April 21, 2014

Monday Mumbles - 70

Happy Easter Monday! I have been looking forward to writing this post for a couple of weeks. Just to get back into the flow of blogging again. I am not sure how frequent I will be, but I'm going to try and do at least three posts a week. So...happy Monday and here goes...with some mumbles!!!

1. We had a great Easter. I never got into the Easter Egg Hunt mentality, myself, so I haven't ever made that a priority with my kids. It's just as well. They like getting their Easter baskets filled with some candy and other little things. I think.

2. As they've gotten older, of course, they are more aware that other kids get bigger type gifts in their Easter baskets. *sigh* I just tell them, "Well, this is how WE do it." I know that someday when they are raising their families, they will get it. (And "it" could be...the financial balance, or "it" could be ... the materialism bent and trying to avoid it with your kids, or "it" could be ... the fact that there's no way possible to do a "big" thing for all five kids at Easter AND Christmas and do it well. Whatever "it" is...I do hope they get it someday.)

3. Many prayers of thanksgiving going up as I found out that a dear friend has beaten breast cancer. That's two for two of dear friends in the past couple of years, so I am very grateful.

4. I am hopeful that the weather has finally turned the corner for the long-term and we're going to have spring and summer now. It was a long, long, long, ... long winter, I tell you. And I'm ready to kiss it goodbye!

5. Yesterday, I began wondering where the sentiment came from that the only way to appreciate a hostess' hard work was to eat the food prepared. I am sure it is an old fashioned thing. But as a grown woman who has taken on the tumultuous task of overcoming a problem with over-eating and such, it bugs me when people force my kids to eat something they don't like by throwing out, "I worked hard...you better eat it!" or something like that. *sigh* I am so much more aware of stuff like this since I've been doing the Weight Watchers thing and losing weight. I don't want to be made to feel as though I have disrespected someone if I don't clean my plate. I also don't want to start this horrible food issue in any of my children. Further...I have learned not to eat things I don't really appreciate (not worth the points, you know?) and so I can completely sympathize with my kids when they don't like something and would rather not eat it. Oh well, guess I'll need to mull that one some more.

6. I'm just going to share some photos from Easter and wrap this up, with a final note about how quickly my children are growing up. Sarah is quite a young lady (most of the time) and Dani has really started establishing her own "grow-up-now" pattern. Helen receives First Holy Communion in two weeks. Dominic is such a smarty-pants sweetheart. Vincent...well, Vincent WANTS to grow up faster than he is. Of course, he's still growing up entirely too fast, but it cracks me up to see how badly he wants to be bigger and be allowed to do big-boy stuff like Dominic (whatever that may be).

This girl -- so pretty
My Dani-girl. This dress looks so good on her!
She is so excited to receive First Holy Communion in 2 weeks!!
This boy cannot do pictures. At all. But he is still cute.

This is what I get when I ask them if they love each other...haha

Vincent! This about sums him up
The kids with their Grandma
All Five of 'em...
Craig and me

April 16, 2014

Lenten Reflection During Holy Week

As I contemplated returning to the blog-world when Easter had passed, I thought a lot about how Lent went this year. Last year, Lent was a mess. I already covered that. And I wanted this year to be meaningful in some way, but I wasn't sure I knew how to accomplish that. The past 15 months, spiritually, have been weird for me. While I am sure I drew closer to Christ through my sorrow and grief, at times I wonder if I negated some of that growth with my spiritual apathy.

It may or may not surprise you that my prayer life has been a bit sporadic. I do the prayers with my kids (before meals and before bed) and I pray a rosary whenever I run outside. I also attend Mass every week, but how attentive and prayerful I am mostly depends on how my children behave. I'm not proud of this, it's clear that I've been slacking in the prayer department.

Even this Lent, I have had a hard time figuring out how to right this sinking ship. I picked up a Catholic book on spiritual warfare, only to fall asleep every time I tried to read it. I went to confession, but I feel like it was not the "big deal" confession usually is for me. (Note: Typically, I rush my butt to confession when I have one or more of those really horrible mortal sins...and if I don't have one or more of those, it's easy to put off confession. So that would be why confession usually is a "big deal.") I didn't make it to an extra Mass each week like I thought I might try to do. I haven't prayed a rosary with my children in a very long time.

Basically, I'm starting to feel like I'm failing at this "raising my kids Catholic" thing. My children get a lot of faith formation at school (it's why we have them in this particular Catholic school in the first place) but I am slacking at home. The more I've focused on things like losing weight and getting in shape and keeping my children in their activities, the less prayer and faith has taken the forefront of our attention. That makes me sad.

