Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Men v. Women

Our youngest son shared this little gem on the family text stream the other day.  It illustrates so perfectly how men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  Their brains work so differently, they truly might as well be from different planets!

Yes, while a woman is having deep thoughts about the meaning of life or whatever, along with any number of worries about her family or plans for that day and the rest of the week, a man might be simply thinking of the Red Sox or dinosaurs or maybe even nothing at all.  (My husband, from time to time, has answered "Nothin'" when during some quiet stretch I've asked, "Whatcha thinkin' about?"  And I just don't get how that can be!  Nothin'?  Really?) But sometimes, I really wish I could stop my brain from racing along at 100 miles per hour, flitting from one thought to the next until everything is a tangled mess in there.  It can be exhausting.  Sometimes I wish my brain functioned on a simpler level, like a man's.

And I'm not bad-mouthing men when I say that; in fact, it’s much the opposite.  I actually love the way they don't waste a whole lot of time looking for hidden meanings in words, for example.  I love the way they get over things so much more quickly than women seem to be able to do.  And that's the beauty of God's plan, I guess: that the two sexes should be equal but different, complementary, each in need of the strengths, gifts, and talents the other has to offer. When a man and a woman are joined for life in Holy Matrimony, and the two become one...well, there just isn't any union more perfect than that.

'Tis true, however, that in some ways, men always stay boys at heart (says this mother of all sons).  So no matter how old they get, there will still be lots of random thoughts about velociraptors.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A Future Member of the Class of 2034!

One of the teachers used those words to describe the group of sweet little students who filled the stage at our granddaughter’s kindergarten graduation back on May 10—that they were the future high school graduating Class of 2034.  Yikes!  Those parents were having enough trouble seeing their babies graduate from kindergarten; they were in no way ready to imagine how before they had time to blink, the next 12 years would fly by!  (Did they need to be reminded?!  That seemed like cruel and unusual punishment!)

The adorable graduates marched in to “Pomp and Circumstance,” in caps and gowns no less.  Each child had a few lines to say at the microphone, then the group enthusiastically sang some songs with beautiful Christian messages.  Medals and diplomas were received, one by one. They really do up these school events with a lot more bells and whistles these days than they did when our boys were little.  Sometimes I think it’s too much too soon...but I also can’t help but get caught up in all the excitement.  Not to mention all the cuteness.

I loved seeing that precious little girl being the family star on her big day; but I also loved seeing the expression on MY former little boy's face as he watched (and filmed) his daughter.  He was a very proud daddy.

Our sweet granddaughter Princesa (oldest daughter of son #3) is a shy yet precocious young lady, 6-going-on-16.  She’s a little mother’s helper—which is appreciated these days, with a baby boy recently added to the family, making it five kiddos altogether (and the oldest is only 7).  Princess holds and carries her baby brother like a pro.

I am not anxious to see the year 2034 come too soon; but I also can’t wait to see the grown-up woman this girl will be by then.  I predict great things for her future.  And she always insists that one of the things she wants to be is a MOTHER.  Watching the way she handles little Jet, and the adoring glances he’s already giving her, I have no doubt that she will be a very good one.

Congrats to this lovely little Class of 2022 graduate.  (Class of 2034?  Let's not go there yet, please!)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Postcards from Iowa

We have been staying at our oldest son's house in Iowa this past week.  His darling family moved away from us, after being our VA neighbors for more than four years, just after the New Year.  [Cue heartbreaking sobs.]  We hadn’t seen them since we drove out in February, shortly after the birth of their new baby girl.

It’s been wonderful to be here, to see them creating this new life out here: making their homesteading dreams come true on their bucolic four-plus acre lot, complete with a beautiful old farmhouse, huge outbuildings, garden plots, and plenty of grassy pasture areas for the cows they plan to own soon.  We were here for the delivery of their 50 chicks, but we leave in two days so unfortunately we will be gone before the cows come home.  (See what I did there?)

Our son and his Regina plan to grow and raise as much of their own food as they can, and to continue homeschooling their brood--which with the new baby includes five daughters and one son.  We like their survival odds if the dire predictions for the world's future come to pass.

Our boy’s four oldest girls (who are also our four oldest granddaughters) are all voracious readers, doll and animal lovers, and quite talented with a needle and embroidery thread. They seem perfectly suited to an old-fashioned, sweet and simple, Little House on the Prairie sort of life. They’ve got acres of soft green grass to run on and plenty of trees that are perfect for climbing. They will certainly bloom where they’ve been planted.  (As will their brother, who idolizes and terrorizes them in equal measure!).


These pictures I’ve snapped this week look like postcards to me.  So hello from Iowa!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I ❤️ My Boiz

This is kind of an addendum to yesterday’s post.  Just a quickie.

