Thursday, January 29, 2009

and you decorate my life

And After

Yesterday, I sent them all upstairs to tidy their rooms. It was a relatively quick process for the boys - toys in the toy box, books on the bookshelf, clothes in drawers. Priscilla, however, paced herself, dawdled. She would not be hurried. "I think we should call this chore decorating, instead of cleaning," she told me. You can call it sky diving as far as I'm concerned, is what I thought, but what I said, was, "That sounds perfect."

For nearly two hours, Priscilla "decorated," while singing loudly, Away in the Manger, Little Drummer Boy, and yes, of course, The Van Lear Rose. She avoided for the majority of that time the "in your face" all over the floor mess, choosing rather to focus her efforts on tying ribbons around the necks of her stuffed animals and moving her wall stickers from over her desk to over her bed. "I've decided to hang my dresses on the other side of Mary's," she yelled down to me. And then I smiled, because Priscilla, my sweet, sweet girl, is exactly like her mother - because when faced with a monumental task, I am also drawn to random side projects such as sorting through markers, counting game pieces, organizing shoes and shirts by season and color.

I have piles, loads, mountains of laundry to wash. I best get started and that I will... in just one minute. But then again, maybe first ...oh, I'm sure I'll think of something. Bake a cake? Frame some photos? The possibilities are literally endless.

I am the Fly Lady's worst nightmare.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I guarantee that I'll regret this in the morning. The very first thing I learned in my self-taught, trial and error based mothering school was to never go to bed with your kitchen a mess (and always wake up early enough to put your contacts in and take a few swigs of coffee before your kids begin calling out from their cribs and bunk beds for some breakfast). I'm almost positive that my own mom never once broke that rule. I have memories of her scrubbing countertops well past 10:00 pm, all bleary eyed and absolutely determined (to the point that it was less of a "choice" and more an undeniable instinct) to maintain order.

For three nights in a row, I have caved in to my sleepiness. I find that every couple of weeks or so I go through an obligatory, Ahhh! Too much stuff! Too much to do!! Too much for me to handle!! phase in which I curl up in the bathtub, and then my bed, with a book and hide for awhile from the enormity of it all until I remember how I've let my prayers slide and how off-kilter my priorities have become.

I'm there now, hovering, slowly waking from my stress induced stupor and wondering how in the world I slipped right back into it after vowing to stay alert. Promising "never again," I am realizing, is like shooting myself in the foot. Saying, "next time," however, fully acknowledging and accepting my own frailty, allows me the freedom to beg for mercy and move cautiously forward (rather than standing in place, immobile, paralyzed with disappointment over my lack of stick-to-itiveness).

Tomorrow is Thursday, Thursday the 29th of January - a perfect day for developing tunnel vision, losing site of the peripherals so daunting, so discouraging. One thing at a time.

...teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all.

Here comes the sun?

Apparently Kmart knows something the rest of us don't because yesterday, when the kids and I stopped in there before heading over to the library, it looked like they were gearing up for a full on beach party. With our chapped lips, lingering coughs and in multiple layers of outerwear, we stared awe struck and not a little confused at the patio sets and gazebos next to aisles of bubbles, jump ropes and squirt guns. It is still January, am I right? And in the Midwest, winter lasts well into March, even April.

But who is to say that Martha Stewart hasn't concocted from out of phyllo dough and decorative tissue paper an early (and elegant) spring? Perhaps Ms. Stewart, Kmart and their lucrative Everyday brand are going to surprise us with a warm and sunny February.
Well now, wouldn't that be a good thing?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm only going over home

It had been awhile since I’d been really taken aback by the fact that I am aging, and quickly at that. In college, of course, I wrote entry after melodramatic entry in my Salvador Dali themed journal about being on the "cusp of full blown adulthood" (oh mercy), but then I got settled into my role of wife, mother, inept housekeeper and no longer had hours of time on my hands to meditate of the fascinating subject of "me." Recently, however, my grandmother passed away and since then I've been finding myself dipping back into memories of childhood - recalling moments, people, sights and smells I hadn't thought about for years, and now here I am longing for them.

In the above photo, I am five-years-old and my cousin, Kelly, whose smooth and platinum hair I always envied, is standing next to me. We're in Ohio at a family gathering and I can picture pretty clearly what we probably ate, what we were playing before and after this snapshot was taken. I know that whenever we stayed with my grandparents, we loved making forts and Pepsi in bottles and individual boxes of sugar cereal with toast for breakfast. Three out of four of my kids are now older than I was then and quite frankly, that is hard for me to wrap my mind around.

