7 Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes: The Funny Kids Stories Edition

Did you think I had gone away never to return?  I thought about it, but then I wouldn't remember any of these funny stories from the kids, so I'm pressing on with this here neglected blog. Linking up again with Kelly for 7 quick takes.

1. Six year old, Christopher discovered a small insignificant toy of Camille's, on which he had designs.  I don't know where the stupid thing came from or how we got it, but as soon as he saw it, he wanted the spotted animal.

So he asked Camille to trade toys and the ensuing conversation between the two of them convinced me that Christopher will never have a chance when it comes to negotiating with calculating females.

There are only a few things in life Christopher loves and they are as follows:  Cupcake the Bear (which he sleeps with every night and Deedoe gave him when he was a wee lad), his Legos, and his toy sword found in the Narnia books.  Camille, who knows her brother well, is aware of this fact.  She knows these are his most prized possessions and she decided to use that to her advantage.

When he asked her to trade toys, she immediately responded,  "Sure, I'll need your Legos, Cupcake the Bear, and your sword then you can have the giraffe."

He left the room in tears because parting from those things was impossible for him.  Camille knew this.

I'm considering submitting her application for a seat as one of the Sharks on ABC's Shark Tank.

Camille will eat you for breakfast and then ask for more. 

2.

Speaking of Christopher, in addition to his three most prized worldly possessions, the boy also loves to eat and to sleep.  Last week, we took the four older kids to the Ringling Barnum and Bailey Brothers circus last week.  It was a real treat as it was on a school night, in the middle of the city, and started at 7:30 pm.  Some friends of our didn't care for the Ringling Brothers when they saw it a few years ago, but John and I thought the entire show was first class.

There were elephants.

There were motorcyclists who dared gravity defying stunts.

There were tight rope walkers and singers and dancers.

It was a sight to be seen and completely entertaining, which is why I couldn't help but laugh when Christopher leaned over--in the middle of all the amazing hoopla-- and said,

"Hey, Mom, what time is it?"

"9:15 pm," I answered.

"I go to bed at 8 pm and it's after 9 now.  I'm tired. Can we go?"

 The boy has his priorities.

3.  A few weeks ago, John took the girls to the Father/Daughter Dance a few weeks ago.  They got all gussied up for the event and they had a wonderful time.

Camille gets her attitude from her father.

She was so thrilled to be hanging with the 'big' girls.

This photo idea was Meaghan's and Mary's.

They girls picked out John's outfit.  And it concerns me how little coaching Camille needed in the taking of these photos.

4.

Can you believe we had more snow last week?  I'm thinking we are on the tail end of winter and I can't wait because I'm over days of brainstorming creative indoor activities for kids.  Now, they need to GO OUTSIDE.  Forever.

5.

Both photos were shot with my iPhone.  Do you see the moon in the corner of the photo above?

I'm going to teach an iPhone photography class this summer during a children's day camp and I'm so excited.  I'm continually amazed at what I can do with my iPhone and the awesome photos the camera can produce.  Kids are way more creative and way more tech savvy than the likes of me so the fact that I'm going to give them something beneficial to do with an iPhone makes me very happy.

6.  I've also started teaching a Fine Arts class to third graders at the classical school my kids attend.  It's just once a week for 30 minutes (though next year I'll teach kindergarten and third grade for an hour and a half) and I can't get over how much I enjoy it.  I'm a trained high school teacher, so I never thought I'd be good with little kids but I have to say, I love how eager and engaged the younger kids are.  High schoolers tend to be a bit jaded and attitudinal and you have to win them over with witty remarks and intellectual rigor, but third graders make no bones about the fact just want you to love them.

I find that so refreshing.

Plus, the world hasn't tainted them yet.  If you tell them they can do art, they believe you.  It's not like the older kids who have learned to be afraid and doubt their abilities.  These kids just jump right in.  It's a good example to me.

We've been studying Van Gogh and this is one of the projects we did.  It's my interpretation of Starry Night with oils.  So fun.

7.  Someone put a flyer of a lost dog in our mail box this week.  The kids were discussing the missing animal and the flyer over dinner last night, and Mary was particularly distraught by the idea someone's beloved pet would go missing.  All the kids contemplated where the dog might have wandered off to or even the possibility that someone might of taken the dog and all of them were saddened by the idea of a MIA pup.  I only half listened to the conversation, but I didn't realize how seriously the kids took the prompt to look for the dog until...

