Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If I should fall behind

I knew that if I started to fall behind, this baby of mine (my Snapshot O' the Day) would inevitably be affected. I love this blog for its therapeutic properties and creative opportunities but, believe it or not, I've got approximately 85 other things of high priority all queued up to be handled and completed by yours truly. That, and something so, so sad happened only days ago involving my beloved digital camera (used recently by my sister-in-law, Carrie, and I to take countless pictures, including the one above, testing the lighting and shadows in my own backyard) and a certain adorable three-year-old who happened to knock it out of my hands and onto the hard and unforgiving kitchen floor. It's broke, is the horrible long and short of it, and my kids keep needing food and heat and stuff, so I can't, in the near foreseeable future, replace it. Thus my plan is to, for now, use the photos I already have in my computer and my trusty old scanner to update this site every third day or so because I like to do it- it brings me joy, helps me remember all I have to be thankful for and to document moments and events I'd surely forget in the hustle and bustle of raising a family. So, dear friends, if you can forgive me the slight time delay between my posts, I'd be thrilled if you stuck around. Your company has been encouraging and enjoyable, to say the least. Now I'm off to bed, before 10:00 pm, like a good girl. I'm trying, really trying, to pace myself.

Friday, October 24, 2008

...if you needed me to

Dear Benjamin,

I'm a sucker for that face (just ask daddy). You were my biggest baby, 9 lb. 6 oz, and your delivery was so long and so excruciating, I thought I'd die. You arrived a scant 15 months after your older sister, Priscilla. "Irish Twins!" people would say to me whenever I dared to go out in public with my three tiny children, age 4 and under. You used to introduce yourself as "the nicest boy in the world." You're snuggly and generous, which to me makes up for the mayhem and the destruction that tends to follow in your wake. "BENJAMIN LEONARD SABOURIN!!" is how I usually call your name - how most people do if they spend more than fifteen minutes with you. Tomorrow, you turn six-years-old. It's hard to believe, really. You can't fathom that there was ever a time in my life without you in it ("But where am I," you wonder when you see our wedding pictures). For six years you've been stretching me, delighting me and keeping me always, always, always on my toes. I'd do anything for you, go anywhere. I'd scale a mountain, wrestle a bear, swim across an ocean, play Rescue Heroes, Star Wars, Matchbox Cars...if you (really) needed me to. I wish for you health, peace and love. And for myself, I wish for but a fraction of your exuberance. Happy Birthday, sweetheart.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

one safe place

My brother's whimsical front door

Early this morning I stepped outside and for the first time in a long time felt the cold rip through my skin and rattle my bones. We made hot coffee, hot chocolate, wore footed jammies and crowded in close around the book we are reading about Incans, Aztecs and Mayans. Later on, after the sun had warmed our yard enough to play in long sleeved shirts and jackets you gathered sticks, berries and leaves and built houses for the fairies, those poor vagrant Hoosier fairies who have been traveling and never resting but now, thanks to you, have a place to lay their heads. Look, I know I can't protect you from every winter, from every storm but neither am I required to watch on idly, throw my hands up in defeat, declaring exposure to elements cruel, superficial, and wholly distracting from all that is innocent, good, authentically beautiful and righteous as just an unfortunate fact of your life as a kid growing up in this enlightened day and age. They can call me naive, say I'm overprotective, claim you risk ostracization by your ignorance of trends culturally relevant but I don't care. I'll stand guard at the gates of our fortress on the lookout for trojan horses containing dangers concealed in pretty packaging and, God help me, I will not let them in. I'll do whatever it takes, whatever I can, to keep you thinking for yourselves, free from pressure to conform ... safe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'll be remembering you

