7 Quick Takes (10)

— 1 —

I’m using Jennifer Fulwiler’s template for this post.  Very cool.  I wish I were a code-nerd or something.  I would love to pull out blog-post templates “just like that”!  Oh well, thank goodness she is and is willing to share, right?

— 2 —

My first full week back at work happened this week.  It’s been busy.  Holy moly!  I think I got a little comfortable not having to be away from my house and my family five days a week.  I have to admit, my house is a mess!  It’s difficult to stay on top of the clutter when I don’t have a baby-free hour to clear it all away.  And with three kids in school…we get LOTS of clutter around here (don’t tell them I said that about their precious completed-and-checked-so-why-do-I-have-to-keep-it? schoolwork).

— 3 —

Helen about had a fit because I was throwing a couple weeks’ worth of Kindergarten papers in the recycling bin.  She thinks each of her Superkids (Kindergarten reading curriculum) books is worthy of framing…well, at the very least, she thinks they are worth a spot in my “special box” with the items she’s made for me at Mother’s Day or Easter or Christmas over the years.  She was rather shocked that I didn’t share her opinion of her school work.

— 4 —

The girls and I had a really great time at the Taylor Swift concert last week.  It was a bit chilly and we were sitting way up high in Arrowhead Stadium with the wind whipping around up there.  The girls kept asking me how TS survived singing and dancing around wearing strapless formal wear in the cold.  I’m glad we took off a bit early (before it was over) because from what I heard, we might not have made it home until 1:00 a.m.  As it was, we got home just before 11 p.m.  That’s plenty late for all of us.  🙂
Here are some pics:

— 5 —

I have a new manager at work.  That is all I will say about that for now.

— 6 —

Vincent turns 3 months old today!  Oh my goodness!!

He is THREE.  MONTHS.  OLD.  Wow.  Oh and he’s just too cute (I know, I know, I’m his mom…). 

I call this one “The two faces of Vincent.”  And really, having both his pouty face and his smiley face juxtaposed on the same page is perfect.  He literally can go from one of those to the other in nothing flat…depending on what’s going on.

— 7 —

Here is a photo of Dominic with his toy he earned for becoming completely potty trained.  Wow, I am so impressed that it took just 6 weeks or so from him deciding he was ready to go for it!!

I am really grateful for this template.  It made writing these a lot simpler than it is when I try to format the post.  So, thumbs up fo’ sho’!  Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Advertisements

The Quiet House

I hope it wouldn’t surprise you that I am always trying to figure out how to be the best mother I can be.  I know I don’t have all the answers.  I know that there are some ways I have parented my children that probably aren’t the most ideal (for them or for me).  There are lots of moms out there that have learned and shared along the way.  (One of my favorites can be found HERE.)
When we first started having babies, the furthest thing from my mind was how I was going to discipline them.  I had that ever-present denial thing going on that told me my children would be perfect and wouldn’t need discipline. 
Okay, not really.

But you know what I mean.

When you look at your love of your life and you decide together that you’re ready to procreate, let’s face it:  your brain is not necessarily focused on the fact that should you be successful in procreation, about 3 or 4 years in the future, you’ll be battling pre-school battles and about 8 years later, you’ll be working on conscience formation with regards to right and wrong and then about 10 or 11 years later you’ll be on the cusp of those dreaded “tween” years.  (side note:  TWEEN?  really?  I suppose they came up with something to call 10, 11 and 12 year olds for marketing purposes, right?)

