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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little League is upon us

Baseball season is in full swing (slight pun intended).  Unfortunately, we’ve gotten off to a bit of a rough start for Matthew this year.  We think he sprained his wrist a while ago.   (Or he at least somehow tweaked it  – just did a ‘lil something to his right hand/wrist).  So that certainly hasn’t helped.  We’ve wrapped and iced it off and on, but we probably just need to take him in and have it looked at as it doesn’t seem to be getting a whole lot better.

We thought things actually started off great.  At game #1, Matthew was the very first batter of the entire season!  First pitch, he made contact with the ball (though hit it close to the pitcher who was able to snag it and get Matthew out at first).  Later that game, Matthew walked and then proceeded to steal 2nd, 3rd and then home too!  I gotta say (totally braggy-pants for a second); Matthew IS a smart, solid base runner…when he gets on base.  That’s where the roughness comes in.  Since that very first at-bat, Matthew has yet to get a hit.  We’re talking five games now of either striking out or walking.  What’s so frustrating is that his swing looks fantastic – like better than ever – but his timing has gotten completely wonky when he even swings.  And that’s the other problem.  This is kid pitch, people.  You can’t be that picky waiting for a perfect pitch as they don’t happen all the time.  We’ve also go kid-ish umps (teenagers) who are also learning the ropes.  They don’t call perfect games, but, for the most part, they do a pretty darn good job.  But Matthew’s just standing there watching decent pitches go by.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but we’re all getting frustrated. 

All Mike and I can do is encourage him (to swing the stinkin’ bat)!!  But I’m praying – PA-RAYING – that things start looking up or it’s going to be a.) a long season and b.) probably his last (since we had to strongly encourage him to play one more – with this different league). 

The different league that we switched to is fantastic though!  I wish we’d made the move years ago.  They have so many rules in place that don’t allow for all the drama, politics, and crap that we had to deal with through our smaller local league.  We definitely miss some of the families and Matthew getting to be on the same team with classmates, but so far everyone at the new league is great.  If only our kiddo were playing better.  Look, we all know it’s about having fun.  Totally true.  But we also know that it’s really hard to have fun when you’re just having a rough go of it. 


So, while I know there are way bigger issues out there – WAY more important things for God to be dealing with – I’ve selfishly begun praying for Matthew’s baseball playing skills.  And I miss being able to vent to my dad about Little League season.  Sure, I can still ‘talk’ to him about it, but it’s just not the same.  At all.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Easter 2015

Happy Easter!  We had a really nice Easter weekend.  Matthew and I attended the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.  One of his best school buddies Owen (along with his two little sisters and their mom) got baptized!  It was such a beautiful service and so special to be there.

Mike, Zach and Kayliana went to Mass on Sunday and then we all headed to my brother Timothy’s and his wife Rebecca’s house for Easter goodness – a hunt and delicious food.  I’m just disappointed we didn’t get pictures of everyone!



Friday, April 03, 2015

Matthew's New Job

Matthew’s been gel-ing his hair for a while now.  He’s pretty meticulous about it and wants it to look a certain way.  He’s recently added a new accessory to his ‘look’ – he even calls them his “trademark:” shades.  He’s got about three different pairs of sunglasses and claims that his friends can’t wait to see which pair he’ll be wearing each day. 

It seems Spring Fever has reached these 5th graders and the crushes and giggling and pointing and general pubescent carrying-on is in full swing.  Evan, a friend of Matthew’s has – apparently (I’ve been told) – become quite popular with the ladies and several little gals are BIG fans of Evan’s.  Evan – Mr. Supercool Big Man on Campus – has decided he needs some back-up in fending off these girls, and he has ‘hired’ Matthew to be one of his ‘bodyguards.’  Well, you can see just how perfectly Matthew’s wearing of shades fits into his new role as Bodyguard/Secret Service detail.

I’d discussed with Matthew how he – under no circumstances – can wear the sunglasses IN school.  I explained that it’s disrespectful (not making eye contact with people – especially adults, etc.), people might think he’s blind (or at least pretending to be which is also not cool) and, well, um, it’s also just a little odd.  He assured me he only wears them at recess and on the bus.

