Monday, March 31, 2014

Ah...that's so nice!

I found Cecilia "reading" this book to Justin the other day. I love it when I "catch" my kids doing some of my favorite things: being kind to each other and reading! They didn't even know that I was taking their picture. Until...

The flash ruined the moment :). Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!

This post is about kindness. On Saturday, two people (well, more than two, but this post is just about two!) were very kind to our family. Simple gestures really, but they made for some very happy kids!

The first was Saturday morning. I had to take Cecilia to the pediatrician. Nothing serious, thank God. Gianna came with us just to get out of the house for a little bit (she's my child who likes to be on the go!). After our appointment (a quick appointment after a very long wait!), the pediatrician personally walked the girls out to the front desk to pick out tattoos (used to be stickers, but I guess these are more exiting!).

As this pediatrician has gotten to know our family very well over the past 7-1/2 years, she suggested that the girls also pick out tattoos for Joseph, Justin, and Lucy. The girls carefully chose a proper tattoo for each child (superheroes for the boys and Hello Kitty for Lucy!).

Not a giant deal...but, as families with multiple kids is a giant deal in their world! There are times when only one child gets something...and, I think this is actually a VERY good thing so the others keep learning quickly that the world doesn't revolve around them and that unfortunately, sometimes "It's just not fair!"

But, in this instance, we walked in the door with tattoos for everyone. And, these gifts that only cost a few cents, were worth much more! The thoughtful doctor made everyone feel special by remembering them. Joseph even wanted to write a thank you note!

I appreciated it probably more than the kids :).

Here's my sweet love. She didn't get a tattoo, but she just smiled anyway!
The other thoughtful mom is a friend of mine. Her son is in Joseph's Kindergarten class and her daughter is in Justin's preschool class. We have known them for years now through my mom's club.

Anyway, Saturday was her son's 6th birthday party. Joseph, Teresa, and I went and enjoyed bowling, arcade games, pizza, and cake. Well, Teresa didn't do anything of these things, but she loved the lights, noises, and smiling faces and then took a nice cat nap in my arms!

When we were getting ready to leave, my friend asked me to wait a minute. And then, she handed me a huge bag with favor bags for the rest of my children at home!!! thoughtful! For the second time that day, I walked in the door at home and was able to greet the kids with something special. Again, they were so excited to be remembered. Joseph handed out the bags and they were thrilled with the music makers, light-up balls, gummies, and ring pops! The fun lasted at least an hour on a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon.

Again, I probably appreciated it more than my kids :).

To be remembered is priceless (even if we take it for granted). I pray for all those who are forgotten and lonely this day...especially the elderly in nursing homes. I mentioned to some friends that I would love to visit a nursing home with my children for Lent. I would love to share my little sunshines and brighten someone's day.

Problem is, I don't have the guts. I did a few errands with Justin, Lucy, and Teresa today while Cecilia was at school...that was quite stressful enough! I can only imagine me chasing Lucy through a nursing home! So, I'll offer some prayers instead :).

Here's to thoughtfulness and remembering others...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Special Hallway...

Joseph's special cards!
My oldest, Gianna, is home sick from 1st grade today with a fever and sore throat. Luckily, it's kind of a lazy day for the rest of us (no preschool on Wednesday) so she can lounge around the house to rest up and (hopefully!) be better for tomorrow.

This morning, I had to tell Joseph (Kindergarten) that Gianna was not going to school today. "You mean that I have to go all by myself", he asked!? He and Gianna ride the bus together each morning, see each other several times a day at school (their classrooms are in the same hallway at Holy Name of Jesus school), and I've been told by the principal that they couldn't be any cuter when they often (at least in the beginning of the school year...not sure if this still happens!) walk to the end-of-the-day bus holding hands...I love that :).

I reminded Joseph that he's done it before (Gianna has been out a few others times this year while Joseph...thank God...has been healthy all year!). He was brave and got on the bus with a smile (luckily, he just loves school and today he has library, gym, and art!).

