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September 30, 2013

Monday Mumbles - 57

Good Monday to you! I am setting this to publish mid-day today because I didn't get it done last night and am squeezing in a few minutes in the early morning to get it done. How the heck did I post every weekday last week? hmmmm

1. We now have two minivans in our household. We bought a one-owner, 2003 Honda Odyssey on Sunday. It's pretty. The owners took incredible care of it. I look forlornly at our original minivan and wonder just how it is we allow our kids to run ramshod all over it. But, anyway, yay for us! I was really excited to see the color in person because it looked like the color I have admired for many years in minivans I see on the road. :)




2. I'm kind of "blah" about work these days. I hate it, but I can't seem to get out of it.

3. I'm reluctant to say anything, for fear of inciting bad karma on the situation, but my kids seem to be doing really well in school so far this year. Sarah is very attentive to her work and seems to have figured out this middle school expectations thing and has the grades to show for it. Dani is doing well in all subjects and not as well, but still good in Math. I'm hopeful she'll figure out the Math thing soon enough. Helen is spelling all her words fairly well and reading above level (all the girls are reading above level). It seems like we are all in a nice groove as far as school work is concerned.
4. I feel so restless. I'm sure that means I need to spend some time in prayer. But I just feel like making changes. I can't articulate what changes, exactly, I just feel like changing stuff.
And not just little changes. Like, I feel like doing crazy type changes. I don't know what's wrong with me. (Perhaps nothing...but, perhaps something, too.)

5. We have a bunch of cough-cough-cough-y McCoughersons in our house right now. They don't have fevers and they aren't stuffed up...just got a cough that lingers. I hate that.

6. I had a really rough day at work Friday. Like, the kind of day that makes me think I'm not a very good manager. I know those days happen, but I wish it hadn't been such a crapper for me.
7. Today is the next cross country meet for Dani! She did okay in her first one...finished the race, ran the whole way. She's still excited to go to practice, so I think it's a win. :)

8.Box Tops 4 education: Do you collect and donate to your favorite school? They have stepped up the game this year at the kids' school and created a little friendly competition. Basically, the class to collect the most by a collection date gets a "dress down" day. Man, you should see the competitive streak come out in kids when a day out of uniform is at stake! Methinks the teachers and principal ought to have "dress down" days awarded for a class that has some spectacular academic achievement -- like everyone Aces a test or something -- I have a feeling there's a chance it could motivate, based on the competition I see between my girls for box tops!
So, I made a rule after a few weeks of frustration around our house. The rule is simply that Mom or Dad will be the one to clip the Box Top off the boxes/bags/labels and save them into the designated baggie and when enough are saved, they will be split evenly among all three girls. I am "over it" with regard to finding cereal boxes and soup labels and bags of things all chopped up while we are still using the items. :)

Besides, they kept taking just one or two in and I said to them, "You know...if we save them for a month or two, there will be PLENTY for each of you to take in at one time..." Now they can simply focus on ... ahem ... encouraging the parental units to purchase items with said box tops (truly a challenge when we do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi!!!)

9. My beloved Chiefs are 4-0. It is fun to have a football team to root for that wins! The Jayhawks are doing okay, but I'm pretty down-to-earth in my expectations there. But it's really fun to watch the Chiefs win after the past few dismal years.

10. I don't know if I'll get a post up all week, but I might as well try again! I have thought of some good blog topics, but haven't really had the time to sit down and mash them out. I think having the goal of posting each weekday, however, gives me something to focus on with writing anyway.

Have a great Monday!!



September 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes - 63



Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

--- 1 ---

I really dislike the fact that one of our paid-for cars was totaled due to the accident we were in last week. I really dislike waiting to find out what the settlement will be. And, buying another vehicle wasn't on my list of things I would have chosen to do at this point in my life. But shit happens and therefore, no matter the circumstances, I must move forward. USAA called Tuesday with the amount of settlement and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount. Of course, part of me wonders if it's part of "the system" to give you a large enough settlement that you are tempted to buy a brand new car and use the company to finance it as well. But...since I am ALL ABOUT NOT HAVING A CAR PAYMENT if I can help it...I hit up craigslist to see what was available. We are going to look at a new-to-us vehicle this weekend and if it is all the ad and current owner say it is, we will probably buy it outright. You'll have to check back next week to get the deets. :)

--- 2 ---

I will say, I was considering changing our auto insurance company before this accident. I had obtained quotes from a few other places. But, the way this has all been handled has helped me to remember that you do get what you pay for. And, I'm no longer ready to get out of dodge when it comes to car insurance. Maybe this will change as time passes, but...I've been with USAA for 17 years, the rates I was quoted were competitive (no USAA was not the lowest rate...but they weren't outrageously higher either), but when an insurance company seems to step it up really well when an accident happens...it definitely keeps that balance in the "Happy/Good Service" account at a healthy level. (No...I am not getting paid to plug USAA.)


