Endless Strength Header

 photo blogheader-2.jpg

July 24, 2015

16 Reasons I Have Been Married 16 Years

Happy "Sweet 16" to my marriage today! After my workout this morning and while I was getting ready for the day, I thought that there was nothing that could really top my husband's "Happy Anniversary" post tagging me on Facebook. 

Yeah, this is how we do :)

So I am not trying to top anything, but I decided to think of 16 reasons we have made it this far.

16 Reasons I have been married 16 years:

1. Complementarity. Honestly, I married the perfect, complementary personality for mine. I'm as Type A as a person can get, I'm intense and I like to make the rules (and enforce them). Craig is laid-back and he is relaxed and he is a rule follower. :)

2. Teamwork. We work together. Working two full-time jobs, raising 5 children, keeping a household running...can't be done effectively without teamwork.

3. Communication. it's not always face-to-face, because we have worked opposing schedules for most of our marriage, but e-mail, texts, phone calls...we talk to each other.

4. Goals. We set them. Many times we surpass them. Often, I think of the time I found my slip of paper that had goals Craig and I wrote down when i was pregnant with our first child. I wrote down that we planned for three children, I would complete my MBA and be making a certain income. By the time I found that sheet, our fourth child was on the way, I had completed my MBA 6 years before that and I was making about what that goal had stated. It was kind of crazy.

5. Re-evaluate our goals and our situation regularly. Goals are awesome because they can be reached and surpassed, or they can be re-assessed and modified. We do both.

6. It's our life and we'll live as we want to (sort of). We live our lives and don't worry about what others have to say about it. If we would have listened to well-meaning family members, we would not have 5 children (many thought that when #4 came along, that was just too much). And we make job changes and school decisions and all of that stuff together as a team of two. sometimes a team of 7 if the kids' opinions are relevant. But mostly a team of 2.

7. Place each other first. We don't get many date nights or trips together without the kids these days, but we both know that the other's consideration gets first nod as we put schedules together, make vacation plans (even with the kids) or make any other decisions affecting the family.

8. Commonality. Enjoy those things we have in common. We both love the Royals, Chiefs and Jayhawks. It's a priority to share the games together. We love sharing that with our children, too.

9. Laugh. A lot. My husband is naturally funny with great timing. He makes me laugh more than he makes me cry. It matters.

10. Hugs. I'm more of a  hugger than a kisser. My children appreciate that, by the way -- at least where their father and I are concerned. But we give lots of hugs around this house.

11. Respect. There is always the undertone of respect when we communicate, even in disagreement. We also use manners like "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome" and are careful in our speech. Even (and especially) when no one is there to witness it. I love that.

12. Trust. We always trust that the other is looking out for our well-being and that of the children.

13. Attend Mass often. Of course, we go to Mass together (usually) on the weekends. But we also find other times to attend Mass, if we can make it work with our schedules. Because we are not together very often for other prayer times, this seems like a critical piece of our prayer life together as a married couple.

14. Partake of the Sacraments together, when applicable. When I have taken care to go to confession more frequently, I have noticed I am more focused and at peace in my vocation as a wife and mother. When Craig and I both attend confession, I notice a tenderness and understanding that runs through our communication to each other for some time after that. There's something about acknowledging our human limitations in confession that keeps us grounded.

15. Say, "I'm sorry" when we have wronged each other. Apologizing -- a TRUE apology (not one of those, "I'm sorry IF I offended you..." -- shows the acknowledgement that one of us has been a jerk and a validation of the person who was hurt. It seems our society these days is so hung up on this idea that we don't do anything wrong to another person and many seem to justify every behavior. Sometimes it's good to just take a deep breath, see the hurt you have caused and look at your spouse and say, "I'm sorry for hurting you."

16. Forgive each other. Knowing that Craig forgives my faults and loves me through it all makes all the difference in my life. Extending that same courtesy to him frees me from whatever ill will I may have taken toward him and helps us move forward.