The special hallway houses Grades K thru 3 at Holy Name. Every Sunday, I am able to walk this hallway when we pick up Cecilia from her preschool CCD class which takes place in Joseph's K classroom. I just love seeing all the student work neatly displayed. More than that though, I love knowing that my children are so physically close to each other all day long. It is comforting to know that they have each other...they have always been very close! God willing, next year Cecilia will join this hallway too!

The picture above is from last Wednesday, the feast of St. Joseph. During indoor recess (the coldest winter ever continues!), Gianna decided to make a "Happy Feast Day" card for her brother Joseph. Her three best friends decided to make one as well! Their kind teacher allowed the girls to walk down the hall and leave the cards on Joseph's desk (he was at lunch so he wasn't there).

Joseph was delighted when he got back to his desk. He said, "Mom! There were these cards...and they were just for ME!" I thanked Gianna for her thoughtfulness and told her to thank her friends as well. I took the picture above to capture the moment. I can only pray that they always love each other this much!!

This is the plan for the rest of the day....lounging around! Sure, there will be many stir crazy moments, but they are lucky to have so many siblings to play with :). Off to get Lucy from a very short nap (sigh!). Have a blessed day, everyone!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Get Over Yourself!

My baby and me!

My daughter was begging me to let her take this picture with a real camera (I guess her toy one isn't cutting it anymore!). We tried to get one with the baby looking and giggling, but we couldn't coordinate the timing!

This year, I'm doing very well in some areas of my Lenten observation (I have successfully given up Facebook!) and not so much in other areas (I should really be getting off the computer right now and saying the Rosary rather than writing!).

I did watch a segment by Fr. Robert Barron a few weeks ago on Vice and Virtues. I have yet to watch the rest of the series (again, a Lenten failure!), but I have spent a lot of time contemplating the little that I did see! In particular, the virtue of humility.  Fr. Barron stressed that it is necessary to let go of the ego and realize that everything we have and are is a gift from God.

This includes not putting too much thought and attention on yourself. For example, getting lost in your own thoughts too much or worrying too much about what other people think of you.

I suppose I am writing about this at all because of hormones! Before I had Teresa, I posted that there is one thing that I especially love about pregnancy (besides the baby's movement). That is, my hormone levels are very steady, and I feel very emotionally stable. That's not to say that I don't still feel all the emotions, but they are more tempered (for example, I will not cry over a sappy commercial like I may when I have PMS!).

Anyway, with the return of fertility comes all the rise and fall of hormones. I know this is good, natural, beautiful, feminine...but it is also hard and a tad annoying :). I find myself being more sensitive and dwelling on things that I know should not phase me. For example, I will wonder why I wasn't invited to an outing that the other moms are talking about (um...duh...I can think of a hundred reasons!). Or, if a certain friend hasn't e-mailed me back then I wonder if they are mad at me (um...we are all super duper busy especially with the start of spring sports!). Or, I will spend ample time worrying or contemplating things that are out of my control.

Ah...hormones! I guess they mess with my emotions which cause me to turn inward. And, I don't want to turn inward. I want to live a humble life with the focus off of myself! I wrote a while back that I was refusing to be in pictures when I was very pregnant and feeling extremely frumpy. Well, I am not pregnant anymore and I want to capture moments with my precious baby...whether I feel photo worthy or not :). Thus the picture above...

Here's my pretty smile!

I recently realized my least favorite thing that strangers say to me when I am out with my kids. It's not: "Are you done yet?" But rather, when my baby is crying (she is usually a happy baby when she is held!) and a stranger says, "Somebody's not happy!" kidding!

Last week we were at the mall and a stranger actually went up to the baby carrier, pulled back the hood and said, "Cheer up only gets worse because you have to pay taxes when you get older!" Um...get away from my baby please!

Of course, most people mean absolutely no harm, and I'm sure that I said that very thing to many people back in the days when I worked in retail and a crying baby would come through my checkout lane! It's just conversation!

So, why would it bother me? Upon reflection, I think it bothers me so much because I feel like they are pointing out a place where I am failing as a mother at that moment. While rationally, I know this is absurd (sometimes a mom just needs two hands and can't hold her harm done!), I've written before that I like to portray (even if it's the opposite of my feelings) that I've got it all together! And, if a baby is screaming, then clearly I don't have it all together!