I like the mid-thirties in that I finally feel truly comfortable in my own gradually wrinkling skin. But the speed with which life passes by as I get older and older still, can be unsettling. It is good though, I think, to feel death's breath as I move forward, God willing, into the second half of my existence on this earth. Or then, again, perhaps tomorrow ... well, you get the point. I need as many incentives as possible to make every single second count for more than merely "something." Stay focused.

Monday, January 26, 2009

can't steal my happiness

The kids and I woke up hacking and uncomfortably dry, cracked, raw, scratchy. What we need up in here is an industrial strength humidifier and a big old vat of Lubriderm. Our weekend was the kind of busy that might leave a visitor under the assumption that our house had been rifled through by vandals or torn asunder by a tornado touching down in our living room. I'm not exactly sure where to begin, as usual.

Now don't get me wrong, MANY, many times I have greeted a brand new day with the less than optimistic realization that, Oh my gosh, these four kids aren't going anywhere! And then the whining starts over school assignments, chores, being breathed on by a sibling, and I second-guess that mammoth decision I made to educate the children myself. But for some inexplicable reason, I am presently being blessed with the capacity to actually appreciate the boisterousness and aliveness of my environment.

The bulk of us are still in our jammies. We've been snuggling on the couch reading history books and snacking on pretzels. Mom! Where are the Kleenexes? they ask me every five minutes or so. I stroke their hair; press my palm on their foreheads to check for fevers. The truth is, I really, really like them.

I could dwell, I suppose, on other scenarios involving me in a silent house organizing my spice drawer but why in the world, if you really stop and ponder on it, would I think that would make me happier than being all wrapped up and invested in the lives of my incredible, outrageous, family members? I have six more hours to go until my husband gets home from work; I'm praying now, as I write this, for the strength to make the most of them, to keep my thoughts and "what if?" daydreams from betraying me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

She was the belle of Johnson County

Ah! Nothing warms me up like a little Loretta Lynn on an icy Saturday morning. For your listening and viewing pleasure I present to you two versions of the same family favorite, Van Lear Rose. The first is sung expertly by seven-year-old Priscilla who listened to the song on CD no less than 75 times in order to memorize all the lyrics. The second (below) is sung/shouted by three-year-Mary.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

life may hand us lemons...

All morning I rehearsed out loud my answers to the questions I was anticipating she might throw at me.

Who are you talking you?! Priscilla asked

It focuses mostly on the interior lives of mothers, I replied.

Paige, my sister-in-law and hard working publicist, arranged for me to be interviewed this afternoon by an area newspaper about my book. I was really looking forward to it.

We arrived at the agreed upon meeting spot, our town's only coffee shop, a few minutes early, press kit in hand.

Are you here to see Alex? said the girl behind the counter.

That we were.

Well she's sick and can't come. She wanted me to tell you.

And thus I'd practiced (and broke out my knee high boots) for naught.

But lemonade! Lemonade and Silver Linings! That is for sure my new motto and to prove it, I came up with three distinct benefits of being stood up by our reporter:

1. I ordered and then drank leisurely a four dollar beverage containing two shots of espresso and chocolate syrup.

2. Paige and I had a chance (see above) to strategize a bit, without our children interrupting us, and generate new ideas regarding the marketing of Close to Home.

3. One of the coffee shop employees took my name and number to give to the owner, who apparently likes to support local authors by displaying and selling their books and even having them come and do readings on the weekends.

Oh boy, and tomorrow is Friday.

It's just coming up roses all over the place.

long long journey

Four years ago, I imagined a resource that would bring comfort to mothers, not by providing answers but rather by acknowledging and articulating their most intimate struggles and assuring them they are not alone. I dreamed of being able to reflect very, very, honestly on both my difficult and joyous experiences while expressing clearly my conviction that motherhood is sacred. Two years ago, Conciliar Press agreed to help me fine-tune that idea and after many, many months of writing, re-writing, than crying a little bit, then revising, I am thrilled -beyond pleased to announce that the book is not only finished but that it reflects fully my original vision. Above is the cover. Coming soon - very soon - will be the rest. I will post updates regarding the upcoming pre-release sale and other new information as I receive them.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your encouragement and prayers throughout this long, long, journey!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

never saw blue like that

This blog is my collection of silver linings - my lemonade squeezed from lemons life has sporadically handed out for me to do with what I may. There are very few scenarios too downright horrific to extract any hope from. The bulk of the challenges I'll encounter, while wrestling my doubts and pressing onward in pursuit of love, freedom (from myself) and purpose, I'll endure, pray through fervently, and then decide to either learn from them or harbor resentment. My overarching goal, here, is to develop through practice and awareness, a genuine spirit of gratitude.

