Monday, June 30, 2014

Taking my chances...

Gianna is taking a summer gymnastics class...but everyone had to put a leotard on :)
I am going to take July off from blogging. I read somewhere recently that taking a break from blogging is committing "blogicide!" Ha! I'll take my chances :). Please check back in August!

Thanks to all my loyal readers! I recently discovered that my blog has had 10,100 views since I started it! I think this is probably small time for most bloggers, but it means a lot to me!!!

Justin keeps reminding me that he is a "little boy"...not a big boy! Honestly, the reminders are helpful :).

In addition to seeing the number of views, I can also check where people are reading. It blows my mind that people from all over the world have checked out my blog (linked from I have had to look at the globe in the playroom to see where some of these countries are in the world (I think I need to get out of Pennsylvania more)! I truly wish that I could have conversations with these women as I love learning about other cultures. I'm sure that despite the obvious differences, we have so much in common.

Anyway, I am humbled that you take the time! Thank you, friends!

Wishing you a beautiful summer with countless blessings (they are just have to open your eyes to them!). Until we meet again...

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

(I used this blessing in my Matron of Honor speech to my sister at her wedding in Ireland in 2008!).

We know the days seem endless, Mom, but we're growing :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

No mom's night out for me...

My big kids!
I would label myself as a very social, friendly, somewhat outgoing introvert! I LOVE being with people (and I start to feel very sad when I do not connect with others in person on a regular basis), yet I then need to retreat (even from my!) to get my energy back.

My three older children are doing another Vacation Bible School at night this week. But, there's a huge problem for me! It doesn't end until 8:45ish. This gets them home at 9...and then they need showers, snacks, etc. I am not getting my alone time at night (I cannot stay up past 10:30 or I start to get a migraine headache...bummer, huh!?), and I can feel it.

I try to be flexible and to put myself last...but, I have to take care of myself too and I NEED time by myself (although my husband can be fact, it's better when he is!) in order to stay well-balanced and sane! I know that a 7:30-8:00 p.m. lights out bedtime cannot last forever. But, I fully intend to institute the same rule that my mother did: Kids (of all ages) must be in their rooms by a reasonable time and then they may read as long as they want!

I've been invited to quite a few mom's nights out recently. Teresa (8 months) has been a convenient (and true!) excuse for why I couldn't attend. But, now she is at an age when I COULD probably go out. She eats food pretty well now, and she'll go down without nursing! By 8:30, she's usually down for the night. But, I still find myself saying no.
I've never had a baby with brown hair her!!!

It's even surprising to me! I love being with my friends, and I love going out for drinks (and dancing...although it's been a long time since I've done that) with girlfriends!

But, after being with my kids all afternoon and evening, I just need to be alone and then I need...SLEEP!!! I find that I can't function (well) without these!

This aspect of my personality is not a flaw (although I sometimes feel like it is). If I get the time that I need (and it's really just an hour in the middle of the day and an hour at the end of the day), I am able to be the best wife and mommy (that's not to say that there isn't a lot of room for improvement!). Self-knowledge is good!!!

BUT, I'm writing this post because I want to work on treating people (my children!) well even if I don't get the time off that I seek! For example, since I've been writing this, Gianna has come in twice asking me if she could change the movie (no), Joseph wanted chocolate milk (asked him to get himself some water), Cecilia lost her gum (UGH! The only thing I do know is that it's not in her hair...this time!), and Justin needed help in the bathroom. As I'm finishing this blog post, I hear Lucy and Teresa stirring from their naps! I tried to respond to each request as politely as I could (while reminding them that mommy really needs a short break to be a good mommy!).

Blessed Mother, please help me to take care of myself because then I will be able to more lovingly take care for others!!! Give me graces to act loving when I feel that I do not have anything left to give. Help me to know and to change what needs to be changed about myself.

sacred heart of jesus photo: sacred heart SacredHeartJesus.jpg

Today we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I have a very special framed picture that I have treasured from my youth. It's been in a box in the basement since we moved..woops!!! When the kids play in water this afternoon (it's mighty hot out there!), I'm determined to find it and put it in a place of honor (look up Jesus' promises to St. Margaret Mary for honoring his Sacred Heart...they're awesome!!!).

Take care all! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not me...

Vacation Bible School at St. Margaret Mary's last week!
Gianna and Joseph are enjoying Patriot Camp this week. It is a week devoted to learning about important people in American history. It's run by volunteers, and it's free for the kids! Today they learned about Walt Disney and they (especially Joseph) loved it!!!