--- 3 ---

Recovery is going well. I still have a bit of pain here and there, but I didn't take any pain medicine Thursday (first day for that) and only noticed late into the evening that I had some discomfort. I would say that's a win. I have a 2-week follow-up next week, then a 6-week after that. Craig's been awesome as ever, taking care of me. Work has been very understanding about my need to take it easy this week. The kids have even been fairly kind, considering they are not accustomed to putting on their really good behavior just for mom. :)
--- 4 ---

Nothing humbles you like your kids repeating things you say in proper context. Wednesday, Dominic wasn't feeling too well. He had a 101 degree fever and a cough. He also sounded a little congested. Sitting right next to me, after a cough, he says, "This coughing is pissing me off."

<embarrassed blush> Hmmm, wonder where he learned that. </embarrassed blush>


--- 5 ---
For once it was my employer putting on the cool party! My work had an Annual Family event last Saturday and we all went. I was moving pretty slow, but the kids had a blast. Everyone got some facepaint! (Well, Vincent's didn't go on his face...)
Four Painted Faces!
A Fire Truck!!
--- 6 ---

Sarah's class made it through "The Giver" (Lois Lowry) this week. The final assignment was to write the final chapter of the book. Sarah's chapter was excellent. I know, she's my kid, so I would say that...but I really was impressed with the direction she took the characters. Maybe I have a budding novelist on my hands. :)

They have moved on to the second book of the Quartet ("Gathering Blue"). I might have just finished reading the first two six chapters. I think I'll be done with that book before the weekend is out. I definitely recommend reading the books along with your kids. I am having a lot of fun with this! Molly wrote about this earlier this week, too

--- 7 ---

Some other notable events this week:
  • Dani helped cantor (lead the singing) at the all-school Mass this week! I didn't know she was going to do it in enough time to arrange to head into work late, though. I saw a couple of her classmates last night and they said to "Tell Dani she did a really good job singing at Mass." It makes me happy that she enjoys serving in that way.
  • Sarah's volleyball team lost a heart-breaker last night. They were on the wrong end of a 23-point cap. Boo. But they played hard. One thing about volleyball (and I think it's true at any level) is that sometimes a team gets into a bad rotation and they just can't get out of it in time to save the game. It's fun watching Sarah play, though.
  • It was picture day this week and I curled Miss Helen's blonde locks. But her hair has gotten long enough that it's hard to get that curl to stay! I need to invest in mousse and hairspray I guess.
  • Dominic read a step 2 reader to me with minimal assistance. I mean, he stumbled on words like ambition and determined. But, wow, that kid is coming right along with his reading. Now if we could strengthen his hands a bit and get the writing thing going!
  • Vincent slept at the nap mat at daycare this week! He went right to sleep, no playing around. I guess it's time to get those bunk beds put together and move him on into a bed. *sniff* (not really...but...well, kinda-sorta).

Have a great weekend and be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!

 

September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday Re-runs: My Kids Are Spoiled (And I'm Okay With That)

I was laid up for a lot of the past week and I perused some old blog posts. Since I am short on time today, I thought I'd do a re-run. 

I'm really glad I re-read this post. Lately, I've been disappointed in the things I haven't been able to do for my kids monetarily and it is a good reminder that my kids really are spoiled...in the right way. :) 

And now, I give you my reflection from January 2011.

********************************************************************************

Recently, my sister was informed by a member of our family that her four children were spoiled.  Specifically, she was told that her children have "too much stuff" and that they don't "need" it all and that "they are spoiled".

That got me thinking.  (of course)

I think my kids are spoiled.  Truly.  But I don't think they are spoiled because they have lots of stuff.  Sure, they do have more than they need and it's a constant struggle for me to ensure they understand that their needs are wants for many others and to remember to give praise and thanks to God for the blessings in their lives, material and non-material.

