Sunday, December 30, 2012
Around 3:30 p.m., I started the project that is getting the kids ready to go out in the snow! All mothers know this project....complete with, "Are you SURE you don't have to go?" and "Your thumb is NOT in the right place!" Around 4 p.m., the last mitten was on and they were outside...to enjoy the last half-hour of daylight :).
Luckily, Daddy went outside with them while I stayed inside with the baby. Snow is much more fun with Daddy!
That leads me to our summer and winter gem....the hill in our backyard. It's not very visible in this picture, but it's behind the kids to the left. I spend the better half of a year cursing this hill, and the other half of the year loving it!
In the spring and fall, the hill leads to HUGE puddles in our backyard. We are situated at almost the lowest point in the neighborhood, and so the rain collects in massive muddy puddles right in front of our swing set. I don't even let the kids go in the backyard when they puddles are there...they are quickly covered in mud. This leads to unhappy kids and an even unhappier mommy!
But...in the summer, the hill has been awesome for slip-n-slide. The kids have spent hours running up the hill before sliding down in fits of laughter and glee. I will really miss sitting under the covered patio on those hopelessly humid summer days and watching my kids entertain themselves for hours (our new backyard is flat).
And, snow means sledding! As I write this, my own children are downstairs watching a movie, but the junior high age neighbor kids are borrowing the hill. Again, free entertainment provided by God's landscape...love that!
We are moving in 12 days. Yikes...better get off the computer and start packing again! Memories of this house will no doubt fade, but I bet I will always hear the echo of my children's laughter on that hill. Can't wait to discover new gems at our new house.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
I had been writing a post about packing in my head all morning. We are moving in two weeks!! But, I think venting instead will do wonders for my state of mind!
Today is our first day back to reality after Christmas. It was the first day in almost a week that Daddy got up and went to work...leaving the rest of us to figure out our day! We had no plans...that will change for tomorrow :).
It was a banner "Are they all yours?" day at the mall. I think I was asked that 5 times. It is usually only a few times a week, so it was a record day.
Of course, no one would've asked me that question if we weren't standing out so much. But, we were.
I was officially the crazy lady at the food court chasing around the disobedient 3-year-old girl and her younger brother who thought she was SO cool. There were exploding ketchup packages and loud demonstrative tantrums (the 6-year-old and the baby were fabulous, for the record) over....everything.
Yup, they are all mine.
A cousin (who I see only very rarely) asked me recently how many kids I had. I said, "Five." He probably just couldn't keep track as they all ran past us. Without changing his expression, he simply said, "Why?"
I had a million emotions rushing through my head....and a few poorly phrased comebacks circling around as well. In a moment of either grace or stupidity, I said nothing. I just kept a smiled pasted on my face. I ended the conversation by excusing myself and talking to the next relative.
I am incredibly blessed to have five children. I vividly remember only 7 short years wondering if I would ever have any children. I wonder if I had gotten pregnant easily if our children would be spaced so closely. Perhaps we would have thought it would be easy to "get pregnant next time," and we would have waited. But, I think that period of infertility really changed our minds and hearts to be open to God's timing.
Yup, they are all mine, and "my hands are full" (another favorite)...full of blessings!
As we were waiting to get on the elevator at the mall, I looked up and saw a picture (it was at one of those middle-of-the-mall stores that pops up at Christmas). The picture said (paraphrased), "Enjoy the small things in your life, for looking back, you will see that they were really the big things."
I just read a prayer by St. Teresa of Avila that mentioned "responding to the slightest prompting of grace." I had been praying for peace as we walked through the mall, so perhaps this picture was a slight prompting of grace. It did snap me out of my mood. I could now leave the food court behind me and go on with my day.
And, I was able to smile at the person who said, "Are they all yours? They are so cute," as we left the mall. If I had not seen that picture, I would probably have had a demonstrative temper tantrum...well, not really...but I don't know that I would've nodded in agreement!
Monday, December 24, 2012
Yesterday my husband said, "I think the kids would enjoy making Christmas cookies." He said it simply...just like that.
I had two familiar gut-wrenching reactions in a row.
The first one was DREAD. NO...ABSOLUTELY NOT. Too messy...too many fights...not enough patience in the world to make cookies with four elves.
That was very quickly replaced with the second one, GUILT. How could a mother not want to make Christmas cookies with her children?! I have seen all the pictures on Facebook...priceless memories of children with big smiles covered in flour. Plus, there were so many beautiful homemade reindeer cookies for preschool snack this month (poor Joseph only brought in a bag of pretzels and fruit gummies this week!).
One thing that I am learning (slowly) as an adult is that I am much happier when I do not compare myself to others. Don't we learn this lesson over and over again throughout our lives!?
There was a good two years when I was not on Facebook. I found that I would be in a fabulous mood when I logged on....only to see pictures of someone having *seemingly* the best time at work, or at a party, or on vacation, or looking like a million bucks when I was either pregnant or struggling to lose baby weight. I would log off a few minutes later...good mood ruined! I was perfectly happy with my amazing life (I did know that I was very blessed) until I compared my life to others. Seeds of jealousy were planted...and they can be destructive.
I also kept thinking that the whole concept (Facebook and social media) is SO not what God wanted from me (or for others). In my few spare moments, I wanted to read something inspiring and deep...not everyone's opinion about nothing. It seemed to be so "ME" focused.
Luckily, Facebook and I have made friends. In order to become a columnist on catholicmom.com, I had to start up my Facebook page again.
I "liked" a couple of great Catholic sights, so now prayers and inspiration come right into my feed. Seeds of jealousy can't take root as I quickly click to a soul-feeding article or blog. And, I can keep up friendships with family and friends that I don't see that often, all the while just ignoring things that would have bothered me in the past. I have come to see that there are benefits of social media.
Back to cookies.
"Yes," I replied. The children probably would enjoy making Christmas cookies.
I went to the grocery store and bought a refrigerated roll of cut-and-bake sugar cookies, some vanilla frosting, and a bag of Christmas M&Ms. SIMPLE. It's what I can handle right now...no comparisons!
My husband just spent an hour decorating them with the kids (after all, it was his idea!). He added his own touches of food coloring and sprinkles. I stayed upstairs...I enjoyed listening to memories in the making... Daddy style!
The end result...
Perfectly simple Christmas cookies for happy children and parents!
Wishing you and your families a most blessed and simple Christmas! Thank you for reading my blog this year. I am privileged and honored to share this journey with you!
Friday, December 21, 2012
My kids love to paint. They ask to paint all the time. I joke with my friends that I like to "outsource" arts and crafts. I have so much to clean up already, why would I possibly want to clean up (insert art supply here!) also?!? These smiling children remind me why: The joy is in the creative process!
My kindergartener learned how to cut snowflakes this week. You know...fold a white piece of paper and go to town cutting out random snippets every which way. The result...a masterpiece! I have to keep after her to clean up all the scraps, but she is busy making them as Christmas gifts for everyone in the family. This is a great reminder that Christmas gifts do not have to cost a lot...it is the love behind them that matters!