Last night, I brought Christopher and Camille with me to a meeting I had to attend.  The meeting was a full 30 minute drive from our house, in a part of the state I rarely frequent--too far away for a missing puppy to wander over.  As I was unloading both of the kids from the vehicle, Christopher and Camille noticed the family, whose house the meeting was at, had a pet dog contained in the fence.  It was obvious to me this dog belonged to the family and that this dog had been their pet probably for many, many years. 

But this information was lost on Christopher and Camille.

"MOM!" Christopher said, "THAT'S THE MISSING DOG!"

Straining their necks and commenting on the size and color, Camille and Christopher both loudly agreed that the dog was the one from the flyer, a stolen dog ripped from hands of its owner and now hiding behind the fence.  I was trying to hustle them to the front door as we were late to the meeting and I was trying to hush their discussion so the owners wouldn't hear, but they would not be deterred.

All of a sudden, Camille, exclaimed in her loudest, most indignant voice,

"That's it, I'm grabbing that dog.  They stole it!!!"

I guess it takes a criminal to recognize another criminal?

Go see Kelly for mo better quick takes.

Have a fabulous Friday, people.

7 Quick Takes: The Tough Stuff Of Parenting And The Sweet Stuff Too

1.  I took Patrick to be evaluated yesterday by both a physical and an occupational therapist.

  He's fine, but in August we visited with a neurologist and she recommended we see a few specialists to make sure Patrick is growing properly and to ensure his muscles and balance and coordination are up to par.  So yesterday, he and I drove to a rather large, but very reputable medical facility to have his body poked and prodded and exercised.

It was painful to watch the therapists work with him.

Patrick lacks a great deal of balance, strength, coordination and basic body awareness.  He's also on the short side and as skinny as they come.  His physical weakness and short stature makes keeping up with his peers and doing basics things like carrying groceries or even his backpack harder for him than the "regular" kids.  To add insult to injury, he's also on a special diet, which makes him even more different than the other children his age.

A few times throughout the morning, I had to fight back tears as I realized just

how

hard certain tasks are for him.  On the one hand, I felt great relief for the medical progress we've made with him (I mean, dealing with physical weakness is much easier than dealing with life threatening illness).  However, on the other hand, I felt sad Patrick has to suffer at all; I felt sad he faces these burdens.

But here's something else I realized while the therapists were working with Patrick:  this kid has many gifts.

He's got a tack sharp memory, he loves to read, and he doesn't struggle with academics, like some of my other kids.  He's also a people person.  He enjoys meeting others and talking to them, especially if those people share a common interest in history.  Making friends comes easy to him.

It's actually

good

he has these small crosses because these are the things he's going to learn from the most.  We don't grow from the things we are good at.  We grow from the things that are hard for us, the things for which we don't have natural talent.

Patrick's weaknesses will keep him aware of his need for God.

If he were an astute student, people savvy person, AND a physically strong specimen capable of moving boulders with his bare hands, why would he need God?  What lessons would he need to learn?

His weakness is a gift.  It's a present wrapped with a big red bow and a note signed With Love From, God to keep him humble and aware of his neediness.

I have my own gifts of weaknesses which keep me needy for God. 

2.  It's that time of year.  The stores are already going crazy decking the halls and the Christmas tunes

can be heard frenetically floating through the air at local craft stores.  It's so insane how big industries have turned Christmas into one, big gigantic money making opportunity.

Most years, I walk right into the corporate track.  I buy and I get stressed out and I worry that the small gifts I have to offer are not enough.

But not this year.

This year, I'm not buying gifts.  At all. 

Instead, John and I are thinking about taking the kids on a small trip the day after Christmas.  Maybe to New York City?  To see the lights and maybe a show?  The money we spend doing this will be so much better than any money we spend on barbie dolls and hot wheels.  We're buying time to be together as a family--time away from our usually chaotic routine--and I think that is more valuable than anything.

This year I want to buy an experience for the kids, not a toy.

3. When we were in Mexico, a few of the parents started swapping "Can you believe my kid did

this?" stories.  I jumped right on the bandwagon, regaling the crowd with all kinds of awful, when I realized my embellished stories overwhelmed one of the newly married men in attendance. 

I know this because he walked away from all the crazy talk mid-story.

Ooooops.

The next morning, I realized I had horrified and scandalized this man with my tales of parenting woes, so I found him.

