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November 12, 2015

When Things Are Hard

I know I don't blog all that much any more. The days fly by too fast, and the nights even faster. I blink and another month has gone by. It's surreal. And that is when things are good or bad. Busy is busy. 

When things are good, we chug along like a choo-choo train. Chug-A-Chug-A. Chug-A-Chug-A.

And then something takes our breath away. Stops our choo-choo train in its tracks. Maybe a parent has fallen ill. Maybe it's a friend. Maybe we lose a job. Maybe we struggle with something physically or emotionally. 

And sometimes...several things hit us right where it hurts. But it's confusing because it's not us, directly, but it still impacts us in a meaningful and real way.

That is where I have been lately. One thing directly impacted me and then all sorts of indirect impacts that make it all feel like one big avalanche on my train track of life.

Things hit me harder than they used to. I have always strived to be an empathetic person, but somewhere along the way, I started taking even more of the feelings within myself. When I see a friend struggling with a particularly hard cross, I admire the strength but I break down and cry thinking there is no way I could shoulder that sort of burden. And I wonder how they go on.

Maybe it is this stage of my life. I'm right on into my 40s now. Is this what middle age is all about? Watching parents age...being hit over and over again with announcements of illness among friends and family...struggling to stay afloat amid the turmoil of everyday life?

I have prayed a lot lately. I'm sad to say that I had gotten into quite the rut of not praying enough. I haven't been to confession as often as I should. Thankfully, I've been to Mass. But lately, I've pulled out my rosary more often, I've spontaneously busted out a St. Michael prayer, and I've simply shut off the radio in the car and asked God to please (PLEASE!!!) heal people, comfort the parents of those stricken with illness as well as the friends and family. I have begged our Blessed Mother's intercession and asked God to please (PLEASE!!!) comfort me, help me to understand why young and old alike must carry these crosses. 

Recently, I've had Gregory on my mind and how I felt in the months following our loss. Part of that is because Sarah opened up and wrote about it. But part of it is taking in all the hard information of the past few months and finding that I process it with Gregory on my mind. That was a huge moment in my life where I lost something so dear that the only way to move through the grief was to realize that I gained a powerful intercessor in my little saint. That experience, I believe, prepared me to open my heart to more heartache as I experience the suffering of others in a completely different way than I did before.

In all of our trials, Jesus is close to us. He is close to those who suffer and ache. I remember when I felt Him close to me. And now, I can see how close He is to those around me experiencing pain in life that I cannot ever imagine and no one can take away except for God, Himself. 

If you're reading this tonight, please keep some people in prayer. I want to ask that you keep a man, and his family in your prayers for continued healing. I ask that you keep a woman who is loved by many children and families, and her family, in your prayers and ask for healing, strength and peace. I ask that you keep a child who is a strong and beautiful and positive influence on an entire community, in your prayers (her family, too) and ask for healing, continued strength and peace. I ask that you keep a young man just on the brink of his magnificent life, who is ill...please pray for him and his family. 

October 2, 2015

Just Another Life Flying By Way Too Fast

Some day I'm going to look back on my life and see how fast it went by.

Look at this sweetheart!

Wait a minute, I already do that.

Here's the thing. My kids have early release at Catholic school today. They are going to get out at noon and my plans for them include cleaning the house and getting laundry done.

Sometimes I really hate that I am not a fun mom. I am not the mom taking my kids to the park or to the museum the afternoon after they get out of school early. Because we've been running around with school, activities, sports, workouts -- the house has been woefully neglected. And Sarah's having a friend come home after practice today to prepare to attend her high school's homecoming football game.

I totally said to Craig this morning, "Well, we have to get this house cleaned up because it's her first time coming over. I mean, once she's been over a few times, I might feel a little more comfortable with her seeing how we really live."

I literally just want to cry right now. Today is my day off work and I already worked out and showered this morning, got the kids off to school, went grocery shopping and put it away and got my laundry almost all done. I won't even tick off the to-do list that remains because that really will start the waterfalls.
Dani and me -- Taylor Swift Concert!!

There's a lot of stress around here. I know in my head and my heart that stress can be good stress and still take its toll on my mind and body. We have a combination of good and bad stress going on right now, and I'm trying to do my best to handle it, but any of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that while I do my best...sometimes it's just not good enough.

I've been making a serious effort to try and live in the present lately. Worrying was eating me inside-out -- whether it was the future or the past. So, every day I take stock of what's on our plates and tackle it in the best order possible and at the end of the day move over any unfinished business to the next day. it's been awhile and I still haven't ever been able to start with a clean list with no carryovers.

Vincent having fun
I guess that is what life is like in this stage. Five kids, ages 14 down to 4, two full-time jobs, school and activities for everyone...it's starting to get crazy. Good crazy, but crazy, nonetheless. I'm gonna try not to beat myself up too badly for not having a fun activity planned for this afternoon. I think I'll just be present at lunch with the four kiddos who are home for it today, listen to their school stories and laugh with them. Then, we'll have to knuckle down and get to the business of the afternoon. And they'll whine a little bit, but they'll do it and we'll make it through.

