we survived

We made it through the birthday party.  It was a nice time, surrounded by people we love celebrating our child’s life!  He was a bit taken aback by the attention and somewhat confused about what to do about the birthday gifts.  He was refusing a bit to open any, insisting they were not his to open, but belonging to the people who brought them.  We finally got him convinced that it was indeed about him and he thoroughly enjoyed his gifts! 

It’s been a long weekend and we’re all a bit tired and worn, and quite frankly at least a little intimidated by the week ahead.  On Monday the girls have coop and we go and share some time with a friend and her children, AND number 5 has his 3 year check up.  On Tuesday we have a dental appt with #4 (just a check up!!  YAY, no cavities!!!!)  and another time of sharing with friends, if there’s time.  Wednesday brings daddy home for a day off while we pack and get ready for our trip over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house.  We will celebrate our little niece’s baptism Wednesday evening and have Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.  Friday there will be a possibility of shopping and going to visit dh’s grandparents and then off we flit back home. 

And so starts the busy season.  There seems to be so much demand on our time this time of year, if not by the parties etc then by shopping for gifts or baking for friends or even preparing and celebrating Advent.  I know there is a balance somewhere in there, I’ve just not yet found it.  I think most of it comes from NOT waiting until the last minute as I am so apt to do. It just seems like so many other things are crowding all of the rest of the time that there isn’t any room for anticipation or preparation.  That’s what this season is all about though, isn’t it?  Making sure that we take the time to anticiapte Our Lord and prepare for him. 

I have plans again this year.  Plans to get pictures taken, maybe even have cards sent.  Plans to get shopping done and Jesse trees designed.  Plans to get together with friends and family.  Plans to be alone with the love of my life. 

I think the biggest plan that’s missing is a plan to pray.  A plan to adore Our Lord.  A plan to really, truly prepare my heart and the hearts of my children for Christ. 

Time to remember what is really important this time of year.

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Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday #5!!!!!  We love you so much.  You have been such a blessing to our family and have brought nothing but joy to my heart.  You will never know how your pregnancy blessed your father and I.  You have shown us that it’s ok to be quiet and thoughtful and happy and clear.  You have shown us again the joy of seeing things through a toddler’s eyes.  You make us laugh (on purpose) and have such a twinkle in your eye.  Your giggle is infectious and your sorrow is deeply felt. 

We love you little one.

blessing

It’s been a bit since I blogged. I think because nothing eventful has happened recently.

School is going remarkably well right now. Number 3 did an experiment today on how quickly he could change ice to water. The hairdryer on high heat worked in less than five minutes (unless you ever need to melt some ice…) I am working on teaching writing to the oldest two. It’s not an easy task and prayers would be appreciated.

A favorite CD in the van has been Michael Poirier’s Storyteller. The kids just love it and to hear the wonderful, beautiful, relatively off key, young voices singing along is so incredibly heartwarming. There is one song in particular though that has been a huge challenge to me. Especially as I sit listening with my children. It provides a moment of raw knowing that can be so painful as a parent. At first I’d skip that song, but the kids really like the CD and skipping songs is not met with happy voices, and really, when trapped in a moving box for any length of time unhappy children are OH SO unpleasant, so we’ve listened, together. And my heart hurts at my own imperfections. My heart hurts because too often I’ve relied on my “nature” and not allowed God to replace it with his.

I’ve not been a parent that blesses. It does not come easily or naturally to me. It’s not that I curse either, I just wasn’t in the habit of blessing. Maybe, once, before my life got so busy it had to be “managed” instead of “lived”. I knew at one time what a value it was, but had lost that somewhere along the way. I could see, in my children’s eyes, they wanted it. They NEEDED it. So now I am much more often looking at them through different eyes. I still see their faults, don’t get me wrong, but amazingly enough when I set my heart out to bless them I see the blessings that they are. I see how incredibly beautiful their souls are. I can much more easily look at them at say “your face is a reflection of your Father’s and my day is brighter because you are with me”.

