Saturday, March 24, 2012


We had dinner at my mom and dad's house last night, to celebrate my dad's birthday.
All of my siblings, their spouses, and their children were able to be there, a rare treat.
My mom must have been feeling sentimental, what with the entire lower half of her family tree in one place.
Pretty soon there was an old home movie on the t.v.
I looked up and saw myself, a skinny fourteen-year-old with braces.
All dressed up for homecoming court, a shy, awkward boy by my side.
Floods of forgotten memories invaded my mind, things I never think about anymore.
We all laughed, and then moved on with our evening.
It grew late, and one family left to find their tired baby's bed, then another.
We said our more difficult goodbyes, to the sister who's my neighbor at heart, but hours away in reality.
Home we went, brush teeth, babies to bed, chat, pray, sleep.
I woke up at a still dark and quiet hour this morning, last night's sights and sounds still playing through my mind.
I thought of that video, those young, unfinished faces, that boy.
I opened my eyes, and there he was next to me.
No longer shy and awkward, but the man who unflinchingly takes care of me everyday.
The years have been good to us.
I don't long for those days, the way some regret the passing of time and loss of carefree life.
Not a bit.
I thank God for shaping us into the people we've become.
For taking two lost kids and, against all odds, leading them down a beautiful path to eternity, together.

Friday, March 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - The Meatball Edition (?!)


I was going to make meatballs for dinner on Wednesday.  By noon it was obvious that the day was getting away from me quickly, but my menu plan said meatballs and, darn it, I was going to make them.  Around 4:00 I finally made it into the kitchen to get started, and found my 3 lbs. of ground meat still frozen in the middle.  Frozen meat does not make for good rolling.  Hotdogs it was.  The meatballs got pushed to Thursday, even though Thursday was even less of a meatball-rolling kind of day than Wednesday had been.  We watched my niece in the morning and had doctor visits scheduled for the afternoon.  When we got home, I got right to it, seasoned and rolled my meat, and had a sheet pan full of meatballs ready to be chilled before the next step.  The next step would have to come after I ran out for groceries though - We were in no milk, no bread, no tissues territory - So I stuck 'em in the fridge and ran out the door.

Is this a really long story about meatballs?  I think so.  Let's start a new take.


Long ago my regular weekly grocery trip started being at Costco instead of a regular weekly grocery store, for obvious reasons.  When your regular weekly groceries consist of quantities like 4 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs, 5 bulk packages of bread products, 6 heads of romaine, 6 pounds of berries, several pounds of meat, and two bulk boxes of cereal.... well Costco just makes more sense.  Anyhow, Costco it was, and with the state of my bare cupboards being what it was, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.  
I'll spare you the snippets about the busy store, the unusually long lines (or the fact that I realized I was below E on my way there, and had to do the gas line before I could even go into the store.  oh wait, I said that part anyway.), and those insane people who seem to only enter the store in order to park their cart in the middle of the aisle and eat all the samples they can get their hands on.  We've all been there.  
I'll skip to the part where, while leaving the store at nearly 7:00 pm, dejected and exhausted, knowing my family was waiting for dinner at this late hour, the pizza that was balanced on the enormous box of tissues under my cart (the take-and-bake pizza I picked up when I realized those darn meatballs were not going to be ready, again), that pizza, slipped off the front of the cart, unbeknownst to me until I looked down and saw it at my feet upside down on the cement with the deep well of a Costco cart wheel through the middle of the box.  By the time I got to my van, the tears were flowing.

Time for a new take again, no?


What a sight I must have been!  The belly, the four gallons of milk, slobbering into my cell phone to my husband about how exhausted I was and how sorry I was that he wasn't going to be able to eat dinner before leaving for his baseball parents meeting.  His tone was loving and calming.  Just come home he said, it will be fine.  So I did.