Of course I know that unless I discipline myself to pray and focus on growing in my faith, I cannot spur the same in my children. I feel somewhat at a loss as to how to fix this. Our evenings are crazy with volleyball and swim practices and Crossfit workouts for Craig and me. The weekends fill up quickly with outings, birthday parties, errands, homework and chores. It seems like every minute of every day is consumed with something and I wonder...when did I find time for this before? Because the honest truth is, I used to make time for this. I used to go to daily Mass, and I used to pray in the car, and I used to go to confession every other week.

I often wonder if some of the things I've taken on are distractions from the devil designed to take my focus away from God. I gotta be honest, though, it's hard for me to believe that getting to a healthy weight and taking care of my body (my temple) is evil. I've needed to take charge of my health for a very long time and now that I'm doing it, it's difficult for me to find fault with that. I don't believe I have an unhealthy obsession or anything. I am simply trying to get (and stay) healthy. I also have a hard time understanding how providing activities for my children (that also contribute to their health and well-being) could be "of the devil."

So, I'm kind of hitting a confusion point. How do I get my (and my family's) prayer life back on track without giving up the gains we've made in other areas? Are we doing enough? I have a hard time believing that -- but I can't figure out if I can't believe it simply because I will never feel like we are doing enough.

How do you balance the activities you sacrifice to provide for your family and yourself with the need to stay close to God?

April 14, 2014

What Happened During Lent

It is Holy Week. I am contemplating a more substantial post, but I thought it might be good to give a run-down of what’s been going on around our house. Kind of a little get-back-into-the-groove thing…

I did have a few of these...
It did not kill me to deactivate Facebook (though I often joked, via text, with friends that it was indeed “killing me.”)

I did color my hair – a strawberry blonde hue. I’ll be going back in a few weeks and I think I’ll have her take it a little darker because after about 3 weeks, it was difficult to see much difference anymore.

I read four books – all fiction, none religious.

I put on my size 6 work pants for the first time since 2008 (the dry cleaner receipt taped to the plastic overlay was from February 2008).

Craig and I competed in our first Crossfit Games Open and it was fun. I did pretty well for someone who couldn’t do all the “skills” required. I ended up #222 out of 355 Masters Women 40-44 in my region (North Central). And the final workout was a real bugger, but I completed it, Rx and everything.
I also achieved a “skill” at Crossfit. I can touch my toes to the bar! When I think about how almost a year ago, I could hardly raise my knees up even half the way to my knees, I’m just so excited that I get my toes up to the bar now. Of course, I have to do some kipping swings to achieve this, but that’s one of the steps on the way to just lifting a person’s toes from a standstill and touching the bar. Still – toes-to-bar is still toes-to-bar!

I mostly stayed on track with Weight Watchers, although, I’m going to take a “no-weigh-pass” day this week because I had a terrible weekend, food-wise. And I know it was terrible and I know what the scale will look like and I just don’t want to see it. But I will still attend my meeting.
Sarah earned the “A” Honor roll for the second straight quarter. Yes. I’m proud. Oh, and she won 5th place in a local essay contest and her essay was sent to State competition. Then she found out she got 4th place at State and the essay is now being judged in a National competition. I have been so happy for her as she’s blossomed this year with her writing. And, she grew some more, got stronger some more and now has a pretty decent serve going in volleyball. I really love to watch her play.
Dani earned her first individual ribbon at a swim meet. It was 6th place and it was for 50 Backstroke. I love to watch her swim.

She also read all kinds of great books and surpassed her Accelerated Reading goal (again) for the quarter. She also continues to practice her guitar (we had to give up lessons for awhile) on her own and try to get better.
Helen routinely scored 29’s and 30’s on her Math “Mad Minutes.” This was something she needed to master as the math starts getting a little harder when Multiplication/Division starts. She also routinely scored high on spelling tests. Unfortunately, I don’t think she likes reading nearly as much as her older sisters and it’s a struggle for her to be motivated in that regard. I will have to knuckle down with her this summer, I think.

