Family Reunion

We were blessed to have a family reunion on September 30th – hosted by our very generous aunt and uncle – Linda and Don.  Sadly it was the one dreary, chilly day in the midst of a 2 week span of sunshine and warmth! But we had fun anyway and SO enjoyed seeing so many people who are dear to us but no longer near to us 😦

I grew up going out to ‘the lake’. My grandparents bought a house on Warner’s Lake in 1941, when my mom was 4, my aunt Carol was 5 and my aunt Linda was not even here yet.    When my mom and aunts had families of their own, my grandparents bought the house across the road, lovingly called ‘the annex’ so that we could all stay for the summer in our growing numbers.  I have so many  wonderful memories of that place – having my own room on the first floor with animal themed curtains – (all the boys stayed on the second floor in a ‘dorm style’ room), playing cards on the cool chairs with connecting table, mom bringing sandwiches down so we could eat lunch on the deck by the water, walking to ‘the grove’ and buying several treats for 25cents, swimming after dinner and feeling warmer in the water than out…..the list goes on.  The summer I was born I was brought there from the hospital and we lived there all summer.  We did this each summer for several years until the older boys started working a lot and had to stay in the city during the week – we then sold the annex and started going to visit our grandparents during the weekend days.  My grandparents lived to be 95 and 100 so we were blessed to have them – and this phenomenal space – for many, many years. They would often comment on how blessed they were to have all of their family there, to have each other, to have such a wonderful space to be together. I never really got it – the way you never really ‘get ‘ things until you no longer have them. It was all I knew and I loved it but I did not realize how special it was. It kept us all so close – seeing my aunts and cousins each weekend was just natural. I love them beyond words and seeing them always feels like home.

 

 

 

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Julia, Harper and Maddie
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Avery and Adelyn- and Kiera 🙂
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Johnny and Steve- Steve rarely looks short except when around people like Johnny and Bear!
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Gram and Erin
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Rick and Julia
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Linda and ?(Harper or Maddie?)

Just to show we were outside at least a little bit….

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Me, Maura, Becky, Erin, Adelyn and Kate
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The girls plus Connor 🙂
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The crazy swimmers
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watching the action from the dock
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Brendan, Andrew, Seamus and Steve
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Maura and Becky snuggle with Andrew’s jacket to stay warm
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Jimmy and Tommy – their rivaly as kids has turned into a beautiful brotherly friendship as adults 🙂
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The Smiths
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Maura and Andrew
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Kate and Ben
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The sweetest soul -Becky 🙂
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Happy 80th Gram!
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Still able to blow out the candles at 80!

Sadly, because it was more of an inside day than out, I did not get too many photos and especially did not get one of Linda and Don which I feel quite sad about.The day was filled with much fun….swimming for Steve, Andrew, Seamus and Brendan – the crazies in the group!, lots of visiting and chatting and seeing all the littles -my niece Erin’s (and Tim’s) children, Adelyn, Connor; my cousin Kevin’s (and Julia’s) children, Avery, Harper and Maddie (twins – one had one ponytail and one had 2 pigtails so we could tell them apart – I am now forgetting which was which but think Harper was the one ponytail girl!),  Erin taking senior pictures of our guys and a couple family shots (though I regretfully did not think to ask her to take a photo of just Steve and I – major oversight on my part as it was the day before our anniversary)- and a hair crisis when my brother pointed out how frizzy my hair was (thank you thick out of control hair in humid weather- and thank you brother for always being there to point out such things ;)…but my hair team came to the rescue (thank you Maura, Becky, Erin and Kate)…whew – much better family photo after that!  Lots of good food, laughter and an 80th belated birthday celebration for my mom!!! So despite the lack of outdoor games due to weather and missing some family members who could not make it,  we had an amazing day.

So a huge shout out to Linda and Don for so generously hosting a wonderful party – catered by Tom who has been catering our reunions (not yearly – somewhat sporadically) for many many years….and to Rick , Steve and Cathie who now own the camp, for offering this special place to us.

Lots of love and light,

Suzanne

Perfectionism and Parenting

Perfectionism and I have had a long standing relationship though for many years I did not recognize it.  In second grade I found a  picture in the brownie handbook of how to keep your room clean – it showed a messy room and a neat room – complete with very neatly folded clothes in the drawers. I remember staring at that picture often, trying to arrange my furniture the same way and trying to keep my whole room, drawers and all, as orderly as the girl in the picture did.