I had a few friends over yesterday morning. It was most likely our last playdate in this house before we move. Our families have grown, so it was a lot squishier than when we first started playing here six years ago!
We shared laughter, fellowship, and encouragement over a hot cup of coffee. Coffee brings people together, and it just makes me happy (and more alert!). Maybe next year I will remember to bring out my nice Christmas mugs :).
I really didn't want to put up our tree this year. Not because I don't like Christmas trees, but because we are moving in mid-January, and the thought of UNpacking anything seemed like a rotten idea :). But, we have kids, and Santa needs to put his gifts under the tree (and the table top fiber-optic tree wasn't cutting it!).
I tried to capture Lucy discovering the tree for the first time. I wanted to capture the glowing tree and the wondrous look on her face. All I got was a blurry picture, but it will still bring to mind precious memories!
I'm having one of those days when I feel like answering, "Crazy," every time someone asks me how I am. Despite my efforts at creating order, chaos is finding me at every single turn! And, I have to remind myself....that's just fine! For...the craziness of having young children is God's will for me right now...and my joy (if I only remember to enjoy the wild ride!).
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Last week my sister-in-law was visiting from Ohio. She went to pick up my daughter Gianna from kindergarten with my husband. Gianna was SO excited to have special people (Grandpa, Grandma, and Chickie the dog were also there!) pick her up from school!
I just got an e-mail from my sister-in-law with this picture attached. The words are so touching and powerful:
Monday, December 17, 2012
Here is a picture of Lucy wearing her "My First Christmas" outfit in front of the tree (and Gianna, who didn't like the fact that I wanted a picture of JUST Lucy...how dare I?!).
This outfit doesn't really fit Lucy that well...I could barely snap the onesie closed! So, she had to wear it to celebrate the third Sunday of Advent instead of Christmas Day...I doubt it'll snap at all in 8 days!
I have a picture of Cecilia wearing this outfit also. The size didn't line up for Gianna's first Christmas (maybe that's why she wanted to be in this picture so bad!). It's a special outfit.
As I snapped this picture (this was the only good one...other attempts have her falling backwards into the tree!), I couldn't help but wonder if I will have any more baby girls (or baby boys...but this outfit is a little feminine!) to wear this outfit. We really hope that we are not "done" as we love our growing family, but it is out of our hands. God alone is the author of life.
I am reminded of this fact in a poignant way today as I pray for my sister who mourns the loss of her third baby through miscarriage this past weekend. And, of course, as I continue to pray a Hail Mary every time I think of the families of the Newtown tragedy (at our priest's suggestion during his homily yesterday).
I also have a First Easter outfit....BUT, Lucy was born on Easter Sunday. So, it will technically be her second Easter! I will have to save that one for...God willing...another baby. Or, I will keep it for the memories of Gianna's first Easter (she did get to wear that one!).
Although we can't possibly imagine how right now, good will come of all that happened as good always triumphs over evil. That is why He came. This is another thing that I took from yesterday's homily. Hard to conceive right now...but comforting, no?
Merry First Christmas, Lucy!
Saturday, December 15, 2012
I just got back from a 5-year-old's birthday party. Everyone in my son Joseph's class was invited, and we all had such a nice time. I love this age...everyone is welcome and included.
There was confusion for a few days because a few of the boys did not receive their invitation (they were absent when they were handed out). Thankfully, it was all worked out with the help of a few mom detectives, and there were no hard feelings. I love that the moms can still make everything all right...I know these days are numbered :(.
Of course, we kept bringing up the school shooting in Connecticut. Even when as a group we would decisively move on to the next topic, it would come up again. As parents, our hearts are absolutely broken for those parents who lost their children. All around me I kept hearing, "I am so thankful for my kids. I am so blessed."
And so I add....ME TOO!
I can only pray that the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding will guard the hearts and minds of those families. Rest in peace sweet babies.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
My in-laws are here from Ohio right now. My children are in heaven with all the extra attention from Grandpa (above), Grandma, Aunt Laura, and Chickie the dog! I could barely get my kindergartener on the bus the past two days...she doesn't want to miss a minute of the three short days that they are here.
One thing that keeps hitting me...I love seeing my children through their (grandparent's) eyes. My husband and I think our children are so pretty, handsome, adorable, smart, you name it, all the time (well...most of the time!).
But, their grandparents also think that they are the BEST (even more so, because they don't have to handle all the discipline, meltdowns, etc.!). Grandparents have such an unconditional love for their grandchildren...just because they are alive. Priceless! Perhaps I wouldn't appreciate this bond as much if I got to see it in action more frequently.
It is a gift for us to spend time with family as Christmas approaches! As I watch my children with their grandparents, everything seems new again....even the Chocolate World ride in Hershey, PA that we have been on 500 times!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
On the home front, Justin is driving me absolutely crazy! It is all very typical 2-year-old stuff.
He is a little speech delayed (even though he's talking more and more every day) and hard to understand, which often leads to frustration for both him and me.
If I won't let him under the sink to play with the cleaners (and I won't unless I am cleaning and I give him his own wipe...I use a Clorox wipe and he gets a baby wipe!), he screams. If I won't let him have anything he wants out of the pantry/fridge/freezer, he screams. If I won't let him have his pacifier (my only child to ever take one!) whenever and wherever, he screams. You get it...tantrum city at every turn!
I have most definitely learned to pick my battles. As a result, I give in a bit more frequently than I would've with the first few kids (an extra ounce of juice probably won't hurt him in the long run)! But, I am not a pushover...which means that I have to deal with this tantrum stage with as much grace and peace of mind as possible. Not much, apparently!
I was feeling very tapped out last night when I sat down at the computer after bedtime. I was only going to check out a few sites (before moving to the couch to vegetate instead...ha!). However, I got hooked on a blog that made a profound impact on me.
It's at bringinghenryhome.blogspot.com. It is the story of a Catholic woman who had six children and was trying to choose a New Year's resolution. One year, she chose running and completed a half-marathon. Another year, another respectable goal. Well, in 2011, she chose "helping orphans," which she googled.
Long story short (although it's not short by any means), she felt God calling her family to adopt a little boy with very complicated special needs in Eastern Europe. Once she realized that God was asking her to adopt this boy (she woke up at 3 a.m. one night and realized it...love the way God communicates!), she asked her husband and then was SILENT (talk about hard to do...ha!) for about a month when he discerned.
After a very long process (which she chronicles beautifully in her blog), Henry came home. He changed the lives of everyone he met for the BETTER. In a blog post entitled, "Henry is finally home," this woman (Carla Dobs) speaks of how her special son Henry, age 2, is finally home in heaven.