Tonight when I get into bed, I will have driven Dani to swim practice, dropped Sarah and her friend off at the football game, picked Dani up from swim practice and eagerly awaited Sarah's arrival home. I'll have to follow-up with Sarah about the shoes she is wearing to the dance tomorrow, finalize the schedule as to when we are planning to be where for pictures and dance drop off, figure out how Dominic is getting to a birthday party and how Craig and I can attend (however briefly) a social function at church/school.

And...I guess it will all be all right.

August 28, 2015

Life Happens Whether We're Ready or Not

Hello, again!

There has been a lot going through this ol' brain of mine the past few weeks, but I just haven't had the courage to put anything out here. I fell out of the rhythm of blogging almost a year ago and I have to say, that while it's freeing in some ways, it is making me sad in others. I'm a person with a need to share. Share my experience, my feelings, my happenings. And I haven't been sharing anything. And I'm full, and feel like it's about to spill out, so I need to find a way to share again.

Many changes have taken place for my family in a very short span of time. I had already shared my husband's job change from last fall. That's still going well, praise be to God! He seems to enjoy the work and it's providing nice benefits for our family, though not of the take-home pay variety. But nice benefits, nonetheless. His job change made a career move for me possible.

At the beginning of this month, I started working toward getting licensed to sell real estate. Due to the location of Kansas City, it was required that I get licensed in two states. I've completed all the requirements and am simply waiting on notification that the second license has been awarded. Within another month, I will be trained and able to begin selling new homes. I'm really excited about the opportunity, but scared, too, because it is something completely different.

So...I'm trying my hand at new home sales. St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

This new work schedule has some perks: days off mid-week, when everyone else is working, so I get to run through a quarter-full grocery store, get kids' dentist and doctor appointments done without calling out of work, etc. But...it's also pretty crazy since our children are active in school, activities, etc.

I began the search for a part-time nanny. St. Gianna Molle, pray for us!

My Sarah began high school this month. I'm excited for her. She's in honors classes and she selected electives that she truly wanted to learn and will enjoy, she's playing volleyball on the Freshman team and has made some friends.

Dani started middle school, too. I'm reminded of how this period of time started for Sarah, and while it's somewhat different for Dani, she's going through the moodiness of a preteen. I guess experience is good because I just shrug most of it off. But...SIGH. I'm just kind of not ready to do middle school again, but I have no choice, haha. At least Dani is active in cross country, still reads a couple books a week in addition to her school work, and has taken the time to continue developing her artistic talents. And, she really is a good girl. She's helpful in many ways for me since she can babysit the younger children and help get dinner on the table. All useful things in life.

Helen started fourth grade. Promptly, within the first 5 school days, she and I had tears over homework. Thank God Beth (her godmother) can still come once a week this year to do extra work with Helen. You know, I've thought many times about my inadequacies, since I can't handle much homework time with Helen. But then I remember how blessed I am to have good friends who can pick up my slack. Helen is still doing swim lessons each Saturday. I think she has a goal to do the summer swim team next year and I hope that happens. It would be fun for her! She is also playing volleyball with her class and I am glad for that, too.

Dominic started first grade this year. He seems to love it so far. He's also playing Flag Football and he also takes swim lessons each Saturday at the Y. He has started to enjoy lego sets, reading independently, and still likes to play with his little brother.

Vincent is going to Pre-K this year, Monday through Friday all day long. it's good for him. He cried when I dropped him off, but then we discovered that he wouldn't turn on the water works for his sisters. So, now they walk him to his room and he has a great start to his days.  He's going to start swim lessons each Saturday at the end of September. Maybe I can get all of the younger four to do the Barracudas next summer...that will be cool.

One change for our family this year is that I am enrolling all the kids in the parish's Sunday night program. It was a requirement for Sarah anyway because she is to be confirmed in the spring, so she has to attend the confirmation program. But Dani will be attending public high school when the time comes and if she gets involved in the middle school youth programs at the parish, she will have the opportunity to start meeting some kids she will go to high school with. Helen and Dominic are kind of getting thrown in for good measure. I don't have a specific reason to send them, other than I'm excited that our parish's Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program extends through 5th grade now. Vincent will be doing the preschool Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. All four of my other children were able to attend this at their Grandma's parish with an overnight visit thrown in. But, with Vincent attending pre-K M-F, it's not possible for him to go do that, so I still wanted him to go through it. Maybe Craig and I will be able to take advantage of any programs they have for the parents on Sunday nights (sometimes they have apologetics type programs on Sundays...or they did at one point).

The last 8 weeks or so have been a drain on the emotions, I am not gonna lie. The first week of Sarah at high school, I had to stop myself from thinking about it. Everyone I know that has had a kid through high school says that it's over so fast. I know that is true. It's only four years. And Sarah could be off to college in four years. Away from me. So, thinking about that just made me tear up too much. And it's weird because I've always been on the side of wanting my kids to grow up. I love it when they tackle something new and meet new milestones. But, it's been so weird for Sarah to hit this point in life. It's that bittersweet feeling, I guess, where you're so proud of this child that you have watched grow up thus far, so excited for what life has in store for them, but yet worried about them leaving the nest and being on their own and sad for the end of your parent-child time. Well, I need to keep it together and stop thinking about it and live in the present. That is what I have been trying to do when I realized I was getting too sad thinking about Sarah growing up and leaving for college or something...live right now, enjoy this awesome girl living in my house, watch her grow and learn and conquer the world she lives in today.

