Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Survived!

I know you've all been glued to your computers, anxiously awaiting a report on how I handled graduation...well wait no more! The time is here!

This moment in my life seems so surreal. It's like the last 18 years passed in the blink of an cliche, right? Well, cliche sometimes equals "spot on"...especially in the case of growning kids. Mamas, hug those itty bitty babies close tonight, smile at that umpteenth temper tantrum, and let today's potty accident cause you no worry, for before you know it, those days will be gone and you will be facing that baby heading off into the great big world all by himself.

It breaks my heart. But at the same time, I'm so very excited for him. And nervous. And happy. And scared. And oh my. My emotions. I wish he could REALLY realize (and appreciate) what an amazing time of his life he's in right now.

Anyway, I got side tracked, sorry about that...graduation. It was just as I expected. When I saw the kids he grew up along side begin to file into the gym, I felt "that lump" in my throat...and then, there he was. So handsome. So proud. So happy...and I was toast.

Thankfully, I held in the sobs. ;) 

I was blessed to be able to help with the parent organized and community sponsored "Grad Bash" that graduates are able to attend after's like a safe party with all kinds of amazing prizes that help send our babies off into the real world!

Loved being able to be a part of that.

Oh, yes...and then there was this: (Love that he plays along with my silly ideas!)

We now are entering baseball playoff season...this group of boys has been playing together since 3rd grade it's been amazing watching them grow up with each other! Here's to an amazing end to the baseball season...and an amazing beginning to the season of "life"!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Didn't Do it Alone...

After I wrote my last post, I realize that I basically made it sound like our success was a one woman show...which I can assure you, it was NOT!

Sure, it was my determination and hard work that got us through, but without some pretty amazing people by my side, I'm pretty sure I would've fallen flat on my face MANY times. In fact, maybe it was MORE because of those amazing people that we didn't become what "they" said we would?!

So...let's recognize some of these amazing people, shall we?

First mom and dad. I mean, let's all be honest here...without them? I'd've been living in a box under a bridge. ;) Honestly though, their support was extraordinary. Allowing me and Pal to live at home every summer during college, helping to watch the little monster (yes, yes he was a little monster at around 2...just ask my dad!), getting him to go potty on the potty chair when I had tried and tried all DANG day to get him to go, coming to my college apartment to help with childcare so I could get to class...I am one lucky lady to have such incredible parents. grandmas and grandpa. I'll never forget when my grandpa took me out for lunch shortly after my pregnancy became "public" news. (I'll also never forget how much I came to dread "lunch" dates with anyone around that always meant "a talk" was about to ensue...) He and I talked about my plans and he brought up adoption...which I quickly shot down. In true grandpa style, he and I walked out to his car and he retrieved a "what to expect" journal from his trunk. Not long ago he said, something along the lines of, "boy, am I glad you didn't listen to me!"...he and Pal share an incredible bond. 

And then there's my Gram. She's been my rock from day one. My sounding board, the one I turn to often for advice. She and grandpa would sometimes come to St. Ben's to help watch Pal...and Gram would usually get supper started for us while she was there!, so blessed to have them by our side.

We can't forget my brothers...they've been my biggest behind the scenes cheerleaders. And my two little bros were built in (much to their dismay, I'm sure) babysitters for those summers we spent at home. Now, they're like Pal's big brothers...only they can get away with the stuff they do/say to him!

I am one of the "rare" breed of people that have a larger group of high school friends than college friends and guys? Those high school friends? They are the best friends a girl could ever ask for. Most of them I've actually known since kindergarten and they stuck right by my side. Never once left me and supported us from day one. 

Dr. J is one of those amazing high school friends. She and I share a special bond and our friendship has withstood the ultimate test of time and life. We now get to raise our families nearby one another and the times we spend together are priceless. I'm so blessed to have her in my life! Love that girl.