As soon as I finished reading, I went into my 2-year-old's room to watch him sleep. He was perfect...so healthy, so peaceful. I thought that every tantrum is just a little step to becoming who God wants him to be! How blessed I am to be his guide on this journey. Blessed Mother, help me to be a better mother.
And, talk about a new perspective on life. I can think about what I want my New Year's Resolution to be in 2013...but I wonder what God wants my New Year's Resolution to be! Better keep praying. Maybe little Henry can intercede for me!
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Something awesome happened to our family last night...the true meaning of Christmas type of thing!
It was a typical Saturday evening. The dinner dishes were done, and the whole family was lounging in the living room. The TV was being flipped between football and the news, and the kids were playing on us and around us. The baby was getting fussy, so I was starting to think about heading upstairs for the bedroom routine.
All of a sudden, the doorbell rang twice. "Oh no!" was my first thought...we are definitely not dressed for unexpected company! The kids all ran to the door to see who it was (they know to only do this when an adult is in the room...they learned that from me because it's hard to pretend you're not home (think random salespeople/election workers/etc.) when there's a small child staring right at you from the window by the door!
My husband got to the door just in time to see a car speeding off! Outside was a big box with a brand new TV, a Christmas movie for the kids, and a bag full of popcorn and candy. I'm not kidding! The note above was taped to the TV...it is computer generated, so this Santa really did not want to be identified!
The kids were AMAZED! But, what was Santa doing out of the North Pole, and why was he driving a car instead of a sleigh!?! Was Rudolph sick? Why did he come early?
Of course, we have our suspicions about Santa's identity. My husband's local family is at the top of the list! They knew that we were talking about buying a second TV for the finished basement in our new house. I had joked with them about going out to Walmart on Thanksgiving (something I would never do on a special day to spend with family) because of the good prices of TVs. My husband joked that he hated the thought of buying a TV in January (when we are moving) because the prices are jacked up because of the Superbowl.
Anyway, it would've been just as appreciated on Christmas morning, but I doubt any of us will ever forget the magical feelings and excitement that surrounded the unexpected knock at the door one random rainy Saturday night in December. It felt like the ultimate feel-good Christmas movie...except it was real life, and it happened to us!
I instantly remembered a similar incident in my life. It was my senior year in high school right around Christmas time, and my family had fallen on very hard times financially. I was standing in the kitchen with my mother when the doorbell rang. My mother got to the door to find no one...just a certified check for $1000 taped to the front door.
I will never forget how I felt that moment. One thousand dollars is still a lot of money to me today, but when I was 17-years-old and making $5 an hour, it seemed like a million bucks! I was SO touched that someone would do that for our family....and anonymously! It made an enormous impact on who I am today. It made me want to be a better person and to always help people in need. Although my children are very young, I am hoping that they might always remember how they felt last night. No worries...I will retell the story lest they forget!
All of this excitement...and it's only the second week of Advent!
I want my children to remember that Jesus is the real reason for the season. I felt hopeful this afternoon as my girls played. Below is the Virgin Mary, baby doll Jesus in a manger, and the Angel Gabriella (I was told that Gabriel is a boy's name!).
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Saturday, December 8, 2012
why Lucy was taking this bath. She looks so happy, huh!? She was absolutely thrilled to be splashing around. So joyful...despite the fact that she was in there because she just threw up all over herself. Yup...my baby has the stomach bug that's going around :(.
I love this special time of year, BUT, it is also stomach virus season (or at least it has been for the last 6 years in my house). Funny, I don't remember this season before I had children! Even when I taught, I managed to avoid the yucky ones. Not anymore...
Last Christmas Day I spent the entire afternoon in the emergency room. Instead of enjoying the "Santa Came!" moments, I was in the bathroom feeling Horrendous (which is why I am so amused by Lucy's demeanor in the tub last night!).
If I wasn't pregnant, I probably wouldn't have needed an I.V., but I was very dehydrated and started having contractions which made me nervous. WHEN (it hasn't been an 'if' lately!) I get the stomach bug myself this year, I at least hope that it is not on December 25th again :).
This part of parenthood surely isn't fun. I can handle the countless colds, ear infections, and strep throats, but the stomach bugs require extra special graces! I need to lean on God a lot more when there are multiple sleepless nights and so much cleanup and laundry.
I DO always get through it with God's help, and it's never as bad as I anticipated (well, better not say that out loud...3 of my children still haven't been sick yet!). And, of course, I do realize how very blessed I am to have healthy children who heal quickly. God bless all parents with sick children.
At least this time, I am blessed with an adorable, chubby, happy little patient (Lucy). If she does get sick again, at least I know she'll enjoy the tub...and so will I!
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Joseph wore this new sleeper last night. It has stars, the moon, and rockets all over it. Thus, when I tucked him in, I suggested that his dreams might just be "out of this world."
This morning he came down to breakfast with a sullen face. I asked how he slept. He informed me that he could not wear the sleeper again. I thought he might have been cold...it got down to 25 degrees last night.
Nope! Rather, he informed me that he didn't have any dreams last night, and he needed them to "come back into the world." So, we must get rid of this sleeper. HA!
Today is also December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. We told the kids to put their shoes out last night so that Daddy and Mommy could put a treat in them in honor of St. Nicholas and the good deeds that he did when he was alive.
In past years, it has gotten rather confusing for them (and for me as I tried to answer their questions thoughtfully!). Last year they asked, "So, St. Nicholas comes down from heaven and puts things in my shoes?! How is St. Nicholas different from Santa Claus? Do St. Nick and Santa Claus know each other? Is it Christmas Eve!?"
My favorite are the size-2 Mary Jane's in the middle. Gianna insisted on putting Lucy's shoes out. She must have figured that she (Lucy) needed something better than all the peas and bananas that I feed her!
St. Nicholas, Pray for us.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Last night was Gianna's Christmas show at Holy Name of Jesus School. It was in a very crowded, hot gym, and the kindergarteners only sang one verse of Away in a Manger....from the bleachers (they did not even get up on stage)!
I went by myself. Good thing...it would have been a nightmare trying to keep the rest of our crew patiently quiet and sitting still (a lot of waiting). I heard a lot of young children melting around me, and I was grateful that Daddy was at home with everyone else!
If you can't tell, I really wasn't that excited about the show! I had to drag myself there, hoping that I would get home before the baby needed to go to sleep. I know that these are the moments that a lot of parents live for, but because we have so many young children right now, I could think of a hundred other things that I would rather be doing...especially in the early evening as I am usually so tired and ready to begin the bedtime routine (because there is "me" time on the other side of bedtime!).
In spite of Scrooge (ME), Gianna had the time of her young life! She literally skipped into the gym (loving her new sparkly shoes!), and sang her heart out. After the short(!) program (K-4 went first and then there was an intermission before the older kids so we got to leave...great planning!), she found me with a huge grin.
"Mommy, wasn't that an awesome show!? How did we sound? Did you see me? Did you hear me? Do you think that Jesus liked the show?" I snapped this picture before we skipped back to the car. That is JOY on her face. I was very proud and happy that I had shared this moment with my daughter.