Well, last week, I helped put on a baby shower for Zachary’s 3rd grade teacher.  At the end of the day, I see Matthew walking down the hall – of course dutifully protecting Evan.  Matthew is easy to spot.  At 5 foot 3, he towers over 99.9% (rough estimate) of the kids in the school.  Matthew is – as I figured – totally rockin’ his shades IN the building.  NOT OK.

I head outside and run into my friend Tiffany.

“Where’s Matthew?” She asked.

“Oh, he’s too cool, you know, with his shades ‘n all, to ride home with me.  He wanted to take the bus home with his buddies.”   Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Tiffany’s 5th grade son overheard us.

“Yeah, what’s with Matthew and those sunglasses?  He wears them all the time.  It’s super weird.”  More confirmation of my fears.

You can bet your bippy that later that day, Matthew and I had a little chat.  I eventually got him to admit that yes, he’s wearing the sunglasses (not in the classroom, but definitely in the hallway) and – as I suspected – the sunglasses are becoming a bit of a crutch for my shy boy.  He can look at people without them knowing it and he doesn’t have to make eye contact, etc.  He goes on to tell me that – as Evan’s “bodyguard” – one day, he was assigned “lookout duty” and had to count how many times Maggie looked over at Evan during lunch.  (53). So, he HAD to wear the sunglasses then…

“You realize that in staring at Maggie, she probably thinks that you like her now and…that’s kind of weird with the sunglasses and all…”

“Yeah,” Matthew admits, “Zach and his friends all say that they’re creepy.”  Well, um, yes!  If you’re wearing them so you can look at girls without them realizing….uh…a little stalkery!  For sure. (Of course, I say all of these things to him in a kinder, not-quite-as-blunt-but-you-need-to-stop-the-weirdness mom sort of way). 

He promises he’ll ONLY wear the sunglasses when he’s outside.
The next morning he finds an old broken cell phone Bluetooth and starts wearing it on his ear – for playing, at recess and at the bus stop.  (The ear piece – that doesn’t work – totally makes him a super legit Bodyguard). 

Friday afternoon, when the boys get off the bus, I can tell something’s wrong. 

“I got puked on at school.  I need to get home NOW to shower and change” Matthew quickly tells me.  Yeah, gross.

Later I find out that some poor kiddo –at the very end of the school day – suddenly got sick and Matthew (and one other kid) took the brunt of the impact.  Turns out, Evan was behind Matthew and was essentially blocked from being showered in the nasty.

“Are you telling me, that you jumped in the line of projectile vomit - fire to protect Evan?!” I asked.  “You are taking this WAY too seriously.”


“No,” Matthew assured me.  “Not on purpose really.  But…” he adds proudly, “I did definitely block him!”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Leprechaun Hunting

Dear Over-achieving Parents:
 I don’t appreciate you.  With your nonstop crafting, your way over-the-top-excessive gift-giving…You make my already difficult job (as a self-proclaimed Slacker Mom) even more challenging! 
Sincerely,
Jenny

It’s just gotten to be too much.  Enough!  Stop the madness!  The kids come home from school with stories about what the Tooth Fairy brought their classmates.  And I’m not just talking about the money (which is, in my opinion, always too much).  The Tooth Fairy leaves notes and fairy dust and little tiny sparkling footprints and on and on and on.  But now the madness has carried over to St. Patrick’s Day. 

On St. Patrick’s Eve, Zachary calls me into his room and excitedly shows me two notes.  He’s written one for Matthew and one for Kayli.  They are from leprechauns and each note has a quarter attached to it.  Zach points out how he ‘disguised’ his hand-writing so that Matthew and Kayli wouldn’t realize who they were actually from.  Well, he kept the secret for all of 4.8 minutes and then brought Matthew into his room to show him.  So, together, the boys stealthily left the note on the floor of Kayli’s room while she slept.

St. Patrick’s Day arrives and we’re greeted with two emotional extremes – Kayliana is beside herself with excitement that she got money and a note from a “what are the little guys called?” – she kept having to ask.  I look at Zach to see if he’s thrilled that his plan worked.  His face, on the other hand, is the epitome of depression mingled with angst.  After Kayli goes upstairs, Zach starts crying.

