Back To School And The Joy Of Shopping Alone

It’s back to school time for my four kids. I did a happy dance on the first day of kindergarten for my triplets.  The joy, the freedom, the peace between my two ears – there are no words to describe this glorious feeling.

My haphazard, scattered, hit-and-miss, summer blogging schedule has officially come to an end.  With four kids at school all excuses for not writing are finished, kaput, dead, no more, and will not be tolerated in this neck of the woods!!!!

 

 

“Summer blogging, had me a blast,

Summer blogging, didn’t happen so fast

Four kids home – one crazy me,

Fun and games – all there could be.

Summer days have drifted away,

So back to those blog writing nights.

(Uh Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!)……

 

The one thing I learned this summer is that 10-weeks of summer holidays, plus four young kids, sun, pools, camps, parties, vacations, games, and zoo trips results in one frazzled, crazy Mom.

It’s going to take a little time to get back to the real world.  On the second day of school, my alarm clock failed to go off.  Thankfully my little early bird woke me up at 7 am before we really had to shift into third gear to get our school show on the road.

Four kids washed, dressed, fed and watered, lunches made, back-packs filled, car-loaded, kids transported and deposited outside the school door, all happened in a 30-minute flurry of activity.  I was so pleased with myself once I got home to savor the peace of my quiet home.  I daydreamed as I filled the kettle, then turned around to see Luke Skywalker, light saber in hand, staring at me from the counter top.  I had forgotten to pack one lunch box.

Never Forget Luke Skywalker

So off I set again for school, where I chatted with the assistant principal.  I asked her how my grandmother managed to get 13 children ready for school, or wherever it was they had to go each day.  The key, she reminded me, is that my granny never had three children all at once.  The older kids always took care of the younger ones.  I felt a little better then, accepting I am not a complete failure altogether.

I consoled myself with a trip to the supermarket.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, but after enduring 10-weeks of grocery shopping with four kids in tow, I savored every moment.  When I pulled my cart into the check-out line, I was astonished at how empty it looked without those extra boxes of unwanted, sugary, breakfast cereals, no contraband hot wheels cars or Lego figurines, and no unnecessary cookies or juice boxes.

Each time we took a trip to the store this summer, I said a little prayer before I unleashed the hounds.

 

“Please God, help them be good this time.”

 

But God’s idea of good for a child in a grocery store, seems to be a little different to mine.

Try as I might to be that calm, shopping-list toting, ever-so-organized mother of four perfectly behaved, cart-escorting children, I never succeeded.  Before we wound our way through two aisles, the boys were inevitably running at break-neck speed, crashing into architecturally beautiful, but precariously balanced displays, or scaring little old ladies to death with their pleading entreaties for the best thing ever since sliced bread.  Before long I transformed into the order-issuing, barking mother I tried so hard not to be.

And so, now that my four kiddos are at school, and I am afforded the incredible pleasure of shopping ALONE, I won’t mind it one little bit if I am mowed down by a toddler begging his mother for one more box of cookies.  I’ll smile and say to myself:

 

“Those were the days!”

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

A Good Education

Back to school supplies now line the shelves of Kentucky stores, in preparation for a mid-August return to school.  As I loaded up a cart with pencils, glue sticks, crayons, and markers, I reminisced about how much my grandmother valued education.

“Stick to the books,” she used to say.  “A good education will stand to you in years to come.”

And she was right – my education was my ticket to America.

www.vintagerio.comImage Credit

After Irish people crossed the Atlantic to the New World during the 19th and 20th centuries, parents worked long hours to send their children to college.  A good education was prized above all else, seen as a ticket out of poverty by Irish Americans.

With four school aged children, my pile of school supplies quickly mounted. A smile spread across my face, as I remembered  an amusing anecdote from years ago, about how the Irish value education.

So here’s my little story, which I hope will bring a smile to your face too.

 

A wealthy Boston socialite hired an Irish maid who unfortunately was not
very diligent or attentive to her duties.   One day this fine lady accosted
Molly.  She took her gloved finger and wrote her name in the dust covering
the top of her grand piano.

 

“Look!” she exclaimed.  “I can write my name

in the dust.”

 

Molly just smiled and folded her arms.

 

 

“Ah yes, ma’am,” declared Molly.  “Isn’t education a

grand thing altogether.”

 

I bet if Molly had been fortunate enough to receive any schooling, she would have left this fine lady in the dust.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

 

A Lesson For My Children From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I first celebrated our national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Elmira, New York in 1988.  At the time, I did not realize it was only the third official time Americans collectively paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martin-Luther-King-1964-leaning-on-a-lectern.jpgImage Credit

I debated at length whether or not to write a post about  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for my blog this year.  My Irish birth and relocation to America after the significant events of his life, made me feel unworthy to pass comment. Truthfully, my simple knowledge of his formidable legacy intimidated me.

As I mulled over the significance of this holiday, I realized I have a duty to my four American children, to know the lessons Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to teach us.  I must learn to verbalize why I admire Dr. King, to help them understand the importance of commemorating his achievements.