Then, there's my bestie. My college amazing Tara, who is more like a sister to me. She, who I TRULY believe is a HUGE reason for my success, was the daily constant in Pal and I's college life. Tara and I lived not as roommates, but as family, and I fully believe that that decision we made together was one of the best ones of my life. That if we HAD to live together with our babies, that we would make the most of it and live as a family would. Without her, I'm not sure that I would've been able to do those early morning nursing clinicals. Without her, I'm not sure I would've stayed sane with only a baby to keep me company at night. But with her? With her we made an unbelievable team! Love you, Tara!

All of this leads me to my incredible, amazing, wonderful husband who made an incredibly selfless decision when he chose to marry "us". Often times, we'll run into an old family friend of his who gets a very puzzled look when we say our oldest is about to graduate from high school. It's at that point that I usually quip, "I was a package deal...Mr. W. got a two for one when he married me!". I am beyond grateful that this amazing man chose us as his. That he put aside "ideals" and committed to both the Pal and I. He is my everything. The man that showed me what life can REALLY be like. The one who challenges me to be a better version of myself and the one that helped me raise Pal to become the incredible young man that he is today. (And, let's all be honest here...we're all glad that the creepy mustache is a thing of the past!)

(Also, in the interest of full disclosure, Pal's dad did a dang good job too. For the situation we were in, I feel like we made the best of it and came out the other side as a "success" story!)

THESE people are the reason we are where we are today. The reason that we didn't become a "statistic". God had blessed my life beyond my wildest dreams!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It Ain't Gonna be Purdy.

The "Season of Graduation" is upon us.

Yesterday, our church celebrated our graduates at mass. As they processed up the aisle at the start of mass, a big ol' ball of emotion lodged itself right in my throat and before I knew it, I was fighting tears...and here's the kicker: I hadn't even seen my OWN child yet.

Then, there he was. A smile spread wide across his face and I was DONE. D-O-N-E, DONE! Trying to discretely swipe at my eyes while a sea of purple gowns and mortar caps filed into pews in front of us. Holy moly guys.

18 years ago I was terrified. Pregnant, young, unmarried, and absolutely, positively scared out of my mind. All I knew is that I was NOT going to become a statistic. I was going to make a life for my baby and "show them all" that I would be different. I would get my college degree. I would support my baby and myself if I needed. I would raise this baby up with a life that belied everything that the word "teen mom" connotes.

And here we are. His high school graduation one week away. Plans for him to head off to college in just a few short months.

We did it.

I am so unbelievably proud of this kiddo, the young man that he is and the man he has yet to become.

Will someone please remind me to bring tissues to graduation next Sunday? I have a feeling I'm going to need a box of them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Holy Guacamole. (Alternately Titled: I Don't Know How to Throw a Grad Party)

In less than one month, I will open my home to oodles of people in honor of my biggest boy's graduation from high school.

While that all sounds highly thrilling and unbelievably exciting I've gotta level with you: A party planner I am NOT. I do you plan for food? How do know how many people will come to your "Open House"? Will anyone come? Will they ALL come? Who even invented open houses, anyway? 


Why's there always gotta be a mom out there who "out moms" us all and makes the rest of us mere mortals look like total schleps? Do we all have to eat off tin plates and sit on straw bales whilst we sip from apropos colored paper straws stuck in kitschy cute mason jar mugs?

What happened to the respect for the Solo cup? Did it die with What's-His-Name's catchy song? I mean, Red Solo cup, I WILL lift you up...and then I'll promptly toss you in the trash and throw you to the curb, all the while SUPER MOM over there is up to her elbows in dish water washing out all of those adorable little mason jars and tin plates.


Too. Much. Pressure.

I mean, dudes. I still have to get my invites out! And then the photo boards. And the newspaper clippings that I was less than perfect on saving. And the cute little elementary snippets I've saved throughout the years. And then there's the cleaning. And the yard prep. And the set up. And the tent. OH MY GOSH. THE TENT.

She never called me back yet.

And tables? How many? Chairs? Firepits? Games? Activities?


Which leads me to this: Dearest Party Planners, you now have my utmost respect and adoration. (I don't know how you do it.)


If you need me I'll be hiding in the closet, with a stiff drink.

