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May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes About A Highly Viewed Post, Vulnerability and skippingWeight Watchers - 80

I like the way Jen has started giving you a little preview of her QT's in the title, so I kind of stole it. Also, a huge thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting! 

--- 1 ---

It's been an interesting week around here. My post from Wednesday generated quite a buzz for this blog. Can't complain about that! You know what's crazy? I had that post sitting in my drafts for months. MONTHS. I just didn't have the courage to hit "publish" because I was so worried about whether it had the right tone to it, worried people would just read it as a complaint and wouldn't understand the underlying message. 

But I was wrong. The comments have been incredible to read. I've gained some followers and I must say, I have a bit more confidence that perhaps I should post a few other posts that are sitting in my Drafts right now. So, we'll see.

If you're new around here and came back to see what my blog looks like on a day that I don't post something lots of people talk about, I will simply say, my blog is mostly a Catholic mom's blog. I sometimes write about being a WOTHM (Work Outside The Home Mom), I like to write about my experiences with Natural Family Planning and sometimes I delve into Catholic topics. Oh and I am also in the midst of a weight loss journey and most Wednesday posts are my Weight Watchers Wednesday posts (just not this week). Welcome to all the newcomers and please know that I LOVE to get comments and I actually try to respond via e-mail when I can. As a matter of fact, after this post is written I plan to tackle the comments from Wednesday!

--- 2 ---

Today is the last day of school for the 2013-14 school year. After today, I will have rising 8th, 5th, 3rd graders and a Kindergartner! I am very excited about my Dominic starting "real" school (as he calls it). He's such a love. I know he'll do well.

But summer vacation is upon us (Thank God!!) A few weeks with no homework and no tight schedules. We are much overdue for some slow-down time around here, so I'm excited.

Picture of kids on last day of school:

wow, they grow up so fast!
First Day / Last Day (the last day is on top (obviously):
I think Dani has definitely grown taller...
And -- one with all five because we can't forget vincent!!

Yes, Vincent is still in his PJ's

--- 3 ---

As a matter of fact, our family vacation begins in SIX WEEKS!!! Craig and I both have two weeks off from work. We will be traveling to South Carolina to visit my sister and her family and my brother and his family (Charlotte area). This is the first time I've been able to take vacation during the summer months in all the time I've been with my current employer. My kids are excited. Usually, the summer is full of complaints about my having to go to work, so this year, I was very happy to be able to schedule vacation in the summer.

--- 4 ---

Have you all met Heather at Mama Knows, Honey Child? This blog is one of my favorites and has been since Jennifer Fulwiler introduced me to her about a year ago. I love her drawings and she wrote a post yesterday that resonated so well, given the post I'd put up on Wednesday. If you haven't read it, go ahead now. I'll wait.


Blogging gives many of us a unique opportunity to show ourselves to the world. And, sometimes that is crazy, you know? Sometimes, when I write something that really takes it out of me -- I am all crazy, checking blogger to see how many views it's gotten. Or checking my blog email address to see if I have any comments. And if I don't have any comments one hour after that gut-wrenching, heart-rendering post is published, I start worrying that no one liked it. I even watch for comments from people I just kind of expect to post on my more hmmmm, courageous (???) posts. I mean, there are some people who read my blog that I know in real life and I kind of get disappointed if I don't get a comment from them. REally. I'm kind of crazy.

But Heather's post helped me see I am not alone in this. Becoming vulnerable to the world wide web can drive a person crazy. I'm actually someone that tries to avoid vulnerability in my real life -- I feel like I should always appear strong, with it and confident -- I work in Corporate America after all. And so, it really pushes me out of my comfort zone to open up on the internet the way I sometimes do.  But in then end, I rarely regret it. I'd rather put myself out there and hash out something and see if anyone else feels that way than bottle it all up inside and sit around forever wondering "what if?" 

--- 5 ---

So another week went by without Weight Watchers Wednesday. My last official weigh-in, i was 1.2 pounds away from my goal, just an FYI. Sorry about that! I am really going to do one next week because...well, it hasn't been pretty over here. Man! I got 1.2 pounds away from goal and then I went all crazy and stopped tracking and thought eating 5 pork spare ribs and a bunch of chocolate and cookies is okay. And it's really not. I did step on my scale yesterday morning, decided NOT to attend my meeting because I just couldn't face that weight being officially recorded in my weight record and re-committed to my tracking and point-counting ways.

I probably really needed to attend the meeting this week, but I let my fear keep me away. At least fear didn't COMPLETELY win since I did step on my scale at home. But still. Sometimes the humbling fact of the matter is that you need to see the WW leader write down that insane horrible weight that you thought you'd kissed good-bye forever. 

Ahem. Onward and upward, right?