Because it is true that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, I am thankful for the changing seasons ushering in and back out again warmth then coolness, long evenings then shorter ones, blossoming trees, fierce looking icicles, wild strawberries. I am choosing (and using all of my determination to do so) to meditate on the above photos of our park, taken in late summer when the blueness of the skies no longer impressed me - when the sweat burning my eyes had me pining for a breeze so chilly, it would take my breath away.

Someday, I am sure of it, I will once again feel upon my shoulders the heat of the sun. I'll wear a single layer of cotton instead of scratchy woolen sweaters and knee socks. I will nostalgically post my memories of lazy weekends watching the snow fall out our window. I'd be wise, however, to focus all of my current energies on seizing the present - forecast, frustrations, ages of my children, the present chances to inhale my blessings and unearth something, anything, as many things as possible, worth celebrating.

Monday, January 19, 2009

your love is better

Troy was off of work today and we had fun, fun, FUN being together! He took over homeschool while I cleaned and caught up from the weekend. He and the kids got through their history, math and calisthenics (Troy added that new component to our curriculum just this morning) in record time and then we all went on an outing to Barnes and Noble. Tonight we had dinner at a reasonable hour, ate ice cream for dessert and watched a movie.

It takes surprisingly little (I forget that sometimes) to make me content - thankful, encouraged, happy.

Quality time with my family means the world to me.

* Thanks to Beth for her Martin Luther King's Day post! The best kind of friends are the ones who can shake you awake from out a stupor of "indifference." I needed this today.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You've got to keep your mind wide open

At the risk of you rolling your eyes and muttering under your breath that, Yes! We get it already! It's been a crazy intense winter in Indiana! I'm going to dedicate this one more (One last? We'll see) post to the topic of snow.

For the most part, my kids have adjusted to spending twenty minutes prep time on dressing appropriately before heading out to play. Piles of hats and boots and mittens and scarves we now keep constantly by our entry way for them to rummage through and mix and match. Elijah, Priscilla, Benjamin - they are tired of being cooped up inside.

Three-year-old Mary, however, has had more difficulty overcoming these seasonal inconveniences, opting rather to stay warm and coat-free in our living room with her Rubbermaid tub full of Barbies and baby dolls. She's braved it a few times, but only briefly. It's just not her thing, I figured. And that was that.

Here is your choice, my husband, Troy, who is a strong believer in children getting out of doors as frequently as possible, told Mary yesterday, take a nap or go sledding with us. Begrudgingly, she chose the latter. And then as preschoolers are apt to do, she surprised us once again by quite suddenly and inexplicably opening her mind to the possibility that adapting to (rather than avoiding) our blizzard-y environment can be less than miserable, enjoyable even. Almost two hours, three snowball fights and ten snow angels later, Troy had to lure her out of our yard with promises of pizza.

All night it snowed; it's snowing now. When I took out the garbage, it was up to my knees. Everything is white, thickly white and sparkling. I'd be annoyed, I suppose, exasperated by its relentlessness if I wasn't so in awe. You should see my street, I'm not kidding - it's extraordinary.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good Day Sunshine

It reached (positive) 20 degrees today. Compared to negative ridiculous, that seemed downright balmy and thus Troy and my brother, Bobby, took all the kids sledding. Yes, for those concerned, we have officially left the house! I have also, though this may fit under the category of Too Much Information, taken a shower and changed my clothes after four days of wearing the same old ratty sweat pants and warmy fleece jacket. We are all, slowly but surely, regaining our sanity.

Friday, January 16, 2009

If you fall, I will catch you. I'll be waiting.

At first glance, the Sabourin household might seem awfully conventional, unexciting, in that my family and I are rarely called upon to risk our lives by fighting evil and injustice or, let's face it, to even put real, non-jammies, clothes on before lunchtime.

I'll have you know, however, that we are certainly no strangers to bravery or nail biting drama.

