Thursday, July 31, 2008 let me change lanes while I was driving in my car

My friend Jen and I used to love this crazy old song in college. It immediately popped into my head when I came across a massive traffic jam on this cooler than cool new Hot wheels contraption donated to my kids by a neighbor. I've had two hours and counting of uninterrupted work time to clean out my entire refrigerator and pantry in preparation for a pilgrimage to Costco. I am thankful today for hand-me-downs and the "cost me nothing" pleasures they afford to our family.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A moment of silence

This is a picture of my computer screen taken one minute, exactly, before the document displayed upon it was attached and sent via e-mail to my editor at Conciliar Press. Over a year ago, I embarked on a project that would prove to test my limits as a writer at heart, as a mother, and as an Orthodox Christian. 42, 132 words later, I am reeling from the experience of both beginning and then completing a manuscript that I never would have dreamed I had in me. Silence, please, silence. No lyrics, no music, no nagging reminders to "work on the book, work on the book, work on the book," at least just for a minute or two. Whatever else happens with it from here on out, I am thankful for being pushed - for the motivation to actually finish something, to accomplish something, I started. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Times?

In 1979, my parents, brother, and I gathered in our brown living room, in front of our brown couch, on top of our brown rug, for a portrait that would capture forever the staleness of our decor. I know my mom was not alone in her affinity for earth, or perhaps more accurately "dirt," tones; I realize that heavy wooden fixtures, silk flower arrangements, and drab oil paintings were all the rage, but considering their current house with its breezy elegance and vibrant palette of rusts, and greens, and whites, I am surprised that my mother and father subjected us and our living space to such uninspired monochromaticisim. Fortunately, we ourselves were obviously super stylin'. Thank goodness for Prell shampoo and polyester!

Monday, July 28, 2008

love hurts

Just before the pride and joy exhibited in this picture, there was a moment when Prissy's birthday wish come true was dampened slightly by the throbbing sensation of two pink and sparkly flower earrings being thrust through her tender flesh. It was touch and go there for a second at the Piercing Pagoda - would she ever recover from the trauma? We discovered this afternoon there is little that cannot be healed by way of time and some chocolate covered marshmallows. What a day! What an adventure! What a big girl!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Little acts of kindness, little words of love, make our earthly home like heaven above

We had no budget to speak of really - either of us, so in the summer of 2001 we threw caution to the wind and combined our meager resources to purchase a nondescript two-flat on the wrong side of Chicago. Beth, whom I knew from college, and her husband, Jared, were tired of renting. Troy and I had a two-year-old son and a baby due that August; we longed to own a place without landlords or street only parking. We made a three to five year commitment, had a lawyer draw up the paperwork and spent whatever spare change we had left on paint and wallpaper remover. They took the upstairs unit; we carved out our own space on the bottom floor. And for the next 58 months, we lived, laughed, mourned, celebrated, reproduced, and matured. By the time we said our teary goodbyes in the spring of 2006, I had four children, a soul full of beautiful memories, and a new revelation concerning God's grace: that He reveals His love for us through the selflessness of friends and neighbors.

It was so great spending time with you this weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And the ball goes up, and the ball comes down, and she swings her bat all the way around...

It's becoming more and more challenging to find summertime activities that all of my kids can enjoy. There's the park, the pool, and the library, each of which we have done and re-done Ad nauseam. So today, I uncharacteristically broke out the whiffle ball bat and started pitching. Troy, my love, you would have been so proud of me!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's that they tell you about a book and a cover?

My sister-in-law, Paige, (pictured here with her daughter, Jane, behind the medium sized coffee I am sipping - after having scrounged up two dollars worth of change from our laundry room to purchase it) and I, took all of our kids to Barnes and Noble this morning. Maybe it's the expertly arranged display tables or the inviting smell of scones wafting seductively through the aisles that make me every time I visit pine over pricey amounts of paperbacks, hardcovers, even trade journals on topics that under normal circumstances would never pique my interest. "This time," I swear to my covetous self, "I will cut out those carbs, Feng Shui my bedroom, or make sense of William Faulkner using this perfect book." And then I leave empty handed, like always.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh I have not seen this day before

