Friday, June 24, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday!

1. Many, many congratulations to Jennifer Fulwiler on the birth of your new baby girl! And thank you to Betty Beguiles for hosting this Friday :).

2. I haven't been blogging much recently and the reason? Busy, busy, busy! Who knew the start of summer would have me so crazy! But I have VBS in barely over 2 weeks (yikes!) and a lot of writing projects for work (I work part time from home). Not much time for blogging!

3. I am busting at the seams because in about 15 minutes a babysitter will arrive and I will be off to surprise my husband with a night away for our anniversary! He has no idea we're going anywhere today, thinking that the secret plans I have are only for tomorrow.

4. My husband is notoroiously difficult to surprise, so I'm excited to see if I've really pulled one over on him, or if he has suspicions that we're going somewhere tonight.

5. This will be the very first time the hubs and I have gone away together, overnight, since having children. And our oldest is 6 1/2. We've both been away, separately, for one reason or another, leaving the kidlets in the care of the other parent. But this is the first time he and I are going away, overnight, without our kids.

6. I always feel really excited about a little break from being mommy, up until the last few hours before leaving. Then I start missing them. My daughter is napping and I suspect I'll be leaving before she wakes. Sniff, sniff! I will very much enjoy the alone time with my husband, but I always get a little anxious leaving my precious babies overnight.

7. So with that, have a lovely weekend to any who happens across this post and I will be sure to do the same, celebrating 12 wonderful, fun, challenging and basically fantastic years with my best friend and love of my life.

Friday, June 17, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

I decided to give Quick Takes a try! Thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for the Friday fun!

1. My son's last day of kindergarten was today. Sniff, sniff! It is so bittersweet to watch your children grow up. He's terribly sad about school ending. Instead of being excited for summer, this week has been full of tears and tummy aches. He already misses his teacher. Sweet boy.

2. Speaking of summer, the sun is finally out! We've had an unusually rainy spring with only a handful of nice days, so the blue sky this morning was a welcome sight.

3. This weekend is, of course, Father's Day and I had to laugh when my husband sent me a list of ideas for "the kids" (aka me) to get him. It could easily pass for my son's birthday list. My 34, almost 35-year-old husband wants Legos and XBOX games. Gotta love him!

4. I'm wondering if some pain meds and a beer might be more appropriate for him, however, as he's nursing cracked ribs, various deep contusions and a lot of road rash from his mountain biking adventure last weekend. I guess I'm grateful it wasn't worse, but the poor guy has been in a lot of pain this week.

5. On a lighter note, I'm pretty sure Starbucks puts something highly addictive (besides the caffeine) in their mocha coconut frappuccinos. Those things are to die for! I've been craving them ever since I tried one a couple of weekends ago. I don't even want to know how many calories are in that thing...

6. Last night I went out for a little shopping with the hubs and found a great new dress for when I need to look professional. I only work very part time, and mostly from home, so I don't often need to dress up anymore. But I'm attending a speaking engagement later this month (given by our CEO, aka my stepdad, who is a frequent public speaker), so I needed something nice. As a bonus, it was even on sale!

7. Said new dress is a size I didn't think I'd ever see again - yay me!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me, me, me time

I was reading this post on Fallible Blogma (great blog, by the way) about embracing what it is to serve your family. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately - how easy it is to get all wrapped up in "woe is me, I do so much for everyone else," thinking. But aren't we called to serve others? And how better to do so than by starting with one's family?

Women, and mothers in particular, are given a mixed message. We're expected to maintain a certain level of order, education, nutrition and happiness in our children and household. That takes work - a lot of work, sometimes. Yet, we're also told that we can't sacrifice too much of ourselves in our lives as mothers. We need to make sure to take our "me time." A friend of mine is fond of saying, "The only way I can be a good mother is to be a selfish mother."

I don't deny at all that we need to take care of ourselves. I certainly make an effort to do so, and I do think I'm a better mother for it. But I also think that sometimes, this "me time" advice goes too far. In our self-obsessed culture, we're taught that the individual is the only thing that matters; that we need to make ourselves feel good above all else. So what is a woman, faced with the seeming drudgery of day to day living at home, supposed to do?