I know I can do this. I know I can stick with the program, hit my goal weight and then maintain it for 6 weeks to attain Lifetime with Weight Watchers. It is very necessary that I do this. But I think I need a cheering section. mmm'kay?

--- 6 ---

How's your weather? I'm lovin' ours. It's been warm, sunny and all around late spring-ish around here. It can get a little hot when doing crossfit, but I'm good with that. I'm sweating anyway, right?

--- 7 ---

Are you on Facebook? If you are, search for Endless Strength Blog and "LIKE" my page. If I reach 100 "LIKE"s  i plan to do some sort of giveaway. I am about 28 "LIKE"s away from 100. So, help a girl out? If you "LIKE" my page, be sure to invite others to "LIKE" it, too.

</shameless FB Page Plug>

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



May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday Reruns: Thy Will Be...

Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday Reruns. This post ran in December 2011 after a homily when the Gospel was the story of the Annunciation and Mary's Fiat. I still find myself praying that God's will be what I want instead of praying for acceptance far more than I would like. But, awareness is half the battle, right?


This past weekend's Gospel was from Luke 1: 26-38. This the the story of the Annunciation, when the Archangel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary and announced that she would conceive and bear the Son of God.

Photo Found Here
In his homily, this weekend, Father put forth an interesting juxtaposition. Side note: does anyone else get excited to use a word like juxtaposition in their blogpost? Yeah, I figured. (I am SUCH a nerd!)

He reminded us all how fearful this moment must have been for Mary. She was young, a teenager, and she was being told that she would conceive a child, (when she had no relations with a man). Without the fact that this child would be the Savior of the World, this was scary. She was betrothed to Joseph who could choose to leave her; becoming pregnant out of wedlock might get her outcast (and that was probably the least scary option); and going through pregnancy, labor and childbirth without going through normal human means to get to that situation...the chances are that Mary might have wondered if there were ANY way at all to bring the Lord, our Savior into this world without having to go through all of this, that she might pray for that instead. But she said, "May it be done to me according to Your will."

Then he reminded us all how fearful the night before His Crucifixion was for our Lord in the Garden. He prayed that if there were any way at all to accomplish what He needed to accomplish without going through the torture that lay ahead, that He would rather do that. But His prayer, ultimately, was "Thy Will Be Done."

The juxtaposition was this: Instead of praying with the spirit and intention of "Thy Will be Changed" Jesus and Mary both prayed with the spirit and intention of "Thy Will be Done."
How often when I pray, do I say the words, "Thy Will be Done" but with my heart and mind I say, "Thy Will be Changed"? I have caught myself more often than I want to admit with the prayer, "Please, Lord, Let it be your will that X, Y, or Z happen."

I thought about this a lot this weekend.

It's human to want things in our lives. We think we know what's best for us. We would like to avoid suffering. We'd like to partake in all the comforts of this life while avoiding all of the discomforts (or most of them anyway). And I think it's in some of Paul's writings in the Bible (yes, I'm showing my Catholic laziness by not trying to find the actual Bible verses...sorry) that we are to petition the Lord. He wants us to pray and petition Him. That is how we build a relationship with Him. However, just because the outcome WE desire does not materialize, does not mean God has not heard our prayer or has not answered our prayer.

I think it's easy to get caught up in our prayers to God and think that we must be praying for what is God's will because we desire it so much in our hearts. We make ourselves believe that God put that desire on our hearts or else we wouldn't feel it so strongly. And, then when our hearts' most urgent and real desires do not become reality, we kind of stomp our feet and say, "Well, why do I desire this so fervently if it's not Your Will, God!?!?" And sometimes we only pray all the harder for this intention.

It's hard to remember that God answers prayers on His terms, in His time. And it's hard to remember that God's will is not always something we ourselves would choose.

I have a favorite line/quote from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (the first of the series). When I think about what I want versus what God wants, it pops into my head. It is at the end of the book when Dumbledore and Harry are having sort of debrief discussion after the climax of the story. Dumbledore tells Harry,
"--the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."
Now, of course. humans do not ALWAYS choose something that is worst for them. However, that which is best for us usually entails a bit of work, or some suffering, most likely some sacrifice.

More than likely, God's will for us is going to take at least some work on our part, most definitely some sort of sacrifice and undoubtedly a bit of suffering.

How often do we see our choices ahead of us and ask God to grant us the way with the least amount of work, sacrifice and suffering? And then, when the way that unfolds for us is the one with the work, sacrifice and suffering, we are sad, we think God didn't hear us and we surely believe God didn't answer our prayer if, somehow, He did hear us.

I have found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I've thought about this message over the last 24-48 hours. I am challenging myself to honestly assess my prayers and hold myself accountable for where my heart is anchored.

