Friday, May 26, 2017

On Pancakes, Proms, and Princesses

There are so many phases of parenting that seem like they will never end! All those sleepless nights definitely spring to mind! Then, at some point, I blinked and little ones that needed my every minute of every day were all of a sudden much more independent. And it felt nice. I felt like I could breathe a little.

But then you blink again...

The independence grows. Their life revolves around school and friends. While it still feels nice to be able to focus on projects and areas that just a few years before would have been impossible, you also start to see the writing on the wall. Their independence will continue to increase and their worlds will continue to grow...and our rolls in their lives will change. And decrease.

It's such a crazy emotional time, I am proud of my young adults and excited for where they are headed in life....but I'm also a little sad because they are growing up and away from us. I have given my whole life to caring for and raising these children that God has blessed me with...and yet, I am working myself out of a job.

This growing up stuff is so.not.easy.

Yesterday and today, the "On This Day" on my Facebook page have had pictures from Andrew and Jon's high school proms from four years ago and three years ago respectively. Seeing them brought some tears to my eyes. It seemed like just yesterday that they were in high school and now they will be finishing up college next year!



Jon and his friend Amy making goofy poses: 2014

Andrew and his high school friends: 2013

Now it's Sarah's turn! Our first daughter will be attending her senior prom and it just seems impossible that we are at this spot again with yet another child! "How did this even happen?" is the question that I've been wrestling with the last couple of weeks. With Sarah graduating from high school, Ellie graduating from middle school, and Kate graduating from pre-school, it's a season of change for all of my girls.

...for their mama, too!

I've felt my anxiety levels ratcheting up all week. It has reached the level where I feel like everything around me is just beyond my control...all those balls juggling in the air feel like they are getting away from me.

I see all my older children around me turning into adults and I feel so very inadequate. All those failures I've felt as a mom, both real and perceived, haunt my memories and fuel my fears for their future. I hate feeling so "less than"; less than the wife I want to be, less than the mom I want to be...and now time has run out/will run out in giving my kids the best emotional, spiritual, and mentally healthy foundation that I can.

The question screams through all my inadequacies, "Can I ever be enough?"

I honestly didn't even have words to describe all that I was feeling. All I felt was a whirlwind of overwhelming emotion. As I drove to pick up Kate at preschool, I was listening to KLOVE and the song "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns came on. You know when a song just speaks to your heart? Well, that happened to me this morning.
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

I just may have started balling just a little. Thankfully, I had a few minutes to compose myself before Kate's teacher brought her out. It's amazing how sadness and grief can disguise itself...and how hard I can work to "be strong" and not give myself the time to work through hard emotions. 

As Kate and I raced to the car through the rain, she looked at me and asked if we could go to a restaurant and have "breakfast for lunch." There were lots of reasons why we shouldn't go...it's prom day, I was emotional, I still had cleaning to do, etc.

But then I thought about all of the reasons I should go. Because I'm going to blink, and it's going to be Kate getting ready for prom! So, off we went, just the two of us. I listened to her constant chatter and soaked in her cute little face and sweet little voice. I didn't rush our time together...I was present for every precious moment!
Who wouldn't want to have lunch with this sweet face?!?



Back at home, Sarah asked me to help her put on her pearl necklace....a beautiful 16th birthday present from some very special family friends. In my head, I blinked and had the future thought that, before I know it, I will be clasping those pearls around Sarah's neck for her wedding day.

Please pass the tissues....



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yutmTFtalKs

Monday, May 8, 2017

On Growing Up and Letting Go...

An old blogpost showed up on my Facebook page today. Borrowed Moments was written 4 years ago on the cusp of lots of changes: Mike graduating from BCC, Andrew graduating from high school, Sarah getting ready to graduate from middle school, Luke getting ready to enter pre school...

In a lot of ways, I'm in that same emotional place of letting go this year, too. In just a few weeks, Sarah will be graduating from high school and Ellie will graduate from middle school. Kate starts full day kindergarten(!) in the Fall, Andrew will be finishing up his college degree(he had a conflict so he needed an extra semester), and Jon will be entering his senior year of college and applying to grad school.

So.many.changes.

You think by now I would be used to this growing up and letting go stuff!

But I'm not...

I think going through it with daughters is like doing it for the first time all over again. Having your beautiful, almost 18 year old daughter heading to college is a lot scarier than when our 6'+ sons were heading off to start their college adventures. I didn't worry about their safety as much as I will worry about Sarah. And I'm not ready to have this young women enter even more into an independent life....she's my reliable helper and it's going to be an adjustment having her even more busy than she already is! We will all just miss not having her around....