Troy's parents, known affectionately around these parts as Papa and Nana, had this gorgeous bouquet sent to our house yesterday and each time I walk past it, I am reminded of how nice it feels to be loved. Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and prayers! This afternoon we went to the cemetery and placed flowers at grandma's grave site. Saturday, we will drive to Ohio for a memorial service. There have been many, many questions from my children these past 48 hours regarding death and grandpa's intermittent smiles, laughter, and tears. "We are sad," I explain, "but so very hopeful. Sixty-five years they were married, grandpa misses her." This has been a bittersweet and yet special time for us as a family. We are thankful that we can lean upon one another as we reflect, rejoice in Christ's promises and remember.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

1976 (grandma and me)

2008 (grandma with my daughter, Mary)

This morning I got a phone call from my mother. It was about grandma, she'd been taken to the hospital. When Liturgy was over, she called again; it was time to say goodbye. You never know what joys or sorrows each new day will bring with it. I'd never have guessed that by this evening I'd be drained yet wired and in awe of how heaven and earth are so connected, so entwined. We were together as a family when my grandpa kissed her mouth and told her gently to relax and let go. We were together, singing hymns and reading the Psalms and remembering how funny she was and wonderful. We were there when she gasped, took that final breath. We witnessed her death, her resurrection. Suddenly, the things I thought mattered simply didn't anymore. I had been all in a tizzy, over what?

Memory Eternal, Wilma Jean Maddex. Lord have mercy on your soul and on us who've been left behind. May the magnitude of you passing from out of this life and into the next right before our very eyes, keep us always in a state of wonder and determined to stress, resent, envy less and love more. Thank you, grandma, for everything. We miss you already.

Friday, October 17, 2008

love rescues

My neighbor, Kris, a busy mom of four hilarious and adorable little children, read my post about the hypothetical scenario I dreamed up involving me accepting help from a kindly stranger(s). This afternoon she stopped by to see us, bearing treats. There was soup, homemade applesauce and bread, all of which are making this house smell deliciously (nutritiously)wholesome. And I want you to know right now that if ever you feel frustrated by all you can't do for society at large, if you're concerned about how motherhood and its many demands might be cramping your philanthropic style, that through living "small," and by that I mean focusing wholeheartedly on the people and opportunities right in front of you, you have the potential every day to make a real and lasting difference in those purposely placed in your path. I, for example, because of one thoughtful friend, will eat well tonight. I'll be inspired to keep my eyes and ears open for needs that spring up in others around me which I might be able to meet. I'll say a prayer I probably would have skipped otherwise, because I'm grateful. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to feed my family something besides Honey Nut Cheerios, thanks to Kris and her generosity. May you all have a peaceful weekend!

rescue me

I am certainly not complaining or suggesting that I'm not capable enough to single-handedly whip this place into shape, will away my headache, make learning a grand adventure or offer a meal that isn't cereal to my under the weather children. I'm simply letting you know that if, today, someone were to knock on my door carrying a swiffer sweeper, a cappuccino with my name on it, something delicious and nutritious in a crock pot, and demand that I march straight upstairs to take a bubble bath and read while he/she/they (I'm not picky) deep-cleaned the house, entertained the kids and returned for me all my e-mails and phone calls, I would let them in, because I'm thoughtful like that. You might say I have a real servant's heart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I can see a lot of bright in you

Your dress I picked up for a measly fifty cents at the thrift store. On a hanger, its nothing special - all rust red and dated but I knew you'd like the rain cloud and the plaid umbrella. You stripped immediately when you saw it, out of your old clothes, teeny tiny not as bold clothes; given a choice, you'd take anything over the predictable. You weren't the first little girl to step into it, that vintage half a dollar jumper, asking for help with the navy buttons before twirling in delight. These hand-me-down clothes, second time around clothes, are all you've known. But then again, they're all you need to make us smile, shine, swoon at the sight of you, showcase the light in you; that dress, any dress, containing your spunk, your spark, your one-of-a-kind-ness, is a good dress, a great dress, priceless.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How a spy catches a ball

Oh Benjamin,

I adore you - especially on a full stomach and after two cups of coffee and eight hours of sleep. I find it very endearing that:

1. Like Pigpen on the Peanuts, dirt and random messes are attracted to your skin and hair with magnetic-like force.

2. When referring to a single item of clothing, you use the word, "Clo". As in, "After I take off this Church Clo (your plaid button up shirt), I'll be ready to play outside."

