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February 25, 2011

The Broken Leg

Last night, I came home from work and was greeted by all of my children with hugs and kisses (well, except Sarah who said, "Hey Mom" and proceeded to behave like a 9-almost-10-year-old...but anyway), and I hung up my coat, dropped my bag at the door and proceeded to have a blast with Dominic.  We were on the couch and we played "The Kissing Game."  This is where he gives me kiss after kiss and then I tickle him over and over again.  It was so much fun.

A little bit after that, he was in the other room and he came walking into the living room where I was (still) sitting on the couch holding his arm.  He had the beginnings of tears in his eyes and he said, "Heh-ehn hi-- me" (Helen hit me).  So, Helen got in timeout, which incidentally led to the tears in Dominic's eyes drying right up before they spilled over and him toddling off to continue to play.

As I was getting dinner, I heard Dominic crying.  Typically, when he falls or hurts himself, he'll come and get me if it's bad.  So I waited.  But then I heard him still crying so I asked Craig to go and get him (I was putting dinner on the table).  From what we could surmise, Dominic had fallen, but no one had seen it so no one knew what he'd done and he wouldn't stand up on his own.  Craig held him for a bit and he fell asleep, so we put him in bed.

This morning, we found out that school was closed for a snow day, but I intended to take Dominic to daycare so Craig could rest and the girls could probably handle getting breakfast, cleaning up their rooms and hanging out together until he got up.  When I went to get Dominic dressed, he wouldn't put any weight on his right foot.  Ultimately, Craig and I decided I should take him to Children's Mercy Hospital ER since whatever happened had happened the previous night and it's kind of serious that your 2-year-old won't put any weight on his leg.

Off to the hospital we went.  They checked us in, and I was really glad I'd brought his immunization record as they kept asking if all his vaccinations were up to date.  They initially thought they'd localized the injury to the hip area because they could move his lower leg without causing him much pain until they would affect the hip area.  When they X-rayed, at first they didn't notice much and they started telling me that there is some sort of infection kids can get in a joint about a week after a cold (Dominic had a little congestion/conjunctivitis that we'd treated with over-the-counter meds last week). 

The doctor came in another time and started putting pressure on Dominic's legs in different places and a closer look at the X-ray revealed a slight (they termed it hairline) fracture at the bottom of his Tibia.  They called it a Toddler Fracture or Toddler Break and they said it was common.  Well...not common to me!  This is our first broken bone in four kids!  Apparently, when toddlers run around, sometimes they make a movement and with the right pressure, it can cause this type of fracture.
The good doctors and nurses got us a "Wee Walker" which is a boot for toddlers to wear and he didn't need a cast or anything.   We had to use an Ace bandage over it because Dominic was trying to take the boot off the minute they put it on!

They gave us a prescription for pain medicine.  And he sat on the couch the rest of the afternoon watching Super Why and Dora the Explorer.  We went to our parish's Spaghetti Dinner tonight and he sat there without complaint for the three hours we were there.  Seriously...for my son to sit there and not complain and try to get down and move around is a miracle and it means his leg REALLY HURTS.  :(
He's in bed now...in his Superman pajamas...and his boot.  Poor baby.

I guess I'm glad it's just a small thing in the grand scheme of things.  A girl in the stall next to us (she sounded like she was 6 or 7 years old) had a break somewhere that they had to re-break and I cried for her not even knowing her as I heard her screaming and pleading, "Is it over yet?"  Oh my...I prayed for her and then I prayed that nothing like that needed to be done to Dominic.

I think from now on, I'll probably go running when I hear him fall or cry.  Well, at least for awhile.  I wish I'd noticed right when it happened that he needed to go to the hospital.  But I guess it helped out that we waited until today so Craig didn't call in to work.  Interesting how that sort of stuff works out.

February 23, 2011

Five Years Ago

Five years ago this week, I was miserable.  I mean, I was carrying around a big baby.  We didn't know how big, but we could tell she was big.  She was so big, I had told the doctor, "This baby feels big."

My due date was February 26, but the doctor stripped my membranes at my February 21st appointment and scheduled me to arrive at the hospital the night of February 22nd to begin preparing for induction.

We arrived late on the 22nd.  We had taken the time to go out to eat with Sarah and Dani, and tuck them in at their Grandma's house.  So we arrived around 9:30.  Well, the nurses had expected me to arrive at 7:00.  Oops.

