Monthly Archives: May 2017

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We lost Penny this afternoon.

Okay, maybe "lost" is too strong of a word.  "Misplaced" is probably more accurate.

Anyway, it was a gut-wrenching, frantic, panic-inducing 3 minutes.

It started simply, with the girls in and out of the house through the sliding glass door.  Penny had been traipsing along with them but at some point they all scattered.  The quiet was what triggered my concern.

"Where's Pen, guys?"

Radio silence. I upped my volume.

"Has anyone seen Penny?"

Tess was the first to respond followed by Max.  She ran outside to check and he poked his head into rooms.  We hollered her name and checked all of her usual spots.  Others joined the search and the lists of dark possibilities rang in my mind like the totalling of a cash register.

"She's not out there!" Tess was breathless as she came inside.  I'm unsure if my eyes matched her wild expression but I was less than comforted by her look.  Could someone have left the gate open?  Could she have wandered towards the street? I ran out front quickly and when I got back, I heard a muffled question from Jac.  I hoped he was saying she was with him.


"Did you find her?" He was at the top of the stairs, panic on the edges of his voice.

I didn't think my heart could sink any further but it did.

And then, just when I was on the edge, I saw the faintest motion past the trampoline.  Her little ponytail was being buffeted in the wind.

"I see her!  I see her!" I yelled as I ran out to her.

I'm not sure why I ran to her.  She was safe and fine.  But watching her hauling a doll out of the Cozy Coupe and struggling in the wind combined with my overwhelming relief sent me out.

"Pen-pen!  You scared us!" She saw me running and thought it was a game.  She smiled her crinkled nose smile and ran to meet me.  She squeezed me back and patted me when I picked her up.

In that moment, I really, truly understood Luke 15:4.

"Doesn't he leave the 99 in open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"

I'm not one to suggest changes to scripture but I'm just saying that "lost child" packs a greater punch.  Then, too, I have never much liked the Prodigal Son (I'm the eldest, remember?) but I understood the father running to his son today.

What was it that left me shaky and oh-so-grateful to hold her little body against mine and to feel her happy hands on my shoulder?  We've lost kids before.  (C'mon.  Don't act shocked or like it's never happened to you.) Was it because she isn't talking yet so she couldn't respond to our calls?  Perhaps knowing her speed and her curiosity  was what lit up my imagination.  Whatever it was, I was abundantly thankful that she was found and that I have been found, too.  May I turn with a crinkled nose to the Father who runs toward me even in my faults and failings and may I press into him, patting him back, grateful to be loved. And thank you Jesus that we found our girl.

Now if you'll excuse me, I do believe I need a drink . . .

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Jac follows some groups on Instagram that are all about the Every Day Carry.  They feature "pocket dumps" in which the contents of their pockets are artistically laid out for others to gawk at.  In case you're wondering, there isn't a stray coin, receipt or lint ball to be found in any of these images. These are highly curated, high class collections of items.  Only the fanciest of knives, pens, handkerchiefs and moneyclips make the grade.


The kids tease me that my purse is less purse and more Mary Poppins bag.  As in it's big enough to hold a lamp AND it's completely possible that one might be in there.  Really, it's possible that anything could be in there.

I have 7 kids. I gave up the idea of having a separate purse and diaper bag a looooong time ago.


I think the actual words that came out of my mouth when searching for a tissue during Mass last Sunday were, "What in the actual world?!" Because I found a small mason jar in my purse.  A mason jar, people.  I am not hipster enough to rock that kind of crazy.

I really was dreading the thought of cleaning out the deep, dark recesses of my bag until I remembered the "pocket dump" pics.

My favorite parts? The Penny tights and single sock and shoe. Don't ask me where the others are.  How about the 6 stray coins not in the coin purse or the unsent mail?  I also like the acrylic paint in a ziplock and the purse within a purse concept.  And how about that library receipt?

Was there a more productive way to spend 40 minutes of my Monday?  Probably yes.  Have I ever enjoyed cleaning out my purse more than this? Definitely not.  It was good to laugh at myself (and the kids because the mess in the purse was a team effort) and to realize that of all the crap, I only NEED 7 of those items.  The tiny Cinderella slipper is on that list, obviously.


We are all about learning-by-doing around here.  Penny has begun to attempt the sign of the cross and is enthusiastic about holding her hands for prayer.  This is thanks to plenty of, "Penny! Do this! PenPen! Look! Pen! Like this!" (siblings are great!) and her just observing.

