Happy Bird Day!!

Max’s favorite time of year—the holidays!! Thanksgiving is one of Max’s favorite days because it combines all his favorite things: food, football and family.


This is Max’s description of a perfect Thanksgiving day.
• Wake up
• Go to Mass
• Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
• Watch the National Dog Show
• Make food ( or watch sisters and Mom cook food)
• Watch TV
• Play games

These are the recipes for what Max believes to be staples in the Thanksgiving menu.

1. Put turkey in the white bag
2. Put turkey on the oven
3. Cook until 430 seconds
4. Eat

Mashed Potatoes

1. Put the potatoes in hot pan
2. Take sugar and flour
3. Mix in roasted cheese dip
4. Mix potatoes and cheese together
5. Eat
(“Max- do you need to mash the potatoes?” “Nope.”)

Why is he carrying that photo around?

Why is he carrying that photo around?

1. Have corn on cob
2. Grill it on the grill outside
3. Put corn on the cobb in hot water
4. Put hot top pan opener (I have no idea what he means by this…)
5. Boil
6. Eat

Double Fudge

1. Make fudge in big large bowl
2. Put whip cream and mix together
3. Get 10 eggs
4. Put double fudge brownie in pan
5. Put that stuff that makes it not get greasy on the pan
6. Eat

What Max is Thankful for:
1. Grace & Leigh coming home to visit
2. Emma, that we get to get married together
3. That I get to play games today
4. That my little nephew is very chickadee (again, I don’t know what this means)
5. For Jan Michael marrying Mary
6. For Lebron James coming back to Cleveland
7. Football
8. Macy’s Parade and that 4 years ago the guy from Big Time Rush pointed at Leigh when she was at the Parade
9. For Big Time Rush—and that I will be in the band with them.
10. Christmas Music
11. For Michael Buble because he’s dreamy

Notice who Taylor cuddles with... not her boyfriend! (also-- that dang picture again! LOL)

Notice who Taylor cuddles with… not her boyfriend! (also– that dang picture again! LOL)

Games to play:
1. The best game in the world (pretty sure this has a different name… it involves paper, pencils, writing a sentence and having multiple people illustrate and interpret it)
2. Apples to Apples
3. Video games he wishes!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Holy Canoli– High School!!

Well, it happened. Our baby is officially a freshman in high school. Max couldn’t be more ecstatic- he’s been counting down the days since he stepped foot in middle school three years ago. Max always has his eye one the future excitements, while still enjoying every second of the present.

Max, Mary and Therese all ready for their first day of the 2014-2015 school year!

Max, Mary and Therese all ready for their first day of the 2014-2015 school year!

Here are a few highlights of the last 9 weeks:

First day of school

Max did not have much to divulge about this topic. He is a typical teenage boy, a man of little words (well, a man of little words when you’re actually trying to get him to talk). The only things he would tell me are as follows: his locker is number 449, his favorite class is chorus, which he gets to take with Therese and his favorite teacher is Miss Turnbul. His answer to just about any other question is “I don’t know…” or “Pretty good.”

New Friends

Max is honestly the most popular person in our family. I even think that some people only like us because of Max and I’m totally okay with that. Needless to say, Max has had absolutely no problems making new friends this year while still maintain the old ones. He knows everybody and says hi to almost every person he passes in the hallways. Do you all remember Jake, Max’s “man crush”? He was the studly Gaston in last year’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Jake is also in Max’s chorus class, and according to sources the two have become “best buds.” Jake even gave Max his practice jersey to wear to the football games!




Max has covetously watched all six older siblings dress up for school dances. For years he has been talking about the day he would get to take his girlfriend, Emma to homecoming. As life would have it, Emma’s cousin got married on the same day as their school’s Homecoming dance and she wasn’t able to go this year! It was such a pity and initially, they were sad about it. Then decided to make the best of it. They had a date the night before instead. Max took Emma out to eat at the fanciest place he could afford, The Golden Arches (McDonalds) before escorting her to the football game. They even snapped pictures before their date—just like they would have the following night if they were going to the dance.

Look at the eyebrow! Wish I knew what he was thinking!!

Look at the eyebrow! Wish I knew what he was thinking!!

