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August 31, 2012

7 Quick Takes (31) - a Birthday Edition

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My Dani girl turned 9 today!!!  I was incredibly busy running around this morning and didn't have a chance to get a blog post up earlier.  Here is my baby girl today:

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My older children are getting older and it kind of freaks me out at times.  I mean...age 9 is HALFWAY to age 18.  And age 18 is what we consider ... <gulp> adulthood!!!  That means I have 2 children to at least this point in life.  The time just seems to be going so fast!!

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This was Dani when she turned 5.  She had a party at a local gymnastics place....

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This was Dani on her first day of Kindergarten...

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This was Dani the day she lost her top two front teeth...

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Here is Dani just goofing off when she was almost 8...

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Dani is my kid that loves being a kid.  She's the #2 kid in the family.  Her older sister gets lots of attention because...well...she's the oldest kid.  Her younger sister gets lots of attention because... well... she's a "squeaky wheel".  Lately, Dani has been finding ways to carve out her own little niche in our family.  She's taken up guitar (and done beautifully) and she just started swimming on the pre-competitive swim team.  There's no denying that Dani is just like ------- DANI and not to be confused for her older or her younger sister.

I really do get it.  Sometimes when you're one of a string of same-gendered kids...you can get confused for one or the other.  Especially when you're in the middle.  Dani has a nice way of highlighting her gifts and complimenting those of her sisters on either side of her (birth-order wise).

Happy Birthday, Dani!!  I couldn't imagine my life without you.

August 27, 2012

The Changing and Maturing of Needs (Mom and Children)

The challenges of motherhood are as varied as they are numbered.  Many evenings and weekends, I am faced with the fact that each of my children want a spot on my lap at the same time.  But really that's just a microcosm of the challenge to mother several children.

School started a week and a half ago.  My job didn't hold back so I'd have energy for all of it.  Extra-curricular activities for the kids didn't say, "Oh wait...you need to love on your babies?  Allow us to wait."

There's a special joy that comes from children wanting you. 

I have been mothering my children for 11-plus years and it does not cease to amaze me how much I long to know that my children long for me.  I want them to want me.  I want to be who they run to with their boo-boo's on their knees, to kiss away their hurts and hold them through their tears.  I want to be the one they want to share their joy with, brag about an accomplishment to, and celebrate success with.  I want them to miss me when I am away from them and I desire their closeness when we are together.

Every time that I arrive home, I get a hero's welcome.  And I get it no matter where I have been or how long I have been gone.  They are thrilled to see me come home.  Their joy at my arrival at the end of a long workday eases the pain of separation I feel at being a work-outside-the-home-mom.  I think that is a gift God gives to us moms (and dads!) who work outside the home -- that our children show how much they miss us and how important we are even though we aren't with them every minute of the day.

 Sometimes it is a challenge to be so wanted, though.  I find myself trying to strike a balance between encouraging their independence and desiring their dependence.  I know it is my job to raise them to be self-sufficient and contributing members to society but I find myself watching the time fly and the world they will enter is scary and not safe or kind, and I worry that I won't be able to be there when they need me--to kiss their boo-boo's or hold them while they shed their tears.

The little ones -- they need the cuddles, they need the hugs and the smiles and the physical contact.  They need my presence and they need my reassurance that even while I'm at work I always have them and their needs on my mind.  


The older ones need the physical stuff, too.  They need a smile of encouragement and they need a hug to let them know Mom loves them and missed them during the day/week.  There is so much that can be said with a kiss for a child.  I feel it when I give and receive kisses from my own parents. 

I have had to learn and grow when it comes to physical affection.  Growing up as a child in a divorced home where much of the physical affection ended when the divorce happened...I have had to get over myself a little bit and realize that even if I am out of my comfort zone when it comes to hugs and kisses...my children need them and I need to give these forms of affection to them.

Sarah needs even more than physical reminders of my love for her right now.  We talk.  A lot.  I'm happy to do it and I'm really happy she's talking to me.  We read books together and watch movies together.  I even listened to (and enjoyed!!) a playlist she put together on her iPod recently. 

