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I do…..a lesson about finding your strength.

“I do….to the struggles. I do…to living selflessly for each other. I want you to build a wall of love that nothing can tear down. This wall that will surround these five blessings and give them security, peace, and endless love”….

 

I do.

The day started off innocent enough…I  woke up one Sunday with the desire to see the kids hit confession. Our family happens to be blessed with a local Shrine that offers confession for the 15-20 minutes before their 2:30 Mass. It’s super convenient to watch my three oldest hit the confessional and come out beaming. This Sunday, which I speak of, I did an examination of conscience with the kiddos while the hubby drove. Nothing super enlightening….your basic review of the 10 commandments with gentle “nudges” as to the areas that I saw some of them struggling with…haha.

Confession.

That sacrament that often we forget about. A sacrament, all too often underutilized, in our struggle to be Christ-like in a fallen world.

Our family would love to say that Confession is a monthly commitment like our other activities but it often isn’t. It can be anywhere between a month and a half to three months before our family goes or realizes how long it’s been.

But this time around, this little Polish priest had this unsuspecting mom crying through the first 20 minutes of Mass…with two little words….

As Mass was about to start, I saw the kids to our pew, after their confessions, and ducked into the confessional myself.

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Alright….clear my brain…..

Frustration. Quick to anger with the kiddos. Laziness. Being Judgmental

These guys knew that they were the usual culprits…haha.

As I started to roll out these guys, the priest stopped me at quick to anger with the kiddos.

“Oh…so you are a mom. How many kids?”

Five….

“Five?! Wow….you are a blessed and busy momma. And what are their ages?”

12, 10, 9, 6, 4…..

“Oh my goodness. So you are also a hard working mom.”

(insert a few tears….that was nice to hear)

“Let me ask you….do you have a good husband?”

(wait….what’s going on here. I’m just trying to remember which sins to confess and you are distracting me. And why do I feel so emotionally overwhelmed right now?)

(choking back tears) Yes…he’s a really good man. Great husband…great father….

“Then you have everything that you need…you just forget. I want you to work on the greatest strength that you have in trying to be a mom. You need to work on the strong bond of your marriage. This will give you the grace to raise your kids.”

(tears really flowing now….totally blindsided by his tender words that are hitting me so hard) um…ok.

(wait…..this is really heavy stuff….but also so simple)

“I want you to remember your wedding vows. Remember that day? Remember when you said I do? I want you to wake up everyday and say that. I want you to talk to your husband and I want you to remind him, lovingly, of those same two words and I want him to wake up thinking about the same, I do. I do….to the struggles. I do…to living selflessly for each other. I want you to build a wall of love that nothing can tear down. This wall that will surround these five blessings and give them security, peace, and endless love. This is where you will find the grace to be the gentle, loving mother, like Our Lady. ”

(searching for tissues in my purse, as I’m just a mess of tears. He can hear me sobbing.)

The only words I could muster up were…“Thank you..”

I wiped those tears and they just kept coming as I found the pew with my little family. I looked down at those five faces who I’ve been entrusted with and felt the hub’s arm run along my back and around me for a tight squeeze.

God has given such wisdom to our priests.

Thank you to that little polish priest for reaching into my heart and reminding me of the graces that God has already given me.

Thank you Lord for showing us the importance of the marital bond and the blessings that it bestows on the children.

Thank you Lord for reminding me that you are truly present in the sacrament of Confession and that you know all my sins before I bring them before you.

You desire this little heart to seek you in the “little ways” like St. Therese of Lisieux.

I pray that you find yourself in Confession soon….and that the Lord speaks truth in your heart.

But for today….find the “I do” that the Lord is requiring of you.

God Bless,

Tammi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pio Prints giveaway!

I could NOT be more excited about these awesome tank shirts from my good friend Maria at Pio Prints.

If you are like me, its always fun to work out with something inspirational on your shirt. These tanks definitely satisfy that need…and can we chat about how comfortable they are?!

I love that they are super soft and have a nice loose feel at the bottom. My daughter, Sweet Pea (about a 12-14 girls) is wearing an Adult small (you can see that it clearly hangs from her), and I have on an Adult Large. I have been told that they are going to be offering the x-small soon. (They currently do not have children’s sizes)

Maria has graciously offered to give away one of these awesome tanks to one of my readers. For those of you who don’t win a shirt or are looking to grab a gift for a friend, you can use code CTDW to get 20% off your order.

Ask Jesus Journal

To enter the raffle, click on this link here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Please bear with me as this is my first giveaway. Until I get this “glitch” with the rafflecopter worked out on this blog, You can also go to the  “giveaway” section of my facebook page and enter to win!

God bless,

Tammi

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Redefining your goals by knowing yourself…..

Ok….did that title just make you roll your eyes…or are you eager to read on?

