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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