The big windows in our kitchen give me a perfect view of our back yard where, this afternoon, three of our boys are busy putting up their tent and building football goal posts out of scrap wood for the evening scrimmage.
Listening to them hammer away between laughs makes me smile, their industrious energy distracts me from the piles of odds and ends that remain scattered about the house, still waiting to be organized and put away.
Living deep in the trenches of our mold restoration duties over the past six weeks has completely changed my perspective on ordinary day-to-day living. I can't describe how grand it feels to come up out of the darkness of burden and worry and into the light of hope.
Even though our nest is still upside down, I'm just so happy to be back home with my people that the material chaos doesn't bother me much at all. For three solid weeks I spent very little time with the boys, since the remediation of our home required all of my energy and focus from sun up to sun down. Now that I am able to whittle away at what work is left at night, I'm so thankful for the daylight hours that I get to spend with our children.
I don't think I fully realized just what a gift it truly is to be able to stay home with our children. I thought I was appreciative of my stay-at-home mama life before, but gratitude truly knows no limits. My appreciation and joy is much deeper now.
Scrolling back through the past year of blog posts, I see the weight of struggle in my words. Blogging about Lyme disease and mold toxicity hasn't been a cry for sympathy as much as it has been a call of duty to reach out and share, encourage, and connect with others who might be suffering in the same way.
But duty isn't exactly fun, and I miss the real heart and soul of this little web space, which is truly summed up in the delights of every-day life: raising the boys (and all of the pictures and stories that accompany such a grand adventure), running, cooking, reading, romancing with the love of my life...all of the most extraordinarily ordinary things...
Things such as Valentine's Day.
Unlike years past when I put together a super-sweet plan for celebrating the holiday, this year I decided to wing it. Instead of cooking up a huge meal and crafting all day, we drove the party wagon over to our parish where the high school youth group was hosting an Italian supper.
Mama Mia, it was awesome! We socialized with great friends, the kids got to stuff their faces with lasagna and bread and pie (so un-Lenten of us), and I was secretly happy to have a night off from the kitchen.
After supper, we jumped back in the p.w. and cruised back to town for bingo night.
We sat in the back, back, way back. Because Jophis has some serious screaming pipes, which he likes to spontaneously display at will.
Dad's hair, compliments of Joseph climbing on the shoulder jungle gym until we were able to lure him down with some popcorn.
Prize for the world's worst phone pics is all mine. But, still, it's bingo.
Bingo is seriously the most underrated game in the universe.
Some people call it gambling, I call it practical learning with potential cash rewards.
Sideways bingo. Much more thrilling than regular bingo.
I'm telling you, Bingo is a homeschool bargain. For $26 and some change, our family was completely entertained for two hours. Charlie sat on my lap for nearly an hour and had no idea whatsoever that his little brain was actually "learning" letters, numbers and patterns all at the same time.
The older ones willfully exercised their math skills by calculating odds, and budgeting their pocket change for popcorn and cups of sprite. Topping off the academic evening was the lesson in humility that we all learned from coming ever-so close to the glory of calling out "BINGO!!!" But, being one little dobbed square short of victory, we had to contain our defeated moans and groans with mouthfulls of popcorn.
Despite our dreams of winning big at bingo being dashed, I did manage tobolster the spirits of our men with some chocolate candy hearts wrapped up in notes of love and adoration.
Earlier in the day, I wrote a letter to each one of the boys telling them how much I love being their mom, and listing a few of the things I love and admire about each one of them. I had a feeling that the older boys might think the gift was a little cheesy, but they all read their notes aloud and thanked me many times (with hugs) for their gifts.
I will always remember their affection with such gratitude.
They even had a little gift for me:
They were so proud of the flowers they chose. Through big manly grins they proclaimed that the electric blue flowers were way more "love"ly than all of the boring red and pink roses at the flower shop.
I think they're right. Those orchids have boymom love written all over them!