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July 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Today, my oldest turns 13 years old.

I have allowed that to sink in for the past few hours (since I woke up). Wow.

The oldest child is always new. Everything about her is a first time. The first steps, the first cuts and bruises, the first time she said, "I love you" and the first days of school---and now the first time she goes on a plane without an escort and we are barreling down the road towards first high school days, clubs, sports, first dances and dates and....just everything. She gets so much focus because we want everything to go as we planned. 

It is true, I struggle with how much space to give her to screw up socially and how much I protect her from the inevitable mean-girl things that happen at this stage of life. She handles everything so much better than I anticipate. Over and over again, I am forced to realize that she is even more mature than I give her credit for (and I actually give her a lot of credit). The things I see that remind me of my own trials in middle school are things she handles with grace. She is loyal to a fault, but I realize that is something for which I can't help but love and admire her, no matter the tears it can cause along the way.

As the firstborn of five (+1) children, she is an incredible big sister. I remember when I found this in her school bag in 4th grade, as we were preparing to welcome Vincent that coming summer.

"Heaven is more beautiful than the big Christmas Tree at Zona Rosa
Heaven is more awesome than going to Disney World
Heaven sounds more fun than going on a play by myself to New Jersey
Heaven feels like getting another sibling and being loved forever."

I was so touched, as a mother can be when her children admit/show their love for each other. Now she is a fantastic babysitter for us and for other families where she can earn some money. She knows how to play with little kids. Often, it is Sarah who initiates the play with her siblings that doesn't involve electronics or anything. She has a knack for that, coming up with fun and engaging play activities in which all ages of her siblings will play and enjoy.

I am excited to watch as our next "Firsts" unfold. She will be in 8th grade this year, preparing for high school, playing club volleyball, discovering more about herself. I love learning how she feels about the books she reads and the movies she watches. I enjoy following her Tweets and Instagram photos and really love it when her loving personality shines through.

Sarah has always had a contemplative faith-life, understanding things earlier than I anticipated. She is the reason Craig and I delved in and learned more about our Catholic faith. She is the reason we embraced NFP and ultimately became open to more children. Her baptism was the turning point for me and promising to teach her our Catholic faith and raise her to be Catholic was the best thing I ever did.

So, off we go, into Teenager-land. Happy Birthday, sweet Sarah!
Birthday Girl!

July 14, 2014

Monday Mumbles - 72

Good Monday Morning, to you all!! I write this from my sister's house, where I am during my vacation. It's so wonderful to see her. And my brother. And their spouses and children. Oh my…I needed this!! I wanted to get something up on this blog, though, so…here are some mumbles for ya!!

1. Dani and Helen are off at their first summer camp ever! It's called the Children of Mary Religion camp and we took them and all their stuff to their cabins yesterday. I think they are going to have a blast. There's lake swimming, arts and crafts, opportunities for confession and Mass all week. We saw their names at their "meal tables" and they get to bunk with their cousins! 
All five camp-kids with they counselors
Before we left the house
2. Here is Helen when we dropped her stuff off in her cabin. So sweet.

Growing up so fast!!
3. Oh…and this isn't the best picture…but I caught Helen and her cousin, Julie, holding hands when they went places together. They are three months apart in age and both just so sweet. I know they will have a blast.
Sweet girls
4. Here is my nephew, and godson, Joey. He wanted to go to camp, too, and he doesn't have a cousin-buddy like the girls, but he was very excited to go.

Such a great boy
5. Here is Dani when we dropped her stuff off in her cabin. We sprayed her down with bug spray -- Dani has the worst time attracting everything that bites!! And she was excited to bunk with her cousin, Jenna (they are about 9 months apart in age -- same grade and everything, though).

Ready for camp!!
6. We arrived Saturday afternoon and got to hang out with my sister, her family, my brother and his family, too. It was awesome! Here's a picture of all the Poliquin-side cousins who were present.

13 of the 20 out-of-the-womb Poliquin-side cousins
(#21 is due in late August/early Sept)
7. We broke the drive into two days and stopped at a hotel. It was my first time using Hotwire to book a stay and also the first time I had to break down and get two rooms (boys in one, girls in the other :) ) We arrived in time to swim for a little bit before we went to dinner and to bed. The kids had a blast! And we were very happy with the deal we got through Hotwire and with the hotel.

8. Sarah is off to spend time with a couple of her Hughes-side cousins who are her age. I can't believe how grown up she is getting. It's crazy.

