Friday, September 21, 2007

Count to Sleep...

1 fluffy pillow to lay my sleepy head. 2 tired eyes; it must be time for bed. 3 goodnight kisses on my weary cheek. 4 gentle moonbeams through my window leak. 5 big yawns, sleepy time is near. 6 magic words whispered in my ear. (“Sweet dreams honey, I love you!”) 7 tosses and turns, time to turn out the light. 8 silly shadows welcome in the night. 9 short dreams of ice cream cones and flowers… ….and finally… 10 looooooooooong sleepy hours.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Woooaaahhhh Nelly!

My day started on the couch. This is where I woke up. My husband was in Canada overnight so there was no reason for me to make the trek upstairs when the last of the Friends re-runs was over last night. It was 6-ish am and still pretty dark outside when I heard “MAA!” the baby’s request to get up. My neck had a bad left-sided kink and I am not really sure what my hair was doing but it looked a little bit like a ski slope. I tried to at least smooth it down on the way up the stairs so I wouldn’t startle my wee one still in a dark room. I am not a morning person. Actually, I am quite sure my heart does not start beating until about 7:30 or so. So I always pray that the older two will sleep until I at least have ½ a cup of coffee down. This morning I was not so lucky. All three of them were up by 6:30. Soon after the stories of the alien dreams had died down I drug myself into the kitchen to start my coffee. I am a huge coffee fan but I can not make the stuff to save my life. So, I opt for the ease of instant (yuck) just to give me the jolt I need to come up with the latest girlie hairstyle, stuff lunchboxes and blow kisses as the bus pulls away. I filled the mug with water and hit 1 minute, 20 seconds on my microwave. By now, all three children have the jolt they get from I don’t know where but I wish they would share the secret with me and it is obvious they have started their day. I was still hitting the accelerator but it appeared I was out of gas. Simultaneously, my 12 year old made his packed lunch request, my 11 year old asked if I could hold up four fingers on each hand while hiding my thumbs completely – and I MUST show her how I think I would accomplish this while the baby decided I needed to watch him gallop. Not just watch out of the corner of my eye – there is NO fooling him. I had to watch him like I was M. Night Shyamalan filming his next blockbuster. BEEP! That’s my coffee, my morning elixir, the drug that will get me through the mental contortion I am in right now but with my hands tangled and my eyes fixed on Hillbilly Baby, I can’t get to it. My daughter scoffs at my attempt and shows me her hand-wrangling secret, I get to the pantry for the PB&J and the baby is off racing his cars. I glance in the living room with a smile as I have three happy kids when… PICK-UP IN AISLE 5! The dog had made it her job this morning to chew up the plastic bottles that had filled the tipped over mini-shopping cart. I scooped up the slimy plastic as my two-year old scolds our dog with his pointer finger and a resounding, “Na na!” He has heard that before. BEEP! Ahhh, my coffee… “Mom! Come look!” I am jolted out of my java jones by my daughter’s obvious and immediate need. She was pointing to the TV with such urgency I was certain I would soon be having a discussion about a school shooting, a tsunami, the wounded soldiers in Iraq… “Do you like Karla’s purple outfit or Jen’s pink outfit better?” she asked about the singing kid group on The Learning Channel. “Ummm, I think I like the pink, honey.” BEEP! I sprinted (not really) to the kitchen and opened the microwave. I carefully grasped the handle of my mug as my hands are not all that steady before my first swig. BARK! I almost spill the whole gosh-darned thing all over myself when the dog greets the lucky (albeit running) soul who escaped her house this morning to briskly jaunt passed my front windows. The warm sensation of caffeine was calming as it was hastily delivered to my bloodstream. I leaned against the counter taking a few more sips, breathing deeply and preparing to finally start my day. I admired the neatly displayed birthday cards on the half-wall between the kitchen and living room maybe because they were the only semblance of order on the first floor. They are not only a sign that my oldest child is now double digits; they are also a celebration of how long I have been an at-home mom. I take another sip and pretend my coffee tastes like Starbuck’s. Enter the Dog vs.Baby Balloon Volleyball World Championships and my half-wall became the net. One spike by the baby and a failed return by the pooch shoots my celebratory card display straight to… “HELLO” I mouth to Rick, my neighbor, dropping off his daughter at the back door. Crap! I don’t have a bra on and I am walking to greet him at the door. Like a scene from The Matrix and in one fell swoop, I put my ‘mug of life’ down on the table and pick up the sweatshirt I wore the day before from the chair. Like a quick change artist my braless torso is covered and I smile and chat a bit at the door. It’s barely 7:30 am and I feel like I have run a marathon already. I need a shower badly but somehow I don’t think that will give me the boost I need today. After a saxophone concert in the living room and the talents of Morgan the balloon-popping dog, I watched my older two hug their baby brother at the bus stop. This gave me just the boost I needed to get me back in the house and ready to deal with the rest of my morning. 2 ½ minutes later….the first tantrum of the day. Gotta love it!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Glory Days....