They checked me and I was already dilated to 4 cm, so they couldn't do what they were scheduled to do that night.  And seeing how hospitals are not hotels, they sent me home.  We went back to Craig's mom's house and he slept on the couch next to me in a chair.  I was miserable, but we weren't going to drive all the way home (the hospital was about 45 minutes away from our house) when I just had to be back at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. next morning.

We showed up at 7:00 a.m. after a big breakfast and they got things rolling.  Doctor broke my water around 8:45 a.m. and by 10:30, I asked for an epidural.  Something I have always done is labored as long as I possibly could without an epidural, hoping to avoid the stalling in labor I have always heard about with epidurals.  Well, the anesthesiologist took his sweet time...I think at 12:00, he still had not shown up to put it in.  Even the nurse was angry with him!  I had stalled at about 6 cm and was in a lot of pain.  Finally, I got the epidural (amid lots of shouts of, "this is my 3rd kid, don't explain it to me, just put the **** thing in!")  Within 30 minutes of getting the epidural, I was to a 9, and by 1:45 p.m., I was ready to push.  Epidurals speed my labor like nothing else. 

And at 2:06 p.m. on February 23, 2006, my Helen Olivia was born.  All Nine pounds Eight ounces of her!  She screamed from the get-go and had one-month-old's thighs (as the nurses kept saying).  A side note:  I absolutely intend, should she ever complain about her thighs to be sure and tell her she came into the world with those thighs...God gave 'em to her so she better be nice!  :)

Helen is a family name.  My paternal grandmother's name is Helen.  My father's only sister claims Helen as her middle name.  My first given name is Helen (my parents always called me by my middle name).  Helen is the perfect name for my third-born daughter. 

Helen is my "mini-me."  I have often said that there are times when I just don't know what to do with Helen because I don't always know what to do with myself.  I want to scream at Helen sometimes and try to make her see that she is so stubborn she's really going to blow it and nothing is going to save her.  And that's because I know from experience. 
And then there are the times that I am amazed at how smart and kind and self-aware Helen is and I think...maybe she's not that much like me.  Of course, she's my cuddle-bug.  She is a "mama's girl" through and through.  She has been from the day she was born.  She was the child I held all the time wondering if she would be my last baby.  She's the only one I had the wherewithal and the courage and the perseverance to nurse for any length of time (5 months).  One of these days, I'll have to scan in some pics I have of myself at age 5 and you all can see that she is the one of my children that looks the most like me (the others favor their father much more).  

Helen is sweet...

happy and funny...

beautiful and eccentric...

sometimes loud, assertive, but mostly cool and collected...

Happy birthday to my beautiful brown-eyed blondie.  

February 17, 2011

Open Letter to Baby #5

Dear Baby,
I'm halfway through this pregnancy and I'm getting impatient to meet you.  In just a couple of weeks, I'll find out whether you are a boy or a girl.  I have my instincts shouting at me your gender, but I'm reserved as I wait to find out "for sure."

Even now, when you've been growing for 20 weeks and you have 20 weeks (at least) more to grow...I long to know you, yet I feel like I know you already.  You're completely dependent on me right now but yet, I feel completely dependent upon knowing you're safe and growing and healthy.  I've been so blessed to carry each of my pregnancies to term, but it horrifies me still, to imagine what could go wrong.  Pregnancy and childbirth often remind me of my complete and utter reliance on God for everything.

We have already survived a couple of scares in the short time we've known each other.  Your daddy was giving me shots in my bum twice a week for about 8 weeks because my body doesn't make enough progesterone to keep things going in the first trimester.  But you sure came through in the 2nd trimester!  What an elation...a relief!...when I heard the nurse say the levels had jumped up to appropriate levels at my blood test at 15 weeks.  And you were hiding that day I went in to the doctor for some minor cramping at 12 weeks.  The doctor placed the doppler on my tummy and waited...and searched...and waited...I could tell that all we were hearing was my slow, adult heartbeat.  Finally, he removed the doppler and the tears started flowing.  Had the Lord taken you from me?  When the doctor asked if he could do a pelvic, I quickly agreed...and as he jostled the organs and had his observing physician in training place the doppler back on my tummy...SHEOU-SCHEOU-SCHEOU...my heart and my breath skipped!  We had found you!  And your heart was beating away.  And my tears still flowed, only they were now tears of joy!