Yes.  My children are spoiled.  Here's why:  Because they have their mother and their father, living out a Catholic christian marriage to the best of their ability.  Because they have a secure and stable home life.  Because they have parents who are present and ready to love them, listen to them, discipline them.  I think all kids should be spoiled.

"Spoiled"
My life beginning at age 8 was a fairly unstable, insecure life without a father.  And many Christmases, the presents were not "wants" but regular things that I needed.  Often, Christmas was when we received an annual allotment of socks, underwear and clothing.  Very seldom was there something I had told anyone I "wanted" in my stocking or under the tree.  And even, then, when my father came to town and asked what we'd like for Christmas and we told him, we often got told, "You don't really want THAT".  I spent many a summer afternoon accompanying my mother into the Liz Claiborne section at Dillard's so that she could pad her wardrobe, or sitting by her at the Clinique counter as she bought herself makeup.  I don't begrudge her these things...I never really thought much about it until I became an adult and realized how often my own trip to get a new outfit or taking the time and setting the money aside to buy some makeup, gets pushed to "last" in the priority column.

My life was a constant balancing act of how to be a kid without further wounding an often delicate relationship with both my parents, even though I was not the one to break the relationship in the first place.  I've only just recently begun coping with the emotional and physical abuse I suffered as a child.  I mean, I'm only scratching the surface.  I can feel it brewing any time I start thinking of my next session with my therapist...there's some big breakthrough occurring.  It's slowly building and I can tell at some point, I'm going to finally hit that point where it all comes crashing in on me and I realize the magnitude of it all.  For now, I have bits and pieces.  What saddens me the most is how common my experience is.

However, I look at my kids and I truly believe they are spoiled.  They are spoiled with love and affection.  They are spoiled with a father who loves them and isn't afraid to show it.  They are spoiled with a family environment they can count on.  They are spoiled because they don't have to rely on their siblings to carry them through the day, they can come to their mom or their dad, cry on our shoulder or just cuddle.

And, honestly, I can say that my youngest sister and brother are quite possibly the most spoiled children on the face of the earth from my vantage point.  I see them as spoiled because they had MY DADDY...all their lives.  They still have MY DADDY.  Sure, he is their daddy, too.  But, I spend my time working on my relationship with my dad knowing it can never be what it would have been.  I'm moving forward and I believe my dad and I have a stronger relationship now than we have ever had in my adult years.  But, it's still not what it would have been.  That can never be.  And that's just my life.  There's no changing it even if I wanted to.  But it doesn't change the fact that they are spoiled.

I hope that I can always say my kids are spoiled.  I hope I can always say they have a dual-parental unit they can count on.  I hope I can conquer my demons and move on to a place where I can be a most compassionate, loving and merciful mother to my children.  I hope I can always say that every day, I look into the eyes of the man I love knowing he would lay down his life for me and our family.

Please, Lord, allow me to always strive to spoil the heck out of my children!

So far so good.


September 25, 2013

The Cool Little People Grow...Into Cool Big People


It's happening almost constantly at our house. Some of my little people aren't so little anymore! All of a sudden, they are bigger people with their own opinions, thoughts, feelings...about EVERYTHING!! They are interested in different things -- different from me and different from each other. 

Pictures of Sarah as early as 2nd gr. and as late as this past summer (now in 7th gr)
Of course, I see it hitting full speed with Sarah. She is 12 years old, in 7th grade, and since she is the oldest kid in the house, is convinced her words carry lots of weight with just about anyone. There have been times I've wanted to wring her neck, and there are other times I just want to hug her (and of course she does NOT want me to do that). I can't get her to walk beside me -- always lolly-gagging behind me -- and sometimes, she has a hard time looking me in the eye while she speaks to me.

So, I thought it might be fun to document 10 things I enjoy about having big kids.

1. They dress themselves. Since I still have a couple who need help most days...I value this. Tremendously.

2. They can even feed themselves. And by "feed themselves" I mean from the "hunting/gathering" to the preparation to the actual eating.

3. They can clean up after themselves. In more than just one way. Heck, with proper threats, bribery, motivation in place, they can clean up after other people!

4. They laugh at things even adults think are funny. True, most of the things they find funny still fly under the radar for adults, but there are occasions when the funny is had by adults AND big kids.

5. They bathe themselves. I always despised little kid bath time (still do...just not my thing). I've been so happy that my girls have moved on to the shower stage and look forward to the boys doing the same!

