I didn’t really know my great grandparents.  All but one had passed away before I was born and my GG died when I was 2.  I have one fleeting memory of her sitting in a chair in my grandparents dining room, but the rest I get from stories and pictures.

October could have been deemed “Great Grandparent Month” at the circus.  My children are so blessed to have 4 living great grandparents in their lives today.  We got to spend some special time with each of the great grandparents this month and I am so very thankful that for the memories we made.IMG_3696

At the beginning of the month, Scott’s Nana flew out from CA to spend the week in Annapolis.  Many, many wonderful memories were made while she was in town. 


Later in the month, we went to PA to spend the weekend with my family.  We enjoyed an evening of playing with bubbles at my Mema and Pap’s house. IMG_4257


At the end of the month, we had Scott’s grandpa over to celebrate his birthday.   We enjoyed cake and ice cream with him as well as time spent reading, playing Uno, and sitting on his lap. 



I can’t say enough how grateful I am for each one of these grand parents.  I love them dearly and am so thankful my children are blessed to have them in their lives. 

I got my love of sports from my dad.  I can remember watching Pirates games at 5 when he was out of town, just to make me feel closer to him.  In high school, my dad would take me to Penn State Football games to watch my cousin play in the Blue Band.  I think my dad made sure that we attended every kind of professional sporting event at least once.   He took us to Orioles games, a Capitals game, a Bullets game and once we even attended a preseason Redskins/Steelers game.  While most kids were learning their states and capitals, my dad was quizzing me on cities and sports team.   He’d name a city and I’d name the professional football and baseball teams from that city. 

I saw a baby bib this weekend that said, “I was born a Steelers fan.”  Though I am bit big for a bib, this most definitely describes me. 

Dad taught me lots about sports, but without a doubt, my love for the Steelers is the biggest sports heritage he passed on to me.  Even though I was raised in the Baltimore area, there was no doubt, no question who our family routed for.  I can remember Dad telling me about Jerome Bettis “See that guy there, number 36… they call him the Bus b/c when people try to tackle him he just keeps running, taking them with him for the ride.”

When my family moved back to PA and I transferred to Grove City College, I was finally able to watch the Steelers weekly.  I’d leave the lunch hall early on Sun afternoon to go up to my room and cheer for my boys in black and gold.   Then Dad and I would discuss the game on the phone afterwards. 

When Scott and I married and moved to MD, my dad would tape the Steelers game for us and mail us the VHS tapes to watch… for a few seasons Wednesday nights were football nights at our house.  We’d always try to schedule a few trips to my parents in the fall so we could watch the games with my folks.  New traditions were formed as we started meeting them in Ligonier in August to watch the team at training camp.  My parents also make sure to keep my kids dressed in Steelers apparel each season. 

DSC03139So, for Christmas last year Scott and I gave my dad a “gift certificate” of sorts.  We gave him the promise of a father/daughter date in the 2010 season to watch a game at Grill 36 (Jerome Bettis’ bar and grill) right across from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

This weekend, the circus fam headed to PA to make good on that promise. 

I don’t often get much one on one time with my dad.  Typically the kids are vying for Grandma and Papa’s attention when we get together and if I do occasionally sneak off for some one on one time with a parents, it is usually my mom. 

DSC03131This Sunday dad and I left after church to head into the city.  We enjoyed the pregame show and then an all to close Steelers victory (we one by one point).  Grill 36 is an incredible atmosphere to watch a Steelers game.   The place was packed with Steelers fans.  They had 48 tvs all showing the Steelers game.  They would blare music over the speakers during commercial breaks much like at a game and when the Steelers got a touch down the place would go wild!    It felt a lot like being at a game. 

To be honest, perhaps it wasn’t the most fair gift to give my dad.  Because I enjoyed the time together, just as much, if not more than my dad.  In a lot of ways, it was a gift to myself as well.  Watching the Steelers play in that atmosphere was was a ton of fun; watching it with my dad, was priceless!  Thanks dad for not only sharing your love of Steelers football with me, but for sharing your Christmas gift as well. 