You have such a great family waiting to meet you.  Your sisters already know what's going to happen in a few months.  They get another sibling and they can't wait!  They are in love with you already.  They pray for you every night in their nightly prayers.  They love you so much.  Even your big brother now comes and points at my belly and says, "Baby!"  Daddy hasn't been able to feel you kick yet, but it's only a matter of time.  I can feel you  getting bigger and stronger as I feel more kicks and jabs more frequently.

Even though you're my fifth child, the awesome wonder is still there.  I remember how I stared and stared at the positive pregnancy test for so long just thinking "wow....wow...wow...WOW."  I am amazed at the miracle that takes place.  The biological miracle that the timing was perfect and you were conceived.  But also the miracle that God CHOSE US again (!!) to receive this supreme gift. 

I look at your sisters and brother and I wonder what is in store for us with you?  All of you are so unique and lovely...brilliant creations for which I hardly feel worthy to accept.  Such responsibility for Daddy and me--responsibility to care for you and to love you...that is the easy part.  But the responsibility to raise you to know, love and serve Him who created you...that part is daunting.  I'm reminded every day that it rarely matters what I have said to you...in the end, you will watch what I do and you will learn to know, love and serve Christ only if you are able to see those qualities and actions from Daddy and me.  And even then...I must pray and trust in God...again.

We have 20 more weeks (at least) to get to know each other this way.  Soon, you'll be big enough that I'll be able to pick out a foot, or an elbow...I'll be able to play with you by poking one side of my belly to get you to kick or poke me back.  I'll be able to caress your head in my hand as I go to sleep with my hand on my belly.  

When you're born and we get to meet face to face, I'll finally see the cheeks that will most likely be there shouting to the world you are your father's child.  I'll see if your eyes are blue or if they begin already a deep brown like two of your siblings.  Will you cry as you come into this world from your snuggly cocoon (just like your big sisters Dani and Helen and big brother, Dominic)?  Or will you simply stare into my eyes quietly (like your oldest sister, Sarah).

Yes, I am anxious to see you face to face, but I'm happy to have you all to myself for another few months.  My sweet baby.  God has blessed me beyond measure.  Again.

In the Hunt...for a New Look

When I started this blog up, it was my 2nd go at it.  While I think I understand a little bit better what I want to do with the content of my blog, I still have no clue how to design a "pretty blog".

And let's face it...I don't have time to figure it out, either.  So, I'm blogging about Rebecca's giveaway in an attempt to win a blog makeover.  :)

Rebecca, my lovely West Virginia blog-buddy, is hosting a giveaway at her blog.  She just got an AMAZING new look for her blog from Kelsey.  

I spent some time at Kelsey's blog and was impressed.  How does someone figure out how to do all that stuff!?!?  A gift...that is what Kelsey has.

Rebecca's giveaway doesn't stop with a blog makeover.  She is also giving away a photo from Kimi.  Some of these photos are amazing!  I love the simplicity and elegance in the same photo that I see in so many of them.  Kimi supplied the background photo for Rebecca's new look on her blog.

How are you feeling about your blog look these days?  Actually, I see all of yours and I work hard to keep my jealousy in check.  You all have some beautiful blogs.  But if you're interested in a new look for your blog, head over to The Road Home.

You're in for a treat if you do.  Not only is Rebecca's blog beautiful to look at, but she's a rabid WVU Mountaineers fan...especially during football season.  She is a Catholic who has grown much in her faith in the past few years and embraced NFP in her marriage to The Man and has begun to see the blessings that flow.  She has beautiful dogs and lives in a beautiful part of the country (I was just there and saw it for myself :)  )

Have a terrific day!

February 9, 2011

A Time To Pray

I have had a rough 24 hours. 

Have you ever heard of this prayer?  Litany of Humility

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to this prayer.  I prayed it fairly frequently for about six weeks.  What happened was a sequence of events in which I was humbled.  When the events happened, I didn't really think of the fact that I'd prayed to become more humble.  But as time wore on, I realized that I had been humbled by the events and I had even grown in my faith through this humility.