"Listen," I said to him,  I wanted to apologize for talking so glibly about parenting last night.  I made parenting--and the crazy/hard/silly/funny things my kids do-- sound terrible.

But that's not true.

Parenting is

best

thing I've ever done.  There are so many tender moments I experience a mom, moments where my kids take my breath away because of their goodness, I'm moved to tears.  But those moments are hard to describe and....they are fleeting.  The other stuff?  The tough stuff of parenting?  That's easier to talk about and makes for better stories.  But I want you to know parenting has made me a better person."

The man understood where I was coming from and was really good natured about my follow up commentary, but I knew he couldn't totally wrap his brain around the AWESOME that comes with being a parent.

Yesterday, Camille fell asleep while we were driving to pick up the kids from school and she awoke right as I was unloading Mary Bernadette and Christopher from the van to play at the park.  (We were waiting for the older kids to finish their art classes.) This inopportune nap rendered her disoriented and cranky and inconsolable.

I tried to be kind and sensitive to her tiredness, but I found her excessive crying kind of annoying and because I didn't have any ideas as to how to distract her, I did what I always do when faced with this kind of kid situation:  I ignored her.

But then I overheard heard Christopher say to her, "Hey, Camille, would you like to have the lolly pop I got from school?  Will you play with me on the playground?"

The thrashing, screaming Camille stopped mid-scream.  She looked at Toph, wiped away her tears, and unbuckled her seat.  He helped her out of the van and then he slipped her the lolly pop, both of them laughing because it was their favorite flavor--"mystery".  I watched in amazement as the two of them walked off together towards the playground, Camille's tantrum a thing of the past.

In that moment, I wished my friend from the wedding could have witnessed Christopher give away his lolly pop in order to make his little sister happy.  I wished he could have seen how Camille looked at Topher and how together they played on the swings because that small moment I witnessed between the two of them wiped away a day's worth of bickering and tantruming and self-sacrificing.  

Those moments--the sweet, tender and fleeting ones--are the sweet spot of parenting.  They are what make all the not-so-good stuff, so, so worth it.

4.  Speaking of Mexico, on the day John and I returned, Meaghan turned ten years old.  We've

been so busy readjusting to life, we didn't celebrate her birthday until a few nights ago.  Her big gift from us was a used DSLR camera that I found on Craigslist.

(It was a steal of a deal!)

She's always asking to use my nice camera and I'm always saying no.  But she has a real desire to learn the basics of photography so I got her a camera she could practice on.  I'm excited about teaching her the concepts of what makes a photo cool/interesting/beautiful and she's excited to try.

"Mom," she said the day after the received her gift, "I already have different poses and types of pictures I want to try with the kids."

We're gonna have so much fun.

Holding it like a pro already

5.   When I was in labor with Mary Bernadette, I had regular contractions for hour until my labor

entirely petered out.  There is a medical term for this weird condition, which I can't for the life of me remember, but her labor required pitocin and my permission for the doc to break my bag of water.  I was dead set against pain meds (silly me!) so the labor was EXTRA!!! fun and when I finally delivered her, she was over nine pounds.

Mary Bernadette was--hands down--my longest and hardest labor.

I should have known then that my life with her would always be eventful.

She's so different than my other two.  She's got so much energy.  (Seriously, God broke the mold when he made her.) She has a huge appetite.  She loves music and dancing and

making messes

creating art.  She has a tender heart, is very sensitive, and also extremely generous.

But...

Mary Bernadette is one of my kids who also struggles academically.  Homeschooling her is a challenge because she learns in a different way than the other two.  (Wow, this has been tough for me as a parent and as a teacher!)

To encourage Mary to pursue things she is good at--like art--, she received a guitar and lessons for her birthday and she seems to be taking to it very well.  It makes me so happy to think that even if reading and arithmetic are a challenge (which they very much are), she can take refuge in her art.

Art is refuge for my soul and I want that for her as well.

Mary teaching Meaghan how to play

6.  Clickable posts:  Thoughts I liked recently--

The Passion of Pregnancy

:  I wish I had written this myself. So insightful and so true.

The Halloween of my dreams

:  So, so beautiful.  Heart-wrenhing too.

To The Momma At Chick-Fil-A

:  My friend, Emily, sent me this when I need it.  So very sweet and encouraging.

7. Every morning I receive a famous saint quote in my inbox from some Catholic company.  I love

reading the quotes, but I particularly identified with this one.  I've been thinking about it all day.

