A-May-zing Women

May is one of those crazy birthday months in my family. As most of you know,  two of my kids have May birthdays. Gianna’s birthday is May 5th, and Aiden’s is May1st. But the May birthday insanity goes beyond my little ones. My Mema, my mom, my sister, sister-in-law and mother-in-law as well as a nephew all have May birthdays too. CRAZY!! This blog is dedicated to three women who have been part of my life for as long as I have had a life. The first is my Mema. She is the matriarch of our family. She and my Poppy have raised 5 daughters and a son. (One of those daughters being my very own mom!) My memories of Mema go back as far as my memory does. I remember sitting on her lap with my head resting on her shoulder, thinking that I was in one of the coziest places in the world. I remember hiding in her coat closet and hoping that my parents would forget that they brought me and leave me there so that I could stay overnight. ( I never said that I was normal.) I remember when we moved and I had to ride a different bus, I was panicked because I didn’t know which bus to get on and I turned around and there she was! My Mema had come to make sure that I got on the right bus! Seriously?!?! She was pretty awesome! I remember anytime that we were sick, mom would take us to see Mema. I was shocked when I realized that Mema wasn’t actually a doctor. As I got a little bit older, I knew that I could count on Mema to have my back. I remember one time that I was in trouble, for what I don’t know, but my dad and I were fighting about something and she said, “But Jim, she’s just a baby!” I think that I was 14 or 15 at the time, and I am 99% sure that I deserved to be in trouble, but she still tried to help my cause. My parents built a house beside Mema and Poppy’s house when I was going into 9th grade. Because they sold our house much faster than expected, we had to move in with Mema and Poppy for about 6 months during the construction. Some teenagers might have been horrified to live with their grandparents, but I loved it. I loved to play backgammon and canasta with Mema. I loved to just sit at the table and talk. After we moved into our new house, I loved that we were just right across the yard from Mema and Poppy’s. I could slip out of the house and walk over whenever I needed to get away. Mema was there at  my high school graduation and my college graduation. She was there to help me move into my first big girl apartment in Ohio when I got a real job. She went wedding dress shopping with me and my mom. She has been there for new babies and baptisms and first communions. She has always been there…for all of us. I have been very blessed to have known 9 of my grandparents. As that number has sadly decreased over time, I am still blessed to have my Mema and Poppy. I have always said that everyone needs a Mema, I am so very blessed to have the original as my grandmother.

The second amazing May birthday woman actually shares her birthday with my Mema, her mother. She is my mother. How do you even describe your very own mother? She has literally been there since day one! Actually since before day one, if we are going to get technical.She is my safe place. She is where I can go to just be the kid for a little while. Even now, 36 years later, when I go to my mom and dad’s house, I feel relaxed and at peace. Why? Because even though I am married and mother to 9, when I go to mom and dad’s and sit at the kitchen table, I can relax because I am the kid again. The stress and anxiety of everyday life can be put on hold for a minute or two. I am just the kid. Ahhhhhhh. Growing up, I know that I had my challenging phases, for example ages 13-23?! I never realized how much my mom did for me until I had my own children, especially  the teenagers. I apologize and thank her often. As a little kid I was so very blessed to have a dad that worked very hard to enable my mom to stay at home with us. I remember coming downstairs and walking into the kitchen and seeing a vase of flowers sitting on the table. There were always little touches like that. The house was always clean and tidy, but homey and comfy. We didn’t have a ton of money, but I don’t ever remember feeling as if we were missing anything. I remember always looking through the scholastic book order forms from school, but never ordering anything and then one day my mom surprised me with a boxed set of E.B. White books, Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpeter Swan and Stuart Little. I was ecstatic! I was a complete book worm and couldn’t wait to devour the new books! In fact I still have the books and recently shared them with my own little book worms. Looking back, I am sure that sacrifices were made to get me those books. (Thanks Mom!)  When I left to college, it was a big adjustment for all of us. I was the oldest after all. My parents helped me move all of my stuff into my dorm room. My mom insisted on making my bed before they left. After my parents left, I continued to unpack. I found a little box and when I opened it there was a note from my mom and a very special pair of earrings. The note expressed how proud she was of me and how, now that I was in college, I was  “grown up.” I still have the note tucked away in a safe place and I still read it occasionally, usually when I need to remind myself that I actually am a grownup. (It happens more often than I care to admit!) During my college years, I knew that whenever things got a little bit too crazy, all that I had to do was go home. Mom would fix it or at least help me to figure out how to fix it myself. A little chat sitting around the kitchen table always seemed to bring focus to a tricky situation.  (She still does that! ) After college I was hired by Nine West Company and I had to move to Ohio to run my first store. I was thrilled and terrified. Mom immediately jumped in and helped me to find an apartment, pack, move and buy some needed furniture. We loaded up the U haul and headed to Ohio. She helped me to get settled and moved in before she headed home. Again, she helped me to calm down and get to work. I did get pretty homesick, but I knew that no matter when it was, I could call home. Mom would be there. After I met my wonderful hubby and we got engaged ( after only 77 days of dating) my mom was thrilled. She never once questioned if we were rushing things. She could see that it was all a part of the plan that God had laid out for me. My wedding was such a beautiful experience and I owe a lot of that to my parents. My own little family was formed that day and I became a mother to three little ones. I am so thankful that I had such a great role model for what a mom should be. She has helped to shape the way that I view things and I am the mother that I am today because of her. She is still a rock and a shoulder to cry on, as well as a friend to laugh with.  She has helped me to make my way through some major challenges with my own kids. I don’t know what I would do with out her.

