Endless Strength Header

 photo blogheader-2.jpg

October 30, 2013

Here I Go Again

I don't have much to say other than...Getting back on Paleo right now is not happening.

I'd let that be the end of this post, but that's too Twitter/Facebook-ey of me. I guess I knew I didn't have the right mindset for it right now. Thursday will be six weeks since my surgery and that means I can get back to Crossfit workouts. Yay. 

Thursday also brings an opportunity to attend the next Weight Watchers at Work meeting.

I think I gotta go back to the Weight Watchers meetings. I'm like that undisciplined kid that needs an accountability check every 7 days and the only way I think I can make myself do it long-term, if at all, is to get myself to the WW at work meetings. I am always successful the first 6 weeks or so when I am on plan. I track diligently, I attend the meetings. I am a good little Weight Watcher.

Then...I drop 10% of my body weight and i start thinking I can do it all by myself and I drop off...

And it's not long before I'm right back where I started.


Many much-smarter people than I could write pages and pages about concupiscence, and human tendencies and how they scream for the void to be filled with the only thing that can fill voids -- God. But I'm not going to go there. I know I lack in my prayer life and I know I lack in my faith. And I promise to keep trying to fix those things while I work to lose weight.

But I also seriously lack in the self-discipline department. I feel like such a fraud when people tell me how "good" I am that I get out there and exercise. It's kind of weird to say..."Well, the exercise is the easy part for me -- the hard part is the eating."

Because when it comes down to it -- eating is my problem. I eat too much and I eat too often. I eat when I'm bored and I eat because I'm sad. I eat because it's lunch time and then I eat because it's dinner time and I eat because it's snack time. Then I eat because it tastes too damn good not to eat it.

I have long since passed the point where I am able to exercise off the amount I eat and that is the problem I must face. I honestly don't think it's the WHAT that I eat. It truly is the HOW MUCH and HOW OFTEN. It is also the WHY. 

If I would just stop to think about WHY I felt like eating before I popped another mouthful of food in my mouth, a number of things might happen. I might...
  • cry because I'd stop to think about WHY and realize that I am sad or depressed or desperate and food was going to make me feel better
  • hyperventilate, because stopping to think about WHY might help me remember I already ate 4 meals that day
  • pound my fist on something hard, because the physical pain might then drown the emotional pain I feel that I was hoping to drown in food
So. Yeah. Part of me wants to continue to blame my problem on the unhealthy body image I've always had and the unhealthy food associations I made growing up the way I did.

But. No. It's time I realize that I'm an adult who has some issues and I can no longer keep turning to food for my fix.

So, tomorrow, on Thursday, I am going to go to the At Work WW meeting and weigh in (yet again) for the "first" time and try to do this thing. I won't report more about it until next Wednesday, which I plan to call, going forward, Weight Watchers Wednesdays. 

Starting next week, you can expect a post every Wednesday that will give the rundown of what the previous Thursday's weigh-in was, the focus of the meeting, My weekly PointsPlus target, some of the things I did that week to stay within my PointsPlus target and my exercise (I'll try to translate to the Activity PointsPlus). I will also give a little info on how I felt that week (was it difficult? was it easy? was it comfortable? was I proud? was I a stinkin' mess? You know...)

I have no idea if this interests anyone, but my plan is to do it until I get six weeks past hitting my goal weight (which means I would attain Lifetime status with WW). I think I just need the motivation to keep going with it and maybe comments from readers (hint hint -- if you read my posts, please feel free to comment and encourage me :) ) will keep me going on it.

Something has got to keep me going anyway.

I'll still blog other things, of course, but Wednesdays will be for Weight Watchers. :)

October 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday Reruns: In Pictures

This week, instead of sharing an old post, I am going to share some pictures from my earlier days on the ol' blog.

Nothing makes it so glaringly obvious how fast my kids are growing up, than looking at photos from only 2 (in some cases 3) years ago.

From Christmas before Vincent was born. Sarah-9, Dani-7, Helen-almost 5, Dominic-about to turn 2

Vincent the morning after his birth
My Aunt Bea, months shy of her 100th birthday (she died 6 days short of it), holding Vincent at 3 weeks old
4th of July, a year ago

October 21, 2013

Monday Mumbles - 59

It's another Monday. I just counted and I only have to work on 8 more Mondays in 2013. Part of me thinks, Whoa...almost to the end of the year. The other part of me thinks, Woo-Hoo!!! only 8 more Mondays. I really don't think the end of this year could come fast enough, to be honest.

1. First things first: Chiefs are 7-0! Very exciting here in Kansas City. It's nice to have a football team that is winning.

2. From Sunday (last) through Sunday (yesterday), I ran 15.7 miles! I'm excited to get back to a routine again. I can't lift until after my 6-week check-up, but I think that will be just in time.

3. I have been cleaning at the Crossfit gym this month and Craig went back to working out there this week. I can't wait to get back to it. I am starting today with the grain-free, dairy-free and legume-free deal again. I just have to. And I just really need to brainwash myself to believe that I will die if I eat flour and sugar and potatoes. I'll let you know how that brainwashing goes, though.

4. Oh my. Vincent is a crazy dude. Literally. I just can't stand it. He makes me question my parenting like none of the other kids did. And he's only 2. What, oh Lord, am I in for???