His commitment to unconditional truth and equality, and his trust in the power of unarmed protest to challenge the status quo, make him a leader I want my children to fully appreciate.  I look forward to a journey of learning together, as they progress through their American schooling over the coming years.

Dr. King was instrumental in promoting change to create the America I proudly call home.

I do not consider America perfect, a fact Dr. King fully understood.  I make this statement aware of the challenges our nation faces.  The American Revolution occurred over 200 years ago.  America’s evolution continues to this day.  As a new American I am proud to be a part of this evolution, because of Dr. King’s courage.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MLK_tomb.JPG#filelinksImage Credit

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life we must not merely look back.  His lessons apply to our future, as much as they ever did to the past.

So rather than study quotations from his most famous orations, I decided to read Dr. King’s last sermon delivered on Sunday, March 31, 1968 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.   I wished to gain insight into his next planned endeavor, The Poor People’s Campaign.   His sermon, entitled “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution“, caused me to wake up and listen to his important words on poverty.

 

“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now

have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The

real question is whether we have the will.”

 

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Nearly forty-four years after this speech poverty continues to plague America and the world.  His legacy demands we confront poverty with a will to overcome it.

And so I ask myself do I have the will to help work against poverty?

Do I accept Dr. King’s challenge to “help bridge the gulf between

the haves and the have-nots?”

 

I may not be able to recite large portions of Dr. King’s speeches from memory, but this weekend I celebrate his life by deepening my understanding of his message.  I hope someday to take my children to visit the newly erected statue in his honor.

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Yet I know this is not enough.

His enduring lesson for my children is accepting our collective obligation to end poverty in the world.  I pray we, as Americans, can work together to achieve his goal in my children’s lifetime, but preferably in mine.

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

To School On Time – Enrolling Triplets In Pre-School

Here is a little advice for mothers of multiples when choosing a pre-school.  I always thought I would enroll my triplets in an early morning class, but when I was given the option of a noontime class, I jumped at the idea.

Why would a mother do such a thing? Would it not be easier to get all four kids out the door together in the morning?

Not in our house!!!! I learned my lesson last year. Four kids, seven and under, to school by 8 am, two mornings a week is not a feat for the faint-hearted.

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I tossed around the time choices in my head:

morning …. afternoon …. morning ….. afternoon…..

I envisioned the potential early morning mayhem of our rise and shine routine. All four kids washed, fed, and dressed, is just the beginning of our saga.  So many miniscule jobs need attending to, it takes a miracle for us to make it out the door, with all vital bits and bobs in the appropriate backpacks. No corners can be cut. Attention to detail is paramount.  Some of these details, if forgotten, can cause a melt down of unforeseen proportions.

Let me elaborate a little further and paint an appropriate picture of  our sunrise chaos.  Here is a sample early morning task list if all four kids are to be ready on time:

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  • Make eight slices of toast. As they pop out two at a time, remember all special requests of the intended eater. Two slices cut into four triangles, two slices in four squares, two slices crustless, and two with cream cheese, rather than butter
  • Complete the school trip paperwork for seven year old son, which should have been done yesterday. Somehow, that sheet of questions, and fill in the blank spaces, felt like a calculus exam at midnight.
  • Find a pen that actually writes to fill out form.
  • Write the check to pay for said school trip, so your poor child is not the only one left behind on the appointed day.
  • Find an envelope, somewhere in the mess that is the office, to hold said form and check.
  • Find the missing toy train which has rolled under the couch or the coffee table, before a tantrum starts. Suddenly it is the most important posession in the whole wide world.
  • After finding said train, make a mental note to check four-year old son’s backpack in a few minutes for such pre-school contraband.
  • Remind four-year olds not to rub their noses on the back of their hands, but to use tissues instead.
  • Apply a liberal dose of ointment under son’s lower lip. Skin is red raw from a new habit of constantly biting and licking said lower lip.
  • Make lunch for seven-year old, praying nobody grabs your buttered slice of bread, while you search the back of the fridge for cheese.
  • Do not forget to fill a small container of honey mustard sauce, to accompany said sandwich. The teacher does not want to listen to how ketchup just does not taste the same as honey mustard sauce.
  • Identify the superhero backpack that is cool enough for a seven year old, and insert lunch bag.

 

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  • Grab a handful of tissues, blow all three triplet noses, and remind them once again to use tissues.
  • Apply toothpaste to four toothbrushes, as the four musketeers argue over who is going to spit out first.
  • Line up three pairs of feet, apply six socks, and six shoes, and pray that number one has not removed said shoes, by the time you are finished with number three. My boys go ballistic if there is even the slightest wrinkle in one of their socks.
  • Listen to seven year old whine that he failed to get the wrinkles out of his socks, then proceed to remove his shoes, straighten socks, and re-donn shoes.
  • Apply hand sanitizer to help fight those germy germs, only to witness noses being wiped on the back of hands. Be thankful mittens have not yet been applied.