I haven't prayed the prayer really frequently since then.  I have thought about it and there is this nagging feeling that perhaps I should...but there is a human fear of doing it.  Because, quite frankly, being humble is difficult.  Praying for humility seems masochistic.  I know that the Lord heard my prayer because He gave me a six month span of time in which I was humbled by my circumstances...and when I remembered that I had actually asked for it, it really put a block somewhere in my head and my heart about praying for humility again. 

Humility is a virtue that is so difficult to grow in.  Our society tells us that being humble is bad.  We must "toot our horn" and make sure everyone acknowledges our gifts and talents.  We expect affirmation at every turn.  And those who don't notice how wonderful and how giving and how talented we are somehow fall into this category of adversary. 

I have seen this in a couple of different scenarios.  While I think families are there for support, acknowledgement, affirmation and such...sometimes (and to the detriment at times) there is so much support and acknowledgement and affirmation that one might grow up in their family never hearing they have done something wrong.  Parents don't want to discipline or for whatever reason they don't discipline and the children grow to expect that discipline is never necessary for their behavior.  Parents step in and berate teachers for a child's poor marks in school instead of searching deeper and perhaps discovering an underlying problem for their child with material.  Parents may complete their childrens' homework or check it long after such action is necessary in order to avoid their child ever experiencing a poor grade.  To avoid a humbling experience, accountability and responsibility are thrown by the wayside.

Another place I have seen this is within my workplace.  It's difficult to work for people sometimes.  I have found that perhaps I need to spend some time praying the Litany of Humility because lately, I have struggled with my management.  Perhaps I need to pray and really meditate on,

That others may be loved more than I
      Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  
That others may be esteemed more than I, 

     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it 
That in the opinion of the world,
 others may increase, and I may decrease,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be chosen and I set aside,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.   
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  
That others may be preferred to me in everything,  
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
This is a powerful prayer.  I remember when I spent time praying it for about six weeks.  I literally CRINGED every time I prayed this part.  My heart was crying, "NO!!!  I want to be LOVED!  I want to be ESTEEMED!  I do NOT like to be SET ASIDE!!"  And those cries were the little bits and pieces of my soul that cling to the world being chipped away so that I could be ready for the events that followed in the next six months.

So, yes, my friends.  I have had a rough go of it the past 24 hours. 

I have found out that I acted unkindly and hurt a friend. 

I have been on the end of the phone shaking and my heart pounding, feeling helpless, while I listened to my sister suffer through anxiety attacks. 

I have had a difficult conversation with a couple of people at work that have opened my eyes to my current reality and given me a certain focus for my future actions. 

I have forgotten valentines for my sweet baby girl Helen's class St. Valentine's party. 

I have lain awake in bed for two hours when I desperately needed to sleep contemplating many of these things. 

And then...it hit me this afternoon square between the eyes.  Prayer.  That Litany of Humility Prayer.  While it was painful to pray it prepared me for the events coming my way.  and I've been feeling a building lately that more events are on their way and I must be prepared.

I must pray.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, 
deliver me, Jesus.  (use this response after each line below)

From the desire of being loved, 
From the desire of being extolled, 
From the desire of being honored, 
From the desire of being praised, 
From the desire of being preferred to others, 
From the desire of being consulted, 
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated, 
deliver me, Jesus.   (use this response after each line below)
From the fear of being despised, 
From the fear of suffering rebukes, 
From the fear of being calumniated, 
From the fear of being forgotten, 
From the fear of being ridiculed, 
From the fear of being wronged, 
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I, 
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.   (use this response after each line below)
That others may be esteemed more than I, 
That in the opinion of the world, 
others may increase, and I may decrease, 
That others may be chosen and I set aside, 
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, 
That others may be preferred to me in everything, 
That others may become holier than I, 
provided that I may become as holy as I should
All of the virtues are the key to living like Christ.  However, the virtue of Humility speaks to me at times so much more than the rest.  How humble Christ was to live and walk on Earth as a human.  How humble Christ was to suffer and die...to be spat upon, ridiculed, beaten and crucified...for you and for me.  For all of us. 

Please Lord, grant me the perseverance to pray the Litany of Humility with all of my heart and to prepare to humble myself before You and before my fellow man.

February 6, 2011

What Kind of Light Am I?

