oh my, what a surprise!

IMG_7568 copy It never fails to make me ponder my God’s wonderful works when I look at this picture! Here we are, right after getting married! We were so happy, and I don’t remember what we were saying, but it should have been something like- “Oh my, what a surprise, we are actually married!”

It was a long road for Sweetheart and I to come to this place, one wrought with much sinny–bad behaviors, bumps in the road, or whatever you want to call it….We knew each other our whole lives, if from afar, went to the same church, same school, shoot- my Aunt and Uncle are his Godparents! He is four years my senior and so we didn’t really see each other eye to eye until I was 16. At that time he was simply the gorgeous older brother of my best friend. Yup.

So, as time passed and we hung out more, and we fell in love, there was a lot in common. When we fell in love there were times that I didn’t think about anything BUT him for hours. Literally. And I want to scream from the top of the water tower-“There is none like our God!” He did this big thing in my life, brought me from a self-centered obnoxious proud and happy hippie, to a mom who is still very much in love with her Sweetheart, and has a whole heck of a lot more perspective on her place in the world. God is SO GOOD! MAJESTY! Our God Reigns.

We had 3 children when we got married. It’s unusual I know, and as you can see from this picture the baby was only six months at our wedding. I look back at that time and just feel overwhelmed with mercy. God really brought some amazing people into our lives to help us pull that off, because we seriously couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you. You know who you are.

Every year right around this kind of snowy day I have to reflect and pray, because this was the time of year that Frankie was born. We had gotten engaged on my birthday, big belly sticking out all over the place, but the world was beautiful because I had a ring on my finger! And then there was the end of the pregnancy where I thought I was in labor EVERY NIGHT for weeks. It was so annoying. I now know that it’s called prodromal labor, where your body upstarts labor several times before it is actually ready to deliver! That was nearly ten years ago now, and I am so very thankful for my Frankie, she’s super bright, and artsy, and a gifted hockey and soccer player, she loves to play the violin (her only request for her b.day)! And I just love the spice in her almost as much as I love her generosity and ability to reach out to people who need a little bit of love. She gives great hugs and can clean the Moses out of your bathroom like you wouldn’t believe. And her birthday is a marker in my life, we’ve been married for ten years this summer, and that is so….wow…how can that be?

Even the best kids you have will grow up and make some interesting choices. Sometimes the things that just don’t make sense at the time will turn out fine, or better than fine. Moms, friends, just stop worrying and pray. Pray that Gods plan will be accomplished. Pray that during these really difficult moments your grown child may find herself in, there is mercy! God is big enough to handle all our shit. He knows our hearts and our desires, and our future. Whether or not you can believe it God has a plan for your children that is even better than what you can dream up on your best day. He is the heart of compassion. Even if my parents weren’t proud of me when they found out I was pregnant with my second child out-of-wedlock, with a man who already had a child…..  they are now, or they should be!

After ten years things will look a lot different. Have hope! ūüôā

Is it Summer Yet?

Is it Summer Yet?
I know it’s a necessary part of the year, winter. The time when everything gets frozen to death, mosquitos and other bothersome bugs. I know it’s a blessing -even¬†if it is in disguise. I love Jack Frost’s amazing lacy designs he posts on my windshield. I DO. But then there is reality, and when it is this cold, there is a part of me that wants to scream. Screaming wouldn’t really do any good, I know-¬†but in solidarity with all my fellow stay at home mothers who homeschool, I know how much you depend on these precious words: “Everyone, OUTSIDE!” And to those of you who, like me, don’t have a huge rec room complete with a trampoline and hanging ropes for the children to wear themselves out….I send you my dearest sympathies. This sucks. I know probably when my baby is 7 or 8 I will look forward to snow-¬†take them all sledding for hours on end….but at this point it’s a little touch and go. I can drop children at the sled hill and sit in the van praying no one breaks any limbs off, and keep the hot chocolate in a thermos to¬†distribute as the little ones wander back with wind chafed cheeks, to which I kindly supply a generous shmear¬†of Bag Balm as quickly as possible, so they don’t complain. And then try to encourage them to go back for more. The baby sure is a hindrance¬†to many an activity as much fun as she is, she doesn’t love being cold, and I don’t love hearing her scream. I am a believer in the younger children in a large family are smarter than your average child. My baby is aware of her influence on the household in a profound way. She uses her voice to dictate the outcome of many situations everyday. She is smart as a whip I tell you. And I am at her whim.