All too often, we wind up living for the future. We can't wait until bedtime. We long for the weekend when Daddy will be home to offer us much needed relief. We plan day camps and playdates and trips to Grandma's house in order to free us up to get on with the business of, well... what it is we're supposed to be getting on with, I'm not quite sure. Mani-pedis? Hair appointments? Shopping trips? Sipping iced tea over the latest issue of Cosmo?

I often find myself frustrated with day to day living, as a stay home mom. The laundry is always piling up, my kids seem to be endlessly hungry, there are toys strewn about and the little tasks of life add up and threaten to overwhelm. I get caught up in what I need for ME. Woe is me, I have no time to myself. If only there were more hours in the day, I could get things done and then just relax. I'm so busy, busy, busy, what about me, me, me!

I'm not going to find the answer in changing my schedule or trying to get my kids to do some of the chores (and they're still little enough that their "helping" is often more work for me anyway). I need to realize that it isn't all about me, me, me. I'm not called to serve others simply by virtue of being a mother - I am called to serve others because I am a human being. And a follower of Christ. Does this mean I'm going to quit brushing my hair, forego the gym, and live in old sweats in favor of putting my kids' needs ahead of my own at all times? Of course not.

What it does mean is that I need to approach the day to day tasks of life with peace, and even with joy. I don't love doing laundry or cleaning bathrooms, but it needs to be done. I don't have time to keep a perfectly neat house or do all the crafts and activities I'd like to accomplish with my kids. But if I approach even the small things of daily life with thankfulness and joy, my day is a whole lot brighter. Instead of lamenting over my lack of free time, as I have a tendency to do, I need to look with gratitude at my home and family. It is an honor to serve them, to nurture them, to provide for them. It is my vocation, and I need to turn towards it with joy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My engagement story

The lovely Betty Beguiles is hosting a roundup of engagement stories. Ah, love! I am in love with love and with love stories, so this just tickles me!

My husband, David, and I met when we were just 15. Little did I know that day when I started at a brand new school, the cute boy I was seated next to in second period health class would later become my husband. But the story of our journey from that spring day to the time when marriage was actually on our minds is one for another day. Needless to say, we dated for quite a long time before marriage was even a possibility, although we both agree that even when we were so very young, there was a permanence to our relationship that surpassed our tender age.

Years later we were both in college and the subject of marriage was on our minds. We'd had some differences that needed to be worked through before we both could move forward with the idea of getting married, but those had been largely reconciled. I'd essentially given him the green light to ask, and I thought maybe he would sometime later that year.

It was a hot summer day in August (the 14th, to be precise) and I had a calculus final in the morning. When I got home, he told me he'd talked to some friends and they wanted us to meet them out at a swimming spot along a nearby river. I changed my clothes, we grabbed towels and headed out. When we got there we hiked a short distance down a trail and that's when things got strange. He told me he was taking me to a place that only the locals (as in, not the out of town college students) knew about. His friend told him about it and only agreed to let anyone else come with him if David promised not to let me see where we were going - so I would need to be blindfolded.

Now, I didn't believe his story for a second - but the real reason for his secrecy didn't occur to me. I thought he was playing a joke, trying to see if he could get me to wear a blindfold. Perhaps our other friend had bet him he couldn't make me do it (which would have been believable!). At first, I refused. I told him we could just go to the spot we'd been to before and forget the rest of them, if they were going to be so weird about it. But he persisted, and I finally agreed.

He tied something around my head and led me down the side of the embankment toward the river. Looking back, I'm still surprised I didn't suspect what he was up to. It seems rather obvious now. But our prior conversation about marriage (the aforementioned "green light") was so recent, I didn't think he could have possibly gotten a ring or anything of that sort. How wrong I was!

When we stopped, he pulled off my blindfold and I found myself standing on a moss covered rock, the river at my right gently rippling by. There was a green checkered picnic blanket laid out in front of us, a picnic basket full of goodies and a bottle of champagne. A sword (yes, a real one) was stuck into the space between two large, moss covered rocks, giving the illusion that it was entombed in the rock itself, as if it were Excalibur (we are big fantasy geeks, so this was delightful).