How silly for me to make this about me. That is an area in my life where I can use a huge dose of humility! These people are not judging me! I can think of other instances too...but that's all I'm going to share because you're probably sick of reading :)!

There were a few humorous moments recently where I did not feel bad about myself...and it was good to take myself so lightly! First of all, my son Joseph was giving me a huge hug when he called me "his big fat mommy!" HA!!! For those of you that don't know me, I am not as small and fit as I used to be, but I'm not big and fat either. Gotta just laugh and hug back!! The second came this morning during a lovely playdate with friends. A good friend went into my silverware drawer to find a spoon for her coffee...and all she could find was a baby spoon (which she asked me if she could use!). HA!!! Gotta just laugh...and empty my dishwasher!

So, in addition to giving up Facebook (going well!) and praying the Rosary more frequently (currently not going well), I'm also praying for the grace to be humble (hormones and all!).

What are you working on this Lent?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What a day!

My fun-loving, creative, sweet Joseph

However many saints you have as your intercessors, be especially devoted to St. Joseph, 
who can obtain a great deal from God.
St. Teresa of Avila
Doctor of the Church

Some saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, 
in every necessity, in every undertaking.
St. Thomas Aquinas
Doctor of the Church

Happy Feast of St. Joseph! 

Our Joseph knows that it's his special feast day. It's also my husband's feast day (middle name Joseph), and the day that our Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, PA is installing a new Bishop (thanks be to God!). My husband has an exciting day of welcoming and assisting the 30+ Bishops from around the country (and beyond) who are descending on St. Patrick Cathedral at 2 p.m. for the Installation Mass followed by a special reception. My day isn't quite as exciting! :)

I love the two quotes above about St. Joseph. How powerful is his intercession! I shared this story last year, but it's on my mind today so I'll share it again! When Gianna was 7-months-old, we accompanied my husband to a conference in Columbus, OH (we can hardly make it the 2 miles to church with our whole family right now...never mind Columbus...ha!). On a beautiful spring day almost 7 years ago, I was taking a walk with Gianna when I came across a beautiful Catholic church which happened to be open.

I saw a small shrine to St. Joseph and I was instantly drawn to it. As it had taken us two years to conceive Gianna, I was already hoping and praying that we would conceive again (after infertility, you never take the precious gift of fertility for granted again). I asked through St. Joseph's powerful intercession for the gift of a new baby. And, I promised if it was a boy that we would name him Joseph. A few weeks after we were back in Harrisburg, I got a positive pregnancy test. Thank you, St. Joseph! 

Please be the constant guide and protector of my husband and son!



Monday, March 17, 2014

The Least Helpful Leprechaun!

Impossible to get a good picture of Lucy these days...she's on the move!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We all have various shades of green on today (except Gianna who still had to wear her navy blue and gray plaid jumper!).

This morning I went to a fun play date where Irish music was playing in the background, and we snacked on Irish soda bread and drank Irish coffee (minus the Baileys...darn!). My daughter Cecilia is so excited that a leprechaun is coming to school tomorrow (March 18???) because there are too many classes for all of them to hunt for the leprechaun today. Um, okay! I'm actually fine with it because March 17th is about St. Patrick (leprechauns optional!). Some of the other parents were upset though!

This post is about Lucy the leprechaun. She'll be 2 in about three weeks. I really can't believe it. I was at a birthday party yesterday and someone who hasn't seen our family in a bit kept calling the baby Lucy. I told her it's okay...I feel like Lucy was in the baby carrier just yesterday!

Anyway, 2 is definitely one of my favorite ages (I only go as high as 7 though...ha!). I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my children at this age (personality becomes evident, language is exploding with all the adorable mispronunciations, super cute and cuddly, potential for good naps, easily distracted/re-directed, little need for discipline, etc., etc.!). I try to hurry up and enjoy it because 3 comes fast (enough said!)...

Lucy's favorite chore is laundry. This is because I am constantly doing laundry (ha!) and she is my sidekick. This is how Lucy does laundry: Take a piece of clothing out of the basket and run to put it away in a drawer. Sounds good, no? Well trained for age 2!