3. You sing like Pavarotti.

4. Your eyes and smile are as large and sparkling as "two clear lakes and a shining sun" (Elijah just offered me those dramatic similes and I am totally going with them).

5. You waved down our neighborhood ice cream truck in order to tell the driver that, unfortunately, on that day, you were not going to be able to buy any ice cream.

6. During your Library group, you informed the visiting Firemen that you didn't need a smoke alarm to wake you up because you sleep with your eyes open (to which your teacher replied, "I bet you do, Ben").

7. Last Sunday, more than half-way through Liturgy, I noticed your khaki pants were on backwards.

8. You want to marry someone "curly," just like me.

You keep us laughing, Oh my, always laughing and in continuous, fervent, prayer. Please, darling, I'm begging you, put down that stick, get off the hood of our minivan, hand me that permanent marker and let me hold you for a minute or two. My friends, I believe wholeheartedly that everyone should have access to a "Benji," to keep them guessing, gasping, and from ever, ever, ever again complaining that life is boring.

Monday, October 13, 2008

anything you can do, I can do better?

I have decided to dedicate this entire post to Father James' question regarding Troy and his weekend alone with the children because this very topic weighed heavy on my mind before I left for my "girls only" adventure. "Are you sure you'll be ok?" I had asked him more than once and each time Troy replied, "yes," using the same expression and tone my son, Benji, might employ if I asked him was he certain the Force was stronger than the dark side or if the Chicago Bears was still his favorite football team. Troy is solid as a rock and not easily intimidated but this I thought was different - four kids, our four kids, were a whole lot to handle and maybe he was being just a tad bit naive, forgetting how Mary melts down when she's tired and Benjamin wanders off if you turn your back for even a second. As I waved goodbye, I begged God to protect them. I expected little, really - that they'd "get through it," probably, but would be awfully glad to see me upon my return.

"Have a good time!" Troy told me, which I was so grateful for because all it would have taken to dampen my excitement considerably was a look of apprehension or resentment. Mothers, or maybe its just me, tend to think of themselves as the glue holding everything and everyone together. My husband could do a fine job, but of course I'd always, in general, do better when it came to nurturing the children and managing our home. Had I taught him all he needed to know to ensure those couple of days without my hovering presence would be a success for them, for me, for everyone?

When we pulled up to my house all rested and restored, I found Priscilla, Ben, and Elijah jumping, laughing, and rolling in a leaf pile. Troy sauntered up quite calm-like and hugged me. There were lots of squeals and kisses, partly (or mostly) because of the brightly wrapped packages in a bag I was carrying with the words Oh My Darling Toy Store printed boldly on the side of it. "Whadjyou bring us? Whaydjyou bring us?" they were dying to know. After a whirlwind half hour of thanking my friends profusely for such a wonderful, wonderful time, handing out souvenirs, and emptying my duffel bag, I finally cornered Troy and started questioning him about how everything had gone in my absence. "Fine," he answered, keeping consistent with his usual minimalist approach to my wifely interrogations. "What did you do?" I pressed on out of curiosity. "Oh, let's see," he tried to remember, "...this morning we got the emissions test done on the car, then we went to the DMV, then Ace Hardware, then out for pizza. After lunch, I put Mary down for a nap, we cleaned up the yard and did chores."

"All of those things?!" I asked, in utter amazement. "In one day?!" The very idea of it made me feel exhausted. That kind of errand running required multiple snacks, water bottles, and some extra strength Tylenol, items I was certain Troy had not even thought about packing on his excursion. "How did they do?" I winced, figuring Mary had most likely screamed, Elijah pouted out of boredom, Priscilla complained of hunger and Benjamin...well, who knows what? With Ben anything, literally anything can happen. Priscilla, overhearing our conversation, interrupted me.