9. We hit up the local Crossfit box, too!! It was a blast. We got a good workout in and we "paid" them for the full week -- they require a Men's (XL) and Women's (M) shirt per person for a week "drop-in" fee. After a few days with no lifting, the weight felt heavy, but we squatted, and then did "Grace" (30 Clean & Jerks for time). Talked with the guy for a bit and saw where they run, when they run and got acclimated to their box. Really cool we get to keep up our workouts while we're on vacation!
Craig and me after our WOD
10. We're down to just Dominic and Vincent for the week, so we're headed to an art studio to make some cool stuff this morning. 

Vacation is awesome. Hope you have a fabulous Monday!!

July 8, 2014

Parenting "Village" -- Do You Have One?

I remember when I was little -- like, really little, before-the-divorce little -- and my parents always told me that any adult/authority figure who was in charge of me was like my parent. So, if I was at a friend's house, their parents were my parents while I was there and I was to obey them as if my own parents had asked something of me. And if I was at school, all teachers were my parents-at-school, and I was to obey them and listen to them just as I would my own parents. Shoot, even if we were hanging out at the Y, swimming on a summer afternoon, any adult or lifeguard was like my parent there, too.

I remember thinking how I never could get away from parents.

I also remember that if I got into trouble with a parent who was not really my parent, I actually got in trouble twice. The first punishment could be a timeout or even a little spanking from the adult/authority figure I had misbehaved for. And then, when that parent told my parents about my misbehavior, I got punished again.

I remember that misbehaving wasn't worth all the trouble.

Now I am a parent and I tell my children the same thing. I tell them their teachers are their "parents" at school. I tell them they must behave for their friends' parents and if they don't, those parents have authority to pu them in time out or whatever mode of punishment fits their misbehavior. My kids know not to complain about teachers or other kids' parents to me because I typically will side with the adult in the matter.

But things are different now. When I was a kid, I think most parents held the same view as mine did. Most adults/authority figures didn't hesitate to correct me when I misbehaved and they sure didn't hesitate to tell my parents about my misbehavior. These days, though, I don't feel the same solidarity among parents. As a matter of fact, I believe I know which parents I can expect this from and it's not a large number. I know that I can bring bad behavior to the attention of the parents of a few of the kids we know and they will be grateful that I addressed it and will also address it.

I've been in authoritative volunteer positions and been in the situation where a parent registered displeasure with my reactions and/or disciplinary measures because the child had simply told them that I "didn't like him/her" so the parent was not happy. I've also been in the situation where I have taken corrective action (obviously not knowing whether the parent would be supportive or not) to realize that I cannot expect support from all other parents/adults when their children misbehave. My opinion of what constitutes bad behavior can be vastly different from other parents. Lots of parents say, "That's just the way kids are!"

This blog I read via HuffPo recently really hits home on all five things this nanny cites as reasons why parenting is in a crisis these days. But #3 is one of the most important, I think, and also one of the hardest things to regain, once it is lost:

3. We've lost the village. It used to be that bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other parents had carte blanche to correct an unruly child. They would act as the mum and dad's eyes and ears when their children were out of sight, and everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls. This village was one of support. Now, when someone who is not the child' parent dares to correct him, the mum and dad get upset. they want their child to appear perfect, and so they often don't accept teachers' and others' reports that he is not. They'll storm in and have a go at a teacher rather than discipline their child for acting out in class. They feel the need to project a perfect picture to the world and unfortunately, their insecurity is reinforced because many parents do judge one another. If a child is having a tantrum, all eyes turn on the mum disapprovingly. Instead she should be supported, because chances are the tantrum occurred because she's not giving in to one of her child's demands. Those observers should instead be saying, "Hey, good work - I know setting limits is hard."

I really enjoy my time with my nieces and nephews because my siblings -- having been raised in a similar manner -- will parent my children and allow me to parent theirs. We enforce the same sort of punishments for bad behavior and expect good behavior from all ages of child. Once I understand where parents of my kids' friends stand on this issue (and that's not always easy to determine) it makes it easier to monitor those play dates and friendships because I know whether the friends live to the same expectations as mine or not. 
It's frustrating to see bad behavior that I feel the need to simply shake my head and turn my kids away. I wish I believed that correcting bad behavior would have the intended effect of helping another child grow. But knowing that some parents would simply be angry with me for correcting their child keeps me silent. And if the bad behavior is pervasive enough, I simply urge my children to stay away.
What is your experience? Do you expect other parents and adults in authority to discipline your kids and inform you? Do you feel comfortable disciplining unruly children?