“Even though I did the notes.  I thought leprechauns were real, but I didn’t get ANYTHING!  I think it’s just parents and you guys probably do the Tooth Fairy too!”  Fearing that the downward spiral was about to begin (and having just gone through our first Christmas with Matthew knowing ‘the truth’ (http://www.jenny524.blogspot.com/2014/11/growing-up.html , I was very quick to nip it in the bud. 

“You know, I’ve lived my whole life and never saw a leprechaun and certainly never received anything from one.  They’re sneaking little guys.  K, time to get ready for school!”  Thankfully, my distraction tactic managed to work for once.

After school, Zach gets home and is the walking opposite of his morning-somber-self.  “Mom!!  I was wrong!  Leprechauns wouldn’t have come last night!  They come ON St. Patrick’s night!  I’m going to work on building a leprechaun trap!” 

Crisis diverted….I guess??

While he worked on his trap, I found some info on leprechaun folklore to read to the kids.  Stressing the parts about leprechauns being tricky little guys…rarely-if-ever seen by humans. 

I also pointed out that not one article said the leprechaun would leave money or presents.  (The story goes, they only leave gold IF they have the bad luck of actually being spotted by a human).

I asked Zach if he’d still believe in leprechauns even if his trap didn’t work again (he’d built one last year).  “I don’t even know if they actually come inside our house,” I pointed out.  He assured me that a.) Yes, they come in houses because, of course, kids at school had reported finding all sorts of treasure and b.) Yes, he’d still believe even if there was no leprechaun proof.

After Zach built his trap and got it all set up, Matthew came downstairs and quietly said, “Mom, I’m concerned that Zach’s believing in this so much.  We don’t want him to be disappointed when there’s nothing in the trap in the morning.  Can we like write him a note or explaining ‘the truth’ or just leave him some money so that he keeps believing?!”

I explained my genius plan: Do Nothing.  He looked at me incredulously.  (I feel like after having me as a mom for years now, he should be unsurprised to my ‘set their expectations as low as possible’ approach to parenting.)

“Matthew, the more we do, the more involved we get and elaborate this becomes, the harder it is to maintain.  We want him to keep believing because of his imagination and faith…And we (I) certainly don’t want to make more work for (myself) in the future!”  So, he dropped it and we did nothing…or so I thought.

Mike told me later, that he snuck into the trap (through the ‘decoy trapdoor’ that Zach had put on top) a little Lego leprechaun that he’d made.  I wasn’t sure if I liked this plan or not.

Come morning time, Zach woke Kayli up and the two eagerly inspected his leprechaun trap.  He very quickly decided that the trap door had definitely been messed up a little bit.  He was quite certain his ‘gold’ (a.k.a. gold duct tape wrapped around a scrap of paper) had done the trick in getting a leprechaun’s attention in the first place.  He looked down into the trap (where glue had covered the floor of the box in the hopes that poor Mr. Unsuspecting Leprechaun would get stuck) and saw the little Lego guy. 

I held my breath, sure that he’d immediately jump to a “Mom! YOU did this!” conclusion.

“That. Sneaky. Little. Guy!”  Zachary declared, shaking his head in utter disbelief.  “He totally snuck in my room and made a little leprechaun Lego guy to leave as a decoy!  Ha!”

And then we moved on.  He just accepted this with complete childlike wonder and faith, never for a second questioning.  PHEW.

The leprechaun trap is still set-up on the stairs.  I think he’s still hoping for a catch.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Saint Joseph

So, I’m a pretty big Saint Joseph fan – and by that, I mean the man, not just the church (although that happens to be our parish too and I like it as well; I’m just currently discussing the guy).  I’ll admit that, selfishly, my pro-St. Joe-ness started when we were trying to sell our house.  Desperate for a sale, I finally caved under the pressure and suggestions (the last one coming from a priest!) to do the ‘ol hokey – bury poor Saint Joseph (a small statue version) in your garden deal.  And, yep, it did work, although, I think a.) the house would’ve sold eventually anyway and b.) it’s faith and trusting God’s plan that helps, not the belief in some superstition. But praying is always comforting and asking for prayers from friends – and friends in high places (Saints!) – is never a bad thing!