As my husband and I boarded the plane last night for the first flight of our two-leg trip out to Iowa, I looked at our Pearl family text stream one more time before putting my phone in airplane mode.  And there was this text shared by son #4:

He also said our band’s next album title was going to be “Don’t Step on a Crack.”  🤣

I ❤️ my boiz.  They make me LOL.

Monday, May 16, 2022



We have developed a wonderful tradition during the five years we’ve been in VA: our boys who live locally pick a night to come over to our house--without wives or kids--to have cocktails and dinner with us and spend a few hours visiting with their dear old mom and dad, as a Mother's Day treat for lucky me.  It wasn’t my idea originally (one of my daughters-in-law suggested it the first May we were here), but I LOVE it.  (And I've blogged about it before, because like most old folks I tend to repeat my stories.)  This Mother-Boy extravaganza usually takes place the weekend before or after Mother’s Day, so that the guys can be with their wives on the actual holiday, helping their kids make the day special for their moms.  This year, my Mother's Day celebration with my boys happened this past Saturday.

Our bookend boys, #1 and #5, weren’t going to be with us; we only have our three middle sons living nearby now, so I set the table for five.  Our oldest son, who was at last year’s Mother’s Day dinner, has moved out to Iowa. And we had just recently made a trip to visit our youngest son in Nashville, and we knew he wouldn’t be able to make a long trip like that to join us for this...

Or would he?!

It's the craziest thing!  Son #2 had reached out to our baby, thinking that the worst that could happen is he'd say sorry, can't make it.  But as it turned out, he actually had some time off--his graduate school classes had just ended and the next ones weren't going to begin for a few weeks--and he figured the drive wasn't prohibitively long.  So he drove here from Nashville on Friday and spent the night with his older brother.  Son #2 came over on Saturday evening as expected.  But then shortly after he got to our house, we heard a knock...and when my husband opened the door it was son #5!  Oh my goodness, it was kind of shocking!  Neither my husband nor I had even the slightest inkling that this was going to happen, so the kids pulled off a spectacular surprise.

And I got to set another place at the table--always a joy for a mom whose favorite thing in the world is having all her grown-up chicks gathered in the nest again!

We had some Kentucky Mules before dinner.  My husband cooked steaks and chicken on the grill.  We had cheesy hash brown casserole, salad, rolls, and gooey brownies generously topped with chocolate frosting (courtesy of son #2's wife, my baking buddy).  Like Mary Poppins, the meal was practically perfect in every way.

I have the best boys (that's an objective statement, by the way).

Son #4 said we should pose like this.  I guess it's the way every band from the 80's--90's?--looked on their album cover pictures?  I don't know.  I tried to play along and look tough, but I'm not sure I nailed it.

When I saw that last picture, I experienced a bit of deja vu.  It immediately reminded me of one that was taken back in 2007 and is my husband's all-time favorite picture of our boys and me.  The oldest is missing in this new one, and only sons #3 and #5 are in the same places as they were in the original (all four would have been if we had set out to try to recreate the picture, but we weren't thinking about that).  But it's pretty close, don't you agree?

After having all my chicks gathered in the nest again, my next favorite thing is seeing our boys hanging out together. This brothers-only time is a precious commodity these days, with all of them having so many commitments with their own growing families.  After making such a long drive, our baby decided to stick around a few extra days to get more time with his brothers and play favorite uncle to his many nieces and nephews.  He stayed with son #2 and his family on Friday, the night before the surprise.  Then he stayed with us on Saturday night and with son #4 last night. Tonight he will stay over at son #3's house, and then he'll be headed back to Nashville tomorrow.  I so appreciate his wife, who wasn't able to take the time off of work to accompany him but wanted to give him this much-appreciated time with his family.   We not only have the best boys; we have the best girls as well.  (True story.)

A belated Happy Mother's Day, dear readers. Please pray for our safe travels, as we're headed out to Iowa this afternoon for a week-long visit with our firstborn and his gang.  Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Year of the Play Date (Part II)

Okay, so here's the continuation of that post I wrote the other day.  That is, if you're interested in hearing more about play dates at Papa and Grammy's house!  There will be some cute photos, if that helps to pique your interest.  ;)

When we moved to VA five years ago, we didn't expect to make many friends in our peer group.  We knew that we'd be very busy with family events and commitments, with four of our sons and all of our grandchildren living nearby at the time.  (When we moved here, we had only seven grandchildren altogether, and three of our daughters-in-law were due to give birth within a few months; we now have 19 grandchildren.  It's been a busy five years, to say the least!)  We were in our late 50's, leaving a beloved town where we'd lived for more than a quarter of a century and moving to a new town where no one knew us.  Plus, we planned that we would spend the summer months each year up in NY, managing our Vrbo rental property.  How were we going to have the time or energy to make real friends in our adopted home town?  We had no expectations of having a social life here in VA--at least not with anyone who had a different last name than ours!  We truly didn't expect to make lasting ties outside the family.