Gianna happily chatted all the way home. I was lost in thought. Memories came rushing back to me of my Catholic school Christmas shows! First, 3rd, and 6th grades especially stand out in my mind. One thing that I remember VERY clearly is nerves. Even if I was just singing in a big group, I remember being absolutely terrified to get on stage. Luckily, Gianna did not seem nervous at all.
I had a flashback to three years ago (you know...yesterday!). Gianna had her very first nursery school Christmas show. She looked so pretty and I couldn't wait to see her on stage. She never even sang a note...she spotted me in the crowd and walked right off the stage! I was horrified. What a very long way she has come!!!
God willing, last night was the first of many Christmas shows for Gianna. I can't make any promises, but I will try to have a much better attitude next year. I just pray that she doesn't lose her innocence, fearlessness, and desire to perform. "YES," I told her. "Jesus LOVED your show...and so did I."
Shine on, Gianna!
Sunday, December 2, 2012
This morning my children were playing a rather advanced game of "doggies and kitties." It is one of my favorites (so innocent, no violence, everyone included, etc.). They play it all by themselves (no encouragement or direction from me...love that!), and they role play very seriously.
The dogs and cats had people names, like Olivia Rose the cat (Cecilia). And, they were practicing to sing Away in a Manger (Gianna will sing this in her first elementary school Christmas show tomorrow night...thus, she was leading the gang!) in a show. The song had appropriate barks and meows interspersed.
Lucy and I were in the kitchen listening to the choir practice in the living room. I was preparing her breakfast, and she was playing in her exersaucer (we finally got it out of storage!).
Suddenly the dog/cat choir came in to serenade Lucy. I guess they had practiced enough and were ready for an audience. Four strong, they stood around the exersaucer and began to sing/bark/meow VERY loudly to a melody that faintly resembled one of my favorite Christmas carols.
Rather than the anticipated smile and laughter, Lucy gave them a positively frightened expression before bursting into tears. Instead of reasoning that they might have been a bit overwhelming and scary to a hungry infant, someone said, "Oh well...I guess she doesn't like animals." Another added, "I guess not. Let's go find Dad."
Daddy was much more receptive, and Lucy enjoyed her breakfast. No harm done. I just love when my children play nicely together...it is one of the sweetest rewards at this stage in my life. The choir was rudely disbanded when it was time for church, but I'm hopeful it'll come back soon!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Yesterday my mom's club had a pancakes and pajamas party. We showed up dressed in our Christmas best (see above!). I could've changed their clothes, but everyone looked so nice. I figured a little syrup never hurt anyone :).
The real reason we were dressed up was for our photo shoot! It was not at a professional picture place...because I just couldn't bring myself to go there (more below)!
A few posts ago, I wrote that I felt terrible because Lucy was 7-months-old and I did not have her picture taken professionally at 6 months like all of her siblings. Well, she's almost 8-months-old and not getting any younger...so, it was time.
My good friend Anna takes beautiful pictures, and she kindly offered her services and lovely home! I am very pleased with the results. I will print out an 8x10 at Costco, and Lucy can join the baby wall! Thanks, Anna!
So, getting back to the professional picture place strike!
It has really hit me this year how much I hate consumerism. I did not want to put Lucy (or myself) through the never-ending process of taking pictures, selecting pictures, refusing packages, refusing more packages, defending my choices, and convincing someone that I am really okay if I do not buy the CD and lose the 79 pictures that I did not choose...even if they are gone...forever!
I have tons of leftover wallets of Gianna and Joseph as babies because I was not strong enough to say no the second and third cute pose! I've gotten stronger (well...maybe just poorer!).
I know the photographers are only doing their job...and doing it well, in some cases. But, I find the whole process brings out the absolute WORST in me. I try to be a nice person. I like to be kind to people. I know it is good to be assertive, but I find myself being mean when I feel I am being pushed. And, I don't want to be mean. Especially not as the Advent season approaches. My goal for my family is to really focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas this year!
So, Anna was hired, the photographer was spared, and we enjoyed our pancakes...dressed to the nines!
Does anyone know how to get out syrup!?!
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
At this stage of my life however, snow means cancelled school and ruined plans. I know...these are selfish reasons to hate nature! In fact, just a few short years ago (or a lifetime ago!), I loved snow days as a teacher in Washington, D.C. They cancel school down there at the mere threat of snow. I had full weeks off at a time!
Today is our first (and maybe last if it's like last year!) snow of the season. And, though there is snow on the ground, I love it! This is my kind of weather. It is enough to be extremely beautiful and to cause my children great joy, but not enough to change our daily routine in any way. There was not even a delay for the start of school. I went to Costco after preschool drop-off, and the roads are fine!
And though my oldest daughter is home from school with strep throat today, she just spent about a 1/2 hour trying to make a snowman...with only an inch of snow on the ground! Love it! Joseph stepped on the snowman (Didn't see it, he claimed. Probably just being a brother is more like it!) before I got a picture! It's okay though...I'm sure that they'll be out there again in a few hours...after they warm up with some hot chocolate.
I feel silly. I saw the weather forecast last night and all I could think was, "NO NO NO! Not fair." It has been a lovely Thanksgiving break, but Tuesday is supposed to be the first day back to school (here in Central Pennsylvania, we have the Monday after Thanksgiving off because it is the first day of deer hunting season...with a rifle, that is...bow and arrow already started. I'm definitely not in Boston anymore...I never met a real live person who hunted before I moved here!). I was ready to resume "normal" for a few weeks before Christmas!
I don't know what the rest of the day holds. So far, however, it's been a day of great unexpected blessings...better than "normal." Love those!
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I had mentioned to a fellow preschool mom a while back that I loved her neighborhood (only a mile from our current neighborhood). She told me that she would be on the lookout for any houses that came on the market. I never thought we would buy HER house...but, her family found their dream house and decided it was as good a time as any to sell and move! The timing was perfect for us, and we just love the home! This was my petition to Our Lady of Guadalupe a few posts ago...that if it was God's will, everything would fall into place for us to buy this home. Thank you, Mary...I will hang your picture in a place of honor in our new home!
A few weeks ago, an acquaintance at preschool asked me how our search for a new home was going. I told her that it was not going well...that we were nervous that we might have to pull out of the contract with our buyers and try again in the spring (when more houses come on the market). As I was trying to not run over anyone while pushing my double stroller through a crowded hallway, she called after me, "God is never late... He just doesn't come early!" I loved this phrase and have shared with many as I tell them how we found our new home...just in time!
I will continue my gratitude list below. I know that society is telling us that Christmas is here (just ask my kids!), but as it is not yet Advent, I am still rather in "thanksgiving" mode!
