Monday, June 29, 2009


Another weekend down (can you believe it's almost the 4th of July??!), another tremendous success.

Make that two tremendous successes.

Noh-man smashed the competition on Saturday as he competed with our summer team-- 2 landslide firsts and an extremely close second,

and then on Sunday, he competed with our year-round team and took 3 more landslide firsts in the 8 & under category. Two personal bests (or was it three?)-- one of them a 10 second drop from his previous personal best! Bub better watch out; Noh is right on his heals!

(Just to put it into perspective... in several of his events, Noh-man is swimming-- as an 8-year old-- as fast as Bub swam last summer as a nine-year old!)

As for Bub... he. knocked. the. ball. out. of. the. park.

Six races-- 5 firsts and 1 second (losing only by a fingertip).
6 personal bests.

But that's not all.

For months now, he's been chasing a dream... participation in the Eastern Long Course Championship, affectionately known as Zones. In order to attend, a swimmer must have 1 of the 2 fastest times in the STATE in any single event OR he must have 4 qualifying times-- 4 really fast times in 4 separate events.

Now weeks ago, Coach Bob told us that Zones was not out of the realm of possibility... a notion that we had never truly considered before. A pipe dream... yes. A possibility... no. I mean, we didn't set out to underestimate our boy or his abilities; it's not that at all. But let's be serious here. And frank. And realistic. Only a select few go to Zones, and while striving towards a goal is an excellent thing... well, you get my drift. Chris and I never discourage our kiddos-- no, we encourage them and we support them and we cheer them on in whatever they set out to do. But in our heart of hearts, we try to keep things tempered-- we try not to get carried away ourselves-- because it's never fun to see your babes face disappointment.

So anyhoo-- before this weekend, Bub had 1 qualifying time... the 100 fly. We all went to Winchester, hoping he'd walk away with one, maybe two more qualifying times... if all went well. That would ease his burden at the last two meets of the season; he'd only have one or two events to tackle in his efforts to make the cut.

So what did Bub, our ever-determined swimmer, do??

He did not walk away with one or two qualifying times.

He danced away with five.

Five qualifying times in a single meet (that makes 6 in all)... the 200 IM, the 50 fly, the 50 free, the 200 free, and the 100 free.
We're all still blown away!

So what's the big deal, you ask?? What exactly does all that mean??

As of now there are 7 swimmers on the Virginia Swimming team... seven.
Seven boys in the 9-10 age bracket who will represent the entire state of Virginia in August when they compete with kids from all over the east coast... from Virginia north to Maine.

It's a dream come true... thank you, LORD!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sometimes, being a mom stinks.

It stinks when I lose my patience with my little people and raise my voice unnecessarily.
It stinks when I lose my temper and react poorly instead of walking away for a count to ten.
It stinks when laziness prevails instead of a willingness to toss the baseball one more time.
It stinks when I allow selfishness to guide my decision-making instead of self-less-ness.

It stinks when my children-- my blessed gifts from God above-- are adversely effected by my poor choices.

It stinks when I take my very excited four-year old son to the dentist for the very first time and learn he has a small cavity in his upper right molar. Why?? Because his momma didn't take better care of his teeth.

And I know better! That's what hurts so badly. My parents have instilled in me from Day 1 the need to take extra special care of my pearly whites. Back in the day, both my brother and I had layers of sealant applied to our molars (for extra protection), and already both my older boys have undergone a similar application to prevent this very thing from happening. And so far, so good. But when it comes to Big Man's teeth, which have surely developed in a like manner (with those super deep crevices) and which will surely require extra protection, I dropped the ball...

You know, consequences are tough. They're just no fun. But oftentimes, we deserve what we get. As I tearfully explained the situation to my two oldest, I used this example-- if they slack off at swim practice for days on end and then bomb their next meet, who's to blame?? They are, of course. They didn't work hard; they didn't adequately prepare. They pay the price.

In this scenario, however, my Big Man is not to blame. It's not his fault that next Thursday, bright and early, he'll return to the dentist's office to face a needle and a drill so that Dr. T can fix what I broke. And that. just. stinks.

Being a mom is so hard. It's hard under the best of circumstances. But it's even harder when I mess up. It's heart-breaking for me to consider-- the fact that my mistakes, my poor choices... my sins... affect my littles in ways I'd never choose. That my childern should suffer because of me. Well... that's a hard pill to swallow.

As for Big Man-- yes, they're just baby teeth. And yes, they'll eventually fall out anyway. But that's not the point. Because of my negligence, because of my neglect, my four-year old tyke is going to suffer the consequences. He'll struggle under the discomfort of the process, and that kills me. Four years old... I screwed up.

