Category Archives: Loveletters/Food for thought

Why Mercy? People want justice…..

Read any comment section of a tragic human interest story and you can see the rage that comes forth from people. My facebook, lately, has been filled with story after story of parents who are neglecting their children, leaving them to starve or physically punishing them for being “a burden”. I can’t read these stories…..I just can’t. However, I do often look over the comments and so many strangers cry for justice for these little souls.

“An eye for eye”…

” I hope they starve those parents like they starved their kids”.

“Put me in a room with them”.

People want justice.

Now, it’s easy for me to read those comments and think how crazy these people sound.

Unfortunately, the truth is that I want justice in my own life. 

When someone “wrongs’me, I want justice. I want to call my close friends and explain to them how “difficult” this person is being and how I need “prayers” in dealing with them.

I don’t want to take any time trying to “understand” any reasoning behind why someone would insult me or hurt me, I just want to be able to lash out on them in anyway I please.

I want to mentally “cross my arms” and feed that part of me that desires to hate, that demands that “hurt” to be returned.

What about you?

People don’t know how to handle the evil that pervades our world. Racism, infantcide, euthanasia, murder, kidnapping, torture, abortion, sexual abuse…the list is endless. Our gut reaction is to demand atonement for these sins. To demand that the attacker meet some sort of fair punishment or justice. The definition of “justice” is the “quality of being fair and reasonable”. In order to handle the “injustices” of this world, it seems rational that we demand justice. But in order to demand “justice”, we must sit in judgement of another. We must “judge” their deeds worthy of justice.

To the Christian…..Justice is not enough.

The Lord asks for Mercy.

This beautiful image was given to Sister Faustina by Our Lord.  In her beautiful book,  “Diary of Sister Faustina:Divine Mercy in my Soul”, sister’s countless conversations and visions with Our Lord, in which he spoke to her about His Mercy, are detailed. Sister Faustina was asked, by Our Lord, to have the following image painted.

So what does the image mean?

The Image of The Divine Mercy represents the risen Christ whose hands and feet bear the marks of the Crucifixion. When asked about the meaning of the rays from His pierced Heart, Jesus explained, “The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. … These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross” (Diary, 299).

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The Lord is calling us to receive His Mercy. 

Have you ever wanted to give someone a gift and yet, they were never home for you to drop it off? You wait in anticipation of the joy that you know this gift will bring, but it never seems to happen. You call, but your phone calls aren’t returned. You know this gift will bring this person so much joy, but you can’t get through to them.

Can you imagine that you are this person?! That Jesus has this gift of His Mercy that he is waiting to pour upon you but you can’t make time to see Him.  Would it hurt you to find out that His Mercy would fill all those insecurities and pains of your past? That you would feel truly, and unconditionally accepted and loved.

I am not a reader. I’ve never loved reading but during Advent, Lent, and over the summer, I try to read at least one inspirational book. The following book by Fr. Mike Gaitley has been life-changing for me. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I read this book this Advent, and then again this Lent. I found something “profound” each time that I read it. It’s a beautiful book to add to your library. This is definitely one that you will want to read over and over, and highlight and write in. haha. 

In his book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Mike Gaitley writes that mercy is ” love when it encounters suffering”. It is “first an emotional movement, in which we feel compassion, and then a movement of action”.

It is first “feeling” compassion for someone, and then acting on that.  It is a call to action. God is calling us to action. He is calling us to receive the gift of His Mercy, and then to act on that Mercy. Jesus wants us to be emotionally moved by His Love for us, and then “called to action” by that same love.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has declared this the Year of Mercy. How will you live out this year?

Kendra, over at Catholic All Year, has started a Year of Mercy Challenge with her family. Their family has created a challenge, for the year, to fulfill each of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a family. She has produced a fantastic printable which you will find here:

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Our family has printed out this form and will be challenging ourselves as well.

Additionally, when my girlfriend, Michele, asked me to consider being one of the few “early readers” of her new book, Divine Mercy for Moms, I jumped at the chance. Having just finished Fr. Mike Gaitley’s book, this seemed to be a great book to continue this same message of Divine Mercy. It seemed only “fitting” that, as I opened this book, I found that  Fr. Mike Gaitley had written comment promoting this book.

This book didn’t disappoint.

Divine Mercy for Moms is a beautiful book, written by two of my friends from Franciscan University, that speaks to the heart of every busy mom who is trying to live her faith. These women have done a wonderful job of breaking down the message of Divine Mercy from Sr. Faustina into small reflective chapters that any mom can follow. Each chapter ends with how we can live that chapter’s message through three practical ways: in deed, word, and prayer. This book is also set up for small group discussion.

******I was going to wait until I finished this book…but after reading the first three chapters, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. This book is the perfect Easter basket gift for yourself….and a wonderful pre-cursor to Divine Mercy Sunday.******

This book is perfect for the busy mom, as you can read a chapter on Sunday to begin your week, and then use the practical suggestions on ways to “live” that chapter during the week. These moms, Emily and Michele, know how to speak to the mother’s heart and give practical tips for living this message of Mercy.

These ladies have also provided us with so many wonderful resources on their website, Divine Mercy For Moms.