It’s not easy to gently cup your five year old’s face in your hands and tell him that he is a beautiful gift from God that You are constantly grateful for when he’s just screamed (figuratively and literally) through the house leaving a path of destruction in his wake. But, I’ve learned, that’s when he needs it the most. I’ve also learned that it’s at that moment when I need it the most as well.

grandmother’s granddaughter

Today was a good day.

A really good day.

My dad brought my grandma into town to see us today, she’s in from places north to fly to places south for my uncle’s wedding with my parents.  My dad was kind enough to bring her here for a short visit so I could see her. 

I love that woman.  I want to be her when I grow up. 

Hell, I want to be her now.

I got to sit on my couch and listen to her and my father and his cousin reminese about times past.  I was brought back to a time and a place that I am desperately trying to not be envious of.  A time when there was struggle and difficulty, but everyone was fed, and well I might add.  A time before “Wilson Telephone” had made it into town, but you knew everyone’s business anyway. 

I heard about the row houses in Washington DC that my Kansas sky grandma lived in for a time when she was young. (she wouldn’t live there for all the money in the world she said today.  Something about stupid postage stamp yards and skinny hallways and tight spaces and neighbors all around and no way to wander into the back for anything)  I heard about Mrs so and so’s brooder house that neighbor boys kept clean in exchange for chickens to put up in the freezer for winter.  I heard about when Mrs so and so would come down to the house and round up the children and grandma and they would start cleaning chickens.  Lots of chickens.  I heard about how icky it was, but that those were the best damn tasting chickens you would ever lay hands on.  Tyson has nothing on them.  I heard about pet raccoons and owls and watermelon seeds in yards.

I heard about great grandma’s house.  I heard a little about great grandma too.  Evidently she was a saint (“No ONE can tell me that my mama isn’t in heaven, she wasn’t Catholic, but any person on earth who could hold a candle to her would have a straight shot!”) who was a well loved mother of 12 and wife and neighbor.  Her house held strong memories from my dad that I’ve never heard before but long, desperately, to hear again.  About the Christmas tree in the corner that every. single. year. was overflowing with gifts for her many children and grandchildren, little gifts, armloads of them.  I learned that the tree was actually a potted evergreen of some sort that my grandma had planted in grade school (a science experiment for the class no doubt) and great grandma was still using as her Christmas tree so many years later, faithful and green.  I learned about the “dormitory”  off the living room that my dad and his cousin were so impressed with.  HUGE they said.  eh, grandma said.  Well, we were boys, they said.  There must have been 10 beds in there they said.  no, nope, just five.  On each side, tell me it was five on each side.  No, she said.  Just five.

I learned that I would love my great grandma as much as I love my grandma.  That the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (please God, can this apple stay close to the tree?)  I learned about Black Diamond watermelons on hot summer days cooled in barrels of cold, fresh well water.  I learned about tall uncles and spitting seeds and shot guns and life. 

I learned that with a garden and a chicken coop families can be well fed for a long winter.  I learned that alfalfa fields made great football fields and that fishing in the creek was great fun until you caught the damn turtle again.  I learned about perfect, pan sized sunfish that boys bring home to mamas who cook them up for supper.

My heart is so full.

Can I have the farmhouse?  With the garden?

Can I be my grandma’s granddaughter? 

Can my children remember the sweet intoxicating smell of old fashioned spring climbing roses overtaking a fence, and honeysuckle and iris grown by hands that knew how to grow, without thinking about it.

Can I have weather worn hands and suntanned arms and a warm heart?

Can I be my grandmother’s granddaughter?

island anyone?