Do I pray with the spirit and intention and request that God's will be changed to conform with my wishes and desires?

Or do I have the courage, wisdom and fortitude to pray with the spirit and intention and request that God's will be done in my life?

May 28, 2014

Let's Get Real about a Larger (than average) Family

When people say this: “You have your hands full!”

I often say “thank you” or “don’t I know it!” with a huge smile on my face. I never want anyone to get the impression that I don’t love the fact that I have been so very blessed to have five children beyond the womb (current ages 12, 10, 8, 5 and 2) and our baby, Gregory, who is in Heaven.

The reality is that it’s not always easy to have that huge smile. And sometimes I want to say, “Yes, I do…why don’t you take a couple off my hands?” Or maybe I want to say, “My hands! My house! My car! All of it is FULL!!! FULL, FULL, FULL!!! There is NO more room at the inn!!!”

Over the years, I’ve thought about how I publicly show my face with regards to our family. We used NFP and I wanted people to know that we (and God!) intended every single one of them. No “mistakes” around here. No “oopsies” or “method failures” or any of that. We went in fully aware babies could come from our union and we were fine with that. We welcomed them all!

There seems to be a tremendous pressure, especially in Catholic circles and especially on-line in the blog-world where everyone can read the things we write, to enjoy every minute of this great big family we procreated and to never let it show that it’s difficult, at times. We must always “saddle up” and ride on through the path we have laid by accepting this gift of children into our marriage and never let on to “the outside” that there might be times we question our former sanity. And that’s a shame because in reality, there are some difficulties that come with having more than 2.2 children (or 1.9 or whatever our birth rate is these days) in our society that should be acknowledged and validated without it seeming like we regretted having the children we have.

So, this is a “get real” post. This is the post that perhaps women like me are afraid to write. And I’m writing it. And I want to state for the record before I get going that I don’t want you to think, for one second, that I don’t love and adore my beautiful family. I can love them and I can love all the sufferings and hardships just as much as I love the joyful and fun times.

The Struggles of a mother of five…

·         Oh, the Insecurity! I often feel like the discernment to add to my family was the easy part (it wasn’t really…in my saner moments I know that) and I’m failing one or more of these precious children at any given moment. My oldest got 100% of me when she was a newborn. Not one other child of mine was afforded that opportunity. And not one of my children will ever get 100% of me ever again. (The pressure to tout the awesomeness of siblings is often what gets thrown at this one.)

·         The Diapers, the Wipes, the Pull-ups, Oh My! So, we’re out of diapers and potty-training now – but that was hard. Changing diapers in the household for almost 13 years – wow! Ever since our youngest potty-trained a few months ago, I’ve marveled, while reading the grocery ads and being able to skip over the Huggies or Pampers specials. We don’t need any of that anymore and WOW!! It’s been almost 13 years since I could say that!

·         Tantrums to Teens – Maybe I really AM crazy! We’re now balancing the parenting of tantrum-throwing toddler with clingy young elementary-aged kids while we’re also working to get the older kids ready to be adults – added responsibilities, teaching personal accountability and the like. It can be draining. You think dealing with the tantrums is hard, until you’re saying “shut up” and yelling at a kid who thinks they know everything so that you can assert yourself (again) as the sole parent in the room. Then later, you feel guilty that you yelled at your teen who is just trying to figure things out. (There’s that insecurity again…)

·         Just wait until they get older, it will be easier! When the children were all young, people would say that it will get better. And that is true, to an extent. My life feels better with my kids who are older because they do help me out in many ways. I have a babysitter in my oldest now and even my second child can be “in charge” for short periods of time. But the reality is that the struggles take on a different flavor. Monitoring internet usage and phones and text messages but also having the time to have the talks with the kids that they need to have at that time – the pressure can feel suffocating.

·         “That’s so great, I bet you get a lot of use out of everything!” I had three girls first and then I had my two boys. Sometimes “hand-me-downs” worked and sometimes they didn’t. All three of my girls have very different tastes and body types, so unless it was A-Line (yay for a great A-Line First Holy Communion Dress!) I didn’t get as much use out of true sibling hand-me-downs as I did from just getting second-hand stuff from various friends or consignment/thrift stores.  But to be honest, getting and giving “Hand-me-downs” all the time gets old. Shopping in Thrift Stores get old. Yes, I love to save money. Yes, it’s a necessary thing when you have five children that you do some second-hand stuff. Brand-new for all kids all the time is just not going to cut it. But, I’m not going to lie – it’s not all that much fun.

