Monday, April 28, 2014

The nerve...

Happy Feast Day, Gianna!
We've had dessert a lot lately. The kids never expected it after dinner...until April! We had two birthdays and lots and lots of cake! Then there was Easter, so of course, I made a special treat. Then this weekend, we were blessed to spend time with my brother who was in town from Boston. You guessed it...more sugar!

I'm ready to get back to our "desserts are special" lifestyle. But, there is one more thing we must celebrate tonight. Today is April 28th, the feast of St. Gianna!!!!

So, my Gianna (who loves treats more than anyone in the house...well, I am very close competition!) asked if we could celebrate tonight after dinner. How could I say no!? I am so grateful for our powerful intercessor that I think I'll make some oatmeal raisin (well, I'll probably reach for the chocolate chips instead!) cookies (for a *slightly* healthier alternative)!

My truth stretchers...
There is a common phenomenon in our house. I will ask a child a question. For example, "Did you fill-in-the-blank?" (Insert: go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, put your shoes away, hit your sister, etc.)

The answer is most commonly the one that they know that I want to hear."Of course I went to the bathroom, Mom!"

Problem is (and I know that this is a very common problem in homes of preschoolers!), the answer is just not truthful!!! I've read up on this a bit. I know that preschoolers often BELIEVE that they are telling the truth. They get confused because they can convince themselves quite easily that the action did in fact happen (or didn't happen!).

Luckily, most of the time it is harmless (although incredibly annoying!). Or, I am able to discern quite quickly that the child is "lying" so that I can correct and discipline if necessary. Sometimes I am not sure if they are telling the truth or not, so I tend to think the worst...

Enjoying a walk through the gorgeous Hershey Gardens on a beautiful spring day!
Gianna and Joseph (my two oldest) are not easily forgiven for this offense (if they are caught, that is!). At 7-1/2 and 6, they are old enough to know better. And, for the most part, they will just do what I am asking instead of dealing with my declining mood if they do not!

That said, I was very cranky during dinner a few nights ago. No one was enjoying the meal that I had thrown together (me included!), and I was getting many complaints. I told the children that, like it or not, this was dinner tonight. So, they ate (not without whining and pouting, but they ate!). My husband is awesome and never complains!

Until...Joseph suddenly jumped up. "I can't eat anymore," he shouted, "because...I was just stung by a bee!"

ER...I was getting angry. He had some nerve coming up with this tall tale to get out a meal...

I was getting ready to blow my top. Enough lying already...

When suddenly, a red ant with wings...the stinging kind...flew out of his shorts!!!!

What the....? He had been playing in the yard all afternoon, but really? I've never even seen one of those around before!

Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to doubt!?! And I thought I had such good motherly instincts...ha!

Have a great day, friends!!! St. Gianna, pray for us!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Score...A New Friend!

My baby holding my other baby = LOVE THIS!
Today is Wednesday. It is our "day off" because there is no preschool. There is less rushing in the morning, but unfortunately, this isn't as good as it sounds! There is no reason that we have to be in the car by 9:15, so I try to accomplish a few other things (like finishing the never-ending switch from winter to spring clothes!). Unfortunately, my kids notice that I'm not paying attention to them which leads to extra meltdowns and sibling squabbles! I definitely prefer the predictability and routine of school days (shhhhh...I know summer is coming, but don't say it outloud!!!).

Anyway, once we were ready to go (I deserted my project when it became clear that no one was going to disappear into the basement and play happily!), I asked the children where they wanted to go. It is quite cool and windy, so outdoors was not an option. And, sadly, as I've written before, the indoor options are limited in Harrisburg! We've had really fun play dates the last two Wednesdays, so I was kinda bummed to be on my own again!

"The Mall," said Justin, excited that I had given them a choice. "Really? Again?" I said. Cecilia and Lucy started jumping up and down shouting, "Mall," so it was unanimous (among the kids, at least!).

As we approached the mall playground (perfect for my preschool crew), I was hoping to see someone I know (never happens) or at least someone to potentially chat with (meaning someone who was not completely engrossed in their phone!). Watching my children play is one of my life's greatest pleasures, but I am home alone with my children all day it can be kinda lonely too (don't have to tell many of my readers this)!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a woman sitting alone watching her two young boys play. She did not have her phone out, and she actually smiled as we walked in...all good signs!

I always sit in the same place when I come to this playground. It is a little bit more private so I can nurse the baby and hide the stroller, shoes, snacks, etc. The kids headed for my usual corner as they know the drill! To their surprise, I chose another bench closer to the smiling mom. I wasn't too close in case she just wanted to be alone (I definitely have those days!), but close enough to talk if a natural opportunity presented itself.