In general, Craig has supported me in everything. He has been there rooting me on in all of my crazy physical endeavors (marathon, Crossfit, Triathlon -- whatever the next thing I want to try), the different jobs I have attempted, and trips to see family. But I would say the #1 way he has blessed me and our family and our marriage has been his support of learning and living our Catholic faith and raising our children in it. He and I share a common goal of joining God in Heaven someday -- and we recognize each other's part in staying on track together and with our children. 

So, happy anniversary Craig. 16 years. Mostly good times and a few sorrowful times and we've faced it all together. I love you.



July 5, 2015

Alright-y Then

It's been awhile, right? Well, hello. :)

It's been four months since you've heard from me. There's a lot to catch up on!

Most recently, Vincent turned 4 years old. Check it -- my youngest child on Earth is Four. Years. Old. I won't lie, it's a bit surreal. I love it. I'm happy. And it's bittersweet, too, because I do miss having a baby around. Just a little bit. (a real...little bit.) He has only one more month of daycare and then he'll be attending Pre-K at the same school as the other three who are still in grade/middle school. That's just crazy-talk!!


A cool 4-year-old
We just took a short road trip to visit some friends in Algona, IA. It was so great to see them. One of the daughters was in Dani's class and they have kept in touch via e-mail. One of the daughters was in Helen's class and they have kept in touch via snail mail. Just a really great family.


This is really high up over a walkway into the Grotto
While visiting, we went to the Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, IA. If you are ever traveling through Iowa, I recommend stopping there. My pictures and my descriptions will never do it justice. It's the largest man-made grotto in the world and the story of how it came to be is incredible. Father Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954) started construction of the Grotto in 1912. He worked on it for 42 years. The reason he started it was that he fell ill with pneumonia back when they didn't have penicillin to treat that and most people usually died once they had pneumonia. He prayed for our Blessed Mother's intercession and promised her that if he came through pneumonia, he would build something in her honor. So, the Grotto of Redemption is what he began. At the time of his death in 1954, his Grotto covered one city block. It was built completely by hand, and his attention to detail -- like I said -- I cannot do it justice so I will just post some of the pictures. But...go see it if you're in Iowa.



From the parking lot (so from afar)
In June, Sarah took her first high school classes. (Gasp! say, what?!?) She took a 1/2 credit of her P.E. requirement by attending school from 7:15-1:15 Monday-Thursday for four weeks. She also is completing her health requirement by taking it online and it ends July 10. She's doing really well and she said that she is glad I coaxed her into taking Health online because she was "so glad she didn't have to discuss some of this stuff in a classroom."

Oh! so before the summer high school, Sarah graduated from 8th grade! On her last day, I was in Florida on a trip for work and I was going back and forth between tears and no tears over this milestone. At the graduation Mass, Father said a little something about each of the kids and I was not surprised to hear what he said about Sarah. Well, I take that back...I'm not surprised by the words, but I think it's always nice when someone else recognizes something in your child that you have witnessed first hand yourself.
On her last day of school
Sarah allowed a picture with me at the Graduation Mass


Photo was actually taken at a wedding in June,
but this was the dress Sarah wore for Graduation Mass.
We hadn't gotten a photo of her with her Dad at the Graduation Mass.
Dominic also finished Kindergarten, so that's a thing. :) He was so cute on the last day getting pictures with his friends. He and I are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He loves to listen to me read it to him. One time I saw him with his eyes closed and asked if he had fallen asleep. But he said, "No mommy, I close my eyes because I am watching the story while you read it to me." How cool is that?

Helen finished the school year with flying colors. Her reading improved and so did her math. I think she got a good handle on how to do 3rd grade, which helped. And her godmother coming twice a week made a huge difference for her throughout the school year. We've continued with once a week reading sessions that even Dominic has participated in. She also attend Camp WIN which is a girls camp that introduces girls to as many as 14 new/different sports. She got the "Determination" award because she kept trying to ride the bike, didn't get flustered, and was determined, even though she never quite got it.

Dani did Girls on the Run and I ran the 5K with her. It was a lot of fun. She is moving on to Middle School next year and seems excited by the challenge. She did well in 5th grade and completed the D.A.R.E. program. She kept swimming, too, and is now doing the summer neighborhood swim team and loves it.