One problem...she NEVER puts the clothing in the right drawers! Ironically, if I hold up a piece of clothing, 99% of the time, she can tell me who it belongs to.

Just today I found Joseph's underwear in Gianna's pants drawer, my socks in with Justin's socks (socks are socks, I guess!), Cecilia's pajamas in with Daddy's stuff. You get it! The thing is that she's SO proud of herself that I don't have the heart to stop her (I just make her pile very small and I do the rest)!

If she could only get it right, my load would be so much lighter :).

Here's my cutest leprechaun! She's still tiny, but look at those chins!

St. Patrick, pray for us!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Happiness is...

The item most requested in my home on any given afternoon is this: PAPER!

My children are very creative and they love to draw on plain white paper. I need to keep it out of reach because Lucy, almost 2, will quickly scribble on every page (usually just a few lines or swirls) which deems the paper unusable to my other children who say it is ruined (Lucy is quite proud though!).

Our Lady of Lourdes freestyle!

On Monday, Gianna attended the K-4 version of the Our Lady of Lourdes Virtual presentation (see my last post). She came home and drew this picture of Mary. It's currently hanging on my wall and I love it. I plan to get a frame for it (someday...I always forget things like that when I'm running around Target to get necessities!).

Some of Joseph's creations!
Joseph LOVES to write and illustrate books, as well as make some pretty fun innovative games. I hate to admit it, but I toss most of them (he's not old enough to read this yet...ha!). The house isn't big enough to neatly store them all! Of course, I keep my favorites (there's quite a few) and store them in my "special box."

When Teresa was born in October, I quickly came to the conclusion that we would have to stay home every afternoon. This really bothered me at first as I love to be on the go, and for years, we have planned play dates at friend's houses, trips to the playground, errands, etc around 4 p.m.. It made the afternoons much more enjoyable because when we stay home too much, the fighting and restlessness begin!

But, when the older kids get off the bus at 3:40ish, the last thing they want to do is jump back in the car! Plus, there is homework. And, honestly, it is very nerve wracking for me to take all six kids anywhere by myself! So, we are home.

And, it's not so bad now that I've gotten used to it! That's not to say that it's not absolutely crazy :). But, there is paper...and for now, it makes us all very happy! I love that my children are asking for paper rather than technology (guess that's because we don't have any besides a few Leapfrog things/kiddie computers...ha)!

These are simple, innocent times.

And, I'm trying to cherish them :).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lourdes and Bossy R

On Monday night, I received something miraculous. I am keeping it in my kitchen now (out of the reach of little fingers), but the kitchen doesn't seem worthy enough! I am trying to think of a new place so that it is not a temptation (the little jewelry box on my bureau has become quite an attraction for my kids recently...and, there's not even anything wonderful in there!).

Anyway, on Monday night, my parish hosted A Virtual Pilgrimage of Lourdes, France. It was a presentation about the Blessed Mother appearing to St. Bernadette in 1858. Mary told Bernadette to kiss the ground and miraculous waters sprang forth...and they continue to flow to this day! Countless miracles have occurred when people come in contact with this water. We heard about several of them at the presentation. We also got to touch rock from the grotto of Lourdes.

I could only stay for an hour (I had to get home to put the baby to bed), but it was a very holy and grace-filled experience. I could strongly feel the presence of Our Lady of Lourdes in the church with us! Even though I had to sneak out early, I made sure that I found an usher to give me my very own bottle of miraculous Lourdes water (that is currently in my kitchen....!).

We have other holy water in the house (maybe I should write a post about holy water sometime because it's really cool stuff!). I will (not every night because most nights I'm just too tired...I confirm that they're breathing and I leave their rooms...ha!) bless my children with it when they are sleeping. I will keep the Lourdes water for very special occasions or (God forbid) emergencies! Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

The second part of this post (gee, I gave up Facebook for Lent and I'm writing more...great! But, I'm not necessarily using the extra time to pray...not great!) is about Gianna again!

