Sunday, February 27, 2011

Something About Mary...

Forgive me for stealing a movie title, but it's so perfect for what is running through my head. I have had, since I was a very young girl, a special love for the Blessed Mother. This is a natural part of being Catholic, of course, but I can remember the specific time when my understanding of her role, and my deep love of her began.

I went running to my mom for something, crying. I was sad, and worried. We were standing in the little kitchen of our house, and it was just before bed time. My mom bent down and was talking to me, trying to calm me down. Mom told me that whenever I was feeling nervous or anxious, to pray to the Blessed Mother. That the Blessed Mother  was a very special friend, that she knew my heart, and that I was worried, but that she could take my prayers to Jesus. How wonderful, that you can ask Christ's mother to pray for you, just as you would ask your very own mother to pray for you.

I will never forget that, as it was the start of a lifetime of praying to the Blessed Mother in earnest. I had said my Hail Mary's like I was supposed to, but never really connected my heart with it. I was little, but I had yet to really understand why I needed to pray.

The reason I was anxious, and worried that night, and have some residual anxiety and worry every year at this time still, was because my mom's brother had been killed  in a recent accident. My mother's reaction to the news was, to that point and for many, many years, the most heart breaking thing I had ever witnessed. I was sad in the way a small child is sad over such a thing. I didn't truly understand, but I was sad for my mom. I was nervous because he was so young, it didn't make sense to me. And I was sorrowful because I really did love my uncle, who was funny and played rough and tumble games with me. It was many, many Februarys ago, yet that feeling lingers like a memory you can't quite put your finger on, all month long. It's a wondering of why you feel sad, until you remember. I worry a little about my mom, I know she feels sad during this time, and I remember how she, even though she was still grieving herself, took the time to explain to me the preciousness of the Blessed Mother. That prayer to her can help heal your heart. That she, in her wisdom, will go to her Son on your behalf.  A much loved aunt of my dad's had taught my mother about Mary, and she taught me. I hope I am teaching  my children and godchildren to ask our Blessed Mother to carry their prayers to Jesus, especially in times of grief. Especially when they are parents themselves.

There have been so many times when I have known her love for me, and my children. I have memories of her, and I dream of her. I hope and pray that I will one day get to meet Our Lady. Until then, I will pray to ask for her intercession, and hope I never forget to thank her for her prayers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Count Down to 40 - Go With the Flow

I think I may have mentioned a time or two that I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort. I never really minded this - and really, I had to abandon this mentality to such an extent while in college, raising Meg, working at least 2 jobs at a time, that I embraced the living daylights out of it once I graduated. I married Douglas, graduated from college and became a stay at home mom. I had two+ kids and suddenly, I was FREE! I could plan my days and nights as I wished  - and I did. I embraced my inner hobo - often not getting dressed in real clothes, or doing much of anything other than playing with babies and barely keeping the house going. I had my bursts of cleaning and whatever, and things that just had to be done, but for the first time in years, I was actually free to do as I pleased most of the time. And I did as I pleased - with our non-existent budget, with time, and with household duties. I worked hard at being disorganized.  (I am starting to wonder why Doug kept me around!)

As time went on, and we had more babies, and began homeschooling, some, but certainly not all, or even most, of this changed. I went to my mom and dad's for dinner whenever I wanted, which was often (Doug worked afternoon shift). I played with babies, I watched tv. (Have I mentioned that I really like tv? I miss tv!)Well this went on for years and years, homeschooling, puttering around the house, and eventually I started working for TKG. Another time constraint, but I LOVED being part of my brother's fast growing company, and I loved contributing to the household.

Then - last fall we decided to enroll the kids in an online school. We weren't getting enough school done, we needed structure (ya think?), and I needed to not have to plan every little thing out. We enrolled 5 students. By the end of September I knew that this was KICKING my butt. I couldn't do it - we were doing school for 9 or 10 hours a day. So, I withdrew Luke, who was a young 5 anyway, as he was just not getting it - he wasn't ready. Going forward from there, we had 4 students, and were still doing school for far too long each day. We now have a pretty good handle on things, and Luke is starting to do some of the sweet little activities I have done with all my kindergarteners. We are now learning how to go-with-the-flow.

You might think there is not a lot of difference between flying-by-the seat-of-your-pants and going-with-the-flow. Maybe on the outside looking in, there's not. Flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants implies a certain irresponsibility, and the freedom to be so. Its an inherent quality to the whole flying attitude, while going-with-the-flow is more of a "I'm going to relax about the things that don't matter" kind of attitude. I mean, we are still messy. There is still laundry everywhere all the time. We don't get to go to my folks' for dinner whenever we want (and not as much as I would like, honestly). But, I am learning to get small tasks done in small amounts of time. We are totally kicking school patooty, and our budget is rapidly getting under control. While we aren't running around as much as we used to, I am starting to let go of other things that I used to clamp down on, while getting more organized in other areas. We are playing, painting, making silly pretend soup (and I am not freaking over the 25 cents of wasted groceries), and I have let go of what color socks the boys wear to church (mostly). It' bizarre, I know. I didn't/don't care about laundry, or perfect housekeeping, or developing the perfect budget. I did/do care about what socks and shoes they all wear, perfect parties with plenty of food, and whether or not there is enough produce in the house at all times. Oh yeah - and all my hanging clothes have to point in the same direction, with the hanger facing in. I don't know why. The floor can be a mess, but all the hangers have to point the same way. And all my movies and cds are arranged by genré, not alphabetically. Actually, that's how I organize everything. Someone please explain this to me!

Little by little, I think I am growing up. I know that there are things that have to be done, and I am learning to not let my knee jerk reactions rule me. This will stun those of you who know me well - but while I have planned all Kenzie and Kolbe's party for their sacraments (in May), I have not yet ordered a darn thing. I sent the invitations, but I am not harassing anyone for RSVPs (yet). This is progress, baby! I have even seen a few conversations going on in different places, and knowing that I could not sway the participants, I did not join the discussion. Also progress, as I would normally jump in, rail at whomever with facts, figures and quotes from the Bible, and ignore the kids all night while I did so. Now, I am not saying that I won't still do that sometimes, because honestly, sometimes it needs to be done, but I'm going to be much more selective where I chime in. Progress. Going with the flow. It's about time, don't you think?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A little boost to my ego...

Katrina from They All Call Me Mom gave me this blog award! My first. Thanks so much, Katrina, I am so glad you enjoy my little blog. 
 The rules of the Stylish Blogger Award are:
Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.  
Share seven things about yourself.
Award seven recently discovered new blogs.
Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received the award. 