Now, Max is so cool, he still made it to homecoming, and he didn’t go by himself. A pack of seniors, Therese and her friends wanted Max to come with them. Max got all spiffed out and went to dinner with the crew. Therese snapchatted us while they were at dinner. Max was super cranky. The reason: he wanted to get to homecoming and dance! If you know Max, then you know that he LOVES food, and he especially loves going to restaurants. He must have been really excited about homecoming if dinner beforehand seemed like a nuisance!

Ladies Man. A freshman guy surrounded by senior girls.

Ladies Man. A freshman guy surrounded by senior girls.

When they finally made it to the dance, Max broke. it. down. At one point during the night he had a break-dancing solo. Everyone stood around him in a circle and chanted his name. This kid’s life is something out of High School Musical.

While Max was dancing center stage, his buddy Jake was a wall flower on the sidelines. Max went and grabbed his hand and pulled him out onto the dance floor. Jake stayed out there and danced with our little man. Later he told Therese, “I hate dancing. I wouldn’t have done that for anyone except Max.”

That’s the thing about Max. He gets you to do the things you never want to do, and helps you to have fun while doing it.

His Favorite TV shows of the Fall

These include but are not limited to Martian Marvin (or “Marvin Marvin” as he calls it), Once Upon a Time and Dancing with the Stars. Almost every week he calls me to see if I watched Once Upon a Time, and if I haven’t had time to yet, he tries to spill the beans! Dancing with the Stars has always been a favorite, but it’s a double whammy this season because Sadie Robertson from Duck Dynasty is on. Here’s Max imitating Alfonso Ribiero and doing the “Carlton.”


Max now has enough testosterone in his system to require shaving multiple times a week. This is no problem when Dad is around. However, Dad and Mom decided to skip town for a couple of weeks and left Mary in charge. Mary had no idea how to shave Max’s face. Thankfully her fiancé Jan Michael came to the rescue! Look at how cute these future brothers are!

Max felt so grown up!

Max felt so grown up!

The School Play

Tess is once again acting in the fall play. This performance is not their usual feel-good musical. It’s a drama about the holocaust and Therese plays a mother who ends up dying. One evening Therese was working on memorizing her lines and cried (since the script called for tears) as she confessed, “I’m a Jew!” Max walked up to her, patted her back and said, “Silly Therese. It’s ok- You’re a Catholic!” The only tears left after that line were the result of laughter.

This fall Max got to play in a challenger soccer league. Dad says Max is probably the best one out there. He scored three to four goals every game. “I hear you’re the best one on the team!” I said. “Yep! I am!” He proudly exclaimed. Dad also said he’s never seen Max move so fast or breathing so hard. Maybe we can convince max to lay off the cheese puffs if we tell him that he’ll be faster when he plays soccer…

He is sooo proud of his trophy!

He is sooo proud of his trophy!

FUS Alumni Volleyball Game

Mary and I got to return to our college Alma mater for an alumni volleyball game. Max, Therese and Jan-Michael came with us. Music played the entire time we were warming up… which means Max danced the entire time we were warming up. It was for almost a full hour and he didn’t run out of moves. He kept right on grooving. Here’s a snippet Therese caught of his twerking skills. He says the dancing was his favorite part even though he got to be a line judge during the game as well.


Max got to sing in the fall concert. Emma was also a part of the choir and she and Max were hanging out backstage waiting for their turn to go on. The Middle School choir was singing. Naturally Max and Emma grabbed each other and started to dance behind the curtains. Any music that’s playing they always take as a cue to dance. Talk about seizing the moment! Max and Emma dance so well together. I have no idea where they get their moves. I know they both watch Dancing with the Stars, but it’s not like they get to practice together or anything. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

After the concert...

After the concert…


Ready to spool some trick-or-treaters!

Ready to spool some trick-or-treaters!

Mom said Max was too old for trick or treating this year, but that didn’t keep Max from having fun. He dressed up and passed out candy and of course carved his pumpkin. Unfortunately Max’s plans of scaring the kids that came were foiled. Max couldn’t hide anywhere but on the front porch because it was raining! Max said the best costume was a little boy who dressed up as a Power Ranger. No surprise- look at his pumpkin!

Therese's is the Sunflower on the left. Max's is the Power Ranger Mask on the right.

Therese’s is the Sunflower on the left. Max’s is the Power Ranger Mask on the right.

And now, the end is near…

The first quarter officially ends this Friday. It has certainly flown by! I keep teasing Max that he’s going to have all F’s on his report card. “No I’m not!” He laughs. “Yes you are, I know, I’m a teacher, remember?” “Please stop.” He says annoyed. “What do you think you’ll get?” “A’s. All A’s. I’m smart.”