The camp is collecting household items for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. One of the leaders gave the kids an example when she said, "For example, your parents could donate an old coffee pot that still works."

Gianna made me laugh when she said, "Mom, I was still there thinking that my mom would NEVER donate her coffee pot!" Ha! I love it! And, she's right...not me :).

I am trying to devote my short afternoon breaks into equal parts: time on the computer, time for prayer, and time for reading. I do the computer first. I know, the order sounds wrong to me, too! Prayer should come first. But, I find that I can always can (and do!) pray A LOT later during the afternoon (usually under my breath!) when the kids are making me nuts!!!

Anyway, I am reading a book by a Catholic homeschooling father. It was given to my husband at a conference recently. It is a good book that is making me laugh and contemplate life. The man makes a fantastic case for homeschooling. Homeschooling actually fits quite nicely with the way that my husband and I are trying to raise our family.

I just can't do it though...not me!!! The very thought of having my children home all day...and having the responsibility to teach them essential life skills like reading and math...makes my heart race in a panic!  But, admitting that makes me feel a little sad and guilty actually. I will just to be grateful that we are blessed to be able to provide the kids with a great Catholic education. And, let myself off the hook for not being able to be all things to all people (a lesson that I learn a little bit more everyday!).

My greatest blessings...
I was talking with a friend this morning at camp about the fact that it is almost July! And, June has actually been a fantastic month! It's been fun to break out of the routine and mix it up a bit. I am filled with profound gratitude to God for his many, many blessings to me!

Sure, I still feel crazy and frazzled a lot (I was talking to my mother on the phone on Sunday and she said, "Oh my ghosh...I can't believe it's already 2 p.m." To which I replied, "Oh my's ONLY 2 p.m.?!), but I know to hang on...because peaceful moments are (usually) just ahead!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feeling the love...

Girls dressed for last soccer game of the season (and their biggest cheerleader!)
I'm tired again. And, it's not because of lack of sleep now! Luckily, the steroids did their job and I am now able to sleep again (at least for a little bit until hormones kick in certain times of my monthly cycle, I just cannot sleep!).
Rather, it's because of the crazy schedule that we are keeping this week. My three oldest kids are attending two Catholic vacation bible schools this week. One in the morning and one in the evening!
And, they LOVE them! They are NOT tired...rather, they are energized and hyped up on God's love!
I love that they are enjoying them so much. And, it is very helpful for me. We can keep to a nice routine, and I don't have to entertain for hours on end! The first VBS ends at 12 and the other starts at 6, so they still have plenty of unscheduled "down" time to be with me and each other! The scheduled time just cuts down significantly on the fighting and restlessness that can set in during the long summer days!
The morning VBS is on the "west shore." For those who don't know, the Susquehanna River runs through the middle of the city of Harrisburg, PA. The two sides are called "east shore" and "west shore." I live on the east shore. When we moved here, people told us that we probably would never go over to the west shore. And, it's pretty true! I do go over perhaps once a month or so to do an errand (there is slightly better shopping over there!) or to visit my husband's family who live over there. But, everything I need is right here!!!
Anyway, because the VBS is on the west shore, I am staying over there for the three hours when the kids are there. Which means I have a preschooler, a toddler, and an infant to entertain for three hours! I met a friend at a museum yesterday and the company was heavenly. The other three days, I have been on my own. And, I'm TIRED!!!
To everyone who told me that I had my hands full (and there were tons!), I readily agreed!!! Depending on the moment, sometimes I added a line, such as, "Yes! Full of blessings!" But other times, I just shook my hand and appreciated that someone noticed that it is HARD work to keep three little ones safe and somewhat happy!
I am always amazed at how even my little ones are in tune with my moods. For example, if I am normally affectionate while doing a task, they are concerned and confused if I am more serious or downright unhappy. I am usually very playful with Lucy when I am getting her dressed or changing her diaper. We both enjoy the time together.
When I was trying to quickly change her diaper in the van today however, I wasn't as gentle as I usually am (for many, humid, stinky, tight quarters, other kids acting up, in a hurry, etc.!). Lucy said the equivalent of (in 2-year-old language): "Mommy, don't you love Lucy"? She didn't FEEL the love even though changing her stinky diaper was an act of love!
Here's praying for the graces that I need to make sure that my children feel loved. It is easy for me to rationalize that everything I do is for my family (cleaning, laundry, meal prep, disciplining, sacrificing free time, etc.). Most moms do this.
But, I think that good moms make sure that their family FEELS the love behind all the actions. I'm writing about this, in part, because I want to remember this.
Just a reflection. I had better rest up now...or, no one will be feeling the love from mama tonight :).


