They May Not Be, But I Am!

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Now and Then

I think these pics were taken in ’75:

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My sisters, older brother, parents and me (in front). Before my little brother made his appearance.

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Mom, my sisters, older brother and me.

Last week, my husband and I traveled to DC with the kids.


Luke, Sam, Maria, Andrew and Jack.




Anyone notice the recurring theme?  Sam was a grump!  Maybe because he had just been in a plank after getting into trouble:

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Andrew was angry, too, minutes before:

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One other thing…  Check out the very first picture again… Notice anything?

Where are all the people?!?  Every picture I have (unless closely cropped) has millions of people in the background.  The mall was FULL of people.

Like here:


In the picture from ’75, for as far as the eye can see, there are no other people milling around.  Not even way in the distance.  Weird.

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Keys to Happiness

Last Friday I spent the day cleaning the house and packing for 7 people.  Our summer vacation plan was to drive to Maryland to visit friends and experience a little culture for a week.

Instead of rushing to Maryland, I wanted to go slow, take the scenic route, ban all electronics and layover in Pittsburg.  We could then get up on Sunday and go to mass at the beautiful cathedral in downtown Pittsburg, enjoy a nice breakfast and then drive the last 4 hours to Baltimore.

The electronics ban lasted for about an hour.  Thank goodness, I had had the foresight to bring iPods and movies just in case my plan didn’t work.  When the yelling began and the blood started to ooze, I popped in a movie to get some peace.

We also didn’t take the scenic route.  We opted for the speedy turnpike instead.  It’s okay, the kids were glued to their screens anyway.

We arrived (finally) in Pittsburg around 4 p.m.  It was good timing.  I had made reservations at a hotel with an indoor pool, so the idea was to wear the kids out in the pool, grab some dinner and then hit the sack.

Dan went in to check us in and get our keys while I waited in the car with the kids.

It seemed to take a while, and I received a text from Dan with an explanation:  I had made our reservation for THE WRONG NIGHT.  The hotel was checking to see what they could do.

The only room available at the hotel was one with a single king bed.  There was NO WAY that was going to work.  They checked for other properties…  with no luck.  Finally, I went in and the wonderful woman at the hotel got me onto one of their computers so I could search for a place for us to stay.  There wasn’t a single place between Pittsburg and Baltimore that could accommodate a family of our size without me leaving my first born as payment.

I texted my wonderful friend, Kristina, and asked if we could invade her home one night early.  As my children sang songs about my being Mom of the Year, we pulled out of the hotel lot and soldiered on to Baltimore.

While in Baltimore, I received a few emails from asking me to rate our stay at the hotel we didn’t stay at.  Hahaha.  I was tempted to write a review with me as the butt of a joke, but I skipped it.

When we left Baltimore, there were no plans for a layover – we were driving straight through to Chicago.  After the hotel fiasco on the way, there was no question.

After arriving home yesterday and unloading the car, I could not find my car keys.  We all searched EVERYWHERE.  I never did drive during the vacation, but I was pretty sure I had brought my set of keys along.

Now, the (un)funny thing about my losing the keys is that I lost a set early in the summer while running.  After giving it a few weeks and checking in with the police department a few times, I gave up and bought a new set.  To the tune of about $200.  Gotta love our fancy remotes and computerized keys.

I wracked my brain and prayed to St. Anthony all evening.  I was sure I hadn’t used my keys while in Baltimore.  And, we only stopped at two places along the way – the hotel and then a restaurant in Sommerset, PA.

Last night I called the restaurant, but they had no keys.  I also called the hotel.  They told me I’d have to talk to housekeeping, but they were gone for the day.

After Googling the price of a new key fob this morning, I gave the hotel another try.  THEY HAD MY KEYS!!!!  Hallelujah!  Now… I just have to wait for a manager to come on duty so she can get them mailed out to me.

Unless someone out there is traveling from Pittsburg to Chicago soon?

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The Lake

Our neighbors have been forever inviting us up to their cabin in Wisconsin.  We were finally able to get there over the weekend.

We dropped Maria in Madison to hang with her best friend, drove up to boy scout camp and grabbed Jack, then headed even further north.

For three days, we swam, boated and fished.  And ate s’mores.

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I Want to Ride My Bicycle!