They have two “special gifts” for this year of Mercy…download your free copies of the Mom’s Checklists for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.!

Definitely “click” on this book and order yours today!

If you have read both of these, please join me in reading Fr. Mike Gaitley’s new book, 33 Days of Merciful Love. This book is a blend of a retreat and the journey of growing closer to St. Therese, the Little Flower. Sounds like a great way to start into this summer.

My prayer is that some of these resources will provide invaluable on your spiritual journey.

May we seek God’s mercy that He so readily awaits to lavish upon us, mere sinners.

May we fully embrace this year of Mercy!

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When everyone “seems” to have it all together but us….Moms: 7 ways we are hurting ourselves…..

Oh, man. I gotta tell you that on Monday, I was not a happy momma. Multiple times on Monday I wanted to ship my kiddos off somewhere. I gotta tell you on days like that, I usually take a few minutes and hit up Instagram and check out some funny mom posts. There is usually some sort of funny “what I’m really thinking” post. Thankfully,  Instagram did not disappoint.

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Between the sass of Sweet Pea; the naggy, whiny moans about doing Math from DDD; and the runny nose of Miss Missy, and the MOUNTAIN of dishes awaiting me from the weekend..I was pretty well fried. Monday had barely started, and I was waving the white flag of surrender.

No inspiration quote was going to get me out of this rut. I wasn’t up for the “put on your big girl pants”motivational talk from myself. What I really wanted to do was crawl back in bed with a hot cup of tea….or a chilled bottle of prosecco…..

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this is my “seriously?!” look

Dreading the rest of the day, I opened the refrigerator door to think about dinner…urgh…It was then that I saw the lamb leg roast that I was defrosting.  I had forgotten that I was making a lamb roast for dinner, and I became motivated by that simple thought. The thought of filling my home with the smell of roasting carrots and potatoes was enough to calm me. It may sound trivial, but I was excited to make my first “lamb roast”. As I went to post it on my facebook, I quickly retracted my post to include how I was feeling.

Why?

Because….who makes a lamb roast on Monday?

(one of my friends actually commented something to this effect)

Certainly only moms who have all their “$#@!” together, right??!!

hahahaha…..not true.

I’m definitely a “hostess”. I love to make yummy meals and watch my family indulge in them. However, I wanted other moms to know that today…..was AWFUL!

I was making a lamb roast while a foot away a pile of pots and pans awaited me.

My son was sitting at the breakfast room table repeating every Math problem and moaning about how he couldn’t “remember” doing those problems yesterday…..(insert sarcastic eye roll)

I was looking at the list of office calls that I was suppose to finish today and I had not made even one call.

My oldest had just made some comment about me “never listening” and stomped up to her room…..

and the hubs sent me a quick “reminder” about how he would take a “break” for dinner but work most of the night….Yippee~~~

All of that….and yes….I was making a lamb roast.

While that lamb roasted for an hour and a half, I was going to be finishing up all of these activities that were surrounding me and I was going to try and regain some peace in my mind and in my home.

Moms…..we are the heart of the home.

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The heart of the home…..that’s such an amazing concept. I think it encapsulates how emotionally draining our job is. How, we as women, seek out love and friendship, especially from among other women. How we desire to speak with other women, and share our struggles, and our joys. But when that heart is hurting, how quickly things can fall apart.How quickly we turn to social media to “escape” what is happening in our home or create our own view of “reality”. We look at our peers and we make judgments or we grow “envious” of what their Facebook lives look like. We allow ourselves to judge others and to assume somehow their lives are easier than ours.

When I first started blogging, this was one of the main goals of my blogs. I wanted my readers to feel like we were “girlfriends” just hanging out. I wanted people to read my entries and laugh or be profoundly changed.  I wanted to be that “friend” who always spoke their mind, and held nothing back. I wanted my readers to see the struggle to raise my five children as Christians, in a world that makes few things easy. I wanted to inspire moms to get more involved with their children and seek out ways to love themselves. I wanted to be that friend who painted the real picture of reality and then passed you the wine glass to take it all in. haha. Clearly, my blog title alone tells you how much I enjoy making memories; laughing with friends; and just hanging out.

So…what’s this blog entry all about….well…it’s about the seven ways that we are hurting the “heart of the home”.…..

Let’s take a few minutes, and do a brief examination of ourselves. How many of these are you guilty of? Are you hurting yourself by not doing for yourself?

Not taking time for ourselves: Are you a natural giver? Do you give tirelessly and have nothing left for yourself?

Emotional eating: Do you eat when you are mad? sad?frustrated? or to celebrate something? Do you use food to cope with things that are upsetting you?

Tackling too much: Are you constantly asked to organize groups or meetings? Are you unable to say no even at the detriment to you or your family?

Not having a good “listening ear”: This one is tough. Do you “half listen” when your children are talking to you? or better yet..”your spouse”? Do you miss opportunities to grow closer to those around you by being a good listening ear? Do others see you as a tremendous friend that they can talk to?

Seeking perfectionism: Do you have unhealthy views of yourself? Are you never “good enough”? Do you hold unrealistic views of motherhood? keeping a home? being a friend? Are you deeply saddened by our inability to meet your own standards?