One of the biggest blessings of our move (aside from the fact that we would now live close to so many of our family members, of course) was the wonderful Catholic parish we've called home since we arrived here.  The people there are extremely friendly and we've always felt very welcomed.  But during this past year, we have really started to make dear friends at our church.  Since several months before the election in 2020, we've made a practice of going to daily Mass and staying for the Office of Readings and Morning Prayers afterward.  Along with the much-needed graces, an added benefit of this is that we have met so many lovely faith-filled fellow parishioners.

Through our parish, we met a nice man who is a daily Communicant, and he and my husband really hit it off. And lo and behold, we found out that his wife was originally from the same area of Upstate NY where my husband and I grew up.  Aside from that, they had made a big move from the Midwest to this part of VA not quite a year ago to be close to two of their three grown sons and some of their grandchildren--because like us, they had lived for a long time (35 years, even longer than we had lived in NH) in one house, but when their boys left home and settled far away, they were constantly traveling to see them.

We started going out for coffee after Mass once a week with this couple, whom I'll call T and R, and the more we talked, the more we realized we have in common.  What a gift--unexpected, but greatly appreciated--it has been to have friends who are in our same stage of life and with whom we can talk about pretty much anything without worrying that the subject will be "taboo."  They, too, live for their faith and their family.  Like ours, their lives very much revolve around the schedules and needs of their boys and their grandchildren.

When we'd meet for coffee, T and R's 3-year-old granddaughter K was almost always with them (R watches her while her mom is working).  So we thought it might be fun to get this little sweetheart of theirs together with our Hermanita, which we did one Tuesday or Thursday a few weeks ago.

I decided that I wanted to introduce R to the rest of my VA girls. So yesterday, I hosted a little mom's coffee/play date with her and my three local daughters-in-law. Braveheart came in the morning as usual with 2-year-old Hermanita; but Ginger also came with Jedi (4), Topper (3), and Quartus (1).  Unfortunately, my daughter-in-law Preciosa was on her way over to join us with her two youngest, Bichito (2) and Jet (6 weeks), but Bichito got sick in the car and they had to turn back.  :(

Anyway, we ladies had a delicious brunch and sat and chatted, the kids played together beautifully, and it was just an all-around delightful morning.

My friend R and her granddaughter had to leave before lunchtime, but Ginger and her boys stayed while Braveheart picked the triplets up from school, and when they got back the “big” cousins got to play together for a little while.

I must be the luckiest person on earth to be able to enjoy all this day-in/day-out, ordinary yet extraordinary time with these precious grandchildren.  They can come for play dates at Grammy's house any time they want!  The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned.

And here’s a joyful little postscript: today, my husband and I are attending the wedding of one of the friends we’ve made because we see him every weekday morning at Mass.  Life is indeed full of unexpected blessings!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Year of the Play Date (Part I)

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, we have had a standing play date at Papa and Grammy's house on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Our triplet grandchildren Pumpkin, Peanut, and Paquita (who turn 5 in August) have been enrolled in a pre-K program that meets on those days each week at the Catholic elementary school in our town.  Because it's about a 35-40 minute drive for our daughter-in-law Braveheart, she drops the big three off at school in the morning and then comes over to our house with their 2-year-old little sister Hermanita.  We have coffee and visit while Hermanita plays in the basement and gets a couple of hours of one-on-one (or three-on-one) time with her mom and grandparents, and then our DIL goes to pick up the triplets just before lunchtime.  Unless we have an appointment or something going on in the afternoon, Braveheart brings them back to our house and they all have lunch here and stay to play for an hour or two before heading home.  On the rare days when the eagerly anticipated after-school play date doesn't happen, the triplets are terribly disappointed.  If their little sister is in the car when Mom comes to get them at school, they know they're not coming over to our house that day--and unless they've been adequately prepared for that reality, they are apt to have melt-downs.  

It's nice to be so popular!  Honestly, though, I don't know if it's us or our house that they love most.  They're always very happy to see Papa and me, of course; but they also love playing with the toys in our basement playroom/kid haven.  We have lots of old books and toys that belonged to their dad and his brothers back in the day; but we've also purchased a number of playthings--both new and used, boy-friendly and girl-friendly--to add to the collection and make it so that there's something for everyone.

My son and his wife think Hermanita looks like me.
I'm flattered, but not sure.  Do you see a resemblance?

It's a very busy playroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Just finding a bug in the doorway provides endless fascination.

I can't imagine how different our life would be if we hadn't moved 5 years ago.

I also can't imagine what life would be like without this finished basement in our VA house!

This area of Papa and Grammy's house gets a lot of use,
I'll tell you!

Sometimes, more moms and kids join us for these play dates--because the more the merrier, right?  More on that tomorrow (I hope, but if not, soon!).