Category Archives: Family

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.

Be A Ghost

When Ethan is in a particular mood, on most afternoons after school, he perseverates on a certain topic.

‘You die mom?’

‘Mom, your dead. Be a ghost.’

‘Mom? Gonna die, mom?’

‘Mom? Mom. I love grandma. I love dad. I love Gabby-boy. Not you – I ‘X’ you.’

Then he makes the sound you would hear if you gave an incorrect answer on a game show.

Peals of laughter commence – only from Ethan, of course.

He goes on and on about me becoming a ghost and haunting our present house. He maintains that it will then become a ‘Spooky House’. He tells me that I am ‘old’ and ‘yucky’. He rarely expresses this about Dennis – and he is old and yucky too!

Sometimes I ignore him – to the extent that it is possible to ignore Ethan. If he chooses, he can keep this up for hours. Sometimes I respond.

‘Yes, E, we are all going to die.’

‘Yes, E, if given the opportunity I will definitely haunt you.’

‘Ethan, if I die, who is going to make the food and do the laundry?’

He says he’s going to take over. Maybe he could start that now?

He has expressed these sentiments from the time he was very young. We can come up with no good reason for this particular behavior – or so many like it. It is inexplicable – like so much about him.

It is a hobby, a habit, a compulsion. My mom is often concerned that it upsets me. It does not. I recently had a compassionate friend concerned that it is hurtful. I am not sure why it does not bother me. I don’t believe that he secretly hates me and also, a lot of what Ethan does is confounding. It is far from the most difficult facet of his quirky self.

It’s fine. I love Ethan enough for the both of us. And if it turns out that it is, in fact, possible to haunt him or become a ghost when I die – I’m in.

DSC04462 (1)
“It’s how you ride the trail that counts.”

~ Dale Evans (Rogers)

Did you know that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had a baby girl with Down Syndrome? This book is a little beauty.

Sunday Scenes – Think On These Things

In the bible, in the book of Philippians it states,

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

We are not a perfect family. We got ‘stuff’ going on. But when I post ‘Sunday Scenes’, I feel like I am embracing the above valuable truth.

DSC05178 (1)

Someone special is getting this crocheted market bag – who could it be?

No joke. I like ALL of these. Imagine living with me and my Pandora stations.

DSC05205

Pancake maker

DSC05203

Coffee maker

Seriously, right?!

He colors. A lot. I think I’m going to to open an Etsy shop so that you too can own an Ethan original. If you want to be reminded to meditate on ‘what is pure’, artwork by Ethan would be perfect.

Go find some things in your home that are of ‘good report’.