·         Minivan Rage! Driving a minivan forever sucks. We own two minivans because that way, no matter which parent/driver has the kids, they have a vehicle large enough for everyone. But, I find myself daydreaming about the day I can drive a compact car to work again. (Truly)

·         Nuclear Family of Four, Please! All the “family packs” or “family” anything refers to two adults and two children. It used to make me mad back when I had three children…but now, it’s just silly. Who decided two adults and two children make a family? Of course, I know my family qualifies as a family and I no longer feel like I need everyone else in the world to acknowledge that fact. But that doesn’t mean the ugliness of this situation doesn’t rear its head every so often. And usually it is when I’m forking over an extra $50 for something so that my entire family can do it together.

·       Oh! The expen$e$! Let’$ discu$$ the expen$e, shall we? Having a large family is expensive. That’s not rocket science. Raising kids is expensive all the way around. Doing anything fun with a family of 7 (2 adults and 5 children, thank you very much) is going to cost an arm and a leg. I literally have to “put money away” in the savings account specifically for a night out to dinner or to an activity. When our family travels and finds the need to spend the night in a hotel – we must to get a suite or something so we can all fit in one place. And, because life, in general, is expen$ive, when you have a larger-than-average family, your kids don’t get to do everything they see their friends do. Expensive club sports, music lessons, extra camps in the summer, travel – all of these things are simply out of reach for most of us with larger families. I’ve worked in activities with moderation, but it takes some a lot of sacrifice.

·         Catholic families want to provide a Catholic education? Hahaha This brings me to … Catholic Schools – this one is mostly for us large Catholic families who desire to send our kids to Catholic schools. Many of us large families of the Catholic variety expand ourselves right out of the ability to provide Catholic education for our children. I know of an example of a mother with child number six on the way who lives in the southeast U.S. It got to the point that the parish and/or school couldn’t give her family enough financial assistance to continue to educate her children in the Catholic school once she had three enrolled (Grades: K, 2 and 4). She looked and looked at it, but realized the next year would be an even bigger struggle and financial balancing act because she would have four going to school (Grades: K, 1, 3, and 5th) and it wouldn’t be long (just about 2-3 years) before her fifth would join them and she’d have five in that school (Grades: K, 3, 4, 6 and 8th). She had to face the fact that she would never be able to afford it. Some schools provide a “cap” (I think in this particular case, the school stopped increasing tuition after the 4th child began attending school), but regardless…even WITH financial assistance it could run (for her) $30,000/year for ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Check it: that is NOT high school and NOT college; that is the cost of one year of elementary/middle school for her children.  (For a frame of reference that amounts to about 45% of the household gross income, as she is a stay-at-home-mom and her husband works full-time.)

As for our family, we are blessed in our situation that we have a parish supported, K-8 school. I hope that never changes, but it might. And if/when it does, I may be in the same predicament. Right now, our personal discernment with regard to high school has led us to accept that our children will attend the public high school. We were looking at having to pay for Catholic high school for a long time (our oldest enters high school in 2015, our youngest would, God willing, graduate high school in 2031). But let’s face it…have 2.2 kids (or 1.9…) and there’s a much higher chance you can make the (relatively) short-term sacrifices necessary to educate your children in Catholic school. 

Many Catholic families who have chosen to be generous in their discernment of family size are often the same families excluded by that discernment from providing Catholic education for their children. How ironic and sad.

And here is where I close this post with a final disclaimer. Because, the pressure!!

I love each and every one of my children. I’m so happy they are here with us. I’ll sacrifice much in the rearing of all of them.  Even the almost-13 years of diapers were so worth it! I’ll sock away the money to provide a vacation once in awhile. I’ll say no to some things in order to say yes to others. And through it all, the fact that we have each other will triumph over all hardships that come with being a large family.

We are blessed! My children know that.

And even if we had the means to provide for every wish with ease, we probably still wouldn’t do that because it’s not good for us.We live for Christ and His Kingdom, not for the things of this world. Most of the struggles I list are because of a human desire for material comfort in this world, I recognize that. And most of the benefits of a large family that I’ve written about in the past and will write about in the future are not material things we can touch, but supernatural benefits that make us grow into the Saints God intended us to be.

Mother's Day with my crew

May 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes 79 -- Fun Kid Moments Edition

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting! 

--- 1 ---

Vincent is a highly energetic little boy. He rarely sits still. Probably his only quiet times are nap and night-time. Lately, he is vocal about all of his activities throughout the day. The other day, Vincent told me about his time at the park with Dominic and his dad. It was one of those parks with little play fire engines or school buses the kids can climb in and pretend to drive around. Vincent said, "Mom! I went to the park today! I climbed in the school bus! Yeah mom! and I turned the steering wheel, Mom! I am a good bus driver!!"

--- 2 ---

If you are facebook friends, you may have already seen this one, but it makes me too darn happy not to share it here. Last Saturday, we had a couple of graduation parties to attend. Dominic was in his usual form, walking around and charming everyone, hugging on the ladies. Truth be told, he gives plenty of guys hugs, too, but I think the ladies respond the most favorably, so he hits them up most often.