The Gospel reading for this Sunday was Matthew 5:13-16:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
We had a great discussion on this topic at my Familia group on Saturday.  I shared my recent experience with my Aunt Bea with the ladies.  The kids and Aunt Bea (one day after her 99th birthday) and I were out to eat.  The kids know that we pray before we eat, no matter where we are, and so we did.  Sign of the Cross and all.  When we were finished, Aunt Bea told me, "You know you don't have to do the Sign of the Cross in public."

I had simply replied, "I know.  But it's part of my prayer.  We are not ashamed."

Tonight at Mass, Father's homily was (as per his usual) well done.  He touched on the fact that it is okay to make the sign of the cross in public.  That it isn't "showy"...unless of course a person's intent was to be "showy" but there's nothing wrong with praying, even in a restaurant, before we eat.  It's never wrong to pray anywhere.  I really loved how he said this part:
Jesus says here, 'You are the light of the world.'  He does NOT say, 'You are the light of the church.' 
He went on to explain that it's all well and good that we are lights to each other at church and within our church walls and ministries.  But we are called to be lights to the world.  We need to shine before ALL, not just before other Catholics.

Father mentioned a few things "lights" could mean.  Lights could be guideposts...for example the lights on the runway for the airplane to land.  As lights to the world, we could be good examples of God's love for the world and following God's commands.  Another example he used was that lights could be leading you somewhere.  He spoke of the fact that in peer groups, it often only takes one voice to say, "Hey, that's wrong and I'm not doing that" and sometimes others follow.  Of course not everyone is called to be a leader, some of us are called to be followers.  But he asked us to reflect on whether God calls us to be leaders and what kind of leaders we are to be.  Father made the point that there are all kinds of people out there that are leaders, but only a few worth following.  A third example of what lights could be were warnings.  He had some words for parents in this area.  He mentioned that even though they might warn their child, of course the child could still choose to ignore that warning...but that does not exempt the parent from shining their light in the right direction anyway.

Finally, Father asked us all to pray this week about what kind of lights we are and can be in the world around us.  Are we supposed to be leaders?  Are we supposed to follow?  If we are followers, we should pray about those whom we follow.  We are to think and pray about our positions in our lives...the people God has put us in contact with, and how we are shining our light for them.

This gives me a lot to pray about.  Lately, I have wondered just what the heck I am doing working where I do?  What is the purpose when it seems that there is so much wrong with the place?  The work environment is toxic.  But perhaps this is my challenge, my charge from the Lord.  I still must be Christ to all of the people at my workplace whether I agree with what they do or not.  I must still perform my job duties with the intent to glorify God.  I must still be the light of the world to those I come into contact with in my workplace.

My Sarah is also a leader.  I believe she is someone worth following.  I plan to follow up with her sometime this week just to see if she's taken any time in her prayer to reflect on how she is a light of the world at school, at her Challenge group, at basketball practice and in games.  But also whether she's prayed about her role in our family, with her sisters and brother, with me and with her father.

I think that at different times and in different places, we are all leaders, followers, guideposts and warning lights.  The trick is to be more intentional about shining our lights at those different times and places than bringing about the murky darkness.

And with all this talk about being a light to the world, I'm reminded of a song...
This little light of mine...
I'm gonna let it shine!
This little light of mine...
I'm gonna let it shine!
This little light of mine...
I'm gonna let it shine!
Let it shine!  Let it shine!  Let it shine!

February 4, 2011

7 Quick Takes (1)

Jen at ConversionDiary hosts 7 Quick Takes every Friday.  I decided to participate today.  I don't know if I will every week...but this week, I think I can think of a few things.  :)

The first thing I'd like to say, is Jen's 2nd Quick Take today made me nod in agreement, snort in laughter and pass along the take in an e-mail to my co-supervisor who sits next to me.  And we both got a great laugh out of it.  I am not a dog person.  I am not a pet person at all.  Really.  I really much prefer my children to any animal I could ever have.  And a big reason for that is.........that I would much rather clean up kid vomit than dog/cat/any-other-pet's vomit or poo any day of the week.  So, I agree with Jen that dogs are much harder to care for and I choose the easy way by having kids. 

I'm going to attend our Familia group tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to it.  And I'm also prepping myself to keep quiet!  I have a tendency to start talking too much and taking things off topic...I have to remember that this is Familia...not my Counseling session!  And besides that, I can learn so much from the ladies in this group...so I need to pipe down and listen up!