I am grateful that our new house has this cool SWING SET (it is staying with the house!) VISIBLE FROM THE KITCHEN WINDOW. I have always wanted to make dinner while watching my children play outside. My current kitchen doesn't allow this (I have to hike around the corner and go to the door to check on them), so I will enjoy this!
SIBLINGS! Gianna told me on Thanksgiving morning (appropriate!) that she was glad to have brothers and sisters because she always has someone to play with (or fight with, depending on her mood!). Blessed indeed, Gianna! Amen to that.
SILLY TODDLERS! The other night I was rushing through the bedtime routine. I was so tired and ready to have the children clean and sleeping. Justin (2) was not coming to the bath when called. Frustrated, I went to physically bring him to the tub...and I was not happy. Until I encountered him wearing my shower cap. He was SO proud that he had put it on himself. It snapped me out of my bad mood! I bet I could be snapped out of a lot more bad moods...if only I let go of MY time table and expectations and let my children entertain and delight me! I bet the children would be grateful for a happier mommy.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
Monday, November 19, 2012
I remember a lot of little things from my childhood that made a big impact (in a good way!) on me. For example, my mom was very good at spontaneous spoken prayer.
I have vivid memories of her saying, "GOD HELP US AND SAVE US ALL!" I now know that she used this phrase when she was at her wits end with us! Her tone gave her away. It was not said calmly or in quiet moments; but rather, when she encountered a war zone in our living room. It was a plea for help for her, for us kids, for everyone! I have lots of "those" moments now, and sometimes (if only a prayer was always my first response!), it comes out of my mouth too!
Another prayer that has stuck with me is for ambulances and fire trucks with sirens blaring. Whenever we would pass an emergency vehicle on the road or hear one in the distance, we would say "God help those people." I still do it to this day, and I am trying to teach this habit to my children.
I am amazed that they seem to remember every time (if only they remembered other stuff this well...like where their shoes go!).
Gianna and Joseph have both prayed for people pulled over by police officers on the side of the road. "Look Mom...God help those people!" I think that it is very likely that those people are praying...for no ticket, that is!
Cecilia, age 3, has a new twist on this whole concept. For the past few weeks, she has been praying every time she sees a mail truck!!! Although her siblings have told her that no one is in need of help, she continues to blurt out, "God help those people!" at first sight of a postman/woman.
I have not corrected her. We all need prayers. And, I'm thinking that with the Christmas season just about upon us, mail carriers probably could use some extra divine intervention!!!
Saturday, November 17, 2012
After the kids were all strapped into their car seats, Daddy had to run back in the house for a few minutes. That left the kids and I to say our morning prayers. For as long as I can remember, I have always said my prayers once I get in the car. When we lived in Arlington, VA, I had to take four busy highways to get to my teaching job in Maryland. I would say a decade of the Rosary immediately...mainly for a safe white-knuckle commute!
I have kept up this habit since I became a mother. Although, I don't start with the Rosary anymore. Rather, I start with a Morning Offering, a Consecration to Mary prayer for the children and me, and the Guardian Angel prayer (lots of guardian angels watching out for our minivan!).
The prayer to Mary starts like this: O Mary, my queen and my mother, I give myself entirely to you. To show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, and my whole body. Then it continues...
Long ago, the kids started saying the body parts with me. Occasionally, a nose gets added to the list.
Today, however, something new was added. In true 4-year-old humor, Joseph added his bum.
Immediate giggles erupted from the car. I instantly lost my train of thought...I would have to start the prayer over (This happens quite frequently! Sometimes I get to the end and I don't even remember saying it, so I say it again then too!).
Listening to my children all sharing a good laugh (even the baby was giggling), I did something that I should not have done!!!!
I laughed too.
Not at "bum", of course (I've heard enough potty talk to last a lifetime in the past six months), but at the laughter in the car which was absolutely contagious. It was just so joyful!
But now, I fear that (at least for a while until they forget), the children will be consecrating their bums to Mary on a daily basis. I hope she doesn't mind! I figure there are worse things than a bunch of holy bums walking around Harrisburg :).
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I love Our Lady of Guadalupe. I don't think I knew of her growing up because I don't remember a special devotion or anything. When I lived in Washington D.C., however, I used to go to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (the largest Catholic Church in the United States!) and pray in the magnificent chapel devoted to her.
A few years ago, I bought a very cheap candle with her image and a beautiful prayer. Literally, it was at Walgreens for like $2 or something!! I thought to myself, "How could I not buy this!?" I felt guilty walking away...there were about 20 of them, and I thought of buying them all. How could I leave Mary at Walgreens? Ha! (Only bought one, by the way...other people need her too!).
When I was pregnant with my third child, I had a little more time than I do now! My infant and toddler were napping, and I lit the candle one afternoon. I hate to say that might have been the last time (over 3 years ago!). I was praying for my new baby; and though we didn't know the gender, I asked for guidance in naming him/her.
We had a boy name picked out (Justin...used it for the 4th baby!), but the girl name was totally up in the air (that's kind of our thing with girl names!). Ryan had suggested Cecilia after St. Cecilia, but I was rather unsure. I decided to ask Our Lady. "If this baby is a girl, should we name her Cecilia?!"
Of course, I was not expecting an answer. I know that my prayers are always heard, but if only it was so easy to get responses, huh!?!
Well, after praying, I went upstairs to check my e-mail before the kids got up. There was a e-mail from my sister-in-law. She is a lovely woman from Brazil. Although we have a great relationship, we do not often e-mail because English is not her first language, and she is not very comfortable writing it.
Anyway, my sister-in-law had randomly sent me an e-mail about a little girl in Brazil. Her name!? YES...it was Cecilia. I just stared at the screen in disbelief. Of all the names in the world?!
Could this be coincidence? Perhaps! But, I like to believe that Our Lady wanted our daughter named Cecilia. And, Cecilia Rose, age 3, is at preschool right now.
I have another intention to Our Lady of Guadalupe right now. My close friends here know what it is. I promised to honor a picture of Mary in a prominent place if my intention is answered. But, honestly, will I honor her anyway, even if I don't get what I think I want? Of course!
Because, as Saint Teresa of Avila said, "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers." A lack of an answer might be the right answer, whether I like it or not. So, I will trust. Sounds easy, eh?
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us.
Monday, November 12, 2012
The plan worked (tonight). Once the kids were clean and in their sleepers (and the baby was down...she's very early to bed these days!), they started to play doggies and kitties. Gianna was the master mind, and she assigned her siblings a role.
Justin was a doggy because he was cuddly and playful. Cecilia was a kitten because she was cute and had a nice meow. Joseph was a grumpy dog (he was pretty grumpy...not sure why he was a dog rather than a cat!).
I was enjoying listening to them as I folded my laundry. Then I made a big mistake. When they came into my room (crawling on all fours), I asked Gianna what I was (meaning a dog or a cat). Just curious.
She thought for a quiet moment. And then she told me. I was a "great big horse."
Fabulous! Not having the best self-esteem day, I decided not to ask her why!