Anyway, at the second of the graduation parties, there was a woman that we don't know who was sitting at a table across from Dominic. She had asked him if he knew who the guest of honor was (he doesn't -- I'm just friends with the Dad and that was how we were invited) or how he knew her. Well, after a bit, Dominic walked around the table and gave this woman a hug and kissed her hip. The woman looked a bit alarmed, so I did what I usually do when Dominic has overstepped a little bit and reminded him to ask before hugging or kissing, that sometimes people might not be comfortable with it. Then Dominic looks at me with his big blue eyes and we have the following conversation:

Dominic: I just love her
Me: Aw, that is sweet. You are such a lover. You love everyone!
Dominic: Of course! I have to love. If I didn't love, my heart would break.

OMGosh, melt this momma's heart. He is a very sweet boy.

--- 3 ---

My boys playing with the Spiderman stuff

--- 4 ---

If you've been reading for any length of time here at Endless Strength, you know that Helen is a major "Mommy's Girl." Of all of my children, she is the one who will run to me every morning before I leave to ensure she kisses me good bye. She is the one of my children who gets distraught at the idea that if I leave in the evening, she won't see me again until morning. Of my children, she is the one who creates the most guilty feelings inside of me when I spend a lot of time at work, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah had a late Friday night volleyball game to which I decided not to allow Helen to tag along. I found this on my bed:

2nd grade spelling cracks me up

"roses are white;
vilots are nice
take me to sarah's volleyball game
and I won't wyne"

Okay then.
--- 5 ---

Dani is wrapping up her non-summer swim team and last night, apparently, they did a timed 50 yd freestyle. This morning, she told me that she swam it in 48 seconds. That is her fastest time ever! Very proud of her. I'll be interested to see how much she improves with daily swim practice this summer!!
--- 6 ---
Sarah's class put rockets together during science class this week and got to launch them. Sarah won a choice of prizes since her rocket flew the highest. I am forced to only tell you about the prize she chose because she won't let me take a photo. But she chose a ... headlamp!
It looks something like this...
The cute part is that Sarah rarely took that thing off the first night she had it at home. I peeked into her room and she was wearing it while she did homework, then I peeked in and she was wearing it while texting a friend. I even found her in her bed, asleep with it on as she had been reading her book before falling asleep. Ha! So so so cute. (I never thought I'd enjoy so much that my kid does dorky things like her mom, but...well, I do enjoy it.) You can just tell she thinks it is the coolest thing! I love it.

--- 7 ---

Craig is taking Sarah on a Dad-N-Daughter night out tonight. They will go to dinner on the Plaza and then a little shopping. Sarah is excited.

Meanwhile, I will tackle a movie with the other four children. I think we'll try Rio 2 -- Dominic has been on me to take him to see it anyway. Wish us luck!

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




May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday Reruns: You Do What You Gotta Do

It has been since the beginning of January that I've posted a Throwback Thursday Rerun post! I don't know why I stopped...maybe I worried I would run out of posts to re-run or something. The topic of this post has been on my mind though, lately. Mostly the part about doing what works for your family (yeah, been doing the whole high school discernment thingy). So I thought it would be good to re-run this post from 2011.

I think it's interesting the way mothers judge each other. And in some cases...the judges have become very coy and sneaky about how they get their judgments across.

Take the dilemma of getting your child to sleep on his or her own for example. After Sarah, we really never had a problem doing this. But Sarah was our first and she was a terrible sleeper. She only slept about 6 hours a night even at 9 months old! And I knew she needed more than that, but the child would. not. go. to. bed!!!

Finally, I decided she really needed to have a set bedtime of 8:00 p.m.

Now, I have been the recipient of judgmental comments about my last statement. I have had people tell me that I should have let my child "lead" her own schedule. I also have had someone tell me that it was selfish of me to require a bedtime at 8:00 p.m. (really??? haven't kids been going to bed at 8:00 p.m. forever???)

Then, I could delve into HOW I got Sarah to go to bed at 8:00...and that leads to a whole new rainbow of judgments.

We used a modified version of cry it out, I suppose. But, I tell you, my child never cried more than a minute at first and more than 5 minutes at it's very worst, with our method. We started by praying with her, reading to her and singing to her and hugging her and finally putting her in her crib and leaving the room and shutting the door. Of course...she cried. But only for a minute because we went back in there. And we picked her up, loved on her, held her, said, "Sarah, it's night time...it's time to sleep," and laid her back into her crib, and left the room and shut the door. This was our pattern for the first night until she fell asleep. and it took about 45 minutes. Over the course of a week or so, we lengthened the time between our visits into the room to soothe and love on Sarah and within a week and a half or so, she was sleeping at 8:00 p.m., getting herself to sleep and was quite content.

