He’s mine

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Lillian has taken a shine to a little boy in her class. While we were eating breakfast she announced that he would be at school today because, “He’s there for me.”

I tried to tell her that he was there for the same reasons she was at school, but she would hear nothing of it.

“Oh, no,” she said. “He’s MINE.”

Give me a P!

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Trying to get to the bottom (literally) of Lil’s backache complaints, we were directed to the lab for a culture.

For the record, just about every time you put a newly potty-trained three-year-old girl on the pot, they go. But put that same little girl on the potty in a lab restroom with the promise of the results being caught in a cup and you can forget it.

On the way there, she drank apple juice. Lots of apple juice. In the less-than-hygienic bathroom, we discussed waterfalls and bubble baths. Swimming pools and washing dishes in warm water. We let the faucet run and imagined it was raining and we were playing in puddles. Nothing. All while I’m saying, “Don’t touch anything.” And trying to heed my own advice as I hovered close by with that menacing cup, ready to pounce. But nothing. Nada. Nunca.

After more than a half an hour, several knocks and no success, we left–clean cup in hand–ready to attempt the collection at home. More apple juice has been consumed, her little bottom has warmed that seat numerous times but she’s just not letting go. It seems ironic to me, the months of challenges and energy spent trying to get her to stay dry and then when I need her to pee, she can hold it for hours on end and basically refuse (at least for now) to accommodate.

As I type this, Lil is napping. And now of course I’m praying that all our talk of waterfalls and warm water don’t find their way to her dreams so when she wakes up I can make a successful deposit at the lab instead of in the downstairs washing machine.

Kiss me, you fool

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I’m the fool. I can’t turn down a kiss from one of my kids, and here I am, once again, sick.

This week, the baby had a blazing temp, which turned out to be Rosiola. So I dodged that bullet. But then dear Lillian came home from school with a little cough. Which of course, required even more mama lovin’. And I gave it. Because I can’t turn my cheek to those sweet scrumptious kisses. Now she has a big cough, and a fever. and I’m starting to feel a little bit of a lot of something stuffy, runny and achy. Ugh.

This morning as I directed that beautiful and large bunch of hacking children in the choir, the music was that of angels, but the lyrics in my head went something like, “you are doomed dear lady, amen.” Or something like that. I even made some feeble attempt at taking it easy today. Took some Airborne, all suspecting I was a target since I’d reached a certain level of exhaustion due to many sleepless nights with our dear sweet fevered boy. And well — bulls eye. Direct hit. It sank my battleship.

But here’s the big question: Is it worth it? Is it worth kissing and loving my sugar girl when she needs it? Is it worth holding that baby in my arms all night just to make sure he’s okay? Is it worth directing, hugging, loving and adoring all those beautiful children who share their lovely voices in praise to our dear Lord?¬† I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. But ask me when I feel better. ūüôā

Mother Mary comforts me

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I love the Blessed Mother. She is most certainly the main reason I am devoted to Christ and my Catholic faith today. At a time, many years ago, when I pondered if another church might better suit “someone like me,” she told me to stay home, to do what I had to do. Then she did what all good mothers do, she introduced me to her beloved son and I fell in love.

Little Lil loves the Blessed Mother, too.

Little Lil loves the Blessed Mother, too.

As a senior in high school, we were celebrating a retirement mass for the religious sister who was in charge of attendance and the bookstore. I was asked to read some of the Prayers of the Faithful. I was pleased, because in all four years at the school, I had never been asked to read. Then I learned that all the girls asked to read where those whose phone number Sister JT (as she was affectionately known) knew by heart because of attendance issues. Hmph.

I remember doing the reading. But more importantly, I remember the speech Sr. JT gave at the end of the mass. She sat up front and told us to always remember Our Lady. She urged us to turn to the Blessed Mother when we needed help, and she would be there for us. She, after all, was a woman, too. That advice was the most meaningful thing I learned about my faith in high school and from a woman who never taught me in a classroom and who I was usually trying to outrun in the hallway as I arrived late (yet again) for school.

There’s a great article about Mary and mercy at Faith & Family Live.

I’m THAT woman

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Okay, I used to love the show That Girl. Cute Marlo Thomas. The cute clothes. Silly situations. She was That Girl. Well, sometime between my very little childhood dreams of being cute and independent like Marlo (her character name was Anne Marie) I turned into THAT woman. And you now what I mean.

Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas

I’m that woman who rarely seems to have time to get makeup on in the busy morning and actually goes out in public that way.¬† I’m that woman who wears flat shoes almost everyday when I used to love to live in high heels (remember this). I’m that woman who is looking for the manager’s special tags at the grocery store and buys 25 bags of pasta at a time.¬† I’m that woman who looks at the crumbs in her silverware drawer (and after briefly pondering how they got in there) surrenders to the fact that they are going to have to stay. I’m that woman who brings her sometimes not-so-quiet kids to the library and takes forever at checkout because we’re bringing home 20 or more books. I’m that woman with the dirty glasses, amazed at times I can see through them at all.

I remember the day I became THAT mother (Henry was sprawled on top of the dashboard of my minivan at the windshield, I was in the backseat nursing Lillian and we were blasting Journey with the windows down as we waited for the older girls to finish their piano lessons), but I don’t remember when I morphed into THAT woman instead of the That Girl I so longed to be.

I do know that with the pitfalls of being THAT woman are also the blessings. I’m saving money on makeup. My feet don’t hurt. I enjoy the challenges of being a thriftier shopper and the people at the library are now at least used to us. Also, when my glasses are dirty,¬† I can clean them and just like that all things are bright again. Of course, the greatest blessing is the five important reasons I turned into THAT woman to begin with–Helen, Mary Claire, Henry, Lillian and Clifford.

