Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween in our home

This post was originally published at Ignitum Today last Fall.  I've just added a little music from my childhood to read by.



Somewhere between the occult and harvest parties lies what Halloween could and should be.

I used to think that I had to keep all ghosts, witches, and monsters out of Halloween, no matter how cutesy. I don’t want to foster in my children an interest in the occult and I thought that keeping those things (things I loved before I had kids) out of our home was the best way to do it. Scary jack-o-lanterns and anything that was too creepy had to go. But then I realized that I was being unrealistic; my kids are going to see those images anyways and I so I needed to develop a plan for us to be in the world but not of it.

Now of course witchcraft, satan, voodoo, and creepy/mean jokes are bad. But it’s not necessarily good to completely remove the topic of death, which is what happens with a harvest party – no more skulls, ghosts, or graveyards, just straw bales and caramel apples. I understand being careful so as to not celebrate evil. I totally agree that in our culture Halloween is often a glorification of the unholy. But we shouldn’t sanitize the holiday so much that we remove reality. As I see it, Halloween offers us the opportunity to openly discuss death and evil – two subjects most Americans ignore as best they can.

So if my kids and I see tombstones or a ghost (like the giant, blow-up one holding bags of candy and popping out of a pumpkin at our local grocery store) we can talk about how people die, our bodies are buried, and our souls go to Heaven to be with Jesus. We can discuss how we should pray for the souls of the dead. We can memorize and recite as a family, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.” This, of course, is especially appropriate since Halloween directly precedes All Saints Day and All Souls Day. And as my children age (my oldest is only 3) all of these conversations can grow into discussions about Purgatory and Hell, judgement and salvation, and the resurrection of the dead.

Additionally, something as simple as a jack-o-lantern becomes a great opportunity to teach my children the Gospel. As the book My Happy Pumpkin (seriously a great resource if you have little kids!) puts it, we pick out a special pumpkin, clean out the goop inside, and let the light shine - sounds like a conversion story to me! Whether the carving is a smiling face or a scary image we can discuss how the candle is like Christ in our lives, shining out and overcoming the darkness.

In our home some costumes will be off-limits, but that doesn’t mean my kids are stuck being football players or princesses for the rest of their lives. Halloween, as the eve of All Hallows Day, is a great opportunity to talk about the communion of saints and we will probably find some good costume ideas from them. I don’t think we should do gore for gore’s sake, but I also think that, in this circumstance, there’s nothing wrong with a little blood. The martyrs died for their love of Christ. What a great thing to remind ourselves of as we traipse across the neighborhood.

So maybe we’ll take a white sheet, edge it with blue sharpie and send Mother Teresa out to get candy. But we might wrap someone up in white rags or toilet paper – not as a mummy – but as Lazarus. Maybe someone will be Padre Pio, with a black eye from being beat up by satan and hands marked with the stigmata. I can cover one of my boys in arrows, maybe with some blood dripping from the wounds, and wa-la – St. Sebastian! If I have a budding make-up artist in one of my kids they could create a wound on my daughter’s neck and she could be St. Cecilia. If you think this is weird I would like to remind you that images of St. Agatha show her carrying her breasts on a plate.

We’re Catholics, folks. We own weird, bizarre, and even slightly creepy. We reverence bone-y relics, we do exorcisms, we have holy cards of St. Peregrine showing off his cancerous leg. We look death and evil squarely in the eyes and say, “Oh, it’s you” and roll over on our beds to go back to sleep. We do this because we know that Christ has conquered death. Mary’s heel is squashing the serpent’s head. St. Michael has satan in chains, ready to cast him into Hell.

Halloween gives us the perfect chance to talk about these very things – and not just to our children, but to our friends and neighbors. If we re-claim Halloween we can make it something fun. We can even make it something triumphant and holy. That’s so much better than a harvest party.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

funk, future, fyi

Funk:
for Halloween week.


Future:
Advent is coming, people!  And if you want a book to read to help you prepare may I suggest this one

I actually haven't read it but I can tell you that Fr. Gary Caster is awesome and his books and writings have meant a lot to me.  And I am biased because he was my college chaplain and gave me a Miraculous Medal that Mother Teresa gave him (I know!).  But even if I wasn't biased I'd still think he's great.  You can check the book out here.