The third May Lady that I would like to thank is my Sissy, Jess. Growing up we fought, I mean we REALLY fought! We shared a bedroom for a while and I am shocked that we have both lived to talk about it. There are 5 1/2 years between us, which can seem like an eternity. She was a typical bratty little sister that got into my stuff and was constantly tattling on me. But all of that started to shift when I went away to college. She became less annoying and easier to get along with. I feel that I need to apologize to her, because I feel that I wasn’t there for her like I should have been during her high school years. High school can be tough and I really wish that I had been around more to help her get through it. Sorry Sissy! By the time I moved to Ohio, we were starting to actually like each other. She was the first person that I talked to after my first date with Brian. She was the first person to know that I was going to marry him. (Even if she thought that I was crazy!) She was my maid of honor and has become my very best friend. We have only gotten closer as we have gotten older. One of the best experiences has been to be pregnant at the same time. (Although I can guarantee that our poor mother would wholeheartedly disagree after having to deal with two hormonal cranky crying daughters at the same time.) To be able to share that with my sister was really neat. It was so nice to be able to call her and be crabby and complain and know that she completely understood. We talk on the phone everyday, venting and laughing about the challenges of being stay at home moms. There is never any judgement with my sister. She loves me just the way I am, massive flaws and all! She is my inspiration and she is amazing! I am so thankful to have such a lovely person in my day to day life!

Happy Birthday to my aMAYzing (get it?! A-MAY-zing…HA!) women!! I love you!

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A belated thank you

I wanted to say thank you to some very special people. I have been blessed by an amazing family. With Hannah’s First Communion a few weeks passed, I have been able to finally take a minute and do something that I have wanted to do, actually needed to do, for a while now. My mom and sister were such an amazing help in getting everything ready, the menu, the food,  my mom and dad’s house ( which they generously allowed us to use for the party).  They helped me to make everything, including the yummy stromboli that I didn’t even get to make!  ( thank you Aiden and Jonathan for getting sick!)  I am so blessed to have such an amazing family. But I am also blessed to have an awesome extended family. My mema, my aunts and my cousins also brought food. They helped to get all of the food out and ready for the party while the rest of us were at mass. They helped do the dishes and clean everything up after the party for our 65 guests. They are amazing…that is probably somewhat of an understatement. These women are my people. They watch out for me, they help me with whatever whenever. They are such a blessing to me and to my family. The fact that we could be at Mass celebrating Hannah’s First Holy Communion and know that when we walk through the door of Mom and Dad’s that everything will be taken care of, the food would be set out and reheated and ready for the party was a huge weight off of me. I hope that I can be one of their people. I hope that they know that if they need anything, anything at all, I will be there for them. So thank you my wonderful family! Thank you for cooking and cleaning and celebrating with us. Thank you for being generous and unselfish. Thank you for being you!

Happy birthday Princess Brattypants!!!

May 4th, 2005 was a big day for our family. It was the day that our sweet and sassy, Gianna Marie, made her way into the world. That was seven years ago. She has turned this family upside down. She is so funny and crazy smart. She is cute and shaggy. She loves tea parties and soccer. She is my baby girl and I hate that she is so big. SEVEN!!! Seriously?!?!? Why is seven so big? It just seems so old…. Although, she doesn’t act like a 7 year old. She acts like she is 17. Sassy and mouthy, that is my girl. Actually a perfect example of this just recently happened. Given our crazy schedules this month, we decided to have the combo Gia/Aiden party on May 4th, Gianna’s real birthday. I thought that she would be thrilled with this idea, and she was…at first. After giving it some thought, she realized that if we had the big party on her real birthday she would only get…and I quote, “If we have the party on my REAL birthday, that means only ONE party and ONE cake and that sucks!” (Please know that I am not ok with my 7 year old saying sucks…really, I am not. ) What a girl. She cracks me up. She loves school , but has come to realize that the homework that she so desperately craved, is totally lame. She is one smart cookie getting nearly perfect grades. (Bragging moment, kind of obnoxious, I know, but come on! It’s her birthday!) She was absolutely convinced that I trimmed her hair (which is still below her shoulders) to make sure that she looked like a boy. (Obviously that was my motive.) She loves to read. She loves to help me cook. She relishes having her nails done by her big Sissy. She is freckled and fabulous. She is loved and she loves. Happy Birthday Shaggy! I guess, maybe, seven won’t be so bad.