When I got there, the three biggest people were out of commission and/or unavailable to help with groceries.  I called in the reserves:  My 8- and 6-year-olds.  They diligently made trips for all those groceries, teaming up to carry the boxes that were too big for one of them to handle, while I put things away.  I briefly wondered where Isaac was, until he came wobbling into the room, holding a big package of cheese and carrying on all silly-like, saying "Whoa, WHOA!" like the weight of that cheese was going to knock him right over.  They got it all inside, I was so grateful.  I put the cold stuff away, put the smushed pizza in the oven, and left the rest on the floor in the kitchen for someone else.  I was spent.


What about the meatballs, you ask?  Oh yes, the raw meatballs, still chilling in the fridge.  Now well after 7:00 on Thursday night, going into a Lenten Friday, with meat that had been (partially) thawed since the day before.  I had to do something with them.  I pulled them out and set up my plate of flour for dredging and my pan of oil for browning.  I got to work, slipping back into feel-sorry-for-myself mode.
A little voice from behind me:  "Can I help?  I just washed my hands..."  It was Peyton.  I immediately told him no, it wasn't a job for kids.
WAIT JUST A SECOND...THIS IS TOTALLY A JOB FOR KIDS!  Rolling a mushy ball around in powdery stuff and putting it on a plate?!  Hello crazy woman, take help when it's offered!
I called him back and showed him how to do the dredging while I started the browning.  He was a pro, and we had the meatballs done and baking in half the time it would have taken me by myself.


At some point in that hour or so, I went to fill the sugar bowl from the bag I had just brought home.  The boys were all in the kitchen with me, Owen was telling me a story.  As I went to set the filled bowl back in it's place, it slipped from my hand and landed on it's side, spilling sugar all over the counter.
There was an audible gasp from some of the boys, and then frozen silence.  They were keenly aware that this could be my breaking point.  Thankfully, it turned out to be one of those moments that the Holy Spirit is with me and at work.  Beyond my own power, in my state of exhaustion, I was able to process the importance of the moment immediately, knowing how many watchful eyes were absorbing every detail, and react accordingly.  I smiled, called myself a big silly, and asked Owen to finish his story while I cleaned up my mess.
I thanked God later for that grace.


Those meatballs?  Now resting comfortably back in the fridge in a disposable pan, fully cooked, waiting to be reheated and enjoyed as a no-hassle dinner tomorrow at the end of another busy day.
 Sometimes there's more to feeding my family than the food they consume, and more to learning than what's in our books.
Sometimes when we make meatballs, we're really making life.

Visit Conversion Diary for more (non-meatball) Quick Takes!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Suscipio - A Lenten Reflection

I wrote a little something that I'm honored to have shared on Suscipio today.  Have y'all been over to Suscipio?  Go, click around, it'll be worth your time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Patrick's Day S'mores, At Grandma and Grandpa's

"Just let me do my job, woman."

"I wonder if I can get this to catch fire and still make it look like an accident."

The many...


of Sebastian.

(Mr. Smith told me later that this face was his reaction to being caught in the act.)

"One down..."

"Seven or eight to go."

Holy blue eyes.


Grandpa and Sebastian.

"Why hello there."

"So what?  We have girl cousins who visit Grandma's house too!"

"It's a bird?  A plane?"

Nope, it's Oliver in the tree.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Five Ways I Know Spring is Here

1.  My bathroom sink won't stay clean, along with the little ones' toes and fingernails.
2.  The back door spends more time open than closed.
3.  It's getting harder and harder to concentrate on school work.
4.  The sandbox is slowly being moved indoors, with every pair of happy feet that goes back and forth.
5.  My belly is growing bigger by the day!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012


I climbed into my bed last night and cozied in next to my dear husband who was there already, reading a book.  It was a book that I recently finished and am enjoying watching him enjoy.  The blankets were warm and sweet-smelling, fresh from the drier, and my knitting was calling my name.  It had been a long and fruitful day.  The newly cleaned and organized room surrounding us was proof of the morning's work, but the real fruit came in the second half of the day, spent outside in the sunshine, basking in the newly come spring with boys who have waited patiently for it.  I picked up my needles, the quiet of the night settling in around me, and suddenly it occurred to me:

I have everything I've ever wanted on this earth.