I'm not sure all of what happened prior, to tell you the truth, but what I witnessed in our very own living room was, I am certain, nothing short of heroicism. It was Tri-bot's time to shine, to showcase his quick and steady reflexes in the midst of danger. And Barbie? She's recovering, and reflecting on past choices that, in retrospect, were probably less than wise.

What? Get out more?

 I'm delirious? 

Well if those of you living in regions warm and mild who have graciously expressed their interest in having us as neighbors wouldn't mind, we'd liked to be picked up now.

I will be waiting. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

when we've come down with cabin fever

Remember before, that one time, when I said the snow was beautiful blah, blah, Narnia? Well I've altered my position slightly in light of the blizzard like conditions that have, over the last few days, replaced our mild and idyllic winter wonderland-worthy weather (whew!), forcing us indoors lest we literally freeze our flesh off. Tomorrow, so they say, the wind chill will approach -20 degrees.

Benjamin sprinted this afternoon, singing nonsense in his usually outlawed "High Opera" voice, upstairs then downstairs and I didn't stop him - until, that is, I was CERTAIN I would lose it if he continued with his Parade O' Hyperness for just one more second. I am trying to cut him, and all of us, some slack -the children and I, so pale and chilly and stir-crazy. We're a little desperate around here to see a face not belonging to an immediate family member. I think when the mail man stops by on Thursday, we'll invite him in to stay for tea - him or the UPS guy or any other brave soul out and about in our neighborhood, A.K.A the new tundra of the Midwest. We're not picky.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

every girl's crazy about a sharp dressed man

In all our fifteen years together, first as boyfriend and girlfriend and then husband and wife, Troy has maintained a rather minimalist wardrobe consisting mostly of Dickies pants and vintage western wear button-ups. He has always been low maintenance, shopping for new attire only when absolutely, and I mean absolutely, necessary. A year ago, however, he got a different job - a job requiring that he wear ties, sport coats, full-on suits and fancy shoes (or in other words, shoes that cannot be worn while skateboarding). Suddenly, we were frantically checking department stores, on-line stores, for more sophisticated items neither of us imagined he would ever consider purchasing and then ironing or, oh my goodness, donning on a daily basis.

Troy wakes up early in the mornings before my eyes have fully adjusted to the still too bright details of my surroundings, before I am even able to process what day it is, much less what my husband looks like as he darts from room to room getting ready. Each night, however, when he walks through the door, I am taken aback all over again by this handsome, sharp dressed man kissing me hello and hugging the children - this updated, slightly more dignified version of my beloved spouse.

He cleans up nice. I think I'll keep him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not just another manic Monday

Turn the light on, I told my husband, Troy, at 5:45 this morning as we lay paralyzed in our bed unable to shake off the exhaustion preventing our heavy eyelids and comatose bodies from responding to the alarm clock ruining everything, maybe that will help.

It started last evening around 7:00 pm, the Sunday malaise signaling the dawn of a brand new week void of any pleasant disruptions, such as a national holiday or unseasonably warm weather. When finally we did pull back the covers, just in time to race around all flustered, making breakfast, preparing school lessons, pouring copious amounts of coffee into to-go cups before parting ways, I felt immediately the mounting pressure to be very, very productive. And yet, as usual, I had no plan - no fool-proof method for rounding up chaos and transforming it into order.

So it was manic alright, my Monday. It was laundry this and squabble that and Mom, I don't want to...(just fill in the blank, anything will apply). It was going to be typical, I figured, pretty textbook in its lack of noticeable highlights and ability to frustrate this stay-at-home mother and her four antsy children, still all revved up from our special weekend. But, boy oh boy, it turns out I was mistaken.

You see, on this date, the 12th of January, I was not born. Thanks to three-year-old Mary, who remembered that fact and then shared it with her siblings, my afternoon would defy the blah Monday odds by turning strangely celebratory. There was Play-Doh cake and singing and a too brief respite from the intensity of my responsibilities. There was a minute or two when all cares and concerns were forgotten in the excitment of this, my 72nd (I know, can you believe it?!) un-birthday.

And that is honestly all I have tonight to offer you in terms of optimism. It was a stressful day, a long day, a blur of plain old hard work and isolation punctuated by this one unusual occurrence. It is essential, now, that I grab hold of that singular sweet memory and release the remaining tension and regrets. Move on!