Not looking out for our own health and fitness: Do you make time to work out and exercise your body? Do you seek to eat healthy and take care of yourself? or are you sluggish and tired often? Do you place a high value on your sleep and taking care of yourself? Are you a good example of “taking care of the body that God gave you”?

Not enough prayer time:  Do you take daily time for prayer? Do you look to improve your relationship with the Lord daily? Do you take breaks in your day to refocus on prayer and give your struggles/anxieties/burdens to the Lord?

Lent is a great time when we are walking through the “desert” of our life in the Church to examine some of these areas where we can “fail” ourselves. How can we truly “love” ourselves and be a truly loving heart in our home? I would say…that it starts with us. We have to remember that we are daughters and sons of a great God who seeks to share His love with us. Don’t look at these questions as a “list of failing areas”, rather I would encourage you to take these things to prayer. Maybe you are struggling and haven’t been able to “pinpoint” your feelings or thoughts..this list may be a good starting point for you.

May you find joy in rediscovering how to “love” yourself.

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World Marriage Day!

I was recently asked to join a “link up” of other Catholic bloggers to post something on Catholic Marriage in celebration of World Marriage Day.

What is World Marriage Day, you ask?

“World Marriage Day received a special blessing from Pope John Paul II in 1993 and is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of February. This year, it falls on the same day as Valentine’s Day. WMD’s website has a great list of ways you can celebrate with your spouse on this special day like looking at your wedding pictures together, telling your children how you met and fell in love, or doing something special for another married couple. The purpose of World Marriage Day is to examine the love in your marriage, how it used to be and how it has developed, and celebrate that love with your spouse.”- taken from Catholic Mommy blogs.

Anyone that know me, knows that I LOVE to talk about the hubs and our marriage. This June, we will be celebrating 15 years of marriage. We have had beautiful memories, painful growth spurts, “he’s an ass” moments (hahaha), and the “I’m sorry for my part in this argument” conversations. However, my favorite blog that I have written on this topic has to be “Are you a fighter” ,when I challenge others to really “fight” for their marriage. We are currently in a society that believes that when something is no longer “working”, we just “get a new one”. We rarely “fight” for things. Divorce is on the rise because there is often one spouse fighting for their marriage and the other spouse takes the easier road of just giving up.  If you feel like your marriage is lacking “passion” or “zeal”, I would recommend that you start with this blog post, and then move on to these other ones that I have written as “follow ups”.  I would also recommend reading  “Are you a fighter, part two”. and” advice for a newlywed.”

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This Catholic bloggers “link up” is a great resource to meet other Catholic mommy bloggers who share their own testimonials about Marriage and Catholic families. I hope that you will find some times this weekend to celebrate your marriage and read some of these inspiring and insightful blogs.

God bless,

Tammi

 

When kids can’t just be kids…..

Today when I was driving my kiddos to adoration, we started discussing all the prayer requests for this week. It seems like there are many. Pregnant friends and family, families struggling with medical issues and financial hardships, and other friends who are a struggling in their faith.

My own mind flooded with my own family’s concerns.

I started to get inundated with worries about monthly budgets; thoughts of the holidays; and the schooling of my children.

I had started to let my mind wander …and then I was snapped by to reality……

when this  happened….

My son started in on “ISIS” and the attacks on Paris.

You could hear a pin drop in my minivan. The same minivan where I had just been screaming about a true lack of calm with the radio blasting, and young kids fighting…..was now silenced and awaiting my response.

Then I heard the Fashionista say, “Stop! I don’t want to talk about this. I was happy thinking about my chorus practice and dance class and now you want to ruin my day…”

I get it, little girl……but it’s not fair nor just. 

I had been avoiding this discussion….

Why?

Because it’s a topic that’s tough for even adults to discuss.

It makes us uncomfortable to discuss the horrors of ISIS.

But…..then “Kids can’t just be kids” right now.

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I can’t just send my kids outside to play and turn a blind eye to the hurting people of Paris, or the thousands of children, women, and men who are fleeing their country for a better life.

I can’t discuss “eating their peas” when their “barbie/lego world” has been interrupted by scenes of bloodied bodies along the streets of Syria and Paris.

I try to keep my children out of adult conservations and limit what they are exposed to. However, my job is also to continuously remind myself and my children of our daily mission.

” We must continuously draw others to Christ, daily, by our lives.”

If I make it a priority, to teach my children about the heroism of St. Maria Goretti, and the small acts of love taught by the  “Little Flower”, and the servant’s heart of St. Francis…

How can I not honor the martyrs of this century?

or the countless people who sat with these poor souls to give them a beautiful death??

How can I not assure them that although their grievances involve decreased technology time or eating enough vegetables, that other children their age fight to live in a peaceful home and struggle to survive?

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Because…I can’t think in my head that my kids are “spoiled” or “unappreciative” when they are truly unaware of the other concerns that pervade the minds of other children their age.

So…I started off by telling them the truth….

Satan is real. And he doesn’t wear red and carry a pitch fork. He’s in the hearts and minds of everyone who seeks to kill and destroy.  He can make men do evil things….unspeakable things to each other.  We don’t need to watch the horrible things on the TV. We just need to pray for all those Christians who are killed and persecuted. We need to pray for the innocent children who get caught up in the evils of adults. 