Because…I gotta tell you. It really could go either way. You could feel motivated by setting goals or overwhelmed at the notion of “one more thing” to add to your list……

About 9 years ago, I definitely would have been rolling my eyes and the hubs and I had one of our biggest arguments over this very topic.

Goals.

According to the hubs, it started out pretty innocent…..

I was pregnant with the fashionista and we were about an hour and a half into a three hour ride home, to my parents, in Maryland. We had decided to drive down in the evening, so the kiddos could sleep the whole way. I had just began to doze off when the hubs wanted to “catch up”.

No biggie.

After a few funny stories about the kids over the past few days, the hubs says:

So…let’s chat about what your goals are for the next year? I don’t want you to feel like you are “just a mom”.  I want you to feel like you are growing in every area of your life. What goals do you have? – I kid you not…the man was smiling with support.

All I saw was red.

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Instead of something loving, he got something along the lines of:

Goals??? Goals??? are you freakin’ kidding me right now? “um…yeah…my goal is to not hear my name called for the next two hours.

My goal is to get a quick nap in before this baby cramps up under my ribs again making sleeping impossible. My goal is that Sweet Pea will not wake up crying because she peed her car seat or has to pee when there is no exit in sight…..

My goal is to allow my mom to watch the kiddos while I take naps and “sleep in” at her house. 

My goal is to eat great food and laugh a lot. 

(insert look of horror from my husband)

Yeah…it wasn’t my best moment but it was a honest moment. Sometimes we have these honest moments because we can’t see beyond the murky fog that we live in.

Let’s be honest…murky fog was an understatement for that time in my life. I was living in a tiny two bedroom apartment that we were quickly outgrowing. I found out when DDD was 7 months old that I was pregnant with the fashionista. It was the summer and I was 8 months pregnant…huge and uncomfortable…..

My husband hated his sales job and was always annoyed. We were barely skating by financially and I was always tired.

So…yeah….I didn’t want to be discussing goals. 

I was so tired that I didn’t know if my brain could process anything more intelligent than a grocery list or the most recent Barney episode.

If this situation, describes your current frame of mind….don’t read on! Just stop right here….take a few deep breaths….and go take a nap.

You do not need to discuss your personal goals. At this point, you are in survival mode.

Most likely you have little children who occupy every waking moment of your time or maybe you are in a tough place right now…..take solace in the fact that, most likely, this blog post is a “future” read for you. Maybe “pin” it for later…..;)

Your only goal is to surround yourself with great woman who struggle in “survival mode” like you do. Meet up with them at least twice a month. Sip some tea and laugh while the children destroy the house and you can have some adult conversation. Or…keep your house clean and go out for margaritas…either way…in the words of “Hitch” (Will Smith)…”this is where you live”…survival mode.

the ladies

Now…for those of you who have a few hours in your day…maybe you don’t have any babies in diapers…or you have enough time to process more than a grocery list….the rest of this post is for you…

So how do I know that I’m ready to set new goals? How do you go about knowing yourself?

For starters, you spend time thinking and talking about what you want for yourself.

I just recently (like a year ago) started meeting with the hubs over tea/coffee in our sitting room on Saturday mornings. After I make a big breakfast, the hubs and I “retire” into our sitting room and chat. We leave the children to clean up the breakfast table and put away the extra food. It has been heavily communicated that the children are not to interrupt us. We often have planners out, and agendas prepared.

We chat about our week…our frustrations…and things that make us truly happy. We play “footsies” and snuggle under throw blankets. We talk about interesting topics of the week, and things that we want to add to our bucket list. We discuss everything from the birthday present for our godchild…to the newest restaurant to check out.

We talk about where we feel like we are lacking….and what our heart yearns for.

We don’t care about commitments…we make this time happen whether it’s early in the morning or later in the day.

How do I know I’m ready to talk about goals?

Well…my “baby” is four…soon to be five this November. She can play by herself or off with her siblings for long periods of time without requiring my assistance. Am I “done”? I hope not…..but that’s another blog post. It took us three years to get pregnant with Sweet Pea, and instead of spending that time enjoying moments with the hubs, we were saddened and let misery guide us. We’ve decided never again….so…we are enjoying our present “baby free” days.

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I’m not tired. I’m getting great sleep unless I overindulge in too much Netflix or Pure Flix. No nursing babies. No toddlers who don’t sleep. I don’t have early morning risers and my kids enjoy snuggling with me for a few minutes each morning. I can often grab a power nap in the afternoon if I need to.

I’m not overwhelmed.  I have been homeschooling successfully for about 8 years now and have a pretty good hang of it. I’ve lived in the same house for 6 years and I finally have a schedule going that works for our family. The hubs is pretty happy with his new job and still works from home. I have been slowly giving my three oldest more responsibility in the home front which frees up my time as well.