In first grade, she has homework every night. It only takes around 20 minutes or so to complete, but the afternoons are absolutely nutty at our house, so it is a long 20 minutes! I try to complete it (with at least 3 or 4 "helpers") shortly after she gets off the bus. The first thing I make her do is take off her uniform (they are expensive, and I don't want anything to happen to it!) and then she gets a snack. Depending on her mood, this is not a big deal (but some days it is a huge deal...ha!).

Anyway, this week's spelling words have something that her teacher is calling the "Bossy R" (basically you can't hear the vowel sound, only the 'r' sound). One of her words is SHIRT.

She writes her words on a white board and then I check them. Well, this time, she wrote the word SHIRT, except for whatever reason (after all, we are talking about bossy r!), she left out the letter 'r'. So, you know what word was written on the white board!

And, of course, I should have just had her sound it out and try again.

But, I'm not that mature. Or, more likely, I was trying to stay sane and get her homework done with a very grumpy preschooler (who had not napped) flipping out about something, a toddler clinging to my leg, and an infant  attached to me (I've finally learned to nurse while walking around...nothing like multi-tasking!). Not to mention that my husband was coming home early for dinner because he had to teach a class...and, what was dinner anyway!?!

So, I glanced at the white board and I burst out laughing. Wrong choice!!! Of course, the kids wanted to know the funny joke. Another wrong choice...I told Gianna that this was a naughty word. So, she sounded it out out of curiosity. This led to a chorus of my children chanting S***. What a fabulous mother...I just taught my children a swear word!

Homework "Helpers"
Ironically, I vividly remember the day that my mother taught me that word! Ha! It's not what you think!

I was 7-years-old and jumping rope in the driveway. I was making up a song by rhyming lots of words. I apparently used that word in my rhyme. If my mother hadn't pointed it out (she was probably just shocked to hear it just like I was shocked to see it written on a white board!), I never would've known (that day at least!).

But, my mother told me that I had said a bad word. Of course I was SO curious so I started signing the song again until my mother identified the word! :)

It's almost 2 p.m. and pretty soon it'll be homework time again. Oh goody :). Never a dull moment, for sure!

Thanks for reading! I'm going to try to sneak in a few prayers before nap time is over!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Not like everyone else...

My daughter Gianna is 7-1/2 years old. If you have or interact with elementary school aged children, you are probably familiar with the Rainbow Loom. If not, here is a picture below. In a nutshell, it is contraption that allows you to take thousands of little tiny colorful rubber bands and make them into jewelry. It is extremely popular in my daughter's 1st grade world.


She asked for one from Santa Claus this past Christmas. And, the mean Santa Claus did not get her one. Well, actually,  Santa was more than willing to get her one. It was mean Mrs. Claus who said no! I am not opposed to eye-hand coordination building skills and spending time making bracelets and necklaces as gifts for people...very far from it! 

Rather, I was selfish. I only thought of myself. Because, it would go like this. Gianna would promise to keep them put away in her room and to always clean up after herself. She would promise to keep them high on a shelf in her closet so that younger siblings would not have access to them. Promises!

She would do well for a day or two. And then, inevitably, she would forget and leave them out...or, crafty siblings would drag a chair to her closet and help themselves. And then, they would take over my house! Little teeny tiny potential choking hazards that would make my blood pressure rise at the mere site of them! Instead of calmly picking them up and putting them away, I would RUN to get the vacuum cleaner to suck them up forever :). I would be angry, Gianna would be angry, the siblings who briefly had so much fun with teeny tiny rubber bands would be angry. I decided to spare us all the grief :).

She did not dwell on the fact that she didn't get it on Christmas Day. Because, Santa and Mrs. Claus got her lots of other stuff! Rather, it was when she returned to school after Christmas break. Her teacher, who she adores, DID get Rainbow Loom for Christmas! And, she brought it in for the kids to use during indoor recess (and there's been tons of indoor recess this freezing cold and snowy winter!).

Gianna has become very proficient at making jewelry! She even knows how to use the little clips to secure the ends (which is good because I don't have time to learn how to do that!). I thought she might get it out of her system as she was bringing home a new creation every day (how long is recess, I wondered!?!).