Dominic attended “Kindergarten Roundup” and I got him registered for Kindergarten next year. It is crazy how it feels that four of my five children will be in “real” school next year. There were three weekends in a row that Dominic attended birthday parties for children in his class. ‘Tis the season, I suppose. He also discovered the movie, “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl.” And he has a (girl) friend in preschool with him that likes to play “Shark Boy and Lava Girl” with him. This tickles me because my Sarah – when she was in preschool – had a little (boy)friend who would play “Shark Boy and Lava Girl” with her. They are 7 ½ years apart (exactly) and they enjoy the same movie and pretend play and each found a friend who did, too. I think that is kind of cool.

Vincent potty trained. And it took all of, like, 2 weeks (maybe)!  I knew he was ready. He just had to decide to do it. And I found the right motivation, finally. I’ll save that for a write-up on the blog soon. J He also started sitting…for an hour at a time sometimes!!...and playing with Helen’s dollhouse. When I get a chance to stand outside the room and listen, I get quite an insight into how he views the goings-on at our house. Very cute.

Vincent playing with the dollhouse
In light of the potty-training success...my boys' now have a "big boy" room which means there is no baby paraphernilia in there anymore.

Bye-bye changing table -- hello book shelves and big boy toys!
The weather finally made a serious attempt at improvement. Although, the temps dipped today and made me weary. But we had a string of several days in a row with 60’s, 70’s, sunshine, etc. We’re getting there!!
Vincent is cool
Now Holy Week is upon us. I am going to attempt to make it to services at Church Thursday and Friday. I am not sure if I’m brave enough to attempt the Vigil Mass with the kids by myself. I have a feeling I have at least one more year before I’ll try that, maybe two. Vincent is not reliable on the behavior. Although, Palm Sunday Mass was the first time in about a month we’d had to take him to the back. We’ll get there eventually.

I have to admit, it wasn’t a huge void in my life to eliminate blogging for a few weeks. I thought I’d be going crazy, but I didn’t. I want to update the pictures in my header and stuff, but I didn’t even work on that. I took some notes a few times when I thought, “That might be a good thing to write about sometime…” I did check in on a couple of blogs, just to see what they were writing about on particular days. Some I missed more than others. But I guess that’s just the way of it, isn’t it? There are some friends we hold closer than others. So, probably there are some blogs we make sure we check in on during these times.
God bless your Holy Week!
Photo Found Here







March 4, 2014

Social Media and Blogging Fast for Lent 2014

I have never fully committed to a Social Media fast for Lent before. And certainly I have never fasted from posting on my blog for the entirety of Lent. Oh and choosing not to read blogs during Lent? Unheard of!! This year, however, it seemed an appropriate way to go.

Last year, Lent began so pitifully. And then, my whole life turned upside down.

I want Lent to be meaningful this year. I want to grow spiritually. There are some books I have at home that I bought with every intention of reading them, only to see them collecting dust on the bookshelf.

I also want to see what my life is like without being "tuned in" all the time to Facebook. I have an iPhone and I won't lie -- many times I can't imagine my life without the opportunity to share every cute little thing my kids say, or share all their accomplishments because I am so very proud. I share stuff here, I share it on Instagram and Facebook. I'm not as big into Twitter, but I'll turn that one off, too.

Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.

I'll see you on the other side. Have a blessed and fruitful Lenten season.

Photo Found Here

March 3, 2014

Monday Mumbles - 69

I just realized I hadn't done a Mumbles post since a month ago! I am such a slacker.

1. Another snow day. Can I just tell you what a bad attitude I have these days about winter? Seriously. I am OVER. IT. For realz.

2. Stupid snow storm dumped another 5+ inches on us this weekend. And some stupid "polar vortex" thing is making the temperatures pretty much unlivable. i was out shoveling for all of 10 or maybe 15 minutes and felt like I had frostbite on my big toe! Came in and looked...it was definitely blue. Along with the tips of my fingers. And yes, I had gloves, socks, shoes, coat, hat...all that stuff on.

3. My kids are happy to be out of school. I told them they would be cursing this come June when they have to go to school for extra days then. I don't think they will truly appreciate what I said until those days get here and they still have to go to school.

Photo Here

5. Blah. Blah. Blah.

6. So, my Jayhawks lost a game on Saturday night. They played pretty poorly. But because the two second place teams lost another game, it still means KU wins the Big 12 outright. I hope they play better in their next game because that performance Saturday was pretty ugly.

7. Sarah climbed the rope at Crossfit Friday night. She's been dying to do it, and so they went over the footholds for the ropes and afterwards, she climbed about three-fourths of the way up there. 