Seven things about me that I haven't blabbed all over this blog or Facebook already? That will be a tough one - let's see:
1. I LOVE television. I really do. I don't get to see very much of it. I watch Glee once a week with my daughter and occasionally turn on Food Network or Fox News while I am in the kitchen. 
2. I stay up late - usually at least until 2a.m. or so - it takes that long to get everything done, plus, my sweet Douglas comes home around 1:30 or so and I like to be up to see him for a while before we go to bed. 
3. I am a little neurotic when it comes to parties or any gathering where food is offered. I have to have TONS of food, and I freak out a little if I don't think everything is just so. Well, more than a little. My family goes all quiet and just scrambles around following orders until everything is ready - I am THAT scary.
4. I am a serial obsessive - and yeah, I just made that up - but, I tend to get all wrapped up in/carried away with things I like. When I was little, it was Trixie Belden books, then for about 20 years, it was Oprah, then it was one blog, then another. I do it with all areas of my life, from what I read to movies I watch to what clothes I dress my kids in. It all has to be part of a set, or somehow fit together (in my brain, no one else's). Maybe a better way to put it would be that I enjoy living in a certain genré!
5. I am #3 in a line of  4 Megans. My grandmother is Megan #1, my mom is Megan#2, I am Megan #3, and my daughter is Megan#4. My grandmother and I used to always sign cards to each other with just "Love, #1" and "Love, #3". It was our little thing. I miss that.
6. I am passionate, to the point of militancy on my views on several issues. I think that militancy tends to turn people off, so they cannot hear my message, and I battle between toning it down to be heard, and just exploding. - Mellow I am not.
7. I love my husband. (This should have been number 1!). I mean, I really, really love him. He  is just like standing on solid ground after teetering endlessly off a cliff. I love that he has green eyes, he is big and tall, thinks I am corny and loves me anyway, and he makes really beautiful babies. The end. 

Seven bloggers I have recently discovered and LOVE!
Check them out - they are all pretty fabulous! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Raising Teens...and a Comment About Day 13

I recently read a post on one of the blogs I enjoy very much, all about her methods of training up her small children, so that by the time they are teens, they were pretty much the people they were going to be forever. I think I would have to agree with some of what she said. Having raised two teens so far, and working on 1.5 more, currently, with lots of littles coming up, I have a few opinions on the matter. I think having one foot in the homeschool world, and one foot out, has given me a unique perspective. Some homeschooling families (we are one, so don't take it the way it sounds, please!), make such strict rules for their kids, especially the teenagers.(And yes, I know some families have no rules or raising up at all!) I just tend to think that being overly harsh, with many rules and restrictions isn't going to help your case as a parent. If you know you raised a good kid - then trust that you raised a good kid, i.e., the following:

1. I think forming them early is important. Manners mean more than just saying please and thank you. They teach respect for self and others. If you teach them manners and self control when they are young, they don't have to learn it when they are teenagers.
2. I truly think that the beginnings of respect for self and others stems from a love of the Lord. Teaching children about God's love for us gives them a sense of intrinsic self worth. It also teaches them that God loves all of His children. Now, I know that children will be children, and therefore make mistakes, but when a child knows and understands that we are here to know, love and serve God in this world, so that we can be with Him in the next, it will impact many of their choices, and certainly the important ones.
3. If you take the time to get to know your kids, and keep knowing them as they mature, then you will be able to guess what kind of choices they will make. My Meg, my 20 year old, is our wild child. While that may scare some parents, it has never really scared me. I know where she draws the line between wild child and just plain sinful and disrespectful. I am comfortable, if not always entirely happy, with where she draws her line. She has a firm foundation in her faith, and she will stand by it, and always base her decisions, most especially the bigger, more important decisions; on it. I think, knowing that, it is easy to know what choices she will make in most situations. I know I can trust her to make good decisions. Our other 20 year old, Liz is somewhat less the wild child, and I think her foundation in faith is even deeper than Meg's. I trust that she knows her heart and mind, and bases all decisions on the teachings of faith. I know that because I know she has been well formed in faith, by her own choosing.
4.It's our job as parents to make sure our kids have the tools to navigate the world, relationships, choices about life, love, schooling, careers, everything. If we have raised them well, taught them the God loves them, and that we love and value them, and gotten to know their hearts and minds, then it is time to trust them. Let them make their own choices. Of course, some of them will be the wrong choice, but that's how everyone learns. But, hard as we may try, we can't hang on to them forever.
5. Keep talking to your teens. Know them well, and make sure they know you have expectations of them, but don't rule them. If you lord over them, make too many choices for them, they will fight you. Instead, keep conversations going, but let them have some room to move.

So, teach your babies, mold your toddlers, shape your children and tweens. And then, when they become old enough to fly the coop once in a while  - let them. Guide them, but let them go! They will make the right choices because you taught them how. I think this was why our oldest girls really never had too many rules. They never needed them. They just didn't need them. They were always home on time, they never hung out with the "wrong crowd" unless they were trying to help or convert them in some way. They never abused our trust in them. When it came time for the big dances and things, they actually had to ask us when we wanted them home. It never occurred to us to give them a curfew - we ALWAYS knew where they were, and who they were with, but we never had to ask.  They had such good, good girls as friends.
Maybe we've gotten lucky with some really good kids, and I'm not going to say that a couple of the ones coming up aren't gonna give us a run for our money, but we're doing okay so far. I am really proud of the ones who've flown the coop so far, and the next one, my Kenzie, she's a doozy. This kid is a great kid. When it's her time to fly, I'll trust her, and know that she'll make excellent choices.

As for my Count Down - it's Day 13, and I think I was a present parent today. I played with babies, I tried not to be distracted, I got school done in a timely manner, even though my new PW book was calling my name all day! Kolbe and I read about Susan B. Anthony today. Now, she was my kind of lady. She fought for womens rights, but she never wanted women to lose our femininity. She was against abortion, and outspoken about it. She knew that motherhood was the epitome of femininity, and a woman's best chance at shaping our world. She fought for our daughters rights to vote, and to own land, but never to give up what it means to be a woman.

So my goal for Day 14? I want to expose my daughters to true femininity - grace, love of God, respect for self and others, the dignity that comes with being thought of as a "lady". My grandmother was always a lady, she carried herself well, was full of poise and dignity, and dressed to the nines, with a killer set of gams. If you throw in some of my Grandma Karcher's warmth and hugs, and ability to make great pie, I think you've found the perfect woman! I want my girls to know their great grandmothers just a bit better, so I want to tell them some stories, and hopefully, create a memory of each woman for them. My grandmother is still alive, my Nain, and my girls know her, but they don't remember her when she was a little younger. Maybe I can give them a little of her, and a little of Grandma Karcher.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Count Down - But I Can't Remember What Day!