Today I had planned to write a sweet and nostalgic motherhood type post about my littlest cast member.  But, when quiet time rolled around my head was aching, my mind racing, and the right words and sentiments weren’t coming to me.  

Because today…

*Today I tried to do 2 days worth of school in one morning since we’ll be out of town on Monday

*Today I made banana chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast

*Today I skipped my morning cup of coffee b/c I thought I’d enjoy it more in the afternoon on my way to gymnastics and didn’t want to have too much caffeine

*Today I learned that perhaps I like coffee for more than just it’s savory sweet taste and warmth… judging by the groggy haze and head ache I’ve experienced today, I am wondering if I also like it’s caffeine…

*Today, my husband will return from his business trip!!! 

*Today I sent the kids out for recess.  Later my 4 year old came into the house with dog poop on her shoes only I didn’t notice until after she did an entire gymnastics floor routine on our living room carpet…

*Today I cleaned dog poop off of my dining room and living room and just as I threw the last paper towel into the trash my 3 year old came down the hall crying with a bloody lip

*Today I snacked on too many mini Reese's PB cups

* Today I managed to make 2 phone calls for our vacation and respond to 7 e-mails during quiet time

*Today, however, I did not manage to sort the massive pile of trash bags filled with clothes that Scott brought down from the attic LAST FRIDAY…. I need to sort out the clothes that are too small for the kids and those they can still wear this winter.  Today, I yet again simply dived in looking for something warm and in the right size for them to wear…

*Today, I also didn’t get the laundry folded and put away… and I don’t think I will b/c  still to do today we have to drive to gymnastics practice, come home, nurse the baby, then go to Tiger Cub meeting, then come home, make dinner, welcome Daddy home from his business trip, and put the kids to bed.

I then plan to sit on the couch with my hubby and watch tv b/c tomorrow’s list is just about as long as today’s.

What did your day look like today?

The outing started out so beautiful and picturesque.  The drive there was lovely… leaves just starting to change, sipping my pumpkin spice latte, even the clouds looked “fall like” (amazing how everything looks lovely when the kids aren’t requiring you to referee from the drivers seat…thank you Psalty the Singing Songbook)  We got to the farm and the kids happily ate their lunches while I nursed the baby. 

Then we were off to pick apples.  The kids were so enthusiastic, we had 32 lbs picked in less than an hour.  (and that was even with me slowing them down so I could take pictures). 


Since apple picking went so well, I decided to prolong our afternoon and head to the pumpkin patch. 

Clearly I did not heed the age old advice to quit while I was ahead.

The baby fell asleep on our way to the pumpkin patch, so I decided instead of wearing him, to just carry him.  (mistake number 1)  The kids grabbed a wheel barrow and eagerly ran off in search of the great pumpkin. IMG_3805

Then my three year old started doing the potty dance. 

“Really, now?”

“Yes, Mommy… I have to go potty…” said with increased dancing and high pitched voice of urgency. 

So, we abandon the wheel barrow of pumpkins in search of a potty.  I ask the dude at the check out booth if they had a port a pot nearby.  He looks at me with a blank stare and says No.  I just stare back at him as I try to figure out what we are going to do.  (Why, oh why, did I take the porta potty out of the mini van?  Is it ok to just have her go in the grass?) Then someone in line says she saw one on the other side of the parking area (thank goodness for fellow moms). So, we scrambled to the port a potty.  Of course it’s like herding kittens to get them over there. I tell the oldest 2 to sit outside with their backs touching the sides (so I know they aren’t wondering into the road), while I help the 3 yr old pull down her pants. 

And then I discover we didn’t make it to the potty in time and it was way, way worse than wet undies. 

Realizing that I can’t deal with this one handed, I hand the baby (who of course is no longer sleeping) to my oldest (reminding the older two to stay seated against the wall of the port a pot)  and do my best to peel her pants off of her, without getting more of it all over the place.  I then attempt to clean her legs, feet, bottom, and the floor and seat of the port a pot with dry toilet paper.  (what I would have given for baby wipes right then) Meanwhile I keep peeking out the door to make sure the other 3 are ok while also trying to calm my very distressed three year old, and I see two older men waiting across the way.  I could tell they were obviously waiting for the port a pot, and they didn’t appear creepy but rather were graciously trying to give me space. 