FYI:
I have an awesome little something brewing in my life and I need to focus my energy on it.  My blogging will probably be fairly sparse in the next few weeks but I will be back!  And I plan on posting random songs randomly.  And I won't miss the 7QT party.  And you're life goes on without me all the time and I'm not that important but I just thought I'd make you curious and ask for your prayers.  Thank you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

7 quick takes

This quick takes is the pick your song edition:


1 - I'd probably go with this one if I were you.  This is my ultimate "mellow day" song.  It also gives me an incredibly strong desire to bake an apple pie.  So you may need to watch out for that one.


2 - Confession:  I really do love this song and I have for years.  My younger brother went through a phase where he loooooved Dave Brubeck almost ten years ago, which is how I even know who in the heck he is.  So maybe me liking this song is a little bit nerdy, but since several people accused me of being a hipster in my lipstick post I'll claim that it makes me incredibly cool.  ;)


3 - Are you in the mood for pop?  Well then, you're welcome.  Lydia thinks you have good taste.

4 - So Pinterest and I had a good week:
Rice Krispie treat pumpkins and colored dough for fall leaves = Never would have thought of it on my own.

Yarn wreath with felt flowers in Halloween colors = Never would have thought I could do it had I not seen step by step instructions.
5 - Homeschooling and I have been doing well, too.  Twenty minutes two days a week.  We sing a song, practice letters, learn about a saint, maybe do something crafty, say some prayers, the kids practice our address, phone numbers, and full names.  Last week we were on 'F'.and we did this:
This week we're on 'G' (big duh, I know) and so we took a little field trip to the parish I grew up in, St. Mary of Lourdes, and visited the grotto.  We stopped in the church to say "Hello" to Jesus, said a 'Hail Mary' in the grotto, and then the kids played on the slide.  It was a good day.

6 - Congratulations to Cynthia for achieving one of my goals in life:  being linked to in one of Grace's Clickable posts!  It was well worth it, old roomie of mine!

7 - Brandon Vogt has a great video of him interviewing Msgr. Soseman, a priest for the Diocese of Peoria who is working in Rome on the Sheen cause.  Go check it out if you're interested in what's going on with Venerable Sheen's beatification process.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Red Lipstick

I did it.  I bought a tube of red lipstick.  "Red Revolution."  It's actually kind of pink-y.

In exchange for her Delish Biscuity Scone-sh Treats recipe I told Dwija I would share my tips on wearing red lipstick.  So this is what I've got:

A friend from high school reminded me via Facebook that the eye make-up should be more simple when one wears red lipstick.  So I did that, but I usually keep the eyes simple since I wear glasses.


I envisioned old screen sirens telling me to "just do it, darling" in between drags on their cigarettes.


Gaston from Beauty and the Beast says you should screw your courage to the sticking point, and while he may have been talking about hunting down beasts I thought it was appropriate advice in this situation.


I applied it in the presence of my 4 year old daughter who thinks I am utterly beautiful.


I pumped myself up by listening to Ke$ha tell me to live like "we're gonna die young."

And then I just said to myself, "Oh what the heck!" and put it on and left the house.
with a double chin.

So there you go, Dwij.  Those are my tips for wearing red lipstick.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Budgets and paychecks and making ends meet

I've thought long and hard about budgets and living paycheck to paycheck and tips for cutting costs.  I can give you those tips and share what has worked for my family but I think I need to start somewhere else.  There's something that needs to be discussed first or none of the rest will matter.

Lifestyle.

What is the lifestyle that you want to live and how important to you is it?

Do you want to be a full-time stay at home mom?
Do you want family vacations to Disney? 
Do you want a smart phone so you can Instagram pics, tweet, Facebook, and surf wherever, whenever?
Do you want to be able to send your three-year-old to preschool? 
Do you want to have dinner out once a week?  Twice a week? 
Do you want to shop at Goodwill, Target, Kohl's, Macy's?  And how often do you want to shop there?
Do you want to do private or public shcool or do you want to homeschool? 
Do you want to buy Stouffer's lasagna or do you want to make your own? 
And when you make it do you want to use a jar of store-bought marinara, do you want to make your own red sauce from a $.69 can of store-brand tomato paste or do you want to puree and cook down tomatoes from your garden? 
And even if you don't want to do the garden thing are you willing to do so to save money?
Do you want to buy a new mini-van or a second-hand one?
Are you willing to limit the amount of driving you do so you're not spending a fortune filling up?
If you want to be a stay at home mom are you willing to pick up extra jobs here and there, like cleaning a house on Saturdays or coaching the local cheerleading squad?
Can you give up Starbucks or even playdates at McDonald's and settle for walks around the neighborhood?