I watched the color drain from their precious faces. It was pretty tough to watch.

So I took a deep breath, said a short prayer to the Holy Spirit..and started in….

I know all of this seems so scary. But you have to remember that OUR GOD is bigger than all of this. The same God that parted the Red Sea is with us. He is the same who is, who was, and who is to come. He is faithful and merciful. And He loves us.

We need to pray for the strength for whatever God asks of us.

We then finished with the St. Michael’s prayer…..

“St. Michael, the archangel. Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly prayer. And do thou, oh prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

We need to “fix our eyes” on Christ.

Lord, give me the grace and strength to really live this message.

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When our “inner child” escapes….

Inside every one of us is an “inner child”. It’s that little part of you that still squeals when you shoot down a roller coaster or when you try on one of the kid’s halloween props to get a laugh. It’s that part of us that we often let die as we enter adulthood.

I have to ask myself why?

Why do we feel that “adulthood” clearly demands us to “grow up”?

That is somehow calls us to abandon the childlike fun that we truly enjoy.

But…what would happen if we “tapped” into that part more often.

Could we truly relieve some of the stress that prevaides our adult lives? Could we have deeper, wordless conversations with our children? with our spouses?

I was about to find out the other day..

We were invited to a bonfire with the school of some of my nieces and nephews.  As I passed this huge swing set with my husband, I grabbed one swing and sat down. “How about a few pushes?” I said to my husband. I thought it would be really romantic. Little did I know that his “inner child” ( a natural troublemaker) was about to spoil this moment.  My children looked on as I sailed through the sky, laughing at how high I was. After popping out of my seat three times, I was screaming to “get off!” However, the hubs was enjoying this too much. Every time I begged to get off, he pushed harder and faster.  I tried to kick him, as my words were proving worthless,  and he eventually slowed down.  Pure fear and dizziness had overtaken me, but he was filled with pure delight.

His smile, although devilish, was so attractive. I was experiencing so many emotions: fear, anxiety, excitement….it was also somewhat thrilling. It made me realize that I don’t have enough of these moments of childlike fun.

I believe that this is the beauty  of having children. They can spark these beautiful memories of childhood within us. We can relive our own joys and sorrows while we watch them engage in similar memories.

Today I realized too late that my son had flag football practice. I had no time to grab anything to occupy the two little girls so they would have to just run around.

Well, the school, where they were practicing, had these big, beautiful “perfect for climbing” trees. I looked over as I saw the two older girls dangling from two branches….their hair hanging and blowing in the wind. It took me back to visiting my grandmother and climbing this huge tree in her house. I would dangle, similarly, from that tree and look to see how low my long hair hung.

While the big girls climbed the tree, Mini me and Miss Missy were running around with branches from the trees….they had become “witches” and those branches had quickly become “brooms”. I watched for the next 30 minutes as they were filled with pure joy. The gentle breeze blowing their hair….their giggling and laughter being enjoyed by all the parents present.

I watched as Mini me found one tree that had a collection of leaves at its base. She ran quickly and threw herself onto that pile, throwing up leaves and laughing as they fell onto her hair and clothes. She was in pure delight.  As soon as the other girls saw her, they took off running for that pile. Working together, they helped create a bigger pile to jump into.

And watching this, brought me back to these pictures……

DDD, Sweet Pea, and the Fashionista as little ones playing in the leaves…

They LOVED the fall and spent hours in the leaves….

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Holding all these thoughts in my heart, along with my own love for piling up the leaves and “jumping in”, I went running over to the girls.
I told Miss Missy that I was going to lay down in the leaves, and she could bury me. She was so excited. As she started to pile the leaves on my body, I heard the Fashionista say, “Whose idea was this?”. “Mom’s!”, I heard Miss Missy squeal. Then eight hands started piling on more and more leaves…giggles and laughter ensued. I laid there…..just enjoying all those sounds. One by one, each child was buried and then enjoyed the excitement of jumping up and shaking off the leaves.

“Mom…did you do this as a kid?” Sweet Pea said.

“I sure did! And the bigger the pile, the better!!” I answered.

The sky turned dark and the sweaty boys were dismissed to their parents….and as we climbed back into the van, I reached over to grab a leaf out of the Fashionista’s hair.  “Seems like you wanted to take this home…..Were you playing in leaves today?”

Her smile said it all.

I realized today how important it is to share these memories with my children. I need to not be just the face behind the camera….but the one under the leaf pile. 

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Brought to my knees by a plate of waffles….

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Have you ever been close to tears due to stress or being overwhelmed and then one little thing happens…and you lose your mind?….

like a sticky waffle…….

When I walked around to my daughter’s side of my minivan, yesterday morning, and saw this, I lost it. A plate of sticky waffles slowly dripping on the floor of my van….and that was my unraveling….

Am I crazy about waffles or something?!