The job change has also contributed to the emotional swings. I'm excited. I'm scared. I just want to get started, but I have so much to learn. I have new team members and I want to know if they like me and how we will work together.

Finally, the emotional changes over the course of the last 10 months have aided in my ignoring health and body cues and, of course, I've gained weight. Because that is what I do when I lose the control over external factors in my life. I just don't handle it well. I'm really glad the gym is doing a nutrition challenge starting in September. I am hopeful I can commit and get that part of my life back under control. I've maintained my rigorous workout schedule, I just haven't monitored the food side of things very well. (But you knew that would be the way it goes down with me, now didn't ya?)

I remember when I was having a baby every two to three years and I thought life couldn't be more hectic than it was then. But, I haven't had a baby in the house for 2+ years now and life only seems to be getting more hectic. My family is growing up quickly and in so many different ways. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pray for us!

July 24, 2015

16 Reasons I Have Been Married 16 Years

Happy "Sweet 16" to my marriage today! After my workout this morning and while I was getting ready for the day, I thought that there was nothing that could really top my husband's "Happy Anniversary" post tagging me on Facebook. 

Yeah, this is how we do :)

So I am not trying to top anything, but I decided to think of 16 reasons we have made it this far.

16 Reasons I have been married 16 years:

1. Complementarity. Honestly, I married the perfect, complementary personality for mine. I'm as Type A as a person can get, I'm intense and I like to make the rules (and enforce them). Craig is laid-back and he is relaxed and he is a rule follower. :)

2. Teamwork. We work together. Working two full-time jobs, raising 5 children, keeping a household running...can't be done effectively without teamwork.

3. Communication. it's not always face-to-face, because we have worked opposing schedules for most of our marriage, but e-mail, texts, phone calls...we talk to each other.

4. Goals. We set them. Many times we surpass them. Often, I think of the time I found my slip of paper that had goals Craig and I wrote down when i was pregnant with our first child. I wrote down that we planned for three children, I would complete my MBA and be making a certain income. By the time I found that sheet, our fourth child was on the way, I had completed my MBA 6 years before that and I was making about what that goal had stated. It was kind of crazy.

5. Re-evaluate our goals and our situation regularly. Goals are awesome because they can be reached and surpassed, or they can be re-assessed and modified. We do both.

6. It's our life and we'll live as we want to (sort of). We live our lives and don't worry about what others have to say about it. If we would have listened to well-meaning family members, we would not have 5 children (many thought that when #4 came along, that was just too much). And we make job changes and school decisions and all of that stuff together as a team of two. sometimes a team of 7 if the kids' opinions are relevant. But mostly a team of 2.

7. Place each other first. We don't get many date nights or trips together without the kids these days, but we both know that the other's consideration gets first nod as we put schedules together, make vacation plans (even with the kids) or make any other decisions affecting the family.

8. Commonality. Enjoy those things we have in common. We both love the Royals, Chiefs and Jayhawks. It's a priority to share the games together. We love sharing that with our children, too.

9. Laugh. A lot. My husband is naturally funny with great timing. He makes me laugh more than he makes me cry. It matters.

10. Hugs. I'm more of a  hugger than a kisser. My children appreciate that, by the way -- at least where their father and I are concerned. But we give lots of hugs around this house.

11. Respect. There is always the undertone of respect when we communicate, even in disagreement. We also use manners like "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome" and are careful in our speech. Even (and especially) when no one is there to witness it. I love that.

12. Trust. We always trust that the other is looking out for our well-being and that of the children.

13. Attend Mass often. Of course, we go to Mass together (usually) on the weekends. But we also find other times to attend Mass, if we can make it work with our schedules. Because we are not together very often for other prayer times, this seems like a critical piece of our prayer life together as a married couple.

14. Partake of the Sacraments together, when applicable. When I have taken care to go to confession more frequently, I have noticed I am more focused and at peace in my vocation as a wife and mother. When Craig and I both attend confession, I notice a tenderness and understanding that runs through our communication to each other for some time after that. There's something about acknowledging our human limitations in confession that keeps us grounded.

15. Say, "I'm sorry" when we have wronged each other. Apologizing -- a TRUE apology (not one of those, "I'm sorry IF I offended you..." -- shows the acknowledgement that one of us has been a jerk and a validation of the person who was hurt. It seems our society these days is so hung up on this idea that we don't do anything wrong to another person and many seem to justify every behavior. Sometimes it's good to just take a deep breath, see the hurt you have caused and look at your spouse and say, "I'm sorry for hurting you."

16. Forgive each other. Knowing that Craig forgives my faults and loves me through it all makes all the difference in my life. Extending that same courtesy to him frees me from whatever ill will I may have taken toward him and helps us move forward.

In general, Craig has supported me in everything. He has been there rooting me on in all of my crazy physical endeavors (marathon, Crossfit, Triathlon -- whatever the next thing I want to try), the different jobs I have attempted, and trips to see family. But I would say the #1 way he has blessed me and our family and our marriage has been his support of learning and living our Catholic faith and raising our children in it. He and I share a common goal of joining God in Heaven someday -- and we recognize each other's part in staying on track together and with our children. 

