of a responsible adult (not me), but it was terribly disconcerting. I am sure the ‘Mother of the Year’ is still taking nominations. Check on that for me, will you?

So hockey season has come to an end. As glad as I am to have it be over…

DSC06611 (1) DSC06607I love to see them like this!

Later, Chef Cutie and I baked some cookies. We used the wrong recipe – but baked none-the-less.

The evening ended on the best note – literally – the Star Wars Film Score. There are so few times that Ethan is happy, truly, really, happy. Content. With the music blaring, he worked on diligently on his light saber skills. Meditative, light-sabering – I think it could catch on.

DSC06634 DSC06635The force is strong with this one.

Sunday Scenes – Throwback Edition

Sunday was a throwback to ‘old times’ – before sports and Boy Scout camping trips and teens with their own agendas took over. It used to be that Dennis and I packed a cooler and packed up the kids and drove to one or more locations with amorphous plans. We have not had a good, old-fashioned family picnic in a very long time. But we did yesterday.

We ended up in Allamuchy Mountain State Park, as Gavin had some Boy Scout business to attend to. Nearby, was the crazy-scenic Waterloo Village. I’d love to return when the historic happenings are in full swing.

It was a beautiful walk – with only one complainer.

There was also a request to fish. So we did in a nearby lake.

DSC06456 DSC06460 DSC06463 DSC06453 DSC06468These pictures make it look quaint. It wasn’t. There were tangled lines and catching weeds and children yelling ‘help’ every 3 seconds. Dennis wanted to know if I got nice pictures because we won’t be doing this again 😉

This issue of Sunday Scenes is the first of the ‘summery’ edition. Knowing there are many more to come make my heart happy, and my toes warm.

Finally.

Don’t Try This At Home

Do not, under any circumstances, mix homeschooling some of your children and sending some of your children to educational institutions.

You will not be able to avail yourself of the somewhat lovely and bohemian lifestyle allowed by homeschooling – like not having to get up at a truly undesirable hour of the day. Rise, prepare breakfasts, pack lunches, and oversee the washing the dressing of two of your charges. Make sure they possess the litany of items needed for a day away from home and the masses of papers that are shuttled back and forth. Books, tissues…did we pack lunches?

You’ll need to assure that one kid get on the bus on time and that you transport one kid yourself…to the school….on time. Oh yeah, that reminds me. Do not pick the same schools for the two children attending school. I mean, that would just be easy and boring. It is even less boring for you if one attends a private school with a certain culture, rules and ways of doing things and the other a public school that does things totally differently. Then, keep them straight from one another.

Now, for the two children who are benefiting from home education – do not have them close in age. Make sure they are years apart so that you cannot arrange for any activities for them that overlap. Do not have them share learning styles. Again – booooorrrrring. You don’t want boring – you want challenging 🙂

This will also allow for some other situations that will really keep you bringing your “A Game”. When you have your ‘homeschooling’ clan out and about, make sure you can be home in time for school pick up and the bus drop off. Also, be sure that after a nice long day of homeschooling, you are able to help the child, whose school does not have the ‘no homework’ policy that the other kid’s school has, with homework.

This all works best when you have four boys, who share no virtually no interests, have radically different needs, and all have ‘things’ that make each of them incredibly challenging in their own right, but a force to be reckoned with as a pack.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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The bookends

 

Handsful

I said it right there at the kitchen counter. I just said it.

“Really Dennis! Who thought having four children was a good idea?”

Oh! Ma! God! Did I really say that?!

Just like the very young ultrasound technician who gave me the most horrified look and judgmental stares when I cried because I found out Sean was not, in fact, a girl. Get over it.

Sometimes I think unhappy thoughts. Sometimes I think downright dark thoughts. Sometimes I just wonder out loud why I had four kids. Is it really so wrong?

Today was one of those days when I had washed and dried 7 loads of laundry and there was barely a noticeable difference in the laundry room. Still so many piles.

I have a list of phone calls to make regarding medical issues and school stuff, camp decisions and working papers, appointments and bills and all manner of issues regarding….the kids. The list, printed on the cute, organizer paper labeled ‘To Call’, is a joke. Maybe a list of who I DON’T have to call would be shorter.

There is a pile of papers on my desk, leaning to one side that contains items like info on Mikey’s school trip, Gavin’s application to the vocational high school, Ethan’s prom and Special Olympics papers, library schedules and information about programs and classes. It is teetering. Like my sanity.

Can I watch a show? Where is the antibacterial cream? Have you seen an Indian Jones hat for my Lego minifigure? Is there something else, besides THIS for lunch? Unending questions. X4

It gets rough. Really rough. Sometimes it helps me to say appalling things out loud. I feel like if I say it, then I’m just not thinking it, and I can make it seem less like an elephant in the room – or in my brain. So there. I said it. I said out loud that sometimes I find it completely overwhelming that we have 4 kids.

I know enough now to know that the tide will turn. I will not get stuck with this thought. I already know, that some days (or weeks or months) get long and tiring. I know that sometimes it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train and I know that sometimes, it actually is the sun.

4 sons.

I have my hands full. Really, really full.

Thank God.