Nope! In fact, she started asking for it double time. At the young age of 7, she was constantly saying, "But all my friends have it!" Ugh!!!!!

I'm sure that lots of parents would just buy it for their children. After all, they aren't even expensive!!! But, I have very strong feelings about this (again, I don't know if my convictions are Holy Spirit driven, my own selfish reasoning, or both!). Christmas is past, and her birthday is not until September. I thought about giving it to her for a good report card (she does very well in school and report cards come out this week).

But, I am reading an excellent book on parenting.  My husband just finished re-reading it, and he said, "I think you should read this." I almost always read something when my husband makes a suggestion...I am never disappointed!

The book is called "Compass: A Handbook on Parent Leadership" by James B. Stenson. I haven't finished it yet, but it has already changed me for the better. The chapter on "The Consumerist Family: Kids in Trouble" blew me away. I felt like I was reading about tons of families that I know!

The book points out that these families actually appear quite normal and happy from the outside! To quote, "most children from homes like this are cheery and well-scrubbed, pleasant and smiling, and often very active, but only for things they enjoy. They like to be liked, and in fact they expect to be liked no matter what they do. Since they're used to treating adults (including their parents) like equals, they appear naively lacking in respectful good manner." Etc. Etc. Etc.

You can read the book if you want, but this chapter continues to talk about how in these homes, boredom is the ultimate evil (so we give kids tons of technology, tons of activities, pleasant experiences, etc.), "hassle free" existence of children is the best (anything that keeps kids busy and quiet is key!), parents readily give into children's wishes and feelings, children fail to distinguish needs and wants, etc., etc., etc.

The consequences for kids growing up in these families are dire. I won't get into them, but you can imagine (lots of pleasure seeking with drinking, drugs, driving fast, etc.). The suicide rate is out of control in the United States and it is directly correlated with income ("It is kids from wealthy and middle-income suburbs, not our poorest inner-city neighborhoods, who most often take their own lives").

Okay, if you're still reading, you probably think I've taken this way too far...over a Rainbow Loom...ha!!! But, it really spoke to me. In particular, Stenson's tips which included, "Make your children wait for something they want, and if possible, make them earn it."

So, long story short (much too late!), Gianna is earning her Rainbow Loom! I think they're around $15. So far, she has earned $8. The hardest thing for her is that she WANTS to do chores, but they are not the chores that I want her/need her to do!!! I need her to take care of her bedroom and her things, help with the little ones (within reason...she actually likes holding the baby!), and help keep the playroom clean. She would rather help me make dinner or something more exciting!

We may not be like everyone else, but that is okay...and even good (and hopefully Gianna will love her Rainbow Loom more since it was hard-earned!).

Stay tuned :)

Please Lord, give my husband and I the graces and the "compass" that we need to raise our children up (especially when our world becomes bigger than Rainbow Looms!) into who you call them to be. Amen!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Light to Know...

Lucy's cracking me up lately! What she's lacking in hair, she's more than making up for in personality!
Last night I was channel surfing and decided to watch a special on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on EWTN. I did give up Facebook for Lent and I am praying more, but I still like to lounge on the couch at night and decompress! I figured a little religious programming would be better for my soul than the alternatives! Plus, I had a glass of wine which can make everything seem more interesting...ha!

I actually love this saint, so bonus! When I lived in the Washington D.C. area, I was a teacher at Elizabeth Seton High School. It was the best job that I've ever had and I loved going to work everyday. And, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's old stomping grounds are in Emmitsburg, MD which  is only about an hours drive from here. The Basilica, museum, historical buildings, cemetery, and grounds are sacred and beautiful.

I've been there several times, and each time I love knowing that I'm walking in the very footsteps of Mother Seton! I don't think I'll ever make it to the Holy Land, so this has special meaning for me :). It is definitely a refreshing experience of renewal.

Anyway, the EWTN program was wonderful. They had an actress play Mother Seton so we could see her speaking the words that she left us in her journals. She was widowed at very young age and left to support five young children (yikes!). She went on to found an order of sisters and to open schools. Her life touched countless others and she continues to help countless people from heaven.