Here we are the morning of the Girls on the Run 5K
Dani with her Finisher's Medal
Craig is still enjoying his job at Ford. He's been trained on a couple of different jobs and really likes the team he was assigned to. He and I are still crossfitting. He also ran a 10K in June and got a PR. I nursed a strained achilles tendon for a couple of months, but I think it's all better now!

Oh and we attended the entire Easter Triduum this year! I was able to take all the kids to Holy Thursday Mass (Craig had to work). Then the entire family went to Good Friday service. And THEN!! we all went to Easter Vigil, too. I was excited because that is the kind of thing I have been looking forward to doing as a family as the kids got older and with Craig's new job. :)


My children before we went into Church for the Easter Vigil

I think that should be it for the updates! I'm sure it's not everything, but I could never get it all in I don't think. Crazy what happens in 4 months.

I'm not sure what I'm going to focus on with this blog going forward. I think when we lost Gregory and I wrote so much about that on this blog, I lost track of any other thing to focus on. Then I did the weight watchers stuff and found I really enjoyed writing about health and fitness, but once I hit my goal weight, I wasn't sure what to do about that. (And truth time -- I've put some weight on that I'm trying to take off again, so...there's that.)

So, if you're reading and want to continue -- hello again and I'm so glad you're here!

March 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes - 95



Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum!


--- 1 ---
The Crossfit Games Open started last week. I signed up again this year just to see if I can do more of the workouts than I did last year. As far as 15.1/15.1a is concerned...yes, I can do more! Last year at this time, I was not able to do toes-to-bar. Well, i got my first one during the Open last year, but was so shocked my toes actually touched the bar one time! And I was unable to repeat the feat for a few more months. The WOD last week had toes-to-bar in it and I am happy to report I did a total of 45 of them throughout the WOD, so that made me happy.

 
--- 2 ---
For the past few months I had been trying to grow out my hair. I'm keeping the color because I really like it, but I thought I wanted to see about growing my hair long again. Well, that ended last night. I guess I have just hit a point in my life where the long hair is not worth the hassle. When my hair is short, it only takes about 8 minutes to do it in the morning and that is a HUGE plus. Besides, I think the long hair look makes me look older and that makes me feel older. Blah. So, I got it cut back again last night and I am very happy about it!


Profile, sort of...
 
--- 3 ---
Sarah has another volleyball tournament tomorrow. There are three tournaments in March and then her club season will be over. I absolutely LOVE watching her play.

I read an interesting article this week that made me cringe and wonder about this club volleyball thing. But in the end, I am happy we put Sarah in club ball this year. Yes, the tournament days are LONG. But it's been fun to watch the girls come together and play well. They've gotten medals at a couple of the tournaments (1st place and 2nd place) and been in third place a couple of times, too. Besides that, Sarah's gotten a lot of playing time and improved a ton over the past few months.

She has also made some new friends and I think this will give her confidence as she moves on to high school at a place where she will need to make new friends again. Of all the things I have "come around" to recognize about my young teen this year, the biggest is how concerned she is about having people to relate to within her school, team or social setting. This is not so different from adults, I know, but I don't remember placing such a huge priority on such a thing. As hard as it has been, at times, to watch her navigate middle school socially, I'm pleased with how she has come out of it. I'm excited to see how she continues to grow as she starts high school. I'm glad that we've been able to provide opportunities for her to spread her wings a little bit before then and see that she's a girl who is worthy of good friends and that she knows how to find them and make those connections.
 
--- 4 ---
So...my Jayhawks. 11 straight conference titles. Amazing. They already had a share of it before Tuesday night's game. And I must say, I was NOT very happy with those boys, the way they played the first half. I really figured with our best player out with injury and the way they had played the first half that it would be the first senior night loss in over 30 years. But, they surprised me and I am so glad! They showed a lot of heart and kept fighting and tied the game with 4 seconds in regulation, then went on to win in overtime.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

BTW -- Bill Self is a hella-good.
 
--- 5 ---
Dani started Girls on the Run this week and she loves it! This program is empowering for girls and helps them discern healthy choices and learn about the incredible things their bodies are capable of. On the way to (or from) swim practice, Dani even said to me (in a triumphant tone even) "Now I have TWO girl programs -- Challenge and Girls on the Run. Oh yeah!" She is so cute.