So, happy anniversary Craig. 16 years. Mostly good times and a few sorrowful times and we've faced it all together. I love you.

July 5, 2015

Alright-y Then

It's been awhile, right? Well, hello. :)

It's been four months since you've heard from me. There's a lot to catch up on!

Most recently, Vincent turned 4 years old. Check it -- my youngest child on Earth is Four. Years. Old. I won't lie, it's a bit surreal. I love it. I'm happy. And it's bittersweet, too, because I do miss having a baby around. Just a little bit. (a real...little bit.) He has only one more month of daycare and then he'll be attending Pre-K at the same school as the other three who are still in grade/middle school. That's just crazy-talk!!

A cool 4-year-old
We just took a short road trip to visit some friends in Algona, IA. It was so great to see them. One of the daughters was in Dani's class and they have kept in touch via e-mail. One of the daughters was in Helen's class and they have kept in touch via snail mail. Just a really great family.

This is really high up over a walkway into the Grotto
While visiting, we went to the Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, IA. If you are ever traveling through Iowa, I recommend stopping there. My pictures and my descriptions will never do it justice. It's the largest man-made grotto in the world and the story of how it came to be is incredible. Father Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954) started construction of the Grotto in 1912. He worked on it for 42 years. The reason he started it was that he fell ill with pneumonia back when they didn't have penicillin to treat that and most people usually died once they had pneumonia. He prayed for our Blessed Mother's intercession and promised her that if he came through pneumonia, he would build something in her honor. So, the Grotto of Redemption is what he began. At the time of his death in 1954, his Grotto covered one city block. It was built completely by hand, and his attention to detail -- like I said -- I cannot do it justice so I will just post some of the pictures. But...go see it if you're in Iowa.

From the parking lot (so from afar)
In June, Sarah took her first high school classes. (Gasp! say, what?!?) She took a 1/2 credit of her P.E. requirement by attending school from 7:15-1:15 Monday-Thursday for four weeks. She also is completing her health requirement by taking it online and it ends July 10. She's doing really well and she said that she is glad I coaxed her into taking Health online because she was "so glad she didn't have to discuss some of this stuff in a classroom."

Oh! so before the summer high school, Sarah graduated from 8th grade! On her last day, I was in Florida on a trip for work and I was going back and forth between tears and no tears over this milestone. At the graduation Mass, Father said a little something about each of the kids and I was not surprised to hear what he said about Sarah. Well, I take that back...I'm not surprised by the words, but I think it's always nice when someone else recognizes something in your child that you have witnessed first hand yourself.
On her last day of school
Sarah allowed a picture with me at the Graduation Mass

Photo was actually taken at a wedding in June,
but this was the dress Sarah wore for Graduation Mass.
We hadn't gotten a photo of her with her Dad at the Graduation Mass.
Dominic also finished Kindergarten, so that's a thing. :) He was so cute on the last day getting pictures with his friends. He and I are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He loves to listen to me read it to him. One time I saw him with his eyes closed and asked if he had fallen asleep. But he said, "No mommy, I close my eyes because I am watching the story while you read it to me." How cool is that?

Helen finished the school year with flying colors. Her reading improved and so did her math. I think she got a good handle on how to do 3rd grade, which helped. And her godmother coming twice a week made a huge difference for her throughout the school year. We've continued with once a week reading sessions that even Dominic has participated in. She also attend Camp WIN which is a girls camp that introduces girls to as many as 14 new/different sports. She got the "Determination" award because she kept trying to ride the bike, didn't get flustered, and was determined, even though she never quite got it.

Dani did Girls on the Run and I ran the 5K with her. It was a lot of fun. She is moving on to Middle School next year and seems excited by the challenge. She did well in 5th grade and completed the D.A.R.E. program. She kept swimming, too, and is now doing the summer neighborhood swim team and loves it.

Here we are the morning of the Girls on the Run 5K
Dani with her Finisher's Medal
Craig is still enjoying his job at Ford. He's been trained on a couple of different jobs and really likes the team he was assigned to. He and I are still crossfitting. He also ran a 10K in June and got a PR. I nursed a strained achilles tendon for a couple of months, but I think it's all better now!

Oh and we attended the entire Easter Triduum this year! I was able to take all the kids to Holy Thursday Mass (Craig had to work). Then the entire family went to Good Friday service. And THEN!! we all went to Easter Vigil, too. I was excited because that is the kind of thing I have been looking forward to doing as a family as the kids got older and with Craig's new job. :)

My children before we went into Church for the Easter Vigil

I think that should be it for the updates! I'm sure it's not everything, but I could never get it all in I don't think. Crazy what happens in 4 months.

I'm not sure what I'm going to focus on with this blog going forward. I think when we lost Gregory and I wrote so much about that on this blog, I lost track of any other thing to focus on. Then I did the weight watchers stuff and found I really enjoyed writing about health and fitness, but once I hit my goal weight, I wasn't sure what to do about that. (And truth time -- I've put some weight on that I'm trying to take off again, so...there's that.)

So, if you're reading and want to continue -- hello again and I'm so glad you're here!

March 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes - 95

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum!