Yeb with some stolen VD bounty
 *Update: I am an official schmuck - my Douglas came home from work with a copy of  The Pioneer Woman's Black Heels To Tractor Wheels - and I am so excited I can hardly stand it. I owe the guy - big time! Back rubs,  a special dinner, something made of peanutbutter, even though peanutbutter smells and makes me want to... never mind, but he totally rocks socks, people!
Today was St. Valentine's Day, and while the web was full of "I love Valentine's Day" and "I hate Valentine's Day", the Jeffery Household stayed true to a couple of little traditions. I told the little kids the story of St. Valentine, and all the kids got little treats. The kids all made Valentines for their cousins and sent them up to be delivered.  My husband, the man who is far more romantic than I am, brought me roses, a card, and chocolates (most of which I gave to the kids!). I, on the other hand, did nothing for him. I thought we had a pact, one where we just don't spend money on this stuff anymore. The man always, always ignores the pact. It's sweet, and makes me feel like a schmuck. You would think I would be more romantic, wouldn't you? I mean, look at this place! I am a total sap. But I'm not really very romantic - and yes, there is a big difference. To me, being a sap means I wax poetic over everything and am overly emotional.  Being romantic - in the Valentine's Day sense  - it's  just not me. I would rather buy a funny card (but write a long, mushy note) than a lovey one, (but I'd rather get the lovey one), I'd rather give a backrub than buy a gift. Maybe that just makes me cheap? Could be! Honestly, when my Douglas walks through the door with roses, especially on Valentine's Day, all I can think about is how many gallons of gas he could have bought instead. Totally not romantic - and I know he knows I LOVE Valentine's Day, but the roses kill me. They are just going to die. And I know they were expensive, so I can't enjoy them. And that makes me feel mean, as they were given in love, but also I think he thinks he has to buy them. And no amount of telling him otherwise has ever worked. I don't know how to convince him. And feeling this way makes me feel like a big meanie - a scrooge of Valentines. And that was the longest paragraph, ever.

So, as for my Count Down to 40 (can't you just hear Andy Richter saying that, like when he and Conan used to do the "Year 2000" bits?)  - anyway, I can't even remember what day I am supposed to be on - I think Day 12? I sort of skipped 10 and 11 over the weekend, with Luke's birthday and other hoopla around here.
As for my goals, in short order:
1. Sugarlessness - well, I ate cake, and a couple of the chocolates Doug got me - but I gave almost all of them away - so better, but not great. *Sigh* - sugar continues to be a battle for me. I always think about sugar when I think of other people's addictions. It is mine, for sure.
2. Movement - well, I found the channel that has the lady doing yoga, and I watched her for a few minutes the other morning. Does that count? No? Shucks. I'll find her, and join her if it's the last thing I do (and it very well may be.)
3.Doing for others - well, I this is hard to say - I really don't like it when people say, "hey, I did this for so and so, or that, or the other" so it would bug me to put down here efforts I do try to make on behalf of others. I really try to do whatever is within my power, and will continue to. I guess you're gonna have to believe me on this one!
4.Reading to my babies - Yes, they are being read to, by Dad during the day, and I read them about a half a million books before bed, but after prayers and teeth, every night since I made it a goal. They LOVE it. Benji loves "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny" because there is a Benjamin who has a cousin, Peter, just like he is a Benjamin who has a cousin, Peter. Luke is loving Winnie the Pooh, and Yeb really, really likes the same Sandra Boynton "Going to Bed Book". He can pick it out and bring it to me every time. So, we have read these three books a gazillion times each. Please note that there are no fewer than 100 books in their bedroom at any given time.
5. Being kinder to my children - I am really working on speaking more kindly to them. I have to say, I am pretty darn sarcastic sometimes, and I have hurt their tender little hearts, especially Kolbe and Luke. They are both real softies, though Kolbe acts as tough as anything you could imagine. And my poor little Luke is just heartbroken any time anyone speaks harshly to him. I am getting better, though I made Luke cry just this evening because I snapped at him for goofing around in his seat at dinner. Poor guy - he forgave me right away, but I still felt badly. My Kenzie, she has picked up my knack for the super sarcastic. She is actually what made me realize the way I talk to the kids, because I was hearing her. And she sounded like me. So now, I have to figure out how to correct some of that. Suggestions on how to get a teenager to quit being so sarcastic are welcome in the comments section below.

So, as I look towards Day 13, and see how really busy this household is, I just want to be more present. I want to actually live my day, not just stumble through it. I do a lot of stumbling through! I want to hold my baby, and just feel the way he feels in my arms and try to cement it in my memory.  I want to get to know my bigger kids a bit better. I honestly don't know what goes through Jonah or Jenna's minds. Kenzie and Kolbe are different. They are chatty, they'll tell you EVERYTHING if you are in front of them long enough. You have to draw stuff out of Jonah, and Jenna, I don't know what deviousness is going on in there, but I have a feeling that there is a good bit of devious thought. Hmmm - suggestions for how to get into the head of a 10 year old daughter and the brain of a mustache growing 12 year old son, are welcome.

Have a Beautiful Tuesday, ya'll!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lukey

Luke - 6 years
Today is February 12. That means it is my baby's birthday. Perhaps I should be more specific. It is my baby, Luke's birthday. My Lukey turned six years old today.

When we found out we were expecting Luke, we had six children already, the last four of them in rapid succession. I was so tired. So sleep deprived. To top the exhaustion of homeschooling, and just the number of children, work, daily life, my Jonah had just been diagnosed with a seizure disorder. That brought a lot of fear and worry. So, for the first time ever, I found my self not entirely thrilled about being pregnant. I know I whined a lot. He was also the first baby to make me ill. I had never been really nauseous or anything with the other kids. I pretty much breezed through my pregnancies.

As my pregnancy progressed I whined a little more, and tried to sleep, envisioning the hours, days, years of sleeplessness that would stretch before me as soon as I hit around 36 weeks, when you are just too uncomfortable to sleep. I knew that once it started, it would be a long time before I had a full night's rest.

Luke - 1 week old
When it came time to deliver our son, whom we had named "Luke Christopher" almost as soon as we saw the ultrasound, things got interesting. His heart rate went down really, really low. My usually calm midwife was not panicking, but she was rattled, as I was not sufficiently dialated. She called for the doctor, thinking they were going to have to use the vacuum to get the little guy outa there. As luck would have it, I had the urge to push, so she told me to go for it - she'd fix me up later if need be, and my darling Lucky Luke was born very quickly. I know very well what a good guardian angel this guy must have, to let him come so very fast, his heart rate just fine once he was out.