I'm not going to lie...when I first found out I was pregnant with a girl when pregnant with Sarah, listening to a playlist my pre-teen daughter put together was something I figured I would have to be forced to do and would not enjoy.  So, I'm pleasantly surprised that I am able to relate to her, at least right now.  :)

And, I am a little surprised at how much I need her approval.  Don't get me wrong...I know, I'm the parent and I need to parent my children and not be their best friends.  But I still want my children to love me.  I still want them to want me.  That hasn't changed from when Sarah was one of my "littles" and I would imagine it won't change any time soon.   But Sarah's needs have matured as well.  She needs someone who listens at least as much as (and probably more than) she talks.  She needs to share her opinions and her fears and her questions...and obtain only a gentle guiding hand as she comes up with her answers.  I've reached a point now where I ask more questions, sit quietly and wait for her to come up with her answers and encourage her to share with me this person she is -- who she is growing up to be.  I am learning about her, much as she is learning about me.

So, I guess the point of this rambling post is about how I have been a mother for 11-plus years and I still don't have all the answers.  I'm heading into the "great unknown" of teenage daughters.  I'm cautiously optimistic that there's a foundation built that will hold steady while the currents swirl.  

I've heard it said (and I say it now myself) that we Catholic mamas do the best that we can to raise our children to know, love and serve the Lord.  We do our best to develop their skills, their ethics and values.  And then...the time comes when all we can do is pray like the dickens. 

So, I am going to keep on doing my best while I have these children under my roof.

And then I am going to pray like the dickens.  :)

August 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes (30) - the long lost blog edition

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I am going to try and work into my schedule to post something at least once a week.  I have about three drafts that are middle of the way finished.  But I cannot figure out just where the time goes every day!  Oh wait...there are five children to manage in this house and mom and dad spending at least a combined 80 hours of the week at jobs...that would be where the time goes.

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School has begun and the kids' activities have kicked into high gear.  We had "back to school" night at school last night and I am pleased (as usual) with our teachers at our parish school.  Our middle school teachers genuinely love teaching our middle schoolers and it comes through in the way they talk about the kids and their own callings to Catholic school.  Last night, our 6th grade teacher was giving introduction to the parents and she says when she shares that she teaches 6th-7th and 8th grade she often gets pity from others or hears, "Oh, I'm sorry." and she said..."I'm NOT sorry!  I love it!"  I really appreciated her positive outlook.  Middle school kids deserve to have teachers that love them and enjoy teaching them because life at that age is difficult enough.

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I was REALLY excited to hear that our fundraiser we do that ties in with the NFL season has taken off this year and ALREADY, we are at the point that any tickets sold are truly profit for us.  We've already sold enough tickets that we cover our costs of payouts, in other words.
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My new job is going well.  I have decided to embrace my ability to manage in an operations environment.  I have an eye for efficiencies and deadlines and I enjoy helping develop others and continuing to develop my own management and people skills.  Not that I was completely resisting this call in my professional life, but over time, I questioned my desire to put up with some things that I wouldn't have to put up with if I worked in other parts of the organization.  But finding the right fit is such a big piece of the puzzle.

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Volleyball has begun and I'm coaching Sarah and Dani and their classmates.  I have so much fun doing it at the earlier stages, but have realized I have probably stepped a bit out of my comfort zone as Sarah's team has gotten older.  I'm pulling in some reinforcements to help them learn offense and movement.  I played a 6-2 offense when I played, but I never learned it so well that I could tell each and ever position everything about it.  As such, with my job kind of "taking off" I think this might be the last year for this anyway.

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Dani starts practicing with the pre-competitive swim team on Tuesday next week.  She is very excited.  I am, too, I suppose.  It's hard to believe that when she was 3, Craig had to pull her from a wading pool as she was struggling.  And just two and a half years ago, she was so frightened in the water that she would cling to her dad or me.  I had tears spring to my eyes as I watched her jump into the pool and swim right down the lane doing front crawl, side breathing.  So, she made the team...got the last spot open even!  I look forward to watching her develop.

--- 7 ---

Been missing my baby girl, Helen for this week.  Work has run right into meetings or practices.  I think I need to spend some quality cuddle time with her this weekend. 

For more Quick Takes, be sure to head over to Conversion Diary.  Thank you, Jen, for hosting!

August 6, 2012

An Update!

I guess I took an unintended Blog Break!  I'm not sure how regular I'll be here as we steam-roll into school year 2012-13, volleyball and everything else that makes blogging appear to be exactly what it is -- a hobby I do if I have some "spare" time.

But here's an update on the family.