And, I am happy to report that it did present itself. And, I spent a lovely 45 minutes talking to a new "friend." She has four kids and is hoping for #5, so we instantly had a lot in common! The more we talked, the more I liked her. We exchanged e-mails and cell phone numbers for future play dates, so I think I can call her a "friend." After all, I am "friends" with people on Facebook who I will most likely never see again (and that's fine!). So, I think the word fits in this instance!

Looking concerned about blowing out the candles. No worries...lots of siblings to help :).
My friends are invaluable to me on this stay-at-home journey! I am blessed with many great women in my life and I am honored to call them friends. But, I am always on the lookout for new friends too! In our "mind your own business" culture of isolation, they are not always easy to find!

I feel like I found a new treasure today, and I am grateful! Have a great day, friends!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrating Life...

Happy Joseph after his Kindergarten Egg Hunt!
I only have a very brief time to write today! It's Holy Thursday. My big kids had a half day of school today, so four kids are watching a show on PBS kids (and arguing terribly...hence I have to go!) and two are sleeping (not very keeps crying out and she'll wake up toddler momentarily, I'm sure!). It's not a very restful break for mom today...oh well!!! There was a day (not that long ago!) when days like this would make me very upset. I've learned to "just go with it" (sometimes!) and it makes us all happier! :)

Anyway, I wanted to wish everyone a very blessed Easter! I still do not have a new laptop (I'm trying to use my old desktop which keeps freezing to write this!), but my afternoons have been dedicated to reading and prayer. It has been a surprisingly fruitful and peaceful change of pace! I'll have to remember this when I finally do get a new computer!

Today is also my 10th wedding anniversary. I read recently that in order for a marriage to be "happy," there needs to be at least five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. Otherwise, the relationship starts on a downward spiral until neither person remembers why they fell in love!

I'm not saying that we've had 10 perfect sir...but, I do think that (thank God!) our positive interactions with each other are much more frequent than our negative interactions. Maybe it's because we are much quicker to forgive these days...or because we are so distracted by our children that we easily forget what we were fighting about to begin with! Whatever! I am so incredibly blessed to be married to such a dependable, hardworking, and thoughtful man. And, he never ever fails to make me laugh. Which is good...I need a lot of laughter to stay sane ;). God bless our marriage.

Such a fun week at preschool!
Justin's bunny ears kept falling down...should've stuck with the Red Sox hat for the hat parade!
Break time is most definitely over...I have to go! Since plastic eggs are taking over my house, I think we'll do an egg hunt in the backyard on this beautiful sunny spring day. Why not, right!? Happy kids means happy mommy...first I'm off to make a cup of coffee! Just gonna go with it!

Happy Easter, friends :).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Keeping my world small...

Enjoy your birthday present, Lou-Lou!
Today is Lucy's 2nd birthday!!!! The house was filled with excitement this morning as the other kids waited for her to wake up (she sleeps the latest...which is just fine with me!).

Cecilia and Lucy enjoying Lucy's b-day presents!
I have to make this short and get baking lest not to disappoint everyone expecting pink sparkly cupcakes tonight, but I wanted to write on this special day. Lucy definitely does not grasp the birthday concept and she's unsure about the extra attention. If you ask her how old she is, she will either put her fingers in her ears as if she's not listening (much to my embarrassment, she did this to Cecilia's lovely preschool teacher today!) or answer with a huge grin, "Three!"

Not sure which I'm happier about...the fence or the flowers!
I am so very happy these days. After going over the pros and cons a hundred times, we fenced in our yard!!! It was a very expensive purchase (for us!), but it will help keep my small corner of the world safer. And, I need my world to be small these days so I can stay sane and keep all my babies safe! Now when the kids want to go out and play, I don't have to say no all the time (it wasn't always practical for me to stop making dinner...just to make sure no one took off one of several ways!). Now I say, "Have fun!!!" Ahh...fences and flowers...does it get better!?!

Justin is loving on his baby sis!
Birthdays cause me to reflect on how fast life is flying by. And, provide a special day to thank God for my tremendous gifts (not that I don't do this every day, because I do!). I gave Lucy an extra special birthday blessing with my Lourdes water (see old post!).

I am loving her emerging 2-year-old personality. But, there are things that I could live without. For example, she is a runner. After a shockingly pleasant trip to the grocery store yesterday with the three youngest, Lucy decided to sprint to the door after I told her that it was time to get back into the cart to go to the car.