Monday was miserable. Some sort of hormonal hurricane struck me violently first thing that morning and I was too zapped of energy to get us out the door to go anywhere. And so we all stayed in the house and bickered; I was impossible to please, a real ... let's just say "bear" and I knew it. I tried my best to keep my mouth shut, and the kids from noticing the tears of regret and frustration falling steadily that whole afternoon. Last night, I watched the four of them sleeping and begged God to let me see another sunrise - for a new beginning. He obliged me and I was grateful, so grateful, in fact, that today we went to the park and the library. Thank goodness for all the untarnished potential in each tomorrow.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How I love the simple things

Troy and I were just recently reminiscing about the days when we were young, childless and both working full-time. We went out a lot - for breakfast, for drinks, to dinner, to the movies, with friends, by ourselves, whenever we felt like it. It got to the point (can you imagine?!) where it wasn't even special anymore. Now eleven years later, our definition of "a good time" has been altered quite considerably. On Sunday, for example, we had a rip-roaring afternoon of swimming at the YMCA followed immediately by a competitive few rounds of Wheel of Fortune, made that much more enjoyable by our indulgence in cupcakes and coffee. We spent nothing, not a penny; I lost the game and everything, but man did it feel good to be together.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

..and they're dancing like they've never danced before

Friday was family movie night. There was popcorn, lemonade, 102 Dalmatians, and even a friend sleeping over who was surprised to discover Priscilla and Benjamin's long-standing habit of busting every move conceivable to whatever hip-hoppy theme song is being played with that particular film's closing credits. I cannot tell a lie; I find it HYSTERICAL to watch in person and impossible to resist joining them in their brief five minutes of trance-like concentration on the art of dance. Those photos, however, I will keep to myself.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The hardest to learn is the least complicated

Someone in our neighborhood is still working through the complicated ins and outs of Hopscotch . I find it impossible to pass by this sweet drawing without smiling.

I'd rather live in his world than live without him in mine

Due to my husband's outrageously long work commute, I get to spend a lot of special alone time with our children; it is usually around 6:00 pm that my standards for what defines an acceptable way to entertain oneself are significantly lowered - particularly if the activity in question involves no whining, bickering, or tattling. So earlier this week when my "growing more tired and irritable by the second" young son walked into the kitchen to ask if he could paint his train tracks, I said "Oh my gosh, yes" and then savored the next thirty minutes of relative peace and harmony within our household. When dinner was finally prepared, I called for him, then he called back to me to show me how much progress he'd made on his art project. And what I found was actually quite mesmerizing, in a Dr. Suess or Willy Wonka sort of way. "I love it!" I assured him, making eye contact and everything instead of answering distractedly with a limp and wilting "That's nice," and he was happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Help me Obi-Wan; you're my only hope

My niece, Jane, I am told, will often toddle around the house, out of nowhere say, "Ben," and then start giggling. I do the same thing, actually, and you would too if you met him, after taking a couple of Tylenol and a nice long bath to recover. Of all my darling children, he is the most mysterious and fascinating to me. I see plenty of myself in Mary and Priscilla. Elijah is a clone, essentially, of my older brother, Bobby. But Benjamin...ah, Benji, he is like an unexplored jungle in that while I marvel at the beauty of his exoticness, I am often holding my breath in a sort of nervous anticipation of the unexpected dangers lurking just around the corner. "HEY!" he called out recently to a woman who was speed walking down our sidewalk. "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE?" and then I froze in utter terror; should I tackle him? Create a diversion? And just when I was assuming the worst, he answered, "PAIGE! YOU LOOK JUST LIKE MY AUNT, PAIGE!" and the woman smiled and Benji went back to wielding a bumblebee handled jump rope like an "Indiana Jones" whip, and I waited until my heart resumed a normal amount of beats per second before kissing him on the forehead. He flashed me a wild smile and then was off again into the recesses of his own imagination - slaying a slobbering Jabba the Hut, rescuing entire cities from the evils of that trickster, "The Riddler," employing every fantastical power in existence to become a super hero.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sugar Town

Yesterday, I found my sugar canister - lid off - on a shelf beside Mary's bed. For who knows how long she had been spooning it rather messily into her teeny open mouth, inviting ants from all over our neighborhood to come and join her. Mary loves sweets. Loves, loves, loves, loves, loves them. Every single morning when I say, "Hi there, honey, are you ready for some breakfast?" She says, "Yes, mama. I'll have a cookie please." Then I say no and she wails and beats at her breast with dramatics more appropriate for say, a favorite doll being run over by a cement truck or a security blanket lost at sea. No matter how many times we go through this exact same exchange, my refusal to replace Cheerios with Oreos never loses an ounce of its sting. Wouldn't it be dreamy if logic held some sway with little children?