She'll be running a 5K in May and I cannot wait to run it with her. I think Craig and I are both going to run it with her.

--- 6 ---
I am amazed at how quickly I see changes in my fitness and how I feel when I take myself to strict Paleo. I started that Monday morning and I notice today (morning of the 5th day) how much quicker I feel and the bloating is gone. Why, oh why, do I insist on falling off the wagon...ever?

I am just taking it a week at a time for now. We have no birthdays coming up for a few months, so the temptation to have some cake won't be there. With summer coming, I am motivated to get my fitness level higher as I prepare to train for the triathlon again as well as try to achieve some of my goals with Crossfit. So when you see me reaching for an Oreo or a slice of pizza, slap my hand, mkay?
 
--- 7 ---
I'm hitting one of those lulls (again...some more...still) where I don't post much on this blog. I'm not sure why I don't feel like posting all that much anymore. One reason I don't post as often is that I am so terribly busy that I don't have a lot of time to sit down and write something. But even if I do have time, I think the topic is not worth it or something like that. I have toyed with the idea of just sitting down and writing a memoir-type book. I don't know...my life isn't all that interesting. Then sometimes I think some of my experiences growing up could make for a good little fictional novel or something, but then...I get back to that time thing. So...who knows? I'd like to make my blog look nicer, but I don't know how. I guess it's just my space and it will be what it will be.



BONUS: These kids...at dinner one night last week. I love them all so. :)

Craig had JUST said, "Dominic, put your tongue inside your mouth!" haha

Be sure to go visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum to read other great 7 Quick Takes posts!

 

 

February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes - 94 (Update Edition)



It's Friday! That means it is one of my favorite days of the week. Many thanks to Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum for hosting the linkup!

I thought today might be a good day for one of my 7QT update posts. Life is busy, as usual.

--- 1 ---
Crossfit, Work, Taxi. That is my life during the week. I have been enjoying the WODs lately as they have been challenging (they always are, but I've noticed lately being pushed more than I thought in November-December timeframe). I'm trying to get my regular food routine back in order after the holidays. I weighed at a January WW meeting and was up over my goal weight (and had to pay. boo.) I am working on getting back down, but it's been a struggle. I went back to Paleo the last couple of weeks and see a huge improvement. I'm actually not too nervous to visit the doctor next week for an annual checkup. Speaking of the doctor, I called to see if we could do bloodwork ahead of time so we could discuss at the appointment. (We can, yay!) I was surprised that he didn't want to check cholesterol, but the nurse said, "Well, your results were so good last year that he doesn't think he needs to check this year." Well, alrighty then. :)

Time flies all the time and I'm facing our 2nd anniversary of Gregory's passing. I'm doing okay with it and I have decided to take next Friday off work just to have a day for myself and do nothing, if that's how I'm feeling.

I did buy a road bike the other day! See, I signed up to do the WIN for KC triathlon again this year in July. So, I bought a bike from a guy about 20 miles from where I live.

Helen held it for me (apparently, this bike is too cool for a kickstand)
   
Decent price (apparently, brand new this bike would go for $1000. I did NOT pay anything close to that thank goodness!) and I can't wait to try it out. Though I do need to buy an airpump so I can keep the tires inflated to the right pressure. I have a lot to learn about cycling!!
--- 2 ---
Craig seems to be enjoying his new job still. He has had every weekend off since going back after the holidays and that has been pleasant. They may start having him work some Saturdays in the coming months. We've settled into the routine a bit more which is a relief. He gets his WOD in as well as getting some sleep before heading out to pick up the kids from school and get himself to work. We are enjoying KU basketball and he really likes to watch soccer. My employer provided an opportunity for us to buy discounted tickets to Sporting KC Soccer games, so I bought 4 tickets to the April 11 soccer match. Craig is excited, I think, to get to go to a match this year.
 
--- 3 ---
We are barreling toward 8th grade graduation for Sarah. I took her shopping for her dress last weekend and we found one. The requirements for hem-length and straps/no straps, etc. plus the styles available to juniors these days made it quite a trip. But, thankfully we found a beautiful dress that won't make my 14-year-old look like she's 20 and ready to paint the town.

