Dear James,

Your age is one that is a most interesting balance between the imaginary and the literal. Sometimes you fully believe dinosaurs are roaming the backyard, and other times, we tell you to “keep your eye on the ball,” and you put the baseball on your eye. You’ve been discussing how cool it is that babies live in mom’s tummies, and you are convinced that babies in utero like to eat licorice more than anything else.

After watching you dance in our kitchen dance party last evening, i’ve decided, for the good of your future girlfriends, we might want to get you some dance lessons.

Summer camp has been a success for everyone, except your little sister who throws a most heartbreaking tantrum over wanting to stay and play with you. Your naps have been long and your enthusiasm strong. Your only disappointment was when you realized camp is without a tent, fire, marshmallows, or curious George.

On our lunch date, yesterday, you walked up to the counter at Panera and asked the cashier to make you scrambled eggs. When she said she couldn’t make them, you replied, “its ok, I’ll have a cookie, then.”

I couldn’t figure out how to use the remote control car that you picked for daddy. Dad laughed at me, but, you taught me how to use it, and sang my praises with words of affirmation. Thanks.
Dear Josie,

You’ve been….

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Aunt Maria compared you to a dog, today. Her exact words were, “So she roams around making messes and pees on the floor when she wakes up? She’s just like a dog.” I’m sorry to say, it is more than a fair comparison.

You think you are invisible when you put your blanket on your head. You roam the halls believing fully that we cannot see you when you are supposed to be in bed. And speaking of bed, you bounce right on out of there at 5:30am daily. Unlike all other 2 year olds, you don’t even care one teeny tiny bit as to the location of either of your parents. You run down the steps, pour cereal (everywhere), and help yourself to gum. Sometimes you mop, other times, you dance in the cereal you poured on the floor. Usually, you take off your diaper and fully revel in the freedom of the wild rumpus you’ve created.

You choose your words carefully, and you mean what you say. In a rather unfortunate incident of rhyme, a few too many of your words sound a lot like the most unfortunate word of all. And since you choose to point out every single truck on the road, your dad and I have been swallowing a lot of laughter.

You accidentally dumped the entire bottle of bubbles on your head the other night. It was really difficult for me to muster the energy to clean it, because I put you to bed two hours prior.

We went hiking and you held my hand the whole time. As soon as we got to the parking lot, you booked it and ran from me as fast as your tiny legs could run.

The other day at the pool, you stole a watering can from an unsuspecting little boy and proceeded to “water” his mother’s shoes.

If more of us lived like you, anxiety would be much less of an issue.

Dear Rita,

As your great Uncle was holding you, he warned me that “he better not read anything bad about you on the blog.” He’s right, you are the sweetest. For the record, however, 3 min from the moment he put you on the floor to crawl, I found you eating dog food, and two minutes after that, you grabbed a piece of pizza and helped yourself to the cheese. Additionally, after waiting almost two days, you finally decided to poop…in the bathtub, while your siblings were in there with you, and I was home alone to clean it. Sweet? For sure. Beginning to make your mark? Yep.

You’ve reached most of your milestones in backwards order. First, you crawled, then you pulled yourself up to stand, then you sat, then you rolled over. I’m happy to know you aren’t confined by arbitrary rules, or the unnecessary order of things.

Today, while reading to James and Josie, you crawled off around the corner. I found you eating the dinosaur origami that you shoplifted a few weeks ago. At least someone is finding it useful.


Happy how ever old you are.


His crossover into oldness became more apparent as he bordered offense at my confused reaction. “It’s a big year for me,” he said. “Why?” I replied. “i’m turning 30…” I thought about letting it go, but, I don’t let anything go. “Jim, you are turning 29…” “No, I’m 29 now, you are 26, and I’m turning 30.” “Actually, I’m 27, you are 28, and you are turning 29.” 29, 85, what’s the difference? I made it worse by quizzing him about our kids birthday’s. At least he got our anniversary right? Memory or not, his humility, friendship, loyalty, and love are pretty much the best, and I’m crazy happy he was born, no matter the year.

His first day as a real 29 year old began with my waking at 6:10 because Josie took off her diaper that was full of a massive load of something that a 2 year old should never be holding or waving around. James’ giggles at Josie’s reckless abandon diaper swing were difficult to sleep through, but he managed. I nearly burned the chiliquiles 47 times, because cooking chicken at 6:20am while nursing and dealing with the “it’s time to light the birthday candles now!!!!!” tantrum of the century is entirely too difficult before coffee and after one of the worst hockey games of all time (get it together, Pens), and additionally, no matter how much Jim wishes, my heritage is not of a mexican chef descent. It was a morning where under any other circumstance other than a birthday, I would have been yelling “Jim!!!!!!!!” better and louder than any other wife of three small children. But, birthday’s trump frustration, so I burned, and coddled, and “Josie, please use your words,” and “James get out of the refrigerator,” on and on and on. He pretended the breakfast was delicious, and spent the day graciously accepting happy birthday! texts, calls, and greetings. They fed him scones, and made a fuss, and he was embarrassed and wished he had said his birthday was a “non-school day,” on the birthday calendar. I braved Barnes and Noble to scour a good book as a gift from the kids. Barnes and Noble is hands- down- hard the worst place to take a kid, or maybe just my kids. Quite literally everything, including a lot of breakable things, is at a skillfully- marketed- small- child- hands- reach. James found the only remote control car in the book store, and given Jim’s reaction to the toy helicopter he got for Christmas, I bagged the book idea, and went with the overpriced toy. Let’s be honest, he only reads NHL.com anyway. Josie managed to pick out the nastiest looking cake of all of baked goods, and I probably should have said “no,” but how many times will I come across a hamburger cake? He had a weird mix of his favorite foods snack waiting for him, and the kids threw the car into his lap as soon as they could rip it open when I wasn’t looking. Their reaction to his playing with it is one of the top five moments of the year. My only apologies go to Rita because a crawling baby and remote control race car can be an unfortunate combination when James has the controller. He asked for pasta for dinner, because his generosity overfloweth and he knows it the easiest thing for me to make, and the most agreeable dinner for the kids to eat. I took a stab at homemade sauce because, I felt sorry for his birthday meal. We carried on his side of the family’s bday tradition of showering the guest of honor with reasons why we love him. Rita’s babbling came from her heart, Josie’s smile needed no words, and James’ “because I do” struck a real chord. When asked what his goals are for the last year of his twenties? “I hope I’m 30 before we have 4 kids.” I think he was kidding, and I hope so too, not because I’m pregnant, but because we don’t have the greatest track record, and I really like babies.

