Thursday, March 29, 2012

Death Watch - Battle Wracker Girl and Froggy Boy

I was inspired by the boys' classroom fish tanks yesterday.  They love their class fish so much and every afternoon when I go to pick them up Isabella goes over to say hello to them. So I thought I would surprise the kids and take them to the pet store to pick out their own fish.  They were so excited! I realized they haven't had much opportunity to be in a pet store before so it was quite the trip! They oohed and ached over the fish, reptiles and birds. And wondered why there were no cats or dogs to buy. And we steered clear of the rodent aisle.  I let them know ahead of time that we were only buying a fish.  No other animals. At all. Especially not birds, reptiles or rats, ugh!  They loved the idea and took great care deciding on fish together. We looked at EVERY SINGLE tank full first. And then with the help of a Staff Member they finally decided on the Betta fish. We got one male and one female.  Apparently they have to be housed seperately so we got a small tank with a divider.  We receive a little fish owner lesson from the sales person.  She gave the kids great info about Bettas and how to care for them and told them what a responsibility they had to feed and love their new pets.  The boys proudly carried the little Betta Bowls to the register and Isabella carried the net.

On the way home there was major discussions happening about what to name these new pets.  Cenzo got to name the female because he picker her out.  And so he crowned her Battle Wracker Girl.  I asked if that was Battle Wrecker, but NO. It's Wracker.  Ok. 

 Luccio decided to name his fish Froggy Boy.  Of course.  That makes perfect sense.

We were barely through the front door and they already had the little aquarium set up.  We put small rocks and a plastic plant on each side of the divider.  And then we had to add the fish. Not as easy as it sounds if you are afraid of fish.  I was wishing at that point that Hubby was home.  But, I put on my brave face and scooped the little fish into the net and dumped them into their new homes.  And I only screamed a little bit.  

After that we overfed them and then sat and watched them swim for almost an hour.  Every time the phone rang Cenzo invited the person over to "visit our aquarium."  He invited my parents, my Aunt and even Ms. Meeghan who lives about 6 hours away.  

When it was time to have dinner and start getting ready for bed everyone said goodnight to the fish and wished them happiness in their new homes.

And then Cenzo said, "so when are they going to die?" 

"Um.  Well.  The point of caring for a pet is to hope that they DON'T die."

"Oh.  But, they always die don't they?"  

I ended up making up a life span for Betta fish. I told Cenzo they probably live for a year. I had no idea how long they live. 

 I know I had one in college that lived 2 semesters.  He even lived through my wacky roommate leaving the window open in the middle of the winter when she left for the weekend and freezing him. When I got back I put him in warm water and he came back to life.  Big Poppa was resilient.

I looked it up online and found out they can live 2-3 years! Yeah!  

That was actually my fear in buying a fish for the kids was that the darn thing would die and we would have to eventually have that conversation.  I didn't think we would say "welcome home" and then sit and wait for them to die! 

First thing this morning Cenzo mentioned to his teacher about our new fish.  When he walked away I told the teacher about the Death Watch.  She laughed and said it was because the fish in Luccio's class tank keep dying!  ughh  That explained it.  

I think it's nice that they want to talk to and feed their fish.  And it is relaxing to watch them swim.  I wish Battle Wracker Girl and Froggy Boy a long life. "May the odds be ever in their favor."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baby Jammies

Isabella has made a lot of steps towards being a Big Kid in the past few months: giving up her bottle and binky, sleeping in her big bed, dressing herself, talking more, etc.  But, every once in awhile her need to feel like "the baby" of family surfaces.  On Tuesdays we go to a playgroup and every time Baby Jackson has his bottle Isabella brings her cup over to me and sits on my lap so she can be a baby too.  And the other night at bedtime she was changing into a new pair of jammies that are very soft and snuggling feeling and she asked, "are these my baby jammies?"  They must have reminder her of a newborn sleeper.  So I went with it, I love when the kids will let me wrap them in blankies and hold them like newborns.  So I encouraged the Baby Jammie idea and wrapped her up and carried around the house.  Well, she liked that so much that she wanted to wear her Baby Jammies at nap the following day and again the next night!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Newman ~ The Next Generation

During my college years I was blessed with wonderful friendships that were made strong through the  opportunities provided by the Newman Center~home of our Catholic Campus Ministry.  Those friendships have lasted through the past 18 years.  And as our families have grown so have our friendships.