6. Back to this grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free stuff: one of the hardest things is food days at work. I just need to have the willpower not to participate. I know that. But then, I don't want to offend people by NEVER participating. Sigh. I suppose I need to strike a balance somehow. 

7.Halloween is just not doing it for me this year. I can't seem to get in the mood.

8.When we discipline Vincent, Dominic gets very protective of him. It's sweet. But unfortunately, for Vincent, doesn't help him much. We do timeouts and such, and Dominic literally gave me the stink-eye over it one time this weekend and told me to "stop being mean to his brother!!"

9. Nothing is more frustrating than working really hard on the budget and having something bust it.

10. I don't really have much else to say, so I hope you have a good day. :)

Recent Photo I got of my two oldest girls

Have a great Monday!!

October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes - 65 (feeling weird edition)

A great big thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

--- 1 ---

Craig attended the parent meeting for Sacrament preparation this year for Helen. I'm not gonna lie; it is definitely weird to think of Helen having First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion this year. Something about that makes me realize my girls are all getting so big and grown up. Half of my kids will have reached this point. Just feels...weird is all.

--- 2 ---

You know what else feels weird? Having a daughter who looks like an adult. Nah, she still looks like a kid...but she's growing so fast! I measured her the other night and since April, she has grown 1.25 inches and gained 8 pounds. Got that? In 6 months, she grew another inch. Granted...Last fall, she grew that much in 6 weeks. But, still! So, here's the rundown:

July 29, 2012 -- Sarah was 58.5 inches (NOT even 5 feet yet) and 82.8 pounds
August 5, 2012 (just one week later, mind you) -- Sarah was 59 inches and 86 pounds
September 26, 2012 -- Sarah was 59.75 inches and I didn't get her weight
November 6, 2012 -- Sarah was 60.75 inches (passed the 5 foot mark!)
December 10, 2012 -- Sarah was 60.75 inches and 92.2 pounds (this was at Dr. office)
April 28, 2013 -- Sarah was 62.5 inches and 95.2 pounds
October 14, 2013 -- Sarah was 63.75 inches and 103.2 pounds

So basically in almost 15 months, Sarah has grown 5.25 inches and gained 21 pounds.

That, my friends, is what puberty can look like. 

Sarah likes to mess around with my phone while I'm driving, haha
--- 3 ---

I think I need to start measuring Dani before she gets away from me!! Last year, on August 5, Dani was 70.8 pounds and 53 inches and then on November 13 (3 months later) she was 54 inches and 75.2 pounds. Sadly, I've been so crazy watching Sarah grow, I haven't noticed Dani and whether she has grown. I think I'll measure all the kids this weekend!
--- 4 ---

Another weird moment is realizing the "baby," Vincent, is in a "big boy" bed now. We dismantled the crib last weekend and moved the bunk beds to the boys' room for them to share. Dominic on the top bunk because he's not cray-cray and won't fling himself off after a very telling "Hey guys! Watch this!!!" Vincent is on the bottom. This is good, because he already fell off once. But he got back in there and went to sleep after causing a racket over it. 

Here is the boys' room -- Vincent's bed actually has Winnie the Pooh/Tigger comforter
The girls got side-by-side twin beds (don't match) and this is without their comforters, too
Gratuitous photo of the Spiderman comforter on Dom's bed :)
--- 5 ---

Honestly, I am ready for Vincent to want to potty-train. He is so stubborn, though. We've had several days at home on weekends where I put his clothes on with no diaper. On the first day, he did have an accident. But he learned...because he hasn't had one since. He will stay dry for 8 hours (even through a nap!!!) The problem is...he won't "go" on the potty, either. He just holds it. And that's not good. So, I know he has control...but I have to convince him to actually GO!! I hope that will happen soon.  

Is this boy cute or what??
--- 6 ---

Craig and I are going out for a date tonight when I get off work. It's for his birthday. :)
--- 7 ---

Weekend plans, anyone? Other than a date tonight, I hope to have a walk with a friend Saturday morning. We'll attend the Saturday vigil Mass like we usually do, and clean at the Crossfit gym Sunday. Of course, we'll watch the CHIEFS!!! :) How about you?

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


    October 17, 2013

    Throwback Thursday Reruns -- The Clear and The Fuzzy

    Today, I'm sharing an old post. I enjoy going back to see what I was writing about almost 3 years ago. It's interesting to see the things that were on my mind.

    I hope you enjoy this entry from April 2011.

    A clear memory: 

    I was 9 and in 3rd grade and I went with my sister to spend a weekend with my Aunt Bea and Uncle Alex.  My older brother and my two younger siblings were going to stay with a family from our school.  Mom was making a trip to attempt reconciliation with my Dad.  The whole weekend I was busy doing crafts and playing at Aunt Bea's house, but I was anticipating Monday.  Monday, my dad was coming back with my mom.  I just knew it.  And then we were all going to live in Rhode Island together.  The nightmare that my parents were getting a divorce was over!

    A fuzzy memory:

    I have no idea what, in particular, I did during those days.  I remember going to sleep every night and waking up every morning wondering if it was Monday. 

    When Mom picked me and my sister up on Monday, I don't quite remember how it went.  Mom visited with Aunt Bea for a little bit and then drove us the 60 minutes back to Topeka and dropped us off at school.  We were tardy, but I was in high spirits..