Smart, confident and popular. That’s our little man!

I'm Max. I'm cool, and I know it!

I’m Max. I’m cool, and I know it!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Apparently we take a summer hiatus on this blog…

Apologies for the lack of posts. It’s certainly not because of lack of material…in fact, it’s more because life has been providing us with so much of it that we haven’t actually had time to write about it. We promise to write soon about Baby Brandon (the nephew), vacation and… an engagement!

For the time being, I’ll provide you with a narrative of our trip to the Jake (ok, FINE. Progressive Field) for Max’s first Indian’s game of the season, but hopefully not his last.

Have we ever told you Max is obsessed with sports? Max will call me just to give me play-by-plays of what is going on during the game he is currently watching. His favorite teams include The Ohio State Buckeyes Football team, the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Indians. He is always begging to go to see his teams play and doesn’t get to very often, so it is a big deal for him when he is able to.

Then, Mary and her boyfriend Jan Michael had a scathingly brilliant idea. As a present for Max on his Confirmation day, they bought him a ticket to an Indians’ game for the following weekend. The boy was ecstatic! He showed everyone who was at the house to celebrate. He would also continually ask throughout the day, “Hey- where’s my Indians’ ticket?” as if it would walk off or be taken if he didn’t check on its whereabouts every hour. To say he was excited would be an understatement.

Max had to wait six days for game day. He counted down all week. Then finally… the big day arrived. It played out exactly like this:

6:13am– Max woke up and dressed in the outfit he had carefully chosen earlier in the week. He wore his gray Indians shirt, red and blue plaid shorts and of course, Indians’ ball cap

6:15am– Max dug around in the closet to find his baseball glove. He needed to bring it with him, so he could catch any homerunes that might be hit his way

6:18am– Got a bowl of cereal. Plopped himself down in front of the TV. Waited for the rest of the house to wake up.

8:45am– I (Grace) woke up. I come downstairs still in my pajamas because it’s about two and a half hours before we have to leave. Max impatiently asks “Grace, why aren’t you dressed yet?!”

9:30am– I go upstairs to get ready for the day. When I get out of the shower Max comes barging into my room, “Grace–when are Mary and Jan Michael coming?!” “They’ll be here at 11 o’clock. Don’t worry.”

9:40am– Mary calls to tell me about their crazy morning and that they’re going to be a little late.

9:42am– Max: “Who was that?” (Having heard my phone)
Me: “That was Mary.”
Max: “What’d she say?”
Me: (deciding to have a little fun) “She said Jan Michael is sick
so they can’t take us to the Indians’ game today…”
Max: “What?” (blank stare… look of utter disappoinment)
Me: “Just kidding! She said she was going to be a little late but
we’re still going!”
Max: (Look of relief) “Grace! You joking!!”

11:30am– Mary and Jan Michael arrive. The four of us pile into the car and merge onto I-77 heading towards Cleveland.

11:37am– Max falls asleep because he’s been up since the crack of dawn.

12:00-1:00pm– Mary and I amuse Jan Michael with our musical talents as we sing along to the radio.

1:01pm– We park and try to wake Max up. This is no easy task. The only thing that makes it possible is the reminder that we have to get to the stadium fast if we want to get our free Nick Swisher bobbleheads.

1:10pm– Stadium in sight. Max walks faster

1:12pm– We enter the gates and receive our bobbleheads. Mission complete.

"BROHIO!" This little baby sits on my bookshelf at home now

“BROHIO!” This little baby sits on my bookshelf at home now

1:13pm– We head down to the third base sideline. Even though it’s the opposing team’s batting practice, we figure it still might be worthwhile. They could toss us a ball or something, right?

1:15- 1:24pm– We teach Max how to yell and wave at the baseball players. “Put on your glove Max! Ask him to throw you a ball!” Max puts on his glove, and excitedly puts his hands up. Now it’s rare that Max, Mr Schmooze, ever acts nervous, but he must have been intimidated by these athletes that he was too shy to ask them for a ball! It was so cute!

1:25-1:30pm– Time for selfies

This trio on the third base sideline. Note the bobbleheads in hand

This trio on the third base sideline. Note the bobbleheads in hand

1:31pm– Jan Michael suggests we walk around the stadium to kill time before the game starts. Mary and I agree. Max refuses to leave his spot against the fence. I can tell by the way he’s looking down onto the field at those balls that went foul during batting practice that he wants one.
“Max you want a ball?” Mary says. Max nods. “Ok Sweetie, then you have to ask someone.” Max puts on his brave face, pulls his glove onto his hand, looks at the coaches on the field and softly yells, “Hey! Over here!”
“You need to be louder Max. It’s okay. Don’t be shy.”
Max, mustering up more courage, “Hey– over here!”
It was barely louder than his first attempt, but it was loud enough. One of the coaches walked towards the sideline, grabbed a ball, looked up at Max from behind kind eyes and said, “Let’s see how good you are. I’m gonna toss you this ball– you ready to catch it?” Max said nothing, but smiled and stuck his glove out. When the coach tossed it, Max missed the catch (nerves) and scrambled to pick up the ball. He stood back up and the coach asked him, “What’s your name buddy?”
“Max.” He softly replied.
“Ask him his name!” Jan Michael whispered into Max’s ear.
“What’s your name?”
“Ellis Burks.” the coach replied. “Have fun watching the game!” He yelled, before returning to the field and his team. Max beamed. He could not believe he got a baseball– and got to talk to a real live baseball player!

We just got a baseball from Ellis Burke!

We just got a baseball from Ellis Burke!

1:36pm– Max decides now that he has his ball, we can go walk around the stadium.

1:37pm– We go to the team gift shop where Max spends some of his money on a new Nick Swisher Indians shirt.

1:45pm– He insists on changing so that he can wear his new shirt.

1:49pm– We go to the concession stand and buy our hotdogs and drinks.

1:53pm– We find our seats in the bleachers. Max inhales his food and puts his glove on, ready for the game to start.

1:58pm– Max proudly belts the National Anthem at the top of his lungs.


2:00pm– Play ball!

2:20pm– Max sees a sign informing the general public that photos tagged “#tribetown” will be put on the big screen. He begs us to do it. We take the obligatory selfies.

One with Mary...

One with Mary…

...and one with Grace

…and one with Grace

2:22pm– Max starts speaking in hashtag. This means he started saying the word “hashtag” before specific words in his sentence. For example, he’d look at me, grin and say “hashtag-hungry” meaning, he wanted me to go buy him some more food. This “hashtag” fixation continued throughout the entire day.

2:43pm– “#we score!”

3:03pm– Jan Michael puts his arm around Mary and holds her hand. Max looks over concerned…
Max: “Jan-Michael, what are you doing?”
Mary: “He’s holding my hand Max.”
Max: “Why?”
Mary: “Because he loves me.”
Max: “… that’s sweet…….and adorable……..and weird. Jan– don’t touch my sister!”

Max with the "Lovebirds"

Max with the “Lovebirds”

3:11pm– “#double play!”

3:15pm– “#I need my sunglasses…”

3:28pm– “#swisher!”
Me: “#-stop with the hashtags!!”
Max: “#no” (rascally grin)

3:37– “#slider”

3:40pm– “#hungry” (for the 15th time)
Me: “I’m only going to get food because I want some too.” I was lying of course. I’d do anything for this freckle faced kid, but I can’t let him think he’s more spoiled than he already knows he is!


4:11pm– Game ends- Tribe wins!

4:30pm– We get back to the car and head home, planning to stop for dinner along the way.

5:30pm– Find a great spot for dinner. The boys head to the bathroom while we wait for our table.

5:40pm– We’re seated. Jan tells us that when they got into the bathroom Max decided he was going to use a stall. While he was going, he was chatting away to Jan Michael about the game. Jan Michael kindly told Max,
“Hey bud– you don’t really talk to people while they go to the bathroom.”
“Oh-ok.” Max said and silenced himself. About a minute later the only other person in the bathroom left. Upon hearing the door close Max says to Jan Michael, “#pooping.”

5:43pm–Mary and I both die from laughter.

5:55pm– Our food comes. Mary asks Jan Michael if he wants her pickle. He says yes. She drops her pickle on his plate. I ask Jan if he wants my pickle. He says yes. I drop my pickle on his plate. Max says nothing and drops his pickle on Jan’s plate.

5:58pm– Max is distracted by the TV. I motion to Mary, telling her to put the pickle back on his plate, wondering 1. if he’d notice 2. what he would do

6:04pm– Max looks at his plate. Immediately notices the pickle. Gives us a look like, “Really?” and tosses the pickle back onto Jan’s plate.

6:22pm– We begin the final leg of our journey home.

6:53pm– We got off the exit as Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” pulsates out of the car’s speakers. Max sings with all his might. He gets into it so passionately he hits the head rest of the seat in front of him…accidentally punching Jan Michael in the head too.

6:54pm– Mary and I cry from laughing so hard

6:55pm– Max continues to sing the song and tears well up in his eyes as he sings, “No I never meant to start a war, I just wanted you to let me in, and instead of using force, I guess I should have let you win…I guess I should have let you in…” (He’s a tender-hearted dude)

6:59pm– We arrive back at home.

7:00pm– We join Mom and Dad who are relaxing on the back patio, recounting the day’s events to them. Max beamed the entire time, grinning from ear to ear, wiggling his eyebrows as we described his orneriness and laughing when we tell them about “#pooping” and punching Jan Michael in the head.

Max rubbing Jan Michael's head apologetically

Max rubbing Jan Michael’s head apologetically

What Max said… (fame has gone to his head)

Have we mentioned Max loves the show Swamp People?

The show is a staple in the Burnham household on summer nights. We all love it.

Earlier this week Max’s friend Connor invited him to “Deerasic Park” — although I don’t entirely know what it is, I do know that it is an educational center for kids and I’m assuming it has something to do with the outdoors based on it’s clever name. Wanna know why they’re going? THE SWAMP PEOPLE WILL BE THERE!!

I was so jealous when Leigh told me about it!

Today is the big day- in fact, Max is probably hobnobbing with the Landry’s as I write this. Max was so ridiculously excited this morning he had to call Leigh. His main desire was to rub it in her face and make her jealous (see– a normal brother).

Max: “Leigh, I’m going to see da swamp people.”

Leigh: “I know Max! I’m so jealous!”

Max: “I need to take pictures for my uh…what do you call it? Blog!”

Leigh: “Max, you are such a diva!”

Max: “Yup I am!”

We’ve created a monster… a swamp monster….

What Max Said… or would have said had he been there…

The following is a facebook status I borrowed (or stole…I guess all it depends on how the author views it)

Last fall Ben and his girlfriend Taylor had the opportunity to study abroad in Gaming, Austria. One day they were both sitting in class listening to the Scripture professor explain an old Jewish law in order for them to understand the passage better:

Professor: “It used to be that if a woman was married to a man and he died, it was the law that she needed to marry his brother.”
Ben: (whispering to Taylor) “Max would like that law.”


Yes…Yes he would!!

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. – See more at: http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/Down-Syndrome-Facts/#sthash.HLIs3juz.dpuf


Trilingual– sort of…

Most of us siblings have taken at least three years of high school Spanish. Ben was forbidden to take it and forced to take French for two reasons: 1. His sisters played many tricks on the Spanish teacher at our small school and had gotten away with it far too many times and 2. Ben is much more ornery and creative than we are. Hence, our parents banned him from the subject in hopes to protect the poor teacher. True story.

It’s become fairly common in our house to throw out Spanish phrases in daily conversation– simple things like numbers, greetings and necessary questions and useful sentences such as “Hola senorita chocolatos monitos!” Which is something like, “Hello Miss Chocolate Monkeys…” (Hey I took it but unfortunately did not pay much attention; translation, spelling and grammar are probably wrong).

Max has picked up a few lines as well… For years his favorite phrase was “hello tu-migos!”

In school Max has extended his Spanish vocabulary and brings it into conversation quite often. About a month ago, when most of us were home for Therese’s school play, we were all gathered around the TV watching HGTV’s ‘House Hunter’s International’-– a crowd favorite in our home. If you’ve never watched the show, the set-up is always the same: someone is looking to buy property in a foreign country, they look at three different houses/apartments while being filmed and make their choice at the end of the episode. This particular night some family members came into the room having missed the beginning so Max promptly informed them…

“We’re on house dos.”

Leigh: “You speak Spanish Max?”

Max: “Yes, ‘two’ means ‘dos.'”

After a good laugh and a relay of what Max had said for those who had not heard it themselves I decided I wanted to test his knowledge to see how much he actually knows.

Me: “What’s ‘one’ in Spanish?”

Max. “Uno.”

Me: “What’s ‘three?'”

Max: “Quatro.”

Me: “No- that’s four.”

Max: “Seis?”

Me: “No- that’s six.”

Leigh: “Oh, I thought ‘seis’ was seven. That’s ‘siet…'”

Max: “Sefen is fiancee!”

Siete=Fiancee… He’s got me… they do sound a lot a like… and what’s a kid supposed to do when his sister’s speak broken Spanglish and Ben can throw out some pretty decent French? This kid is doomed…





Using the Weak to Lead the Strong (#ThrowbackHolyThursday)

With 10 minutes left in this day and absolutely no energy left to finish it out, I’m going to go ahead and wish you all a Happy Holy Thursday!!

"This is my body, given up for you..."

“This is my body, given up for you…”

This is one of my favorite days of the whole year, mostly because of celebrating the Institution of the Eucharist, but also because of all the beautiful music the choir prepares for the evening. I love it so much that one year, even though I planned to celebrate Easter on Sunday with my friends on campus at Franciscan University, I drove the hour home specifically to go to that Mass with my family for Holy Thursday.

That night Max and I were doing the dishes and when he found out that I wasn’t going to celebrate Easter Vigil with him he looked at me with tears in his eyes, confusion and the sweetest face and said, “You joking?”

Pain. Pain in my chest. I felt like the worst sister ever.

Needless to say, the next year (and the next year) I celebrated the entire Easter Triduum at home. Last year I was privy to overhear this conversation right after Mass ended on Holy Thursday:

Max: (watching the altar servers strip the altar and cover the statues) what are they doing?
Leigh: they’re putting everything away because Jesus died.
Max:  (sad and thoughtful pause) …I miss Jesus…
Leigh: it’s ok, he rises from the dead on Easter.
Max: (perks up and says matter-of-factly) that was a pretty good idea…

Oh man– I freaking LOVE this kid!! Going to Mass or praying with him is always such a humbling experience. It reminds to cling to that child-like faith.

Here’s an example that ties in well with Good Friday. A couple of years ago I was putting aloe vera on Max because he had a bad sunburn (polish/irish skin + no sunscreen= little red lobster with Downs). After I covered his face, he stretched his arms out in either direction and winced as I rubbed them. Then he looked at me with a serious face and said,

“Hey Grace… do you think that Jesus’ arms got sunburned while he was on the cross?”

My heart and mind stopped. I looked him dead in the eyes and realized that this little boy with Down syndrome was not only contemplating the mystery of the crucifixion and what that would have been like for Jesus, but he was trying to unite his sufferings of the moment with his Savior.

Holy crap.

He was just a little pre-teen… with Down Syndrome!

God reminded me of something that day…

“…God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…” ~1 Corinthians 1:27-28

And you know- I think Max is right… it seems pretty plausible that as Jesus hung on that cross during the hottest hours of the day that he could have gotten a sunburn. Even if he didn’t, what Max helped me to remember is that Our Lord probably suffered in many more ways than we even know during the Passion. His sweet meditation opened my imagination and helped me to enter into the Crucifixion that much more.

I hope it helps you too.


Easter morning 2009

Easter morning 2009

What Max said… a follow-up to yesterday’s post

Leigh called me late last night to share this hilarious story.

She was congratulating Mom on a job well-done with the Pie Jesu and Mom was touched to hear that both Max and Dad had cried. Max popped onto the phone and Leigh asked him

“Why’d you cry bud?”

Max: “Because I missed my grandpa.”

Mom: “I think he really does associate that song with Grandpa. I think he remembers me singing it the day after he died last year.”

Leigh: “Is that true Max?”

Max:  “Yes.” (matter of factly) “I hate that song.”


editor’s note: Max is a total liar. According to sources he had to be shushed because he was singing along with Mom.

The Voice of an Angel

Maxman enjoying his chili on this lovely Sunday...though annoyed with this picture

Maxman enjoying his chili on this lovely Sunday…though annoyed with this picture

The Burnham Family loves to sing. Ever heard of the VonTrapp family? 5 girls, 2 boys love to sing and play tricks on babysitters/governesses together? Yep, that’s us… kindred spirits. In fact, we used to recreate those scenes from the Sound of Music and perform them for our grandparents. Grammie wanted to be our manager and make us famous. I’m not quite sure why that never happened…

I’m fairly certain that our love of music comes from me madre. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of Mommy singing to us as she put us down for a nap. When she sang with our church choir (before any of us were old enough to join), I remember listening specifically for her voice and finding comfort in hearing her sing. Then I would try to imitate the harmonies she sang. 

