Tag Archives: parenting

Sacrificial Love

 

Sacrificial Love.

A love that sacrifices for the betterment of another.

Scroll through instagram and you see it.

The numerous moms and dads showing pictures of their sons/daughters in their piano recitals, sports championships, and/or science fairs.

The hashtags abound….#proudparents, #proudmomma, #proud

So many proud parents. 

So many parents who are sacrificing for their sons/daughters to have more opportunities than they had.

Sleepless nights with babies, afterschool math sessions, travel teams….we all do it.

Each one of us sacrifices for those whom we love. We sacrifice money, personal time, sleep, friendships, and our dreams for a better foundation for our kids. 

I remember once watching a TV special about Olympic gymnast  Shawn Johnson. The reporter was talking to her mom about her gymnastics training as a child. I remember her mom emphasizing how Shawn was always doing hand stands throughout the house, always toe prints on the walls….her whole life became about gymnastics. Her mom discussed how she realized that her life was just different from other moms.

She was sacrificing a “normal home environment”.

What about you? What are you sacrificing?

Do you look at instagram and wonder how some parents do it?

Maybe….let’s not stand in awe of ONLY the child’s accomplishment. Let’s stand in awe of the parent’s clear sacrifice in that child’s life.

For every successful, talented child, there is a parent and family that is sacrificing.

There is a family sacrificing, supporting, nurturing and loving. 

Maybe it’s not beautiful family dinners on china every night….but it’s watching your daughter in her third softball game of the week…..because it’s EVERYTHING to her.

Maybe it’s once again not having that perfectly cleaned kitchen…..but it’s about letting your teenager destroy your kitchen because she’ passionate about cake decorating…..

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Maybe you are having a quick fast food dinner in the car, so your son or daughter can play on the travel soccer team.

Maybe you looking longingly at Instagram at photos of kids playing near a lake or riding bikes with their families…..because you miss those times.

However, let us always remember the why behind our sacrifices…..

Deep down, you know that the sacrifice is about honoring the talents of our children.

Seeing the beauty of their God given gifts and helping them to flourish.

Watching as God’s plan for them unfolds…..

Watching the joy that comes from the struggle to succeed. The true beauty of the friendships formed in the gym, on the field, in the studio, and in the classroom.

You watch the inner pride that exudes from the core of who they are…

That is your reward, as parents.

As mothers and fathers, we want the best for our children.  Our love for them can be overwhelming…our desire for their happiness paramount.

We await the day when they will become adults and truly recognize our sacrifice.

Until then…..we will keep sacrificing…keep nurturing….always loving.

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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.

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Embracing a simple summer…..

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“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…..

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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:

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

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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.

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When the house of cards fall….

To say that things have been difficult lately, would be an understandment. It’s that time of the year….the homeschooling year is coming to a close and the “natives” are getting restless. One last three week stretch here of portfolios, testing, and finishing extracurriculars, and our summer will start.

But mentally,…..I’m done. Completely ready for the nearest beach, some sun, and always…a cocktail.

Add to that the recent health issues of the hubs, the struggles and pressure of having a traveling software sales husband, and all the extracurricular activities of the children, and I was completely overwhelmed. I was sitting amongst piles of laundry that beckoned, and food stuck on pots and pans that I had no energy to get to. For the first time in a while, no glass of wine or chocolate dessert was going to push me in the right direction.

For the first time, in a long time, I was completely depressed. 

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Maybe you can relate. The tears just kept falling….”pull it together, Tammi”…I would say to myself. I would be picking up endless barbie shoes, kids’ clothes, and pieces of “art” that the children had created….and I would be crying. I would be driving in the van to soccer and the tears would be falling. The children were beginning to see past the “no big deal” and “I’m just laughing so hard” routine I was trying to pull off. I was a tired wife and mother who was feeling no relief. I was pulling late nights trying to get everything done, and yet all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. I wanted to forget about spending a “date night” at the hospital for the latest round of pneumonia….I wanted to leave the room rather than watch my husband struggle to breathe through his coughing fits. However, I also wanted help. I wanted another person to “adult” with me.

However, it was a Friday at our bi-monthly co-op that my “house of cards” started to crumble….

And just like a flimsy deck of cards…there was no warning.