Do you need two incomes to do these things or is one enough?

If you want family vacations in Disney World that's fine!  If you want to be able to shop at Target once a month and drop $200 that's fine!  Really - in case the tone of this post isn't clear, please know that I have nothing against having it all!  In fact, I think that's fantastic.

But to have it all, and to be financially responsible, you might not be able to afford being a full-time stay at home mom.  So if you want to pay for a nice phone and have a data plan then do it and know that the sacrifice is that you may have to work.  And I don't mean full time work.  Maybe 20 hours a week will get you what you want.  Maybe even five hours is all you need.

The fact of the matter is that some of us have hard-working husbands with nice paying jobs.  Those women can do whatever they want (vacations, new cars, nice clothes, babysitters, etc) and the family can be financially responsible and afford for the mom to stay home.  Some of us have hard-working husbands with jobs that don't pay as well.  Mine, for example.  Travis and I are trying to be financially responsible so we can afford for me to stay home but that means we cannot do whatever we want.

But we figured out a long time ago that the benefits and blessings of me staying home with our kids are (more than!) worth the sacrifices we make in our budget.  And we also figured out that comparing what we have with what other families have doesn't help.  We know what we want, what we need, and what is a priority for us.  Knowing those things has enabled us to make a budget that works for us, allowing us to sacrifice where we can and need to but also allowing us some wiggle room where we want.

So Lifestyle - what do you want?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shake it til it's gone

A little while ago Heather contacted me.  She went to high school with my wonderful husband and some way or another stumbled upon my little blog.  When Heather saw that I was trying to lose weight (oh the fat!) she sent me an email that basically said something like this:

Hey I never met you / and this is crazy / but I use Body By Vi / do you want some free shakes maybe?

And I asked her:

Will it work with Weight Watchers?  Can I do it while I nurse my baby girl?

Yes and Yes were her answers.  And when she promised me that the shakes had helped her lose weight and (and this is the best part) that they taste like cake batter, well... I said I'd love to try her shakes.

She sent me a Balance Kit and I dove right in.  I'll be honest, the package said to swap one shake for breakfast and one for lunch; have a healthy, normal dinner; and chose healthy snacks.  When I tried that I was hungry again in about an hour but I was also nursing a big baby... So I emailed Heather and asked for some suggestions - turns out the packaging recommendation isn't for nursing mamas.  So now I have a shake and some fruit or oatmeal for breakfast and that keeps me happy until lunch.  A healthy lunch and another shake to sip on through the afternoon.  Dinnertime I have a normal, healthy meal.  If I need a snack I can grab one.  Already I've lost a pound, which is good because I'd been at a standstill for a long time.

And the best part is that it really does taste like cake batter.  Yum-o.

So if you're looking for a little help reaching your own weight loss goals pop on over to Heather's site and check out the Body By Vi shakes and give them a try.

Special Needs Etiquette Part II

For those of you who read Part I of my interview with Teri and Amanda, Part II is now up over at Ignitum Today. 

Enjoy!

Special Needs Etiquette Part II

Friday, October 19, 2012

last day for Washboard Basics coupon

Hey gang!

Don't forget that today is the last day A Knotted Life readers can get a 20% discount off all natural laundry soap at Washboard Basics!  I ordered mine - get yours, too!

Just type KNOTTED20 into the coupon code box as you check out!

And thank you, Laura and Megan, for the sweet deal!

7 quick takes


1 -Hope you're not getting tired of all my The Head and The Heart videos I've been posting..  I love this band!