Craig -- We are very excited that Craig will have new days off starting the middle of this month.  He actually gets Friday nights off!  I knew it was too much to hope he'd get any weekend nights off...the Hospitality industry just doesn't work that way.  But, he will have Thursday and Friday off every week!  This is totally awesome, OMG, I just have to SQUEEEEE!!! excellent for our family, I think.  You see...for the last 9 years, Craig's regular schedule has included all weekend nights.  I just accepted it as part and parcel of his job.  So, when they asked for preferences and he asked for Friday as his one day off during the week he'd like to get, I was skeptical he'd get it, but...he did!!  This change effectively gives us about half the weekend together, as a family, each week.  Since Craig won't be working until 3:00 a.m. or even a graveyard shift on Friday nights, he will be up and about and able to help with the humongous amount of running around a Saturday requires for a family like ours (Ballet lesson at 9:00, Guitar lesson at 12:00, volleyball games, potentially Mass, birthday parties, etc. etc. etc.)

And, Craig is also training to run a marathon.  I'm not sure which one he is training to run, but he wants to do it, so I am supportive.  His new schedule should be helpful for his long runs.

Sarah -- Entering 6th grade on the 15th, and her volleyball practices start Wednesday.  I measured her last night after having her stand back-to-back with me and discovering she was to the top of my neck and she is 59 inches!  I am not sure why that shocks me.  I mean, she's 11.  But she has done some serious growing this summer.  I have been tracking all the girls weights and heights every 3 months or so.  July 29 was the last "weigh-in" date and Sarah had gained about 2 pounds in 3 months.  I figured that was about right.  But Saturday I noticed that Sarah looked different in a skirt she has worn all summer to Mass.  And then I was observing her yesterday afternoon and I just thought, "Wow, she looks so different..."  So I asked her to go weigh herself and let me know what it said.  Do you know, that girl gained almost 4 pounds in a week?  So, I'm not sure how much of her height happened this week, but that just blew me away.  

Of course, along with physical changes come the emotional changes.  Sarah really is a good girl.  I fear that I react to that entire age group so much differently than she does.  I find that certain things said (or not said) to Sarah by her peers make me sad/worrisome/angry and she doesn't see it the same way I do.  I'm not sure why that is.  But this is my first trek into teenage-girl world with my daughters, and I'm learning as I go.  I am definitely witnessing the generation gap.  *sigh*

Now that Sarah has her iPod, I realize that I hardly get any pictures of her.  Hmmm.  need to fix that.  But here's one of her with her siblings and some cousins from this summer.
13 of the 18 Poliquin-side kids
Dani -- Entering 3rd grade on the 15th.  She has shot up this summer, too, though I didn't measure her yesterday since she wasn't feeling well.  She seems to feel her physical growing pains a bit more accutely than Sarah.  And, I think we have a little bug moving through the house as each of us has been a little bit "under the weather" recently.  Dani gets to start learning volleyball this year and she is excited about that.  Add that to the huge leap that occurs from 2nd to 3rd grade academically and the next few months will probably be big for her.  Dani is getting better at swimming, too, as she progressed to the sessions where they start working on actual strokes.
Dani with her cousin that's her age from SC
Helen -- Entering 1st grade on the 15th.  Just like the rest of the kids, she's grown, but I haven't checked her height (I think I was just so shocked at Sarah...)  She is a reading fool!  She really enjoyed The Magic Treehouse books this summer.  She wears a skirt every day.  I think it is because they are more comfortable for her.  Most shorts and pants just don't fit her body type too well right now.  She began taking Classical Ballet last Saturday.  She'll have a class every Saturday with other 6-year-olds.  She is very excited about it. She's become a better swimmer all summer with her lessons.  She was all over the pool like a fish last week when we went to hang out with some friends.
Ballerina Helen
Dominic -- Entering preschool next week.  He will get to go three full days a week.  He is very excited about it. His favorite things to play with are his cars -- specifically his Lightning McQueens (he has a few of them...ahem).  He's such a sweet little boy.  One night he came to me with one of the girls' Nintendo DS things and asked me if he could play with it.  I told him to ask Dani (it looked like Dani's).  So I hear him go in the other room and ask Dani (very nicely...with "please" and everything).  I hear Dani tell him that he can play with it.  So as he is walking back toward the room I was in, I hear him say, "Dani, you are too good to me.  Yeah, you are SO too good to me."  :)
Future's So Bright -- He's gotta wear shades
Vincent -- is 13 months!  Oh my.  And he is walking all over the place now.  He still has that funny gait where he kind of flings his feet out as he walks.  Soooo. Cute.  I walked in the door yesterday and he comes at me all feet flinging out with his arms up with the "pick-me-up now" grunts.  Be still my heart.
Found a spot just for him -- haha
My baby boy and me
I will begin a new role at my company this week.  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.  Regardless of how scary it might be...there's nothing to complain about with forward motion.  I will tackle it with the same zeal I tackle other things in my life:  Bring it on!

Have a great week!