Happy Birthday My Big Boy!!!

Three years ago today, God sent us a little bundle of boy. He was soft and warm and snuggly. He had a little bit of fuzz for hair and big blue eyes. Aiden Joseph joined our growing little family and has added just as his name predicted…fire! He is definitely a spark! Over the last three years he has grown into a big boy. He is still warm and snuggly…at least I think so. He doesn’t sit still long enough to get a good grip on him. He is just too busy. He still has fuzzy hair and big blue eyes. His hair actually keeps getting fuzzier and taller. I keep thinking that if it gets long enough, it will eventually lay down, but it just gets taller and stands straight up! He has the funniest habit of smelling everything…I mean EVERYTHING! He will sit on my lap and sniff my hair and tell me that I “mell” good. He smells everything that he eats. He smells every soap or shampoo before he uses it. In fact the other day, I had just finished scrubbing the carpet in the hallway, (thank you idiot dog and your incontinence!). He leaned over and smelled it and wrinkled his nose and said, “Eww Mom you have more work to do. That mells bad!”
Baby Aiden
Another thing that he loves to do is to watch “Hocky.” Nope, not hockey, “Hocky.” You would probably recognize it as Rocky…yes, Sylvester Stallone and boxing. Because the kid apparently needs to learn another violent way to battle with Noah, he has become addicted to the old Rocky movies. His favorite is Rocky 4, the one with the Russian. He doesn’t watch the whole movie,  just the fight scenes. And he has the soundtrack memorized. My 3 year old is a walking 80’s music junkie. He is a hoot. His favorite song is “Hearts on Fire.” The  other day, he asked Jake to play it on his Ipod 4 times…in a row. He isn’t only into old movies. He also likes Mike the Knight and UmiZoomi. And while I typically don’t just plop them in front of the tv for hours, I am a huge fan of something that will give me 23 whole minutes of peace of mind. He will be sufficiently zombified for long enough to do a load of laundry and maybe even clean the bathroom. Hey, I take what I can get.
 Look at those big blue eyes…
Having nine kids, they naturally break up into thirds. The big kids at the high school make up the upper third. The midkids at the elementary school make up the middle third. Of course that leaves my three little guys that are still at home in the lower third. Aiden being #8 is in the middle of the lower third. As such he is the little brother and the big brother. He is quite content to follow right along with Noah and his plans of mayhem, but he takes his role as big brother very seriously too. He is very …hmmm…loving(?) towards Jonathan. He is always hugging/choking him. Noah and Aiden both look out for Jonathan. In fact the other day, I witnessed this first hand. I had put up a play yard/gate/fence thingy in the living room to keep JP safely in one place. He was content and playing some toys. I took advantage of this and actually walked back the hall to put away some laundry. So far so good. He was happy and in one place. It seemed as if this was going to work. Noah and Aiden were watching all of this and seemingly thought that it looked fun. Aiden even asked me to put him in with JP. I did and went about my business happily (stupidly) thinking that I was so smart. I got a phone call about some insurance things so I went back the hallway to a quiet room so that I could actually hear the person on the phone. As the phone call was wrapping up I walked back into the living room, just in time to see Noah and Aiden liberating Jonathan from his play yard. Noah was lifting the side of gate up and Aiden had his arms wrapped around JP and was literally rolling underneath the gate to get Jp out. He was saying,”Don’t worry Baby P. I get you out!” (Sigh…) So much for my brilliant plan. At least I know that they are looking out for the little guy.
My big one year old!
Another funny thing that he does, which again seems to be a “boy”thing, is that he will re-enact an entire scene from a movie… in slow motion. It is quite funny. As a family, we love the Narnia movies, the first being our favorite. Of course the little boys’ favorite scene is the epic battle at the end of the movie. Anytime we watch it, Aiden and Noah run to grab their swords and run around the house wielding their might weapons shouting the battle cry, “FOR NARNIA!!!” And then they proceed to act out the entire fight in slow motion. Just another day in the life…
2 years and counting
This little guy is such a blessing to our family. He is sweet and funny, exhausting and challenging. I am reminding myself, yet again, to enjoy him right where he is, because as we all know, time flies by. He will be able to sit through an entire mass without needing to be taken out. I will be able to take him somewhere without having to hold his hand in a death grip to prevent him from taking off.   He might even be potty trained…maybe… eventually. Happy Birthday my sweet little three year old Adie-Joe!!! Mommy loves you!