Father Bob, aka FB, aka Bobert is the Patriarch of our Newman Family.  I have admitted on more than one occasion that I was reluctant to go to the Newman Center the first time.  My mother saw a flyer for the "Newman Dinners" posted during my first week on campus.  She had met FB at a parents orientation session and convinced me that I MUST go to the dinner to meet new people. UGH! I was shy, I was new to the campus environment and would have rather stayed in my dorm than hang out with a bunch of strangers, and religious ones no less.  My mom reminded me that I enjoyed outings and retreats with my high school youth group and that this would be a good way to get to know people on campus. AND dinner was free and home-cooked.  After a few days of eating the cafeteria there was no doubt left in my mind- I would go to that dinner.  I couldn't convince any of my new friends or even my wacky roomie to go with me. So I ventured alone over to the Newman Center.  It was a 3 family house converted into a community center.  The staff provided free food and free laundry services.  The washer and dryer ran all day and night. And usually the dinners were packed with a couple hundred students.

However, that first night I stopped by the Newman Center was empty.  Except for an alumni couple that were hanging out in the house.  Apparently the dinner was canceled but I didn't realize it.  I tired to make a quick getaway before anyone noticed me, but the couple saw me. I learned their names were Cathy and Greg and they had gone to the college and were a part of the Newman Community.  They were so friendly and as we chatted, FB appeared.  I wasn't quite prepared for FB.  He had shaggy black hair and a white beard, and he is a Franciscan Friar so he wore a black robe.  I had never seen a priest dressed like him before.  Even when he changed into his "regular priest clothes" he still looked a bit more casual than the prissy priests I was used to seeing at Church.  And FB had an energy about him.  If you have ever met a Charismatic spiritual leader you know what I am talking about.  FB is a force of nature.  He has a vision that God alone could have created.  He is holy and wonderful and can inspire people like no one I have ever known before him.  He has his mind on Jesus always. He is good and kind and lives his life as a true testament of faith and an example of St. Francis.  Of course, it took me years to learn that. At 18 I wasn't sure what was up.  I just knew FB was friendly and funny and he felt so bad that the dinner was canceled that he and Cathy and Greg insisted on taking me to the dinner for food.

I didn't know that simply walking across the street to the Newman Center and accepting an invitation to a local diner would change my life forever.  I don't believe it was coincidence that I walked into that house.  It was by mothers prompting and Divine Intervention.  It was a God-incident.

That day began a life I hadn't expected.  I still stayed friends with my "dorm friends" and some of them started coming to the Newman Center too. To be perfectly honest, my friend Tammy had to work REALLY hard to get me to go the Newman Center for anything other than free food or laundry. It took a lot of persuading for me to try a Newman Club meeting.  A prayer group sounded boring and was the last thing I was interested in. Little did I know that group of people would be some of the funniest and most loving friends I could ever ask for!

Over the 4 years I spent at college I went to countless Newman Dinners, retreats 2 or 3 times a year, took many MANY road trips and adventures with my Newman friends, laughed, cried and prayed with the friends that would become my Newman Family.

My Newman years changed the direction of my life.  When I started freshman year I was an English major with the goal of writing for a newspaper or maybe having a novel published.  However, by the time I had graduated my eyes were opened to new and awesome possibilities and the vision I had was through faith-filled eyes.  After graduation I worked for a year with a volunteer corp as a teacher.

Then I returned to the Newman Center, where I would spend the next 8 years being an Associate Campus Minister. FB would move on to a new assignment and I stayed behind at Newman though a succession of priests and staff.  My mother came on board as office manger and took over as the Newman Dinner Coordinator and Chef.  Through community outreach and service and prayer we met so many students one rate years. SO many wonderful people that left an imprint on my heart in their own way.  I treasure those years.  

As with all things in life sometimes you must move on and part ways.  Eventually it was time for the Newman Center to go in a new direction. At one point yet another new priest came on board.  Each leader has their own vision and brings along something to their ministry.  And so it happens that sometimes anothers vision does not align up with your own.  I knew I had to stay true to the faith I had within myself and so it was time for me to move to a new chapter.  So I began to focus my time and energy on my marriage and we began our family together.