The winter comes with dreams of putting an addition on our house or moving to a larger one. The space our back yard provides creates an actual acceptable size home for our family. With the back yard covered in snow it feels like we¬†were all forcibly shoved into a tiny sandwich sized¬†ziplock bag. And sealed in. I hate running the furnace and feeling all dried out and stuffy. I much prefer the cool breeze blowing though¬†open windows. Man, am I a complainer or what? No- really I am thankful for my house and the warmth it¬†brings. It’s just that I am becoming aware of the tightness of this place, and how¬†full our life is, indeed.

The spring will come, and I am inspired to organize and redecorate as much as possible the inside of¬†the house so when it is nice out I won’t feel like I need to do spring cleaning, just spring playing!¬†Going to the park, bike riding, and¬†playing lots of outdoor soccer games. Sandboxes, planting the garden, fixing up the fort, hanging laundry out to dry on the clothesline, ahhh,¬†the many beautiful things about warm sunny days.

SO, folks, that’s my take, on winter. I love looking at how clean it makes everything look, I love ice skating ,and would skate everyday if I could, but the rest of it kinda stinks. What do you¬†like about the season changes? Tell me your favorite snowy activity. Really, I need inspiration.

Check Out Small Town Simplicity

  Check Out Small Town Simplicity!!!

My dear friend Lydia has a gift with words and all things crafty! I am so blessed and thankful to be friends and sisters in the Lord with this¬†beautiful¬†MAMA! I just loved her recent post about beauty. She wrote about those of us who detest our belly skin hanging obtrusively over our belts, or the handfuls of back fat rolling around our sides. She said something I’ve never heard. She said that when we compare our mom-bodies to our pre-pregnancy bodies, it’s like comparing ourselves to our prepubescent body. It’s just not the same body! You are a mom¬†now, and that is a sacred, special thing. Your body is forever changed! And thank God for these amazingly beautiful people He has blessed us with! Praise the Lord! So, today, lady-momma-friends, eat the food, till you are filled, and sing a song of thanksgiving for your life. Your own lovely, plumpy, gorgeous body included!

The Birthday Conundrum

The Birthday Conundrum

There has been talk of “slowing down,” or making it a more “doable” project, but there has been little else in terms of progress! It’s pretty tough to stop yourself when the children are so sweet, and the opportunity to dote on them comes up. I just want them to FEEL THE LOVE!

I once heard a story of a mother (keep in mind she had only one daughter) who took a whole roll of film’s worth of pictures every year on her birthday. She dressed her up in this cool paisley hippie dress, so if you look at the pictures on the wall the first row is an infant in a dress-nest, then as she gets older she puts the too-big dress on, and eventually as she becomes a teenager she starts to fit the dress! ¬†I thought it was a wonderful idea, but haven’t been able to actually pull it off…..

We typically do a family dinner with the Birthday Child’s choice of food (usually sushi or burritos) and then some type of cake, that the Birthday Child and ONLY the Birthday Child helps with. We give a couple of gifts, and that’s okay, but the BEST part (for me, anyway) is the signs. We make signs the night before (sometimes sluggishly, cursing all the while), to post around the¬†house¬†informing the world of the person in the house who is a whole year older! The kids always giggle at the sign I put on the lid of the toilet! It’s such a simple thing, that brings so much joy….

