Hello, Dolly!

1612 1612_ () 1612 1612 We have here today an amazing giveaway prize: a three-cd set of Dolly Parton’s biggest hits, the essential Dolly Parton I’d say. Good stuff, right here.

I am sworn to complete and utter secrecy on how I came upon this incredible prize. And really, all that matters is that it is up for grabs and all you have to do is enter! Drawing is open until sometime Thursday.

Also, congratulations to Joanna, entrant no. 24 from the oh-so-long-ago PsiBands giveaway!



Flesh-eating Boulder Monkeys

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For monkeys that eat your flesh, these guys are so cute! (p.s. Tune in tomorrow when we have a mega-big giveaway!) (and announce the winner of the last giveaway…sorry.)

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More with the love/hate

1610 1610_ () 1610 1610 Today is a snow day, a day of no school but sadly, no snow either. It sure seemed like we were going to get some, but none ever came.

So the boys are home and they are in disbelief at their good fortune.

“I really needed a three-day weekend,” sighed Elliott. Life is so very hard when you are ten. In his defense, I will say that his class performed Hamlet this past Friday and that took a pretty big toll on everyone. He probably does need the break.

“Are you sure we don’t have school,” Charlie has asked at least three times. He keeps looking out the window at the perfect weather, wondering what we are doing home.

The boys had been playing outside a bit, but the frigid temps brought them back in. I noticed two of the boys had been at each other’s throats all morning, arguing about this or that. There was some pushing and shoving, some words, etc. Finally after reaching my utter limit of it all, I sent the offending parties to their room, the one they share.

“Just go,” I directed, “and I will bring lunch up there to you.”

They headed up the stairs and I was amazed at how quickly the squabbles stopped. A few minutes later, however, one of them hollered down to me and I braced myself for more refereeing.

“Mom,” bellowed the boy, “will you tie my robe?”

“Um, sure,” I said, caught off guard.

And not ten minutes after they had been sent upstairs, the two of them were standing in front of me wearing their robes and getting them tied. They looked like a pair of miniature lounge lizards, about to entertain for the evening.

I tied the robes and they scampered back upstairs to finish the fort they had started. Just like that. 1610″ . ,


Sibling Rivalry/Affection

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Around here, we have our fair share of brotherly love. Now that I have a house filled with boys, however, I realize that term is a lot more complicated than I ever used to imagine.

One of the things I love most about boys is that what you see is what you get – for better or for worse. For a long time, I struggled with this facet of my boys’ personalities. They were not able to keep quiet when they were upset, or to just hold that thought until we were at an acceptable time and place to deal with the problem. I saw this as a character flaw that we needed to work on and adjust.

My ideal was to have the kind of children who, when they felt they had been wronged, would lock that emotion away until another time, bring it up in a private setting when we could hash things out.

It turns out, those kinds of children are rare, and mostly they are girls.

Over time, I have come to appreciate this part of my boys’ nature. These boys don’t lock away anything – they deal with the issue right then, which can be frustrating. But the good news is that we never hear about that issue again. That’s actually a healthy way to live.

In our family, when one brother is upset with another – especially if he feels that he has been wronged – it is not unusual for people to take matters into their own hands. By that I mean swift justice and equal retaliation.

That’s all well and good, except that when you’re standing at a First Communion reception and your brother bumps into you, that’s not the time to heave back into him. This same rule applies to a whole host of other social events including Mass, grocery shopping, and your Aunt Joanna’s wedding reception. Not acceptable.

So while I appreciate that my boys don’t bury their anger and let it fester, we are still learning how to handle things in a civilized and acceptable manner.

Beyond general brotherly tiffs, I have also noticed that we as a family go through seasons where, based on age and personality, there might be two brothers who are not getting along that well.

For a long time, this was the case around here. Brother “A” and Brother “B” could barely sit by each other at the table without some kind of issue arising. It was not a constant battle, but I could bet that if there was some kind of squabble among my brood, it generally involved those two being annoyed with each other.

It has been this way for years. A while back, I met a wonderful woman who also has a bunch of boys and she noted this dynamic in our family when we spent some time with her. She told me that in her family of now grown children, there had been a similar relationship among two of her boys, and that those two were now the best of friends.

I’ve written about this before, because it was one of those life-changing moments for me. I felt such a sense of hope for these two – that perhaps they weren’t destined to spend the rest of their lives constantly driving each other nuts.

And sure enough – something has changed. These two boys are now on the same basketball team at school, and this alliance has formed a bond that wasn’t there before. It is beautiful to witness.

It feels like a victory – even just a very tiny one – to see the fruit of some of our labor. It is beautiful to see the love these brothers have for each other, to have a sense of the relationship they are forming that will last a lifetime. An important part of family life is learning to work through the differences you have with these wonderful people God put in your life, the ones you call “sibling.”

When you grow up, the good Lord willing, they will be some of the best friends you will ever have. 1609″ . ,