July 2, 2014

Weight Watchers Wednesday (21)

Happy Wednesday! I thought it would be good to do a Weight Watchers Wednesday the day before my first weigh-in as a full-fledged Lifetime member. Tomorrow, I weigh in one month after attaining Lifetime status with Weight Watchers. 

For the record, the rule is that if I weigh even one-tenth over 2 pounds higher than the goal weight I list, I will have to pay for the week and continue to pay until I get back to goal. This means I cannot step on the scale and have it read more than 162.0.

How has the month gone? Well, let me tell you. Sticking to the plan was hard. I ran into the same temptations I had when I was trying to lose weight. And I guess that's kind of how it is. Our lives are what they are and we make choices based on what we hope to achieve. When losing weight, we are conscious of how the choice to eat that extra slice of pizza or those three cookies will feel if it sabotages our weigh-in the following week. 

As a Lifetime member, only the first weigh-in of the month counts. What that means is, the first time I attend a meeting of any given month, I have to weigh and that is the weight that counts for tracking my progress as a Lifetime member. I attended meetings throughout June, but only weighed in on June 5. I think I had the intention to weigh every week, but as the week passed and I wanted to partake in a treat on Tuesday or Wednesday (something I would NEVER do while I was on the weight loss program) I decided, "Well, I don't have to weigh-in every week. So...I won't." 

Not going to lie, but as this week edged closer and closer, I started to get concerned, so I put on my determined hat middle of last week and decided no more treats and make all the workouts between then and tomorrow and make sure I hit the goal. So, this past week has been fabulous. I even had some cake on Sunday for Vincent's birthday, but I was right back on the wagon Monday and Tuesday.

I might step on the scale tomorrow morning at home so I can be sure I'm prepared for whatever the WW scale says. I think I'm going to do fine. But it's been interesting this first month. It's almost as though I need to set a goal on a month-to-month basis of maintaining and hitting goal so that I focus.

By the way, I was out shopping with the girls and saw that some exercise shorts were on sale, so I picked them up to buy and got the size marked L for Large. I didn't think I needed to try them on, so I bought them and took them home. I put them on before working out on Sunday and realized they were too big. The elastic gapped on my waist! That is crazy that I would need the size marked M for Medium in shorts, but -- holy cow, I do!! So I took them back on Monday night. I had gotten a 20% off coupon in my e-mail so I did some extra shopping and thought maybe I would get a couple of exercise tanks to go with the shorts. But I was smart this time...I took both the M and the L to the dressing room to try on. And, what do you know? I need the sized marked M for Medium in shirts, too! That just made me happy so I thought I would share.

Also, I'm still crossfitting and on Sunday, I actually did one of the girl-named WOD's at the Rx weight. I didn't do it fast enough to get my name on the board, but I did do it in pretty good fashion. It was "Grace" and it was 30 Clean & Jerks at 95 pounds for time. I did it in 5:15, about a minute off where I'd need to be to get my name on the board at my the box. So, yay me! :)

Okay, I'm on this string of posts where no one comments, so break that for me, okay? How are you all doing with your plans? I know a few of you are doing weight loss plans of your own. Share with me! How's it going?

And I leave you with this bit of motivation:

Link Here

July 1, 2014

A Little Post about Catholic School

Today, the beautiful Bonnie at A Knotted Life has extended an invitation to blog at her place. I chose to expand on our decision with regard to Catholic high school. It's a tough decision no matter what, and honestly, the decision is kind of made WAY before high school is on the horizon when we discern, through prayer, our family size.

Recently, we decided that our children will attend public high school. We’d been discerning diligently for the past 7-8 months, but the hope of providing Catholic high school education to our children had been on our minds for even longer than that. There were many things we considered as we discerned. I’ve been able to compartmentalize them into three main categories: the expense; the extra-curricular opportunities (sports, clubs, etc); and the environment (Catholic and otherwise). Our comfort levels with different aspects of all of those were based on our experiences. Craig attended Catholic school all the way through high school. I attended Catholic school from grades 1 through 8. After that, I attended public high school.
For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on the financial expense of providing a Catholic high school education. Read the rest at A Knotted Life.

June 30, 2014

Dear Vincent (Part 3)

Dear Vincent,
Do you realize you are the only kid that (now) has three posts (on this blog) all addressed to YOU? I wrote to you twice when you were still in my womb

Just 12 hours old...
I have always been particularly fond of communicating with you through this blog. Perhaps when you are older, you'll read some of it. I don't know what you'll think, but I hope you'll be able to see just how much I have always loved you and your siblings.