And that stinks. Big time.

It's hard being a mom.

But you know what I'm finally coming to realize?? You know what I've known all this time, but am just now beginning to accept?? You know what makes this ugly blot of a day a little bit brighter?? The fact that I'm forgiven. And free. And tomorrow I get to try again. The blood of Christ covers a multitude of sins... and grace abounds all the more.

"So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom
with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
He has showered his kindness on us,
along with all wisdom and understanding."

Ephesians 1:6-8

Yes, being a mom is tough-- it's the toughest job I'll ever do. But even when I screw up, even when I fall short of my calling, four little faces still love me. And my God loves me all the more. Now that's something to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Last week, we celebrated our last day of school (finally!) at the pool. I have a feeling we'll be spending the bulk of our summer days up there-- the weather here just isn't conducive to outdoor play without an ample water source. And since the beach is hours away... the local watering hole will have to do! Our pool is actually quite nice, so I won't complain; and when we showed up on Friday morning, we were the first ones there... for quite some time. The kids felt like the kings of the hill... until other small people came and crowded their turf. But at least for a few brief minutes, they ran that joint!

So, fully equipped with a well-stocked pool bag (at least I thought it was well-stocked-- Lollipop had unpacked it at home for me... twice... so I wasn't convinced I had everything we needed; I just crossed my fingers and hoped!), a picnic lunch (including fresh fruit!! and I didn't even have to threaten my boys with their lives to get them to eat some :), two full bottles of aerosol sun block (I love this stuff... it is worth every outrageous dollar I spend on it! In fact, I love it so much that, this summer-- when we surely make a few budget cuts for saving's sake-- the spray-on no-rub suntan lotion will not fall into the "scratch it" category... it's simply too wonderful :), and four eager munchkins, all dressed in their swimming garb, we flocked to the pool, fully prepared to spend the better part of our day there. Leslie and her gang joined us, and together, those kiddos wore each other out!

Now, of all my children, only one requires my constant supervision. Bub and Noh-man, naturally, are all over that place-- they know all the lifeguards and they bounce from pillar to post as their desires lead them. Big Man... well... he's a piece of work, that little guy. He hangs in the shallow end with his "pool friends" (some age 4, some age 12), completely uninhibited by their age or size, and sometimes he wonders into deeper waters (though never far from the ladder and the security it provides). Carefree, full of life, fully confident, fairly capable, always smiling... that's my Big Man at the pool.

So that just leaves little Lolli as my constant companion. She. loves. the. water. Bathtub, puddle, bottle of water, squirt gun... you name it, she likes it, and the pool is no exception. Her favorite spot-- the railing at the stairs to the shallow end. Sometimes she likes to wander back to the baby pool, but for the most part, the shallow end is where it's at. Her brothers pop in and out for a quick splash, and sometimes she simply wants to meander along the deck with a stop here or there for any number of reasons. A smiling face, a tempting snack, colorful flip-flops, an exciting toy-- when she's out and about, there's no telling what she'll find. Eventually, though, we find our way back to the railing... until she sees her brothers flip open the lunch cooler, and then her tummy takes over. Pbj, yogurt, strawberries, and gatorade (not to mention the cheezits)-- the water can wait! And every time I watch my crew devour the meal I've prepared, I'm absolutely astounded by their voracious appetites! A little sunshine, a little swimming, and bang! Boys are starving and the food is going to disappear (evidently) if they don't cram every last crumb in their mouths before ten minutes pass. I'll never understand :)

So at the pool we stayed-- only for 3 hours that go round. But I know in the days to come, we'll be there all. day. long. And then we'll all come home and crash.

Now on Saturday, our family returned to the pool... and this time we took daddy along for a little fun in the sun.
And a few synchronized splashes, of sorts :)
It's a good way to spend the day!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let's hear it for the boys!

"A boy is a magical creature-- you can lock him out of your workshop, but you can't lock him out of your heart."

--Allan Beck

And ain't that the truth?? Although... I'm not so convinced you can even lock one out of the workshop-- with the perseverance and determination I've seen my little boys display, there's no doubt in my mind they'd find a way in!

Anyhoo, it's week 24 at i heart faces, and this go round... it's all about the boys! I took this shot of Big Man at the pool last week--- a little sunshine, a little water, and a few snacks to munch on during the break... all combined make for one happy little guy!

Be sure to head on over for a peak at all the other testosterone-filled pics. It's sure to be fun!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Father's Day

What is a Dad?