Nope…it was just the final “straw” in being overwhelmed and underheard as a mother……

That waffle was the pebble that, once removed, started the deluge of rocks of thoughts and worries that have plagued my mind for the past few weeks…

Why can’t my kids follow my rules? How do I do all this? Why is my husband traveling so much?  When do I clean? Why are my kids so messy? Am I meeting the needs of all my kids? Why do I have so little time for myself? Why is my family plagued by medical issues?

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I literally feel like I am pulling this ricksha….most of the time…..uphill…. with five kids and a husband inside it…haha.

And most days I’m on level ground so I can carry my own…

and then some days it seems all uphill…..

As I picked up that waffle, I wiped away the tears from a rough few days. And under my breath, I said, ” lord, help me hold this together.”

I took a deep breath as I walked around the van…and all those memories and thoughts flooded my brain.

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  • the constant picking up of random kid items….(Lord knows they all have a place)
  • the weekly menu planning that I continuously struggle to finish

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  • The little annoying messes everywhere I look…(does no one know how to clean)
  • finding the time to scrub floors; wash windows; and do laundry
  • bills need to be scheduled and paid; registers balanced and budgets tweaked

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  • The daily schooling of five kiddos…(isn’t education overrated?)
  • the endless errands: extracurriculars, food shopping, clothes shopping, etc.
  • and then there’s the holidays….Halloween is less than two weeks away.

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  • the two molars pulled, this week, for Sweet Pea
  • the constant nagging of DDD to wear his retainer…
  • The ER visit on friday with the Fashionista for a seizure (um….what?!)

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  • So now we are in the process of appointments and testing to figure out what’s going on with the Fashionista…..

And…this was me…..DONE!!!!

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Yeah…it wasn’t pretty.

“Quit your crying, Taffeta”….haha

But...ugly cries are awesome.

It’s pretty cleansing…..

So…..I tossed out that sticky waffle and I cleaned up any remnants of it on my carpet.

And just like that….I know that I can get through this.

So if you can identify with any of those feelings, or you are at the end of your rope, I recommend a good old “ugly cry”….and then take it to the foot of the cross. 

Sometimes it just takes a “sticky waffle” to remind you that you need to get on your knees and be thankful for your “worries” and what overwhelms you.

Mostly because you have a God that is bigger than all of that.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”- Phillipians 4:13

As for today, God and I have this one covered.

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An interview with me……7 quick things you may not know…..

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SO……I have several blogs that are currently “under construction”, so I figured I would take a break from those and post a quick “7 quick takes” about myself. I’ve been trying to think about some things I have not shared with you yet so….here goes….

 I will admit that I am not much of a “selfie” person. Why? Because I often think that the problems with “selfies’ is that they show too little of who we really are. I actually don’t look like this picture everyday. Most days, my hair is thrown up in a bun until I get my workout in. I actually think this picture was taken on one of my “mom’s days out”…haha. However, since I started blogging, I realized that my readers would “connect” with me more if they could put a “face” to some of the blogs. So here I am. Nothing fancy….just a mom. A lady trying to live for the Lord; serve her husband; and focus on her family.  As a mom, I know that I need to get “in” more pictures with my kids so they can see that we made memories together. The “selfie” seems to be a great way to get a picture “in the moment”. However….I am no Kardasian…haha.

IMG_0488My life is an open book. There are few things that I don’t share, but it took me a few years to get to that point. About two years ago, I began to realize that in some of my friendships, I was not being honest. I was harboring resentment over events, anger over discussions that I had ‘in my mind’ with others, and having to remember what I “said” when I was gossiping. If this is the path you are on, get out in front of it!!! It can ruin you. Change!!.Have a close conversation with those you love about your need to be honest. Embrace the opportunity to share your heart, your concerns, your hurts. It has been life-changing for me. I love strong friendships with women and feel that, as women, we need to be open and share our hearts with others.

I am the WORST Procrastinator.  No joke…it took me about 6 hours to produce this blog. I made lunch….wrote a few words….washed the dishes…..wrote a few more words….watched TV…..and now I just need to finish this. I am often disappointed by the myriad of opportunities that I miss out on because of waiting until the last minute. I have been making great strides with this but it definitely affects my blogging. So join me in praying for strength in this area.

I  have a love/hate relationship with exercise. I hate to work out…but I love how I feel when I’m doing it and after. I know…it’s crazy. I hate the sore muscles and fatigue…but I love the added energy and strength I feel. I am currently working with the 21 day fix videos from Beachbody but practically crying as I complete it. ..haha. I can easily talk myself out of doing one but thankfully my beachbody coach is a good friend who constantly “checks in” with me. Lord knows I would choose a good drink and an episode of Criminal Minds over my workout any dayIMG_0392The way to my heart is food.  Obviously, this makes #4 quite difficult. Whenever, I talk with people about trying to “eat better”….I always end up laughing. I just love food…and I love to have great conversation over delicious food. Thankfully, my husband shares my love for good food. When we made our trip to the NE this year, he strategically made sure he looked up all the best “cheeseburger”, “ice cream”, and “lobster rolls” in the area that we could find on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  In addition, when Sweat Pea turned 10, we took her to a Gordon Ramsey restaurant in New York and tasted this deliciousness (Beef Wellington) below.