When I taught at the high school named for her, we said a prayer to her every morning over the loud speaker. I can still recite it by heart:

Elizabeth Seton High School, Maryland
 Lord God, you blessed Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for others. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

My favorite prayer was the one that was on the entrance of the school. A picture of the school is above, but you can't see the prayer. It was simply this

"God grant us the Light to Know and Grace to Do"

This is probably my favorite prayer for me and everyone else I know! What could possibly be better than having the light to KNOW what God wants us to do (it can be so hard to hear God's voice in our loud, chaotic lives!), and then having the grace to actually DO it! So often, I (and others, I'm sure!) know what God wants of us, but we just don't do it (because we are think we are too tired, too weak, too poor, name your excuse here!)!

So, through the intercession of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, may we all have LIGHT and GRACE today :). 



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Better Challenge...

Cecilia practicing her letters for Kindergarten!

A few weeks ago, Holy Name of Jesus elementary school (where my two oldest attend) announced a contest. Each homeroom was to collect as many Box Tops for Education (you'll see them on many things in your kitchen!) as possible, and the winning classroom would get a prize!

First, I felt awful. My mom religiously collects these box tops and she had just sent me a couple of hundred of them a few weeks prior for me to send in to Holy Name. This was before I knew there was a contest, so I just sent them in with Gianna and told her to give them to her teacher. I was sad that these box tops would not count toward the total for Gianna's class. Come to find out, Gianna's teacher must have known the contest was coming because she told Gianna that she had held on to them and they would count for the contest. Hooray...Go 1B!

I went crazy trying to find Box Tops for Joseph's homeroom! I think I did pretty well! Granted, I didn't find hundreds in our kitchen, but I did find a lot more than I expected. Go KB!

I was joking with my husband that I just love a challenge! So, half-joking back, he gave me another challenge. He simply said, "Make money!"

Hmmm!!! The wheels in my head were turning. I do pick up mystery shops as often as I can (I think I look kind of obvious dragging all these small children into stores and talking to employees, but it's pretty easy money!). Other than that, I am not able to make money as it's just not feasible (my husband's job often requires him to teach classes or attend meetings at night in addition to the 9 to 5 day). I would absolutely love to find something that I could do at home at night after the kids go to bed (but it would have to be pretty brainless...ha!).

I decided to try something that I had quickly ruled out in the past. A few friends of mine make money on a website called swagbucks. After completing lots of tasks (like taking short surveys, viewing advertisements, or signing up for goods and services), you are awarded "swagbucks" that you can turn into gift cards once you accumulate enough of them.

I had tried it in the past and did not find it to be a good use of my limited "time off" (nap time). In light of my new challenge though, I thought I would give it another try. As I tried it yesterday, and I was not wracking up the swagbucks nearly as quickly as I thought I should've been (!), I got what I call my "sinking feeling." It is a feeling that I am just not doing what God is calling me to do. I'm not sure if it's the Holy Spirit prompting or more just a gut reaction, but either way, I am left feeling discouraged and heavy-hearted.

I was actually happy when Lucy woke up a little early from her nap and I could stop swagging :). Later, I discerned (again!) that this is definitely NOT what God wants me to do for my family. I may finally earn a gift card or two, but how many hours of my life will I have wasted!? Is the reward worth my valuable time? I found the answer to be a definite no!

So, I am giving myself a new challenge as Lent begins tomorrow. I am going to try to say the Rosary (or at least make a good effort) during nap least during Lent. I know that the Blessed Mother could take my prayers and take away all of our financial concerns for a lifetime (not that I am asking her to, mind you!). And, who knows what effect these prayers may have today, tomorrow, forever!? This a much better use of my time...and I know for a fact that I will feel the opposite of discouraged and heavy-hearted!

Wishing you all a most Blessed Lent! Don't forget that tomorrow is a day of fasting...not just abstinence from meat. I say this to encourage myself (ha!). I can't do a real fast as I am breastfeeding and it would not be healthy for me or my baby, but surely, there are many, many things that I can fast from (I am thinking of giving up Facebook for Lent...again, saying this outloud to encourage myself...ha!).


I guess we're done practicing our letters for Kindergarten!