I have been told that our method is cruel. That we destroyed bonds of trust with our daughter. Stuff like that.

Of course, Sarah is 9 now (almost 10!) and she seems to trust us very much. She's a lively, independent, vibrant little girl.

The four on-Earth babies at the time of this post
Now, my third daughter, Helen, slept in the bed with me an awful lot as a baby. The same people who judged my parenting with Sarah thought this was a great idea. Sleep with your baby! She can nurse and be close to her mama. I made them happy now. But I heard the criticism from others...they told me I'd smother her...I might kill her! How irresponsible of me! How does my husband allow that!?!?

Something I've learned in my 10 years of motherhood is that I just need to do whatever works for me and my family. And no...it's not always the same thing that needs to be done with every child. I've been fortunate that many of my parenting practices HAVE worked and been applicable for all of my children. And sometimes one of my kids throws me a curve ball and I have to figure something new out.

I'm not quite sure what it is about us moms that makes us think we have the best way for everyone and people who don't do it the way we do it are bad mothers. And I also am not sure if this is universal or if it is just an American thing. But either way, I know a few "new" moms read my blog and I just wanted to put something out there reassuring them and any future moms that you will find what works best for your family and for your children and you may find that you do things a little bit differently each time around the block.

When it comes to things like getting your child to sleep or reading them stories or teaching them how to dress themselves or potty-training or any of a myriad of things...there are two things I can most likely guarantee you:
  • One - you will figure out what works.
  • Two - you will be judged rightly or wrongly and that it doesn't matter what you do - SOMEONE will think you're an idiot.
  • BONUS: Ultimately you'll learn not to give a rat's behind what anyone says or thinks.

May 20, 2014

Answer Me this - 4

This week Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas is hosting the Answer Me This linkup for Kendra at Catholic All Year. Apparently there's some European vacation thingy going on...wow, so jealous (okay, maybe not SO jealous. :) ) Anyway, I enjoy Haley's blog and am excited to participate this week and answer Haley's questions.

1. What's the scariest thing that has ever been in your yard?

Hmmmmm. We're city and suburb living folks, so nothing too crazy. Probably a garter snake or, no, no....I remember coming home to see a HUGE preying mantis on my door -- in my garage -- it was horrible. I am a huge bug freak. I don't like bugs of any sort and when I saw that darn thing just hanging out on the door that would go into my living room, I absolutely died really did a major freakout returned to my car promptly with my armloads of groceries and called my husband to awaken him to come and take care of it. Yikes!

2. Beards. Thums up or thumbs down?

Thumbs down from me. I like a clean-shaven, short-haired man. Always have. My dad currently sports a beard that makes him look like Santa Clause. It suits him, so I guess I'm okay with that. But any other beards...yuck.

3. If stuff breaks, can you fix it?

No. Sadly, my husband cannot fix most things either. It needs to be a pretty simple thing for us to repair stuff ourselves. I wish I were so talented, though. It would save me a lot of money.

4. What was your first car?

Well, the first car I drove was a Dodge Aries "K" car. My mom had purchased it as her first vehicle purchase after my parents divorced. She moved on to a minivan at some point and we still had that car and I drove it during high school.

The first car I purchased for myself was a 1983 Chevrolet Celebrity -- blue. It was a decent car, until the transmission started going right before it got totaled from a wreck (that was not my fault).

5. How often do you eat out?

More than I should. At work, lunchtime is a networking opportunity, so fairly often I meet people for lunch. And then...with the kids, ordering pizza or hitting a kid-friendly restaurant happens more often that I'd like to admit. so maybe...once a week or once every two weeks, depending on how well we've planned with groceries and activities.

6. Why is your hair like that?

Well, as my regular readers know, I've recently opined about my hair and changed it up a couple of weeks ago. My natural is a dishwater blonde, but I've gone blonde for a long time with my hair. Highlights, etc. I also grow my hair out and cut it short at times. I had been growing my hair out since 2011 when Vincent was born, so it had gotten pretty unmanageable.

Recently, I cut it short (leveled bob) and dyed it red. I have thought about going red for years. YEARS. I just wasn't sure I could pull it off. So, I finally just took the plunge and.............I LOVE IT! I have loved it since I had it done and every day I am happy with it. So, I think it's here to stay (for awhile). :)

Go check out other Answer Me This Posts by visiting Haley!

May 19, 2014

Middle School Word Vomit (Fair Warning)

I don't think it would be an earth shattering revelation to anyone for me to say that middle school rates probably the worst ever time in many people's lives. I know it really was a stinker for me.

And, I don't think I'd be telling mothers of middle schoolers anything they didn't know by saying watching your kid go through middle school is probably rated right around the same spot.