    A clear memory:

    No one said we were moving to Rhode Island, and that Mom and Dad had worked things out...but I believed it with my whole heart.  Why else would Mom have been gone the entire weekend?  They were looking for a house where we could all fit, checking out schools, right? 

    At recess, I was sharing my joy with the two girls I talked with/hung out with at recess.  I was parlaying my big plans for our reunion as a family when one of the girls laid it to me straight.  She said, "Michelle...your parents are not getting back together and you're not moving.  I hate to see you get your hopes up for something that's not real."

    I cried.  I tried to argue, but couldn't find the words.  I wanted to scream that she didn't know what she was talking about.  But at some point it hit me that I hadn't actually been told for sure.  I mean, my mom said something about how her visit went well with our dad, but he didn't come home with her.  And I began to realize that without the physical presence of my dad, I couldn't trust the words that came from my mother and I couldn't trust my feelings. 


    Looking back, of course at the age of 9, I couldn't process what was happening.  However, in that moment, I was beginning to see the dashed hopes and dreams lying within the falsehoods of my pronouncement.  I can see now that the idea - the dream - that my parents were not getting divorced was entirely of my own making.

    I died a little bit that day.  It was the beginning of my realization that Daddy wasn't coming to get me.  And that Mom wasn't taking me to him, either.  I remember that as the last day I ever thought or wished that my parents would get back together.  It was the beginning of what became an outlook on life that has stuck with me to this day:  "You can't rely on any one person in this world.  Suck it up and shut up and move forward."  Eventually, I learned that I could rely on my siblings and I could rely on God.  I don't think I've ever completely believed again that I could go to my parents with a problem and get true help.

    I consult my dad, sure.  We talk about things.  However, there's a wall there that prevents his counsel from becoming something I completely turn to and rely on.  Bits and pieces of his counsel find their way into my reasoning, but many times I credit that to the fact that my father and I have a similar worldview and I'd probably go that route regardless of whether my father put words to it.

    Later - when the days and weeks had passed and I got brave again and asked my mother why certain things were the way they were, I got told many times, "Your dad walked out on all of us, not just me" or "Your dad didn't want you" and "Your dad doesn't love us anymore."  Only as an adult can I see the horror of those statements.  Only as a mother who would never dream of killing her children's hearts, can I detest the hatred behind those statements and the hurt they inflicted. 

    Yes, hurt motivated the statements.  I realize that.  My mother was hurting.  She was rejected.  She was desperate.  But to share that hurt with her children is something I find so difficult to comprehend.

    I am blessed that the hurts my children experience are "children-type" hurts...however, it pains me to see my children hurt.  And if I am ever the one to inflict the hurt on my children (and let's be real, I'm an adult and I'm human, so I have done it...I have hurt my children's feelings) it absolutely breaks my heart back on myself. 


    Part of what led me to counseling three years ago was an experience where I was blessed to hear what I just said from my daughter's point of view.  And I remember thinking immediately after that..."oh my gosh, that is something my mother did to me and I was so humiliated." 

    That night I pulled my daughter into her bedroom and I hugged her and I told her that I was sorry.  I admitted my fault.  I said I was wrong.  I told her that sometimes, I need to learn to hold my tongue.  I told her that I loved her and that I would try not to talk to her like that again.

    And I called to make an appointment for counselling the next day.


    October 15, 2013

    Happy Birthday, Craig!

    October 16 is Craig's birthday.

    I've always been happy to celebrate the day of his birth, but I think this year, I praise the day even more. This has been a difficult year for us and I've leaned on Craig far more than I ever expected to need to. I knew he'd always be there for me and could handle my leaning on him, but I just never thought I would.

    You see, I'm the kind of woman who can handle anything. I grew up starting at the age of 8 without my father, helped care for my younger siblings, dabbled in unmentionable activities in high school -- and survived it all. I take pride in my ability to do many physical things -- I'm a good athlete and I'm competitive and I win. A lot. 

    When we opened our marriage to new life in our children, it happened for us (pretty much) whenever we wanted it to. When I have gone for promotions at work, I've (pretty much) gotten them. It really wasn't until about 11 years ago that I truly started to understand that I am blessed more by Grace than my own means...but a lifetime of a lack of humility is difficult to tame (though I'm always trying).

    This year, I haven't won very much. 

    Losing Gregory was the hardest thing I have ever endured. Having pregnancy end in death was not something I ever had a mind or heart for (who does??) And while that's the biggest hard thing that's happened this year, there are others.

    I've struggled in my job. You see, I have a complex where I want all the people in my group I manage to like me. And it's been a hard lesson to re-learn that I can't please everyone.

    Discerning God's plan for our family size was difficult earlier this year. Gut-wrenching actually. Discovering through prayer and discernment that my final foray into childbearing would end the way it did, with no chance at a "happy ending" to console me was almost impossible, if not for Craig, would have been impossible. He helped me to face my selfishness and lack of trust. It was somewhat selfish that I wanted another baby, because it wasn't what is the best thing for our family. And though it was difficult, Craig helped me to wade through those feelings and prayers, and reminded me of all the ways we are blessed.

    I'm the more uptight and intense partner in this marriage. Craig is gentle, forgiving, loyal and unwavering. 