A dad is someone who
wants to catch you before you fall
but instead picks you up,
brushes you off,
and lets you try again.

A dad is someone who
wants to keep you from making mistakes
but instead lets you find your own way,
even though his heart breaks in silence
when you get hurt.

A dad is someone who
holds you when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules,
shines with pride when you succeed,
and has faith even when you fail...

-- author unknown

That's my dad.

Daddy-o... over the years you've taught me so much... you've taught me that character counts... that honesty, integrity, courage, and loyalty, coupled with a never-wavering faith in Almighty God... those are the things that matter. Material wealth, the latest and greatest gadgets, fancy cars... not so much.
You've believed in me, you've inspired me, you've listened to me and you've counseled me; you've supported me, you've encouraged me, and you've modeled for me the heart of Christ.
You've loved me unconditionally.
And now you're doing the very same thing for my children.
Thank you... from the depths of my heart.
You are the best, and I love you~

Happy Father's Day!

And to Chris, the greatest dad on earth-- you are a blessing and a gift, and it's my privilege to raise four precious little ones by your side. The way you play with them, the way you support them, the way you teach them, the way you sacrifice for them, the way you love them... thank you. I could never ask for more.

Happy Father's Day! I love you~

"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."

--Clarence Budington Kelland

Friday, June 19, 2009

Behind the wheel

The Jeep lives at Grandmom's and Pop's house. And whenever we visit, we pull it out for a ride. Or two. Or a hundred. Last week, Big Man enjoyed lots of joy rides up and down the drive... until his little sister discovered this new attraction. And then it was all over for Big Man.

Lolli commandeered the driver's seat...

and when her brother attempted to climb in beside her,

she told him no. In no uncertain terms :)

After he accepted this turn of events, he let her be. Though Lolli wasn't convinced. Frequently we caught her peaking over her shoulder, always aware of his presence... never certain of his intentions.

Once Big Man tried to convince Lolli that baseball was more fun-- surely she'd rather play with the bat??

But no. The driver's seat belonged to her!

Watch out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where everybody knows your name...

Ok smartypants... Ernie "Coach" Pantusso is the man!

A member of this outstanding cast

on this one-of-a-kind show.

Don't ya miss it??

p.s.-- for anyone interested in taking the world geography challenge (you know, the one that kicked my tush), click here.

A quiz... name that show!

Or... that character, to be more specific! Who spoke (er, uh... sang) these words:

"Albania, Albania, you border on the Adriatic.
Your land is mostly mountainous,
And your chief export is chrome."

Sung by one of my favorite television characters of all time, this tune actually helped me this morning as I was attempting (however pitifully) to fill in an online map (game-style) of Europe. It was one of the few countries I actually got correct... sigh.

But then I taught the tune to my boys (it really is amazing how much info sticks in your noggin when coupled with music), so now they're knowledge of European geography is slightly improved :)

And who said tv is worthless??!

So, back to the song... anybody have a guess?? Here's a hint-- think baseball, a neighborhood bar, and a witty old man

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

After the rain

"And when it rains on your parade,
look up rather than down.
Without the rain,
there would be no rainbow."

--G.K. Chesterton

And sometimes... I think... the rainbow is surely most visible in the garden :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back in the saddle

Home again, home again, lickety-split. Yep... back in the saddle, you'll find us :)

And for some strange reason, climbing back into the saddle is never as easy as I assume (or hope) it will be. There's just so much to unpack. And there's mail to sort. And there are things around the house-- gardens, for instance-- that require much attention after a week's absence. And then there's just the grim reality of another week of school before we call it quits. Blah. We're so ready to be done! But the kids and I will muster through, and then we'll glance back and smile... for we'll be on summer vacation!

As for what kept us busy last week-- the kiddos and I jumped ship and went to my parents' house, and there we enjoyed a much-needed break. Bub and Noh-man didn't get much rest time, though, as they attended swim camp every day (from 8:00-5:30... I don't know how they did it!) at the university

while Big Man, Lollipop, and I spent our days with Grandmom. We played outside and ran a few errands and generally kept ourselves busy in all sorts of fun ways. Big Man painted on his easel (though this session was cut short once the rain started dumping... again),

I read a couple books, we counted the deer as they passed through mom's gardens

and avoided the bees as they frolicked amongst the flowers,

We played in the puddles (well, Lollipop did :)

and Big Man and I played a bit of baseball (he's actually an excellent batter);

and each and every day, we simply had a delightful time.