All my whining was over once I had him in my arms. He was really, really beautiful, with red fuzzy hair and big blue eyes. From that moment on our Luke has been the very sweetest child. He has an enthusiasm for life that even most six year olds don't have. He is thrilled for anyone opening a gift and will shower the person with "Wow! That's great!". He loves to give presents, wrapping his toys in towels or whatever is handy and presenting me or his dad with the gift. He somehow always knows what to say to make someone smile, and he is the sweetest, most affectionate child I have ever met. He just radiates charm and can win anyone over with his smile. I love him so much. I am forever grateful that God is in control of our family, and not me. Because I would have chosen to not be pregnant right then, and we would not have this beautiful child. This amazing little person. Luke, if you ever read this, know that you have been a gift to your dad and me. We always asked, jokingly, when God was going to send us a sweet one. You, my Lucky Luke, are the sweet one. Doesn't hurt that you are incredibly beautiful, with a shiny soul just beaming right onto whomever is around you. I love you so much, and I am so glad God sent you to us. Happy Birthday, "Wuke Chrisoper Jeffey". May God bless you always. Love, Mom

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crime and Punishment, err...Sin and Penance

Last weekend my son, Kolbe made his First Reconciliation. At the end of the ceremony, anyone who wanted to go to confession was welcomed. My children and I all lined up.

Our priest, Fr. Vic is very good at giving penances. He always makes the punishment penance fit the crime sin. As each of my children exited the confessional I instructed them to go sit and say their penance. Each one told me that they didn't have a prayer penance, Fr. Vic had instructed them to do something nice for whomever they had sinned against. A very typical penance from Fr., designed to make them think of the person they had wronged.

My children were working on their penances in the last day or so, though I didn't realize it. Jonah, Jenna and Kolbe were standing in the kitchen, arguing over who should get to play with a toy Jonah had purchased last night at Target. When I asked why they were arguing over it, as it was Jonah's, Kolbe says. "Well, I gave him the five bucks to buy it!" When I asked him why he would do that, he told me. "Well, Fr. Vic said I have to do something nice for Jonah, so I gave him five bucks." Jenna pipes up with "Yeah, and I am going to buy Kolbe some gum, since I have to be nice to him!"

I am pretty sure they weren't supposed to just buy each other off. I think I better call Fr. and ask him to be more specific next time!

Thinking About Being Spontaneous

I just posted about my 9th day of my Count Down to 40. It was sad, really. My poor children and I were so excited to go to my mom's and Target. I felt like I was being spontaneous because I had just decided this morning to go, I hadn't been planning it out all week or anything. Doesn't exactly define spontaneity, does it?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Spontaneity as follows:

Definition of SPONTANEITY

: the quality or state of being spontaneous
: voluntary or undetermined action or movement; also : its source


  1. the spontaneity of their behavior
  2. spontaneity in their lives when they had a baby>
Uh - did you read that last line? Yep - I think some of my lack of spontaneity can be attributed to babies and kids, sure, but to think that a trip to my parents' house and Target qualified? Oy - it's worse than I thought, folks. Old-ladyness is setting in, for sure. Who in the world thinks that is spontaneous?!

You wanna hear spontaneous? Try packing a mid-sized sedan with four kids, buying camping supplies on your way out of town to go TOUR ARIZONA?! A trip through the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, Sedona. Plopping our tents down in the middle of a reservation  - where someone drove cattle through our camp at around 3am - scared the daylights out of us! Dana, Stacy and I were in one tent, and Mom, Dad and Geoff were in another. We had those little pop-ups. We were awakened by odd noises and some large shapes pressing up against the sides of our tents! How were we to know that they were going to move cattle through the area in the middle of the night? I guess that's what you get for being spontaneous - one of the best memories of our time in Arizona, and a great story to tell when you are trying to remember the last time you were actually spontaneous. My mom and dad did this kind of thing all the time. It used to drive me nuts, but now, I want those stories for my kids. Can you learn how to be spontaneous?

New goal - try to be more spontaneous! Not Target spontaneous, but maybe Hocking Hills spontaneous, since we are in Ohio, rather than Arizona. Seriously, fly by the seat of my pants really just means I don't want to be tied down or have deadlines. Spontaneity means embracing life - getting out there and doing something. I'm gonna give it a shot. It'll take some planning, but I am sure I can pull it off!

Count Down to 40 - Day 9

It's just past midnight, and I  just sat down after running around all day long. It's been one of those crazy but fun days. A day where I met some goals, and totally blew a couple off - which is the way I tend to treat life anyway. I kind of like the fly by the seat of my pants thing I have had going the last 39+ year. I like getting an idea in my head and just going with it. So today, we got very little school done, but we did some, and since we spend most every day, all day long, doing school, I am definitely okay with that. I didn't do any exercising or stretching or yoga of any kind this morning. I am a little bummed about that, but honestly, I just forgot. I did play on the floor with babies, and chased Yeb back and forth through the living room, because it makes him scream and laugh. I fed them breakfast and rushed through school because I had a plan. We were going to go to my moms, then Target. How much more fun does it get than that? (Editor's note: upon rereading, I am a little sad that this qualifies in my mind as spontaneous. A post on that coming!)

We did school, had a late lunch and I told the kids to help the little guys; Luke, Ben and Yeb get dressed while I showered. It should be noted that my Kenzie was not home  - she is my right hand. I came out of the shower and all the little guys were dressed, save socks and shoes. I found Ben's shoes. And Yeb's. That left just Luke. I was tearing through his room, trying to find his shoes, when I realized I didn't even know what I was looking for. I asked him where his sneakers were, and he told me "Wellll, I don't know what they wook wike, so I can't find 'em". So, I am getting mad, as I tend to do when I have one of my shoe/sock/sweater/perfect outfit/whatever freak outs. I am running through the inventory in my head, trying to picture what his shoes look like. Ah! The white Nikes with a red and black swoosh! But wait, the last time I put those on him, we couldn't get them on his feet. Plus, it's been all snowy, so he's been wearing boots. Boots! Ugh - I just threw them away because the were SO. GROSS. They had been passed down from Jonah and I just tossed them a few days ago wheeeennnn? Ah yes, when he tried to wear them to church and I had another mini freak out over the whole "find the church shoes" thing. So, okay the kid has no shoes other than his church shoes which are also really too small. This requires some digging into my "grow into" boxes. I finally found a pair of sneakers in the right size. I was so excited, I pulled them out and THEY HAD NO LACES! So, frustration and my level of near freak out is at a dangerous level. Why, oh why would anyone take the laces out? Well, it was Kolbe, I am sure. For a while there, he kept tying laces and strings and jump ropes together and tying all the doors in the upstairs together. Weird, right? I had forgotten all about it until I found the laceless sneakers.