With my 3 yr old and I cleaned up as best as I could, I was now left with my daughter in her bright red shirt wearing her brown cowboy boots and NOTHING on in the middle.  Quite a look!

How in the world am I going to get her back to our minivan?   I kept looking at her, looking at the baby, can’t really carry both (especially since she wasn’t exactly clean) and looking across the road wishing those men were moms.  I actually said out loud to the kids, “What am I going to do, What am I going to do?”  I try having my older daughter stand in front of her and my son behind her… perhaps we can make a human shield and walk her across the field.  And then I notice my 6 yr old is wearing a jacket. 

HOORAY!!  We’ve caught a break!

I quickly tell him to take his jacket off and we tie it around her waist and make what feels like the longest walk ever back to our van.   I apologize to the men who were waiting.  They graciously tell me not to worry, they had kids too.    We’re walking as fast as we can when we pass a family getting out of their van… I do my best not to make eye contact and to just keep walking when my son and daughter shout, “Mom, MOM, the jacket fell off!”  I quickly fix it and rush her into our minivan. 

As I begin scourging around the floor of the van, I am actually, for once,  grateful for the mess that is our van.  I have no idea why it is there,but I find a skirt (with shorts attached) and quickly have her step into it. 

We are in business!! 

Back to the pumpkin patch we head!!


Notice the before and after outfits?


The day was salvaged as we headed home with 44lbs of pumpkins (I had no idea how quickly you can rack up the pounds with pumpkins) , 32lbs of apples, 4 content kids, one happy Mommy, and a blog post to top it all off!  IMG_3754

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I love my daughter.   Obviously, I know, but I love the head first approach she takes at life.  She dives in, full force with no fear.  And if she falls, it doesn’t bother her, she’ll pick herself up and dive again. 

She hasn’t had it easy in the health department.  At 6 mths she had her first asthma episode.  Since then, she’s dealt with nebulizer treatments with very little complaint.   It’s a fact of life for her and she handles it well.

Around her second birthday, Scott and I noticed her eyes were starting to cross a little.  It wasn’t blaringly obvious, would happen now and again, but enough that we took her to the doctor to have it checked.  After a referral to the pediatric ophthalmologist, she was sent home with glasses.   I braced myself for a battle (b/c getting her to keep a barrette in her hair was a full out war most days), but she put them on without complaint and kept them on ever since.  No fights or complaints, she simply took it in stride. 

At her last eye doctor’s appointment, the doctor said her left eye seems to be getting better, but her right eye is not.  He told us we’d have to patch the stronger eye for 2 hours a day with the hopes of helping it to strengthen, and the ultimate goal of having both eyes grow stronger and work together.

I had prepped her for this, telling her she might get to wear a patch on her eye like Great Grandpa.  “OK!” She replied with great enthusiasm. 

As with every other “hurdle” thrown at her, she’s taken this with stride.  She complained a little that she couldn’t see as well when patched but when I explained why it was important she didn’t fight me on it.  In fact, she has asked me each day, “Can I put my patch on now?”  Yesterday she even begged to have it on and wear it to her brother’s game so she could show it off to Nana, Pop, Aunt Karen and Eli.  I thought she might be self conscious about wearing it in public and had planned to just have her wear it at home, but she kept insisting she wanted to wear it then, so I let her (not wanting to squelch her positive attitude).  She also couldn’t wait to show Great Grandpa so they could take a picture of the two of them wearing their patches. 

When he came over today, he met us in the driveway after church.  She raced out of the car and upstairs to grab her patch so she could show it to him and take their picture together. 


I love her smile here… it so perfectly reflects her great attitude and outlook. 

I heard the alarm go off and was grateful when Scott woke to take the first shower.   Shortly after I heard the enthusiastic chatter of my youngest daughter in the bathroom and I happily rolled over for a little more shut eye.