*********
I didn’t think about whether I would spank or not spank my children.  Looking back, I think I was of the opinion that spanking never hurt me.  As a matter of fact, I knew some kids that I thought probably should have been spanked.  
Honestly, before I actually had flesh and blood children standing before me making me cringe with their whining or their hitting or their back-talking, I thought it would be easy to “put the hammer down” so to speak and keep my kids in line.  Yup, I knew it all before the kids came along.  
Nothing humbles you like raising children.
Even when my oldest got to the point where I needed to discipline her, I didn’t think much about what I was doing and what the long-term repercussions of my actions would be.  To be fair, she has always been a fairly obedient child.  Discipline wasn’t needed frequently when she was little.  Sure, she was stubborn at times and her fully-clothed bottom was on the receiving end of an open-hand spank, but all in all, discipline wasn’t something I was forced to think about with her.  
My second-born was a little different.  Since she and I didn’t bond with each other until she was around age four, the terrible-twos were…well, terrible.  She would do everything her father asked of her and openly defied me (as much as a two- or three-year-old can). 
As far corporal punishment goes, my second and third-born children got the worst of it.  But from what I’ve read some places, there are families out there that would claim I was way too lenient with my children.  Whenever I employed a spank, it was almost always just one spank, it was always open-handed and always on a fully clothed bottom.  I have never taken to striking my children with an object (thank God for that Grace!) even on their bottoms. 
I probably have not spanked in about three years.  Helen pushes me to the point the most often where I want to spank.  But I know it’s not going to work the way, ideally, I would want it to.  So I don’t do it, anymore.
*********
This summer, I was holed up in the house during a hot spell with a new baby and four other children ages 2 to 10.  And I struggled with yelling.  Yup, just good old fashioned, “shut up!” and “you kids need to CLEAN YOUR ROOMS!” and “I HAVE HAD IT WITH YOU KIDS!!”  I realized right as school started that I had spent an awful lot of my maternity leave up to that point yelling at my children. 
When I observed this about myself, of course a change was on its way.  Oh my.  I really struggled with how to do this.  Because if I didn’t have a yelling outlet and I didn’t have a physical outlet, just how WAS I going to express my displeasure with my children over their disobedience/behavior/fighting with each other/whatever.  
Then one night, when Sarah back-talked and sassed me, I engaged her eyes and looked at her quietly.  She stopped with her snark momentarily, but then resumed with an exasperated “What!
And I asked her, “Sarah, do you hear yourself?  How do you sound?”
She was shocked into silence.  I hadn’t returned her snark.  I hadn’t yelled at her to speak to me with respect.  I hadn’t even reminded her of the fourth commandment as I am wont to do when she is disrespectful.
“Well,” I asked her.  “What do you sound like?”
And she thought for a minute and her face sunk into a resigned apology.  And she said, “I’m sorry, Mom.”
I have been using this tactic for about six weeks now.  And my house is a bit quieter.  It’s not A LOT quieter because, let’s face it, there are seven people living here and one is a newborn and three are rambunctious two-, five- and eight-year-old.  But the noise is different.  It’s not a tense noise, it’s a fun noise.  It’s kids being rambunctious and not a stressed-out mom who’s lost control with her kids.

I’m not perfect.  I still yell at my kids on occasion.  But the fact is, more often than not, I am taking a deep breath and pushing back gently on my children to evaluate their own words, actions and behaviors has brought on a different atmosphere.  I don’t know if this is THE answer to my discipline woes as a mom of five kids.  

I know that right now, at this time and place with my family, this has made our house a bit more livable amidst the chaos.

7 Quick Takes (9)

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

The Back-To-Work and School Picture day Edition!

-1-

I bet you’ll never guess what happened on my first morning back to work.  And since you’d never guess, I will tell you.  Dominic wet the bed after going many, many nights of sleeping without a pullup and NOT wetting the bed…he just HAD to do it the morning I needed to get out the door.  So, I had to strip his bed, give him a bath, start his sheets in the wash, get him out of the bath and dressed all while the girls were supposed to be getting up.  Oh yeah, and Vincent simply HAD to get a new diaper and be fed at the exact same time.  Oy.


-2-

I was nervous all week about heading back into the office.  Something about being away for 12 weeks does that to you.  I had heard through co-workers and friends that some organizational changes had been announced and were in-process.  I was nervous about the awkwardness of the situation.  I was nervous about what I would forget to do, how much I would be required to contribute, how many e-mails I would have waiting for me and (yes, this is a little embarrassing) but I was nervous about whether people would be happy to see me back. 