Then there are the PARTIES! I personally have had quite enough birthday parties to last me a life time, but I know I can’t give up now, not with some children who really want exciting birthday parties – especially since they may even remember them! I think that’s a common mistake. We spend all this time and energy getting cool themed birthday parties all set up for our young children, and before they’re even old enough to ENJOY the dag-gone party, the mom and dad are so sick of the party procuring business they’re ready to take the kid to a movie, shove a cake with burning candles in his face,¬†and be done with it!

I have had dance parties, sleep-over parties, color-themes parties,¬†swim parties, pizza parties, parties at¬†a gym, outdoor parties, parties in a pavilion, beach parties, bowling parties, chuckie cheese parties, putt-putt parties, scavenger hunt, and pirate parties,¬†man the parties I have had! I almost would go so far as to say….I am a party expert. And I want to scale back, really I do, but….but…..it’s too much fun! I want to hear your party stories, and your scaling back and not getting burned out stories! What are your families birthday traditions?

Christmas: What not to do….

There is much that can be said when it comes to Christmas giving. I love the idea of honoring Christ’s birth with really beautiful handmade “birthday” gifts. I also really hate how crazy this time of year can get, if I choose to let it. We do most of our buying on-line and at our favorite thrift store, Value World! I always go out super early on Black Friday for my 50% off coupon for being one of the first 50 folks in line. It’s totally worth the work. I always find something magical, and it’s like the heavens open and God says, “Blessed are you, crazy mother, here is a small token of love for all the wonderfulness you are trying to conjure!” It feels like a hug straight from Jesus himself!

If I had my druthers, I would buy tons of beautiful-made-in-USA-all-natural-never-been-dyed-or-touched-plastic-fanciness, but lets be real, that just ain’t happening! So, I do what I can, and forget the rest! God is so good, and he always provides. Just like David says in Psalm 23 “There is nothing I lack!”

Now for the things you SHOULD NOT do. A couple years ago, my husband and I were a bit strapped for cash, and we were trying to make the holidays more exciting, an in doing so, I’m afraid to say, we lost touch with reality. So, just in case you think like we do, here are somethings you shouldn’t try at your house this Christmas.

1. Never, in any circumstances hide or move the Christmas gifts from where your children think the gifts should be. It sure isn’t very funny. We found this out the hard way. We left all the gifts (organized by child) in our school room, where we had been wrapping-¬†figuring (at 2 am) that they would have more fun opening gifts here because it’s more spacious than our living room. Well….then we took it a step farther and decided to tell them that the baby Jesus was their only gift this year, yes, we did that! Seemed like a good idea at the time. We even wrapped up the manger. Boo. The kids cried.

2. This one here is a classic mistake: PETS! Do not buy young children pets…..EVER…..if you enjoy sanity, or unless you happen to breed especially gentle docile kids. We got them each their own gerbil/hamster. It was a disaster. I was, for the next six weeks the gerbil police. Trying to keep kids from squeezing the poor dears to death, trying to keep them fed, and clean, and in their cages was a job…to say the least. By the second week two of them had been tortured or loved (not sure which) by my then¬† 2 yr old,¬†son. OMG the tears and sadness from his older sisters! Then we had the mites that come in gerbil feed, literally biting the *@!& out of us¬†while¬†we slept, to then finally having only one gerbil left, and my husband¬†devised a plan to “let it run loose in the yard” thereby freeing up any more obligation to the horrid creature,¬†and our neighbor¬†caught the darn thing and tried to return him to us. My sweet and loving husband feigned¬†catching it, and let it go. It was sad to see, but necessary. If only our kindly neighbor hadn’t been so nimble to catch it again and manage to get quite a large bite on her hand….opps. Note to self:¬† no more pets.