We will enroll her for high school on Wednesday next week. High School! Whoa. She's growing up so fast. I love it and hate it at the same time. She has been hitting the books hard to get good grades. She's also been working hard with her volleyball team. They won their tournament three weeks ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. It was so much fun. The following weekend, they made it to the championship match and lost a heartbreaker in 3 sets. At first she seemed so down about the 2nd place finish, but after we talked, I think she felt better. I tried to help her see that she could potentially make it to many championship games over the next 4+ years and she most likely won't win all of them.
 
--- 4 ---
Dani is having a good time swimming. She improved her times from the summer in the 50 free and 50 back. I know if she can just get those flip turns going, she will do even better. I am thinking about putting her in a local Girls on the Run program that is starting March 2. She said she wants to do it when I read to her about the program last night. I am just waiting to see if Craig thinks we can transport her (he could drop her off and I could pick her up) to the practices.

She possesses such strong awareness of her abilities and of her likes and dislikes. Dani is secure in who she is, even now at age 11. I love that.
 
--- 5 ---
Basketball is over for Helen. She committed to dedicating herself to swimming to get to a point that she could do summer swim team with Dani this year, so I need to get cracking and get her in the lessons at the Y.

Remember this post when I mentioned school struggles for Helen? Well, I'm happy to report that her godmother has been facilitating homework, reading and review time twice a week and Helen has taken off! We have a slip here and there with a poor performance on a test, but it's among many excellent successes and those slips are getting fewer and farther between. She actually seems to be enjoying school more now -- not sure if it's just that she's having success or if she really does enjoy being at school, but I don't really care. :)

--- 6 ---
Dominic continues to light up my world. He is such a cute kid. He plays with Vincent so well. On Wednesday, when we spent about 35-40 minutes in the car doing driving around for Dani and Sarah's practices, Helen sat in the very back of the van and I heard Dominic and Helen discussing Skylanders (video game) and how to progress through the "chapters" and such. Helen and Dominic actually discuss more than video games, too, which I think is cool.

Dominic said that he wanted to play soccer, but I told him this year, we just couldn't take on one more kid with an activity and that we can do something next year. He seems to have made friends easily in Kindergarten and enjoys school quite a bit. He gets a bit dirtier than I would like, but I suppose that is normal.
 
--- 7 ---
Vincent. Yes, so how is that strong-willed child o' mine? Well, he's cute and ornery. He throws fits when things do not go exactly as he wants. He can usually get his sisters to do just about anything for him.

 

He wants to be the center of attention at all times. The other night, while Helen and Dominic were having their discussion in the back of the van, Vincent kept crying to me, "Mommy, they aren't talking to me! I want them to talk to me!" And then he kept yelling back to them, "You guys! You guys! I want to talk!!" When they actually stopped to listen to him, all of a sudden, he didn't have anything to say! But he had already succeeded in getting their attention, so I guess that was good enough for him.

BONUS Take: You know, for a Catholic lady with a blog, I didn't do a very good job of proclaiming that it is now Lent. We all made it to Mass on Wednesday. I'm limiting my foods to plain-jane (no sweets) and I'm upping my prayer time for Lent. Two years ago, I think Lent just drained me of all meaningful ideas because no matter what I give up, nothing feels sacrificial enough after what I went through then. I am praying for all to have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Be sure to go visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum to read other great 7 Quick Takes posts!

February 16, 2015

Thoughts from a Mom with a Young Basketball Girl (A Mumbles Post - 79)

Good Monday Morning! How is your President's Day? Mine is FABULOUS now that I know the snow we received last night and early this morning was not enough to compel school closing. So I have a day off work and I am free to do what I will for the next few hours. I scheduled a couple of appointments I needed to get done today and I might slip in for a pedi/mani if I have some time.

I have some lingering thoughts I wanted to write about basketball. Girls basketball in particular, since that is my experience so far. Yesterday was the end of Helen's basketball season. She plays in a development league for our Catholic schools and it ends in a tournament each year.