While I sprinted after her (I just left the other two kids at the register!), I was filled with total panic. She did stop when I yelled, "Freeze!" But it was only to smile at me before turning to run even faster. I am eternally grateful to the stranger who picked her up right before she exited the building straight into the parking lot.

Lucy will not have freedom again for a very.long.time. She was not a fan of mine today in Target and Costco. But, she was safe. I pray daily that Guardian Angels and patron saints will always protect my children from harm. Thank you Lord for my precious daughter on her second birthday.

And for fences :).

Just FYI, we are about to lose our laptop (the one that I do all my blogging on!). Windows is no longer providing support for Windows XP, thus I have to surrender this lovely piece of technology! It's really okay as Holy Week approaches, but I wanted to let you know that I may not be able to blog for a bit until we purchase a new laptop (and it takes us a while to make decisions!).

Thanks for reading!! Have a most blessed Lent.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stupid and Fearless...

Finally some spring weather to enjoy!
I used to be stupid in college. Luckily, I still did very well academically. I graduated magna cum laude from Providence College in Rhode Island (which is a very good school...even if no one has heard of it where I currently live...ha!).

I am talking about some of the choices that I made from ages 18-21. When I think back, all I can say to myself is, "But for the grace of God go I!" I do have tons of fond memories of good times with my roommates whom I consider lifelong friends, and I would not trade these. I also wouldn't trade all the growing up that took place and the seeds that were planted. I faithfully attended the 9 p.m. weeknight Mass at Aquinas Chapel and I can see that God was busy working in my life because I tried to remain close to Him!

Because my kids might some day read this (I was reminded recently that once something is out there, it never really goes away!), I won't give details! But, I made some choices that I am not proud of. I have gone to Confession and I know that I am forgiven, and I daresay that I am a stronger person because of these choices...but that doesn't mean that what I did was right and that I didn't alter the plans that God had for me!

Gianna is SO crafty :)

I also used to be fearless. I realize this every time that I drive on the highway. When I was 23, I accepted a job that allowed me to travel all over the United States (and a few locations abroad) and teach reading and study skills in private schools. This job was the answer to a prayer that I hadn't even been saying at the time!

I was living in a cute little apartment with my best friend from high school and working two jobs. The first job was as a Special Events Coordinator at a college (it was my third full-time job after graduating from college two years earlier. I hated the administrative assistant and research assistant jobs that came before it!). The second job was as a waitress and I had some fun (albeit not the most upstanding) friends!

On the surface, everything was fine. I was making enough money to support myself comfortably, and I had a nice social life (although not the true love that I was seeking...). On the inside, I was pretty miserable. I felt suffocated by something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I often thought of getting in my car and just driving away forever.

One Sunday afternoon, I was reading the Classifieds (I decided that special events planning was not for me either!), and I saw the traveling teacher job! I sent off my resume, and my excitement grew the following week after the interview. There was actually a job that I could get in my car and drive forever! And, I could teach children (I was actually an education major until my senior year when I had second thoughts!) which I always thought I might enjoy.

I was sold on a brand new exciting life and I went about getting my affairs in order. I had to break it to my best friend that I was moving out. I gladly quit the special events job and spent my final days picking up tons of waitressing shifts. I'll never forget a conversation with my mom. She just wanted to make sure that I very sure about my decisions. I appreciated her concern, but I had never been surer about anything in my life!

So, after three weeks of very intense training, I got in my car and headed (all by myself!) to Tulsa, OK. It was absolutely exhilarating! I've written about these experiences in this blog over the years, so I won't repeat them here. I spent an amazing month in Tulsa before heading (again, all by myself!) to San Jose, CA. The rest of the year was spent in different states until I landed in Washington D.C. the following June and met my husband!

Who gets in the car and drives across the country (multiple times) by herself (without knowing a soul when you arrive)? I guess I do! Fearless!!!!

Today was "Cap and Gown" picture day at is that possible!?

Today, I can confidently say that I am neither stupid nor fearless!

I am keenly aware of my countless blessings. I would not do anything stupid to jeopardize all that has been entrusted to me! I live a very straight and narrow it boring if you want! I want my life to be rightly ordered and peaceful (well, I can dream...!).

And, every time I get on the highway (especially because there always seem to be large semi-trucks coming up behind me VERY fast...just inches from the precious cargo in the back of my vehicle)...I can't believe that getting on the highway used to bring me a great rush of freedom.

That feeling has been replaced with plenty of fear...and tons of prayers for safety and protection. Funny that I don't remember asking for protection when it was just me driving across the country...I guess it was the infamous invincible feelings of youth!

Oh well, at least I'm wise now (ha...I wish!). Hope you're having a blessed Lent. Thanks for reading!