"Mommy!" she beamed, "the lady at the car place told daddy what well behaved kids we were!"

"Is that true?" I wanted to know.

"Yep," My husband answered. "She said she was impressed by how cooperative and quiet my children were, just sitting there reading their books. They did great." I looked around then and it dawned on me, for the first time, that nothing had exploded. No one was bandaged up or clinging to me. Mary walked by and Troy told her, "It's time to get your jammies on, baby." And so - get this- she totally went right upstairs and got dressed in her pajamas...all by HERSELF.

Troy, I suddenly realized, assumed they could; I assume they can't and because of that, I end up, much of time, over-assisting and ultimately feeding their habit of whining and surrendering when something is difficult. My very capable spouse has opened my eyes to a mindset I am stubbornly clinging on to, and which is hindering me as a mom. I (gasp!) have discovered something valuable and important that I can learn from him in the parenting department: If you insist on aiming low, don't be shocked when no one rises to the occasion. Aim high consistently (argh! that is so hard for me!) and you'll be surprised at what your kids can accomplish on their own.

So, hooray for dads who aren't afraid to step in and get their hands dirty in the nitty-gritty details and the messiness of family life. Your active and prayerful participation in the raising of your children is such a blessing, such a blessing and so vital for creating a cycle of spiritual and emotional healthiness for generations to come. I appreciate, Troy, more than you'll ever know, how hard you work at being available far more than just financially to me and the kids. When you give of yourself, it makes me long to give back to you; it brings me strength and inspires me to do better. So there, I admit it! We're even steven when it comes to our parental capabilities, each enhancing the other through our differences and united in our vision of becoming a compassionate, disciplined, and Christ honoring family drawn together by our laughter, love and shared experiences.

Cheers, partner!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

enter rooms with great joy shouts, happy to be meeting...

The trip, oh my gosh, was wonderful. It is rare for expectations to line up perfectly with reality and rarer still for that reality to surpass in specialness and just plain fun the hopes you've been puffing up for months while counting down the days until your planned event's arrival. Kara brought photos, old but great ones, of us when we were young and fresh faced and so infatuated with our newfound independence and our youth and one another. Alot has happened since then - big things, joyous things, painful things, things which have grayed our hair, wrinkled our eyes, and softened our edges considerably. The fact that we had to plan and to save and arrange many details in order to pull off our reunion made it that much more delightful, meaningful, and amazing. We had gorgeous, crisp, sunshine-y weather and our car ride past trees changing colors spectacular was breathtaking. We laughed till we cried. We ate all our meals out. We saw a movie, shopped at a Farmer's Market, walked by the beach, and tasted every type of wine produced in Michigan (St. Julian's Sparkling Blanc de Blanc was my favorite, in case you were wondering). I did come back refreshed, and feeling incredibly thankful for these women in my life who through their friendship, loyalty, unconditional love and unique perspectives have challenged, encouraged, and stretched me substantially. Yes, I am teary now and dangerously close to crossing the line dividing sweet from sappy so I will stop here and tuck these memories into my heart where they will hold me over until next year, when we'll pick right back up again like no time has passed, each of us better off from our too brief hours spent together.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We'll Meet Again

Kara, pictured here with my son, Ben, loves to travel. She loves exploring new places and partaking in big adventures and has the wherewithal and energy to plan them. Months ago, Kara, who lives in Arkansas, and my sister-in-law, Paige, dreamed up a weekend get-a-way for "the girls," including the both of them, Beth, Jennifer and I. We'd all converge by plane and car at my house in Indiana, and then we'd hit the wineries in Michigan, go antiquing, stay over-night at a Bed and Breakfast and eat dinner out... at a restaurant (can you believe it?!). "O.K." I said, "I'm in," never imagining that October would actually arrive and that this rare, and I mean rare, privilege of meeting up again with my dear old college friends in such an idealistic setting would really, really and truly become a reality.