The girls have basketball games tomorrow afternoon.  Dani is at 1:00.  Sarah is at 2:00.  Thank God for good friends like my friend, Beth, who will meet us at Dani's game to pick up Sarah and take her to her game and then we'll meet at Sarah's game.  With Craig's schedule (working graveyards, basically), it sure does help to have a friend who is willing and able to help me out!

Speaking of basketball...

I love watching my girls play basketball.  I love volleyball, too, but I love coaching and teaching that one.  I loved playing basketball growing up, but I don't think I'd teach it too well.  So, I REALLY enjoy going to the games and watching my kids go after it!  So far this year, I have missed the game where Sarah dribbled from one end of the court to the other and made a layup.  But I was still so excited to hear about it.  Last week, I got to watch one of Sarah's teammates go UCONN on a team (she scored 14 of the 16 points) and it was awesome to watch (especially since the reason she scored those points was her ability to seize her opportunities to rebound, etc!)  Also, last week, I was able to watch Dani dribble all the way down the court...she missed the layup, but it was so fun to watch her go-go-go!!

I thought about my last post and I started wondering...was that too personal to put up on a blog read by who-knows?  I mean, it was really just for me, right?  Oh well...it's out there.

I think it's really sad when women in power in the workplace abuse that power.  I think it's really sad that companies, in the name of holding onto an experienced, knowledgable woman who has achieved the coveted VP status of a bank (man's world), kind of turn a blind eye to harassment, racial discrimination and just plain poor treatment of said woman's employees.  But...such is my life as one of this woman's employees.

We were forced to buy a new bed when we moved into this house.  The house is so old that the doorway to the bedroom Craig and I share was too small to accommodate our Queen size box springs (the mattress could be fit in, though).  Well, we had been needing a new bed for years anyway, so we bought a new one that has the split box springs, so it could be moved into our bedroom. 

Wow...when you haven't had a good night's sleep in awhile due to having a too-old, non-supportive bed and you go to having rock-hard-great sleep on a nice, soft-yet-firm supportive bed, you realize that you went WAY too long without buying a new bed and you really shouldn't do that to yourself ever again.

Had to edit here.  Just visited this blog, Convert Journal, and read this set of Quick Takes.  Loved them!  Informative! 

Have a great weekend!  Be sure to visit Jen for more bloggers who participate in her weekly 7 Quick Takes.

February 2, 2011

The Need to Take Care of Me

I don't think I am unlike too many other moms in the fact that the things I want are often put on the back-burner.  I don't think I am unlike too many other moms in the fact that some of the things I need are often pushed to the back of the line, too.

Today, I was reading Young Mom's post and it really resonated deep inside of me.  As life has become hectic, I have stopped doing the things I used to do "for myself".

I have always been a "busy bee".  Never a dull moment for me.  Even before kids, I stayed pretty busy.  Then when we began having kids, I just added them and their needs and slowly things "for me" dropped off my plate.

But I can't really blame it on having kids.  It's just that I have screwed up my priorities.  The kids' needs are going to be met...it's just the way it works.  The trick is to make myself prioritize the things I need to stay healthy and cared for.  When we had Sarah and Dani, I still played volleyball, worked out (besides the volleyball) several times a week, and went to daily Mass.  I usually spent time in prayer while running or swimming.  I had a low-stress job that I enjoyed. 

A job change (which I now regret) to another low-stress, yet lower paying job began to change things.  And then we added Helen to our family.  In the midst of that, I changed jobs into a higher stress, lower-paying job, but we were making it.  Craig was now working full-time which added to the duties that needed to be cared for at home by me.  With both of us working full-time, we both needed to work in grocery shopping, laundry, bill paying, child bathing, etc.  But I still got workouts in.  Daily mass had fallen out, but I began to notice things about my appearance that needed work that hadn't needed it before (my facial hair, particularly my eyebrows and my upper lip, had begun to affect how I felt about my appearance, so I decided to start waxing on occasion).

Even after Helen, I remember that I resolved to run a marathon.  I told Craig I needed to do this.  I'd been thinking of it as a goal for a long time, and I had determined it was one of those goals that I simply had to say, "Okay...now's the time.  I'm doing it."  And, I trained from January through April 2007 and when Helen was 15 months old, I ran the Lincoln Marathon.  I continued running and that October, I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon.  In January 2008, I began a much higher stress, higher paying job, but I was still running then...I ran the 2008 Houston Half Marathon.