1. I love helping to coach her team. A dad is the main coach for the girls and he's terrific. I mostly just nod my head and reinforce with support. The girls are so much fun. They are all sweet. My experience coaching girls is that sometimes someone needs to step in and discipline a little or keep the girls focused on the task at hand. I have had to do this only a few times in the course of two seasons. These girls really want to learn how to play basketball. AND...they have a ton of fun together. I never have to get on any of them for picking on each other. They laugh. A lot. I love that.

2. Sitting on the bench helps me keep calm and cool perspective. From what I understand, hearing opposing teams' parents up in the crowd would most likely cause my blood to boil. So, I am spared all that by coaching. Sad, though, that parents are actually the worst culprits of poor sportsmanship.

3. Speaking of sportsmanship...parents -- your kids are watching you. They hear what you say and they see what you do. If you are poor sports, your kids will be, too. 

4. Evidence of #3: yesterday, Helen's team lost in the tournament championship game by a buzzer beater put-back from the other team. Heartbreaking. She came back to me with tears. I told her to take a deep breath -- it was time to congratulate the other team on a job well done. As they went through the line, the first couple of girls from the other team leaned into her face and chanted, "We won! We won!" in that nasty little girl way some girls do. When Helen told me this, what could I say? Teaching moment right there -- we discussed that we still congratulate the winners on a game well-played and try to win next time. And should we win, remember how it felt to be on the receiving end of poor sportsmanship and do the right thing.

5. Oh. And one of the girls on the other team kept jabbing, pushing and pinching my daughter and when Helen asked her to stop, she said, "This is basketball!" 

As you know, the instigator in these situations, often goes unnoticed and when someone retaliates, they are often seen by the referee and called for a foul. Several times this year, my daughter and other girls on the team have gotten so frustrated with the physical play that they have pushed back. We talk with them about no pushing, but it's so hard for 8- and 9-year-old girls to understand how to play a physical game without getting frustrated. And honestly...jabbing and pinching is really out of line. The referees weren't seeing it because my daughter didn't have the ball when it was going on. So...what a pain in the butt to help my daughter figure out how to stand up for herself and not take any crap from these other girls...yet, when she does push back, she is the one "caught" and called for a foul. Oh...and thanks to that girl -- she thinks that THIS is basketball.

6. And honestly, I guess it IS basketball, right? I have been around girls' basketball all my life. I played it from 7th grade through high school. I watch the women's college game and WNBA on tv and I see that it is a much more physical game than the mens' game. So basically, the bullies in the game are the winners. Great.

7. I had a friend mention that maybe she'd have her kid play a city rec league as opposed to our Catholic school league because the examples of poor sportsmanship were so disappointing. My daughter loves her friends and loves playing for her school so I don't think that's an option for her, but I understand the consideration.

8. Are we Catholics really so bad at sportsmanship? Or...are we just like everyone else, but it's so disappointing because we should be holding ourselves and each other up to a higher standard? It is this question that I grapple with any time I am disappointed with Catholic school, church, etc. I think there is definitely a large part of it that causes disappointment simply because as Christians, we should be treating each other better.

9. I'm happy the Helen loves basketball. Maybe I will try to get her some private coaching or a camp or two this summer so she grows in her skills a little faster this year. Of course, if she'd grow a few inches...that would probably help her the most, haha.

10. Basketball is a great game. I prefer to watch when one of my kids is not on the floor because the emotional investment is so great. I had a blast playing it. Watching my kids go through this stage has made me wonder if I was one of the bullies. Of course, I didn't start playing until 7th grade, my coordination was pretty well-developed by then so maybe it didn't have to be as physical. I don't know.

Any experiences out there to share? Does it get any better as the girls get older? I remember in high school that our coach said, "If you're getting pushed around...push back and do it hard...you get one foul to make sure they know you aren't going to let them push you around." I don't even recall it being that much of a problem. 

But I am 41 years old now, I might not have the best recollection. Do boys' teams even have to discuss this sort of thing? I wonder if my experience is unique to the league we play in or if I went around town to all sorts of girls' basketball tournaments if I would see the same stuff.

Is it really better, though?