6. Empathy. It's not fully there, but there are glimpses -- and it's fun to see them "try to walk a mile in another's shoes"

7. They go to bed all by themselves. While this is something I encourage from an early age, it's still different to have a kid who stays up past 9 routinely and is learning to set a schedule that suits her best.

8. They start to assume responsibility. Sometimes they assume responsibility appropriately, and other times...not so much. But seeing your child take responsibility for herself without the force of your hand/words is...gratifying.

9. They start to "get it." It's going to vary by kid, I know, but with Sarah -- I see that she "gets" what I have tried to teach her about things like popularity, sincerity, true friendship, reliability. I love this about her. And while I know I can't expect it to happen this soon with all of my children, I enjoy this time right now. Because -- well, who knows how fleeting it might be?

10. They keep us on our toes. One minute we think they are "getting" what we say or are trying to teach them, and the next we are flabbergasted at a decision they made or something they said or a reaction they gave in to.




September 24, 2013

The One Where I Was Minding My Own Business -- Answering Pre-Operation Questions...

Last Thursday morning, I had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m. to prepare for surgery. Before having surgery, there's a whole mess of stuff you have to do -- a pre-operation visit two weeks ahead of time where they tell you every little thing that *might* go wrong so that they cover their butts if any of that stuff actually happens; Post-operation visits scheduled; papers to sign. You know all that stuff.

The point of the 2-week pre-operation visit is so that the morning of surgery, basically all the papers are signed, you're well aware of what is about to take place, you have asked all your questions and so the morning of surgery -- it's like a cake walk. No problem. Easy-peasy.

On Thursday morning, quite quickly, I was taken back to a room where a nurse would continue prepping me for surgery. I had gotten up at 3:30 a.m. to take a shower with antibacterial soap and put on comfy clothes. I had my medical insurance card and my driver's license ready to go. I went back and the nurse started with all the questions.

What caught me up was this exchange:
RN (asking what seems to be a "standard" question): Are you still getting periods or able to get pregnant?

Me: Yes

RN: Do you want us to complete a tubal ligation while we are in there today?

Me: No.

RN: We will need to do a quick urine pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant.

Me: Okay. I am ovulating right now.

RN, looking a bit startled and with a funny look on her face: Hmm, isn't that interesting how some people are able to figure that out about themselves...?
First of all -- I'd like to tackle the question she asked me about doing a "tubal ligation while we are in there..." Wow. Where to start. So, I am in there for a procedure completely unrelated to sterilzation, but they ask me if I would like to be sterilized, "while they are in there"? What is this, McDonald's? Oh, having a medical issue addressed, would you like a tubal with that?

Okay, in my head, I kind of get it -- it saves time and money if he's already "in there" meaning completed an incision in that area of my body -- to just get it out of the way and cut/tie my tubes, right? But part of me thinks... WHOA, Nellie! I don't want to break my body -- I'm trying to fix it!!

Now, as I mentioned before, we had to spend some time in prayer and discernment before the decision was made to go forward and have this procedure done, because it is not a prudent use of time and resources if we were to have more children (biologically) after we have the procedure done. But we're blessed to know NFP...we had some really awesome instructors that gave us all the information we needed to be really good at NFP. We've never been surprised completely by a pregnancy, and we understand the need to practice conservatively going forward to avoid pregnancy. When we've actively sought to avoid pregnancy, we've been successful every time, so we feel very confident that we can do this the remainder of our fertile years. But all of this was decided before we went into the hospital on Thursday.

What saddens me is to think that there is the possibility that a Catholic woman, perhaps not as well versed in NFP or in Catholic theology might be faced with that question. And ultimately, if they are having the procedure done, fully knowing they should not have any more children, but are simply taking a pill or something to avoid pregnancy -- they might be quick to say, "oh heck yeah, just do that while you're in there." There are psychological ramifications with sterilization (whether they will admit it or not) and a woman might not take those into account, and later have problems with the fact she was asked if she "wanted a tubal with that" some years back and went ahead with it. Of course maybe not, too, right?

It also occurred to me that women are asked this question ("Would you like a tubal ligation...") at the most inopportune times to be answering the question with a clear head. I was asked if I wanted a tubal ligation when I arrived at the hospital to deliver my dear sweet Gregory, who had already gone on to Jesus in heaven. Yeah...not quite the best emotional state of mind. And many women are headed in for a c-section when they are asked this question. And sometimes, it's baby number 3 or 4 or 5 and women are asked this question while they are laboring or shortly after giving birth. I guess in our society, the question itself is something that begs to be asked given our society's stance on family size and all -- the biggest problem I have is the timing.