--- 1 ---
The Crossfit Games Open started last week. I signed up again this year just to see if I can do more of the workouts than I did last year. As far as 15.1/15.1a is concerned...yes, I can do more! Last year at this time, I was not able to do toes-to-bar. Well, i got my first one during the Open last year, but was so shocked my toes actually touched the bar one time! And I was unable to repeat the feat for a few more months. The WOD last week had toes-to-bar in it and I am happy to report I did a total of 45 of them throughout the WOD, so that made me happy.

--- 2 ---
For the past few months I had been trying to grow out my hair. I'm keeping the color because I really like it, but I thought I wanted to see about growing my hair long again. Well, that ended last night. I guess I have just hit a point in my life where the long hair is not worth the hassle. When my hair is short, it only takes about 8 minutes to do it in the morning and that is a HUGE plus. Besides, I think the long hair look makes me look older and that makes me feel older. Blah. So, I got it cut back again last night and I am very happy about it!

Profile, sort of...
--- 3 ---
Sarah has another volleyball tournament tomorrow. There are three tournaments in March and then her club season will be over. I absolutely LOVE watching her play.

I read an interesting article this week that made me cringe and wonder about this club volleyball thing. But in the end, I am happy we put Sarah in club ball this year. Yes, the tournament days are LONG. But it's been fun to watch the girls come together and play well. They've gotten medals at a couple of the tournaments (1st place and 2nd place) and been in third place a couple of times, too. Besides that, Sarah's gotten a lot of playing time and improved a ton over the past few months.

She has also made some new friends and I think this will give her confidence as she moves on to high school at a place where she will need to make new friends again. Of all the things I have "come around" to recognize about my young teen this year, the biggest is how concerned she is about having people to relate to within her school, team or social setting. This is not so different from adults, I know, but I don't remember placing such a huge priority on such a thing. As hard as it has been, at times, to watch her navigate middle school socially, I'm pleased with how she has come out of it. I'm excited to see how she continues to grow as she starts high school. I'm glad that we've been able to provide opportunities for her to spread her wings a little bit before then and see that she's a girl who is worthy of good friends and that she knows how to find them and make those connections.
--- 4 ---
So...my Jayhawks. 11 straight conference titles. Amazing. They already had a share of it before Tuesday night's game. And I must say, I was NOT very happy with those boys, the way they played the first half. I really figured with our best player out with injury and the way they had played the first half that it would be the first senior night loss in over 30 years. But, they surprised me and I am so glad! They showed a lot of heart and kept fighting and tied the game with 4 seconds in regulation, then went on to win in overtime.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

BTW -- Bill Self is a hella-good.
--- 5 ---
Dani started Girls on the Run this week and she loves it! This program is empowering for girls and helps them discern healthy choices and learn about the incredible things their bodies are capable of. On the way to (or from) swim practice, Dani even said to me (in a triumphant tone even) "Now I have TWO girl programs -- Challenge and Girls on the Run. Oh yeah!" She is so cute.

She'll be running a 5K in May and I cannot wait to run it with her. I think Craig and I are both going to run it with her.

--- 6 ---
I am amazed at how quickly I see changes in my fitness and how I feel when I take myself to strict Paleo. I started that Monday morning and I notice today (morning of the 5th day) how much quicker I feel and the bloating is gone. Why, oh why, do I insist on falling off the wagon...ever?

I am just taking it a week at a time for now. We have no birthdays coming up for a few months, so the temptation to have some cake won't be there. With summer coming, I am motivated to get my fitness level higher as I prepare to train for the triathlon again as well as try to achieve some of my goals with Crossfit. So when you see me reaching for an Oreo or a slice of pizza, slap my hand, mkay?
--- 7 ---
I'm hitting one of those lulls (again...some more...still) where I don't post much on this blog. I'm not sure why I don't feel like posting all that much anymore. One reason I don't post as often is that I am so terribly busy that I don't have a lot of time to sit down and write something. But even if I do have time, I think the topic is not worth it or something like that. I have toyed with the idea of just sitting down and writing a memoir-type book. I don't know...my life isn't all that interesting. Then sometimes I think some of my experiences growing up could make for a good little fictional novel or something, but then...I get back to that time thing. So...who knows? I'd like to make my blog look nicer, but I don't know how. I guess it's just my space and it will be what it will be.

BONUS: These kids...at dinner one night last week. I love them all so. :)

Craig had JUST said, "Dominic, put your tongue inside your mouth!" haha

Be sure to go visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum to read other great 7 Quick Takes posts!



February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes - 94 (Update Edition)

It's Friday! That means it is one of my favorite days of the week. Many thanks to Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum for hosting the linkup!

I thought today might be a good day for one of my 7QT update posts. Life is busy, as usual.

--- 1 ---
Crossfit, Work, Taxi. That is my life during the week. I have been enjoying the WODs lately as they have been challenging (they always are, but I've noticed lately being pushed more than I thought in November-December timeframe). I'm trying to get my regular food routine back in order after the holidays. I weighed at a January WW meeting and was up over my goal weight (and had to pay. boo.) I am working on getting back down, but it's been a struggle. I went back to Paleo the last couple of weeks and see a huge improvement. I'm actually not too nervous to visit the doctor next week for an annual checkup. Speaking of the doctor, I called to see if we could do bloodwork ahead of time so we could discuss at the appointment. (We can, yay!) I was surprised that he didn't want to check cholesterol, but the nurse said, "Well, your results were so good last year that he doesn't think he needs to check this year." Well, alrighty then. :)

Time flies all the time and I'm facing our 2nd anniversary of Gregory's passing. I'm doing okay with it and I have decided to take next Friday off work just to have a day for myself and do nothing, if that's how I'm feeling.