2 - Speaking of music I love: I will be doing an phone interview with Audrey Assad today.  I'm so excited about it!  I asked my friend Nancy for some tips on doing an interview since she is a professional journalist.  She assured me that a little bit of gushing at the very beginning is okay so I shouldn't worry if there's a little bit of "oh-my-gosh-this-is-so-cool-I'm-such-a-big-fan" in my voice.

3 - Thursday night the kids and I were on our own since Travis had to stay late at work for parent-teacher conferences.  Dinner was supposed to be a breakfast casserole with from-scratch biscuits.  Instead we had leftover pizza, cheese cubes, a can of mandarin oranges, green beans, and bacon.  I'd say it was a good meal.

4 - We finally had a call about our house.  All I wanted to do was have him come over for dinner, show him the house, sign the contract, and send him home with a bag of my freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  The crazy thing is that the guy has actually been in the house twice already because he's one of our town's volunteer firefighters.  So he was here the night James was born and the night I called 911 because a lightbulb went out.

5 - What if this is true?

6 - Just a friendly reminder that this coming Sunday I'll be speaking in Dixon, IL.  If you want more information, please check out this post here.

7 - I have a new post up at Ignitum Today called "Special Needs Etiquette".  It's actually Part I or a two part article and in it I interview two friends who are the parents of special needs kids.  They answer some good questions about how to interact with their children, and others with disabilities, so that we're not all standing around awkwardly as our toddlers ask loud questions in the Target check-out line.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

People at the grocery store think I have too many kids

This is the third post in my series of reflections on motherhood.  The first two are "Making mothering easier" and "Maybe this is why God let me have children".

Our local grocery store has shopping carts that are outfitted with a blue seated section at the back of the cart.  They are heavy and slightly hard to maneuver through the produce section but they fit my four kids perfectly.  Teresa's carrier carseat lays snugly across the front of the cart.  James sits in the traditional basket seat spot.  Lydia and Bennet perch in the blue seats.  That cart is actually a dream come true for me because I'm not sure I'd be able to grocery shop as effectively without it.

However, it is when we are loaded in that cart that I get the most comments. 
"You've got your hands full."
"You're reminding me of things that I'm glad are distant memories."
"You have no room for your groceries!"
"You must be busy."
"Are they all yours?"
"Wow."
"You have a lot of kids."
"You are so blessed."

Hardly anyone ever says that last line, though I have occasionally gotten it from kindly women who may actually be angels of the Lord. 

When people make comments about my children - how many and how close together in age they are - I always think about what they're really saying even if they are unaware of it: "You have too many children, or in the very least they are too closely spaced."

And then I wonder if they would say that if we didn't have Bennet.  Take Bennet out of the picture and I have a four year old, a two year old, and a baby.  Three children - that's an acceptable amount of kids - especially where I live.  And spaced every two years - what good planning!  Yes, Bennet is the one who has got to go, who never should have been, who is too much.

This thought makes my heart incredibly sad.  My heart sinks with the thought of not having Bennet in the world and I know that the people who make those comments just don't know what a treasure he is.  Bennet, who taught himself to burp on command before he turned three, is silly and funny.  He loves to make people laugh and will make up nonsensical knock-knock jokes in an effort to do so.  Bennet loves music and even more so he loves to sing.  He puts great effort into his renditions of "Old McDonald" and the Thomas and Friends theme.  Bennet, who has a gentle and kind heart, will often sing to his baby sister in order to soothe her.  "Resa is so cute," goes the song he made up for her.  He is generous by nature and will gladly share his fruit snacks or popcorn or chocolate bar, smiling to see the recipient so happy to receive. 

Bennet, who shamelessly rides his sister's Princess bike around the block, loves to dig in the dirt and play with his trains, and potty trained himself, is my little buddy boy.  I do not have a favorite child, but there's a special place in my heart for Bennet*.  I am so glad and grateful for all four of my kids, even Bennet - who came unplanned and too soon for some people's taste.

And so, to you commenters in the grocery store, I say:
"You've got your hands full."  Yes, I do and it's great.
"You're reminding me of things that I'm glad are distant memories."  I'm having fun.
"You have no room for your groceries!"  There's plenty of room!
"You must be busy."  Aren't we all?
"Are they all yours?"  Yes, fortunately!
"Wow."  I know!  They're so cute!
"You have a lot of kids."  I do.
"You are so blessed."  I am.  Thank you.