-3-

As it turns out, fretting was not necessary.  My boss (for just a couple more days) brought in donuts for the team, a pleasant surprise.  I received many warm “Welcome Back!” messages and lots of people asking, “How’s the baby?”  I was happy to be able to chat with TOOJE, work up a new diversity initiative idea with another co-worker and lay my fears to rest about people being happy to see me.  I am a little surprised at my desire for affirmation in that regard, but as they say, it is what it is.

-4-

“It is what it is.”  Can I ask just WHAT that phrase is supposed to mean?  If anyone can answer me…is it supposed to be taken literally?  In which case, it’s a stupid saying.  Is it supposed to be taken figuratively?  In which case…um, how??  I really dislike this saying, but I hear it probably 4-8 times a day from the goobers on the Sports Talk Radio station.  And I sit there wondering just what the heck they mean by it? 

-5-

Tomorrow night, Sarah, Danielle, Helen and I will go see…

…Taylor Swift in her Speak Now tour.  The concert is at Arrowhead and the girls and I are very excited! 

-6-
Kindergarten picture day was Tuesday.  And I am only putting Helen’s pictures up here because she requested “curly hair like her (blonde) cousins do for their pictures”.  I scrambled around Monday night to obtain a set of curlers and we let Helen sleep in curlers Monday night.  It was worth it.  Every stinkin’ minute-late-to-bed.  So. Worth. It.
Here she is, ready for bed:

And here she is the next morning before school:

Oh my goodness, I have my hands full with this one.  😉

 
 
-7- 
Have a terrific weekend.  I pray we have fantastic weather for the concert Saturday and the 5th grade girls play their butts off Sunday.  Happy Friday!

Reflection on my Role as a WOTHM

Today, I begin.  
Today, I got up in the morning, got my kids going for school (with their father’s help, of course) in addition to getting myself ready to go to work.  I kissed my 12-week old baby, his older brother and sisters goodbye and headed downtown for a full day’s work.
This time is a little different than the last four times.  This time I am not ashamed.  This time, I fully embrace that this is the path set out for me and I am walking on it with Christ.
**********
For years, I had a complex about being a work-outside-the-home mom (WOTHM).  Due to our traditional leanings as we reverted deeper into our Catholic faith, many families we looked up to and prayed with were families where the mom was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and the families often home-schooled.  For a couple of years, I thought we would try to go that route.  I even thought we were called to it.  But we learned through discernment that home-schooling was most likely not in the bigger plan for our family
I used to feel shame that our family was in this situation where I was forced to be employed outside the home.  I felt ashamed because I borrowed so much money in student loans when I went to college.  I was ashamed because we hadn’t managed our finances in such a way that we could make it work on my husband’s income.  
When Craig and I learned NFP, we learned within context of the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life.  The method encouraged ecological breastfeeding (not the same as exclusive breastfeeding) and attachment parenting – two things, incidentally, I support wholeheartedly – but made no bones about the fact that the mothers belonged at home with the child.  I don’t think it was the fault of any particular individual, couple or organization that I felt the shame in our circumstances.  I only felt that way because I wanted to raise our family the way it was presented to us as we learned NFP, but had difficulty seeing how it could ever work, mostly in the financial realm.
I dipped into a pit of depression, maybe even despair, because I could not be home with my children.  God called me to be a wife and mother, why would He still expect me to have a role outside of that in the business world?  But no matter what we cut from the budget, no matter how many activities we eliminated, there was not enough money unless I was working.  Our debts were too large and my income (as a business woman with a MBA) was too much to sacrifice.
We heard lots of well-meaning suggestions for how we could do it.  We heard lots of reassurance that the sacrifices would be worth it and would return to us tenfold with holy, upright, well-behaved, trusting children.  I began to feel like a failure.  I contemplated confessing my “sin” of going to work and leaving my children each day.  I don’t remember that I ever actually did that, but I do remember wondering if I should.  That tells you the depths to which I had fallen.
Many of the blogs I read through our reversion were fairly traditional and conservative in nature, often written by SAHMs.  I loved reading them (still do!!)…except when they wrote  comments supporting their reasons for being at home.  My fragile state took their words all too personally.