The flood gates opened…and I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the call from the hubs that the doctor wanted to run some extensive tests on him that day….maybe it was the long nights I had endured in a row…..or maybe it was just my own need to be “done”. I’m not sure of the catalysis but…surrounded by all these moms and women that I admired and loved, I couldn’t control the tears from falling. I tried everything…play with the little babies; tease the middle schoolers; clean out the van…but nothing I did would make my face look less red and swollen or make the tears stop falling. I’m a pretty “open” person…I love to make people laugh and have a good time. However, I don’t like to cry in front of others. I don’t like appearing “weak” or “out of control”. But on this friday, that wasn’t an option…those tears just kept coming.

Several of these women pulled me aside and lent me their ear as I reluctantly poured out my heart over my recent troubles. Afraid to venture too far, they allowed me to share what I needed, not what they wanted from me. They were Christ to me. I watched as my sisters -in-law kept just the right distance, to keep me from crumbling. These ladies were another one of my “cards”. People who I had placed in my life who I valued. I valued their opinions as mothers; I valued their friendship and their wisdom. In HIS Wisdom, the Lord had allowed me to feel crushed when I was the most supported. He had surrounded me with woman who truly knew me and what I needed at that moment. His “loveletters” to me continued. On the following Sunday, when I waved to one of these ladies across the pew at church, God had already placed it on her heart that she would deliver dinner to my house on Monday night…..all I had to do was “confirm” it when I showed up at HER church on Sunday.

We all juggle with our own house of cards. We spend years putting each “card” in place…carefully stacking each one. Finding time in our lives, and in our schedules for our family, our careers, our vacations, our workouts, and our friends. We make time for our hobbies; live out our faith; and continue to be present to those who love us. As we stack card upon card, we are building a little mental house for ourselves. We look at our little house and how “pretty” it looks…we take pride in what we have created.

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 However, if we look closely, we can quickly see how flimsy it is. How every card depends on the stability of the other.  The shifting of one card can send the whole deck crashing down. With this reality, comes action. When one card falls, we jump to grab it and control the whole house from tumbling. We fear this “crumbing” of what we have created.

For the past few years, I have been creating my own house of cards. I blog often about the family traditions we hold dearly; the humorous shananigans of my brood of five, and the adventures that we embark on. We enjoy good eating, and clean living. Our family motto of “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” hangs proudly in our home.  But recently, I have been feeling the shifting of a few of these cards, and it’s really scaring me.

The hubs has been dealing with some health issues over the past five months and this has definitely been a “shifting card”. As overwhelming as this can be, my thoughts are drawn to Peter when the Lord called him into the water.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” – Matthew 14:28-33

Peter felt that feeling of “shifting cards” as he was walking on water. He felt “unsafe” and “unsure”. However….he trusted. A few days later, I found myself struggling again so I took the children to a nearby lake for a small picnic break on one of our busiest days. We had a 45 minute window to fill, and I figured hitting the lake on a beautiful day would busy the kids and allow me to clear my head. “I don’t have much time…but a few minutes will be good.” God in His Infinite goodness, blessed me with this vision…….:

lake

And I heard the words:

“And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

And I felt an overwhelming breeze envelop me, and a peace flow through me.

Sometimes, God calls us out of our every day to speak to our hearts. To find him in the beauty of creation. As I stood there watching my children wade through the lake, I was overwhelmed by the peaceful tranquility. The same water that brought fear to Peter was now bring peace to my soul.

But..isn’t that what God does?

He takes our fears…and turns them into blessings.

He frees us….unburdens us….

He takes those tossed up and spiraling cards, and shows us how to create a new house of cards. He creates us anew…..

What cards do you see falling or shifting? What control is God asking you to relinquish?

 Lord, help me cling to your words, “You of little faith, why did you doubt”? Help me to trust that you hold my “house of cards” and that only in you can I place my trust and allow you to shake up those cards to build me a better house of cards.

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Embracing the empty tomb….

It’s Holy Saturday, and as I sit here in the quiet, I’m embracing the tomb. The huge stone rolled in front of a tomb that holds my Savior.

I’m drawn to the thoughts and feelings of those Apostles.

What just happened? This man that we loved, who broke bread with us…that smile…that tenderness. How could He be taken from us?”

The bloody mess that they had to witness……the brutal beating that Christ endured. Watching someone whom you love crucified in front of you….all hope seems lost.

Jesus on the cross

I want my kids to enter in to the meaning of Christ’s death and the loneliness of the tomb.

In order to celebrate the Glory of the Resurrection, we have to truly experience the gloom of the tomb.

On Good Friday, a few years ago, the hubs and I decided to “shut down” normal activities of our home following the 3 o’clock service at our church. For us, as adults, it meant cutting off the television, and spending more time in silence thinking about the Passion of Christ. However, what does that mean for the kids?!