To make an already way too long story even longer, I had to find laces before we could leave. I dug through junk drawers (well, Doug's one junk drawer in the kitchen) and came up with a pair of perfectly white shoe laces to go in the dark gray and black sneakers. They just screamed "hit me, I am a dork!", but it was now past 4:30 and if we were going to go, we needed to go. We finally got to my mom's about an hour after I planned to be there. But you know what? It all felt kinda good. The rushing. The getting out of the house. The mad dash to get everyone dressed and ready. We used to do it two or three days a week - go to Canton and see everyone. I never minded the mad dash. I like flying by the seat of my pants - I actually miss the opportunity to do it more. We are so tied down with work and school, and children, that spontaneity just isn't in the cards most days.

We were all so happy to be out of the house, the kids were happy, I was happy. We went to my mom's and then decided to go tour the new house that my brother and his wife are almost done building. The kids ran through the big, empty house for a while, hugging cousins and laughing - happy to be together unexpectedly.

Before we came home we made a late run through Target - Mecca to both me and the kids. We LOVE us some Target. Something for everyone. We shopped for birthday presents, cereal, and some other necessities. But, did I buy Luke some shoes? Some shoe laces, perhaps - to replace the dorky white laces that will drive me crazy? NOPE.  I thought about it, and promptly forgot before we even left the store.

So my goals for the day? Shot all to heck, though I really didn't sit down all day. And I think I was nice. I didn't scream or yell about the shoes, or socks, or anything. We had a really fun day - a spontaneous day. A day that felt like me. The girl who doesn't like schedules or dates or times. I follow the rules, don't get me wrong. I just do it all in my own time. And on a day like today, I am okay with that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Count Down to 40? Day 8 or Whatever

 Count Down to 40 - Day 8

I am getting bored  - it seems so narcissistic. But then, most blogs are fairly narcissistic. It is shortly after 8pm, which is a fevered time in the Jeffery household. We're still cleaning up from dinner, and lunch, and school,  and whatever Yebbi dumped, smeared, licked, climbed or broke throughout the afternoon. The little boys know that bedtime is fast approaching, so they are running around like crazy men, trying to get some last minute activity in before their forced confinement. They are like bees in September. You know how bees get all frantic and aggressive because it will soon be time to hibernate, or whatever bees do all winter long? (What do bees do all winter long? An important question which will drive me nuts until I go google it.) Well, my boys get all frantic and run around and make messes and basically do all in their power to avoid the dreaded procedures of bath, teeth, book (fingers crossed!), prayers and bed. Luke begs for one more game on the Wii, which he has been on all day long today. Which is why I didn't want video games. Ben is begging for food, because he fell asleep in his dinner, and never ate a single bite. And Yebbi. My baby is in constant motion unless he is passed out cold.
Nice pajama bottoms, there Benji. That's not embarrassing at all.
Yeb is always recharged after a meal!

One pretty cool thing happened when I was taping (Couldn't get it to upload! Bummer!)Yeb, he actually signed "all done" for me! I know he knows all the signs I have taught him, because he'll pull one out every once in a while. He doesn't talk much yet, but is a total ham. He can say the word "cheese" clear as can be, but if you want him to sign or say "please",  ya get nothin'. Well, I finally got him on tape signing. I keep telling the kids, if they do everything for him, he won't ever talk! His favorite thing to say is "no!" but, like so many siblings and cousins, I think he means "yes" half the time.
The bigger kids just keep asking me if it is time to put the little guys to bed yet. Should I feel bad that we all count down to bedtime? At the end of the day, I think we have all earned a little bit of calm before the big kids have to go to bed. And my Kenzie Rosie. She is not here, she is at my sister's house because she babysits for her one day a week, and I miss her every minute. I turn to tell her something a hundred times until she comes home again.

As for all my goals, and counting down  - I'm still on it. I just thought I'd like to think of someone else for a change - anyone reading this is bound to get bored. (I do realize that I just spent 3-4 paragraphs talking about my kids, which amounts to the same thing.)
I have been pretty good, but not perfect about the sugar thing. I fell off the wagon on Sunday, but got back Monday. ( I blame my Aunt Sue and her turtle bars which I decided to make for the kids for the Superbowl. Yeah, they were for the kids alright.)
I had a bad day yesterday, and was snappy and cranky. I pointed this out to my husband, and asked him to remind me when I get like that to try and speak nicely to the little monkey heads. His thought was that one person can only take so much and Kolbe's constant leaving earned him a threat or two! Men - they so don't sweat all the guilt stuff women do! I love his perspective. It helps calm me down.
 Sooo, to recap:
Be nice to people - workin' on it.
No sugar - mostly under control
Bring some joy - I'm working on finishing up my Facebook Pay It Forwards this weekend. Does that count?
Embrace the idea of actually turning 40 - still stops me cold and fills me with dread. Gonna mark that one as a work in progress!

So, for my next goal, in addition to no sugar, I am going to take the advice of my very dear friend, whom I have not seen in 25 (yikes!) years, and add some movement to my day. Somewhere. Probably going to be something goofy with the little boys first thing in the morning, so the big kids aren't up to make fun of me. This will be the hardest thing because:
#2. - I HATE EXERCISE more than I hate mornings
 So, that sounds doable, right? I am thinking 20 minutes or so, building up bit by bit, and maybe adding 10 minutes in the afternoon of some yoga or something when I am losing it with Kolbe. Are there any exercise people out there? Will this do any good, or is it not enough to bother? I think anything has to be better than the absolute zip that is going on now. If I could *gasp* actually get my lazy self out of bed before the little boys get up, I could do some yoga  or something and get in a rosary. THAT would be the start of something big, ya'll.

Count Down to 40 - Days 6 and 7?

 Days 6 and 7

Yesterday and today have been so busy, I am afraid I never got to post for yesterday, so, I have already lost on the goal for a post everyday! Well, I am catching up tonight.