Serves me right for interrupting!!! At least they're in bed early :). Neigh...Good night!
Friday, November 9, 2012
|My good friend Anna took this picture at a park one recent Saturday...Lucy wasn't in the mood, and Joseph kept saying the sun was in his eyes (even though it was cloudy!). Still cute though! Thanks for your patience with these five wiggly subjects, Anna!|
This morning my life was a mess. Literally, that is. Figuratively, my life is very mess-y, but certainly not a mess! This is EXACTLY the life that I always wanted and prayed for (I just have to remind myself of that occasionally!).
I walked downstairs this morning after my too early wake-up call (kids have STILL not adjusted to the time change almost a week later!), and I was greeted by...a mess. Even though I had just cleaned up the living room (we don't have a play room...yet!) just hours earlier (well, it seemed like just hours earlier!), there were toys everywhere. I caught myself in time (not easy before coffee), and I greeted my children warmly instead of reacting to the mess! "Aren't you glad we didn't wake you, Mommy!? We just started playing!"
Breakfast meant spilled cereal, spilled apple juice, and spilled baby food (Lucy likes to "help" now). You wouldn't mind, but the kitchen floor was only mopped last night.
I had to abandon my laundry efforts to get to preschool on time...socks without mates taking over my bedroom. Cecilia tried on every pair of shoes (literally, I think...everyone's shoes!) and left them. Every crayon in the house (exaggeration) was under the arts and crafts table, along with tons of scraps of paper left by someone just learning to use scissors (not an exaggeration).
There were snotty noses and dirty diapers. The minivan is quite scary unto itself. I try to clean all the food/drinks out daily...but, there is always a "treat" that surfaces from under a car seat weeks or months later.
Problem is, I often overreact and forget the goodness and blessings behind the messes. I feel so much more peaceful and in control when my life is orderly. I tend to go a little crazy when faced with a bunch of disorder. I'm working on it...but, it's so hard to work on things "in the moment!" (especially when the moments never seem to stop!).
This morning on the way to school, I heard a lyric that was perfect for me (love that!). It was from Amy Grant's song Better Than a Hallelujah, and it said, "Beautiful, the mess we are...."
These messes can give glory to God...if only I can remember that they are beautiful because they are the work of my greatest gifts...my mess makers!!!
Thursday, November 8, 2012
I love this age. She can't move yet (besides rolling around and around!), and she's pretty easygoing if she's not hungry, tired, or stressed (kind of sounds like me...ha!). That smile just warms my heart instantly!
But, I feel terrible that I did not have her picture taken professionally when she was still 6 months old. Only because she will not have a 6-month picture hanging on the wall next to her sibling's baby pictures. This is my favorite age for baby pictures. At 3 months, smiling is hit or miss, and by 9 months, they tend to look at the photographers like they have six heads! But, 6 months is just pure joy because someone is talking to them!
For the record, I did make three separate appointments at my favorite place (I can get one pose...with more sizes/copies than I could ever use in a lifetime...for $9.99. It's quite a process taking 80 pictures to buy one pose, but to capture this precious baby stage is worth it!). Well, the first appointment was cancelled because I was simply not in the mood for the above-mentioned process...it had been a long day! The second appointment was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, and the third because she had a mild case of croup.
My husband recently flipped through one of Gianna's (many) photo albums. As she is the oldest, there is a picture from every day of her first two years of life (an exaggeration, but not by much!). I only have about 5 pictures of Lucy in the recent photo album (although there are more on the computer). I know all those mothers of multiples out there can relate! That's why I at least have to get her on the wall (well, right now, there is no wall of baby pictures...but, hopefully there will be one in our next home!).
I do plan to get her picture taken soon. But, I better hurry because these seven months have been some of the fastest in my life! God bless Lucy on her 7th month birthday...pictures or not, we love her dearly!
Monday, November 5, 2012
...supposedly has lots of data to support its validity!
I'm talking about daylight savings time. Changing the clocks back an hour has benefits. I just read about them: lower traffic accidents, better productivity which leads to a better economy, lower energy demands, etc.
At our house, however, we only have 5 children who are completely messed up and 2 cranky parents!!! My fellow preschool moms were in full agreement with me this morning: This really needs to be outlawed! Stop the madness!
For example, it is 7:34 p.m. and all my children are asleep. The baby has been down since 6:10 p.m., and I forced the others to stay awake (I read 4 books tonight!) until 7:15 p.m. I'm trying to re-set their internal clocks. The baby was a lost cause, clearly!
Any guesses what time everyone will be up in the morning!?! Better not think of that...it'll ruin my quiet hour....before I fall asleep at 9 p.m.
On a positive note, I talked to my mom today. She said that she and my dad thoroughly enjoyed their extra hour of sleep. Though she doesn't seem to remember it, I'm sure that it messed us up as children too (there were four of us very close in age). So, it must come full circle. God Bless all those people who needed the extra hour of sleep...and got it. And, God help the rest of us :).
Cecilia and Justin: My two peas in a pod. At 13 months apart, not quite Irish twins, but close enough!
As my children are all close together, it has been fun to watch them pair off. It tends to happen naturally according to their age. Gender has not really played a role yet, although Gianna and Cecilia will sit and do crafts together. They also share a room, so there is now giggling at night (it doesn't bother me...in fact, it's a nightly trip down memory lane for me as I remember how much fun it was for me to share a room with my sister...when we were younger, that is!!).
Justin is a little too young to keep up with Joseph's complex train scenarios, but Cecilia is just right for a playmate! She is a little older and wiser, a whole lot more vocal, sassy, and full of fun ideas (not all my first pick of activities!).
This morning we dropped Joseph off at preschool. It is Monday, which is our day with no plans. The rest of the week includes play dates, mom's groups, and story hours, but Monday is open-ended. I had a few ideas in mind: an errand or two followed by the library (fun kid area) or the local mall (indoor playground). After everyone was strapped into their car seats, I asked Cecilia where she would like to go. Justin and Lucy wouldn't object (goes along with the not much talking thing!).
She surprised me by saying rather decisively, "Home. Let's go home." I thought of the fact that we had just left home about a half hour earlier. That it had taken me about 3 hours to get everyone dressed and fed, and fed again (the kids are getting up extra early due to time change). The piles of laundry on my bed and the chores that were ignored over a busy weekend. "Really? Home?"
I'm not used to my children wanting to spend extra time at home. I have created my own monsters, actually. Since becoming a stay-at-home mom six years ago, I have discovered how much I need people. I am more social than I ever thought I could be (I was a very shy child and young adult, so this is still new to me!).
Being with other moms, or even chatting with strangers casually at the store, fills a huge need in me. I think most people who go to work everyday probably fill this need naturally, but I need to seek it out as my job is at home. I treasure my friendships greatly as they keep me happy and sane on this journey! That said, after being with people, I am often grateful to be home again in the afternoon/evening and I can happily settle in...need filled!
