What to do when all the kids are sick.

The girls have had 102.5 fevers for a few days now. Katherine's started last night but hasn't been as high as the other girls. Everyone seems to be getting better this afternoon.

So, here's what we do when everyone is home sick:

1. Thank God that Mommy & Daddy aren't sick, yet.

2. Setup an invalid bed on the back porch and enjoy the sunshine.

3. Get out all the jewelry. Put on all the jewelry.

4. Help Mom make dinner. Warm Mom's tired heart.

5. Watch an ungodly amount of TV.

6. Take a bath just for fun.

Unfortunately Anna was supposed to be in a play today which she missed. And Matt & I had a babysitter scheduled for tonight that we had to cancel. We are super bummed about that. But, mostly we didn't have much planned.

Unlike most families I know we don't have a lot happening at the end of the school year. This is a blessing for me but frustrating for the girls as they try to have end of the year playdates and everyone is just too busy!

And I have been blessed to have the neighbor walk Anna to school when Claire was too sick to get up off the couch, a friend offer to bring me coffee and a husband who has filled in all the other gaps.


Yard project

Our LL decided to redo the "grass" in our "backyard". It really turned out great and Claire had so much fun helping. She just loves to help other people, it is a wonderful quality in her.

No sprinklers needed here - we've been getting drenched! Apparently this is the wettest Spring on record for Chicago.

Ready for Summer

While the other girls are often running around and playing inside and out, this one is often in her favorite place: Daddy's arms. Being adorable, of course.


Baby no more

Katherine has moved on up.

Yesterday we put away the crib and got out that big girl (toddler) bed. She was very excited and slept great. Lately she has been asking to sleep in Claire's bed so we decided it was time.


Tv faces

A perfect mother never lets her kids watch TV - right?

Okay, not really, I don't think. Sometimes it helps us all get along and I have many cherished "TV pictures" from over the years...

Beauty is deceiving

I chose the picture for the header of our blog because of the cool contrast of greenery and the house and the fence. I just liked the feel of it and since I visit my own blog constantly all day, I wanted it to feel good.

Well, this has been changing. Why, you ask?

From Butcher Bunkhouse

The greenery has a story.

That greenery is a vicious tree/weed. I sustained some battle wounds last week as I tried to pull it out. It is similar to bind weed (if you are familiar) except it grows as big as a small tree and has roots to match. It is taking over the neighbors yard and will take over all the nearby soil if allowed. It dies back completely in the winter and so we are attempting to pull it out this spring.

To complete the story, the next door neighbor even had a backhoe out here last year to try to get it all out. They installed a liner, etc.... It is back in full force, not deterred in the slightest.

So, I am beginning to classify this greenery with squirrels. A scourge, an abomination, undefeatable and gruesome. I don't think I'm exaggerating...


Dear Mom (from Matt)

Dear Mom,

I guess that every child believes, at least for a while, that his parents know everything. Growing up, it seemed to me that you just knew how to raise us. You just knew when we were needing a hug, or when we were needing a laugh, or -- dare I say it? -- when we needed a spanking.

You just knew, it seemed, how we were supposed to turn out. You knew how to imbue character. You knew how to turn a spilled glass of milk, a dead squirrel, or a lost action figure into a life lesson. You knew how to express profound truth in the vocabulary of an eight-year-old.

You knew how to listen. You knew how the small world of a child can be upset by even the mildest of tremors. When a playground incident left me with hurt feelings, you knew how to make it better. And to my chagrin, you knew when it was I who needed the reprimand.

You knew how to bring out the bright side. You knew how to make grocery shopping fun for a five-year-old, a potluck fun for a ten-year-old, and even -- though it may be hard to believe -- family game night fun for a surly teenager. But you also knew when enough was enough. You knew how to cut off teasing before it became hurtful and when to keep goofiness from breaching etiquette.

You knew when to give aspirin and when to give Tylenol. Remember the red-tipped thermometer? You knew which end that one went in (and I'm eternally grateful that you didn't get that one confused). You knew when it was time for the hot water bottle, and when it was time for the ice pack. You knew when our bodies were too sick for school. You also knew when our hearts were too heavy for school.

I remember how surprised I was when I discovered that you knew how to do trig. And that you knew the difference between Manet and Monet. Turned out that you'd read Dostoyevsky, too. I knew you were musical, but until you gave me the song you'd written for me, until you played it for me on high school graduation day, I didn't know you could compose.

Most of all, you knew how to assure us that we were loved. My brother, my sister, and me -- there have never been three children more assured of the love of their parents. And you knew how to make that love felt with just a word or just a smile. You knew that love takes work. You knew that love required discipline and not just passion. And you knew how to teach me this not through lectures, but by example. You knew that the words "I'm sorry" were just as powerful as the words "I love you," and that the combination of those two phrases could often mend a rift that moments before seemed irreparable.

When I was seventeen, intoxicated with rebellion, I might have said that you didn't know anything, that you didn't understand. Contrary as it may seem, though, I still suspected that you knew. We were just actors repeating the same old show. But you had seen it before while it was all new to me.

Most astoundingly, you knew when to let go. You seemed to know, when I packed my car to head off to college, that I would be fine. Did you know I was ready? Did you know that your work was, for the most part, done?

Now I'm older. Proverbially, at least, I am wiser. I have three children of my own. And I know for a fact that when it comes to parenting, nobody just knows. What's too harsh? What's too gentle? What's too demanding? What's too lax? What do I do with all of these kids? And am I dooming every one to a second mortgage's worth of psychiatric treatment? It turns out that there is no handbook. Most days parenting feels like guesswork, a smattering of ideas tested by trial and error. And the scary thing is that sometimes I can't tell what is working and what is not. Parenting is wandering in the night, fumbling in the darkness. Let me state baldly that I don't know what I am doing.

So Mom... through parenting's adventures, the mundane and the surprising, the good and the bad... how did you know?

I love you Mom.



Special Daddy time

So, Anna has been working hard to earn gotchas. These little pieces of paper represent times she has kept from hitting her sisters, been kind to them or just done something outstanding. Every time she earns 30 she gets to choose a special treat. Claire is doing the same, only needing to earn 20.

Now that she had earned her 30, Anna chose to have special time with Daddy.

To explain, nearly every day Anna asks Matt to take her to the bread store to get scones for the family. Matt just doesn't have time on a work day and so she is disappointed over and over. Matt really would love to take her but he has to catch a train every morning.

So, wonderful as he is, last night he put a note by her bed which said, "Anna, would you like to go to Panera with me for breakfast?"

We were surprised when Claire and Katherine were the first ones up today and Anna was still sleeping! And Anna did not see the note at all. So, we just figured they would do it tomorrow.

Anna had been feeling sick and sad this morning and actually went back to bed after eating and watching a few cartoons. She was fighting with her sisters in her room when it suddenly got quiet.

Anna came out looking surprised and excited. She was clutching a piece of paper and smiling. She said, "Mommy, Daddy wrote me a special note. I don't want to say it out loud because it's going to hurt Claire's feelings." She wrote "Yes" on the bottom of the note and slid it under the bathroom door for Matt to see.

Then she went to get ready and exclaimed, "I don't even feel sick anymore. This is the best thing. I always want to do this." It was very cute.

Of course this means I am at home to take care of Claire (who feels left out, but knows she can earn this kindof treat too) and watch cartoons.

I am really proud of Anna and how great she has been doing at getting along with everyone. She really has earned it!