My goal for yesterday was to speak more kindly, be more patient with all my kiddos. I think I can call that one a complete loss. I just started to listen to the way I talk to them, and I was not thrilled with my motherly ministrations to them. Wow - I really do sound mean a lot. This breaks my heart more than a little. I not only speak harshly to them, I complain constantly. When I realize I am doing it, it drives me crazy. I will say things to Kolbe a hundred times a day like " Will you please sit down and do math with me so I can get out of this chair someday!?" or  "If you don't get in here right now I am going to peel the ears off your head!" (this is referring to when they are being really bad, especially in church, I give their ears a tug - just to get them to pay attention, but still the threat sounds horrible!) Can you imagine what goes through their heads when their mother speaks this way to them? I lose patience so easily, and often. It has to be driving everyone crazy. Doug never says anything, just rounds them back up and sends them back in - I get the most frustrated when I have to make a phone call or something, and they all disappear - drives me crazy! Kolbe even said to me yesterday when I told him I wanted to finish up so I could get out of the school room for a while: " I know, I know, you complain about it all the time!". Well, that made me feel about this big |-|. I don't want him to feel like I hate doing school, I really want him to enjoy it, but the watching and listening the last two days has shown me that:

A. There really isn't any joyful learning going on here, it's just drudgery. Just getting through the material. Nothing more.
B. I don't play with or read to the littles. Really never get to. I play a little when the three little boys drag me (unwilling and complaining) out of bed early in the morning. I get them breakfast after that, then we start school, and I don't get to do anything with them until I feed them dinner. After that, it's bath, teeth, prayers, bed. Tonight I read A book. One book, because I had finally come to the realization that they are never read to. I can't stand it.
C. Kolbe doesn't know ANYONE his own age, other than cousins.
D. I am tired. I am not pleasant. I am not trying to impart knowledge. I am just muddling through as much as I can - usually until at least 8 o'clock at night. How am I ever going to add more students to this? Why would I do that to my poor, sweet little kids?
E. Other than snapping at each other to be quiet, we do nothing together during the day.
F. My husband and I just never see each other unless it is the middle of the night, when he gets home.
G. Did you notice that there was no mention of laundry in there? Or cleaning? Yeah.

So much of this plays into my discontent with the way I am operating this house, our "schedule" (ha!), the schooling, the raising of children. I should have this down. I've been doing some semblance of this forever. Why can't I get my act together? I think, and my brother has been trying to get me to understand this for years now, is that I have too much to do. But, where he misses the boat is that, because I have so much to do, I kind of check out, mentally, and don't do much of it, and none of it well. That's what this whole Count Down to 40 is really about. It's time. I mean, if you aren't a grown up by the time you are 40, it's never gonna happen. Part of me wants to go home ( I actually still get homesick - does anyone else feel that way?), climb into my mother's lap and suck my thumb or something. The other part of me wants to knock the crap out of the crybaby and say: "What the crap is the MATTER WITH YOU!? Grow the heck up and just do what you need to do!" Be nice, do school, be happy. Get up at 7 am with a smile on your face, say your prayers,  change diapers, go through your day, impart knowledge, do for others, be kind to your children (since you were the one who wanted so many!), clean your house, love your husband, get your work done and shut up about it!" (language edited because my mother reads this) What a loser. Sheesh.

Soo, my goal for tomorrow? Get out of this pity party, and get back to my original goal - which boils down to just finally, being a grown up - and being good at it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Count Down to 40 - Day 5

Day 5

Today was my Kolbe's 1st Reconciliation, and he was wonderful. He came out of the confessional with a big smile on his face. He has been waiting for this day for a very long time. During Father's homily he mentioned that some of the children present might have a calling to the priesthood. Kolbe sat up a little straighter, a secret little smile on his face. I kind of think he just might grow up to be a priest. He has talked about it for so long, and has a strong devotion to St. Maximillian Kolbe, and Our Lady. He's just a little boy, so he certainly could change his mind. When I was his age I wanted to be an archeologist. Then a nun (briefly), then a dancer (ha!), and so many other things. He wants to be other things, too, but he always says he wants to be a priest. Only time will tell, but I do my part by praising him for the desire to be a priest, and praying for vocations.

As for my goal for the day, to not freak out over the little things, well, I mostly managed. I did not freak out over socks, or sweaters - most of them did not match (they matched themselves, just not each other). I did flip out a little over Luke's choice of footwear. He tried to wear a really old, gross pair of snow boots because he could not find his church shoes. I made everyone hunt until they found the church shoes. For some reason no one but me sees why decent shoes at church are a must. I think it has to do with my Grandma Karcher. She was always worried about what shoes we had on for Mass. I remember going with her to Saturday evening Mass and had forgotten my church shoes. She fretted the whole way through Mass over my shoes. That instilled in me a desire for my kids to always look good for Mass, though I have been letting go of 'perfect' just for the sake of survival. With nine kids and 1 bathroom, you gotta let some of that go, or you'll never get there!

My goal for Day 6? Well, Kenzie mentioned to me that I sounded kind of mean in my PSR class yesterday, so I am going to practice trying to be kind when speaking to children. Starting with my own. Apparently she felt they would all think I was 'so mean', and I was shocked. So I think since my house is a wreck, and we have to do school, I will practice being patient and kind while trying to get the kids to do what needs to be done. Hopefully I can perfect it in time for PSR with a dozen 13 and 14 year olds. Please pray for me - I'm gonna need it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Count Down To 40 - Day 4

Day 4

Well today was not exactly an all consuming quest for self on my 40 day journey. Which, after further reflection is starting to sound super narcissistic - I have a horrible fear of being narcissistic. Anyway, today was a sleepy, slow Saturday. No sun in the sky, freezing rain, laundry, practicing for Kolbe's 1st confession tomorrow, that sort of thing. My darling husband decided that he would make both cheese cake and some sort of candy/fudge/nut/mess on this, my very first sugar free day. I am happy to announce that I did not partake of the cheese cake or the candy/fudge/nut/mess. I was strong - I held out! Which for some reason totally wasn't hard so I don't really deserve any credit for holding out. The candy stuff looked pretty gross (sorry Honey!), and for some reason, the cheese cake, which I normally LOVE, just didn't even appeal to me. Perhaps it was knowing that if I did eat some, I would have to fess up to all (both?) of you who read this little snippet of internet. I wouldn't want to cave on the very first day, anyway. That would mean I have no will power at all.

Now, as I sit here in my pj's, I have to decide what my next goals should be. I had this picture in my head, of this 40 year old I want to be, and I realize it's a compilation of so many women I have loved. My mom - I want to be as feisty as she is, always charging into whatever comes next. My Grandma Karcher - she was always doing for others. My Nain - I don't know too many braver women. My cousin Suzy - strong, funny, happy and LOVING. And my sisters; Dana, Stacy and Amy - these girls link me to myself, keep me grounded and know me. They are my fortress in any storm. So, you see these women? I want to be just like them when I grow up.