    I want what I want and I want it now. Craig reminds me that sometimes God's blessings and timing are very different than ours.

    I have been an emotional wreck for most of this year -- sobbing through Mass, not to be counted on to assist with the children. And at times, feeling like doing nothing around the house, even when there is clearly much work to be done. And there is Craig, rubbing my shoulders, giving me a hug, taking charge of Vincent at Mass, cleaning the house, disciplining the kids -- doing his part AND my part -- because I am not doing it. Craig has been rock solid and is the reason our home hasn't fallen apart in the midst of all the chaos this year.

    So...I asked Craig what he wanted for his birthday and he said he didn't want presents (unless the kids insisted, ha). I know he likes cards, but I am so bad at picking one out. There are many cards that could tell Craig how much he means to me, but I have this public blog and all...so I thought I'd write it here.

    Happy Birthday to the kindest, gentlest, strongest, most caring man I know in this world. My children are blessed to have him for a dad. And I praise God that He saw fit to bless me with Craig for a husband. 

    October 16 -- my world is infinitely better because Craig was born on this day.


    Miscarriage and Infant Loss Awareness Day

    Today is Miscarriage and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

    In years past, this day would come and go and I would see the posts on facebook or I would read blogs and try to understand. But, today, I understand far more than I ever wanted. I've caught myself a few times over the past few days remembering moments here and there that cause me a moment of grief. 

    I recently held a baby that couldn't have been more than 4 or 5 weeks old. She was so precious, and the tears came, though not heavily. I see pictures of my nephew who is now 6 months old and I wistfully think of my baby boy in Heaven and say a little prayer.
    The loss of a child through miscarriage and/or stillbirth is often a silent and invisible grief. It had only been 3 months and I already had extended family asking my husband if I was getting counseling and if I was okay because I still cried at Mass. In our day and age of "get over it" many times, those who have not been through such a thing don't understand the pain involved and wonder just why a mother cries in grief months after the loss. In this society where babies are seen as something to be desired only when everything is perfect, many don't understand why a woman grieves the loss of a child from miscarriage when clearly, "that's nature's Mercy for an imperfect child."

    What I have lived for the last 7 months, I would never wish on anyone. I'm grateful for my faith that helps me understand that Gregory is with God and I pray I will see him when, God-willing, I begin new life in Heaven after my earthly death. But that doesn't take away the sadness and the longing I have for the baby that didn't join us here on Earth.

    If you think about it today, say a prayer for a bereaved mother.

    October 14, 2013

    Bullying: A Post I Didn't Want To Write

    I know Mondays are usually Mumble days, but today I have something else on my mind. I have often stopped short of writing about bullying because it's difficult for me to do so without getting into personal details of anything that's happened. But I think I have found a way to keep it objective, and therefore (I hope!) useful. 

    The reason it's a post I didn't want to write is because I often wonder if I am too sensitive or I take things too seriously. But when there are kids out there committing suicide because it seems they can't get away from bullies and their parents can't help them either, I realize that perhaps it's best to err on the side of over-caution if I must.

    I was recently asked to give some information on my experiences with bullying from a parent's perspective. I was happy to give the information, but sad that I had enough experience that I could give it extensively.

    I was bullied as a kid. I went to Catholic school and the bullying there was worse than anything I ever experienced in public school. The bullying I experienced in Catholic school was a big reason that Catholic school wasn't a huge priority for me at first. I was bullied heavily when I began playing school sports and was actually kind of good. You see, I had been a swimmer, and 7th grade was the first time I seriously attempted volleyball or basketball. And girls don't take kindly to newcomers who kind of step in a little further ahead than where it seems they should be.

    Due to my experience as a child, I am probably hyper-sensitive to the topic. However, I work hard to stay aware of what is going on with my children at school. Last year, when my oldest entered sixth grade (first year of middle school), I suffered through the hardest 18 weeks of my life (school-wise) raising my children. During the first eight weeks of school I watched my daughter withdraw and retreat from me. I'm the kind of parent who was always checking her iPod every night. I checked iMessage, kik, Instagram, not only for my daughter's posts or comments, but also those with whom she interacted. I saw the things going on via Instagram and instant message on her iPod that, coupled with her withdrawn behavior, gave me pause. I finally tried to "have it out" with her to find out just what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks was going on. Finally, she started talking to me and let me know that she didn't know why certain friendships had changed. And, she and one of her friends were victims of mockery at the hands of a few girls in her class. Honestly, a lot of it sounded like some of the "mean-girl" antics you witness on TV shows these days -- stupid at the core, but hurtful to an 11-year-old or 12-year-old.

    I talked with some parents and I also took it up with the teachers at conferences because, while it did not seem severe, I sure didn't want it to end up that way. That was my first course of action. The next thing we did was decide that we would shut off my daughter's iPod Touch for awhile. No good was coming from the connections on Instagram and my daughter had been the target of a group message gone bad that caused some emotional damage. Probably more to me than her, but we both decided it was probably for the best to lay low on the technology for awhile. (It turns out she broke her iPod Touch about eight weeks later and we simply haven't replaced it -- best decision ever.)