Wishing my husband a very happy day after his 29th, not 30th, birthday. If I ever make it to heaven, I’ve got you to thank, Jim.Image

There are times, lots of times when James drives me so crazy that I crash. Since a list would be exhausting, here are two clips that sum up most of it.




But then there’s the time when I pick him up from summer bible camp, where the theme is creation, and I ask him what he learned about and he says,

“God made the thunder, and the sky, and the water, and the trees, and the mailboxes, and the flowers, and my house, and all of the babies in mommies bellies!! and he made ME because he loves me!! Isn’t that great, mom? God loves me!”

Great, it is, James.

James: wrapping me around his chubby finger since the end of 2009 no matter how annoying, messy, stubborn, or dramatic.
And on a completely, and totally, unrelated note, I successfully jumped my sister’s car by myself today. I probably shouldn’t be bragging because I think it may be common knowledge, but considering it took be about 10 minutes to figure out how to open the hood of my car, I’m pretty much pumped and proud.

Mass Grades

Linking with Camp Patton because Grace gives her kids Mass grades, and its a great idea; one of which my father in law is a huge fan, and a notoriously tough grader. I tend to have a little less red-ink in my pen.

We were threatening a timely arrival. I had it all figured out in my head. There were exactly 3 minutes to coax them into finishing their yogurt, 2 minutes to load them in their carseats, and 1 minute to run back into the house for baby mum mums. “I have to poop!!!” he shouted. It was an unplanned time-sucker, and when we miraculously made it into the car with seconds to spare, I felt really bad about rushing his business.

Uncle Miker and his long legs sat smushed in the pretend third row that’s really not meant for anyone to actually sit, but we were a free ride, and he wanted to go to Mass. I promised ice cream for good behavior, and “ABSOLUTELY NO ICE CREAM” for refusal to listen. Pssshhh.

It was a weekend of family fun at the farm, which means, attending a church designed as a semi-circle. Its great if you like to see everything that’s happening in the pews, but, not so great if you’d rather keep the 3 kid circus hidden from the too many eyes to which its made visible. Its the feast of Corpus Christi, which is one of my favorite days, so I was sure God would give me something good to think about…

We arrived with at least 30 seconds to spare, and for the first 30 minutes, Josie managed to repeat “thanks be to God,” and James generously distributed missals to everyone within a sharing distance, whether or not they were interested. Rita sat happily in her baby seat, but when we made eye contact, she looked at me with a longing and a confusion that could only mean one thing: I forgot to nurse her. I scrambled to find a baby mum mum, which only made Josie want a baby mum mum, which made James want a baby mum mum, not because he likes them because he definitely doesn’t, but because he seeks justice in all circumstances so long as justice means he gets his fair share. Josie got louder, James got louder, Rita wanted out, I got more flustered. It was mid-homily, and I was determined to keep everyone in the pew without using the cry room, but the eyes were looking, and the toddlers taking advantage, and James was rocking in Rita’s seat, and Rita was tap tap tapping at my chest because she knows where the goods are and tells me about it until I listen. James wanted up, Josie wanted up. I scrambled, Jim scrambled, as the flesh of our flesh drove us relatively crazy, and even with the extra helper, those little bodies were ruling us. Uncle Miker used all of his tricks, but Josie was a goner and the “lets clean the pew with the baby-wipe” trick had expired. James was thrilled to receive a $5 dollar bill from his new favorite uncle and managed to fold it 37 times before he finally put it in the basket, generating several smiles from the sweet elderly people surrounding. His patience for being quiet had ended and despite my “absolutely do not follow your dad to the back,” he went, and it was embarrassing. He came back a few minutes later and recited the tail end of the “Our Father” beginning with the word “trespasses,” which is the fitting if you ask me or most people that know us. It was a victory of tremendous proportions, because reciting his prayers with him at bed time usually take every last breath of my energy. He was generally disobedient for the rest of Mass, but didn’t seem to think so when he declared, “I was a good listener, right mom? and now we get ice cream, right mom?” Too many uncles that like you were at dinner James, so, yes, you got ice cream, too much ice cream.

Report Card:
If we are doing averages, everyone got an A for the first half, and an F for the second, with a few redeeming Our Father moments.
James: C+,
Josie: C-, she took off her shoes in the last few minutes which accounts for the minus, and she held up the communion line as she stared and stared and stared at the Eucharistic minister for a reason that I do not know, and then, I had to drag her near the altar, as Rita continued begging for milk.
Rita: C, I feel bad ever giving her anything but an A, especially because I’m the one who forgot to feed her, but, she was pretty loud.

Happy Feast Day to all. May you all have a few extra minutes to adore the one and ones that matter during the feast of his body and blood.