My Mom with Meg
This is the best I have digitally of my Grandma
Sisters: Stacy, Amy and Dana (sorry girls, it's hard to find un-preggo pics!)
My Suzy

My Goal for Day 5? Tomorrow is going to be a super busy day. The kind of day where I want everything perfect, and I tend to flip out if it's not. PSR, then Mass, then Kolbe's 1st Confession and dinner, and then a mini-Super Bowl party. My goal for the day? To not flip out over matching socks, coordinating outfits for the little boys, or any one's lack of the dress clothes for Mass. If I manage to not flip out over any of these things, and some I have not thought of yet, then I will have accomplished my goal to just "go with the flow" tomorrow. It's really hard for me, so say a prayer, please!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Countdown to 40 - Day Three

Day Three

Meg's 20th
My 20 year old daughter, Meg is just the age I was when I had her. She is busy being the college student, the choir member, planning a trip to Rome, the girlfriend, the roommate, the best friend and all the other things that come with be a 20 year old. I got to spend most of the evening with her today, which was great since I really haven't seen her since the new semester started. We grabbed some dinner and made a trip to Target, which was really fun. It's  not often I get to spend time with just one kid, so getting to spend most of the evening listening to her jabber about school and parties and choir and job hunting and her boyfriend was really a joy. This kid, she so has my heart. When she's home she drives me NUTS because she is sloppy and sleepy and just...a pain in the rear, honestly. But, then, she's gone and I can hardly stand how much I miss her. I guess that's God's way of preparing my heart for when she's moved out for good. I wanted to bring a bit of joy and surprise to her today, as I didn't really get a chance to do that for anyone yesterday, and I think I accomplished it - what kid doesn't like an unexpected offer of a free meal out and a trip to the store when they are broke? I also snagged an extra gyro for my sweet Douglas - he loves them and has not had one in years, so I think he'll enjoy it.

My Douglas and me - I was 25, he was 33!
Speaking of my Douglas, we are currently in one of those blissful married modes - just so happy. To see each other, to curl into a chair together when he gets home in the middle of the night and then talk until 3a.m., to work together with all these monkeys during the day, share those little moments. I love when this happens. I know you married folks know what I am talking about, right? That head over heels feeling that tends to ebb and flow. Loving it right now. It alone makes me feel like I am 26 instead of nearly  40. A LOT of that is due to my sweet, sweet guy and how he looks at me like I am the prettiest thing he's ever seen. Yeah, that can do a lot for a girl. Plus, he always smells amazing. That helps with the whole head over heels thing.

Jenna Rhi
And as for Jenna, yes, we painted nails, while I tried to drag information out of her. She's so quiet - I never know what is running through her head. but, we talked, we had a good time, and I got to be just my girl's mama for a little while. In the end, that's the most important thing. I love her more than anything in the world - so it's my job to try and understand her, be her manicurist from time to time. She ended up with a manicure, fresh bang trim and a braided headband, just for fun. Isn't she the sweetest thing?

So, I accomplished my goal for today, and had fun with my little baby girl, who is 10 years old, doesn't really like braids, and wanted blue nail polish - not pink (waaa! - where is my pink girlie girl?).

So, Day 4! Tomorrow I would like to get a start on what I think will be the key to my losing an acceptable amount of weight. I've had 8 babies, ya'll - I don't expect to look like Halle Berry in a bikini - I am just looking for healthy - not hot! So, I am going to do my best to cut out sugar, starting tomorrow. I was on a no sugar diet while pregnant with Yeb. I lost 35 lbs, and felt AWESOME. Sugar is bad stuff. Sadly, it is my worst habit. I am a sugaraholic. I really like it. Crave it. It's a sickness. It's a Disease!  Sorry - I had to. But really, sugar is my downfall. I do well in every other area. I don't eat too large of portions (anymore), I don't do chips or salty. It's really sugar. So, that is my goal going forward, starting tomorrow (right now I intend to polish off my Lindor Truffles in preparation for my sugarlessness). I'll let ya know how I do! Blessings, all!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Countdown to 40 - Day 2

Day 2

Day 2 was an interesting day, as it was filled with friends in our home on a day that we would normally be doing school, laundry, dishes and the like, because the electricity in our area has not yet been fully restored, and they were wanting showers, heat, and a cup of tea, for heaven's sake! I wish they had stayed longer, we all had so much fun with the diversion, and since the electricity is still not back in their house, I know it will be a long, chilly night!

As for my goal for  the day - to bring someone joy - I kind of wish I had been more specific with myself, because how do you measure such a thing?

Definition of JOY as defined by Merrium-Webster

a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
: a source or cause of delight
joy·less \-ləs\ adjective
joy·less·ly adverb
joy·less·ness noun

So, no, I am not entirely sure I managed that one. I mean, I played with the baby until he was squealing with laughter. I teased my Kolbe until I got some genuine smiles and giggles out of my serious son. I let Jonah go to a friends house for the afternoon and evening. Do those things count? I wonder if they cancel each other out with all the negatives of the day - making Luke sit in time out 800 times for crying over the Wii, or not letting Ben have a drink of water before bed (he keeps wetting), or not getting enough school done today. Who knows? I think I will have to be satisfied with the smiles of babies, the laughter of little boys and a visit with a friend as my joy for the day, but is that enough? That's ordinary joy, not the purposeful, 'make someone happy today' kind of joy I was shooting for. I wanted the 'go out of your way to make someone's day' kind of joy. But, the other thing I am trying to learn with this 40 days is not to drive myself up a wall over things all the time, so I will shoot for another goal, and perhaps incorporate this one into my day for tomorrow.

Goal for Day 3 - Spend some one on one time with Jenna, doing something that makes her happy. This will make me happy, knowing I am giving her something she needs, and getting to know my youngest daughter just a bit better. Knowing her, she will either want me to read to her, or do her nails. I am pretty happy either way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Countdown Begins...40 Days to 40

Day One 

I'm gonna be 40. In like, 40 days. It's looming ahead of me, but no longer in the far off distance. 40 is the age I thought I would be a grown up. That I would have it all together, that I would finally know what I was doing. I thought that once I turned 40, I would have it all figured out and would have some goals accomplished. Not big, life size goals, like getting married and having children. Personal goals, like losing the weight I have added ever since I was pregnant with my first baby. Like getting my life in order, finances, making decisions. I wanted to be writing, and volunteering, and helping people. I wanted to have a certain amount of dignity and grace. I wanted to know that God and I were solid.  I wanted to be great at 40. I wanted to have that moment when you realize you've got things figured out, and you can just cruise on from there.