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I grew up in Maryland!! Born and raised on crabs and Old Bay. The hubs has promised to whisk me away to MD for a good ole’ Crab feast in September and my heart couldn’t be happier!!!! Just sit a bushell basket in front of me and then watch me work my magic.

I wish I was more organized.  I am obsessed with blogs like http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/. I mean…just amazing. I WISH I actually could organize half my life the way that lady does….or afford to pay a team to do the work. I just sit and silently wish that I could have a Mary Poppins moment and everything would march into place.

Well folks….that’s all I got. Hopefully, this weekend refreshes your soul as you find time to “chase some time” with your family and friends.

God Bless, Tammi

Seeing motherhood through the eyes of a child…..

When I was a child, I use to love to play with my sister. She was about 2 years older than me and always had great games we could think up. We would run the gamut of different careers in our imaginative play time in our bedrooms. We often were doctors, nurses, secretaries, lawyers, fashion designers, etc. We would spend long afternoons “dreaming” about what our lives would be like when we were older.

It seemed simple enough…..

We would have the most “put together” outfits…..

We would change our nail polish everyday to match our outfits…..

We would have four or five perfectly behaved kids…..

And a large home with a corvette….

In essence, we were barbies…..haha.

If you were to ask us what our mom did, we would say she didn’t work. She just sat around all day.

We never “saw” any of the work that she did. As far as we were concerned, she was just “hanging out” all day like we were. But “somehow”, we arrived at school dressed and ready; ate meals; and participated in extracurriculars. Now don’t get me wrong, my mother wasn’t the “Joan Cleaver” type but she made sure that we were taken care of.

The summer that I spent on my bed, memorizing the paisley pattern of my mattress, I would have said that my mom enjoyed watching me be miserable. That she would “find” things to correct me for. I was a “martyered” and “tortured” soul. My mom loved seeing me “sit on my bed and miss all the fun”.

What was her problem? Why was my life so unfair?

“I can’t wait to be a mom….and boss people around. I’m going to do whatever I want…whenever I want!”

The tears would stream down my face….until my mom would let me out of my room…and then I was off to do the next troublesome thing.

I mean…how hard could it be to be a mom?

I truly had no idea how tough this thing called “motherhood” was. You really have to have a huge heart…..the thickest skin….and a great deal of confidence. And a wine cellar in your basement wouldn’t hurt…..hahaha
But…seriously?! What other job could monopolize your every waking and sleeping moment; completely drain you of everything; and yet….be so extremely rewarding??!!!

I am currently in a few different phases of my parenting vocation. I am battling the independent strong-willed three year old…..I am trying to calm the fast-talking, no-one-listens-to-me five year old….I am searching for ways to show the middle child that she is loved and adored….fighting off urges to strangle my ever-teasing, constant prankster son….and deal with the parental blows of pre-teendom and puberty. God help us…..we are “chasing” a lot of wine.

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However….even with all the hard work that goes into mothering this brood daily….my love for each one of them never wavers.

 Being a mom is like “having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body”. Boy…is that ever true. Our children will never truly understand how deep our love for them is. However, it is our God-given duty to make sure we tell them. To make sure that it is so ingrained in their being that they could never challenge that notion. We can’t just tell them….we have to show them. And we can’t just show them, we have to tell them. We have to write them embarrassing notes on their school napkins. We have to scream their name and yell “that’s my son/daughter” when they score that soccer goal. We have to be the first one ready to greet them off the bus…and the last one to kiss them goodnight. They have to know that there is nothing that can separate them from our love.

One afternoon, Mini Me was agonizing over having to clean up her mess of barbies in our school room. As she did the “walk of shame” kicking and throwing her body next to the mess, she stated “I can’t WAIT to be a mom. I can’t wait to boss my kids around.” And I will admit….my first response was to think defensively but then I realized that this was a great opportunity to really help her understand.

“Really?! I said. Because….I hate having to correct you. It’s the worst part of my day.”

She looked utterly shocked.

“Yep. Yelling at your kids, having to punish them, sending them to their rooms….all that….makes me sad as a mom.

“It does?” She said……(mind blown)

“But….do you know what I LOVE about being a mom. I love taking you to the park and swinging on the swing next to you! I love getting big huge hugs that make me fall down on the floor. And….I like having a BIG bowl of ice cream, when you are in bed, just because I am the mom. And I think those are all the things that you will LOVE about being a mom too.

She smiled the biggest smile.

And as I helped her clean up the barbies, I continued to explain to her how it was my job to teach her all the things she needed to learn to be a good mom.

“Do you know how I learned to clean the house? I had to clean up my toys like you do. I learned to make my bed by doing it when I was your age. Why do I have a close relationship with God? Well…. I learned to love God with my heart by reading bible stories and listening at Church….much like I ask you to listen at Mass. And when I correct you for saying mean things or throwing a temper tantrum, I am trying to help you become a loving mommy and a nice lady. Mommy’s job is to help you be the best you!!! It’s not always fun to be told to do things…but God has plans for you and needs mom’s help to get them done!”