I am having trouble with this tonight...it's weighing heavy on my heart. I'm writing about it so maybe I can go to sleep at some point.

Sure, everyone hates middle school and everyone hates watching their kids go through middle school, right? Except. I don't think the experience is created equal for everyone. Sure, it's not the most fun time in life for pretty much anyone, but let's be honest...for some it's worse than for others.

I'm thinking there must be something in my genetic makeup that makes it particularly awful for me. And what really stinks is watching my sweet daughter go through it and knowing it must be my fault that it sucks so bad for her.

I mean, surely the moms of the girls who are invited to everything, included in all the pictures, have girls texting and calling to arrange "hangout" dates -- it can't possibly be THAT difficult for them, right?

And of course, the moms of the girls with all the confidence, the moms of the girls whom all the other girls in the class want to be like...it can't be THAT hard...you know, to watch your girl "rule the roost" and even watch your girl be kind of mean to other girls, but those other girls want so badly to fit in that they don't even get all that mad at your girl being mean to them. Shoot, watching THAT daughter go through middle school can't be all that terrible.

Here's the thing. My daughter is one of those steady-eddie girls. She is honest with others. She sticks by her friends through thick and thin. She doesn't have a bad word to say about anyone (unless or until they've been mean to her...then she'll at least speak her opinion, even if it is negative). She is smart and kind. Sure, I'm her mom, so I am sure there are some faults I would forget...but for the most part, even the things I correct her on, are pretty minor. (Well, Sarah, I might not have said it quite THAT way....an example of something I might say these days.)

And, to my knowledge, there's not a big reason anyone dislikes my daughter. I think she suffers from about the same sort of thing I do, socially. She's not the first person on anyone's mind. No one is clamoring to be her friend. She's the last one picked when they are picking teams, right? She's the one left off the party invites (and has been throughout middle school). She's the one who would be left off the table if the girls were allowed to pick where they sit at lunch. Yes -- I'm the grateful mom for the lunchroom seating assignments because I know my daughter would most likely be one hurt without it.

Even the girls who claim to be her friends...when the oh-so-glam girls beckon, they drop my daughter like a hot potato. They aren't mean to her, but they don't bring her along. 

The only thing that makes seventh grade better than sixth grade is the fact that Sarah has matured and just kind of shrugs it off and expects it now. When it started happening in sixth grade, she clammed up and stopped talking to me altogether and went through some depression type behavior. Now, she talks to me about it, admits that it bothers her, but seems to figure it's par for the course. Sad.

She admitted to me over the course of this year that it has bothered her when the only reason certain people texted her was to get help with homework. Apparently, she's put a stop to that somehow. But then it bothers her that people will say to her individually that they are good friends, but will never allow a public picture of themselves with her. These kids are new teenagers and are on Instagram and Twitter...and I know it bothers Sarah to see that no one takes a "locker pic" with her. And even when she has a friend over to hang out, no pictures are posted or mention is made publicly that anyone's hanging out with Sarah and having fun. It all seems so stupid and trivial (I KNOW!!!) but when you look at it through a 12/13-year-old's eyes...THIS is the sort of thing that can suck the most. The adult in me says to Sarah, "In the grand scheme of life -- this stuff doesn't matter." But the rejected 7th grade girl inside of me cries a heavy cry over it that night.

Sarah and I had a great conversation a week or so ago about setting realistic expectations with the kids she goes to school with. I have a hard time calling them her friends, because to be quite honest, once high school begins, the current crop she attends school with will change and, I would imagine, so will whomever she calls a friend. But it was hard to say, "Sarah -- we're almost through 7th grade and you haven't been invited to stuff...let's not expect it. Then it doesn't hurt so much." It was hard because I wish I had a more positive message to give her. But this was how I coped (eventually) and it's all I know how to do.

Sad, isn't it? I'm teaching my child how to build walls to protect herself. I wish it weren't necessary. But, the sooner she learns not to expect people to invite her or include her in things, the better off she will be. Is that just a jaded mother speaking? Perhaps. But, I think with two middle school years under my belt, and the experience I've witnessed so far...I'm not too far off the mark.

Will teaching her to build walls and protect herself make watching her finish middle school any easier? No. Even if she protects her heart from the crushing blows of exclusion, there will be something, I am sure. 

And, I have heard people say it's this way for everyone, but I have a really hard time believing that. I think it's difficult for everyone for sure -- difficult in that, everyone's going through puberty and adjusting to new/different expectations in the classroom and all of that. But I believe it's harder for the kids on the "outside" -- the kids no one thinks of, the kids who feel like an afterthought inside. 

It's difficult for me to put a finger on how it's happened that my daughter finds herself on the "outside". It really must be a genetic "gift" I've bestowed upon my children, yay for them <sarcasm>. Regardless, I sure wish I knew how to make it easier. Maybe I could write a book and become wealthy. 