    Over the holiday break last school year, I had a lot of heart-to-heart talks with my daughter and I am happy to say that she put a plan together to move forward. We talked about the things that matter in life and priorities (God - Family - Responsibilities/Friends). We reviewed what we knew about how true friends act -- in word and deed -- both to each other and when in the absence of each other. We put a plan together for her to know how to be a good friend, how NOT to be taken advantage of and to remember always to attempt to be Christ-like to others. If the "mean girl" antics continued at all, she either didn't notice or did, but found the behavior lacking enough to allow it to bother or worry her. My daughter was also playing club volleyball on a team with completely new girls and her confidence grew by leaps and bounds. We also discussed how she should act to ensure she was not behaving poorly to others. We spent some time discussing sensitivity awareness and also that other kids are just trying to "fit in" like she was and sometimes we have to cut people some slack, but not at the expense of doing what is right.

    I've remained aware but less antsy about the social interactions of my daughter over the course of the last ten months. I check in with her regularly, of course, and I also check in with like-minded parents. I also reiterate to my daughter my expectations of her behavior. Every so often something rears its head and we have to talk about it, but mostly, I see that she remembers what is truly important and doesn't get caught up in the negativity like she did early on. 

    I won't lie: I am sad and sometimes upset when I learn that certain things still go on. And it bothers me knowing that most parents would say, "Well, that's just the way kids are..." or even if they are confronted that their child may be disrespectful or hurtful to another child, they will say, "I would never tolerate that behavior from my child..."

    The vast majority of parents these days seem to brush off what I would consider rather serious or even egregious behavior by their kids as being "normal" or "typical."  I think that smaller schools with a less diverse population (such as small Catholic schools, for one, but not the only, example) have environments rich for bullying. Sometimes the parents I talk to seem to say, "I would never tolerate that behavior from my child" in such a way that it seems it should be the end of the conversation. It is almost as if, because that parent made such a declaration,they think it absolves their child from any potential wrongdoing. It seems almost as if, since they have declared that position, they should never be questioned with regard to their child's behavior.

    Newsflash to about 75% of the parents out there: Just because you say you won't tolerate bullying or mean behavior from your children, does not mean they don't and won't bully or behave in a mean manner. 

    I have often felt as though bullying and mean behavior is much more insidious with females. Although, I think in today's world of internet and emotional overdrive, the world of male bullying is getting to the same level. I only have girls who have hit the stage where bullying or mean-girl antics are in play. My oldest son is only four years old and at this point. But I've seen a lot where girls are concerned -- both my own instances as well as watching things with my daughters. I've seen enough to know that the way girls can be mean is very subtle, usually parents and teachers are not aware unless they are very diligent. Girls are very good at doing and saying things quietly. Girls often have little sayings that adults would never understand, but the kids around them get the message.

    I have witnessed the following ways that kids bully and demean each other:

    • They will mock a child's name. In some instances, they will mock a pair of children (who are friends) simultaneously by making up names for them and using the made up names in a mocking manner.
    • Sometimes girls will claim a certain hairstyle (I know!) and will then shun or shame an "outsider" (child not in their social circle) for wearing her hair the same way
    • On Instagram, kids often list people as special in bios, to the exclusion of others. I will grant this is not always meant in a mean way. But I've seen some girls use it as a power ploy within their group, holding a place in their bio as some prize to be won somehow. Regardless, there's enough discussion about bios, that I wonder about it often. (i.e., "Why did you take me out of your bio?"; "Why do you have so-and-so listed as your BFF...I thought we were BFFs"; "You're the dork with so-and-so in your bio")
    • Some children will claim that a girl "copied" things such as school supplies (umm...we all shop at the same places, people!)
    • Sometimes a girl or group of girls will pull other girls away from one or two "outsiders" (girls not in their circle). Sometimes the girl(s) doing the pulling don't even really care to be friends or talk to the ones they are pulling away. Their goal is to ensure the "outsiders" don't get to be friends with any potential "insiders."
    • Sometimes the girl being pulled away from a group is the one being bullied, as well. Especially in the case where the one doing the pulling is trying to monopolize the girl to keep her from making friends to the detriment of their already established friendship. (I continually work with my daughter to help her identify ways to keep herself from being a "puppet," though I can't be sure how successful we've been.)
    • At times, I have witnessed group messages that target an individual, while the larger group watches that one individual be humiliated somehow
    • Comments on Instagram pictures ("ugly", "stupid", "retarded" -- what you would think is harmless/stupid stuff -- but the negative is usually targeted toward one or two individuals regularly)
    • When a group of children are walking together, one speeds up or slows down, in an attempt to "ditch" one or more of the children in the group and encourages others to do so as well
    • "Inside" jokes -- the incessant use of them in the presence of those kids that have no idea what it is. (My opinion -- if you have an "inside" joke -- keep it to yourself for goodness sake)
    • Some kids are in the precarious position of being  caught in between, having friends in different social circles. The girls from one circle can put pressure on the this girl to "ditch" friends in the other one. This is a way of bullying these girls, too. The pressure can be external as well as internal (to the girl in between).
    Middle school is a time when a lot of bullying behavior takes place. Part of it is because that is when we start to expect more responsible and grown-up behavior out of children, but they have to transition there and feel their way a little bit. So, some forgiveness is required at this point, as kids are going to make mistakes and they need to know that there is life after a mistake. BUT -- and this is a big key -- parents MUST be aware and involved. Too many parents think this is someone else's problem. Too many parents think this only happens at such-and-such schools. Too many parents are far too busy with many things to take time to deal with something so seemingly trivial. And, to be honest, many parents just assume it is never their kid perpetrating the harm.