And for the past few years, as I focus on “motherhood”, it has made me question my relationship with regards to my own mother. Maybe God wants me to remember that she too was being judged through the “eyes of a child”. That maybe some of the “issues” that I have had with my mom, in the past, were ready to be “retired”. She too, deserved some praise for loving me and doing her best to raise me in love and in my faith. That, as a mother, God was granting me the ability to forgive my mom and realize her own inadequacies. God was allowing me to see this cycle of mother/daughter/mother.  In time, I would be able to see that my own mother was being judged too harshly with the same naive “childish vision”. That as an adult, I must re-examine my thoughts and feelings from my childhood and see through those experiences with new “adult vision”. To seek forgiveness for the times that I was quick to judgement and slow to forgive.

Are you looking at your mom with this “childlike vision”? Are you holding her to “ideals” that are just too unrealistic? What about your family? Do you seek to fill your life with opportunities to love your kids?

Our time with our kids and loved ones is so fleeting. Gather those whom you love in your arms and squeeze tight. Tell them that you love them and show them. Let us, as mothers and fathers, remember that our children may judge us and question us but with that same passionate “child like” vision comes a true lack of clarity. May we as adults cling to the virtues that we struggle to instill daily. And when our days are met with resistance and comments about how “mean” we are, that we may remember the long journey ahead of us and push onward.

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Ways to love your ONLY son…..

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The minute I heard the basketball hit the pavement, I made a dart for the kitchen door. The hubs was supposedly taking out the trash but I knew better…he was going to try and get in a few “hoops” and I wanted in. We were out for only 5 minutes when I heard the door open….

“wait??!! What??!!! I’m playing!!!”…..said DDD.

“nope…go get ready for bed. It’s just your mom and I.”

And with that…I heard the door shut…and minutes later, the living room window open.

“Wow, dad…looks like you should just hand the ball to mom!”

“Ouch, mom…I thought you said that was your “money shot”!

“Seriously…..you old people are terrible.”

The child is a serious heckler…but…I gotta forgive him because it’s in his genes. Few things make my heart flutter like the hubs when he gets in a great “one liner”…and knows it. And DDD is no different. As soon as he delivers a good liner, he throws his head back and explosive laughter ensues.

I had to duck behind the garage door so I could bend over, I was laughing so hard at some of his comments to us.

This kid….he is really one of a kind.

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I am often asked what it is like to be raising a son with four girls. I’m not really sure how to answer that. A few words come to mind….amazing…hysterical….joyfilled…..annoying…exhausting….just to name a few. I guess half of the battle is realizing that he’s totally different than each of this sisters down to even his biological makeup. And with that….he has to be parented differently.

To put it simply, he’s my rock…..in my basket of eggs.IMG_7319

Stay with me….I am sure it will get clearer.

My girls are the eggs. Their feelings are fragile. I never know what will throw them into tears or some kind of drama. They need to be cuddled and comforted. They want to be hugged and protected. They like to be “sat on” by the momma hen….cared for and comforted. They can’t seem to get close enough and yet they always need that caring and sensitive hand to reach out to them. Small criticisms about the state of their hair can cause them to burst into tears, and one loving complement on their “stylish” outfit can make their day. Even the biggest tomboy needs the reassurance of mom and dad.

Then there’s my rock. He wants to knock stuff off the shelves and be thrown to break stuff. He has rough edges and can be too rough without knowing it. He’s rough and yet steady. He is the first object you pick up to defend yourself and the annoying object in your shoe causing you discomfort. There is a reason that boys love to “skip rocks” at the creek…..

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I will never forget when DDD was a toddler. He brought so much imagination and pretend play to our house. Sweet Pea watched in awe as her “broom” became a toy horse…and her pots and pans from the kitchen became perfect hats for his head. She was memorized by his ability to find everything fun. He would often sit and stare at the wall in our hallway…..and she could be found sitting next to him, knowing that if he found it fun…than it was.

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He is the “master fort builder” in these parts and his games leave little to be imagined. He is the ultimate “spy” as he has covert spies helping him all the time.

For the past few years, he has begged us for a brother…a gift we have not yet been able to give him. However, in the way that he always has made lemonade out of lemons, he is the ultimate “big brother” cousin to all his little cousins. He is constantly looking out for them and always ready and willing for the next fun thing to play. He can be found holding a “shot gun” and wearing a Daniel Boone hat one minute, and cuddling with a young cousin on the couch the next.

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So…how do I handle life with a “rock”….well….I can only offer 9 years experience, but here is what I have found to be successful:

  • Most attitudes/or personality difficulties are a phase. However difficult, he likes to know when he has been “impressive” or a “huge help”. I grab him his favorite treat for a helpful week or give him extra kindle or TV time.
  • I wrestle him….as often as possible….. (my shoulders are often sore from him hanging on them, and my legs bruised)
  • I pin him down at nighttime to sneak in a kiss (because I know he wants one but fights me for it)
  • I sneak up on him to capture cool moments on video…because I know he will want to view them later.
  • I let him “stall” and hug me ten times at bedtime so he can watch the last 10 minutes of a show, because I need those hugs more than he does and there will come a time when they are not there….
  • I memorize lyrics to songs that he loves so I can sing louder than him and he can learn the words…..
  • I DVR his favorite shows and quietly watch while he does…so I can ask him questions about his favorite characters.
  • I steal the ball from him while he is shooting hoops so he knows that I want to spend time with him.
  • I look up jokes on the internet so I can “slam him” but really…I’m just providing him with good material….
  • I sign him up for engineering or science classes that play on his strengths of creativity and building.