Once a month, we have Adoration at St. Joe’s – keeping a round the clock vigil in church with the Blessed Sacrament.  I like to sign up for a butt-crack-of-dawn time and this month scored the 5am-6am time slot meaning I was up at the ungodly (sorry) hour of 4am.  Kayli actually had me up at 3, and I didn’t sleep much after that knowing that I’d have to get up soon.  I think, honestly, being tired adds to the experience.  Once I’m in the quiet church, with only the sound of the holy water font bubbling behind me, and the darkness coming through the windows enclosing me, it’s very easy to get into a slight form of “St. Joseph’s Prayer.”  Through His angels, God chose to speak to St. Joseph when he was asleep; therefore, nodding off while praying is merely slipping into prayer the way St. Joe did!
Friends of ours from Engaged Encounter, go to Adoration weekly on Mondays from 4-5am.  Maureen said that because it’s so stinkin’ early in the morning, she often feels like she has ‘God mostly to herself.’  I love that. 

There are supposed to be two people signed up for every hour – that way you’re never alone in the church or there’s at least someone else there, if the other person oversleeps/can’t make it.  When I arrived at 4:50, there were three people in the church.  Shortly after 5, they all left and I had the church – and Jesus – completely to myself for nearly an hour.  I feel like saying ‘it was magical’ is pretty lame, but it basically was.  (Movingly spiritual or spiritually moving would probably be more appropriate.)

Towards the end of my hour, I started thinking about St. Joseph…which now, so often, makes me think about my dad.  After dad died, the boys even commented that ‘D-dad’ was like St. Joseph – he was a worker.  As I thought about it I had a sudden image of St. Joseph and my dad – sporting his ‘work clothes’ (old paint-splattered jeans, grubby sweatshirt, blue coat) – working together.  Side by side.  Just chillin’ in Heaven building stuff like total buddies.  I couldn’t help but smile.  After a bit, I pulled out my Kindle – and went to one of my faves – some of Pope Francis’ homilies from Lent last year.  (Um, pretty much love that guy more than life itself.)  I just started at a random one and what was the whole thing about?  Yup.  Saint Joseph.

I read: “Jesus is born and lives in a family, in the Holy Family, learning the carpenter’s craft from St. Joseph in his workshop in Nazareth, sharing with him the commitment, effort, satisfaction and also the difficulties of every day…St. Joseph also experienced moments of difficulty, but he never lost faith and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God never abandons us…”

Stuff I love about Joseph: I love – especially as an adoptive parent – that St. Joseph is the foster and adoptive father of Jesus.  I love that Joseph is called “the terror of demons.”  (Boom! Take THAT scary stuff!)  I love that St. Joe is a worker and, in his example, we should see our work not as monotonous chore, but as a gift that we’ve been given and that we can perform with a happy heart. 

In most any St. Joseph prayer, we ask him to pray that we might have “the grace of a happy death,” that he “assist me at the hour of my death;” that “I might merit to die as you (St. Joseph) did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.”  Obviously, I can’t help but think of my dad and – knowing how devout he was – and feel such comfort.  My dad had a beautiful, grace-filled death.  He was working for the church (WORKING – in his grubby work clothes).  Thank you, St. Joseph.

All of these thoughts were swirling in me as I finished my hour of Adoration.  I could NOT stop thinking about St. Joseph and feeling this strong connection to him and between him and my dad.   There’s a stand in the back of the vestibule that has audio books/presentations.  I always check them out after Adoration to see if there are any good ones.  In the very middle of the CD’s, one just happened to jump out at me.  In huge bold letters it said, “St. Joseph.”  Ha!  Guess that’s the one I’ll pick up this month!  Next to the CD stand, there was a basket full of prayer cards: “Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19th” with a picture of St. Joseph and Jesus.  The back of the card has the beautiful prayer that starting on – oh! March 10th – can be said for 9 days as a Novena.  As I finally made my way out of the church, there was a big sign for the “St. Joseph Feast Day – Parish Dinner!”  OK, I hear ya. 