The best part of this conversation, however, is the last part though. I LOVE that I was able to tell her I was ovulating -- and I knew that I was! I had received a HIGH reading on my monitor on Wednesday morning, felt my physical signs of ovulation during the day Wednesday, taken a digital OPK test Wednesday night that indicated ovulation was on its way and then my monitor registered the PEAK reading Thursday morning before I headed to the hospital. Now, how freaking cool is that? I love being able to know what my body is doing and when. It also completely validated my scheduling of all my appointments (my only instruction was that I could NOT have the procedure during menstruation).

The RN seemed a bit confounded that anyone could know that about themselves. And I think that's sad. I mean, we have millions of health care professionals who have birth control pills and sterilization shoved down their throats as the only means to help people "plan" their families and so they are completely caught unaware when someone really does know what is going on with their body. 

So, ultimately, I say, "YAY NFP!!" I'm so grateful for the teaching couple who taught Craig and me so long ago that we could identify our fertile and infertile times by simply observing what my body does naturally. I'm grateful for the development of many different methods that work with different temperaments and body types so that women have choices in how to observe their natural rhythms and get the information they need. And...I'm grateful that I could confidently tell that RN that "No. I am not pregnant" and "I am ovulating right now." 

Made for a fun story while waiting for surgery anyway.

 

September 23, 2013

Monday Mumbles - 56

Good Monday morning! In the land of recovery, it is a day back to work and school all while trying not to lift 5 pounds! I think I can hang.

1. It's quite challenging to find the ways to soothe a 2-year-old that you are not supposed to lift on your own power. Vincent would walk around crying "momma" all weekend but I couldn't pick him up. So I would walk to him and hug him and try to hold his hand and have him walk with me to a chair or the couch where he could climb up to sit next to me perhaps. But...yeah, that didn't work too well.

I am looking forward to the end of the "terrible two's" if there is such a thing for Vincent. I do like it when my children reach the age of communicating without crying, whining, moaning, etc.

2. Vincent has begun doing puzzles all by himself. He is just over 2 years old and I am impressed with his ability to do a 24-piece jigsaw with no assistance. I realize I'm him mom so I am supposed to be impressed and all...but, it really is pretty cool. I don't remember the other kids doing stuff like that this early (except Sarah).


3. I am about to go on a stretch of nearly 3 months with no scheduled days off work other than bank holidays. I had this before this year when I went from early April through late July with no scheduled days off work, but I don't care much for it. I like to split my time off in ways that I get a day off here and there, but this year...well, it hasn't worked out that way!

4. I want to change up my blog. I mentioned that I wanted to do this back in February before this year turned all upside down on me. But I still want to. And, I want to learn how to do it myself so I don't have to pay someone. But...all the tutorials seem far too complicated for me to understand and follow. *sigh*

5. Due to the car accident we were in last week...I have had to stress think about our car situation more than usual. We have had both of our vehicles paid off since May 2011. Both should have lasted us another few years at least. Haven't heard yet, what the insurance company intends to do -- repair the vehicle or total it out -- but we should find out soon, I hope. I'm not sure whether I want them to repair or total it. I think repair is definitely my main preference since then I just don't have to worry about replacement.

6. My physical activity is limited to light walking and no lifting for another week and a half. It's kind of weird. I'm trying to compensate by eating really really healthy. Ha!

7. Dani's first cross country meet is this afternoon. The distance for 4th grade is 3/4 mile. Go Dani!!

8.Wine -- sometimes it's just necessary.

9. Have I ever mentioned -- Fall is my favorite season. I love the temperatures when the highs are in the high 70's, I like having the windows open, I like sitting on my deck in the evenings watching the kids play, I love football and chili in the crockpot...all that stuff. So...yay fall!!

10. So, here's a goal for this week -- try to blog every day. Ha! Do you think I can?!?! Well, I will try. Have a great Monday!!

September 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes - 62



Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

--- 1 ---

Well, I had the procedure I referenced here and here done yesterday. I am sore and tired, but thankfully have a wonderful husband who is good at waiting on me and running interference on the kids. So, I'm on the couch with the laptop, my water, had some breakfast, and my boys are watching some Disney Jr. Seems like a decent enough way to spend Friday.
--- 2 ---

Oh, but I have to deal with our auto insurance today. Because we were in an accident on Wednesday afternoon. What horrible timing, right? I'm going in for surgery Thursday morning, and on the way home from school, we get rear-ended. Here's a pic...