Monday, July 14, 2008

...even children get older, and I'm getting older too (Can I handle the seasons of my life?)

I offered my hand to Elijah when we approached the crosswalk, but he didn't take it. It's just habit I suppose, my reaching out to help him maneuver the obvious dangers of distracted drivers and their speeding vehicles. I am pretty good at that - protecting the children from being flattened by oncoming traffic, but what has recently thrown me for a real heck of a loop has been my eldest son's desire for a bit of space to assert some independence and start making a few of his own judgment calls. After many years of taking continuous inventory of my young family ("O.K there's Elijah; Priscilla is walking with Mary; wait...where's Benjamin? Come back here, Ben, right now and stay where I can see you!"), I'm not quite sure how to quit the intensive surveillance of at least one my kid's who assures me that he is ready to go to his friends' house, the park, to the library alone. I'd just assumed we'd never actually make it to this part: the stage of brooding adolescence where the pitfalls are less tangible but somehow so much more frightening to this mother on a precipice staring down into breathtaking and unexplored canyons of parenthood. What else can I do but venture forward and learn as I go?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Beautiful Day

I had no idea what time it was when we mounted our bikes this past weekend for a family ride through town because, quite frankly, it didn't matter. It had been awhile since we had no where to be, no one expecting our presence at any kind of gathering. I love feeling wanted and having goals to accomplish but the novelty of an unscheduled afternoon proved deliciously refreshing. "Be still," I reminded myself as the children stopped to ogle at a puppy, "This day, your life, is beautiful."

I see morning in your eyes

I snapped this shot this morning in our quiet little town where everything seemed particularly hopeful and promising. Fountains flowed, espresso brewed, and couples sat on benches near the gazebo in spite of a slumping economy and exorbitant gas prices. Sometimes, focusing on the smaller picture is best.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Beautiful, Wonderful, Perfect All American Girl

When my girls turn eight-years-old, their generous and thoughtful Papa and Nana will take them to the American Girl doll store in downtown Chicago to pick out their very guessed it, American Girl Doll. I actually love this plan because I do happen to like these particular toys with their historical identities and strong moral messages. Since they are a bit pricey, however, I think waiting until Priscilla and Mary reach an age where they can truly grasp the specialness of such a treasure is a wise idea. Until then, we will study very intensely every American Girl Doll catalog that is delivered to our home, minds will be changed a multitude of times as descriptions of the dolls are read over and over and over again. This morning, we were focusing on Kit and I found this particular page to be pretty ironic. If you notice at the top of it, Kit's motto is:

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

And yet, dear Kit, the kitchen you were photographed canning tomatoes in with all of its incredibly realistic looking accessories would put a parent back over $230.00 if they wanted to recreate your sense of thrifty resourcefulness for their own child. I think I'll give my daughters, and the American Girl Dolls they will eventually bring home, a more authentic taste of frugality by having them hang out in our own life size un-airconditioned kitchen with the peeling floor tiles and mismatched silverware. Because, yes, in even in "beautiful, perfect, wonderful" America, excess equals mass dissatisfaction. It is all of the things we don't need to have which give us freedom to pursue contentment independent of our material circumstances. Please remind me of this if you ever see me drooling inside of a Pottery Barn. Just un-pry my fingers from the velvety crimson love seat and point me firmly in the direction of my friends, my full refrigerator, and loving family.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's easy when you smile...

"Like twins," Priscilla had said. "I want my hair cut just like Mary's." My kids were getting shaggy and so I drove them to the salon where each, in turn, were shorned by carefully coiffed stylists in matching black aprons. I made the rounds from one chair to the next, helping as needed and offering encouragment, "Hold still sweetheart. Look down at your toes. Great job, that looks nice. You're almost finished." Priscilla stayed still as a stone, her head bent forward obediently. "How's it going?" I inquired, crouching down on one knee to find her face. Upon seeing a devastated expression, my stomach immediately dropped and I reached for her trembling hands. "Oh honey, its ok! It'll grow back!" Giant tears welled, then fell down her cheeks off her chin and onto the cape protecting her clothing from the locks she was quietly mourning. She wasn't pouting, wasn't whining, wasn't angry or resentful, just sad - pure and simple, and it broke my heart. Hours later she finally rallied, noting her resemblance to Halley Mills in the orginal version of Parent Trap. "Julie Andrews!" said my husband, "from 'Sound of Music;' that's who you look like." And she brightened her dim demeanor using little more than sheer willpower and a timid smile. "There's my girl," I beamed. I adore her.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry...