But what do you know? Today I am packing my things. "You're leaving?!" the kids ask me every fifteen minutes, aghast at the thought. I am I tell them, trying not to sound too excited, which is difficult. I've been lecturing myself for hours now about the importance of letting go and not fretting over the children, the house, or "work" of any kind while I am gone. Just be thankful, Molly, thankful, and enjoy it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

a little motivation

"Would you like to play," I asked my niece, Isabelle, "over there on that hill for awhile?" Oh boy, she did, did she ever, and so I stood down at the bottom of it while she ran. It was a brisk 60 degrees outside but within seconds that sweater would be shed, and sweat would wet the curls bouncing wildly around her face. Up and down and up and down again, Isabelle climbed then descended that kid-sized mountain - laughing, screaming, delighting in the moment. I have so much to do this week and there's so little time. This photo is my inspiration. It's like a way cooler version of those goofy "Teamwork" and "Determination" posters they used to hang in our cubicles when I worked in the city. And this song, this auditory display of Dolly Parton's can-do spirit and versatility (did you know she also covered Stairway to Heaven?) is my substitute for R. Kelly's, I Believe I Can Fly, which kicked off every team building event I attended in the late 90's. So this morning, let's Just Do It and refuse to Sweat the Small Stuff. Grab your favorite denim button up with the logo on the pocket and get a move on!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

well it's you girl, and you should know it

This is Carrie, my husband's sister. Isn't she beautiful? I took this photo of her on Saturday because on Saturday she was over at my house. Carrie owns her own condo in the city; she's a hard working professional, a single, independent kind of gal (think Mary Tyler Moore). I'm a stay-at-home mom with four rowdy children, live in a small predictable neighborhood, and divide my time equally between the grocery store, library, and the YMCA. "You want to come and keep me company while Troy is out of town?" I asked her on a whim, without getting my hopes up, assuming she'd have plans - like really big ones involving a theatrical production, a wine bar perhaps, maybe a dinner cruise around Lake Michigan. But yippee for me, she said yes and we had a lovely time together, and she helped me put the kids to bed, and we ate take-out food, and watched a movie, and sat leisurely around my kitchen table in the morning, talking and drinking coffee. Thank you, thank you Miss Carrie Marie, for a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

comfort you

The way they were sitting there, so close to one another, her teeny head up level with his own, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. "They're twins," I thought "she and him, born six years apart!" No wonder his fuse is longer, so much longer when he deals with her than with anyone else. But it's not always kisses and smiles around here between siblings who know exactly how to nit and pick their way into squabbles that seem to bleed from one into the next from sunrise to sundown, oh mercy. "Separate!" I call out to boys red with fury, to girls screeching frenziedly over small dolls and their small clothes and their even smaller accessories. "Please," I beg, "Please, children, be good to each other."

The other day, Elijah, when Benjamin was cowering in the corner at the library because a clown, a rather scraggly looking, raspy voiced clown, showed up for "Circus Day" in the kid's department, when he wept with fear until I led him out the door to the safety of the parking lot, I saw you wrap your arm around his shoulder. And you, Priscilla, you reprimanded me, harshly, when Mary fell backwards off her chair. "Mama!" You screamed in panic, "Why didn't you catch her?!"

I've witnessed it, my loves, your fierce loyalty to family when one of us is hurt, embarrassed, disappointed. "Remember," I am begging you, "Remember, children, always, that pouring comfort onto wounds (his, hers, ours, theirs) speeds growth and healing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

'till then I hope my heart will do...

She worked so hard this afternoon, wrestling scrapbooking shears too large for her seven-year-old sized hands into submission. The hearts were noticeably, charmingly, misshapen.

"Here's one for Bella, Ben, and Mary," she told me. "Oh my, there's a lot to do."

It's cooling off. The stores will be stocking their shelves soon with roses and boxes of chocolates, much sooner than might seem necessary. But come on now, is it ever too early to start planning for love - true love, homemade love, love glitter-glued and sealed with sticky sweetness?

I'll have to side with my girl, knee deep in pink construction paper, on this one.