*Okay, there's a special place in my heart for all five of my kids.  Each has their own special traits that endear me to them and I tuck them into their own little territory in my heart.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

down hill

Today started out so well and then you know where it went. 

Down hill.

Fast. 

A spectacular morning may have ended with me yelling at my son because he tracked mud through my house.  It may have also involved me whipping a towel against the bathroom sink while screaming "shit" because I didn't want to spank my kid in anger.  So at least I didn't spank him in anger.

Apologies and apologies. 

Grumpiness and frustrating toddlers filled the afternoon.  A probably not too charitable FB message finished the evening.  I'm going to bed in a bad mood with hopes that tomorrow will be better.

Hopes that it will look like this:

Monday, October 15, 2012

For Pete's Sake


As a way to honor the child I lost through miscarriage, Peter Mark, and to share your burden, please allow me to pray for you or your loved ones who are carrying the cross of infertility or loss of a child.

You may share your prayer request in the comment box.  Comments may be anonymous and please feel free to share as much or as little as you like.
 
It is an honor to pray for you! Thank you for the privilege!

"The Child Who was Never Born” Martin Hudáčeka.

Also, please remember that if you are in within driving distance of Peoria, IL there is an upcoming event for women who have lost a child through miscarriage or infancy loss.  A Mother's Love is a one day healing retreat held at St. Philomena's in Peoria.  It is free of charge, lunch is provided, registration is suggested by not required, and it is open to women of any faith (though the content is Catholic).
 
 Hat tip to The Practicing Catholic for the image of the sculpture.

Friday, October 12, 2012

7 quick takes


1 -  Ummmm I love this song.  Lovely.  Perfect.  No disrespect to The Magnetic Fields but this version is the best.  The. Best.  You're welcome, friends.

2 - So the lovely Maria won the Washboard Basics All Natural Laundry Soap give-away (yay, Maria!) but YOU still have the opportunity for a sweet deal.  The fantastic ladies at Washboard Basics (yes, I am partial) have offered a 20% discount to all my blog readers.  So head over to their Etsy store, pick out your product, and then type in "KNOTTED20" to get 20% off your purchase.  The coupon is good today (Friday, October 12, 2012) through next Friday (the 19th).  Megan and Laura believe that no one should have to pay a fortune to be able to clean their home safely and naturally - it's core to their business mission and this sweet deal just goes to show they mean it.  Plus, the packaging is cute.  So do it!  I'm going to.

3 - If you haven't hear about Taryn Watkins, please allow me to introduce you to this fantastic young woman.  Actually, I'll let Taryn do the talking:
Hello,
My name is Taryn Watkins 
For the last several years I have been discerning my call to religious life and I hope to join the Discalced Carmelites.  I am currently working to pay off my student loans because in order for me to enter, I need to be debt free. This is why I am in need of your help. Will you prayerfully consider buying one of my paintings online or offering a donation to help me fulfill my vocation? I have created a blog,ProDominoDeo.blogspot.com, that I would love for you to take a look at and share it with anyone and everyone you know because I very much desire to enact God's call quickly! I am an artist myself and I have made some prints of a painting of Our Lady because I place my vocation and the way in which that will be realized in her hands. Please consider purchasing one of my prints for yourself or a friend, they would make a great Christmas present this season!
Oremus pro invicem,
Taryn Watkins


3 - To add a couple of things to Taryn's letter:  I have no idea what the Latin says.  Also, I think "discalced" means "shoeless".  Lastly, the prints are beautiful, check them out:
In summary, "Help a (future) sister out" and pray for her and offer some financial support if possible!

4 - We are trying to sell our home.  Our beautiful, lovely, family-friendly home.  We need to move closer to Travis' work and my family but otherwise we love this house.  If you know anyone who wants to live in a small town, have great neighbors, low taxes, a great parish, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, close to hospitals, schools, world headquarters for CAT and State Farm...  please have them contact us!  Let me entice you with some pictures:
It's so cute!  And everything in it is new!

Large living room with lots of windows!

Check out all that counter space!  