So the roots of this trait go way back for me and while it has served me in some ways, it has hurt me in others. It helps me to be disciplined, organized and responsible but I am thankful that I have a learned to flow a bit more especially with family life. Living with 3 boyz and a highly energized husband has definitely pushed me to accept many ‘less than perfect’ situations- messy rooms, ‘stuff’ around the house, a schedule that is ever changing…but I have also been acutely aware that I have held onto that trait in other ways – being hard on myself and more easily stressed than I need or want to be and therefore harder on my family than I would care to admit even to myself …… especially to myself.

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This pile of college flyers that have been coming in the mail in triplicate for the past 18 months or so (much is tossed but much gets thrown here) …it has sat in upstairs hallway and I have learned, for the most part to ignore it….this is just one of many spots in my house that needs to be cleaned out!

Perfectionism tends to create an ‘if only’ mindset. ‘If only I had done things ___ way , everything would be perfect’. I think this about parenting situations all the time and this has been heightened by the sense that ‘I only have another year left with the boyz ‘to fix all that I have done wrong’.

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But I have been given a gift recently. We were looking thru photos and short videos and came across a video clip of Christmas 2004.  We were in a temporary house as we were building our current home.  Many of our decorations were in storage so we had fun making due and it was nice to just be simpler that year. It is of note as well that my dad passed away from cancer on November 24 of that year so I was not up to major decorating and festiveness.  So, in a moment of irrationality, I thought it would be fun to string popcorn for the tree…You know – think ‘Little House on the Prairie’ style – pure innocent holiday bliss ;). Well the reality of stringing popcorn (a very tedious task I might add) with three 4 year olds was not all ‘deck the halls’ and ‘ho ho ho’….I went upstairs to go to the bathroom (one downside to that house – bathrooms only on second floor!) at one point and came down to a room covered in popcorn (naturally- 3 unsupervised active boyz and a huge bowl of popcorn! – what did I think would happen?) So I yelled – I felt stressed, on edge and this was not what I had wanted this little activity to be like.  So long story long – when I think of Christmas in ‘the yellow house’, I think of that time and how upset I am with myself for not just laughing, enjoying the adorableness that is 3 preschoolers making a popcorn mess (very clean-up-able, as we all know)..and how my stress (in midst of building house, working, grieving….) impacted the boyz. Well upon seeing a short video of that same living room, that same tree (some popcorn strew on it) and those boyz – dancing shirtless like madmen to their favorite Christmas song at that time, I felt a huge sense of awe – that they were happy and I was watching them, attentive and reveling in their joy- not stressed and frustrated as my memory tells me I was. I was able to have some grace with myself as I was navigating a stressful time in the midst of the Christmas season of joy that year.

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This is the only photo I had from that year…boyz with Gram….the videos are grainy and old so would not transfer well…note the popcorn on the tree 🙂

 

Steve has been trying to tell me all along ‘you are a great mom’..his favorite quote used to be ‘hey – at least you don’t lock them in the closet’. While I appreciate that I do not overtly abuse my children, I am also keenly aware that it is often the subtle things we do as parents that impacts our children in significant ways (sometimes I wish I were ignorant of this- ignorance is bliss). But in watching the video and looking at pictures, I was able to see what he has been saying – that amidst those ‘mistakes’ were lots of moments of fun, joy, connection, and love. It is up to me which I choose to focus on, feed and help flourish.

 

Lots of love and light, 

Suzanne

Senior Race/Game

Well the first of the lasts have started….last week the boyz had their last home cross country race. There was also a soccer game that day so Casey opted to go to the game for fear of letting his team down. Seamus felt strongly about participating in his  senior race so he went to that, and Brendan chose to race this year and not play soccer (after 13 yrs of playing!) so of course he also raced.

 

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Brendan and Seamus with Coach Gary (a very old friend) and mom and pop of course

Seamus and Brendan running their fastest!

 

It was a big week in that Tuesday was the senior race followed up on Friday with the senior soccer game..

 

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The whole team, the 5 of us and all of the seniors with their families

My mom came up to watch the game and support the boyz. I felt teary for sure and it was a tough game against the hardest team in the league. That, topped by the fact that it was their 4th game of the week and it was a staff day so no students were around to watch the game . The girls team would have been the ones to rive in to watch it but they had an away game so could not be there. The boyz were disappointed about all of those factors – but they played hard and have had a great run with JCS soccer. Coach Randy has been good to the boyz and helped make it an enjoyable season.

I have felt sad to not be able to watch Brendan play this year. To watch all 3 of them for the past 13 years and then have the last year where they are the oldest, more confident, and really having a fun season, it is hard (for me) for Bear not to be part of that.  It is what he chose though and he is happy with his choice so I know it is best. Just one of the many times when our kids need to do what they feel is right  – even if it would not be our first choice for them.

So congrats boyz on a great Fall sports season – which is still in full swing with a game today, Friday and a race on Saturday! Whoo hoo!