It meant….locking up their toys….their activities.

Thus….we started sealing off their school room and basement.

The morning of Good Friday, the children help me to create a long banner that stretches over the frame of the entrance to their school room. This banner depicts various scenes of the Passion.

Here are some of the images of the children working this year:

Here are some of the beautiful images:

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When we return from the service, the children help me put up the banner.

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This sign is a reminder for them, that their “joys” lie behind here too. It’s a reminder that we can’t partake in what we normally do because we are sacrificing for the “sake of His Sorrowful Passion”. It’s beautiful to see the kiddos stop in front of here and stare.

Good Friday also starts our nightly Divine Mercy Novena which will run from  Good Friday until next Sunday, Mercy Sunday. You can read about this novena here. I would like to also recommend checking out the website Divine Mercy for Moms, as they have so many great resources.

Holy Saturday, often ushers in the beginning “feelings” of Spring. With gorgeous weather available, we decided to hit the local park for an egg hunt and some time playing.

It is a tradition that we also dye our Easter eggs on Holy Saturday. Last year, I figured out really quickly the beauty of dyeing eggs in our garage. No crazy mom screaming about dye on the floors or counters. I just set up the plastic tables…the children dye a few eggs and then head off riding their bikes when I clean up. Dyeing eggs is a great reminder to the children about the beauty of life and how eggs remind us of the tomb of Christ. Just as a baby chick leaves the egg, so did Christ leave his tomb and bring New Life to our souls.

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We also “catch up” on our reading of “The Story of the First Easter” from our Lenten Tea on Thursday, making sure that the children realize that we have left Christ “in the tomb”.

This year,  we spent time watching “The Bible” series on TV with the kids. I’m always impressed by their insightful questions and the way the story of Bible history enfolds so beautifully in their minds.

In the next few days, we will be celebrating the joy of the empty tomb….and our Resurrected Savior.  Look for my post in the next few days about our Easter Celebration...and see the “running through” of our Good Friday banner on Easter.

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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.

heart of the home

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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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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Bows, tights, toothpaste……surviving the Sunday morning craziness…..

Ok moms….grab that big cup of joe, or that large glass of wine and let’s “chat”:

get your kids ready for church

Sunday Morning Craziness

Sunday Morning Craziness is defined as the crazy time in the morning that preludes attending Sunday morning service/Mass.

In honor of this quite frustrating time…I have parodied a song you might enjoy….

Move over Julie Andrews…haha…...

These are a few annoying things (to the tune of “favorite things”)….

tights that have holes, and teeth that need brushing,

can’t find a hairbrush, and God knows we’re rushing,

kids slow as molasses, and daddy’s unseen

these are a few annoying things.

When the zipper breaks, when the baby cries,

when I’m feeling sad…

I simply remember I’m meeting our Lord

….and then I don’t feel….. sooooooooo bad.

hahaha…..

Seriously……

Now…I don’t plan to run off and become the next big song writer…but that did get you thinking, huh?

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So, how do you feel when you look at a picture like this?

Does the thought of getting all these kids ready overwhelm you?

Do you dread the “Sunday morning shuffle”??!!

Because if it does, that’s ok…….

I used to feel the same way.

I have often heard that we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.

And…that’s why I blog…hahahaha. 

That’s why I wanted to give you a few pieces of advice that have allowed me a smoothier Sunday morning.

*****Disclaimer: Maybe, you are awesome at this and want to leave some advice for the rest of us…please feel free to write some suggestions in the comment section.*******

When I had three children and was trying to get them ready for Church,  No one could have convinced me that I would one day have five children, be able to get them ready for church, and still enjoy a nice sit down breakfast with my family before. I was practically losing my mind…and my faith in my mothering abilities every Sunday.  I was rushing around trashing my bathrooms, leaving a trail of clothes behind and a huge post-Mass mess.

I would soon learn the key to end this craziness: planning ahead. 

When I was a young child, I dreaded the “sunday morning craziness”….trying to make it to church on time. Six people trying to get into one bathroom and get ready for Mass on Sunday. My mom would get us dressed for church, and then we would sit on the couch in front of the TV with my dad. Then she would run around with little time to get herself dressed. We were always a few minutes late.