    I have read one too many stories about kids my daughter's age committing suicide because they had trouble relating to other kids or felt they had no friends at school. The way kids talk to each other on Instagram and Facebook and ask.fm and any other social media avenue can be confusing. They often use put-downs with each other. Then they follow up with "j/k" for "just kidding." They have no concept of the idea that simply putting "lol" or "j/k" after something hurtful DOES NOT make their harmful words come off with any less sting. Sometimes you see kids say things like, "I should kill myself" in jest or even worse, "You should kill yourself." Whether in jest or not, our children should NOT be speaking to each other, or messaging each other or tweeting each other in this manner. 

    I have actually been thinking about getting my thoughts on bullying out on this blog ever since I read about this girl in Florida who jumped to her death a few weeks ago. I ran across this story when I came into work and it was on the TV in the lobby as it ran CNN. I was shocked to learn that the girl was 12 years old. My oldest daughter is 12 years old. CNN showed her picture and I could see my daughter in her eyes. They talked about the cyber-bullying the girl had endured after she had already endured physical and emotional bullying at a school she had left. a year ago. Yes, the girls who bullied her at that school couldn't leave well enough alone and basically stalked this girl on a few different social media avenues. And her mother didn't take away her phone.

    I don't have a lot of patience for bullying behavior when I witness it. When my daughter was having trouble last year, I did go to parents -- some were accepting and helpful, others were not as much -- in conjunction with enlisting the teachers' help. And I took my daughter off all social media. I think we could have gotten to a better place with it, but it would be easier without that distraction. And it was clear to me that I could not handle seeing how kids my daughter's age interacted on social media and that it seemed only a few parents actually monitored.

    My daughter has not allowed her confidence to be shaken this year, but it's clear to me she is still suffering some of these ill behavior to a degree. My daughter now recognizes it for what it is and has chosen not to allow it to affect her as deeply.I hope the strength my daughter shows me is truly what's in her heart (she's always been a strong one). But even then -- even though I can see this strength in my daughter, I refuse to stop talking with her about it in case that should change. Even a 12-year-old who is strong, can be beaten and broken down quickly if the right weakness is attacked. 

    We have discussed getting her a phone and whether she is interested in social media. She did say that she would probably like to participate on Instagram again, but she understands the boundaries she must set with it. I am thankful to have a daughter with a strong head on her shoulders who has witnessed how awry even something like Instagram can be.

    How do you address bullying or mean behavior with your children? How do you help them cope if they have been a victim? What programs do your schools employ to assist in handling bullying?

    ***Update***For anyone not aware, the minimum age to have a Facebook and Instagram account is 13. I have never researched Twitter on that, so can't speak to it. This has been my strongest defense against my kids having these accounts, and even though my oldest did for a time, she doesn't now and she and I discussed why it is good to restrict it to 13 and up. Personally, I think older would be even better, but I'm not in charge. The reality is that even if they have this age restriction -- is seems a majority of the kids/parents do not abide by it and there's no way to police it.

    October 7, 2013

    Monday Mumbles - 58

    Mondays...Mondays...are so hard when I don't go to bed early on Sundays.

    1. I discovered Downton Abbey this weekend. Yes, I know I am late to the party, but holy cow, what a good show.
    2. You must understand...I have a hard time getting into TV. I really do. Craig got me into Lost while it was on and I watched it through to the end. I really enjoyed Heroes, but it disappointed when a writer's strike occurred and it fell of the face of the planet or something. I tried to get into Dr. Who and I will watch an episode here or there, but it's not really my favorite. I am still watching Breaking Bad, but I need a breather from the violence in that one so I don't watch back to back.

    3. So, I picked up Season 1 of Downton Abbey from the Family Video rental store Friday night not sure what to expect, as far as my commitment to watching the show past the first two episodes. However, I was up until 2 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning watching and got through the first two discs of Season 1. I got up Sunday morning and promptly watched the rest of Season 1 while my kids went unsupervised (ha, not really). And I returned it to the video store and picked up Seasons 2 and 3. Then I was up until midnight last night. I was about to watch just one more episode and I thought...Ugh, no I have GOT to get up for work in the morning. But...it's waiting for me when I get the kids in bed.

    4. Vincent is still throwing major fits in the morning. And he directs all his negative energy toward me. :( As soon as I turn on the light in the boys' room in the morning, I get shouted at to "Get out!!" This morning, I knew I needed to clip Vincent's finger nails because I neglected to do it Saturday after his bath and he screamed and thrashed around the whole time. Following that, as I tried to change his diaper he keeps reaching for Craig and saying, "I want my Daddy!" It's like the only way I can get him to be decent to me is to promise a treat of some sort. I really dislike this, but I don't know what else to do.
    5. And he can be so sweet to me sometimes. Few and far between, I admit, but I just try to enjoy the times he is not screaming at me to "get out!" or that he "wants Daddy!" or "wants Sarah!" or "wants <insert anyone but me>!"