You found your favorite hiding/mischief spot early!
Always had a knack of finding those
spots you just fit into...
Today is your birthday! You are three years old. It feels incredible to say that. You are my youngest child on this earth and you are now a little boy and not really a baby anymore. You don't need diapers and you talk more and more every day. You have a fantastic personality -- you're funny, active, persistent, sweet and loving, too.

Can't keep you indoors to save our lives
You still have me wrapped around your little finger. You've always given me a look that makes me feel like I'm the only woman you'll ever love (and I LOVE it...) and I'm happy to say that your little hiatus or preferring Daddy to me is over, at least for now. 

When I drop you off in the morning, you want to give me hugs and kisses. If I leave the house, you run after me saying, "Kiss! Kiss! I need Kiss!!!" At night, you've begun to sing the songs with me as I sing to you before you fall asleep. I love that. You're the only child of mine that has done that. By now, the other children have grown tired of bedtime songs, but not you. You insist and you belt out the tunes as if you'd written the songs yourself!

You MUST be outside as much as possible -- if nothing
organized is going on, you "tinker."

This past Easter Sunday
You love to play outside much more than I remember the other kids. You actually ask if you can go outside, and while you're out there, you will play and do anything. You love to kick the ball around, or throw it. You will play with bigger toys if they are around. But even if there are no toys, your imagination knows no bounds! 

Getting so big!
You're more of a daredevil than your older brother. You will jump off just about anything and you love to climb, climb climb! I don't think there is anything you can't do. You threw a ball a pretty good distance when you were only 9 months old and you love to swim! You will kick your legs and try to move your arms -- almost as though you are a natural in the pool.
You love the bigger little kid toys...

One of the most fun things about you is how you laugh and make jokes so openly about things the rest of us would rather not mention. You were thrilled to get your turn with the Whoopie Cushion the girls brought home from your grandparents' house.

And...the Whoopie Cushion!!!
But one of the most heart-warming things I've had the pleasure to hear has been you wishing you could be with your brother or your sisters. Sometimes, you'd rather stay home from daycare when you know your brother will be home so that you can play with him. Sometimes, you ask me to bring along your sisters on a quick errand because you want to have them with you in the car. Sometimes, it's just the fact that all four of the older ones will create a game completely centered on you and the five of you will play together for a little while. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing all five of you working or playing together in harmony.

You're just so gosh-darned sweet
So, today, as you turn three, I look back over these past three years and I see this beautiful boy who is growing into his own little person and finding his place in this world. And right now, that is just figuring out how you fit into this family as the youngest of five.

And you're doing a fabulous job. I love you so much, Vincent. Happy Birthday!

A moment I'm so pleased to remember with this photo

June 27, 2014

7 Quick Takes re: Birthday, Vacations, Running Injury & Recreation - 83

It is my second-to-last Friday to work before my vacation! I love it! I'm excited to have a long summer vacation for the first time ever. I know my family is excited, too.

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting the 7QT.

--- 1 ---
I have been ready for my vacation from work for a long time. It's been since last spring since I have had a full calendar week off from work. But it's been on my list to get my vacation time in the summer for a long time. My kids get frustrated when I have to work all summer since they are off from school. At my company, paid time off is selected in order of seniority in most areas, and I was new kid on the block for many of my years here. My current leadership team simply works among ourselves for time off and we don't seem to pay much attention to seniority -- just whether we can cover whomever is out. I like it.

--- 2 ---
We are looking forward to seeing family and friends. Craig and I and the boys will get to hang out with my sister and her husband and my brother and his wife and all the kids who will still be home (not going to camp). I need to inquire about whether a meet-up is possible with an old high school friend of mine that lives in the Charlotte area, too. I know he and my husband met MAYBE when Sarah was 1? I saw him a few years back, but it's been awhile.

Dani and Helen are going to the Children of Mary Religion Camp -- they can't wait! They will attend with three of their cousins, so yay for uninterrupted cousin time!! Sarah will get to go on a little adventure of her own, to visit cousins, one of whom is 6 weeks her junior (she likes to make sure everyone knows who is older...) and the other who is a couple years older. It's her birthday/some-of-Christmas present. I think she's excited.

Dominic tried to tell me he'd rather we stayed here so he could play with his buddy, Jack. I told him he can play with Jack any time while we're here, but he'll have fun with all the boy cousins he never gets to see. I bet he'll be crying to stay when it's time to come home.
Cousin time is an awesome thing.