My column has come to fruition...The Gift of Gab...quite a funny title if you know anything about me....I tend to go on and on and on... Here is this week's column and a picture to add some flair!

The loud, constant roar was mesmerizing. The humidity soaked my clothes as the sun baked the 110,077 people around me. I could see nothing but white in every direction. It smelled like home. A gentle tingling came over my body and tears came to my eyes as those around me stood, lips poised and ready to belt out the words I have sung many times:

For the glory of old State,For her founders strong and great,For the future that we wait,Raise the song, raise the song. Sing our love and loyalty,Sing our hopes that, bright and free,Rest, O Mother dear, with thee,All with thee, all with thee. When we stood at childhood's gate,Shapeless in the hands of fate,Thou didst mold us, dear old State,Dear old State, dear old State. May no act of ours bring shameTo one heart that loves thy name,May our lives but swell thy fame,Dear old State, dear old State.

I watched as my two oldest children, donned in white football jerseys and blue paw prints on their cheeks sang along with the words on the scoreboard. Their first Penn State Football Game. I clutched the hand of my college sweetheart as we breathed deeply and counted our blessings. It was a record crowd. The first full stadium “white-out” in Penn State history. We trounced Notre Dame 31-10! In Penn State-ese this was sheer perfection. We are your typical Penn State family. Our first cat’s name was Nittany, we had a blue and white color scheme in our first home and I have had the Fight Song as my ring tone for some time now. By the tender age of two if our children heard the words “We are…” they would appropriately respond with, “Penn State!” This may seem atypical to those who do not share in our Lion history; some may even feel it is a bit freakish. We have heard it all. People have laughed as they accused us of brainwashing or forcing our children to bleed blue and white. Most Pennstaters will tell you, that’s not what it’s about. It is about honor, loyalty and integrity. It is a love for something that made you who you are at this very moment in time. It is about truly knowing how to live. It’s about knowing when to be proud and knowing when to back down. It’s knowing the difference between friendly banter and “talking smack.” It’s about being respectful to those around you and helping those in need. It is a sense of brotherhood that is sometimes stronger than family. Honestly, I don’t believe my children need to attend Penn State to make their life complete. My hopes and dreams for them surpass something as trivial as where they spend their college years. But I do hope that they find the direction they seek, the passion they crave and the drive that will positively affect their lives and the lives of those around them. It would be foolish to believe that only one university can a hero make. No matter what their future brings as far as their post-high school choices, I can be sure that because of our college experience, we have laid the foundation we learned at Main Campus. Honor, loyalty and integrity. If they do it wearing blue and white than that is just icing on the cake. Whether you went to a small school or a large university, whether you left high school and entered the workforce or headed directly to the military, whether you are a survivor of something ugly or have had a somewhat spoiled existence. Live your life with honor, loyalty and integrity in the forefront and you will always come out on top. Our children’s eyes were opened to a small portion of this testimony this weekend and for that I am thankful. As I kissed their sun-kissed, paw-printed cheeks tonight I prayed they will be positive members of society and precious blessings in the lives of others no matter whose colors they wear.