Got banged pretty hard
--- 3 ---

Craig's sister from Florida and her husband were in town this week. It was great to see them. Sarah came out with me Monday night for dinner with them, since she was planning on staying overnight with a friend Wednesday when they came over here. They were pretty impressed with how grown-up she looks now. And, of course, it's all happened so fast that I still get amazed by her growth the past year.


My grown-up looking girl and her Aunt Mary
Wednesday, I was off work to prep the kids for overnights that night and get ready for surgery Thursday morning. But found time for a short break to go to the free Boulevard Brewery Tour with visiting SIL and husband and with in-town SIL. It was fun and neat. I think my husband should try to get a job at the brewery. :)

Then all came over for pizza with us before we got the kids situated in their overnight spots. It was good to have some time to visit with them. They had a blast with Dominic, of course. And Vincent -- well, it took a little bit to warm up, but he came around :)


Aunt Mary with Vincent
Looking forward to figuring out how to save up and visit them next summer in Florida...love the beach.

--- 4 ---

For the past few months, Dominic has been telling us all about the release date for the app, Angry Birds Star Wars II and how it will have all these new cool characters. He had always said September 19...which was yesterday. But on the way home (before the aforementioned accident) Craig mentioned it was released on the 18th! But we were having company and such, so I didn't download it until the 19th anyway. I have a very happy 4-year-old who has enjoyed playing that game on the iPad. He is so different from the girls...they never counted down to anything but Christmas. 

But as you can see here -- he is VERY into his Angry Birds(see shirt) :)

My sweetie pie....loves his Angry Birds Star Wars and his S'mores
--- 5 ---
We instituted a rule a couple of school years ago of no TV on school nights. We have stuck to it most of the time -- with lapses when life went a little crazy -- but for the most part I stick to it. What I notice when we don't allow TV or electronics at night is...

Do you love my foot sticking up there? I know! haha
It's not unusual to walk into a room and find many people looking at books at our house, and I love it!!

--- 6 ---

Have I bragged on my husband in awhile? I don't know that I have. I mean, on our anniversary I wrote something or other...but seriously, how did I get so lucky? This guy takes care of the kids, does the laundry, fixes dinner, cleans the house, works full-time, and puts up with me. What more could I ask for?
--- 7 ---

There seems to be all kinds of media cray-cray going on about stuff Pope Francis says. The media wants a big splash with the headlines, a quick clip taken out of context and tries to make it sound like the Pope is all divergent in the course of the history of the Church! I think the media likes to play on our society's quick-fix for news culture or something. But here are some links I have found helpful and thought I would share.




Have a great weekend and be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!

 

September 16, 2013

Real

It took me by surprise the other day, the flashback to Thursday, February 28, 2013. 

We had just arrived at Mass Saturday afternoon, the Rosary was in full swing, the kids all filed into the pew behind me and Craig and Vincent sat on the end. Dominic and Helen vied for their spots right next to me. All of a sudden, my mind was in the ultrasound room at the hospital where I found out that Gregory had passed away. I was seeing the screen, feeling awkward at the tech's silence, trying to make small talk -- "Oh, is that the leg?" and "That looks like a normal size head alright" -- as my voice shook and my stomach sank the longer she was silent. My memory lingered on the moment she said she had to call my doctor and then I recalled the phone conversation with him. I felt so helpless. And I don't know why I felt the need to try and console him or anyone else trying to console me! But I did...I kept apologizing when there was nothing to apologize for. But I didn't know what the hell else I was supposed to say? I had to call Craig, but what the hell was I supposed to say to him? I had plans that night that I needed to cancel, but what the hell was I supposed to say to Maggie when I called her? And for some reason, I called my dad -- I just felt the need to burden him with my sorrow. I didn't know if he'd understand, but I needed to talk to my dad in that moment...to tell him. All of this whipped through my brain as I was sitting there Saturday, trying to get ready for Mass.

Then, my throat caught as I looked around the church and remembered how I had come there that afternoon. Our parish has Adoration on Thursdays, so our Lord was exposed on the altar. I had walked all the way to the 2nd pew from the front, gone in and knelt down. I had laid my head on my forearms -- and the sobs had come violently. I didn't know any other reason to be there at that time other than I wanted so badly to feel the presence of God in this horrible time. And I was worried about being loud and disturbing others. As I thought about this Saturday, I realized how absurd that was. But I remember thinking to myself, "Hold it together, don't cry too loudly."