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  • Pop on coats, hats and mittens, and try to explain why it does not matter if you wear a blue mitt and a red mitt together.
  • Remove toy train from four-year old’s backpack.
  • Decide whose turn it is to press the button to open the garage door, all the while explaining, if we open and close it three times in a row, said door might fly off the rails and collapse on the unsuspecting van.
  • When all are clicked and strapped in to their car seats, attempt to evacuate the garage before someone remembers something so important, it cannot be left behind.
  • Return to house to retrieve all items forgotten.
  • While reversing out the driveway, try to remember whose favorite song is which track on the CD.
  • Try to get to school before four-year old daughter’s favorite song “Delilah” is played, since if you listen to even one line of it, you will be singing it in your head all day long.

 

Sorry about the length of this post.  Now you know, in no uncertain terms, why I opted for afternoon pre-school sessions for my trio. Three less messy minors to fuss over first thing in the morning, is the best choice for this Irish-American Mom.

My advice for all mothers of pre-school triplets – seek an afternoon class.

Wishing you years of happy schooling.

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

 

The First Confession – An Irish Short Story By Frank O’Connor

My son made his First Confession this week.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the proper name now, but try as I might, I can’t seem to get my mind or my tongue around the new name.

Everything is far more relaxed nowadays, compared to when I was young. Multiple Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s are no longer doled out as penance.  Even the austere, wooden confessionals of years gone by have disappeared.

Church Confessional Image Credit

Back in my day, nuns put the fear of God in our hearts if we could not remember our Act of Contrition.  I remember thinking I would never make it to heaven if I messed up the lines of this all important prayer.

Every two weeks my father took us to confession when I was a kid.  As you can imagine, coming up with new sins was no easy task, so I just relied on my usual list. One time, after confessing my litany of mundane, harmless ten-year-old sins, like not sharing or an odd fight with my sister, the priest announced my penance.

“Five Our Father’s and Five Hail Mary’s, twice.”

I nearly fell out the door of the confessional in shock.  I wanted to tell the priest my usual sins should get my usual penance, one Our Father and One Hail Mary, but I was so nervous I just burst out laughing. I left the confessional with a severe case of the giggles.

I don’t know how many Our Fathers and Hail Marys I chuckled my way through that evening, but I am sure I fell well short of the ten of each ordered.  There is something about laughing in church.  Once started, it’s impossible to stop.  I don’t think anyone in my family completed their penance that evening.  I had to be herded home before I “disgraced the family.”

 Old Church Confessional Image Credit

As my son prepared for Reconciliation, I reminisced a little about confession.  A short story by Irish writer Frank O’Connor came to mind.   My greataunt, or grandaunt as we called her in Ireland, loved to read O’Connor’s short stories to us.  ‘The First Confession’ captures the pattern and rhythm of Irish life in the 1950’s.

The story is told by Jackie, a seven year old boy, who must make his First Confession before his First Holy Communion.  My favorite part is when he enters the confessional box.  Anxiety leads to confusion, causing him to mistake the elbow rest as the kneeler.  Here is a little excerpt:

“…… it was on the high side and not very deep, but I was always good at climbing and managed to get up all right. Staying up was the trouble. There was room only for my knees, and nothing you could get a grip on but a sort of wooden moulding a bit above it. I held on to the moulding and repeated the words a little louder, and this time something happened all right. A slide was slammed back; a little light entered the box, and a man’s voice said “Who’s there?”

“Tis me, father,” I said for fear he mightn’t see me and go away again…….  I took a good grip of the moulding and swung myself down till I saw the astonished face of a young priest looking up at me. He had to put his head on one side to see me, and I had to put mine on one side to see him, so we were more or less talking to one another upside-down. It struck me as a queer way of hearing confessions, but I didn’t feel it my place to criticise.

“Bless me, father, for I have sinned ; this is my first confession” I rattled off all in one breath, and swung myself down the least shade more to make it easier for him.

“What are you doing up there?” he shouted in an angry voice, and the strain the politeness was putting on my hold of the moulding, and the shock of being addressed in such an uncivil tone, were too much for me. I lost my grip, tumbled, and hit the door an unmerciful wallop before I found myself flat on my back in the middle of the aisle.”

This is just a short excerpt from The First Confession.  The complete story is included in Frank O’Connor’s Collected Stories.

The full text is also available on the Ireland-Information website.

 Confessional box in Church of Our Lady of GuadalupeImage Credit

Everything went smoothly for my son when he made his First Confession – no giggles, no falling out of confessionals.   Afterwards, he asked me a very important question.

“Mom, will God tell Santa that I am on the “good” list now that I’m forgiven?”

I couldn’t bring myself to give the all-clear with a resounding “yes”.  I assured him his slate was wiped clean with both Santa Claus and God, but reminded him there’s a whole month left before Christmas.

Lord knows I need help from Santa’s elves to enforce a little order on my trio of high-energy boys.

 

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom