Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Right where I'm supposed to be....

Don't have time to blog today, but I thought I'd share this piece that I wrote for Catholic365.com a few weeks back. Their site has wonderful material on it if you're interested! Have a blessed day!
Right where I'm supposed to be!
Photo Credit: Flickr/Caden Crawford

Friday, December 12, 2014

Come with me!

Handsome and beautiful for the Christmas show! It looks like Cecilia has too much lipstick on, but in reality,
her lips are just very chapped!
Last night my husband and I were lounging on the couch after the kids were in bed. He said that he would like to go to Mass this morning for Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day. He was thinking of going to the 8:30 a.m. Mass at our parish, which happens to be the school Mass (so our older kids would be there).

I was instantly sad for two reasons. Number one, if you read this blog, you might remember that I have a very special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her picture is in our hallway and I stop to talk to her often. I wanted to go to Mass too!

Number two, it meant that I would be left trying to get three kids (and me) ready and out the door for preschool by myself. This isn't a big deal, but it sure is nice to have an extra set of hands (usually my husband sticks around a little after the big kids get on the bus at 8 a.m. so I have a few minutes to get myself ready).

When I expressed the first reason to my husband (I kept the second reason to myself...this is my job as a stay-at-home mom...I'm sure that he has things that he doesn't like about his job too!), he simply said, "Come with me."

"Really!?!" I felt like asking him if he was nuts. We take all six children to Mass every Sunday, and it's less than fun (especially for me as I usually end up in the narthex with Lucy and Teresa). And this week, we went to Mass on Monday for the Immaculate Conception (with the three little kids as the big kids went to Mass at school)...the mishaps of that Mass were still fresh in my mind. Plus, it would be a rat race trying to get everyone out by 8:20 a.m.

"Really!?!"

I quickly decided that it would be good for me to go to Mass on such a special day. The benefits could greatly outweigh the hardships. Maybe the Eucharist would give me the grace and strength that I've been seeking this week (Teresa is kinda/sorta/not really weaning and it's making a mess of my hormones!). Plus, it felt nice to be invited somewhere. Even if it just was by my husband!

Mass was...as expected. I left very early with a screaming toddler who promptly took shaky steps right into the wall...and screamed even louder with a new goose egg. Lucy thought it was fabulous to go and out of the church door (it is much too crowded on Sunday's to play this fun game). I missed the Consecration so Lucy could spend some "I think I have to go" time on the potty.

But, I was there. And, the blessings, graces, and strength are coming (I just don't feel them yet...but that's faith, right!?!).

Wishing you a beautiful blessed Advent. I have very little time to write these days, but thanks for stopping by! Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us :).


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Shock...

I told Gianna to brush her hair and it turned into a sister's hair party...love it :)
I started this post on Monday! Lucy stopped napping again, so writing just isn't happening...

Anyway, there was no school on Monday because it was the first day of deer hunting (that's not a big deal where I grew up, but it is here in Pennsylvania!). Luckily, I had some place fun to go with the kids.

Every year, my good friend Anna hosts a Toys for Tots (collecting new toys so unprivileged children will have something to open on Christmas morning) party on this day. It has grown from a handful of kids in her playroom to quite an event! It was held in the big fellowship hall at our preschool, and there was Zumba, Hershey characters, crafts, picture-taking stands, and tons of Christmas snacks. Everyone had a blast...and for such a great cause!!!

Getting out the door to this party was complete chaos. I sadly watched my husband get dressed and leave for work. That left me with seven people to get together before we went anywhere. You'd think the older kids would get dressed (appropriately) when I asked them, right? Too much to ask? I guess so!

Cecilia (age 5) and Lucy (age 2) actually love to dress themselves. And, if I let them pick their clothes...it's a win-win :). So, at least two out of seven were ready to go!

The rest was a ridiculous struggle (because I had to feed them breakfast too...lol!). After asking Justin (age 4) nicely no less than five times to take off his pajamas and put on the clothes that I had laid out for him, I finally lost my cool.

And, I'd be lying if I said that I regained it (my cool) before we left :). Somehow, everything happened and I sent the kids out to the minivan.
The Zumba instructor is helping Lucy bust a move (with a Hershey bar looking on!!!)
I asked...not holding my breath, of course...that everyone get themselves strapped into their car seats (and/or help the little ones who needed help).

I took the baby upstairs with me to brush my teeth. I assumed that I was going to open the garage door and find children gleefully playing. I was picturing Lucy in the driver's seat (she loves it there!), a few kids wandering around the front yard, and Daddy's yard tools (hanging in the garage) strewn about.

Instead...to my complete and utter shock, I opened the door to the garage and found five children strapped into their car seats. And, no one was fighting. In fact, it was...silent.

I just stared...and then I broke into a silly, goofy grin. I could feel my blood pressure returning to normal and my crankies melting away. Alleluia...someone had heard something that I said! And, not only heard it, but followed through!

"Oh wow!" Joseph said. "We made Mom happy!"

I asked if it was hard to make me happy. Joseph said, "Um...no...just get strapped into our seats." I said, "Actually, you did it the first time that I asked and without complaining."

And, Mommy wanted to sing, hug each of them, say prayers of thanksgiving, and dance. :)

I hoped it would sink in that I'm really not a cranky, scream-y, high stress, ready to explode Mommy...but I just get that way when I'm ignored (repeatedly). Lesson learned?

NO.

But, I'll call on that moment of opening that garage door often...because it means there is HOPE!!!!!

Wishing you a beautiful and blessed Advent, friends! Thanks for reading!

My sweet boys at the holiday train display at a downtown museum!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Marked Tardy

My big 1-year-old :)
This is my catholicmom.com piece for November if you missed it:

"OH! No wonder you were late," said the pleasant nurse after I told her the ages of my children (she had asked). There was only one problem. And, really it wasn't a problem at all. Rather, it was just the slight wounding of my pride.

"I wasn't late," I said a bit too harshly. "I was told to be here at 7 a.m., and I signed in at 7 a.m.!" She apologized and said that she hadn't noticed me in the waiting room (probably because I had taken the baby into the farthest corner so that she wouldn't disturb anyone!). I just smiled a fake smile.

My baby had arrived at 7 a.m. to have a bilateral myringotomy...otherwise known as ear tubes! After months of chronic ear infections, I was relieved that a procedure would take away her pain (and perhaps mean more sleep for both of us!).

Thank God, my prayers were answered and the short procedure was a success with no complications. Everyone was very competent, professional, and lovely to the baby. We were home by 8:30 a.m., and I could see the improvements in my baby immediately! All was great.

A few days later, I got the evaluation in the mail. Was I happy with the service that I had received? Yes! If so, would I please send in the questionnaire (very simple...just circle 1 to 5) in the pre-paid envelope?

All I could think of was what the nurse said to me about being late. I felt that she had judged me as a woman and as a mother. Sensitive much!? Trust me, I am well aware of my shortcomings as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc.! There's quite a list of things that I would like to change about myself and things that I am working on. But, being late is just not one of them!

Later than night, my 8-year-old daughter came downstairs in tears around 9 p.m. A little bit of honesty: It's very hard for me to be a loving, caring mother at 9 p.m. when I'm so wiped out myself. I tried though (this time)...really!

Turns out that her once-a-week computer class (which she had that day) was stressing her out. She said that the teacher pointed out that some students were clearly not trying their best because they did not finish the project. This devastated my daughter. She told me (and I truly believed her) that she DID try her best, but she's just not as fast as others (I can see this as she has very limited technology time at home). She said that she didn't finish...therefore she must be a terrible student.

I lovingly explained (luckily, I snapped back into maternal mode!) that this comment was not intended to hurt her...or even geared toward her at all (her teacher herself told me that she's in a "difficult" class). She internalized the message and it was making her feel rotten (not to mention anxious about her entire future!).

Hmmm...internalizing something and letting it take over your emotions. (Female anyone!?)

I want my children to be able to put things in perspective. How can I teach them this if it is one of my growing edges? I know emotions (and sensitivity, in particular) are gifts. But, letting them take over rational thought is not fair...to me or others!

My daughter actually came up with a beautiful solution for both of us. She asked me, "Will Mary help me with this if I ask her?" YES!!! She asked to be better at computers and I asked for graces to know my worth in God's eyes (lest I not be so concerned with what others think) and to take myself more lightly.

We said a Hail Mary together....and we both felt better.

And, I was late for preschool the very next day. I glanced at the clock...and smiled. If the nurse had said the exact same thing to me on that day, I would have readily agreed! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Extra Incentive...

Lucy's very first time on stage at preschool for Grandparent's Day...she nailed it :)
Last night Cecilia (age 5) was sitting in my lap playing with my hair. Suddenly she stopped and stared. Then, she was trying like crazy to "get something out of my hair." I knew what it was, but I didn't offer the answer. 

Finally she said, "Mommy, what are these white strings in your hair?" I said, "They're white hair." She gasped, "You mean, you're just like Elsa!?!" She seemed to love this development.

Ha! I wish I was as excited about my white hair (and they do seem to be white...not gray!). Luckily (unless I'm deceiving myself!), they're not too noticeable yet unless you are standing close to me and searching for them (at least that's what I tell myself!).

My sister is a hairdresser. She has an adorable salon in the Boston suburb that I grew up in. She offered a free haircut (badly needed!) and free highlights (would love!) for Christmas if we come up. Hmm...one more reason to make the trek to Boston!