There are times in your life when moving to a deserted island, far away from all who know you (or at least most) would be most comforting. You know those times? When no matter what you do you know that you will be held responsible. Either for other’s actions and choices, or often, for choices you made MANY years ago. You will be required to relive your sins no matter how long ago they were committed, or how many times you anguished over them in confession, in order to justify all the other choices and actions around you. You will be made to feel the black sheep. It won’t matter how hard you work at self preservation, it will happen. Relationships will be lost and time will go on, but the temptation to run away from everyone and everything is so great and so tempting that it’s hard not to revel in the prospect, for at least a little while. Maybe not an island, maybe it’s a log cabin in the mountains or a farm house in the midst of rolling green hills peppered with the golden hues of maples and oaks. Maybe it’s a beach front property where you can sit on your porch and listen to the waves and smell the ocean and sip hot tea while curled up with a good book. Maybe it’s even being lost in a big city, a strange face in a crowd of people, where no one knows your name.

Relationships are funny things. I think we all go through times in our lives where we are either enduring someone’s presence, or worse yet, being the one who is endured.

Wanna run away with me???

peace.

and then I pray

our-lady-of-graceI love my children, fiercely. Even when (more often especially when) they present challenges and surprises at what can be an alarming rate. The reality is that there are times when they totally baffle me. I don’t know what to say, or do. Probably more times than I care to admit, were I to be honest. There’s not really a single one of them that produces the most profound challenges to my spirituality and discipline techniques, nope they’re all pretty darn good at it.

I am typically most taken aback during prayer time. Which, thankfully, my dearest, wonderful husband takes on most often. I love that he works so hard as the spiritual head of our family, but that doesn’t keep me from hearing what he had to contend with. Often we are working out the answer late into the night together only to find that the child is no longer interested in the answer in the morning, such is parenthood.

Sometimes there is no “answer” but just awe. One child recently interrupted prayer time with; “Daddy, I want to be a Saint”, how in the world do you respond to that? I know that the pat “well dear that should be everyones goal” would be easy but beyond that,what? Because really, this child won’t be patted on the head. They’re not kidding. We know that because it’s become a regular comment. They really want to be a Saint. How do I react to that call?

It’s a difficult thing to ponder as a mother. Of course I want all of my children to aspire to sainthood. We joke that one could be the first saint so and so of such and such. We think it would be cool. Sorta. This child wants to be a Saint, not a saint. Notice the capital? Yeah. You know? The ones we read stories about? The ones whose stories reduce us to tears sometimes? Yeah. That kind. My dear child, my beautiful, innocent wonderful child wants to be a Saint. And that both warms my heart and makes me weep at the same time. It’s not an easy path to desire. It’s not a quiet road to walk. And yet, how do you NOT encourage that? How do you say: “you know, purgatory isn’t THAT bad….”? No. You can’t. Because in reality we are all called to be Saints. How can I encourage that spirit within my child when I am so flawed at it myself? How do I make sure that the fire they have for Christ continues to burn throughout their lives?

God gave this blessing to me. This baffling, awe inspiring, complicated, grace filled blessing. I know He’s given me the grace to parent this gift. I just hope that I am listening as carefully as I could because there are times when the responsibility is crushing. I think of Our Lady often in those times wondering how she felt when, during those quiet moments of innocent childhood prayer, she was given a small piece of what her son was called to do.  How did she encourage?  How did she respond?  What was her prayer? 

Then I pray.  I pray that her love for her son help me and guide me in my love for my child.  I pray that through her experience of motherhood I can be comforted in the reality of the responsibility that this vocation brings.  I pray that God will show me mercy for the mistakes that I have made and will inevitably make again in raising this incredible gift.  I pray that I may receive the grace needed to do what I am being called to do.  To encourage my children in the vocations they are being called to themselves.

I pray and lean heavily on Our Lady, both as my mother and as my children’s.  May her love for me, and for my children fill my heart to overflowing with grace.

 

peace.

I feel as though I should have something brilliant to say regarding the election results. I don’t.

I am terribly disappointed and not a little nervous over what could be unfolding over the next year or so.

My children cried, right along side their mother. They prayed (beside me too).

I’m not sure what to say, what to think. I’m having a hard time taking it all in.

I know that hope in Our Lord should abide. And it will, it is.

But right now, today, I am still healing from the disappointment.

Peace