I shook my head trying to expel the images that kept coming to my brain. But I couldn't stop them from popping into my consciousness. My mind floated to the remainder of that afternoon while we waited for the children to return from school. I felt so lost. I wanted a priest, but I didn't know what for. But, Father had come and just sat with me for a bit at my home. He didn't know what to say. And I didn't either. And I don't know that I needed anyone to SAY anything to me right then. I needed to make phone calls to find places for the children to stay and I hated every single time that I had to explain what had happened. 

Then for some reason, the moment we told the children about their baby sibling -- that we didn't yet know was a boy -- and my chest throbbed as I remembered their tears. 

Almost as suddenly as the memories intruded on my consciousness, I was able to pull my mind into the present. I think the pain was too much. I'd avoided tears for most of the past 5-6 weeks at Mass. When the due date passed at the end of July, I truly felt as though I exhaled for the first time in a long time. I can't explain the feeling, but I knew it was good. I know I will always love Gregory and have a different relationship with him than I have with anyone else. 

I'll always remember him. 

And even though the memories that take the forefront in the scrapbook of my mind are sad, I'm still happy that we accepted the gift of Gregory from God like we accepted the gifts of all of his siblings. I am a different person because Gregory is a part of my life and experience. I've aged and matured in ways I could never have anticipated. I see life completely differently than I did before. 

This is the first time my mind transported me so wholly to that point in my life. And even as I have written it here, I'm feeling the tightening in my chest, the lump in my throat and the tears have fallen freely down my cheeks and pooled in my lap. But I don't wish for it to go away. I welcome the refresher of pain and sorrow. It helps me remember my baby...my baby I didn't get to snuggle close and hold tight. 

But he was real.

And he was mine.

And I love him.

Ultrasound Picture
These items (bear, block, rattle) were placed in pictures they took of Gregory at the hospital. The hat on the bear's head was on Gregory's head for a photo or two. The items are tiny and made to scale with how tiny he was.



September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes - 61


Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

--- 1 ---
I had an opportunity to see a new baby this week! A good friend (and cousin-by-marriage) had her baby in May and the summer was crazy and I didn't have time to make it over there. So I finally planned for us to bring dinner over and hang for a little bit one evening this week. He is about 4 months old and seeing his parents (who are a bit later on in life starting the journey of having children) going through the first few months of raising a child brought me back to those early weeks with each of mine. Literally, I operated in a fog for about 8-10 months and I wonder how I did it? But, I did, and it's over and then it's kind of bittersweet to think I'll never go through that again, because I really do love the little babies.

--- 2 ---

I've been hinting at it when I mention Sarah, I think, but my relationship with my children is changing and it's new and exciting, but it's also -- not scary or anything -- but it causes me to sit and wonder more than it did before. Over the years, I've always been more of the caretaker of my children, but I feel my role changing away from that a bit. it's really hard to explain. But in general, I find that Vincent often prefers his siblings to me for some things that my younger kids had always relied on me for (an example: Vincent just requested that Dani retrieve him from his crib and get his chocolate milk this morning). And my older kids are happy to comply with the younger kids' requests and all of a sudden, I have 10 extra minutes I didn't used to get to finish up this blogpost (or something).

--- 3 ---

It used to sting a little bit when Vincent started preferring others to me. For the first 15-17 months of his life, Vincent wanted me all the time. Then, all of a sudden, he really wanted Daddy. That hasn't really changed much at all (and now he's 27 months). But now, Vincent likes to show affection for me the way he sees Helen and Dominic do it -- he runs to me when I get home in the evenings to hug me and give me a "tiss" and says "Ah miss yew wots, momma!" but he doesn't hang around -- he is usually off for some new mischief shortly after his greeting.

He's even requested that Sarah do his diaper change and I know he prefers that his Daddy give him his bath (I am far to impatient at bath time).

--- 4 ---

Dominic likes to show me how much he knows or what he's learned. Granted, many times it is in relation to Angry Birds or the new Star Wars app he found on the iPad when it was his turn. But I find that Dominic does not require a lot of discipline. He is a sweet boy who aims to please and stay out of the way, but likes hugs and things. Dominic is the kind of kid that wants to come and start a conversation with me about video games or what he read. All while giving me a full body hug. The girls have grown past this age long enough that it's hard for me to remember, but I don't think any of them struck me the way Dominic does with the conversation. I guess the point is, that I don't have much to do in the way of "parenting" Dominic other than forcing him to eat at least 4 bites of his dinner (because he's 4...and we've had trouble with him not eating in the past), make sure he's going #2 regularly so he doesn't have an accident from holding it too long, and giving him lots of cuddles at night and reading stories. It's a strange, but fun feeling hanging around Dominic.