  "Guard against anger. But if it cannot be averted, let it be kept within bounds. For indignation is a terrible incentive to sin. It disorders the mind to such an extent as to leave no room for reason."

— St. Ambrose

8.  Halloween pictures?  So glad you asked!

Happy Friday! 

Go see Jen for more

.

7 Quick Takes Friday: All The Things I Loved About Our Trip To Mexico

My sister took the photo of John and me on my phone.  It's one of my favs.

1.  The Travel:  Right before my dad drove us to the airport last Thursday, he said, "I looked at your flight schedule.  It's awful.  You have two layovers and you travel all day."

I grinned, patted him sympathetically on the back, and shook my head in disagreement.  He must have forgotten that drinking hot coffee, eating fast food, and sleeping every second I was seated in an airplane seat was vastly easier than running after my six kids.

But I bet he remembered real quick. 

The kids stayed with him.

Thanks, Colonel.

Inaugural vacation cup.  And the choir of angels in heaven sang "Alleluia!"

2.  The Room: This is what it looked like. 

Every day someone came and cleaned it and made my bed.  Someone left me a comfy robe and crisp white slippers to shuffle around in.   When I opened my door, I could hear the Gulf of Mexico.

My view

And at the touch of a button, I could order hot coffee and someone would bring it to me.  I had to keep reminding myself I had not died and gone to heaven.

(Side note:  John and I have been wondering what exactly Patrick digested from the Birds and the Bees talk John gave him.  When my mom showed Patrick the picture of our bedroom, he said, "Isn't that funny?  Well, they are married so it's perfectly OK."  I guess he got the memo, John.)

3.  The Food:  All you can eat, whatever you want to eat, whenever you want to eat it.  I spent the first 24 hours texting my family photos of everything I put in my mouth.  I didn't have to cook a single bit of it and all of it was delicious.

Omelette stations and waffle bars=heaven on earth

4.  The Downtime:  I laid on the beach.  John played volleyball.  We talked.  We laughed.  We indulged in exotic drinks.  (I don't usually drink, but I broke my rule on this trip.) 

John does not--in anyway--draw attention to himself and in daily life, we both are working so hard, we sometimes forget why we like each other. 

I remembered on this trip. 

John is funny (not in an in your face kind of way but in a subtle, pay attention kind of way), he's thoughtful, and he's very generous.

I'd be lost without him.

I don't know if I've ever said this before, but John is a terrific athlete.  He ran track and cross country at BC and he's fast.

My sister introduced me to a drink called the Miami Vice.  I may have had one...or five.

This was before my spa pedicure.  Clearly.

5.  The Family: It was terrific to see John's family and to be able to have full conversations without little kid interruptions.  We don't get to see all the Duggans as much as we'd like, so this trip was a real treat.  All seven of John's siblings possess the goodness I experience in John.  His parents and all the brothers and sisters are good people.

Grandma and Grandpa Duggan

Brothers

John and Aunt Amy

Aunt Mary

Aunt Patrice and Uncle Scot (not married to each other, mind you)

Cousins Victor and Joe...sweetest boys you'll ever meet

Go Joe!

The Fam

6.  Ted and Sarah:  My sister and her husband flew to Mexico to meet us.  We always have fun when we are together but this trip helped me to remember:

1.  Sarah and Ted are hilarious--like quick witted hilarious,

2.  they are a lot of fun (I would recount the various text messages we exchanged throughout the weekend but they are not family friendly because...I have no excuse except I was on vacation and I "cut loose"),

3.   they remind both me and John to chill out (Sarah may have given me a pep talk one night on the patio that went something like this, "You and John are doing a good job.  Don't be too hard on yourself."

4.  I think they love our kids almost as much as we do,

5.  and Sarah will take one for the team when I ask her.

They're cute, huh? 

 I read this post on family last night (read it, Sarah!!!) and I thought of my own siblings and how much the author's words resonated with my own experience. 

We all decided we cannot let years go by before we plan a trip like this again. 

7.  The Wedding:

  It was beautiful.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Looking sharp, John.  Looking sharp.

The beautiful bride

The Duggans

8.  Home:  We might have been at the hotel for twelve hours before John and I started talking about how much the kids would have loved the resort, the food, the beach...

We quickly realized we were pathetic saps and tried to change the subject, but then we gave up trying.  These kids and this chaos is our life.  They give us meaning and purpose.  