I don’t think they meant the words to sound the way they did in my head/ears and most likely, my state of mind caused me to hear the words much more harshly than intended.  But when people wrote about “having their priorities straight” and referred lovingly to their children as “worth more than 8 hours a day at any workplace could ever be” it stung.  As a WOTHM, I wondered if other women who were SAHM’s thought I viewed my 40 hour/week job as a priority higher than my children.  I would like to reiterate, this is more a reflection of where I was emotionally and mentally to be thinking that way.  We can all benefit, however, from viewing the words we say, read and write with lenses that can show us how they look and sound to other people in all walks of life.

I think whatever circumstances people are in, they need support and to be lifted up.  I definitely don’t begrudge a SAHM the opportunity to hear that she’s doing “the most important work there is”.  I don’t.  Raising children IS most important work.  Absolutely.  That doesn’t mean that a WOTHM doesn’t see the same words and wonder just where she’s gone wrong in life that she must spend 40 hours/week away from her “most important work”.
Because many families we know and love are families with SAHM’s and/or home-schoolers, I am wary of ever calling myself a “working mother” because I am just as big a fan of saying that ALL mothers are “working mothers.”  Being at home raising children IS work just as it is work for me to drive downtown every day and ensure lots of money and lots of pieces of paper end up in the right spot all over the world.

So, that is why I use the WOTHM acronym. 

**********
I remember when the tide started to turn and I began to accept my role as a WOTHM.  I read Pope John Paul II’s letter to women from 1995.  Read the whole thing here.  
Some quotes:

Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.

Whether I stay at home with my children or I work outside the home…I AM A MOTHER!  I needed this affirmation at a very delicate time.  Even though I wasn’t at home caring for my children all day and all night, I was still their mother…I carried them in my womb and bore them.  I experienced the joy and perhaps my trek into work every day is just one form of the “travail” I am blessed to experience.

Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

This is a thank you to every woman!  Women who work at home raising our future generations full-time.  Women who work in offices or hospitals or any other place of gainful employment are important, too!  Work provides an opportunity for women to be Christian witness in the world.  We should never shy away from it and we should appreciate the blessed opportunity.

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.

And here…it is reiterated by our Blessed John Paul II that every woman enriches the world’s understanding…whether it is through the raising of children in the home or completing a job well done away from home, women are important.  Women bring to the table the ability to see with the heart.
**********
Today, as I make my way back into the full-time working world, I am ever aware of the necessity of my work for my children.  I thank God that I live in a country and a time when I am not “put out to pasture” simply because I am a woman with children, like many women of past generations.  I thank God for my work, even though I would much rather be home cuddling and caring for my newborn son.

I can see where I have had the opportunity to make a positive influence in the lives of others because I work outside the home.  I think of all the people who have asked me, “Are you done?” referring to whether I will have more children.  I thank God for the opportunity to share the joy of a large family with them.  Perhaps a large family isn’t what God has planned for them.  But my presence in the working world while raising a large family can be a silent witness to the old adage that all things are possible, with God.

I think of the times I have shared information on Natural Family Planning with inquiring women in the workplace.  I don’t often try to persuade anyone to do it “my way” but I have found that women are often curious about “my way” and why I am comfortable with it or how I came to it.  Ultimately, it’s silly to call this path “my way.” 

So, I accept this path the Lord has laid out for me.  I will attempt to be joyful in completing my meaningful work throughout the week.  I will also attempt to maintain that joy for my children in the evenings and on the weekends, to experience the fullness of motherhood for those hours that are there for the taking.  I will try to make every action of every day a joyful song of praise unto my Lord, who has blessed me far beyond measure with a good job, a loving and devoted husband, and five beautiful children.