 In 6th grade I joined our parish choir; to say that it was special to sit besides my momma, working and praying through music is an understatement. It was idyllic…and heavenly… which might sound cheesy, but I’m not sure there’s any other adjective to properly describe it.  As the years went by, almost every Burnham child spent time singing in the parish choir…except Max. He sure wanted to though!!

Max loves, and I mean LOVES music. Can’t get him up in the morning? Just start playing Miley Cyrus, “Party in the USA;” He bounces right up. Want him to join you while you run and errand but he wants to sit at home and watch TV instead? Tell him that you’ll play “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros; He turns off the TV and runs into the car.

Because all his big siblings have sung with the choir, Max has desperately wanted to join since he was about seven years old. For a long time we were able to control his urge by reminding him that he was too little and had to be in middle school before he could join. Max’s solution was to sing as loud as he possibly could from the congregation and act as a second conductor… cuing in not only the choir, but the rest of the mass-goers when it was their turn to sing (talk about endearing– this is why everyone loves him).

Surprisingly, since joining chorus at school Max has given up on his dream to sing with the church choir. I guess that urge is satisfied by singing with his friends. Choir has also taught Max a lot about blending his voice into the mix (thank goodness). At Mass our little gentlemen now sings on key and does not try to be the center of attention… or at least not as much as he used to.

That being said, Max still loves the music during Mass. He takes special pride whenever Mom has some sort of special part to play (for example, singing the psalm). Max will always give Mom a wink of affirmation as he walks by the choir on his way back from communion. Today was one of those days.

In honor of Palm Sunday, the choir always sings Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” from Requiem.  Though sung in Latin, the English translation is as follows:

Merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus
Father, who takes away the sins of the world
Grant them rest, grant them rest
Merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus
Father, who takes away the sins of the world
Grant them rest, grant them rest
Lamb of God, Lamb of God, Lamb of God, Lamb of God
Father, who takes away the sins of the world
Grant them rest, grant them rest

Imagine for a moment, the woman who gave you life and was your first source of comfort and consolation. She taught you about Jesus and the faith through lessons and daily living, she prayed with you every night before bed and sang you to sleep. As you grow up your understanding and faith deepens, and a huge contributing factor is the prayers of that woman, as well as her witness to live out the Gospel despite all her struggles. You become an adult, move away from home and family and learn how difficult it can be to live in this world and be faithful…especially when you’ve fallen many many times.

Then your sister sends you a soundbyte via text on a morning when you are especially homesick. It’s your Mom, singing, imploring the merciful love of Our Eternal Father. And that voice, the voice of the woman sang you to sleep as a child continues to calm you, and bring peace to your troubled soul, reminding you of all those truths she’s taught you and lived out over the course of your life.

You can’t remained unmoved…


… and neither did Max. Mary said that Max (and my dad) cried this morning as he listened to Momma sing. While I doubt Max could be super articulate about his inner feelings and thoughts, the fact that a fifteen year old boy was moved to tears by the sound of his mother’s voice during mass kind of speaks for itself.

I called him to see if I could get a better explanation:

Me: “Maxie- I heard Momma sang at Mass today.”

Max: “Yes, Mom…has a voice…is just wonderful.”

Me: “How’d you react?”

Max: “Me cried.”

Me too Max. Me too.

Wanna hear our lovely mother sing? Click on this link: She’s soprano #2 (the second voice you hear, the lower harmony) Happy Holy Week!

What Max Said… College Girls edition

Last Friday while Therese and Mom toured campus for Therese’s college visit, Max went to a bio class with Ben. While Ben gave a great presentation which earned him praise from the professor, Max sat in a desk playing his DS and waiting for the whole thing to be finished.

When the class was over, the Burnham brothers left the building and as they walked some girls yelled hello to Ben. As soon as they noticed Max, they gave a big “Hey Max!” to him as well. Then Max, without even responding to the girls, turns to Ben with a cheeky grin and said, “The ladies love me.”

Cue simultaneous laugh and eye-roll.

Later that evening, I caught him walking around the Stella reunion hugging all the pretty girls…including people I had never met. I teased him that I was going to tell his girlfriend about his exploits and Max exclaimed, “No Grace, it’s ok. It’s just as friends.”

This child knows how to get away with everything… but then again, how can you blame us? Look at this stud:

Max shucking corn last summer

Max shucking corn last summer