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I’m feeling an inner call to stretch myself.  I have spent plenty of time giving to my little family with little thought of anything else. As my priorities change from one of changing diapers, and  physical dependence to one of mental and spiritual guidance, I have been feeling an inner call to get more involved in a few more things.

So what do I know about myself and how does this translate to my goals?

I like to break my goals down to basic “needs” that I don’t feel like I am having met. These are stirrings in my heart or areas that I’m not happy with. Does this somehow show a lack of understanding on the part of my spouse? Absolutely not. It is his support of me that enables me to look forward and see what areas of my life has been “shelved” by other priorities.

Love for music and a need to have more in my life .

I have recently been working with some musicians in my area to start some praise and worship in our archdiocese. I have longed to be able to offer praise and worship regularly at our parish and getting the musicians lined up has been challenging but I hope rewarding. I have missed the days of cantoring and helping with worship at Franciscan University. Please join me in praying for this endeavor as I feel so many of our youth would benefit from this.

Need to start my own “something”

In June, I took the plunge and became a Thirty-one gifts consultant. I personally love their totes and have purchased several for myself. When I was looking through my facebook friends to see who I knew that sold thirty-one products, I realized that I didn’t know anyone. It seems like a great idea to start as a consultant myself. I was looking for something to make a few hundred dollars a month to offset some family expenses and this seemed like a good fit. Where else could I throw parties with wine and cheese while showing off cute little bags and organizational gifts? We know how much I love my wine. If I’ve sparked your interest, you can look at my website here to see what we offer. Be warned…lots of cute stuff…haha.

Need to better myself

As I look through my facebook photos and instagram shots, it’s hard to dismiss the pattern. The photos are either of my face from the neck up…or of my children. Just recently, a woman offered to take a photo of my husband, son and I when we went hiking and I’m almost embarrassed to show it. Mostly, because I have been packing on weight for years. SO….one of my biggest goals is to take care of me. I feel like there is this young person hiding amongst all this fat and aging bones.  I gotta get in the gym and take back my body and promote better health for myself. I miss the ease of activity. This recent hike almost had me needing an oxygen tank. Trim Healthy Momma is going to be helping me with the healthy eating and the local Y will be kicking my butt in gear.

Need to travel and experience new cultures/history with the kids

cape cod

This photo is from our trip to the Northeastern states two summers ago. I’ve always meant to write a blog on that trip and learned so many great tips. It was amazing….10 days covering several states…the ultimate road trip. It’s made our family thirst for more travel. We will be planning several small trips this fall/winter and next summer we are spending two weeks out West! The hubs and I will be heading south for a romantic trip to Georgia in the upcoming weeks and the excitement is on! We love the thrill of new food, and new places.

So my goals are set for the upcoming year. It’s not going to be easy to really dedicate time to each one of these but…I know it will bring me so much peace when i do.

Join me as I “check in” on these goals several times this year.

What about you? What does your heart desire? What goals are within your grasp if you made them a priority?

Go after them….the only thing stopping you…is you.

God bless,

Tammi

 

Happy July 4th!

Happy Fourth of July….a day to celebrate our freedom and the birth of a new nation. Enjoy this old blog….the message is still the same.

Chasing time and Drinking wine

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Thankful to all the men and women who fight for the rights that we hold dear. Thankful that my children can grow up in a country where their dad is blessed with work, so they are blessed to not know hunger, or poverty.  A country where they have the right to believe what they believe and stand strong in their convictions.

Blasting from our ipod this morning was Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”. Such an appropriate song for today, “And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me and I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land….God Bless the USA”.

Wishing you a safe and fun-filled Independence Day!!

God Bless, Tammi

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Embracing a simple summer…..

apple orchard picture

“Mom….just ten more minutes to ride my bike”…

“Maybe later”.

“How about you play barbies with me in the basement?

“Maybe later”.

Maybe later….maybe later (sigh)……I can’t tell you how often I’ve used this phrase with my two youngest. I’ll tell you….the “mom guilt” is strong. Strong because, as parents, we constantly are reevaluating our decisions and the life that we are providing our children.

As hard as my children work during the school year, I need to work just as hard to make sure that we “live it up” in the summer. I have spent the past three weeks thinking about this….and all these questions come to mind:

Are my little girls getting the same childhood as their older siblings?

What happened to the simple joys of childhood?……and can I get that back?

If I am going to demand hard work during the school year, I will have to let my kids just “hang out” for the summer…..

bria bike

I often think back to the days of creek jumping, and endless picnics. When my oldest wasn’t yet schooling, we filled our days with endless fun. She was too young for school and still too young for structured activities, so our day included afternoon walks with leaf collecting and puddle jumping. I sat in attendance for many a puppet show, or “culinary experience” from our play kitchen. Life wasn’t too “busy” to just have fun and “play” with my children.