Me and baby meg - I was 20!
Well, this may come as a shock to some of you, but I so don't have it all figured out.  I feel like there are so many things I haven't done. I want to be the best mom, the best wife, the best daughter, sister, friend. I know that these are not always realistic goals, but I wanted to be what I though it meant to be FORTY. So, I have a plan:
For the next forty days, I want to fulfill one goal for myself. I'm not just talking about a diet or a great haircut, though I don't want to exclude those things, because, let's face it...I am a wee bit vain. It doesn't show, because I haven't let it for like...(how old is Meg?) 20 years, but I am. I want to look good, feel good, do good and be good. I want to accomplish something everyday that will...God willing...become a habit. I want to be the best to myself, because more often than not, I don't bother to be the best to myself. I want that to change. Not in a selfish way (entirely), but in a way that makes me a better me for everyone I love.
Wedding - I was 24!
The first of these goals is to post something on here, this space I truly love, but leave abandoned, neglected and alone on a regular basis. I want to put a post here every day for the 40 days, starting today. Everyday I will post my goal, and whether or not I succeeded in fulfilling it.
I think I was maybe 32 here?
This is for me, the 19 year old idiot who never thought she would ever have to be 40. The 29 year old who still lives in me to this day and can't believe she's  actually 30. And the 39 year old who is, in all actuality, perplexity and confundity, about to turn 40 - and I wanna totally rock 40.  Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it. 

Goal for Day #2 - Bring Some Unexpected Joy to Someone's Day

Growing Pains

The last few weeks have been the slower, snowy, stay at home and snuggle in variety. That's not to say, however, that there has not been lots of activity in the Jeffery household. These children never seem to stop growing, changing, and hitting mile stones.

One big development is that Jonah has developed a close friendship, and that makes me so happy. As a very shy boy, he takes a little longer before he really engages with someone, so this lovely friendship has been so good for him. They talk on the phone and both share a deep and abiding love for...Lego Hero Factory. The boy is actually driving me nuts because he is always  "Mom, how can I earn eight bucks? How can I earn money to go buy the new Hero Factory..." But, the two have such a good are always so glad when your kids have good friends.

My Jo has, of late, also been sporting a good bit of ever thickening, darkening peach fuzz just under his nose. He's 12! What is this? He's the oldest boy, but in so many ways, I still think of him as a little kid. As he takes on more jobs and responsibilities around the house, and looking after his younger siblings, I am reminded that he is not a little boy anymore. I am constantly buying him bigger shoes and longer pants, so I don't know why this comes as a surprise. My Jo is sweet and kind, and helpful. He loves his brothers, cousins and friends so much, and I am so proud of how hard he has worked in school all year. Growing up. Soon enough his dad will have to teach him how to shave off his new peach fuzz mustache and how to work our tricky old lawn mower.

My sweet lil Luke is nearly six years old. He started the school year in kindergarten, but he was still just so not ready for it. He was really wanting to play and be little. As we rounded Christmas  and the new year, I see a new little Lukey, one who is now eager to learn and asks me constantly to do school. I know he will do just fine next year when we start again, and for now we'll just do the little things he likes to do, build his skills and get him ready to start in earnest in the fall. I have also noticed his language maturing. He says more words correctly, and his sentences are getting much more sophisticated. He is starting to play big boy games, and loves all of his older brothers' toys. He has two loose teeth! Not to mention that he has flown through the sizes too, and is now in a size six or seven, having started in the fall in a five. Unreal. He's still so handsome and sweet that he just breaks my heart with his thoughtful acts and little kindnesses. "Mom, I got you a drink of water!", bringing me a half full cup of warm water. He has my heart, for sure.

Last night my baby, my Mr. Yummy Pants, my Yeb, slept in the big boy bed with Ben. We were nursing right before he was going to bed, and he climbed out of my lap, cuddled up next to Ben and pulled the covers up. My big boy snuggled right in and slept all night without getting out until this morning. I can't believe it just happened like that. I don't know if we'll keep putting him to bed in the big bed with Ben, but he obviously can stay in the bed and not get up, so we'll see. While I am always excited when one of my kids hits a milestone, everyone of them with this baby has been a little bittersweet. I just want my last little baby to stay a baby a little longer, yet he has been doing all within his power to grow  up right before my eyes. Meanwhile, Ben has been exhibiting some awesome big brother skills, helping his baby brother find shoes, sharing toys, and even rubbing his boo boos for him. Such a good brother, it melts me to see him take care of Yeb - I hope he always takes care of his baby brother, even when his baby brother is 50 years old.

My Kolbe Thomas is about to make his first confession. As a very serious boy who still says he wants to be a priest when he grows up, this is a BIG deal.  He will go from being a little boy to one who is expected to reason, understand and avoid sin. I think he actually does a pretty good job of it already - not perfect, he is just a little boy after all, but he looks at life in such a serious way. Rules are made to be followed, and he has a very hard time with people who choose to break the rules, or do something that appears to be breaking a rule. I know part of this is his age, but part of it is his personality. Everything is so straightforward for him - he is just so, so very like his dad. That makes me happy, and a little nervous for him - his dad is so shy, so is nervous in social situations (my exact opposite!), yet never has a hard time deciding what the right thing is in almost any given situation. He will be the hero, always helping those around him, just like his dad, just because it is the right thing to do. Too bad for all those damsels in distress, and he will even now tell them, "Sorry, you're gonna have to like somebody else, I'm gonna be a priest!".

My Jenna, so very much the middle child, has been in her own little world of late. She does her school work, does her chores, and really never makes any waves. Her nose is always in a book. She is a little too good, so I worry that she has something up her sleeve, or the waves she never makes will suddenly come crashing down. On a positive note, she has turned into quite the little writer, and has almost completed her composition course for the year. She knows what she likes, and excels at it. Luckily for me, she is also doing well in the less fun subjects. Whew! I love this last little girl so much. I am trying very hard to let her grow up, and not make her be my baby girl. I have quit buying her the striped tights and ruffled socks, but I refuse to stop buying hair bows and headbands - and I think she's okay with that.

My Mackenzie Rose, she is so beautiful, perfectionistic, cranky, hilarious, sleepy and irritated. I think that almost every 13almost14 year  girl in America has some or most of these qualities, but Kenzie manages to make them great. When she is being a perfectionist, she will drive you crazy if it is not good enough. The cranky isn't just cranky - it's supercrank. And so on with the rest of them. She does everything in a big way. I love this girl, she makes me laugh, scream, cry and laugh again. Between the two of us we can't figure out pre-algebra to save our souls, we see the equations so differently, but she is growing up to be a beautiful soul, with a huge heart. I am so proud of the young lady who decided she needed to just get on that bus, and soon, she will be making her confirmation. I know she is actually taking the process seriously, which is hard to say for any kid her age - but I think she is taking it as seriously as she knows how. She's my girl, I just love her so much. She's a keeper!

All the little moments, all the big milestones, they all add up. Someday, now, and forever, I want to be able to remember them. So I write them in baby books, or I post them here. I want these children to know how I felt about them at any given time. I want to remember what was happening in our lives. This is my record, these are my memories. I am happy to share them if you have a moment or two. Baby stories (whether your baby is 2 months or 25 years) are my favorite, if you want to share...