    6. Yesterday evening I spent cleaning bathrooms and equipment at the Crossfit Box. I'm really excited to get to work out there again starting in November (I have to wait full recovery period from my surgery). Craig actually  had to work earlier than normal so it was just me. I know it will go much faster when he is able to come and do half of it. I must say -- I did a very good job and I don't think I ever saw those bathrooms as clean when I wasn't the one cleaning them.
    7. Dani has a third cross country meet today. She did pretty well the last time and ran the whole way. I will get to see her next week at City Championship Meet because Columbus Day!! :)

    8.Helen is sassy. But then...you knew that.
    Goodness, she looks way too grown up in this picture
    9. Oh! The Chiefs are now 5-0!! It is so exciting!!!

    10. So, this posting every weekday thing...not so bad, huh? I have a question though...I guess I am getting a fair amount of traffic to this blog (although, I must admit, I seem to be like a little kid -- I wish I got more comments/feedback... haha) but I keep getting e-mails from people who want to write for me or want me to pay them for some service to boost traffic, etc. Do any of you ever answer these e-mails? I started getting a lot of them when I had lots of hits on Gregory's post and then when I had lots of hits on this post and this post.

    Have a great Monday!!

    October 4, 2013

    Saturday Evening Blogpost - 10

    It is time for the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther

    This is a great time to share your favorite post from the previous month. If you click through, just add the link from that post to the link up. It's a great way to meet other bloggers!

    This month, I shared:

    Please go visit Elizabeth Esther to meet some other fabulous bloggers!

    7 Quick Takes - 64

    A great big thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

    --- 1 ---

    It is time. Time to order a headstone for Gregory's place at the Cemetery. Gosh, Tuesday was 7 months since we delivered him and tomorrow is 7 months since the burial. I am really glad I had enough going on in my brain in the weeks following all of that to call and ask them to send the paperwork to order, but truth be told...I just didn't have it in me to look at it and pick something out until after the due date passed in July. It's just that I never thought I'd have to pick something like a headstone out for a child. And...well, it ain't cheap either...and we're not exactly rolling in dough here. But...we've scraped enough together for the initial payment, so I'm sending that in. I guess I am hoping the prices haven't changed as I now see that they are only guaranteed for 30 days from 4-10-13. Oh well, we'll get the process started and hopefully have the remaining funds when we need to have them to get it placed. When we visited Gregory's grave the weekend of his due date, it was a little disheartening that we weren't entirely sure where he was (although, I think we ultimately figured it out) so I really really need to get this done.

    --- 2 ---

    On a happier note: my 2-week follow-up from surgery was good. He says it is okay to start walking and maybe in about 10 days or 2 weeks I can start running again. Yay!!

    --- 3 ---

    Oh! Remember how we had to stop crossfit a couple months ago? Well, Craig and I really really missed it, but honestly...we just cannot afford the membership for both of us. While messaging with my friend Rebecca from Shoved to Them a couple weeks ago, she suggested I offer to do something for the Box in return. For example, she redid the website for her gym in exchange for membership. But...who am I kidding? I can't do THAT!! But she offered the suggestion that perhaps I could clean the bathrooms or something regularly. Now THAT I can do. I wasn't sure if they'd go for it or what options there were, but you never know if you don't ask, right? (BTW -- go check out Rebecca's post from Wednesday, you will NOT be sorry :) )

    Anyway, it turns out that if Craig and I clean the bathrooms and equipment in the gym once a week, we can get our couples membership going again for trade! How exciting is that?!? I am super-pumped. Of course, I can't get back to lifting until November, but we are going to start Sunday and Craig can go back and I might see what I can do scale wise after another couple weeks. But yay!! Crossfit!!!
    --- 4 ---

    Remember last week when I was gushing over Sarah's chapter she wrote for her assignment when her class finished "The Giver"? Yeah...I'm kind of a proud mama, I know. But anyway!!

    When I discussed Sarah's creative writing assignment for school with my brother recently, he told me about a website where Sarah could dabble in publishing stuff she's written. He said he'd buy it (haha, you're on the hook now, Uncle Mike!) if she would self-publish on this site he told me about.  I had no idea stuff like this was out there! And...it's just a chapter and pretty simple stuff, so it seems like the perfect format for something on lulu <dot> com.

    So...we dabbled on lulu <dot> com last night. If you have $3.49 and want to read what she wrote, CLICK HERE. If you choose to read it, you probably would have wanted to read the book "The Giver" first to have any idea where the story left off to understand where she picks it up. She's 12, of course, so it's written like a 12-year-old, but I thought it was pretty good for a 12-year-old (yes, I know, I am her mother and I'm supposed to think that anyway).

    --- 5 ---

    I took one of the plants we received when Gregory passed away to my office this week. It definitely adds a little something. Now to remember to water it regularly! I'm actually amazed we've kept both plants alive to this point...Craig and I are not very good at keeping plant life going.

    --- 6 ---

    Tonight is Late Night in Allen Fieldhouse. Officially, basketball season will start. I know football is still going on and KU really needs to win their football game this weekend. But, being the true Jayhawk that I am, I know that with basketball right around the corner -- it just doesn't matter what happens in football. :)

    Looking forward to some Rock Chalk Jayhawkin' this year!
    --- 7 ---

    I actually posted every weekday again this week. That's two weeks in a row. And that's just crazy talk! I'm glad to have some of these linkups that help inspire SOME-thing regularly!