Thanks to my mom and dad who watched all of them so we could jaunt around the world.  I owe you! 

Big time.

John brought me home these slippers that reminded him of the ones we wore in the hotel.  "So you wouldn't forget," he said.  I may not take them off.

Tonight is trick or treating!  One of my favorite evenings because...PHOTO OPS!!!  And little kids in pumpkin costumes and...cuteness overload!!! Agh!  I can't stand it!

Have a spooktacular day!

Go see Jen for more!

Micellaneous Hodge Podge (AKA: My Kids Make Us Look Bad)

1.  My mom took Meaghan and Mary for a special weekend recently and the girls regaled her with all

kinds of factoids. I present to you a few text exchanges between myself and my mother.

(My mother's texts are grey and mine are in blue.):

Just to summarize, according to my daughters, I'm a two ton heifer and John's a drunk.

2.  After a morning of misbehavior from Camille, I told her she was not going to be able to attend a tea party my mom had planned.  Camille, devastated by this turn of event, ran to John.

John:  Is there anything she can do to earn back the tea?

Me:  Yes, obey me right away for the rest of the day.

Camille:  Ok, I'll do that except....if what you say is weird.  Then, forget it.

Tea party with all the girls

Fancy pinkie finger

3.  Another confidence boost from Camille, right before Mass on Sunday morning--

Me:  How do I look?

Camille:  Ummm...yeah...I like your lipstick.

4.  Last Friday, I was running on the treadmill when Mary burst into my room, yelling that

Christopher had been stung by a bee. I raced down to the field and found both Christopher and Camille in hysterics because sure enough, yellow jackets had not only stung them both, but they were still stinging them.  I went into panic mode and tried to swat the bees off the kids without getting stung myself.  But the bees were persistent so I finally just screamed at everyone to run into the house.  

We hightailed it up the hill but some of the bees followed us and as I climbed the stairs one of them stung me on the back of the leg.  I screamed and grabbed at my yoga pants and pulled on them so hard, I ripped a hole right down the seam.  When the kids heard me yell, they started crying even louder and if someone had overseen the entire event, they would have thought we were crazy.

I was scared because I know how dangerous bee stings can be, so when we finally made it into the house, I gave everyone Benadryll, had them strip down, and I put ice on their stings.  Unfortunately, as some of them took of their clothes, few more bees flew out of the clothing folds and into the house.

All five kids started screaming and crying louder and bolted up the stairs out of harms way.  I took a shoe and got busy killing the now very angry yellow jackets.  Once they were all dead, the kids descended the stairs and I let them all turn on the television because...

it was stressful.

For the rest of the morning, I felt so bad for the three of them because they were definitely traumatized but as the afternoon wore on, more facts started emerging regarding how the bees started stinging the kids in the first place.

Christopher decided it would be a great idea to take a large stick and swat at the hive of yellow jackets in order to "fight" the enemy.

Bad idea as we all know who won that war.

Topher pointing to John where the bees were

5.  John and I are going to Mexico this weekend.

Yes, you read that right.

Mexico.  Without kids.

Ask me if I'm excited?  I'm promising not to be too obnoxious on Instagram.  I may fail, though.

Unedited.  Somewhere over the rainbow.  On a map, it's labeled MEXICO!!!!

6.  About a month ago, I started running (though jogging would be a more appropriate term because I'm slow.  I will not be breaking any time records, I assure you.  My goal is just to move my feet up and down in a quick like fashion.)

Anyway, on Monday morning last week, I woke up with a swollen and bruised ankle.  I hadn't done anything to injure myself, so I wasn't sure what was causing the swollen bruising around the ankle.    I took the day off from running because I didn't want it to get worse, but when I tried to run on it again the next day, my foot became even more swollen and purple. Duh.

I made an appointment to see the doctor and she took one look at it and said, "Your veins have collapsed in your feet and legs from having babies.  When you run, the blood isn't able to circulate properly back up to your heart, so you need to wear compression socks and get a new pair of running shoes.  You may eventually need to wear compression socks all the time."

Blame the old lady legs on the kids.

Of course.

Everything is always their fault.

7.  The month of October has been SO BUSY!!!  I can't believe it's almost over.  I love this time of year, but our lives have been so crazy, I don't feel like we've enjoyed it like we usually do.  I've been contemplating abandoning the blog because...time.  But then I always come back. 

I'm sorry.

Catch you on the flip side.

Is it just me or do you love these marshmallow candies too?