Most of all, I am constantly seeking guidance from the Lord in how to love this kid with all I have. Some days are tough, but he’s a clown and I can get all “I’m on a mission and your antics are driving me batty” and some days I just want to put him in my pocket to entertain me all day.

My prayer is that I can continue to mold him into the man that God envisions. That, being surrounded by women that love him, he may truly be a man that loves and respects women.

That by seeking the man whom his dad is…he might seek that same Godly character for his life.

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God Bless,

Tammi

10 ways to be the “Worst Mom Ever” this Summer!

It’s already starting in my house..

“This is the worst day ever!”

“I’m so bored.”

“I have nothing to do.”

“I’m hungry.”

Oh…the sounds of children who need direction and some activities.

So…how can you survive this summer with your kiddos home?

I’ve got 10 ways for you to be the “Worst Mom Ever” this summer.

So let’s get started…….

Give them two weeks of college life.

For the first two weeks after school lets out, just let them do whatever they want. Let them wake up when they want and just hang out. Watch their mannerisms, weaknesses, and see what the summer holds for you. This is your “gathering information” session for the summer. You will quickly find out what goals you have for each of them and what behaviors are not going to “work” for your summer home with them. (You will then use this information to set up your daily schedule and chore lists.)

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getting their own breakfast

 Set up a daily schedule.

I like to have some semblance of order for the summer. Of course, my days are not filled with homeschooling checklists, but the children function better when they know the “plan”. Our mornings will be pretty laid back in terms of wake up times and breakfast. At around 10am, we will gather to work on a daily scripture verse, morning prayer, chore assignments, and the schedule for the rest of the day. Our local YMCA pool will open at 11 so the children and I will set up our day around an after lunch pool time and errands and appointments will be set up to alternate pool days. Since we do have two vacation bible school sessions scheduled this summer for the mornings, it makes more sense to set up our pool times and errands for the afternoon. I have also chosen to give myself one day, Wednesdays, where we will remain at home. This will allow the children to plunder my home while I work on housecleaning and home projects. I strongly recommend this if you are in the car driving a lot. You will want to have one day that you can “veg” if you need it.

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swimming lessons

 Turn off the TV: Encourage your kids to “feed their brain”.

You will be amazed at how many grocery stores, fashion shows, and lip syncs will grace your home. My kids decided to plan a bake sale for the weekend community yard that my development was having and earned $28. It’s amazing what they can do when they aren’t sitting in front of the TV.

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bake sale!

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the fun of an empty box

Make them earn their ipod/kindle/ipad time:

For every job/chore that my kids do, above and beyond their responsible daily chore, they can earn 15 minutes of “technology time”. Technology is a priviledge…not a “right”. You will be surprised how many extra jobs they will do for technology time.

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making dinner

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chopping veggies

Institute a mandatory reading time for your whole house everyday…including you.

If you have little ones, give them the first few minutes of your time and read aloud with them. If you can fit it in, start reading a novel together. The minute I start reading a book aloud, I find that my bigger kiddos start crowding around me on the couch. The kiddos love when I add voices and really throw myself into the story.  Reading aloud, at any age, will only increase their vocabulary and their knowledge of subject matter.

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Make them eat their fruits and veggies.

This is way more fun if you let them help you grow them. Our strawberries just came in and the kids are loving it. I actually found that the kiddos will eat roasted veggies from the garden too if they know it was the one that “they picked”.

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our growing strawberries

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Make them sit down…with you.

I know…there is always so much for us to do. But….a mom sitting down is like a bug to a light. Kids LOVE being close to mom but we are rarely relaxing. Let them lay on top of you….dangle off the couch from your lap….I’m sure they and you will absolutely hate it.

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Mini Me and I

Teach them more responsibility.

When my teaching hat gets put aside for the summer, I really push the kiddos in the cleaning/responsibility department. There is a greater number of “commission” earning jobs that can be done during the week for money. I also pair my kiddos up together so I can get to some summer projects that need my attention.

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folding dishcloths

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playing together in the garage

 Make them go outside everyday.….even if its raining.

Teach them to dance in the rain and stomp in puddles. Pull out the old jump rope and teach them how to jump “old school”. Play tag or jump on their bike and take it for a ride. I’ve been known to grab one of my kid’s scooters and race them down the street. The summer is the perfect time for a late dinner and bath after a long day of outside play.

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family walk…

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Create some “Mom Time”.

During the school year, I made sure that I had an hour a day to myself. My children played in the basement while I made business calls; watched one of my favorite shows; or ate some chocolate. Haha. It was really important for me to have this “selfish” time so that I could give to my family without frustration or fatigue. We, as moms, need to recharge. We need to find strength in our day to be our best.

Your kids might think that you are the “Worst Mom Ever”, as you are ruining their plans for their summer…but you will bask in the joys that will come from these few tips.

May you find peace and joy in your home..and in your heart.

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