As I grew older, I would practically lose my mind waiting in the car with my dad. I had inherited his love for timeliness and order, and saw being late as a complete sign of disrespect. We would go out to the car together, with plenty of time to spare, until the rest of our family would make their way outside….often holding socks, shoes, or jackets in their arms. My mom, on the other hand, moved for “no one” and somehow thought that time would “stand still” while she got ready. If you asked her, we only lived “5 minutes” from the church….however, that was only true if we made all the lights and never fully “stopped” at a stop sign…haha.

I took this same “frustrated” mentality into my early marriage. My husband didn’t share my love for “timeliness” and would often wait until the last minute to jump up, take a “5 minute” shower (those don’t exist) and throw something on for church. I would be in the car already in a terrible, anxious mood for church.

I couldn’t understand why is was so tough. Wake up, get ready….it was the same thing every week. However, when you add gettting “little people” into the mix, your life just got a lot tougher. In addition, if you have kiddos that insist on picking out their own outfits, it can get downright insane…haha.

So after several unsuccessful Mass attempts and several years of messes, I have developed these “sanity savers” ……

Pick out your kids clothes the night before…..

We check the weather and lay everything out the night before. I mean…everything.  The girls typically hang their dresses on their closet doors complete with tights hanging, bows clipped, shoes on the ground, and underwear tucked around the hanger. This avoids any last minute…”I don’t have any socks. or “I’m out of underwear” issues. It also prevents a certain boy from thinking he can pick out shorts in fall weather. However, Mini me did try to attend Mass this morning with brown sandals over black tights…good gosh. 

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Bathe the little ones the night before. Have older kids shower before, if possible. 

My “mini me” has gorgeous curly hair…that needs to be brushed out and “set”. I like to give her a shower on Sunday mornings or else she will definitely be rocking a ponytail.  However, my son and oldest daughter have straight hair and I will often have them shower the night before. The Fashionista likes to shower in the morning verses the night so she showers the same day too. The hubs and I are definitely Sunday morning showerers. Having three of my children shower the night before saves me time and hot water the next morning. It also allows them to go straight to getting ready.

Get up early and shower yourself.

Yes! Do this! You have to! I used to get up early and start breakfast for everyone. However, I realized that if I got up a little earlier and got myself ready….it was easier to make breakfast in my robe with all my undergarments on. I would put on my jewelry and lay out my clothes so I needed minutes to get ready. I don’t want my clothes smelling like bacon so I will often put on lounge pants and a shirt but my hair and makeup is often done..and my clothes are laid out on my bed.

Serve a nice hot breakfast so no one needs to eat after they are dressed for church. Our family loves to attend the 11:30 Mass at our parish. Since we live about 30 minutes away, my kiddos can still sleep in til around 8/8:30…we can have a nice breakfast between 9-10:00 and head out the door by 10:50/11:00. Cereal or frozen waffles will send my little ones begging for a snack right about during the homily so breakfast is always eggs and some other kind of protein to keep them full.

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Tell your spouse to “give you 15 minutes of time” before the time you need to leave. I have found that this fact was CRUCIAL when I had a baby or toddler. My husband would get ready and then find me for that last 15 minutes. Sometimes it was to find a missing shoe. Sometimes it would be to double check that I had a few outfits, diapers, and wipes for the diaper bag…..but often it was to help me put on a necklace or fasten my dress. If we were ready, he would pile the kiddos in their car seats so I could give the house a quick “tidy” before leaving.

Store a neutral bow and several ponytails in your purse.  This tip is especially necessary if you have a child that likes to pull out their bows. Several of my girls, I wouldn’t even style their hair until we were in the parking lot of the church. If you keep a neutral bow like a white or a black, you are always good. Ponytails can help the worst of hair days….just trust me on that one. 

A couple of stored “mints” will prevent you embarrassment in one of your older kids “forgets” to brush their teeth. I would LOVE to say that this seldom happens but I have a preteen who is obsessed with eye rolling and anything remotely hygienic …yep…we have turned to those mints to save embarrassment.

Take a deep breath as you get in the car. There is nothing more you can do. Anything that wasn’t done…can’t be done. Prepare yourself to meet the Lord and be present.

Most of all, try to put yourself at ease. Your kids are adorable even if they drive you insane getting out the door. And Lord knows, the other moms are too worried about their own child’s hair to notice that this is the fifth Sunday in a row that you are rocking a ponytail.

Please see these tips for what they are…..”sanity savers”. I’m not insinuating that my family is “perfect”…sometimes we oversleep or have a late night on Saturday night and all my “planning” goes out the door.  However, we have several “sanity savers” to help us the next week.

May your Sunday become calmer and more peaceful.

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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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