As a result of my "need" (more of a want, I realize!), if everyone is healthy and nothing out of the ordinary is going on....we go out every day! My children are used to this. I am often asked, "Where are we going!?" I usually have an answer! If I don't though, it can lead to complaints of boredom and restlessness (two of my least favorite emotions...especially in young children!).
I started driving today...not totally committed to the whole "home" idea. But, I started to think of how good it would feel to get my breakfast dishes done before the food dried on them! And, Lucy could get a proper morning nap...for once. Yes...let's go home!
As for Cecilia and Justin...they had a blast. With the big kids at school, they were left to themselves and I marveled at how well they play together. I smiled to myself so many times as I folded my laundry and listened to Cecilia talk (for both of them). I even said some prayers as no one seemed to need me for the better part of an hour. I thanked God for a lovely morning. Perhaps I should write this on my calendar for Mondays: HOME. What a concept!
Here's a blessing for homes:
O heavenly Father, Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to bless and sanctify this house and all who dwell therein and everything else in it, and do Thou vouchsafe to fill it with all good things; grant to them, O Lord, the abundance of heavenly blessings and from the richness of the earth every substance necessary for life, and finally direct their desires to the fruits of Thy mercy. At our entrance, therefore, deign to bless and sanctify this house as Thou didst deign to bless the house of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; and may the angels of Thy light, dwelling within the walk of this house, protect it and those who dwell therein. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Thursday, November 1, 2012
This picture has absolutely nothing to do with my day...except for the fact that there was a similar picture on the wall of the doctor's office tonight. It looked so peaceful...so serene. And, so unlike my day!
It started off as a normal day. I was grateful to have "normal" back after a hurricane. I got Gianna on the bus, dropped Joseph at preschool, and went to story time at the library with the younger kids. It is All Saints Day, so I even attended a beautiful noon Mass...by myself (Daddy came home to be with kids)...a rare gift which I loved!
The afternoon plan was the gym. For a half hour (that's about all I can leave the baby without major guilt...she isn't always happy when I pick her up from the babysitting room!), I work out. This is something that I have always enjoyed. It makes me feel so great, so I try to keep it up as I know it makes me a better wife and mommy. Luckily, the four older kids really enjoy the babysitting room. The baby, who is entering the "stranger danger" phase, is the reason that I haven't been going much lately.
I first noticed IT (the day changer!) as the kids were piling into the minivan. Everyone had a snack and gone to the bathroom, so we needed to leave SOON (these needs come up again quickly!). I was about to buckle Cecilia (3) into her carseat when I noticed a very goopy yellow eye. It came out of nowhere. "Mommy, I can't see very well right now." Ya think?
Bummer! Everyone back inside.
I called the pediatrician and I was really hoping that they would just call in a script for pink eye. This has worked in the past...but probably only because it was going through the house and I needed a new bottle of drops for the next child (we drop like flies when it comes to contagious ailments!). Didn't work this time...they wanted to see her. Luckily, I found a bottle of drops that are not expired yet...I'll try those first :).
It was when I was *attempting* to make dinner (staying in all afternoon tends to make for very needy children at my house), I noticed that Justin (2) was shivering. Burning up!!! Very good thing we didn't go to the gym.
The next few hours were a blur. No one liked my makeshift dinner (not even me!). The baby also has a cold and wanted to be held the.entire.time. Justin's eyes also started to leak something unpleasant.
Thus, I ended up at the urgent care center with Justin after dinner. It wasn't until I got there that I realized that I was quite a sight...I passed the time by peeling something crusty off my sweatshirt :). I saw the sunset picture on the wall while we waited (and waited) for the doctor, and all I kept thinking was "Serenity Now." I realize that this is actually a quote from Seinfeld (I believe), but luckily, the Serenity Prayer also popped into my head.
I used to say the first few lines often when I was younger because my mom had made a beautiful needlepoint piece which hung in my childhood houses. It wasn't until years later that I stumbled upon the rest of the prayer which is equally beautiful.
Here is the prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
What a beautiful prayer to reflect on when I have days like these. And, I can easily apply the serenity sentiment to both little moments...like when I want to snap my fingers and make something stop (like during a child's meltdown)...or to big moments (like being impatient about finding our next home).
As always, stopping to pray (however briefly) helped me to remember the big picture. I am SO blessed to be surrounded by all these wonderful children (crusty eyes and all). To serve them is my true joy and my path to heaven. God help me to do it more willingly....and with more serenity!!! Amen.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Our two Jack-o-lanterns (Gianna lost four teeth recently, so she was the model for our pumpkin!)
Yesterday was a mighty display of God's power. The eye of Hurricane Sandy was right over Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the early evening. Besides losing some siding (a bummer because we just sold this house and now we have to pay a lot of money to fix it!!), we are all okay.
God's power did not knock out our electrical power, and I am extremely grateful. I was in a bit of a panic the night before the storm (ask my husband!). Not because I was afraid of a natural disaster (although I did pray for no loss of life and for those who have already been affected, of course), but because I was afraid of being stuck in a cold, dark house with all my children for an unlimited amount of time.
This even sounds silly to me as I type it...why would a mother be afraid to be home with her children...but, I know that even our "normal" days require "extraordinary" graces. I fear that anything abnormal (like an extended power outage) might put me right over the edge :). I do trust that God will always provide the graces that I need, but I'm grateful to be spared the test...THIS TIME!
I woke up the morning of the storm saying prayers for a safe and happy day. School was cancelled, but work was also cancelled for Daddy...a huge help! We passed a long day inside by carving our jack-o-lantern (my children were delighted to learn that Halloween has not passed, in fact....see last post!). I also baked a delicious apple caramel cake. It is killing my diet, but man, it makes me very happy. And, as we did not lose power, I could still make my beloved coffee...which always seems to cheer me! The children did remarkably well...minimal meltdowns, tantrums, and quarrels! Thank you God (and Mary and patron saints and guardian angels...my powerful intercessors!)
Today is day two of being home. The hurricane is gone, but the skies are very gray and it has turned very cold. As I do every afternoon, I just turned off the TV after break time and sent them outside. I expected them to fight me on this. However, the dreary day isn't bothering them much...I just snapped this picture of my daughters playing...all smiles. Gianna even commented that the missing siding on our house "looks cool!"
Once again I reflect on how children are often unaffected by things that can really tend to bother adults...this is a lesson and gift that children can share with us!
Once again I reflect on how children are often unaffected by things that can really tend to bother adults...this is a lesson and gift that children can share with us!
Although I cannot control the weather (or many parts of my day since I have unpredictable young children), it is always in my power to turn to God and to rely on His power to get me through! That I may always be receptive to God working in my life, I pray. Amen!
Saturday, October 27, 2012
On Thursday night, we trick-or-treated. I know this is weird. I grew up in Boston where trick-or-treat was ALWAYS on October 31st...cloudy, rainy, snowy, weekday/weekend...it didn't matter.