February 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes - 93 (A Rerun)



I went to visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum and get the low-down on how Quick Takes works these days. Because...as you know (undoubtedly) it has been a LONG time since I have participated. And I see that I have stumbled upon a week when Kelly has asked us to link up to our most amazing 7QT ever (paraphrasing...not sure those were her exact words).

I only have 92 7QT posts to choose from. That shouldn't be hard, right? I decided to pick the one where I let my guard down a little bit and got a larger number (than usual) of comments.

Without further ado, here's my 7QT Re-run. :) Thank you, Kelly, for hosting!!

This 7 Quick Takes post originally ran in September 2013. Enjoy!

*******

Wow, it's been a few weeks since I participated in the 7QT linkup! I guess I haven't been feeling it on Fridays. 
Photo Credit
--- 1 ---

I've had a lot on my mind that I haven't been able to get into words lately. Suffice to say that if you remember this 7QT post where I asked for your prayers for discernment, I want to thank you for them. It's been an interesting couple of months as my emotions have run the gamut of joy and satisfaction at the completeness of our family all the way to sadness and loss at the idea of never being pregnant again. NFP is such a blessing to our marriage that gives us the ability to discern and feel a little bit in control of what happens in that regard. I have decided to have the procedure that would mean we should avoid pregnancy until I hit menopause. I will still be ABLE to get pregnant, it's just not prudent as I would have to have the procedure reversed sometime before late pregnancy and of course, it would have to be redone at some point after the baby was born. That's not a prudent use of resources, and the issue I need addressed -- well, it needs to be taken care of. And we thank God for NFP as an alternative to complete abstinence as we head into this period of life!
 
--- 2 ---

I don't really want to be cryptic or anything about the procedure I mentioned. It's just a little TMI for a Friday blog link-up! But exploring the idea that perhaps God is leading us to a new stage of life has been ... hm ... grueling? I mean, the prayer, the thoughts, the emotions...Discernment is definitely not for the weak!!

 
--- 3 ---

I have really learned over the past couple months -- when I've let myself really pray and think on it -- how much my older children need me. We often think about how much the little ones need their moms and dads -- for their very survival! But the older children need us so that we can help them learn to be grown ups. 
For example, I've been helping Sarah learn to navigate the rocky waters of pre-teen/teen girl relationships but also how to approach adults in a mature way so she's taken seriously. But that has required a good bit of my time and attention -- and if I had a newborn right now, she would probably be missing a lot of what she needs from me, because let's face it: I can only do so much at a time. 
 
So, Sarah's needs were something we considered a bit more through our discernment process this time than when we have discerned adding to our family in the past. I don't want her emotional and spiritual needs to go unmet because we decided to have another baby.
 
--- 4 ---

Then, I consider Dani and Helen. Dani just turned 10, but she loves being a little kid with a big imagination! However, I can see her body may end up forcing her into the realm of pubescent preteen much sooner than she would like. And she's so excited to learn all the things she's learning at school, and read all the books (she's currently finishing a Percy Jackson series and asking for another one). 

Helen has always needed a lot of my attention -- heck, she gets the bulk of it. And so I've needed to spend time in the evenings reading with her or sometimes just holding her in a hug on the couch for a little bit. Or brushing her hair. 

Dani's and Helen's needs are growing, and when we add that to the more complicated and time-consuming needs Sarah presents -- the older kids need more of us than I ever realized before we reached this point.
 
--- 5 ---

This week, on Tuesday, was the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. I loved Rebecca's comment on this post, btw. At school, during the morning announcements, they have the "Saint of the Day" and so St. Gregory was the Saint of the Day on Tuesday. I found out from Dominic's Pre-K teacher that Dominic's little eyes got big when he heard over the speaker that the Saint of the Day was Saint Gregory. And she said he listened intently through the whole bit about Pope St. Gregory the Great and a smile spread across his face while he listened. When it was over, he just went about his business, but it was very clear to her (watching him) that he really got something out of that.