--- 3 ---
Blogging was light this week because it was such a busy week! Every day, I've worked, then gone straight to Crossfit and then gone straight to a swim meet of some sort. On Monday through Wednesday, it was the Corporate Challenge swim meet where I competed. On Thursday, I took a rest day,  but had to go directly to Dani's swim meet. I have hardly seen my family this week!

So today, I got up early and went to Crossfit before work. And that means I can get off work and go straight home and hang out with my kids! I told Sarah we'd "pepper" a bit with the volleyball, I'll be outside playing with the boys, and of course, cuddle with my Helen. Dani's getting a special day with her dad today at the swim team's Oceans of Fun outing, but I'll be happy to see her tonight, too.

--- 4 ---
I got a text from Sarah today with a picture of the birthday wish list she helped Vincent make. Yes, we have another birthday...Monday! Vincent will be 3!! and here is his wish list:

A 3-yr-old's wish list
I really was leaning toward getting him a big cardboard box with bubble wrap and packing peanuts in it...

Seriously, though, the kid has everything. He has tons of clothes. Our house is full of every kind of children's book, puzzle, age-appropriate game. It's difficult to be original with this kid. Besides, he truly doesn't need that much to be content. He loves to play outside. I do think if we just let him have a day at the park and never said, "Time to leave" or "Time for a nap" or "it's time to take a bath and go to bed" he'd be in his 3-year-old version of Heaven.

Oh hey -- check it out, he wants a Kit Kat and M&M's. Maybe I can get by with that. :) If I were all pinterest-y, I could make this cake...
Photo Found Here

--- 5 ---
The younger four, along with Craig and me, got some pool time in last Saturday. Helen's been doing fabulous with her swimming. Just a year ago, that child wouldn't stop clinging to me in a pool and last Saturday, she and Dani were off playing together and I saw her swimming, going under and everything. That makes my heart happy because I really want all of my kids to enjoy swimming.

Both of my boys kept putting themselves in position for these fountains
to shoot up their backsides. Many laughs.

There's our Dani-girl!

Sweet Helen

--- 6 ---

One thing I haven't mentioned here yet is that I'm suffering through some kind of hurt/injury in my high hamstring area and running has been sparse. The Tuesday before I ran the Hospital Hill 10K, the Crossfit workout included a set of 5 x 200m sprints. The first three went fine, but about 1/4 through the fourth sprint, I felt something pull in my left hip/glute area. I was about 4 seconds slower on that one and then my 5th one was almost 10 seconds slower, my leg was hurting. I rested it the rest of the week, then when I ran my 10K, it hurt pretty much throughout. I probably would have gone a little bit faster, as a matter of fact, had I not been hurting there.

I have continued to crossfit and do not have any problems squatting, jumping, rowing, using the Airdyne or anything like that. When running (if I did what was called for in the WODs) kept hurting I took a week off and simply rowed while everyone else ran. This past Sunday, I decided to try running and while the pain wasn't as sharp, it was still there. Then on Monday, I was in pain while sitting again. (Yes, whatever I did happened up under my buttock area, so it actually throbs while I am sitting.)

An online nurse friend sent me this article which talks about something called High Hamstring Tendinopathy. It seems like it could be a tendinitis of some sort up where the high hamstring attaches. Of course, I don't have an official diagnosis. Most likely, the only way to get better is to lay off the running, which I am not happy about, but since I can do all the other stuff at crossfit, shouldn't hurt my ability to stay in shape. Hamstrings are one of those things that take forever to fully heal. And, I know that "running shape" is its own bag anyway, so at some point I will have to work it back in, but for now, I'm done running for a period of time. I think I'll give it a month and then see what happens. In the meantime, I think I'll visit my first chiropractor on Wednesday and see what that's all about. Not sure it will help with this issue, but I have a neck-popping issue (unintentional -- but it happens when I least expect it and I do NOT like it!) that I would like to see if it can be addressed.

--- 7 ---

We're having Vincent's family bday party on Sunday so that Grandma and my sister and her family can make it. Craig's in-town sister will actually be out-of-town, so it will just be us, but that's fine with me. I'm sure Vincent will be happy regardless. We are heading into this new place in parenting where all the kids are getting bigger and there's no newborn hanging around. It has made me aware of things that I haven't been aware of before with my kids. It's good, but it's so very different. I find that I like being a mother of bigger kids. A lot. I love babies, I really do, but I am finding that I enjoy my bigger children a lot more than I thought I would.

Well, there might be a blog post hiding in that last thought. :)

PS: I am 2 "Likes" on the Endless Blog Facebook page away from my giveaway. Share and Like it up, my friends! :)

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Please go visit Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!