Look what we got!

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Birthday Wishes

Sorry, Maddog.  I had to do it:

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We just finished up with the back-to-back birthdays.

Sam turned 8 this year.  We’re hoping the year will go in with MAD and out with GLAD. Or something.  That temper he gets from his dad is still getting the best of him.  Thankfully, though, he’s quick to recover!

Hard to believe this guy would ever get angry!



He was pretty happy for most of his birthday.

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He has been the hit of the neighborhood with his new robot…

And his new zip line!

Maria had a nice birthday, as well.  He dad woke her early and took her out for a nice breakfast.  Then, after shrimp scampi for dinner, she opened her gifts.

She is my fashionista!

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We finished the night with a horse cake.  The horse was made to look like Tinsel, her favorite companion during this year’s horse camp (Thanks, Gran!).



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Little Talks

On the way home from horse camp, after dropping some friends off, Maria and I had a nice quiet talk. Girls and horses. Sigh. She loves them, but… I know how expensive the hobby is. Horses were my life until a few years after my first two were born.

At 16, through the incredible generosity of my parents, I had my very own horse. And when I was 29, I finally lived the dream of having that horse on my own property. But, then came kids and job changes and the impossible moves. We just couldn’t keep a horse anymore.

I suggested to Maria that maybe we should move back to Dinksville, where we could have horses again, a fishing pond and lots of land to run around on.

As I said this, I was pulling up to our house, where Luke and Andrew were outside playing. Andrew, as usual, had no shoes on and no shirt. “Look at that little hoosier boy,” I said to Maria.

“Yeah,” she said. “Maybe we should move to Indiana!”


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Summer Math

Day 5 of summer vacation! I haven’t yet put the countdown timer on my phone for the first day of school, but it is coming!

Mostly this week we have been practicing our math skills. (And negotiating skills.)

To keep the kids from turning into zombies, I am limiting screen time. Here’s the deal:

One minute of exercise = one minute of screen time
One minute of cleaning (a common part of the house) = one minute of screen time
One minute of reading = thirty seconds of screen time

We keep time tallies on the fridge. And it’s a use it or lose it deal. No carrying over to the next day.

It’s working pretty well, although no one is fighting over cleaning minutes. Dammit.

I love it when the end of the day comes and they’ve accumulated a bunch of screen time, but then didn’t use it!

Sam and Andrew are taking swim lessons. The first session is over and the next starts on Monday. Sam complained about them over the last two weeks, but came to me yesterday and asked when the next session would start. I told him and he asked what would be after that. Will he get to take more lessons? ‘Cause he wants to take them all summer long!!!

I was reveling over this – excited about Sam’s desire to become a great swimmer – when he finished with: ‘Cause then I’ll get lots of screen time!

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The “D” Word

Remember this?  I do, as it’s ingrained on my memory FOREVER.  I swear, when I’m 84 with dementia, I’ll still remember it.  My worst hell would be to wake up in a Groundhog Day-like situation, reliving over and over the day we had our Church Directory Pictures taken.

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Well, my second-worst hell is on the horizon.  I just received a recorded phone call from our pastor informing us that it’s been five years since this parish has made a photo directory.  Lots of people, apparently, have been advocating for a new one.  Damn them.  (Actually, the old photo directory was VERY helpful to us when we first moved here and kept meeting people but couldn’t remember people’s names or their family members.  We’ve used it so much it’s falling apart.)

STILL.  The thought of reliving that horror is going to make for a lot of sleepless nights.  The pastor says it’ll be SO EASY.  Sign up soon – via three different ways! – he says.  Does he not see us in the third pew every Sunday squirming and scowling and threatening?  Does he not see the sweat dripping from my brow when I shake his hand after mass?  What makes him think that it’s going to be EASY to get a picture of this family?!?

I sure hope the photographer has a HUGE memory card in the camera, as I know it is going to take a lot of tries before there is a printable picture of our family.  I can already imagine people flipping through the directory and saying, “Oh, yeah, we know THAT family.”

Hmmmm…. wonder if there is a bribe big enough to get through this?  Or maybe I should just think about medicating the kids.  Better yet, myself!

Let’s just hope it doesn’t all end the same way, with freaked out deacon’s wife and torn pictures.




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