I did buy a road bike the other day! See, I signed up to do the WIN for KC triathlon again this year in July. So, I bought a bike from a guy about 20 miles from where I live.

Helen held it for me (apparently, this bike is too cool for a kickstand)
Decent price (apparently, brand new this bike would go for $1000. I did NOT pay anything close to that thank goodness!) and I can't wait to try it out. Though I do need to buy an airpump so I can keep the tires inflated to the right pressure. I have a lot to learn about cycling!!
--- 2 ---
Craig seems to be enjoying his new job still. He has had every weekend off since going back after the holidays and that has been pleasant. They may start having him work some Saturdays in the coming months. We've settled into the routine a bit more which is a relief. He gets his WOD in as well as getting some sleep before heading out to pick up the kids from school and get himself to work. We are enjoying KU basketball and he really likes to watch soccer. My employer provided an opportunity for us to buy discounted tickets to Sporting KC Soccer games, so I bought 4 tickets to the April 11 soccer match. Craig is excited, I think, to get to go to a match this year.
--- 3 ---
We are barreling toward 8th grade graduation for Sarah. I took her shopping for her dress last weekend and we found one. The requirements for hem-length and straps/no straps, etc. plus the styles available to juniors these days made it quite a trip. But, thankfully we found a beautiful dress that won't make my 14-year-old look like she's 20 and ready to paint the town.

We will enroll her for high school on Wednesday next week. High School! Whoa. She's growing up so fast. I love it and hate it at the same time. She has been hitting the books hard to get good grades. She's also been working hard with her volleyball team. They won their tournament three weeks ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. It was so much fun. The following weekend, they made it to the championship match and lost a heartbreaker in 3 sets. At first she seemed so down about the 2nd place finish, but after we talked, I think she felt better. I tried to help her see that she could potentially make it to many championship games over the next 4+ years and she most likely won't win all of them.
--- 4 ---
Dani is having a good time swimming. She improved her times from the summer in the 50 free and 50 back. I know if she can just get those flip turns going, she will do even better. I am thinking about putting her in a local Girls on the Run program that is starting March 2. She said she wants to do it when I read to her about the program last night. I am just waiting to see if Craig thinks we can transport her (he could drop her off and I could pick her up) to the practices.

She possesses such strong awareness of her abilities and of her likes and dislikes. Dani is secure in who she is, even now at age 11. I love that.
--- 5 ---
Basketball is over for Helen. She committed to dedicating herself to swimming to get to a point that she could do summer swim team with Dani this year, so I need to get cracking and get her in the lessons at the Y.

Remember this post when I mentioned school struggles for Helen? Well, I'm happy to report that her godmother has been facilitating homework, reading and review time twice a week and Helen has taken off! We have a slip here and there with a poor performance on a test, but it's among many excellent successes and those slips are getting fewer and farther between. She actually seems to be enjoying school more now -- not sure if it's just that she's having success or if she really does enjoy being at school, but I don't really care. :)

--- 6 ---
Dominic continues to light up my world. He is such a cute kid. He plays with Vincent so well. On Wednesday, when we spent about 35-40 minutes in the car doing driving around for Dani and Sarah's practices, Helen sat in the very back of the van and I heard Dominic and Helen discussing Skylanders (video game) and how to progress through the "chapters" and such. Helen and Dominic actually discuss more than video games, too, which I think is cool.

Dominic said that he wanted to play soccer, but I told him this year, we just couldn't take on one more kid with an activity and that we can do something next year. He seems to have made friends easily in Kindergarten and enjoys school quite a bit. He gets a bit dirtier than I would like, but I suppose that is normal.
--- 7 ---
Vincent. Yes, so how is that strong-willed child o' mine? Well, he's cute and ornery. He throws fits when things do not go exactly as he wants. He can usually get his sisters to do just about anything for him.


He wants to be the center of attention at all times. The other night, while Helen and Dominic were having their discussion in the back of the van, Vincent kept crying to me, "Mommy, they aren't talking to me! I want them to talk to me!" And then he kept yelling back to them, "You guys! You guys! I want to talk!!" When they actually stopped to listen to him, all of a sudden, he didn't have anything to say! But he had already succeeded in getting their attention, so I guess that was good enough for him.

BONUS Take: You know, for a Catholic lady with a blog, I didn't do a very good job of proclaiming that it is now Lent. We all made it to Mass on Wednesday. I'm limiting my foods to plain-jane (no sweets) and I'm upping my prayer time for Lent. Two years ago, I think Lent just drained me of all meaningful ideas because no matter what I give up, nothing feels sacrificial enough after what I went through then. I am praying for all to have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Be sure to go visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum to read other great 7 Quick Takes posts!