3. Then there are the super smart kids who have detective powers beyond what is usually possible. We wrapped up a bunch of dress-ups that had been given to us from a good friend whose kids were getting older. My insanely gifted children SMELLED it. There we were opening up packages, and they’re like,” This smells like the ____ family!” Ummmm….yes, we went shopping over there because they have great dress-ups….who would have guessed ¬†that would have happened? It felt silly and cheap, and I don’t recommend it. So, if you are re-gifting, and it’s clothing, go ahead and wash it. Please. For Pete’s sake.

4. ok. Here’s a funny one. Don’t buy your kids stuff that you wish they would play with, but you know in your heart of hearts they really don’t like. So, that would eliminate the waldorf doll for your daughter who doesn’t like babies. Too bad.

5. If your kid is a sports fan, just give it up and buy¬†the real¬†stuff, if it looks like ADDIAS but it’s not, that kinda sucks. So splurge and buy the real deal, or just don’t go there! Seriously.

That’s¬†all I’ve got for now. Be sure to leave a comment about things you have learned. Clearly, I am slow on the uptake, I need all the help I can get!

Gotta get ROKU!!!

Our Catholic Faith

EWTN is something I’ve been wanting for a long time. My husband and I could never justify cable or dish TV when it came to the budget. Soooo, we found this great device called a ROKU. It hooks up to your TV and it can stream things such as hulu, amazon, netflix and EWTN.

We just finished watching Life on the Rock and Mother Angelica Live. What a blessing!!! No contracts and a Mother Angelica fix WHENEVER I want.

Our daughter was born on June 29, 2012.  We  named her after Saint  (then she was  Blessed) Kateri Tekakwitha. We bought the Roku 2 days ago.  Blessed Kateri was  cannonized today as Saint Kateri and the mass in Rome was able to be viewed here at our  home. How beautiful and great  is Our  Lord.

God is good.

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Good Enough

There are so many things we can do, as mamas, wives, and teachers, and then there is “good enough.” I already know you KNOW this, but, years from now it won’t matter if you had a sparkly clean floor! But the children will remember¬†you looking up at their faces and smiling. Read your most needy child of the moment a story you enjoyed as kid! Do you remember Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs? I remember imagining macaroni and cheese¬†coming down¬†from the sky, and savoring the sensational thought for long enough that I could almost smell cheddar cheese….
There are so many ways we can be hard on ourselves, it’s not clean enough, it’s not organized enough, it’s not pretty enough. Even if all those things may be true, try to rationalize a bit of it away by thinking about your daughters wedding. How will she remember you? Will she think about how sensitive you were when she was upset? Will she feel supported by you through her tough days, or will she only recall being pushed aside for more “important” tasks? These little people that God gave to us are precious gifts, and we are to treasure them and treat them like the gold they are. Pure gold.
I’m not saying here that it’s an easy thing to do. Just like sometimes I have to use middle names to get my child’s attention, sometimes they have to call me by my first name instead of “mom,” or I won’t realize they are speaking to me. Ignoring the¬†children is easy, we do it all the time without meaning to, I’m not really talking about that. If we didn’t have the ability to zone out a bit us stay at homers would soon get dizzy and quit or freak out. Yes, that is different. What I’m really talking about is that I understand that you want your home clean and orderly, I k now how busy you are, I get it. Don’t make excuses to me-¬†I’m okay with the way things are, they are good enough. Awaken yourself to the richness of your right now, and savor it. I have beautiful thriving smart children who impress me everyday in someway, and teach me way more than they learn from me, I’m quite sure. I am saying that peace is here. I am fine with it being what it is.
I take the opportunity to try and¬†organize one small part of my home everyday, and I look forward to at some point either adding on to the house we live in or moving somewhere bigger, because I know part of what we have is a lack of space, even though, as I love to remind the children,¬†you¬†will always have to put¬†your shoes and clothes¬†away. There will always be doing your “best¬†part.” If you mess it up, clean it up, if you open it, shut it, and so on. But space does matter, and I understand that I have a clutter problem, some of which is theirs, some of which only I can take credit for. Hoarders unite: I’m just waiting for the day when¬†80 naked children come here, and I will be the one to clothe them! I wish I could say it is because I grew up in the post depression era, and I simply find a use for all of the stuff, and that why I keep it….but it’s a lie. I’m a collector and an artist who loves to see everything. If I can’t see it, I forget it’s even there. Most normal people are visually over-stimulated by the amount of eclectic/ colorfulness¬†I squeeze into my home decor, but I’m okay with it! I like it like this. Good enough. There are many life lessons we learn as moms, and boy am I thankful for each one. I am ever so thankful that I have gotten to be with my children and in turn, gotten to know them and learn from them. Thanks to these lovely kids I can now understand shyness, how difficult it can be for a shy person to hold a conversation. Or what life would be like if I didn’t think about myself. Think about that.I know it seems obvious, but if I had time to think about me more, believe me I WOULD! But since I am so preoccupied caring for my young family I have grown leaps and bounds towards my goal: God first, others next, myself last. It will take a longer time, to fully understand that and accomplish that, I bet. But I like where I am right now, being able to see that there is still room for improvement… despite the many quirks my children have to deal with me being their mama, I sure hope the stuff they see when they look back at all this scrambling, sacrifice, and sweetness is good enough. I am aware that there will be things they hold against me, there will be reasons for them to feel disadvantaged, displaced, or sad. I hope that nothing will ever happen that will make any of these thoughts prevail as their primary response to their growing up. I pray that when they are adults they can tell their own children how special and blessed this time was. I hope they are able to see that our priorities were keeping them loved, warm and fed, and educated as best as¬†we could,¬†most of all¬†about Jesus, so that they have the ability to pray and feel safe when we are gone.