I apologize in advance for this horrifying image; its just that currently, I have nothing else to write about because a lingering case of conjunctivitis has comandeered my every thought and action. While certainly not life threatening or even the least bit serious, it has been just annoying to enough to taint my relatively rosy outlook with a great deal of grumpiness. It is a good thing we now have our doctor's phone number on speed dial because, evidentally, it is my turn to earn the coveted "Star Patient" sticker. Somebody, please, come and douse our germy home in antibiotics!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And I thought, "Hello new shoes"...

Eight years ago, I saved up $100.00 worth of birthday money and bought some dark brown Dansko Clogs at Nordstroms, a ritzier sort of establishment where smooth talking employees wait on you hand and foot, asking questions like, "Would you like to see those in a different color?" Even then it seemed like an exorbitant amount of cash to lay down for a pair of shoes, but I'll tell you what...they proved themselves to be virtually indestructible. I had been thinking that this fall I might actually have to retire my faithful old workhorses as they have finally become too shabby to wear out of the house much. Imagine my delight, then, at spotting these burgundy sweethearts looking all new and perfect on a shelf in our neighborhood resale shop - in my exact size- and costing...wait, are you ready for this?:


It was a magical moment for this die hard of a scavenger, re-igniting my passionately held conviction that good things come to those who wait expectantly and patiently in the haphazardly arranged aisles of a thrift store.

Monday, July 7, 2008

You've got a friend...

We were blessed today to be surrounded by dear friends. Our godparents, the Frigerios, drove all the way from Michigan with their five lovely children, and Stephanie, our priest's wife from from our old parish in Chicago (whom I happen to love and adore), brought her five little ones and they converged upon our muggy old house, much to the delight of our own four kids, like brilliantly festive fireworks. When my sister-in-law, Paige, came by with my nieces, Isabelle and Jane, we had a very grand total of sixteen boys and girls swinging on our swingset, riding bikes around our block, and catching fireflies in our front yard. The photo above captures a fraction of those present in a makeshift tent engineered"MacGyver style" by ten-year-old Scout (in the braids and glasses) using rope, a tree, and a tarp. It was a special day for the Sabourins, filled with edifying conversation. Thank you all for meant the world to us!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Together Again

This past week the Sabourins were scattered. Elijah and Priscilla went to Tennessee with my parents and had a wonderful time visiting my grandma, aunts, and cousins. Troy and I spent a relaxing few days in Upper Michigan with Ben and Mary, taking long walks, celebrating our 11th anniversary, watching fireworks, and partaking in pleasant conversation with his parents and sister, Carrie. On Saturday, Benji had finally had it. Despite having access to parks, the beach, and our full attention, he firmly declared that it just wasn't right to be seperated from family. Last night, we finally reunited and I was pleasantly surprised to see how happy my kids were to be together again! I am certainly aware that the novelty of each other's presence will wear off in approximately fifteen minutes or so, but I'll sure take those fifteen minutes and fully revel in them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


About a month ago my brother, Bobby, sister-in-law, Paige, and their two daughters moved two blocks away from us. I expected having them close would be fun and awfully convenient but what I hadn't anticipated was a deepening of my appreciation for the four of them. In this photo is my beautiful and bright-eyed niece, Isabelle, who we now, because of a next to nothing commute, have the joy of seeing often in our inflatable pool, riding a scooter on our front sidewalk, or eating freeze pops in our loud and sweltering kitchen. She and her younger sister, Janie, are a huge part of my own children's lives and I treasure their fierce loyalty to one another. "Hi, what are you doing?" I ask Paige on the phone for quite possibly the third time in any given day. I have nothing specific to tell her, but it doesn't matter. We are family, and just knowing she's up the street available to hear my blabbering (which in all actuality is a very crucial outlet for my frustration or worry or loneliness) is comforting. It is nice to be known as you truly are and loved anyway.