Monday Mumbles – 8

Good Last-Monday-Of-My-Maternity-Leave to you!  Oy.  Back to work later this week.  Crazy.   TOOJE does mumbles usually, so I’m doing them, too.  They are just 10 things to mumble, grumble, or sing about on a Monday morning.  
1.  I went to visit my grandmother last week.  It was so great to see her.  She is 91.5 years old and I don’t care what anyone says, she’s still fairly with it, even though her health is failing.
2.  I also saw a couple of Aunts, an Uncle and three cousins while I was there…that was very cool.
3.  It wasn’t too great for my diet, but even so, I didn’t gain…just stayed the same.  Can’t complain there.
4.  I am coaching the 5th grade girls volleyball team and we had our first matches yesterday.  I was pretty pleased with how we did.  You never know what’s gonna happen with the first match, but the girls moved and called the ball and everything!  They won their first match and lost their second.  But all in all, I was pleased with the effort. 
5.  I also saw a dear woman that I used to work with.  Her daughter was playing for one of our opponents.  I hadn’t seen her in probably four years or so.  It was great to catch up.  It always amazes me when I think about friends whom I knew when their children were small and they are all grown up and stuff.  Her oldest is a sophomore in high school…um, I remember when she was in diapers!  How quickly the time flies.
6.  I burned my hand last night.  I was having to put ice pack after ice pack on it while trying to juggle my kids and get them all ready to go to bed and ready for the week.  That was a tad difficult, but we managed.
7.  Dani is such a sweet kid.  Even when she’s ornery and gets under my skin…she’s just a sweet heart.  
8.  I go back to work Thursday.  Some changes have occurred since I left.  We’ll see how those pan out.  I am cautiously optimistic.
9.  Dominic makes his way into my bed usually sometime between 2 and 3:30 a.m.  It doesn’t bother me that much.  But I think it bothers Craig.
10.  So can anyone tell me what could be wrong with my feet?  Let me tell you, I get up in the morning and they really ache when I walk on them.  They get better fairly quickly, but it’s kind of alarming.  I don’t remember that happening all that much before I got pregnant or during my pregnancy, but since I’ve been post-partum and the last couple of weeks, it has been pretty noticeable.  I wonder if there is condition that any of you know about that I have never heard of.  It’s throughout the bottoms and inside arches of my feet and it’s just when I get up from bed in the morning.  (Nothing like internet diagnosis, right?)

Have a great Monday!

Love and Forgive

It has been 10 years since the day the US was attacked by terrorists and New York’s Twin Towers fell.
Thinking back, I remember how unreal it felt. There was coverage running over and over of one of the towers on fire with smoke and the second plane being flown into the other tower. The images played over in my mind of what it must have been like for the people there at work that day. It horrified me to think of someone on the phone saying, “Oh God” as they see a plane headed right for their floor. When I heard that some people on Flight 93 had actually spoken to loved ones on cell phones and worked together to crash the plane before it hit the intended target, I was in awe and at the same time horrified.
For weeks following that day, I had trouble sleeping. I had nightmares of terrorists breaking into my house and doing unthinkable things to my baby girl. I remember thinking that watching anything happen to my daughter would be worse than death. Most likely, I was suffering a form of anxiety but I worked through it without medication. I remember that Craig and I thought we would have no more children…what kind of world was this? And we felt horrible that our daughter was born into it.
I know those are normal feelings when something so terrible happens. But it doesn’t make it any easier to experience them. It was a scary time. It IS a scary time.
In our Gospel this week (Matthew 18:21-35) Peter asks Jesus if we should forgive 7 times. And Jesus says that is not enough. That we must forgive 70 times 7. As our priest said in his homily, Peter probably thought he was being quite generous offering to forgive seven times. The priest also said that Bible scholars agree Jesus is referring to infinite forgiveness and he follows it with a parable that reflects God’s Love for us and that he forgives us over and over…infinitely. God says we must forgive each other the same way He forgives us.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us.”  That little word “as” sure makes a huge difference, huh?
I remember hearing this reading close to when the attacks happened 10 years ago. I was so angry and fearful then. It was a hard thing to hear that I must forgive this atrocity…even should it happen again and again. I still get fearful when I think of the events of September 11, 2001. It is difficult not to fear terrorism…fear is the desired result for those who commit terrorist acts. But the fear is often a fleeting thing; I feel it and then I move on because I cannot live my life in fear.
A common theme on this day is that we never forget. And I’m glad. I don’t think we should ever forget 9/11, even though we forgive. What happened on that day is a glimpse of true evil in our time.
We must always remember what evil looks like.  It is not often that evil shows its face so openly, we often must uncover the layers to find and identify and expose evil.  In this case, evil was right there to be seen.

