Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening Day

I had hoped to get this post up actually on baseball's Opening Day. Alas, life intervened, but I still have to share my thoughts on this subject near and dear to my heart!

I love baseball. I really, really do. I grew up with baseball. I played T-ball and then softball for many years. My entire family loves baseball. My mom and dad laugh and say they almost didn't get married because my mom didn't want to miss a single minute of the 1968 Tigers' run through the playoffs. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve listening to Tigers baseball - to this day hearing Ernie Harwell's voice brings back long summer days and the freedom of being young. (There has never been, nor will there ever be, another voice of baseball like Ernie Harwell!) The best baseball period ever in my life was , The Roar of '84. The Detroit Tigers went "wire to wire", leading their division the entire season after a record 35-5 start, culminating in a World Series win. That's the only time "my team" has won a championship when I was following them. And it doesn't matter to me. I love baseball, win or lose.

My boys don't play much baseball. We play in the yard a bit, and they did a season with a homeschool baseball league last year. I have so much respect for my friend Megan's family. Her boys are so involved in baseball that she named her blog "Bases Loaded"! I just can't imagine being so busy with 4 different boys on 4 different fields on lots of different days. Being that busy just doesn't go well with my family of homebodies. It might have been different if we had started the boys in t-ball and Little League at the appropriate times - unfortunately, circumstances and finances prevented us from joining teams when they were the right age, and it's now hard for them to step in the middle with their lack of knowledge and skill.

But that's ok - we all still love baseball, and that's what matters. We listen to almost every single Braves game, and we try to go to at least one game a year. We also follow the Tigers and the Minnesota Twins. This year I'm interested in the Diamondbacks, too, since we came close to moving out to Arizona.

Yes, I know that baseball is tainted by drugs and money. I hate "money ball", I far prefer teams that work within their own farm systems and nurture home-grown talent. I despise performance enhancing drugs and the culture that promotes and accepts it. But I think that baseball has always had ups and downs, because it is made up of human beings, with all our failings and strengths. It's one of the best thing about the game - because despite incredible talent, it's still a very human game. Not everyone can imagine growing up to become a hockey player, or a football player. But just about anyone can dream of playing baseball. I love that!

And Opening Day is what it's all about. It's my favorite time of the year. I love spring training, but it's bittersweet, because you always know that some of these guys won't make the team. As the season wears on, some teams are clearly out of contention, which is always a bummer, and sometimes the stress of having a team trying to make the playoffs is a wonderful yet terrible feeling! But Opening Day is grand. Everyone has a chance. Every player could become MVP, every team has a chance at the playoffs.

I just love baseball, and I'm so excited about being able to listen and see it for the next 7 months!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What a sweetie!

My 11 year old paid me quite the compliment today.

"Mom," he said, "Thanks for answering most of my completely meaningless questions!"

At least he notices that I try to meet his need for a walking, talking encyclopedia - most of the time!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This was taken right before we left for the Easter Vigil. I'm so glad we went to the Vigil service (especially since we missed the Christmas Midnight Mass this year due to transportation issues). The Easter vigil was very, very long (almost 3 1/2 hours), and very, very late (it started at 10:30pm, and combined with travel time we didn't get back home until 3am). But every single one of us just loves going to Christmas Midnight Mass and the Easter Vigil. I want to encourage those of you with kids to consider trying a vigil mass next year! We have gone to vigil services as often as we were able to for years. I think we first took J1 and A2 to midnight mass when J1 was almost 3 and A2 was still a baby. When my kids were really little, we would let them go to sleep if they wanted to before mass, then wake them up and carry them to mass in their PJs. Now that they're all a bit older, we just make sure we let them sleep in as long as possible the morning of the vigil service and they stay awake until we leave. Now, we are night owls, which helps - none of my kids are in bed much before 11pm most nights, so it's not much of a stretch for them to stay up until midnight or even 1am. But even years ago, when my kids actually went to sleep at a decent time of night, we could still make it work. We let the youngest ones (those who are younger than First Communion age) fall asleep in the pews during vigil masses. This year S3 and N4 were asleep about an hour into the service. J1 and A2 were awake and paying attention through the whole thing. (A2 is definitely ready for his First Communion next month!)

The Easter Vigil mass at our Latin Mass parish is just absolutely beautiful and amazing. We light the Easter Fire outside, then we all process into the church, where it is dark except for candlelight. The first third of the the mass is in darkness, with bible readings and the renewal of our Baptismal promises. Finally, my favorite part of the whole liturgical year occurs. The lights in the church are flipped on, the altar servers ring the bells, and the choir sings the "Gloria" for the first time since Lent began. Just so beautiful, so moving, to hear, see, and feel Jesus' resurrection!

If you get a chance, check out Pope Benedict's sermon from the Easter Vigil (you can find a transcript here: What Does the Prayer Really Say?) Lots to chew on here, definitely. I liked this part especially:

"(In Baptism) God’s light enters into us; thus we ourselves become children of light. We must not allow this light of truth, that shows us the path, to be extinguished. We must protect it from all the forces that seek to eliminate it so as to cast us back into darkness regarding God and ourselves. Darkness, at times, can seem comfortable. I can hide, and spend my life asleep. Yet we are not called to darkness, but to light."