Or not -- because that's the thing about when middle school sucks for you -- you feel like you're the only one having such a hard time.

May 14, 2014

Weight Watchers Wednesday (17)

Oops. I missed a week or two here. Sorry!

I missed my meeting last week due to a work function. Darn Party-In-The-Atrium-Recognition-Days!!

I'll say that I think I'm getting very close to my goal. On Saturday morning, I stepped on my scale at home and I was 1.8 pounds from goal on that. This morning, I stepped on my scale again and I am still 1.8 pounds from goal per home-scale. Not bad. I'm happy about it.

I've not been very good at tracking, but since I know I am having trouble tracking, I have been trying to stick to the Power Foods. What this means is that I have not been having a lot of starchy carbs, I've been eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein. I haven't had much in the way of indulgences (disclaimer: at least no indulgences since my *ahem* 5 Mother's Day Skinnygirl Margartas on Saturday) so not tracking hasn't sabotaged me like it normally would.

Huh, maybe I can do this Simply Filling technique after all?  I'm not sure if it's the way to go long-term, but I'm glad I could make it work the past couple of weeks.

One thing that is fairly new at our house is that I need to put Dani on a gluten-free diet. She had some digestive issues about 18 months ago that we had diagnosed and then we treated. We kept her gluten-limited for awhile, but over time, thought she was okay and stopped that. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I realized she had been complaining of abdominal pain for a few weeks, so I took her to the doctor. The X-ray showed that her stomach was twice its normal size -- but seemingly empty -- meaning probably bloated with air/gas. Plus the same digestive issue we treated 18 months ago required treatment again. So, no more gluten for Dani and we'll be heading to a specialist at Children's Mercy in June for an evaluation. Her blood test came back negative for Celiacs Disease, but I know that test often comes back negative and people still have Celiacs Disease. So, we'll get her all checked out -- and keep her off gluten!

Since Dani is GF, I am trying to do the same. I figure she needs SOMEONE in solidarity, right!?! And honestly, most of the family diet will be GF, but some things are just too expensive and inconvenient to do for the whole family, so they'll still get some gluten (unless we identify issues with any of them in the future). Honestly, I don't mind being GF for the most part.

Something new I tried this week was making Paleo Banana Bread. Here is the recipe I found:

4 eggs
4 bananas
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond butter (FYI -- I couldn't find Almond butter (looking in wrong place apparently) and so I substituted 1/2 grass-fed butter)
1 tsp baking powder (need to get recipe for GF baking powder from my sister)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
a bunch of cinnamon -- I can't remember how much

That is from memory -- I am having a hard time finding it again online! :(

Anyway, here's a picture --

Just put into the oven (bake for 55 min at 350 degrees)
All Finished! It was crumbly -- and tasted really good!

I'll report back next week to let you know just how close to goal I was at my meeting. :)

Have a great week!!



May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes - 78 (Picture's Worth 1000 Words Edition)

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting! 

Lots of things to share in pictures this week!

--- 1 ---

Helen received First Holy Communion for the first time on Sunday. A friend was at the perfect angle to get this photo:
I made this the wallpaper on my computer at work. LOVE it.
--- 2 ---

After Mass, we got pictures of Helen with two of her close friends. What a special day!

Helen and her BFF, Chi Chi
Helen and her friend, Mary
--- 3 ---

Here are some other photos of note from the day:

All dressed and ready to head to the Church
Helen with her Daddy
all Five of 'em!
--- 4 ---

I've been doing #100happydays on Instagram and on Thursdays I can combine with a #tbt photo. I got this one yesterday -- from when Dominic was 3 years old.

My Dominic is such a happy guy -- always has been. We have Dentist appointments today and that kid was jumping around in the kitchen this morning and he said, "I'm just so happy we are going to the dentist today!"
--- 5 ---
Oh and I snapped this one when Helen was getting her hair done before First Holy Communion Mass:

I love how her whole face smiles :)

--- 6 ---

Well, as I mentioned last week...I was ready to cut the hair. And, I did! So...here's the before/after pic:

Holy Moly!
--- 7 ---

Here are some pics I've snapped so far...

At the salon before I left

Trying to get a profile view that worked...
I'm super happy with the way it turned out. I can't believe I went this red, but I have toyed with the idea silently for years. YEARS. And I finally decided to just do it! And I'm glad I did!!

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

PS: I am going to read Jen's book, Something Other Than God, but won't get to it in time to participate in her giveaway. I just got the book I put on hold from the library to read and then SOTG is on my list soon! I can't wait to read it and join the rest of you in your "ooh's" and "aah's" at our great friend Jen. :)