He immediately dropped to one knee and I couldn't tell you for the life of me what he said. I wish I could remember. All I remember is clasping my hands over my mouth in shock and tears streaming down my face. I said yes and held out my hand, and he put the ring on my finger. We hugged and I cried and laughed and couldn't believe he'd caught me unawares, with such an elaborate set up.

He did good :).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Feeling the love

Who would believe such a sweet looking creature could be so rotten! :)

My husband is gone for the weekend, off mountain biking up in Whistler - as in, riding a ski lift up the mountain, and riding down on a bike. I'm just hoping he comes back in one piece. He texted me today to tell me he did a header over the handlebars and probably has bruised ribs. Lovely, yes? I asked him if he was hurt, or actually injured and needing medical attention. He assures me he's just bruised and sore and he'll get in one more mellow ride (if there is such a thing there) tomorrow before coming home.

In any case, this was not the best weekend for him to be gone. There was just a lot going on, culminating in a big Pentecost celebration at our church today. Our parish has made this our official parish feast day, so they pulled out all the stops. We had one, large Sunday mass (rather than the usual two), followed by a huge potluck, live music and other entertainment, games for the kids and so on. It was a lot of fun - well, the celebration after mass was fun. Getting through a long mass by myself with my three kids today proved to be... challenging.

My boys chose seats in the front row, which can either be great, or disasterous. Today was the latter. On an ordinary Sunday, maybe one of my kids will be difficult in church and the other two fairly reasonable. Or possibly, if it's a bad day, two of them will act up and the other (usually David, my oldest), will be fine. Today, of all days, with a huge turnout (aka witnesses) and no husband (aka the key to my sanity), all three of my kids were monsters. Terrible, no-good, very bad monsters.

David (my 6 year old) whined and squirmed alternating with standing up and throwing his stuffed tiger around during the songs. Grayson (my 4 year old) complained, whined, squirmed, chased his sister around, complained some more and tried to wander off several times. Ella (21 months) cried, screamed, ran off more than once, kicked her brothers, climbed on everything and generally made life difficult for me and pretty much every one else around me. She made so much noise, when we were outside after mass I was chatting with a woman who laughed at my misfortune (probably thinking she was laughing *with* me, despite my own lack of laughter) and said, "The best part about her fit was that it wasn't one of mine!" Ha. ha.

But you know what, it wasn't all bad. A woman I don't even know quietly came over a couple times during mass, when Miss-Fussypants was at her worst, and offered to sit with my boys while I took her to the back of the church to calm her down. And a good friend of mine, who is older with grown kids of her own, held my daughter through part of mass and let Grayson sit by her towards the end. Another friend of mine was sitting a few rows behind, and happily distracted Ella when she wandered back toward her, keeping her from running off too far. Nearly everyone around me met my eyes with a genuine smile (and sometimes a little pity). But mostly I just felt loved. These people sitting around me weren't horrified at my daughters screaming outburst, or the clatter of crayons and clipboard as my son's coloring dropped to the floor. They weren't upset when I left my seat to calm one child, or when another child slipped back to get a drink (because you know, he was going to die of thirst on the spot). They simply smiled warmly and understood, many reaching out to help.

This is one of the things that brought us to this church. We had questions about Catholic doctrine and practices; about the rituals and sacraments and church teaching, and we explored those questions. But they had us with their welcome and love before we even dove into the nitty gritty of what it is to be Catholic. They had us with their love. And today was a great reminder of that.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
~John 13:34, 35

Monday, June 6, 2011

Going to Mass as a family

Saturday evening I went to Mass by myself. We're doing pre-registration for VBS after each Mass and we didn't have anyone to cover on Saturday, so I went. Ordinarily, my husband and kids would have gone and we would have made that our weekly Mass. But we had plans with my mom for Sunday, which included her coming to Mass with us in the morning. So, off I went on my own.

There were nice things about being at Mass by myself. There were no distractions. I heard each of the readings and was able to sit quietly and absorb the homily. After receiving Communion, I was able to take my place and pray without anyone trying to climb on me, spilling their crayons or attempting to run away. I enjoyed the peace and quiet.

But I really enjoy going to Mass with my little family. There is such a unity in being there together. There was a time, not so long ago, when I probably wouldn't have believed we'd be there, in that church, together. My husband was very skeptical of Catholicism for a long time and I wondered if we'd ever come together and find common ground. And yet, here we are, a little family of five, all Catholic, loving God together and loving our church.