By nightfall, after dinner and a little tv with Pops, we all crashed. Hard.
Oh, and did I mentioned no computer time for me?? It was actually a nice break :)

One quick note about swim camp-- the boys swam a. lot. A whole lot. And they learned a ton. Coached by a host of excellent folks, they refined (and they refined. and they refined some more) their strokes and turns, and yesterday morning they put some of their skills into practice at their first summer meet of the season. Noh-man placed 1st in the 8 & under butterfly and breaststroke, 4th in the 10 & under IM, and both of his relay teams finished first. As for Bub, he placed 1st in the backstroke, 2nd in the butterfly, both of his relay teams came in first, and the big news... he smashed a team record-- set 5 years ago-- in the 100m Individual Medley. It was a fun, fun morning!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A little morning merriment

This morning... hmmm.  I guess it'd best be described as an odd mixture of giddy hilarity and frustration.  Perhaps the seemingly never-ending rain (accompanied by extremely gray skies) accounted for our odd behaviors??  Or maybe our empty stomachs, desperate for a satisfying meal, affected our normal composure??  We all slept well so lack of sleep certainly wasn't the culprit.  I don't know for sure, but by golly... once the five of us hit the kitchen running-- in search of early day nourishment-- things started getting hairy.  

Thankfully, Lollipop was the one exception to our craziness.  She settled contentedly into her highchair for a bowl of Cheerios, some fresh strawberries, and then a few dry Fruit Loops for "dessert" (yes, I gave my baby girl Fruit Loops. Like I said above, it was one of those mornings already. I could tell.). 

As to why we're eating Fruit Loops at all??  Well, now that school is winding down, our cereal standards have taken a bit of a nosedive.  The boys absolutely love this specific delicacy, so when "treat time" rolls around, you know-- every once in a blue moon (or when we head to the beach on vacation)-- that's the sort we buy.  And wouldn't you know it... 16 month olds love them, too!  A little sugar, a rainbow of natural fruit flavors... who'd a thunk it??!

As for Big Man, he gobbled up his bowl of sweetened multi-grain goodness and then summoned me to the family room for a game of Dominoes.  Evidently, there's only one rule in his version of the classic-- 
"Don't let babies mess up the game."  
Easier said than done. 

Noh-man-- my very disciplined, get-it-over-and-done-with schoolworking son-- attempted to tackle his math while the rest of us crunched away on our breakfast. 
 He didn't appreciate our noise level, though, and quickly let us know.

Thankfully, once that little tirade worked its way out of his system, 
all was well with the world again :)

And of course, Bub-- my always-the-clown-around-town, Bub-- couldn't help but have a little fun (in an attempt to bring a smile to the face of "the grumpy one") with his english muffin. 
 Funny, but not appreciated by his target audience.

For the rest of the morning, we struggled to get our work done while Lolli and Big Man took every single block, wedgit, linking cube, and pattern block we own... out of their containers... on to the floor... everywhere.  Yeah.  

Next, a mad scramble to get to our dentist appointments on time.  I lost track of the clock and wouldn't you know it? When I finally asked the boys for an update, we had 8 minutes to get dressed-- all five of us (thankfully, I had already showered)-- and in the car.  Poor Lolli.  A hair brush never made it through her lovely golden tresses until after the appointment, so yes, she graced the dentist's office with bed head.  

Talking about the dentist... normally, Bub and Noh-man get their teeth cleaned at the same time.  That means a shorter wait time for us all.  And as any parent of young children knows-- a short wait time is critical!  This morning, however, we were not so lucky.  You see, two days ago I had to reschedule our appointments for next week (since we'll be out of town) and ended up with 2 slots this morning.  But wouldn't you know it?  On Fridays, there's only one hygeneist available.  Translate== Big Man, Lollipop, and I waited for 100 minutes in the waiting room-- a very small waiting room, mind you-- while the older two took care of business.  Not at the top of my really-fun-things-to-do list, needless to say :)  Fortunately, we all survived and there weren't any complications or cavities; just a leisurely cleaning, I guess. 

So, all finished there... we drove home in more rain.  Then a bit of chaos in the kitchen (as we all searched for sustenance of any kind-- we were starving!), a rain-soaked dog (he finally realized he'd have to go out to relieve himself-- the rain wasn't gonna let up just for him :), mounds of laundry piled atop the dining room table (quite the lovely centerpiece, though), more school work, more rain, a little crockpot action for dinner, tired children, and finally... a nap.  Whew!  I'm beat.  Definitely time to call it a day and it's only 2:00.

Thank goodness it's Friday-- happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


On our stroll through town the other day, the kids and I passed by this basketball hoop:

Me thinks it ain't seein' too much action these days :)  Though it sure made for a lovely trellis!