Next thing  I know I hear Scott turn off the tv and gather the big 3 to “have a chat”.  I then hear, “ Guys, what does Daddy do for her job?” “Goes to work to take care of us”  “Right.”  “And what does Mommy do?”  “She takes care of us at home.”  “Right,   Does Daddy go to work on Sunday?”  “No.”  “Right… but does Mommy get a day off?”  “No.  Right… so you know what we can do today?  We can help Mommy by you guys getting dressed all by yourself.  So why don’t you go back, real quietly and we’ll surprise Mommy.  She’ll come out and be so surprised to find you all dressed and ready for church.” 

I then hear the eager “quiet” scurries of 3 kids as they go to get dressed for church. 

As I laid in bed waiting to be surprised, I silently thanked God for this huge “I love you” from my husband and kids.  I then heard the baby happily cooing in his crib and the whir of the coffee machine grinding. 

A few minutes later, Scott appeared at my bed with my travel mug full of coffee. 

I felt so loved and appreciated and blessed beyond measure.  It was like Mother’s Day, only better b/c Hallmark didn’t tell them to do it.

I then walked out to find my 3 oldest kids dressed for church.


I knew I needed to tread carefully.  They had worked so hard to bless me and I didn’t want to crush their spirits.  At the same time, part of my job as a parent is to make sure I don’t send my kids out to be mocked or teased by their peers.  I have to protect them. 

IMG_3945I started with my youngest… complimenting her pretty skirt and sweater.  I then suggested perhaps she might want to switch to a red sweater to match her skirt.  She looked up at me with her big blue puppy dog eyes and said in her sing sony voice which never fails to make me smile, “But Mom… doesn’t purple look so good with black?” 

I couldn’t do it… She’s 3.  I highly doubt she’ll be mocked by her peers.   Scott said I could send her that way if I made a name tag that said, “I dressed myself this morning.”  I did and stuck it to her back. 


The other 2 I was able to nicely suggest a slight tweak to their outfits.  When my daughter went to changer he shorts she said, “But Mom, I can’t get them off.”  It was a great opportunity to pass on a little fashion wisdom.  If you can’t take your pants/shorts off on your own, then they are too tight to wear out of the house.  Wisdom, I hope she carries with her for years to come.

An hour of sleep, 3 mismatched outfits, happy coos, and a cup of coffee…may seem simple and possibly even insignificant, but to this Momma of 4, they screamed “I love you and I appreciate you”. 

So many things I want to remember from this stage of life…the sweet way she mispronounces her baby brother’s name…. and the way his face lights up with recognition when I walk in a room…the raspy way she belts out songs in the back seat, and the sweet way he kisses his sisters goodbye before heading into school… I know I think I’ll never forget and yet those who’ve gone before me say I will. 

So this week I jotted down a few of their one liners that made me smile.


3 year old:  Mama we’re playing “hide and go to seeker”  (I also love the way she told me the rules of the game as if it was a new game her brother and sister invented just for them)


Gave my 6 yr old his first spelling test last week.  When I was explaining how spelling tests worked, he asked, “Am I allowed to think about it or do I have to just write it down?”  (I assured him he was allowed to think during spelling tests)


I was working with my 4 yr old on writing the letter N for handwriting.  She asked if this was “English”?  When I told her yes, she was SO excited that she wrote in English.  I am not sure what language she thought she’d been writing in all this time. 


I was busily working on cleaning the house for company last week.   My son asked why I was working so hard to clean.  When I explained that we had company coming, he said, “Will they not want to come back if it is dirty?”  No, I replied, “But I like for people to see our house looking nice and know that we take good care of our home.”  He said, “But Mom, that would be a lie.”  …..mother grumbles wearily with frustration to herself….. 


I love how eager she always is to help me in the kitchen.  If I am working in the kitchen, you can bet she’ll be by my side asking to help.  Something tells me this may fade with time and so I try to remember to cherish the “help” while she is eager to offer it even if it takes longer and makes more of a mess.  (Some days I forget this and shoo her away so I can just get it done… but I know I will miss my eager little helper when she grows).