Before we got married, the priest who married us drew a little diagram. I suspect it's common in pre-marital counseling, and if it isn't, it should be. He drew a triangle, with labels and the corners. The bottom two corners were labeled "husband," and "wife". The top was labeled, "God." He explained, the closer each of the partners get to God, the closer they come to each other. I can still remember his finger tracing the lines of the triangle.

Although that statement felt true at the time, it rings all the truer as the years go by and my husband and I have both deepened our faith in God. We've grown closer to God, together. And in so doing, we've grown closer to each other.

Attending Mass with small children may not always be easy. But I still love it. I love being there together, as a whole, unified family. I love seeing people I know and getting to know new ones. I love being a part of such a great community. And I love that we're in it together.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Urgent prayer request

A woman I know from a message board I used to frequent has suffered a terrible tragedy. Her year and a half old daughter fell from a five-foot slide and suffered a severe head injury. Little Kenley has been in the hospital since last Sunday and it has been an up and down road. From what I understand she's had at least two surgeries to help relieve bleeding and pressure in her brain. She may or may not live, and if she does live, there are likely to be very severe long term effects from her injuries.

Please, please pray for this innocent little girl and her family. My heart breaks for them. I've never met this family, but my mommy heart hurts for them so much. Kenley is just about my own daughter's age and the very thought... I can't even think it.

Gracious God, we ask that you please be with little Kenley Martin and her family during this difficult time. We pray for healing, Lord, that Kenley might survive this trauma. Please bless her family with the miracle of her survival, and if at all possible, minimal long term damage. We pray for the doctors and nurses and all who are involved in her care. Please guide their hands, their hearts, their minds and their decisions, that they may provide the best care possible for her. Please grant her family peace and faith as they face such a horrific tragedy.

We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessed Mother Mary, we pray to you today to ask for intercession for dear Kenley Martin. Please pray for her and her family. Please be with her mother Sarah, as one mother to another, and help her face this with grace and love. Please dear Mother, pray for them.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

10 Good Things From An Otherwise Miserable Day

Turns out I wasn't just sore yesterday. I'm sick, and some of the soreness was body aches due to a strep throat infection. Ouch. I haven't had strep since I was a kid and I'm certainly hoping I don't get a repeat anytime soon. Obviously my throat hurts like nobody's business. But the body aches are almost worse. I still feel like I got hit by a truck. A big one.

But, with my propensity for optimism, I'm chosing to focus on the bright side. With that in mind, here are 10 good things from an otherwise miserable day:

1. Modern medicine. I am enormously grateful for antibiotics. Those nasty little strep bacteria stand no chance!

2. My kids were angels at the doctor's office. I had to haul my entire zoo with me - which, granted is only three extra little people, but being 6, 4 and not-quite-2, it could have been a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, they were extremely well behaved, which brings me to...

3. My smarthpone. I freely admit that at least 2/3 of the reason my kids were so good was because my boys were both engrossed in playing Angry Birds on my phone while we were all in the exam room.

4. And my daughter (the not-quite-2-year old) was very good as well, even without the benefit of the magical handheld box of light and sound. She spent most of the visit standing around, sucking her two fingers, and looking a bit concerned at her mommy being examined.

5. I have the greatest husband in the world. This probably should be #1. After I put my daughter down for a nap, I set my boys up with a cartoon and put myself down for a nap. Sometime after that, my husband came home from work to help me out. I had a completely uninterrupted 2 1/2 hour nap.

6. And then he took all three kids grocery shopping and is also picking up dinner. Have I mentioned how awesome he is?

7. My dad is also awesome, and on seeing my Facebook post about being sick, called to make sure I was ok and didn't need anything. He lives an hour away, so it's not like he can just swing by with soup. But you know what, I bet he would have if I'd needed him.

8. Vanilla ice cream. I tend to crave vanilla ice cream when I'm sick and it feels soooo good on a sore throat.

9. A hot shower. Another shout out to modern living. Despite my fever being fairly low, I've had chills on and off, and my hot shower felt great.

10. The reminder that in my weakness, God is with me. Now, this should be #1....