 Hubby and I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children, supportive and loving families, and blessings of the Newman friendships that have stayed strong through the years.  After college we all went on to different adventures and experiences.  Yet, we will still reach out to one another and get together as often as possible.  We have celebrated weddings, babies, christenings, birthdays, and mourned losses.  We still laugh together.  Nothing is funnier than begin with an old friend who "gets it."

There are LOTS of babies in our Newman Family now.  It gets hectic! But, we still manage a couple times a year to get together and somehow incorporate prayer.  One of our families recently hosted a St. Patrick's Day Rosary.  Three of our families congregated for pizza and prayers.  Between us we had 10 children age 6 and under.  There was quite a lot of energy to go around! It was so great to see our children play together.  They are really starting to become friends.  Even the youngest little ones were interacting.

Good friends are priceless! SO thankful for the friends I have and for the opportunities for our children to have those wonderful moments together too.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Squirrel~A~Nator 2000

Cenzo made one of his Creations for Papa's Birthday! According to Cenzo, The Squirrel~A~Nator 2000 is a Medicine Machine and Squirrel Communicator.  It can heal Papa and help him talk to squirrels.  He can also use it as a telescope to see the squirrels.  It helps squirrels find nuts and water.  And it can chase away bad guys and turn into an airplane.  He summed it up by telling us, "it is basically everything Papa could wish for."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rocket 39,000

Cenzo and Luccio awarded Isabella the Rocket 39, 000 for peeing on the potty!! It is quite the creation they have designed using a Crayon Bank and a soda bottle and LOTS of duct tape.  They have been working on it for the past 2 days and are very proud of it.  This morning when they heard Isabella was going to try sitting on the potty they were very encouraging. And when much to everyone's surprise she actually peed into the toilet there was a lot of hoopla and excitement.  And then as if reading each other's minds those amazing twin boys came running into the bathroom to present the prestigious Rocket Award. To say Isabella was thrilled to have her brothers attention and admiration would be a major understatement.  She pranced out of the bathroom like she was Queen of the World! She carried her new Rocket into her room and set it up right next to her bed.  Such a fabulous moment!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Isabella's Speech Therapist has told me she is "Mamacentric."  Most of her language revolves around me and just about every sentence includes "Mama."  Her language is really starting to develop and she has all sorts of "isms" that is she known for. One of my favorites is:  "I miss you all day Mama."  This is the most often heard phrase she uses, she "misses" me when I go into the kitchen, or have to use the bathroom, or have been sitting too quietly for too long without interacting with her.  She misses me whether I am 2 feet away from her or have been away for hours.  She says it in a sing-sing-y voice that is just precious! And hilarious, especially when more likely than not, I have been home with her all day, every day. Love that girl!

Her other well known phrases include:

"I slept all night Mama" - this can be misleading because she says this even when she has not slept ALL night.  She will say it if she has slept 12 hours in her own bed, or slept some of the night but woke up and slept in my bed for the rest of the time, or if she has taken a nap for a an hour.  Basically falling asleep counts as having slept all night to her.

"Love you ever Mama" - nothing cuter than hearing that little doll tell me she loves me forever!

"I pee on the potty Mama"- um, no you didn't. You peed in your diaper, or on the floor, but you did not pee on the potty. But, nice try.

"I go with you Mama?" - yes. You will go with me. Because you go everywhere with me. Every day. Yet, you still feel the need to ask. Even when we are already in the car driving.

And the newest and most emphatic "I do it myself Mama!" or the variation, "Let me do it Mama!" these expressions are usually followed with a GROWL!  I love that she wants to do everything herself from getting dressed to buckling her seatbelt.  She is starting at a much younger age than her brothers with such independence. And I couldn't be happier to see her trying everything for herself.  Even if it takes me MUCH longer to get EVERYWHERE.  But, there is something magical about watching a child become their own independent person.  This morning when she dressed herself from head to toe including her hair bow and shoes her brothers were cheering like she had won a Super Bowl, they were so proud of her. And she was proud of herself.  So worth the extra few minutes it took.

I love that Isabella can have "conversations" now and get her point across without as much frustration. She has such great ideas and so much knowledge and sometime she is just so funny!

And while there are some days I want to change my name because I have heard "Mama" too many times for a human to count, I have to admit I love being the center of this precious person's world.  Motherhood can be exhausting and zap every last ounce of my energy.  But, at the end of the day when I hear that sweet little voice whisper, "You my best friend Mama" that is my reward.  Every last bit of stress and sleep deprivation melts and I think - this is what my Life is for.