Dominic is such a tender, sweet, sensitive, intuitive and strong boy. I am amazed regularly at him. Yes, he's smart, too. But he just loves. He loves everyone. And he loves with the most pure, unadulterated joy. It was hardest to get past him as we went through this discernment because he has this huge capacity to love and right now that manifests in his ability to be such a great brother. But I realize that we can foster the growth of this quality in him so that he can spread it far beyond our family. He will often come to me and say, "I miss my brother, Gregory" and give me a hug. I find myself grateful that he was old enough to remember Gregory in my tummy and everything we went through saying goodbye to Gregory because Dominic has a beautiful way of loving us all through our pain.

--- 6 ---

Then there's Vincent. He's such a sweet and rambunctious boy! He requires so much of our attention and it has only been through this discernment that I have realized how he may have struggled had Gregory joined us here on Earth. He's grown up A LOT in the last couple of months, with going to bed on his own, talking up a storm and showing us all he is capable of physically. But...he still requires our constant vigilance as he's prone to getting into things -- especially things that might be dangerous -- and so he tests our parenting wills on a regular basis.

As it is, he's growing more and more every day. Soon (I sure hope!) he will figure out it's better to go in the potty than in diapers and he will cooperate with potty training. And then, it will feel strange to be in a house that no longer requires diapers, but it will be freeing as well.
 
--- 7 ---

Of course, discernment took into account our marriage, both Craig and me and our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. One of the things that I kept coming back to was the fact that I'm not getting any younger. Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery take their toll on a young woman's body and they took even more toll on my older, maturing body. Add to that the health issue I needed to address and we realized it was time. We have been so blessed. We praise God and thank him for the five beautiful, healthy children here with us and the one glorious saint He chose to bring into His presence ahead of us. We pray we will join Gregory someday in the presence of God. But for now, we continue to focus to help our earthly family continue to learn...to know, serve and love the Lord, and to move into a new phase in life that includes loving, honoring and serving each other.

February 2, 2015

Nostalgic Pondering

She’s getting more independent these days. All I have to do is ask, “Is your homework done?” or “How much more do you have?” There is not a lot of help required on my part.
She does her own laundry. All that’s needed from me, for the most part, is a reminder that it needs to get done and a suggestion about when would be a good time so that it’s complete in between the many commitments she sometimes has on a weekend.
Four years old?
She eats meals with the family, but often requires nourishment outside the regular meal times and is able to handle this on her own.
When I put things on my calendar to ensure we get her to appointments of all sorts – I “add” her via her e-mail address and the schedule on her phone is synched. She is able to accept or turn down babysitting jobs or social outings. Often, she will sit down with me for 5 minutes on a Sunday evening and the two of us will go through the week touching base about where she needs to be and when – and what will still be required of her at home.
Gone are the days when I must keep track baths, hair combing and teeth brushing. She took over self-care with pride when we established the time had come. And now she helps me get the younger ones ready to take over their own...we're really only down to the boys now.




Yes, my girl is growing up. Time flies. She looks more like the woman she will be and less like the little girl she once was.
Five Years old
But yesterday, on a break during pool play, soon after her team had just won their fourth (or was it their sixth?) set in a row, my baby girl came back to me. Her excited, beautiful brown eyes smiled at me. I heard my little girl say, “Mommy, did you see…?”
It was almost as if I was seeing my six-year-old Sarah after she got her first hit in softball and rounded the bases to score a run; or my third-grade Sarah searching the stands after making her first basket in a basketball game; and then my fourth-grade Sarah approaching me after she remembered all her lines in the Christmas pageant; and even my seventh-grade Sarah after she earned the “A Honor Roll” the first time.
I saw my eighth-grade Sarah and heard her five-year-old voice ask me if I saw one of her kills in that last set.

After a day of volleyball
My heart melted. You see, she’s my big, teenage girl, who just last week was telling me how she hopes to attend a university far away. Yet, she is still my young baby girl who thrills for me to see every accomplishment.

She’s spreading her wings and getting ready to fly. And her heart yearns still for her Mommy and the approving affection she’s known since her birth.
So, as she called me, “Mommy” and asked “did I see?” I answered her the way I always have – with a smile and a hug and my words “Of course, I did. You did such a great job. I loved that play.”

We went to the KU-KState game together over the weekend