Monday, June 16, 2014

Who you calling baby?

Lucy loved that Teresa visited her crib after nap time one day last week!
My two babies are sleeping right now. It's funny that I refer to Lucy, age 2, as a baby. I remember when Gianna was 2, Joseph was 1, and I was expecting Cecilia. I was at a play date and the host mom had older kids (her oldest was 11 at the time, I believe). This host mom kept calling her 2-year-old daughter "baby," and I remember that it was bugging me. Couldn't she see that 2-year-olds were big kids!?!

Jump ahead almost 6 years...ha! Lucy is definitely still my baby. She's SO stinking cute these days. This age is definitely one of my favorites! I know what's ahead, so I will enjoy calling her my baby a little longer...

Speaking of sleeping, that is something that I have not managed to do in the past 72 hours. I have a sinus infection (it started as a cold that would not go away and then turned into what felt like a balloon head, bad toothache, and low fevers). Anyway, I prescribed an antibiotic for 10 days and a dose of steroids for 5 days.

Steroids leave me completely wired. It is a very artificial, not-too-great feeling "high." The past three nights, I felt tired around 10 as usual, and then just lay there awake hour after hour. I went from the bed to the family room couch back to the bed. Two good things: I have never said so many prayers in my life (well, that's not true...I can't sleep when I'm pregnant either!), and I'm not tired right now either despite no sleep (I couldn't nap right now if I wanted to...).

My sinus infection seems to be gone, so I think I'm going to continue the antibiotics and drop the steroid! I don't think it's healthy to go on like this...

Teresa says, "Wake up sleepyhead!"
When Gianna (who will be 8 at the end of the summer) gave me a hug this morning, I realized that she was up to my shoulders! She is tall for her age, but she just seems so big and so old. I wonder...if Teresa is my youngest...will I still think of her as my baby when she's 8 (God willing!)?

Ha! Life is flying by, so it won't be too long until I find out...

Hope you're having a wonderful summer, everyone! Sweet dreams :).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Maybe I Won't...

Everyday is crazy hair day for Teresa...especially when Daddy styles it!
It's been a stressful start to summer. GOOD, but stressful! I am fighting a cold and I have several cold sores on my lips (usually brought on by stress!), so my body is adjusting to the new normal (days starting by 6:30 a.m. and not stopping until bed time!).

Today has been a good day! The older three went to camp, and we are expecting some friends to come over after nap time (only problem is that it is raining...and I'm worried about all these big kids in the house...especially since we don't have any electronics to keep them still!).

After I dropped off the big kids at camp, I realized that I had no plans for the three little ones and myself! Lucy (age 2) is a nightmare in stores right now, plus I hate going into stores when I don't need anything because I'll find lots of things to buy! I didn't want to go home either...

I was saved by the bell! As I was driving out of the parking lot, I heard the text message 'bing'. I am trying hard  not to touch my cell phone when I am driving. I would never/have never texted/looked at a text while driving, but I used to make a call or answer the phone if it was ringing. No more. Living next to a family who lost their little boy to a distracted driver has made my resolve very firm. Plus, I want to set an example for my children.

Anyway, I looked for a place to pull over to check my text. If I had a destination (ha!), I never would have done this. But, occasionally friends text to see if we want to meet up, and this morning would have been a great morning to meet up! The next available turn just happened to be into the empty parking lot of one of the local elementary schools. School let out last week, so there was no one there.

I checked my text and it was a friend who wanted to get together later this week. Darn...I was hoping for an immediate playdate :).

As I was about to pull out of the parking lot and continue to ???, Lucy noticed the playgrounds...not one, but two. It is a very dreary day here in Central Pennsylvania. It's very humid, gray, drizzly, and kind of cool.

Justin started to ask for the playground too. I told the kids that everything would be wet, but they persisted. I certainly wasn't in the mood for this. But, what was the harm to stop for a few minutes? So I parked.

And, as happens occasionally, we spent a delightful hour there. Yes, everything was wet and there were puddles everywhere. But, that seemed to make it more fun (they had their crocs on, so I really didn't care if they stepped in puddles!).