February 16, 2015

Thoughts from a Mom with a Young Basketball Girl (A Mumbles Post - 79)

Good Monday Morning! How is your President's Day? Mine is FABULOUS now that I know the snow we received last night and early this morning was not enough to compel school closing. So I have a day off work and I am free to do what I will for the next few hours. I scheduled a couple of appointments I needed to get done today and I might slip in for a pedi/mani if I have some time.

I have some lingering thoughts I wanted to write about basketball. Girls basketball in particular, since that is my experience so far. Yesterday was the end of Helen's basketball season. She plays in a development league for our Catholic schools and it ends in a tournament each year.

1. I love helping to coach her team. A dad is the main coach for the girls and he's terrific. I mostly just nod my head and reinforce with support. The girls are so much fun. They are all sweet. My experience coaching girls is that sometimes someone needs to step in and discipline a little or keep the girls focused on the task at hand. I have had to do this only a few times in the course of two seasons. These girls really want to learn how to play basketball. AND...they have a ton of fun together. I never have to get on any of them for picking on each other. They laugh. A lot. I love that.

2. Sitting on the bench helps me keep calm and cool perspective. From what I understand, hearing opposing teams' parents up in the crowd would most likely cause my blood to boil. So, I am spared all that by coaching. Sad, though, that parents are actually the worst culprits of poor sportsmanship.

3. Speaking of sportsmanship...parents -- your kids are watching you. They hear what you say and they see what you do. If you are poor sports, your kids will be, too. 

4. Evidence of #3: yesterday, Helen's team lost in the tournament championship game by a buzzer beater put-back from the other team. Heartbreaking. She came back to me with tears. I told her to take a deep breath -- it was time to congratulate the other team on a job well done. As they went through the line, the first couple of girls from the other team leaned into her face and chanted, "We won! We won!" in that nasty little girl way some girls do. When Helen told me this, what could I say? Teaching moment right there -- we discussed that we still congratulate the winners on a game well-played and try to win next time. And should we win, remember how it felt to be on the receiving end of poor sportsmanship and do the right thing.

5. Oh. And one of the girls on the other team kept jabbing, pushing and pinching my daughter and when Helen asked her to stop, she said, "This is basketball!" 

As you know, the instigator in these situations, often goes unnoticed and when someone retaliates, they are often seen by the referee and called for a foul. Several times this year, my daughter and other girls on the team have gotten so frustrated with the physical play that they have pushed back. We talk with them about no pushing, but it's so hard for 8- and 9-year-old girls to understand how to play a physical game without getting frustrated. And honestly...jabbing and pinching is really out of line. The referees weren't seeing it because my daughter didn't have the ball when it was going on. So...what a pain in the butt to help my daughter figure out how to stand up for herself and not take any crap from these other girls...yet, when she does push back, she is the one "caught" and called for a foul. Oh...and thanks to that girl -- she thinks that THIS is basketball.

6. And honestly, I guess it IS basketball, right? I have been around girls' basketball all my life. I played it from 7th grade through high school. I watch the women's college game and WNBA on tv and I see that it is a much more physical game than the mens' game. So basically, the bullies in the game are the winners. Great.

7. I had a friend mention that maybe she'd have her kid play a city rec league as opposed to our Catholic school league because the examples of poor sportsmanship were so disappointing. My daughter loves her friends and loves playing for her school so I don't think that's an option for her, but I understand the consideration.

8. Are we Catholics really so bad at sportsmanship? Or...are we just like everyone else, but it's so disappointing because we should be holding ourselves and each other up to a higher standard? It is this question that I grapple with any time I am disappointed with Catholic school, church, etc. I think there is definitely a large part of it that causes disappointment simply because as Christians, we should be treating each other better.

9. I'm happy the Helen loves basketball. Maybe I will try to get her some private coaching or a camp or two this summer so she grows in her skills a little faster this year. Of course, if she'd grow a few inches...that would probably help her the most, haha.

10. Basketball is a great game. I prefer to watch when one of my kids is not on the floor because the emotional investment is so great. I had a blast playing it. Watching my kids go through this stage has made me wonder if I was one of the bullies. Of course, I didn't start playing until 7th grade, my coordination was pretty well-developed by then so maybe it didn't have to be as physical. I don't know.

Any experiences out there to share? Does it get any better as the girls get older? I remember in high school that our coach said, "If you're getting pushed around...push back and do it hard...you get one foul to make sure they know you aren't going to let them push you around." I don't even recall it being that much of a problem. 

But I am 41 years old now, I might not have the best recollection. Do boys' teams even have to discuss this sort of thing? I wonder if my experience is unique to the league we play in or if I went around town to all sorts of girls' basketball tournaments if I would see the same stuff.

Is it really better, though?

February 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes - 93 (A Rerun)

I went to visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum and get the low-down on how Quick Takes works these days. Because...as you know (undoubtedly) it has been a LONG time since I have participated. And I see that I have stumbled upon a week when Kelly has asked us to link up to our most amazing 7QT ever (paraphrasing...not sure those were her exact words).

I only have 92 7QT posts to choose from. That shouldn't be hard, right? I decided to pick the one where I let my guard down a little bit and got a larger number (than usual) of comments.

Without further ado, here's my 7QT Re-run. :) Thank you, Kelly, for hosting!!