God, you have given me so much. Please help me be a good model for my children. Help me to be good enough.

Camping Love!

Camping Love!

No matter where I go, no matter what I’m doing…I’m camping! I go camping when I check out a few books at the library, I camp all the way to the park, I camp over to my girlfriends house, and camp a bit here and there to mass, museums, and groceries….Let’s just put it out there friends, if me and mine are getting out- then we are camping! We have to bring the same equipment, and supplies! We may as well stay for a while! When I open the back of my van, a double stroller almost kills me, tumbling out amongst bags of all sorts, bags of books, bags of food, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, first aid kit, homeopathic remedies, an old keyboard?!, and shoes, that is correct, shoes. They breed at night….I swear!

Do you always feel like you are camping, too?

What is it that you don’t leave home without?

Heavenly……WHAT?

I am certainly no theologian, so I am really asking you. Whenever I ask you a question, you can feel free to give me your honset opinion, I will take your thoughts with a grain of salt. What exactly will heaven be like? Why should we all try so hard to be holy? Why should we work our whole life to attain something we really don’t understand? I know some of the saints saw heaven and hell during different visions. Teresa of Avila and Maria Faustina both were able to see the afterlife for what it is, but something tells me you have to see it with your own eyes to really get it.

If heaven is a wonderful and special place, but it is away from our loved ones, how special could that really be? The smell of my sleepy baby cuddling my neck, the jazzy hugs I get from my big girls, my sons laughter when I flip him upside down, the peace that fills my entire brain, like a warm slice of fresh bread when my honey is finally home from work for the night. Can there be a better place?

Hard to imagine. Would it be fair to resort back to Christ’s words in Matthew 13, and just say the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Pearl of Great Price? It must be hard for most of us mamas to imagine anything that we would be willing to sell all of our personal belongings for, maybe we feel that way sometimes about sleep, but truly, all our earthly possesions at this point are so numerous, it would take years to gather it all up again.

Oh Lord, make me holy, make me like you. Help me to understand your greatness, and give me a heart like your heart. Make me long to be with you in heaven. Give me understanding.

I speant my day at our homeschool co-op, and feel truly blessed to be around so many wonderful examples. These folks are the salt of the earth! I agree wholeheartedly!