Monday, May 12, 2014

14 Days

Today marks 14 days left until I am officially on summer vacation!! I cannot even begin to explain the happiness that makes my heart leap when I think about the time, spread out before me, to spend with those who mean the most to me!

'Course, we'll be smack dab in the midst of a home overhaul, but I'm choosing to look at that like an adventure. I mean...what other choice do I have, right? ;)

To top it off, my baby bro comes home from dental school for a month in June. I see a lot of beach time and sunshine in my life soon! The kids are counting down the days. My biggest boy is 10...TEN!!!...days away from his high school graduation. For real, people, HOW did this happen? How can my baby be old enough to graduate from high school and begin the BIG steps toward independence?

Hold me.

Now, we need to get this weather to start cooperating...two years ago, the kids jumped in the river on Mother's Day...last year we had sunshine and buds on the trees...this year, I wonder if warm weather and sunshine will ever come?!

Happy's to hoping you have a fantastic week!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Blessings

My life's greatest blessings are the 5 miracles that've been placed in my charge and the amazing man at my side to help me parent them.

I know every mom says it, but when I look at my kids, I am absolutely awestruck that they are mine. And my heart is totally and completely filled with love. I am so honored to be the mama to 5 such amazing children. Sometimes I look at them and wonder, "What did I do to deserve them?!", God has blessed me in ways I never thought possible.

Today was perfect. Woke up to coffee (just the way I like it) from the Mr., gifts and cards and hugs and "Happy Mother's Day!!" from my babies. Spent the whole day with the ones I love most at my side.

As we get ready for (a late) bedtime, I am, once again, struck by the wonder and beauty of the blessing of being a mom. My big brother once told me I was "born to be a mom" and honestly, you couldn't give me a better compliment. Motherhood is my passion. My joy. My pride. My life.

And so, I bid you goodnight...full of s'mores, good food, greater memories, and lot's of love.

Happy Mother's Day to you all!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Remodeling, The Prequel...Part Deux.

Had some good tips, insights and words of wisdom from last week's post (thank you, Aunt Gloria!)...still not totally set on some things, but REALLY wanting to make sure we "do it right". This is gonna be a "one shot deal" remodeling in the future, this is it!

That's a lotta pressure on a girl.

Anyway, needing some more thoughts. We have one bid from a custom cabinet guy that we've worked with before and LOVE his work. We're 90% sure we're going to go with him, but just to cover our bases, we decided to take our layout to Home Depot and see how comparable prices/features were. Just yesterday, we received the mock-up of our new kitchen and guys? I nearly died.

I am SO excited to see this come to fruition, I can hardly stand it! I am totally consumed with "remodeling" thoughts and I'm pretty sure EVERYONE around me is getting sick of me asking them for their input. (Sorry family!)

Here's what we're contemplating now...that end cabinet that I've circled, should we make it a "corner" cabinet so that it fills that wall a bit more? There will be a wooden door leading to a walk-in pantry next to the fridge, and I kind of feel that a corner cabinet there will help the line of vision flow a bit more. Or will it just look weird because the cupboard beneath it will be squared off, as shown? Thoughts please...

Also, the fridge/cabinet wall...should we leave it as is, or swap the fridge to be on the end? I think it would balance the look of the kitchen a bit more, but I'm afraid of congestion with the fridge being directly across from the breakfast bar.

And one last thing. I've been sort of set on a "pass through" door from the mudroom/entry to the pantry. I wanted it small enough 12-18 inches) so kids don't use it as a walk-through, but just a little opening to be able to reach into the pantry to grab the broom out so it's handy to sweep the mudroom (and also, to possibly pass groceries through from the mudroom to the pantry). 

The Mr. and everyone I've talked to has kind of turned their nose up at the idea, stating that it will take away valuable shelf space inside the pantry, and it really isn't THAT much of an inconvenience to walk around to grab the broom/step stool/bring groceries in. And, now I'm wondering if I should just skip my beloved, ingenious, pass-through door. What say you?

I think that wraps up this session of the prequel...let me know what you think!


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