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


      October 3, 2013

      Throwback Thursday Reruns: The Decisions I Won't Regret

      Last week, on Thursday, I posted an old post as a re-run and I kind of liked doing that. 

      So. I am doing it again. I wrote this post as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Vincent. The only thing I could add to this post is that I still don't regret the decisions since then. We were open to another child and God blessed us with Gregory. Of course, we miss him terribly, but on some level, I feel honored that God asked us to bring the soul of a saint into the world. It hurts that Gregory's time with us was so fleeting, but it humbles me to realize I am parent of a soul so loved by God that He saw fit to bring Gregory into His presence so early in his life.

      Without further adieu...my reflection from May 2011, on the Decisions I Won't Regret.


      I had the opportunity to talk with my husband's uncle and aunt at a party recently.  They have two beautiful daughters about 15 months apart who are now grown-up, successful adults (one is a doctor, but chooses to be home to mother her four children and the other is an attorney with her own practice).  Craig's aunt mentioned that there had been times she had wished they might have tried for one more child.  Through the discussion, I mentioned that when Craig and I have discussed our family, God's plan for how large it should be and such, one thing we've tried to keep in mind was that we would never regret having another child...but we might regret not being open to another child.  Both his uncle and aunt nodded and said that was a wise way to look at it, based on their experience.  These two people were/are very successful in their own careers and about to retire.  They enjoy their four grandchildren as much as any grandparents ever did and I'm fairly certain that they don't have much to regret, but even if they did have a slight regret about their family size - it is just that - slight and most likely fleeting. 

      But as I think about our family and where we stand today, with four active children and number 5 kicking away at my ribs, I think about my chances to regret....and am surprised to find that I really don't regret much.

      I do not regret my nervous discussion with Craig just about 11 years ago when I said I thought maybe we should try to have a baby.  Having children wasn't really on our radar when we got married, and I was relieved that the most resistance I received from Craig was, "But...I thought we weren't gonna do that."  

      When Sarah came along, our lives changed dramatically.  What was important before her took a back seat to what was important now.  Particularly, Sarah's baptism into the Catholic faith was a major turning point for Craig and me to get down to business on knowing our faith so that we could pass it on to her.  I am not sure I could ever convey to Sarah just how very important she has been to her parents.  I'm quite certain that our acceptance of her was the catalyst to our acceptance to all the Grace and Blessings that could be bestowed on two people in the Sacrament of Marriage. 

      I could probably write a post per child explaining the non-regret I have for each of them.  They have all brought something new and necessary to our family.  Watching them grow up together brings me more joy than any earthly experience I could ever imagine.

      I do not regret my nervous discussion with Craig just about 10 years ago when I broached the subject of learning Natural Family Planning (NFP), which opened the doors to learning the Church's unwavering teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.  I do not regret tossing those pills, learning how to read my body's signals through its ongoing cycles, and giving a gift of my total self to my husband in our marriage.  That decision has been a waterfall of love and grace pouring down on my life, blessing me in my husband's love and devotion, showering me in plentiful hugs and kisses from my babies, and gifting me beyond measure as my children grow up into people who continue to teach me.  Without a doubt, the blessing of NFP in our marriage has been a savior of sorts...much like I cannot imagine where my life might have gone without Sarah entering into it, I cannot imagine what my life would be without NFP.

      I do not regret putting our children in our parish's school.  While every education choice and decision comes with its ups and downs, our school has been a place of spiritual growth and cultivation for our children.  Our parish is a place I flee to when I need to confess and cling to when I need to pray.  We are so blessed by everyone we encounter at Mass, social gatherings, meetings and school functions.  There was a time in my life when if I had been asked if I would place my children in a Catholic school, I probably would have answered doubtfully.  (Maybe someday I'll write about that.  Maybe not.)  Truth be told, it took a VERY special place to turn my heart around on the subject, and I thank the Lord every day, for our parish and school, providing a place for my children to grow in love of Christ, learn beyond perceived potential and a place where they can daily express the deepest desires of their heart to be close to our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

      When we moved 5 months ago, I was going through a closet and found a piece of paper on which I had written goals over the next five years back in 2001.  Of course, we're now 10 years past that, but it struck me funny how even in 2001, while I was expecting my first child and much of my worldview hadn't changed from before her conception...that the path I constructed with these goals still lined up with what had happened over those five years.  

      One of the goals was that we'd have three kids.  That one made me smile...because apparently, as soon as I grasped the idea of a blessing of one child, I jumped immediately to three (but it was clear from the goals I wrote, that three was the max...in 2001, at least).  One of the goals was to have completed my MBA.  One of the goals was to have met a certain salary requirement.  

      Amazingly, even though I'd forgotten about this slip of paper with these 5-year-plan goals...I had met all of them.  We had Dani in 2003 and Helen in 2006 (3 kids in 5 years).  I graduated with my MBA in 2003.  And I had attained the salary that I had set out to attain by the year 2004.

      My only sort-of-sad observation was that none of these goals I had written had anything to do with my spiritual life or growing deeper in my faith.  

      Maybe what I should take from it is this:  It was never up to me in the first place.

      Even though I didn't set out at any one point in time to get closer to God, I was still pulled in that direction.  And quite possibly the reason I don't regret anything I have written about here, is because I can see how it's all led to the one place I want to be more than anything...closer to being in union with God.