This 7 Quick Takes post originally ran in September 2013. Enjoy!


Wow, it's been a few weeks since I participated in the 7QT linkup! I guess I haven't been feeling it on Fridays. 
Photo Credit
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I've had a lot on my mind that I haven't been able to get into words lately. Suffice to say that if you remember this 7QT post where I asked for your prayers for discernment, I want to thank you for them. It's been an interesting couple of months as my emotions have run the gamut of joy and satisfaction at the completeness of our family all the way to sadness and loss at the idea of never being pregnant again. NFP is such a blessing to our marriage that gives us the ability to discern and feel a little bit in control of what happens in that regard. I have decided to have the procedure that would mean we should avoid pregnancy until I hit menopause. I will still be ABLE to get pregnant, it's just not prudent as I would have to have the procedure reversed sometime before late pregnancy and of course, it would have to be redone at some point after the baby was born. That's not a prudent use of resources, and the issue I need addressed -- well, it needs to be taken care of. And we thank God for NFP as an alternative to complete abstinence as we head into this period of life!
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I don't really want to be cryptic or anything about the procedure I mentioned. It's just a little TMI for a Friday blog link-up! But exploring the idea that perhaps God is leading us to a new stage of life has been ... hm ... grueling? I mean, the prayer, the thoughts, the emotions...Discernment is definitely not for the weak!!

--- 3 ---

I have really learned over the past couple months -- when I've let myself really pray and think on it -- how much my older children need me. We often think about how much the little ones need their moms and dads -- for their very survival! But the older children need us so that we can help them learn to be grown ups. 
For example, I've been helping Sarah learn to navigate the rocky waters of pre-teen/teen girl relationships but also how to approach adults in a mature way so she's taken seriously. But that has required a good bit of my time and attention -- and if I had a newborn right now, she would probably be missing a lot of what she needs from me, because let's face it: I can only do so much at a time. 
So, Sarah's needs were something we considered a bit more through our discernment process this time than when we have discerned adding to our family in the past. I don't want her emotional and spiritual needs to go unmet because we decided to have another baby.
--- 4 ---

Then, I consider Dani and Helen. Dani just turned 10, but she loves being a little kid with a big imagination! However, I can see her body may end up forcing her into the realm of pubescent preteen much sooner than she would like. And she's so excited to learn all the things she's learning at school, and read all the books (she's currently finishing a Percy Jackson series and asking for another one). 

Helen has always needed a lot of my attention -- heck, she gets the bulk of it. And so I've needed to spend time in the evenings reading with her or sometimes just holding her in a hug on the couch for a little bit. Or brushing her hair. 

Dani's and Helen's needs are growing, and when we add that to the more complicated and time-consuming needs Sarah presents -- the older kids need more of us than I ever realized before we reached this point.
--- 5 ---

This week, on Tuesday, was the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. I loved Rebecca's comment on this post, btw. At school, during the morning announcements, they have the "Saint of the Day" and so St. Gregory was the Saint of the Day on Tuesday. I found out from Dominic's Pre-K teacher that Dominic's little eyes got big when he heard over the speaker that the Saint of the Day was Saint Gregory. And she said he listened intently through the whole bit about Pope St. Gregory the Great and a smile spread across his face while he listened. When it was over, he just went about his business, but it was very clear to her (watching him) that he really got something out of that.

Dominic is such a tender, sweet, sensitive, intuitive and strong boy. I am amazed regularly at him. Yes, he's smart, too. But he just loves. He loves everyone. And he loves with the most pure, unadulterated joy. It was hardest to get past him as we went through this discernment because he has this huge capacity to love and right now that manifests in his ability to be such a great brother. But I realize that we can foster the growth of this quality in him so that he can spread it far beyond our family. He will often come to me and say, "I miss my brother, Gregory" and give me a hug. I find myself grateful that he was old enough to remember Gregory in my tummy and everything we went through saying goodbye to Gregory because Dominic has a beautiful way of loving us all through our pain.

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Then there's Vincent. He's such a sweet and rambunctious boy! He requires so much of our attention and it has only been through this discernment that I have realized how he may have struggled had Gregory joined us here on Earth. He's grown up A LOT in the last couple of months, with going to bed on his own, talking up a storm and showing us all he is capable of physically. But...he still requires our constant vigilance as he's prone to getting into things -- especially things that might be dangerous -- and so he tests our parenting wills on a regular basis.

As it is, he's growing more and more every day. Soon (I sure hope!) he will figure out it's better to go in the potty than in diapers and he will cooperate with potty training. And then, it will feel strange to be in a house that no longer requires diapers, but it will be freeing as well.
--- 7 ---

Of course, discernment took into account our marriage, both Craig and me and our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. One of the things that I kept coming back to was the fact that I'm not getting any younger. Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery take their toll on a young woman's body and they took even more toll on my older, maturing body. Add to that the health issue I needed to address and we realized it was time. We have been so blessed. We praise God and thank him for the five beautiful, healthy children here with us and the one glorious saint He chose to bring into His presence ahead of us. We pray we will join Gregory someday in the presence of God. But for now, we continue to focus to help our earthly family continue to learn...to know, serve and love the Lord, and to move into a new phase in life that includes loving, honoring and serving each other.