Wishing all of you a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Thank you God for sending Jesus and for countless blessings in my family and in my country! Amen. :)



Saturday, November 22, 2014

This is the day that the Lord has made!

A celebratory smile after a first step :)
Last night I captured this picture after Gianna was present for Teresa's first step. Gianna had been "teaching" her to walk right before the big moment! Of course, I was in the kitchen and I missed the step. I said, "I am with this baby 24/7! How is it possible that I missed it!?!" Oh well...hopefully there will be another "first" step because Teresa is 100% back to crawling today!

Anyway, last night I drove Gianna to basketball at 7 p.m. Her basketball class is 7:15 to 8:15 twice a week through January. I hate that it's so late. Gianna does well, but some of the other kids in the class appear to be overtired (read: acting crazy!) at that time of day. But, she really enjoys it, and that's only time for 2nd graders. So, out we went into the dark freezing cold night for basketball!!!

On our way, we drove by the Orange O at our neighbor's house. I've mentioned this several times before on the this blog. Our neighbors tragically lost their 8-year-old son three years ago when he was hit by a distracted driver. To honor him, they have created a foundation against distracted driving. At their home, they have the letter O in bright orange lights. It shines 365 nights a year.

I always say prayers when I drive by. I assume that Owen is in heaven so I ask him to pray...first and foremost for his mom, and then I add the rest of his family and our family too! Last night, I was very aware that I had an 8-year-old in the backseat. And, after some quick math, I realized that Gianna was EXACTLY the same age as Owen when he passed. This just made me pray for his mom even more (I think of his dad too, but my prayers come from one mother's heart to another). Needless to say, I really enjoyed basketball last night!



In action...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

In the moment...


A throwback to a year ago! A computer virus has sadly eaten all my recent pictures :(.
 I love remembering little baby Teresa though!
Today is Saturday. And, I am a single parent today as my husband is giving presentations at a big conference for our Diocese. I have not handled this day very well. It's easy to blame my children for being SO ridiculous!!!
 
No really, so ridiculous! There have been so many unavoidable tears this day that it's kind of insane! Just for an example, if Mommy says, "Take off your shoes when we get into the house," then you shouldn't wait until you're at the top of the stairs...and throw your shoes down the stairs for them to hit the several siblings running upstairs behind you. And, if Mommy says, "Please watch the baby for just a second when I wash my hands," you shouldn't give her a big cup of ice water (this baby did not sign up for the ice bucket challenge!).
 
But, they are children. I am supposed to be the adult who is in control of herself (if not her surroundings). I have pleaded and begged my older children to help me (for example, simply doing something the first time that I ask makes a huge difference in my sanity!). My pleads went unheeded by Gianna. I am amazed that so much attitude can come from an 8-year-old. I do remember being loaded with attitude as a child, but I could've sworn that I was older :).
 
I recently read about Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. I guess she had horrible temper tantrums as a child...until she received her First Holy Communion and became a totally different child at age 7. I have decided that I am going to ask her intercession as my Gianna prepares for her First Penance (January) and First Holy Communion (May). Of course, I am going to equally ask that she intercede for me as Gianna's mother. I know that a lot of her (Gianna's) behaviors could be eliminated if I was a more effective parent. I'm trying, but it's so hard to try to be loving, patient, just, and forgiving of first offenses when your adrenaline is pumping and you are angry...especially when you are trying to deal with other children at the same time!
 
Throwback of Gianna and Teresa! Both have grown so much this year. Gianna is a great girl...I got a very good report from her teacher at conferences this week! I'm so proud of her.
Joseph might have saved the morning. He was in a great mood. As he saw me begging Justin to take off his sleeper and get dressed this morning so we wouldn't be late getting Cecilia to dance, he said, "Mom, I'm going to say a Hail Mary for you right now." Ahhh...how did he know that this was the most perfect thing to do...like ever!?!
 
I was instantly more peaceful. Joseph loved my reaction so much (big hugs for that!) that he went on to say a Glory Be for his father and an Our Father for everyone in the world. Love that!!!
 
I must go now to wake the nappers (Lucy has been napping again...Alleluia!!!!!) so we can pick up Gianna at Brownies. Speaking of Brownies, I know that a lot of devout Catholics do not have their daughters participate in Girl Scouts because of their known connection to Planned Parenthood. This connection is troubling to me. But, our Diocese has wonderful Catholic scouting programs and at least right now (not sure about when she gets older), I love what she is learning (about her faith, leadership/friendship skills) and that she is completing service projects (they are making baskets of Thanksgiving food for the needy this afternoon). And, she LOVES it! Just FYI!
 
Have a blessed day, friends! It is 2:30 and Daddy should be home by 5. We'll be very happy to see him :).