Eight is great

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Our dear Henry is crossing the threshold from little boy to bigger boy. He’ll be closer to 10 than five. He turns eight on Saturday.

When Henry turned six, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought, “oh yea, I lived through a five-year-old Henry.” Thinking that with the age would come, I don’t know, a little more calm, a little less danger. Well, there’s no more calm. He’s as high energy as ever. Higher actually. And it’s wonderful. How one human can be so full of joy and life is amazing. I’ve always said that he’s just here for the party. But he’s really here for so much more.

It’s been a joy watching him grow as he’s learned to read and write. We’re all often amazed at his love of science and his ability to build some working contraption out of anything he can get his hands on. What an honor it has been to prepare him for his first reconciliation and first communion and to teach him to pray.

Since Richard and I had at one time thought Henry was going to be our last baby, I love to see how God’s plan for our family has unfolded. It’s beautiful to see how Henry embraces his role as big brother to Lillian and Cliff and how much he enjoys his big sisters and how he shows them his love and affection.¬† (Leaving wrapped coins on their beds is always a hoot.) He’s right where he should be — smack in the middle — because it always seems there’s enough of Henry to go around.

In honor of his birthday, I am posting a story I wrote when he was four. Thank you God for Henry.

Our son, being himself.

Our son, being himself.

Henry the Artist


Reader Beware: The contents of this message are rated PG  (Thanks to my 4-year-old son)

Preface: Richard’s dad’s name is also Richard. But he goes by Dick.

Henry the VIII the Artist ‚Äď Chapter One.

On Mother’s Day, my dear niece Elizabeth informed that my angelic son, Henry, called her a “dickhead.” I was shocked. I had no idea where he would have heard such a thing. I apologized on his behalf and assured her that he did not know what he was saying. I decided to let it go. If you know Henry, like I know Henry, it is sometimes better NOT fuss about things he says ‚Äď because the bigger the deal you make out of it, the more charge he’ll get out of it and well ‚Ķ you get the picture.

The next day I was folding laundry and out of the blue my son asked me if dick was a bad word and what it meant. I cautiously explained that it was a bad word, one a Hass child does not say. And as a simple matter-of-fact, I  told him the meaning of the word and that we do not call people bad or even proper names that refer to our body parts. He chewed on that for a moment.

“What about Grandpa Dick?” he asked, then proceeded to remind me that sometimes I even call Richard “Dickie.”

True, I told him. I explained that Grandpa Dick is not a bad word because the name Dick is also short for Richard. But that’s not the same as calling someone–who is not named Richard–dick. He seemed satisfied and told me he understood.

Two days later, I heard Henry say to Mary Claire, “You’re a Grandpa Dick.” Foiled on a technicality.

Chapter Two.

Yesterday Henry decided to test his luck again and within earshot (in the minivan), he called Mary Claire a dickhead. Realizing that I heard him, he immediately tried to back track.

“I don’t remember what that word means,” he quickly defended, trying to disappear from site in my rear-view¬†mirror¬†while¬†held captive in his car seat.

“I believe you do,” I reminded.

“No I don‚Äôt know no I don’t know no I don’t know,” he blurted.¬†He thinks if he talks fast enough he can erase time (and bad deeds). ¬† I informed him (calmly) that when we returned home he would have a 20-minute time-out, and we would have to have a serious conversation with Daddy. His choice of language was not befitting a Hass child and was totally unacceptable. He shed a few tears. After a few moments in silence, he quietly confessed.

“I do know what it means. I do know what it means. Let’s not talk to Daddy. It’s okay. I know, I know, I know.” ¬† Nice try boy.

We arrived home as Richard was pulling up the driveway. Richard and I sat down with Henry and I explained the situation. I tried to enlist Henry’s help, but he pretended he couldn’t remember what the issue was – the whole time he kept nuzzling up to me and showering me with smooches and hugs.

I stood my ground, and he was not able to charm his way out of his punishment. He finally stood still and listened to what Richard had to say and agreed he would change his ways. After our conversation, he willingly headed upstairs for his 20-minute sentence. On the way, he apologized to Mary Claire.

After about 20 minutes of quiet (something which with Henry is always worrisome), I went up to check on him. He had picked up his entire room and greeted me with a proud smile. “Look, I even made my bed all by myself,” he boasted. I got down on my knees and told him I was proud that he could do that. He shows me all the time what a big boy he is becoming. I asked him to connect that wonderful brain power to his mouth, so he can learn to stop himself from saying things that are not acceptable. He made a cross on my forehead (we do that as a blessing) and genuinely said he would try.

Then he showed me his chalkboard. On it was a work of art.

“That’s Mom smiling at me,” he said. I¬†admired the drawing. Then I asked him what was supposed to be on my shirt in the drawing and he replied:

“Oh. I drew you naked!” Oh! Henry!

In the photograph, Henry is meditating. Don't ask.

In the photograph, Henry is meditating. Don’t ask.

Write on sista

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I’ve been asked many times how we combat attitude. You know what I mean:¬† rolling eyes, inflection that may convey disrespect or imply that I’m … wait for it … stupid.

First, we are very clear about expectations. As soon as any attitude is expressed or implied, we call it to the offender’s attention. They are aware that we are judge, jury and well … executioner. Then, they have to write. I know it seems old-fashioned, perhaps even unproductive. But it is neither. For Henry, it’s extra writing practice, always a bonus. For MC, extra spelling. Helen, the first victim of this approach, proved that it works and the others validate it, because rarely am I the recipient of punishable ‘tude.¬† So, write on.

A little repetition helps reinforce the point.

A little repetition helps reinforce the point.