Here in Central Pennsylvania, however, trick-or-treat is the Thursday before Halloween. Very strange...and very confusing for young children who think Halloween is now past...although it is still four days away!!!
Regardless, the children LOVED trick-or-treating. Now that Gianna is 6 and Joseph is almost 5, they led the pack...which means that we stayed out much longer than usual and went much farther. The younger kids hung in there, and even the baby seemed to enjoy herself.
The result: I have never seen so much candy in one place! The children will soon forget to ask for it (out of sight, out of mind). Unfortunately, I will not forget about it :).
On Friday night after an early dinner, Cecilia asked if it was almost time. For what, I thought?! Bed? Why yes!!!
But, she meant trick-or-treating again. "WHY NOT?" her response...my answer about once a year obviously did not suffice.
I thought about it from her point of view. On Thursday night, she got into her costume (she loves to dress up) and went on a fascinating walk where everyone she met was smiling and giving her candy...no wonder she wanted to do it again...how magical...the very essence of childhood!
For sure, I loved seeing my children so happy. I also really enjoyed seeing my neighbors. I wave to them when I drive by and they occasionally mention how big the kids have gotten, but that's about it. On trick-or-treat night, their doors are wide open and we are warmly received. Kind of nice, even if it's only once a year. I wonder if this is what it was like in past days when people actually knew their neighbors (that's rare today...at least in my neighborhood!).
As Gianna goes to a Catholic School, she will celebrate the REAL meaning of Halloween on Wednesday. There is a saint parade in anticipation of All Saints Day on November 1st, and she will dress up as a doctor to honor her patron saint, Saint Gianna. I am so grateful that she will see in a memorable way that Halloween is more than costumes and candy! All you saints, please pray for us.
As for Cecilia, she has been pretending to trick-or-treat with her baby dolls...that and an occasional piece of candy will have to do until the next Thursday before Halloween!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Joseph (4-1/2) knows the drill: Leave Mommy alone! Gianna knows this too when she is off from school. At age 3, Cecilia ignores the drill and checks in with me at least every 10 minutes. It's usually to change her clothes (again), but she comes up with tons of creative demands and requests. Needless to say, my break is not very relaxing!
Yesterday was different, however. Cecilia did not come upstairs. I could hear her downstairs so I knew she was hard at work. On what, I did not know. And, since our house is pretty childproof, I let it go. I was afraid the sight of me would distract her and my peace would be over :).
Boy...I was in for a treat. When I heard the TV show end, I headed downstairs. I was greeted by Cecilia with a HUGE grin. "Mommy, I made GOODY BAGS."
And then I saw them.
An entire new package of Ziploc bags (the sandwich kind that I had just bought for my older daughter's lunchbox) emptied, each bag filled with "treasures" (i.e. 1-2 Legos or Little People). She had lined them up in a row and they stretched from door-to-door (through the living room into the dining room). To be exact, there were 125 bags in the box (well, she didn't fill all 125...probably only about 30 or so because she's only 3 and I wasn't gone that long...but it looked/felt like 125 to me!).
My first reaction was, "OH NO she didn't!" Heart racing, palms sweating. This is going to take me forever to put it all back!!!!!
But, I looked at her proud face, and I was able to stop myself from exploding (if only I always had this grace!!!!)...must have been my break!
After I snapped this picture, I started the cleanup. Cecilia was much less excited about putting everything away (after bag #5, I left her off the hook).
As I cleaned, I thought that Jesus must have loved watching Cecilia. After all, she had created a masterpiece with all her God-given talents. This project was creative and thoughtful, and it took an awful lot of determination and perseverance for a 3-year-old to follow this project to its completion. Thank you God for my healthy, imaginative child.
I reminded myself that she did not do this to annoy me. Actually, she had done something to entertain herself...which was exactly what I wanted!
So...creating goody bags is now on the list of unacceptable activities during break time (along with play dough and painting...other projects that shoot my blood pressure up instantly when I see the clean-up involved!). I will also do a sneak peek if Cecilia is quiet for too long.
But, at the end of the day, 125 bags were back in the package (haven't decided if I'll use them or not!), and I was a refreshed grace-filled mama because I got an uninterrupted break...oh goody!
Monday, October 22, 2012
I told her that they are adorable, ticklish, kissable, and...not stinky. This last reason gave Gianna a new mission. I put Lucy down on the floor and started to get the next child ready for bed (a much squirmier toddler!). Gianna started to smell each one of Lucy's toes...to prove me wrong, I guessed! Not finding any smell, she moved on to the rest of the foot.
"MOM! Come quick! Right here....Lucy's feet are stinky right here!" After laughing, I went down to take a whiff. Sure enough, there was a teeny tiny patch of odor on the world's cutest feet. They must have gotten a little bit sweaty in the pink Robeez (that are being worn by the 3rd girl!) that she sported all day.
For some weird (well, not so weird because this happens to me a lot!) reason, I started to think about Gianna's actions as I went through the motions of the bedtime routine. My children are always teaching me...if I am receptive.
How often do I look for or focus on the "one stinky spot?"
For instance, I may have had a great day...but at the end of the day, I am still bothered by the few things that did not go as planned.
Or, instead of focusing on all of God's tremendous blessings, my mind will zoom in on something that I don't have.
Forgive me God, and help me to remember that you see the big picture...stinky spots and all!
Gianna looked so proud of herself. "Even though they stink a little, they are still very cute!" she said. Agreed.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The good thing was that the mild weather allowed the kids to play outside while I got the dinner dishes done. And then, I snuck in a cup of coffee when they came in and played with every.single.toy...again. Cleaning up the toys is no one's favorite part of the day...and it goes extra slow without Daddy's voice of encouragement!
After clean-up and the taking of the vitamins (a real project to make sure the right child gets the right combination!), the kids got really silly. This often happens during the 7 o'clock hour. Everyone is so tired that they get "giddy". I remember being giddy with my siblings (although I had no idea how crazy I was probably driving my parents...sorry Mom and Dad!).
The giddiness can take many forms...not all good! But tonight, for whatever reason, the children organized themselves in a train that choo-chooed all around the house (see above). I waited for the tears...but they didn't come. All I saw were happy faces as Gianna led the pack round-and-round our small house. I felt great peace and happiness. I know these are the moments that I will miss the most.
I remembered my silent prayer while doing the dishes. I asked for extra graces to help me do all the things that must be done before bedtime. I asked for help to be kind and compassionate (as we all know, overtired children can be especially difficult and whiny...thus needing extra love and patience!), and to not feel so overwhelmed and abandoned.
I not only received these graces (everyone tucked safely in bed now...and I'm still sane!), but also a train to warm my heart. Thanks, God!
I know this night can never be repeated...the train will most likely not be fun tomorrow. But, I snapped this picture and will remember this night fondly. Can't ask for more than that! Choo-choo (now I'm giddy!).