Large, beautiful dining room!
5 - So friends keep asking me for tips on how to live on a tight budget.  I'm wondering if I should write a blog post about it (I did write one for Cynthia's Mother-to-Mother "Living on a Budget" series) since Travis and I have recently learned a few new tricks.  So what I'm wondering is, should I write such a post?  I'm no kind of financial expert but if anyone's interested I would gladly type it up.  I just hate sounding like a know-it-all.

6 - I think I'm really going to like the show Nashville.  Anyone else?  You can watch it on Hulu if you missed the pilot.  

7 - Okay, and I just spent 10 minutes trying to find something funny to post here.  But I found nothing that fit.  And now I'm out of time and must go man my garage sale.  I'm de-cluttering, yo!  It feels good!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

And the winner is......

Maria!

Congratulations, Maria! 

I'll be emailing you with information on how to claim your prize of All Natural Laundry Soap by Washboard Basics.

Thanks to everyone who played along!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a story and a give-away!

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a wonderful girl named Laura.  Laura is smart, athletic, beautiful, exceptionally kind, and had lovely strawberry blonde hair.  She is my cousin and held the title for "Favorite Grandchild" until I started having a bunch of babies.  (My grandparents like their greats, what can I say?)  I think we're tied for first now.

Laura's oldest and best friend is Megan.  Megan is also smart, beautiful, and kind, and had very sensible parents who spelled her name the simplest way possible.  The two girls grew up together; went to the same church, high school, college (Go EC!); they were the maid of honor in one another's weddings; and then they started a business together. 

Their business, Washboard Basics, is centered around something I hate.  Laundry.  But I love what they've done with it:
It's so cute!
"Gentle enough for babies, strong enough for husbands. Our all natural laundry soap has no harsh chemicals or detergents to harm sensitive skin, but don't let its gentle demeanor fool you. It works hard to clean and deodorize even the stinkiest clothes. The secret? Our own handmade soap designed specifically for household cleaning use. We then turbo charge this soap with washing soda and borax to create the lean mean cleaning machine you see before you. It's super concentrated, and low sudsing, so you don't need to use much to get the job done. The only scents we add to our products are essential oils, nothing synthetic or artificial."

Let me tell you what I love about this product:
- one little container will get you about 64 loads of laundry in a regular washing machine.
- it really is easy on super sensitive skin.  James, the King of allergies, eczema, and rashes, doesn't have a single problem with the soap - even the scented ones!
- I've always wanted to make my own laundry detergent but I'm too lazy to actually do it.
- it's cute and so it makes me smile every time I put a load in, which is good because, again, I hate laundry.

And now YOU have a chance (or actually a lot of chances) to win one container of laundry soap - your choice.  Really, this stuff is great, and we all do laundry, so get going and start entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Hey!  Look at me!  I'm a slicked up now with my Rafflecopter widget - just like Dwija and Hallie and Grace.  I'm blogging with the big girls now.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

7 quick takes


1 - The first time I heard this song I thought it was The Talking Heads or, in the very least, David Byrne.  I searched and searched for the song, though I had incorrectly remembered the lyric as "Oh the wonder of it all" instead of "I love the color of it all."  In the end it was not The Talking Heads but an Irish band named Bell X1.  So close!

2 - Recently some good friends of ours asked Travis and I to be the godparents of their new baby girl.  She's my first godchild and I am so honored and so excited!  My kids have great godmothers, so I have an idea or two about how to be the best godmother ever but I'd love some more tips if you've got any.
3 - As is the custom, Travis took Lydia to school today to enjoy the Homecoming festivities.  Last night she ran up to me and said, "Mommy!  Daddy's taking me to school tomorrow and there's going to be a PARADE!!!"  At 2am she came to our bed and asked if she could sleep with Daddy so she could get up on time to go to school.  Too cute.

4 - We are currently doing everything we can to quickly finish our house and get it ready to be sold.  Travis, my brother-in-law, and a friend have been working all week on fixing the foundation under our kitchen.  I am so thankful for a handy husband!