There was a very badly drawn map of the United States painted on the basketball court, and Justin and Lucy jumped from state to state asking me what state they were on. I guessed a lot (it wasn't a very good map because Massachusetts was missing from New England...and I KNOW where that state is!).

I sat down on a wet bench nearby to nurse the baby. And, I was happy. I loved watching my children play. I wish I had my camera to capture the moment, but I stored it in my heart. Another reminder that some of the best things in life are free and unplanned.

The next time my children want to go to a playground on a damp, drizzly, gray, humid day, I will probably say no. But, maybe I won't...

I'm not crafty...but I tried to make "moon dust" for kids. They loved it! It's gonna be a long summer :).

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Happy...

Love these moments!
I was reading an article last night and something jumped out at me. Here's a summary:

The hardest thing about motherhood is not the physical exhaustion of being on duty 24/7. But rather, it is the realization and acceptance of how much of our children's lives is completely out of our control!

I may complain (especially to my husband!) that I have too much to do. But, in reality (and this happens a lot!), someone (like my husband) asks me how he/she can help me and I freeze up. I am afraid that if I let go of one of the balls that I have in the air, then they will all come down on my head! I guess I don't really want help after all (and I'm not saying this is a good trait of mine...).

I LIKE having almost every aspect of our family's lives in my hands. It is overwhelming, but comforting. And, I know and believe that God is REALLY in control, so I pray all day long for His help, guidance, and protection.

But, despite all my planning and intentions, so many things can happen that I cannot predict...terrible things that can (if I let them) take over my thoughts and lead me into a panic. I enjoy Facebook when it connects me to others and makes me laugh. I do not enjoy Facebook when I read about children dying of illness or accidents. Or, of mothers who are suffering miscarriages (I belong to a few Catholic prayer groups on Facebook, and this is sadly a common theme). I often think about all of these mothers throughout my day and beg Jesus to take away their suffering.

I know it is good to pray for others. I believe whole heartedly in intercessory prayer. But, it is not good for me to be anxious or fearful as it has the potential to distract me and rob me of the JOY that is all around me (just look at the children in the picture above)!!!

My all-time favorite Bible verse (Philippians) is one that I return to often:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Deep thoughts today!

On a lighter note, my summer has officially begun! My now 2nd grader is off for the summer. We celebrated with a trip to the playground with some her friends and McDonald's shakes. I was going to buy a couple of shakes and split them. Then we couldn't decide on a flavor! No worries...I got one of each (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry)...and we were all very happy :).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summing it up!

Love spending more time with my big boy now that he's done with school! Lucy's on the move...always!
My husband had to go back to work last night after the kids were in bed. June is one of his busiest months of the year. It is one of mine too!

After he left for work, the baby promptly fell into a deep sleep. This doesn't always happen so early! Some nights she wants to stay up to snuggle and nurse. I usually put something mindless on TV and just enjoy her! For many reasons, I am thinking that my little love bug Teresa might be my last baby. So, I'm trying to soak it all in (now that I said that out loud, I may be announcing a pregnancy soon...ha!).

Anyway, snuggling is great. But, if she wants to go to sleep, no complaints :). I love spending time with my husband in the evenings, but alone is nice too. Last night I was all alone. It was so still, so quiet. I sat down on the coach in the living room (purposely NOT the room with the TV as I wanted to savor the silence!). I realized how tired I really was! I thought I would fall asleep in minutes if I let myself lie down...

But, I had an overwhelming desire to pray the Rosary (it might be the two statues of Mary staring at me from the book case...or one of many Rosary books on the shelves!). Ya think?

I have SO much on my heart at all times, and I know that the best thing I can do is give it all to Mary. She will take it to Jesus and my load will be lighter. I will receive great graces to make this vocation of motherhood seem easier. I will be peaceful and happy. I know this. Yet, I (wrongly) convince myself that since I can't sit down to focus on the whole Rosary (way too many distractions!) that I shouldn't even start it.

No distractions last night!!! So, I said the Rosary. I fell asleep a few times, and I felt my mind wandering off instead of meditating on the mysteries! But, I did it. And, I love that I did it because I felt filled.

I hear that Lucy is up from her nap (bummer!) so I must run. But, I want to share a quote that I just read. It seems to sum up what happened to me last night...

We can often see more than we have ever seen and understand messages when we take the time alone. Left alone, we take time. Left alone, we experience differently. Left alone, we are filled. Venturing out on one’s own, we are rewarded. Some days, Mary wants us one-on-one.

Hope you find some alone time today...