And yet…..my little girls fall second to the three older children and their academic success in homeschooling. I know I need to find the balance for this coming fall, but for now…I can plunge right into summer with this simplistic mentality.

So…I made a few phone calls. No piano lessons for the summer. No dance class. Nothing that would require the kids and I to have a schedule.  Two vacation bible schools and one overnight camp…but that’s it. The rest of the summer is totally up to us!

It means late night and late mornings.

It means extra snuggles at bedtime and cuddles in the morning.

It means staying late at the pool and grabbing takeout for dinner.

It means last minute playdates with friends, and endless nights on the porch.

So….how exactly will we spend our summer? I’ve got a few ideas……

So I have decided to include a printable of some simple summer suggestions here:

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It’s my first free printable!  Trust me as I learn how to perfect these…they will get better. haha

Take a few minutes to print off that printable and let your mind start sailing off…..

So that you can enjoy having beach days and surfing parties:

surf club

Or maybe your kids can ride in a space ship…made of table chairs…

space ship

or stay in your pajamas and play….

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Life’s too short to spend your summer driving kids around to activities. Spend your days cuddling in the sun, and picking yummy fruit.

Spend your summer days reminding your kids how make fun YOU ARE!!!

Allow yourself to “slow down” and soak in the laughter of your children.

God bless,

Tammi

 

 

 

Bear with me……

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putting on my “work”cap….this chica means business

My blog is undergoing some much needed “maintenance” to make it easier for you, the readers, to find posts and look over older posts. Please bear with me as little changes are being made. Thanks for your understanding and feel free to “look around”.

community service blog

Who says birthdays have to be “self”-ish….let’s chat about A “Community Service” birthday party….

While planning the “Murder Mystery party” for Sweet Pea this past weekend (more on that subject later), I was reminded that I never blogged on Sweet Pea’s party last year. I have to say that it was the party that SHE and I were the most “proud” of.

The idea for the “selfless” party started when we were listening to Klove radio one morning. Sweet Pea, in her typical spirit of introspection, was listening to Matthew West’s “Do Something”. Here it is if you haven’t heard it before:

The song is really a “call to action” for us Christians. It’s a reminder that we need to “do something” about the poverty, injustice, and hurt in our world today. That God calls us to be that “someone” and to do what we can to help others.

As Sweet Pea listened to that song, and sung her heart out, she finished with, “Mom, I need to do more. Maybe this year, instead of my birthday, I will just donate my  birthday money to the poor.” To say that I’m proud of her selfless heart is an understatement. This child was also the one who tightly hugged my mom’s neck when she learned that one of her Christmas presents, two years ago, was a goat donated to a poor family in Haiti. I wish you could have seen her enthusiasm at knowing that that little goat was providing that family with milk for the year.

With this new found enthusiasm to help others, we worked together to devise a plan for her eleventh birthday party. After thinking of countless ways we could help others, we decided to combine several ideas and create a “Community Service birthday party”. A day in which we came together to thank God for the gift of her life and yet offer multiple opportunities to put others first. This party was about asking her friends to help her “do something” for those less fortunate around her. After discussing her party ideas with several people, Her friends were equally as excited about this gathering.

So here was the party:

Decorations: none. This had to be one of the simplest parties. No decorations. For the invitations, I sent free birthday evites.

Activities:

The girls started by making large casseroles for our parish church. The church has freezers where they store large casserole donations for a local men’s homeless shelter. Sweet Pea had taken two large casserole dishes from the church to fill up for the party. The girls were eager to help !

 

Next, the girls worked in a different room to create happy “birth” day cards to all the new babies on the labor/delivery wing of our local hospital. I called the hospital and spoke with guest services and they were thrilled to help us in getting these passed out to all the new moms.

 

We had another group of girls working on making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the local soup kitchen. We were able to make about four loaves of bread to donate and the call to the supervisor was met with such enthusiasm.

Food: A chickfilia tray was a “must” for a party like this…super simple and a great organization to be supporting. Cheese/crackers, fruit, pretzels and other chips rounded out the night. Everything was disposable and super simple to clean up since we were concentrating on making food for others rather than eating ourselves.

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Gifts: Sweet Pea had asked all her friends, instead of presents, to bring diapers, wipes, and baby items to be donated to the local pregnancy center or canned goods to be delivered to a local food pantry. I watched, with pride, as she delivered them to the pregnancy center….a huge smile on her face…and then to see the director offer her a huge hug for thinking of them. We even had the priviledge of delivering two check donations from the parents of two of her friends. What a sweet birthday present for Sweet Pea!

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This was such a great way to honor what’s important to Sweet Pea, helping others. As a homeschooling mom, I am so happy to see the beautiful girls that Sweet Pea has in her life……little ladies that are learning how important it is to reach out and be “a light” in this world that needs more love and joy.

In the words of Matthew West, “It’s not enough for us to do nothing, it’s time for us to do something!”

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