5 - The reason we are trying to sell:  We have found the perfect home for our family.  Close to the Catholic school we want to send our kids to.  Closer to my mom, grandparents, and brothers.  It will save Travis 40 minutes of driving a day.  We'll be near James' therapist, the grocery store we shop at, and the sprinkler park.  There's an acre lot and an out building.  It's a great house that we could easily, slowly update.  It's perfect.  Supposedly some guy who just wants to flip it is going to make an offer on Monday.  I hope and pray he doesn't.  I'm entrusting this to Mary and hoping that God will give us this, if it be His will.  Say a prayer for us, too, please!

6 - Changing the subject - we have another give away starting on Monday!  So be sure to check back in and enter as many times as possible - it's going to be great!

7 - My time for blogging is up!  I need to get to work - have a great weekend, friends!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

ooops

Did I say I'd have another post up today?

Well that's not gonna happen.  The park happened, an important phone call happened, a fussy (teething?) baby happened, Person of Interest happened.  Blogging did not.

So I'll continue my thoughts on motherhood later... probably Monday.

And I'll do my quick takes tomorrow.  Yippee!

Speaking Engagment

I'm really excited to say that on Sunday, October 21st at 2pm I will speaking at in the Holloway Center at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Dixon, IL.

If you can come it would be great to see you there!  I'll be sharing the story of James' alleged miraculous healing and Venerable Sheen's cause for canonization.  

St. Patrick's Catholic Church
612 Highland Ave.
Dixon, IL

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

making mothering easier

When I became a mom this is what I felt like:

It felt like I was failing at motherhood and while I may not have actually been failing I definitely was not thriving.  A lot of the time I felt like this:

And I'm pretty sure my kids had secret conversations that went like this: 

I don't think my kids were having a horrible time but I knew that they would be happier if I was happier.  We were doing a lot of "just getting by" and I hated living in constant survival mode.  I wanted to enjoy the kids I loved so much and I wanted them to enjoy themselves.

This isn't to say that my goal as a mom is to have kids who are happy and entertained 100% of the time.  My goal was - and is! - for them to know, without a doubt, that they are loved unconditionally and to live joyful lives.  Those two things cannot really happen if Mom is always feeling "bat-crap crazy".

Slowly I learned what I needed to do so that I really was thriving as a mom.  A mom who had the time, patience, and humor to play and color with, read and listen to, and give lots of hugs and kisses to her kids.
So what did I do?

Well, the first and most important thing was sleep.
My husband and I eventually figured out that I was exhausted and I needed to get more sleep.  He started getting up with the kids at night and letting me sleep in on Saturdays, and a Sunday afternoon nap for Mom became a part of the rhythm of our weekends.  Also, now that we are aware of the huge - and I mean huge - difference a good 8 hours has on me we try to make it happen as much as possible.  When it's clear that I am becoming overtired again Travis sends me to bed early or arranges his schedule so I can sleep in.

The second thing I did was I stopped comparing myself to other moms.  Most especially I stopped reading certain mommy blogs that made me feel like Roseanne Barr.  You know the ones... filled with beautiful pictures of their gorgeous homes and beautifully dressed kids and fancy things, while I'm sitting at my hand-me-down, particle board computer desk asking my kids if they can scrape together enough quarters to buy ice cream cones at the DQ.  Some women God has blessed with money, good looks, and all the virtues and talents it takes to homeschool 8 kids while maintaining a cleaning/laundry schedule.  That is not what He blessed me with, and for my own sake I needed to not look at them because I felt the lack.  I hope and pray the day will come when I can read those blogs and look at those women and feel happy for them.  I'm not that virtuous yet, unfortunately, so in the meantime I've found blogs written by women who were more balanced and funny and who drink beer, while remaining orthodox, holy, followers of Christ.

The next thing I did was I stopped listening to what everyone else said I "should" do and instead I did what worked for me and my family.  For an example you can read my post "Making Peace with Attachment Parenting" but suffice it to say that on rough days when all my kids were crying I learned that I needed to step out on the porch or lock myself in my bedroom for a few minutes.  Sometimes the kids cried even harder while I was gone but there was no way I could do a "time in", loving on my children until I took care of myself.