8. Oh! Potty-training has started with Vincent! He actually GOES in the potty MOST of the time. He hasn't had a diaper on in about 6 days now. He has pull-ups and sometimes his big boy underwear. He's had a couple of accidents, but as long as we remember to take him for the most part, he stays dry. Haven't had luck (yet) with #2...but I am so sick-excited about this. It has been almost 13 years that we've been "in diapers" at our house. I can't even tell you how it feels to think we could be on our way to being OUT of diapers!!

9. I actually cleaned my "monster" of a desk this weekend and our dining room area. We had lots of things that needed to be put away or thrown away. Those two areas of the house look much better now.

10. Well, I guess that's it. I'm kind of blah-blah-blah-ing through these today. I really hope the weather gets warmer soon. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder on a normal winter, so this long, cold winter is really doing a number on me. I'm ready to move on!


February 28, 2014

Gregory - A Year Now Has Passed

A year ago today I found out Gregory had died and went into the hospital that evening. I delivered Gregory into the arms of Jesus on March 1, 2013. Of course, his soul was already there from about 10 days before that, but the physical delivery is what happened a year ago.

A day never passes that I don't think about him and miss him. At least once an hour, I would imagine, I think of him. Losing him has shown me just how much I think about all of my children...it's a constant...and he's no different.

In the days following Gregory's funeral, Rebecca, my dear friend over at The Road Home and Gregory's godmother , sent me the following video from Mercy Me. I actually waited almost a week to watch it, but I was glad I did. It did make me cry then and it does now, too, but in a good way.

I stumbled upon this song by Daughtry a little later. It was so perfect and even now, feels that way still. I always imagine a little mini-Craig running around -- because most of my kids look like their dad as babies. But the words of this song are so true, "Not a day goes by, that I don't think of you, (Gregory)."

And this song, is for my "Precious Child."

It is now 5:00 and last year I was finalizing arrangements for the kids and making our way to the hospital. I had spent 5 hours coming to grips with the fact that I had carried my son 10 days further than his life had extended. And the sadness; it was overwhelming. And that heavy heart hung around for another 5-6 months.

But then, I finally felt able to breathe again. I remember it distinctly...about a week into August, I could finally breathe a full, deep breath and not feel like it might be my last. My youngest sister announced her pregnancy with her first child in October and I was shocked to realize it was the first time I was truly happy at the news of someone else having a baby. I was so grateful that God filled my heart again for someone else.

This afternoon, a package came in the mail. Of course, Rebecca and her husband were so very thoughtful and sent us a beautiful creation that could be hung from the chandelier in our dining room. Here are two pictures:

Aquamarine is the March birth stone

I'm glad there is a chandelier in this house :)

Craig and I spent some time at the cemetery today. You know, it would have been easy to pass on the Memorial marker. It was an added cost, and how often will we have time to go up there? But...I'm really glad we got it and that it was placed before the anniversary of his birth/death. We need it there. We need to have that place to go. It was good to visit there today and I know it won't be the last time we go there.

The Memorial Marker where Gregory was laid

I have received such an out-pouring of love and support from blog-readers, friends and family over the past year. I appreciate more than anyone can know that I was allowed to grieve openly. It's such a hard thing, I think, to grieve a child who never was able to be born, but it's important to acknowledge that person and everything he was and is to the parents and family. At this time, I am filled with gratitude at the empathy and understanding I have experienced from so many in the last 12 months: our priest, our parish and school community, our family and friends. Even our children here on Earth with us -- who had to watch their mother cry for much of the last year, were such a great support for me. And the counseling I received through my therapist was helpful and how could I forget my awesome doctor and his staff? They hadn't seen me since March 8 when I walked in there in November and they were so tender and caring with me and asked how I was doing.

2013 was a rough year and I experienced loss on a whole new level. But I was able to process it and get through it all (with amazing support) in a healthy way. I feel ready to tackle the future and know that I will never forget my baby.

Son of God GiveAway Results!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this Son of God Giveaway, sponsored by Grace Hill Media. I hope it was fun and I appreciate those of you who tweeted the blog or pinned it. And of course, I always love to get comments, so thank you also for commenting.

The movie comes out today, so go see it. :)

I'm not real high-tech over here, so I wrote each of the commenter's names from the post on slips of paper and put them in a container and had my wonderful husband pull a name out.

The winner is Maryann! Congratulations!

Here is a picture of what you'll be getting:

CD and Novel plus a 1000 piece puzzle
Maryann, I will be contacting you via e-mail to obtain an address where Grace Hill Media can send the this.

Thanks again to everyone for participating!