It's great until you realize that some of the finer points get lost in translation.

This spring, Lucy insisted she could lead a decade of the Rosary. I'm trying to remember that the little kids need the opportunities their older siblings were given.  So while we were all doubtful, we invited her to lead.

She smiled and got bashful.  She quietly mumbled her prayers so that we asked over and over for her to say it loud enough for everyone. This is what she said/says:

"Hello, Mary! Full of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

Now, the Hail Mary actually says,

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed in the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death.

It could be argued that Lu hits the high points.  And while her siblings snicker (siblings ARE great!!), I hold to the truth of her earnest prayer.

The "Hail!" is nothing more than a greeting, closer to a "Hello, Mary!" I'd like to think than to a "Hear ye, hear ye!" from St. Gabriel. And the 'full of God" is really what being full of grace is all about, right?  Plus, it brings to mind Mary, belly stretched tight at the end of nine months, being so very 'full of God.' While we don't abide cutting corners, I do appreciate her pithiness and cutting to the chase as we should always be thinking about the fragility of our life.

Yes, we are working on teaching her the "right" way to say it.  But I'm taking the time to revel in the lessons her learning-by-doing is teaching my heart, too.

"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives on child such as this in my name receives me."  Matthew 18:3-5

Last week. . . Last week I strong armed us back into our school schedule. We had griping and complaining and we had to school in the afternoon (unheard of!) because of a lazy morning and we used Friday for catch up instead of IT. But it was a good week.

This week? Well, this week we are dragging ourselves on our belly by ragged and broken fingernails to the finish line.

The whining!

The crying!

The terrible, angry shrieking from Penny!

I returned home from a meeting today to a filled wine glass and a note alerting me to the fact that it was indeed for me.

It's been that sort of week. One in which a child who shall not be named killed the sourdough starter by not paying attention and using cornmeal instead of flour. (It was white cornmeal in their defense so it sort of looked like whole wheat. I still wanted to cry.) A jar of cold pickle juice was spilled all over me by another child, soaking every piece of clothing I had on. I found long bite marks in my fancy lip stuff. And today as I wrangled and wrestled little girls in the bathroom while out at a concert field trip, the spot where Pen was being held on my hip got very warm and very wet.  Somehow her diaper had slipped so my shirt and pants did the trick.  A change of clothes for her I did not have.  And our lunch that was rather thrown together by the boys for the picnic afterwards was drowned by a leaky water bottle.

I'm blaming the sudden rainy, dreary, threat-of-snow-in-mid-May weather for the funk we've all felt but also remembering the good of the week, too.  We had great friends over for a visit and Tess made playdough solo for the first time.  We've had 2 awesome field trips in 9 days.  Gemma figured out she can clean their room on her own.  And I have managed to comb the girl's hair EVERY. DAY.

I guess the week hasn't been so bad after all.  But maybe that's just the wine talkin'!


Penny has been working - I mean working- to convince us that she doesn't really like the idea of sleep. I'm not sure when this aversion started (as I am rather sleep deprived) but it's been a while. For months now, it feels like we have fought for each minute of sleep. If she does doze off while in our arms, she can't be put down too soon or she'll stir but if we wait too long, she's sure to wake up.

It's had me in or close to tears more than once.

But Pen? Well, aside from the angry screaming when she is put into her crib without her permission, she hasn't shown any other emotion aside from stubborn determination. Until this week.

A few nights ago, we prayed with the kids and sent them towards bed. Someone was lingering and I started to sing, "Good Night Sweetheart," as I often do to signal that it is really, truly, honestly bedtime. This time though, Penny gave a few whimpers, her lower lip came out, her eyes scrunched up and she began to bawl. We wondered if it was perhaps my singing voice-or lack thereof-that caused the heartbreak but other songs calmed her right down. I sang the verse again and she started right back up. Same for "Go to Sleep Little Baby," she acts as if her heart is breaking.

And it would be heartbreaking if it wasn't so funny. Luckily, because everyone loves her, there are always a half dozen sets of arms reaching out for her and crooning, "Oh! Pen-pen! It's okay!"

Love also means rubbing it in so there's been a lot of repeating of the songs and watching her cry, you know, just for fun. So now we have a sleep deprived AND traumatized baby on our hands. It builds character, right? Well, character and neurosis, but who's counting? Not me anyway, I'm too busy counting sheep.