I was telling Mike about this and said that I’d really love to have a small St. Joseph statue for in the kitchen.  He pointed out that he knew where one was buried!  Rather than, under the cloak of darkness (and an act of total weirdness), digging up the guy we left in the backyard at the old house, the Easter bunny will be bringing me a new, fresh St. Joseph.  I found one that I love and that will, of course, also remind me of dad.  St. Joseph even has on HIS work clothes – robes and apron – and is holding a couple of tools.


I’m a big fan.  

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Spring!

A momentous occasion is upon us: my blog (the word document in which I type before posting here) has reached 500 pages.  FIVE HUNDRED SINGLE SPACED PAGES…all about me.  Narcissistic much?!  Plus, it’s nearly 9 years old.  I started my hospital bed rest to keep Zachary cookin’ on March 12th, 2006.  And thus, this blog was born.  (And the kid was born seven weeks later). 

My, a lot has changed in our lives during these last 9 years, these 500 pages.  I should probably print it out since it’s my journal that our children will – I’m sure – cherish someday.  But printing 500 pages of my mental diarrhea seems like a pretty hefty amount of tree-killing to embark on.  (EmBARK…trees…Dad would be proud – or embarrassed – of my horrible pun-attempt.)  Besides, I’m sure by the time I’m dead and gone, the kids can just have my blog scanned into their brains or something.

So many changes.  Mike and I have talked a lot recently about how we feel like we’re right in the middle of massive change.  We’re entering a new chapter in our lives.  The kids are almost all school-aged, mostly civilized humans and somewhat-sorta-a-little-bit-more independent.  (Kayliana still acts like a wild animal half the time, but she’s cute and house-trained at least).  Mike’s just (one week in) – started a new job, his dream career of software engineering for video games.  He came home the first day, grinning from ear-to-ear like a kid in a candy store.  My music class biz and silly attempts at being a princess (lame plug: www.littleditties.us ) is starting to pick up.  I will soon have three Montessori schools (with multiple campuses), Kayli’s preschool, a community center and a library gig all underway.  And I have 3 birthday parties tentatively scheduled – one as me (doing my dinosaur-themed music for a 2 year old boy’s birthday) and two as Elsa.  Exciting times!

Matthew – our 5 pound baby peanut – is now 5 foot 3 ¾ and checks almost every morning to see if he’s finally met my whopping height of 5 foot 4.  We wear the same shoe size now.  He leaves tomorrow for three days of 5th grade camp, and while the boys bicker on a daily basis, Zachary has already said several times, “I’m going to miss Matthew.”  And Kayliana cried when Matthew told her he’d be gone for a few days.


As I write this, I face our living room window and our pink blossom-filled cherry tree.  The daffodil bulbs my dad brought back from our beach house a couple of years ago are up and open, BOBbing in the breeze.  (That one is totally for you, dad.)  While it's not officially here, Spring has sprung super early in Seattle this year, and a season of change has definitely come for our family as well. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Just another Friday afternoon...???

The whole time I was a little bit questioning my sanity.  I mean, it’s not every weekday afternoon that I dress up as not one, but TWO, princesses and have a photo shoot. (I swear, this is not normal for me).  Am I really doing this?  Is this for real?  Is this really like a thing? That I DO?!!  But I did it.  It’s done.  I’ve put it out there.  It’s on my website (www.littleditties.us) and it’s on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/littledittiesmusic ).  There’s no going back now!

I’ve also just landed a new gig as THE preschool music program for the city of Renton!  I’ll start this May teaching two back-to-back classes on Friday mornings.  One class will be a 2-3 year olds with parent helper class and the second will be a 3 ½- 6 year olds drop-off class.  When the center director was looking over my website, she saw the princess stuff and squealed.  “Um, we were going to be booking an Elsa for an event in December.  And we do birthday parties all the time.  Maybe you can be our in-house Princess!”
So, while I’m launching this new career-venture of mine, Mike has been busy making HUGE changes as well.  After 13 years with the same company (the place he’s been since graduating from college), he’s moving on.  It’ll be a bittersweet move for sure.  His current company has been so good to us through the years.  I’ll miss the flexibility and the fact that two days a week, he worked from home.  But, I’m so excited about his move.  He’ll be getting his foot in the door of the videogame-programming world at a software company called Wargaming.  It’s been his lifelong dream to program for games, so we’re super excited about it! 

Big changes a-happening here, for sure!