I didn't have time to register for gifts, by the way, but if you're interested in sending a little something to me (you know, in honor of this most recent non-milestone), just let me know and I'll provide you with a few tasteful suggestions. In the meantime, I'll drink this glass of red wine and toast the silence in my house. Cheers to 8:00 pm bedtimes and tomorrows!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

(I wish I lived) Close to you

Someone, I won't say who (but his name rhymes with "hobby" and we grew up under the same roof), likes to make good natured fun of my obsession with capturing moments, events of sometimes great (or of little) significance, with my fabulous new digital camera only to then summarize them with the sweetest and most numerous of words possible. This post, and these emoticons - :0 :-) ;) ;-)> - and this melancholy song are being to presented to you today in his honor.

Oh friends who converged at our home in Indiana for a quick weekend reunion, I want to thank you! To Beth and Jared, our former house mates and co-owners of the "Commune," our old Chicago two-flat, I appreciate you driving yourselves and our godson, Thomas, and the ADORABLE twins (Russell and Elliot) all the way from Iowa just so we could spend a couple of days together. To Greg and Marian, Mary's godparents, and the two nicest and most delightful individuals you could imagine, it was wonderful, as always, to bask in your calming presence. To our family members, who helped with cleaning and cooking and provided plenty of opportunities to laugh uproariously, I am grateful that you're stuck with me, and all my sappiness, by way of birth and marriage.

Standing together in Church this morning, I was imagining how utterly spectacular it would be to transplant each and every one of you from your current locations to various houses on my street - to walk on over and say "hello" on a random week day afternoon, to share a music stand with you in the choir, to see you whenever I wanted, to be your neighbor. But alas, I'll have to settle for these every so often occasions when our schedules align miraculously. I'll have to continue on with the fashioning of frequent and sentimental blog posts, posts that help me pause and drink in all that is good and salvific and meaningful in my life. I'll have to immediately start planning a "next time"...

please come back soon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


So I thought you'd like to see our back-up plan for when we lose the two stations we currently kind of get (It's embarrassing to admit how many fuzzy episodes of Dateline's To Catch a Predator I have watched...or more like endured while folding laundry on a rip-roaring Friday evening) because we don't have digital T.V. or cable. I am totally not exaggerating when I tell you that the above banana box, expertly crafted to resemble a working television, has provided my kids with hours of entertainment. So intensely do Priscilla, Ben and Mary stare, in fact, at the Barbies and Rescue Heroes dramatizing (via Elijah's adeptness at story telling) imagination inspired adventures on that make believe screen, it nearly warrants an old school lecture on how sitting too close will hurt their eyes, fry their brains, stunt their growth.

While, admittedly, a few kinks still need to be ironed out (i.e. how to best recreate sporting events using Star Wars action figures and Polly Pockets), I am pleased overall with my family's ingenuity, our can-do attitude, our ability to think outside "the box" (Funny, right? Do you get it? Box?). Now if only it were possible to concoct some kind of a computer (preferably one similar to the new ultra thin MacBooks) from out of Play-Doh, a milk carton, and bobby pins, for when our ancient Toshiba inevitably crashes. Where there's a will there's a way, isn't that what they say? I'll for sure keep you posted on our progress.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snow Day

We've had rain and lots of ice and extremely cold temperatures, but it's been awhile since we've had some good old fashioned snow - the kind of snow that coats our sidewalks and trees and roof tops. This is the scene from our front door and despite my growing annoyance with winter and its various complications (Where are your boots, Ben? Please don't poke holes in the plastic covering our windows. The car will warm up soon, I promise.), I can't help but find it absolutely beautiful, ethereal, mystical - like Narnia.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Are you feeling better than before?

Yesterday morning it was a tummy ache (The same one Mary had, and then Benjamin - the one I'm sure to get shortly) that had you whimpering on the couch and begging for blankets, apple juice, a back rub. These sort of needs I can handle. But I am bracing myself, however, for the days when that face, that wounded spirit, resist my efforts to provide comfort by way of treats or soothing words because your pain and disappointment, born out of humanity itself, must be endured for faith (for courage and hope divine) to truly blossom. I pray now, sweetheart, and forever, that these small acts, my present acts of unconditional love offered continuously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, will help sustain you.

There's a hidden life for everyone.
Sorrow remains though you can tell no-one.
The Host on your tongue is a perfect moon.
It does shine inside you.
You shine into the room.

And I can only say that I have hoped for you.
Safety from fears and darkness
Are you feeling better than before?

- Innocence Mission
You are the Light