Hope you all are having a very happy, peaceful Easter season! Blessings to you and yours from me and mine!

Seven Years Ago

My husband had a stroke. A massive cerebral hemorrhage, to be exact. It's not an anniversary you want to remember, but it's tough to forget.

It haunts me sometimes, to remember waking up that Sunday morning, having no idea how dramatically different things were going to be. Life can change in a heartbeat. I don't know how I could cope with that knowledge without my faith.

It's been seven long years. Years of recovery and job loss and losing just about everything we had except each other. Years of slowly trying to rebuild our life. When it happened, I remember sitting in the ICU waiting room, thinking to myself that this was bad, but it would be ok, and if we could just make it to the 4th of July we'd be fine. It is such a blessing that I had no real insight into what the future would hold, because it would have been an unbearably crushing weight. God is so good to protect us from knowing the future!

Seven Years. Life is good. I have my husband with me today, and he is amazingly healthy and strong. I have my little miracle baby, N4, who was conceived less than a year after my husband should have died, and all my children are wonderfully well. I never take our health for granted anymore. We have a home again, dh finally has a really good job again. Life seems stable, for the first time in seven years. I know that perhaps tomorrow everything will change, that's just how life is. I also know, with absolute certainty, that God will see us through.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Random Loose Ends...

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks here at the AAA house. Thought I'd catch up on a few things and post some pictures before I shut down my computer for the Easter Tridium.

First of all, for those who are wondering - we are NOT moving to Arizona. The position they were trying to create for dh got shot down by the board of directors - basically, they didn't feel they should be adding an executive position in this economy. We are essentially happy and relieved. We like our life here, and we've already had 4 different homes in 5 years, so we weren't anxious to move cross-country. Plus, we really like dh's current job, which is stable and flexible - two things that mean a LOT to us. It's also good to know that dh can honestly compete for a job of that nature should we ever decide to pursue something like that. We sure do like his current job, and there's already talk of a couple of potential promotions, so we will probably be happy and satisfied to stay put for quite some time.

Dh and I celebrated our 16th anniversary this past weekend. How can it possibly have been 16 years ago that we got married? Actually, it's been 16 years since our legal marriage - our marriage wasn't blessed by the Church until a bit over 7 years later. But, we count 16 years as our anniversary as that's how long we've been together, and we have a second celebration on our blessing day.

We had planned to go to downtown Atlanta to a nice restaurant to celebrate. Then the tornado moved through right where we had planned on going, so we decided to stick closer to home. We had a young man we know from church and our homeschool group come over to watch the boys, and they had a great time. After we dropped him back home, S3 asked, "Mom? On your next anniversary, can we order him again?" I got the biggest giggle out of that! The great thing is, this young man was awesome with our kids (and even cleaned up my house a bit!), so we are hoping that we will actually be able to use him as a regular babysitter. After 16 years and lots of crisis, we really need to pay some attention to our marriage.

The boys are doing well. I wanted to share this picture with you. Whenever we have a task or project for them, we call out, "Four Boy Attack Squad!" and they come running. Lately they have not only come running, but stood in line in age-order, saluting.

They really do this, without prompting! And then they will go and do whatever task I set before them. One thing I've noticed with my boys, they just need to know exactly where to put their efforts, and if they work together they can be truly a force of nature.

I really like this picture of J1 - "a boy and his dog":

Now that I know we're not moving, I really feel energized. I can barely stop my mind from going a mile a minute, thinking of all the projects I want to tackle, and how much school work we're going to have to get accomplished in the next few months. I'm also really pondering the direction of this blog. I'm not sure what my purpose is - am I here to just update friends and family? That's a good thing. I have so much I want to say that I don't really feel belongs in a family blog. But I often can't keep up with this blog, so I don't really want to create a second one. Actually, I don't have much to say about much of anything lately, but I still have a surprising number of visitors, so some people apparently find me interesting from time to time! I think that perhaps my little niche in this massive blog world is to be a sort of poster child for not being perfect, for being humbly real, as a homemaker, homeschooler, and mom. I sometimes read other's blogs and while I often gain incredible inspiration, at the same time it can be discouraging. It can be tough to read about the fabulous things other people are doing when most days I struggle to get my "minimums" done - especially when it took me months to get up to speed with just my "minimums". So maybe that can be my place, to show the non-idyllic side of homeschooling a bunch of boys. Especially since, despite my lack of perfection and effort (or perhaps because of it?) they are amazingly wonderful young people!

Monday, March 10, 2008


We had guests after church this weekend (had a lovely time, too!) During Saturday's dinner, we talked with the boys about it. What would happen, what kind of behavior would be appropriate (play nicely and gently with the younger children, don't act like obnoxious cartoon characters, etc.), that sort of thing. I've always found that if I give my kids information, and let them know what we expect of them, things tend to work much, much better all around. So, I tell them about our guests, and they discuss things a bit. "How old are their kids again?" and "What will we have for dinner" - typical questions, I suppose. Then S3 pipes in:

"So, we'll have to use our manners, right? Like use utensils for the salad?"

I looked at my husband in horror - oh my goodness, I'm such a terrible mother that my kids usually use their fingers for their salad! Then I just busted out laughing. Because guests definitely deserve the use of forks, and at least my boys know *that* much!