The ultimate triumph over evil is love.  And love=forgiveness.  Jesus died on the cross forgiving the world’s sins that put him there.  Jesus loves us and forgives us infinitely.

When we forgive those who do evil to us, we love them the way God loves us.

So remember, yes.  And FORGIVE.

Really? She’s 5!

I am sad today.  Well, tonight actually.  I had a fairly happy day as I found out some good news this afternoon.  But tonight, after dinner, I became sad.
Helen told me that her thighs are fat and that she hates them.  She started crying and telling me that she was fat especially in her upper leg area.  Oh.  No.  Baby girl, please don’t do this.
I asked her if someone had told her that.  She said no.  Then she followed it up with another round of “I hate my legs they are so fat.”
I have often thought I would be ready to tell Helen all about the fact that God gave her those thighs.  But, I also thought I wouldn’t have to give Helen reassurance about her body at the early age of 5!  I did tell Helen that God made her beautiful and that included her legs.  We talked about eating right and exercising to stay healthy.  But you see, for Helen, healthy will most likely include thighs that are bigger than our society says is acceptable.  The girl got her momma’s genes in abundance and her momma’s got a booty and the thighs to match.
Of course, this caused some self-reflection on my part.  For the last few years, I purposefully refrain from stating negative things about my body.  That’s difficult for me.  I grew up hating my body.  For a multitude of reasons, I thought I was fat and ugly.  
I am very sensitive on the topic as it relates to my children because I never want them to look at themselves in the mirror and see fat and ugly.  A few things I have been adamant about is that no one is to comment regarding the food on another person’s plate.  Sarah had gotten into the habit of policing the food on her sisters’ plates and I have done my best to put an end to that.  I’ve also referred to the differences in my children as their body types, but I don’t really know how that sounds to them.  Helen is smart and she has figured out that she couldn’t wear the clothes Dani and Sarah wore.  She knows her shorts for school have the “X” after the 6 and that her jumpers are the “1/2 sizes” and her sisters’ aren’t.  Perhaps when she hears “You have a different body type” she is really hearing, “You are fatter than your sisters, so you have to wear this…”  I don’t know.  
What I DO know is it broke my heart tonight to hear her say what she said and see the tears fall down her beautiful cheeks.
But mostly, my self-reflection has been centered on what I have been saying about my own body in front of my children, especially lately.  Post-partum is the hardest time for me to stay positive about my body.  I am always trying to drop extra weight in the months following having a baby, which means I don’t eat the same things the kids do for most meals and I definitely watch the amounts.  Did I call myself fat in front of Helen?  Did I jokingly refer to my “big ol’ butt” where she could hear?  I don’t think I did, but I have my weak moments where I might say something to Craig and the kids can be very observant.
After our conversation about eating healthy and exercising, I saw Helen in the back yard running from one side to the other.  I probably saw her run three or four laps of the yard.  I’m happy she was doing something activeI’m sad for the reason behind it, because I’m fairly certain she wouldn’t be running just for the heck of it.
I received a great suggestion that I should mention all of this to Helen’s teacher.  I thought it a great idea because I bet her teacher will have some ideas how to approach this at home.  It will also put this on her radar and she may be able to find ways to affirm Helen t school to combat this self-criticism. 

Dear Blessed Virgin Mary, my spiritual mother and mother of Divine Grace, please ask your Son to assist me in my quest to be a better mother to all of my children, and especially to work through this trial with Helen, that we may both come through it with strength.  May we reflect our heavenly Father’s Love to each other, to our family and to the world.  Amen.