And just as importantly, I became firm about Quiet Time.  I arrange it so my nappers go down at the same time in the early afternoon.  My older two kids are then shut into the nursery (aka playroom).  The rules for Quet Time are simple and clear.  They can play with whatever toys are in the nursery - dress up, trains, books, puzzles, dolls, jump on the sofa, whatever - but they cannot talk to me unless someone is hurt or needs their butt wiped.  They can only leave the nursery if they have to go to the bathroom.  In the meantime I am cleaning, prepping supper, blogging, making phone calls, reading, napping...  Quiet time is over when their brother wakes up from his nap, which means it lasts about 2 hours.  When it is done we all pick up the nursery together and they get a snack.  Besides the fact that I get time to myself my favorite part about how we do Quiet Time is that Lydia and Bennet use their imaginations like crazy.  It's so awesome.

In the end, if all else fails, I also try to go to confession every 2 to 4 weeks.

How are things different?  Well, now I don't need time away from my kids like I did before.  I also don't resent them wanting to nurse, sit on my lap, having to be with them so much.  I play with them more, read to them more, tickle them more, and play outside with them more.  I am more patient, forgiving, and loving.  I am enjoying my vocation of mother much, much more and I think everyone in the house is much happier.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

maybe this is why God let me have children

I originally wrote this in June of 2010.  I thought I'd use it as the first in a series of three posts on motherhood.  The first one, today's, shows that it doesn't matter if you have one child or ten, being a mom can be really frustrating and difficult at times.  As much as it is a gift - and what a truly great gift it is! - it also demands sacrifice.  Tomorrow's post will be on a couple of things that have helped me as a mother and the last post will be about having my hands full with my 4 kids aged 4 and under.

Some nights I look back over my days with a great deal of shame.  Let's take, for instance, Tuesday.  Most of the day went really well:  play group, folded laundry, dishes done, visited with Mom, talked to some friends on the phone.  And then during nap time both of my kids were sleeping and this was exactly what I wanted.  Some quiet time to myself to check my email without Bennet or Lydia grabbing at the laptop, or my leg, or my arm, or my hair.  To sit without anyone on my person.  Ahhhh..

And then Lydia woke up.  I held her so she'd go back to sleep but then she wouldn't let me put her down.  Every time I tried to lay her back down she'd cry and cry and cling to me.  This drove me over the edge and I yelled at her to go to sleep and leave me alone.

She then gave me that look.  The one where she's afraid and sad and confused, and she just wants her mommy to hold her, but her mommy is the one making her feel that way.  So she just cries a little harder.  Hopefully you don't know what I'm talking about.

It is the worst feeling I have experienced.  

And then I am reminded of what another mom shared once.  She told the story of snapping at her son one day in the car.  Her son began to cry and said, "Don't yell at me, Mommy.  It hurts my feelings."

She then said, "My mother has her defense mechanisms; my husband has learned to protect himself against my words and moods, but my son has nothing.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe this is why God has let me have the one son I have - so I can see how I really treat people."

I have thought about that comment so many times over the months since she first shared it.  I don't freak out at everyone the way I do my kids, but I do loose my patience, jump to conclusions, make snap (usually harsh) judgements, grumble, and become easily frustrated.  Often I find myself wanting to walk away from people who are annoying or frustrating me because I just don't want to take the time to see their side, understand their point, show a little compassion and mercy.  It is very similar to me yelling at my child to "just leave me alone."

In all of these interactions with people I know that it is not only from them that I am withholding charity, but Christ Himself.  The Judgement of the Nations in Matthew 25 is very powerful for me, and I know that many times I am a goat instead of a sheep.  Goats go to Hell - but not this one.  I've still got some filing down to do on my horns, but I fully intend to not spend an eternity away from my God.

"God will give you for eternity what you love the most.  If it's Him, you go to Heaven."  Fr. Larry Richards

I believe that in my vocation of motherhood God is asking me to love Him in a special way through my kids.  So sometimes that just might mean sacrificing my body and personal space to snuggle with a napping girl who craves my presence when I just don't want to.  

Lord, have mercy, because it can be so hard.


I'd like to thank my friend, J, for giving me permission to retell her story.

Monday, October 1, 2012

boys and their trains...

Many thanks to Brandon for pointing me in this direction.

Watching these videos warmed my heart and made my eyes swell up a little bit.  I remembered my childhood, and they so beautifully portray a universal love between a child and his best friend.

Enjoy!