--- 5 ---

All summer long, I tried to prepare Helen for 2nd grade. You see, 2nd grade is a huge transition year. The kids are moving away from being really "little kids" to being a little bit bigger "little kids". At our school, the first floor is Kindergarten-1st-2nd grades (plus the specials rooms -- art, music, computer lab). Then for 3rd-4th-5th, the kids move to the 2nd floor and then the middle school has it's own wing. But it's more than just physical -- the kids prepare for and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion during this year, so spiritually they are "growing up" a bit, too. And the school work is a bit more involved -- actual spelling tests with 20 words, math "mad minutes", reading, etc. And...at our school anyway, the teacher is a bit more strict and/or stern or, as I have said to Helen, she's "no-nonsense." 

Helen -- of my girls -- is the one most likely to cry, whine, need hugs, etc. So, emotionally, I worried about this year more than I had with Sarah and Dani. And, true to form, Sarah and Dani really never had any problems in 2nd grade. But Helen -- oh, my sweet girl was in tears the other day when she explained to me the way the teacher had treated her in trying to get her to make the Sign of the Cross properly. Little kids are so funny -- if you don't smile at them, they think you're mad at them. Or if you only say the word "no" but do not redirect, or give them an alternative to how they are doing something, they feel humiliated (but they don't know that word) and also think you're mad at them

Needless to say, I gave Helen a big hug, reminded her about her "no-nonsense" teacher and told her I would give her extra loving in the evenings. That seemed to calm her down. And every day since that she has told me, "Mom, nothing happened at school today." I think that was her way of reassuring me that she handled whatever did happen just fine.

--- 6 ---

Dani and I went for a short run at a park last evening. Her cross country coaches have a daughter who plays volleyball for the 8th grade at their school, so they don't have practice when she has a game. It was fun. But it helped me start to see how Dani's and my relationship is changing as well. On the way to the park in the car, Dani broke down the day, told me what she enjoyed and all that stuff. She also said all the different instruments that Taylor Swift can play and uses in her music. I shared with her that my favorite Taylor Swift songs are the ones where she uses the orchestra and Dani was able to name my favorite Taylor Swift songs from that information. :)
While running, she was telling me about her science project. She explained all the things they were putting in a bag and that they would see which items molded more quickly. And so I asked her what her hypothesis had been and she said, quite happily, "My hypothesis was that the tomato would mold the quickest because it's fruit and fruit can mold or rot quickly." Then just a few minutes later, "And my hypothesis was right!"

Then on the way home she broke down her AR (Advanced Reading, I think?) program and said her teacher was going to have to adjust her goal because she already had a certain number of points because she's been reading Percy Jackson books. And she knows her reading level (4-6.2) and is just very on top of her academics. And I love it.

--- 7 ---

I see the biggest change in my relationship with Sarah. I do still have to discipline her, but discipline looks different for a 12-year-old I am learning. And she wanted help with her reading homework and the question was one of those, "Why do you think..." questions. So I said -- "Well, that's one of those opinion questions Sarah -- you should write down what you think and be able to support why you think that with an example from the story." (She is still reading "The Giver" by the way.) We ended up having a great conversation because she was exploring why she thought it was unfair that colors and feelings were kept from people. 

Our exchange went something like this:
Me: Well, why is it unfair that all the people can't see the colors? And why is it unfair that they don't have the strong feelings?

Sarah: The Giver and Jonas only know about the colors and they can't share it with other people and that is unfair to him.

Me: What about it is unfair?

Sarah: He can't share anything -- he has all this experience -- both bad and good, but he can't share it.

Me: what makes him want to share it? Why does he see it as unfair that he is unable to share these things?

Sarah: Well -- when you and I share things, it's basically...our relationship...it makes us care about each other.

Me (heart all aflutter): Well, okay then -- what do you think Jonas sees as the unfairness of it?

Sarah: That he can't develop closer bonds to people? LIke he doesn't know about real love?

There was a bit more, but it was so cool to be having a conversation like that with my child!!! So, just wanted to share. 

I just love being a mom.

Have a great weekend and be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!