My grandfather passed away on January 1, 2008.  My grandfather's death followed by my grandmother's frail health ushered in depression.  I remember listening to my Uncle give Grandad's eulogy after the Funeral Mass and I just started crying.  I cried because I felt gypped out of knowing my grandfather better due to the divorce.  I cried because I was sad about my broken relationship with my father.  I became physically ill early in February 2008 (turned out I had Strep and a really harsh strain of the Flu - I remember wondering if I was dying, I felt so horrible!) and the days I spent in bed recovering gave me an opportunity to assess how I felt and while I didn't recognize my depression at that time, I did realize that something wasn't quite right and I was ready to get in for some counseling.  So, I began that in March 2008.  

Since that time, I have been in and out of caring for myself.  The counseling was a good thing to do for myself.  For awhile, I paid to go every single week.  I learned new words to describe what happened in my relationship with my father (I had never wanted to identify it as abandonment, but I learned that was what it was) and I worked through those issues to the point I was ready for some one-on-one time with my father in June 2008.  The only unfortunate part of working through my "daddy issues" so quickly was that meant I began to hit the "mommy issues" next and that process has been so much more painful and is continuing for so long at this point that it can be discouraging.  

I have also been in and out of mild depression.  I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder the past few years as our winters have been colder and harsher.  When I had SAD at the end of my pregnancy with Dominic, it moved on in the form of PPD and I really felt like I came out of that about the time Dominic turned 14 months.  And, of course, time and money have caused me to go to counseling far less often than I had been going during most of 2008.  I haven't ever felt the need for medication, but without counseling on a regular basis, I feel the effects much more keenly.
Counseling isn't the only casualty to my life, either, lately.  I haven't swum laps since October.  First, I was exhausted from early pregnancy.  Next, I was stressed out with work (boss issues, ugh).  Then we went on vacation over Thanksgiving.  Then, in December we made the decision to move.  Now, we're moved, but it's winter, we have lots of activities, but we've had lots of snow.  And the high school swim teams monopolize the pool anyway at this time of year.  You see?  There are lots of excuses not to get out for a swim.  I have not gone to a counseling session since early December.  I haven't run in ages, it seems.  I started re-reading Harry Potter books again late last year, but haven't picked up the book I am on for four weeks now.  I need new maternity clothes (the ones I have are too big and some so old, they really are worn) but I haven't been able to set aside the time or the money to go and get some things.  I need an eyebrow and upper lip wax...haven't done that since September.  

These are really little things in the grand scheme of things.  An eyebrow wax is around $15 (with tip), add in the lip and you're getting closer to $30.  Although, now that we've moved, I need to find out where a good place to go for that is in my new town.  We already pay for our community center membership, so money isn't the obstacle (just wasted right now) for the swim or workout time.  In that case it's getting there.  Craig's schedule has changed now so that he doesn't get home from work on the weekdays until 6:30 a.m. so I can't head in for a 5:00 a.m. workout anymore.  And after work, there's basketball practices, or meetings for things at church or school, or just plain coming home and hanging out with the kids. We're still getting settled in our new home and I'm exhausted to the point that I don't stay awake long once in my bed.

But somehow, I realized reading Young Mom's posts on the importance of caring for yourself when you're a mom, I have got to get back to doing these things.  When I'm not getting a regular workout, not feeling good about my appearance (i.e., need an eyebrow/lip wax), not getting the prayer time I need (running/swimming...activities that lend to the combination of exercise and prayer), I yell at the kids much easier.  I get frustrated, snarky and impatient with my husband.  

What's the best way to get my needs met?  The way I accomplish everything else in my life:  I need to have a plan!  Here goes:
  1. Start looking at workout class schedules and lap lane schedules and figure out how to get to the community center at least three times a week.  Maybe we will just have to use a couple evenings during the week and Saturday morning.  
  2. I would like to make it to daily Mass just once a week.  I need to figure out what day that will work best.  
  3. I need to be disciplined to pray my Morning Offering every morning upon waking. 
  4. Find out where a good esthetician works in this area and get in for (at least) eyebrow wax.
As with any good plan, I need to have a deadline.  I think I'll follow up on March 2. 

How do you make sure you are taking care of you?