Want to laugh with others at the crazy things their kids say?  Check out Mary’s carnival

5 years ago this month, God took her home to heaven.  Though the truth is, Alzheimer's/Dementia took Grandma from us long before then.  At first she’d just forget what time we’d be leaving for church the next day or when we’d be eating dinner.  Later she forgot her grandchildren, children, and eventually even her own identity.  Bit by bit the disease took more of her. 

I remember walking into the care facility the weekend Scott and I had gotten engaged.    At this point, Grandma wasn’t able to have coherent conversations anymore.  She’d say rhymes or gibberish or murmur under her breath.  It was incredibly hard to visit her b/c you knew she didn’t know you, and she couldn’t even hold a conversation with you.  And the pained look on my father’s face as he watched his mom like that always tore my heart out.   I’d still go with my dad when I was home from college, we wouldn’t stay long, but I just felt we should still go.  And that weekend I wanted to go to tell her I had gotten engaged.  Scott had met her before (I had wanted her to “meet” him so that I at least knew in my heart that she had seen him).  We went for me, not for her.   I knew she wouldn’t understand, but I wanted my grandma to be a part of this life changing occasion in my life. 

It was Easter and there was hymns playing in the sitting room.  Grandma was there in a wheel chair staring off into space.  As I got closer though I realized she was singing along with the hymns.   My eyes filled with tears.    The disease may have stolen her memories past and present but it didn’t take her faith.   More than once when Scott and I went to visit her in the midst of a string of gibber gabber we’d hear her murmur, “God loves me, I love God.”    I couldn’t help but think of the verse in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Grandma may not have understood her situation or what was going on around her, but she truly had a peace that passed all understanding.    I was also reminded of Romans 8:8-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

5 years ago we buried Grandma.  As I sat in the old country church holding my very loud and squirmy 18 mth old son, I mourned the fact that she never got to know him.  She would have loved to play games with him and make him laugh much like she did with me when I was little.  She’d have sang him Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald and played peek a boo.  With tears trickling down my face we sang the old hymn, “Blessed Assurance.”  They couldn’t have chosen a better hymn to sing at her funeral. 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

  • Refrain:
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long;
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long.
  • Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
  • Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

I have lots of memories of my grandma.  Lunches at McDonalds, getting letters in the mail written on the back of McDonalds placemats,riding in the front seat of Grandpa’s Ford Pick up truck, playing in the fields of her farm, but the one I cherish most is that Easter in the nursing home when I witnessed her praising her Savior all her days long.  I hope that when I am gone my family can say that my story was such.

A few pics to sum up the week and highlight a few of my favorite moments.


My favorite part of our home schooling day is the beginning.  We start with the pledge and a very loud and off key rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.  Warms my patriotic soul!

Q: What do home schoolers wear to school?


A: whatever they want.. ie leotards and camos

We made a discovery this week.  The kids like board games.  And better yet, they are finally at an age where they can all follow the scope of the game and play for real.  It has made playing so much more fun, though I still attest that Shutes and Ladders is the worst game ever!


I was reminded this week of how much the kids love to hold their brother.  Too often I am rushing from one thing to the next and don’t take the time to let them enjoy him.  I gave each of them a lil time to hold him.  Their faces lit up with joy and I realized that slowing down for a minute or two was well worth it. 



Hmm…any one care to guess what we had for dinner that night?


I don’t have a picture of this, but Wed I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with my to do list.  I could feel the stress level rising so I turned on some praise music while the kids went out back for recess.  It was still on during lunch and as I held my sweet baby the song Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus came on.  One by one we all started to sing a long.  It was just one of those truly sweet, savor it, kinda moments.  Rocking my baby and praising my Lord with my children….

My entry way is a mess.  The kids clothes need to be sorted and switched for the new season.  I haven’t been grocery shopping and I still have 4 loads of laundry to fold and put away…..but in the midst of that, even though I am far, far from caught up, we’ve had some precious moments this week which I can look back on and they make me smile.

Last week my dad entertained the kids by letting them take pictures with his phone.   My youngest daughter had so much fun! 

I laughed out loud when after taking this picture, she exclaimed,

“Papa, you didn’t smile!”