And, Ellie....Somehow, I'm still so surprised that Ellie is grown up and ready for high school! She was the baby of our family for so long, that I guess I took it for granted that she would stay in that roll. That was clearly my mama "lala" world train of thought because Ellie is a 5'9" beauty with a big, braces free smile that is ready to jump into her high school adventure! The girl that was our baby for 6 years grew up right before my eyes!



Those bonus babies God blessed us with are no longer babies! Luke will turn 8 this summer and just keeps growing and growing! He will be as tall as his brothers before too long! (sigh)

The official "baby" of our family is a 5 year old learning machine who wants to know and understand everything. Kate reminds me very much of her biggest big sister! She is starting to read, wants to know how to spell words, and likes to create math facts for fun.  She wants to be "older" like Luke...and I just keep begging her to slow down and enjoy being 5!

Kids grow you and stretch you as a mom. Nothing ever really stays the same...even during the months, (or years), where it seems like you will NEVER sleep through the night ever again, when all you do is change diapers, wipe noses and do laundry, and the days are filled will the endless needs and cacophony of littles calling(screeching) your name.

And even though, at 24 years into this parenting adventure, I still don't always sleep through the night, still do lots of laundry, and my children still call my name....I don't mind so much. I know that the nights that Luke has a nightmare or Kate wants to snuggle and know I'm there are numbered. I sleep through the night as much as or more than I hear "Mommy" at 3am these days.

That laundry means that there are still people living in our home....and with our oldest already moved out and two others getting close to graduating and moving on to the next step in their lives, I know their daily presence in home is fleeting and I'm in no hurry for that time to pass quickly.

My children still call my name during the day, but it's less for squirmishes..(at least most of the time!).. and more for conversation. They talk about their days, their ideas for college, trips, and grad school, and their job opportunities. I do more listening and praying...they make more decisions. I'm grateful to hear their deeper voices and that I still get to be a part of their lives.

Ultimately, it's our goal for parenting...that they become independent, emotionally healthy, faithful adults.

Regardless of how proud I am as my kids grow and start to step out on their own, for us mamas, this letting go is not easy!
Image result for cartoon about kids growing up too fast

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quiet Time And Grace

I signed up for `Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever' series again this year. It's a really great program that shows up in my inbox every day that consists of one very short video by Matthew Kelly(about 4 min) and an even shorter video by someone on his staff(about 1 min) on a different topic every day during Lent.

Today's topic was about learning to love and see the benefits from fitting in at least one daily Mass every week. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with and that I have tried to do for many years during all of the different seasons of my parenting life.

I love going to daily Mass,,,,even with squirmy toddlers and squak-y babies.... because of the peace that I feel while I'm there. One particular period of time popped into my head in particular...

When Peter was diagnosed with Autism at 27 months, it was very challenging. We were reeling emotionally from the diagnosis and afraid for what it would mean for Peter and for our family. I began obsessively reading everything I could get my hands on, trying to figure out how we could help him. He had therapy through Early Intervention, a program that he went to a couple of times a week, a special diet we put him on that made a big difference, new doctors, ABA therapy at home, and far away doctor appointments that specialized in different types of therapy...just.so.much. All the while, we were looking for the "smoking bullet" that could possibly "cure" our little boy. I was terrified I would miss something!

Just prior to, and during, this second hardest trial in our married life(the first being the loss of our daughter Therese), I found solace in a Wednesday evening Mass that was my quiet time, (and my life line), at a Parish the next town over. The demands of a special needs, very difficult child, plus a 6 month old, 4 yo, 7 yo, 8 yo,and 10 yo were great! My heart was heavy, the sleep deprivation was rough, and my burn out was intense.

The 15 minute ride to and from the Mass, and the small, intimate Mass itself, was a silent oasis that my broken spirit was desperate for. I clung to God in that silence like a drowning person clings to their flotation device in the midst of a terrible storm. There were lots of tears shed and lots of pleas for help on those Wednesday nights. Lots of days when I felt I couldn't give one more ounce of myself because there was nothing left to give. Somehow, even on the nights that I drove home really, really slowly because I dreaded another sleepless night and children's needs that I felt no ability to fill, God gave me the grace to do what needed to be done.

I'm grateful for the graces that Wednesday night Mass gave to me in that season of life.  It was a place of peace in my emotional and physical unrest, a place to let my grief out, a place to let my fears out, a place to find God and try to wrap my head around the fact that no matter how out of control life felt, God was in control. It took almost a year, but I know that the graces I received in that quiet time helped me to come to a place where I realized and accepted that I couldn't live in a manic way, trying to "cure" Peter. I couldn't spend 95% of my energy on just one of my children while everyone else got the leftovers. I had to allow myself to accept Peter for who he was and grieve for the Peter that I thought he would be. Mostly, I had to believe that God loves Peter more than I ever could, and that He would provide what Peter needed as long as I did my part. God gave me the grace to stop trying to do my job AND His job...which was good because I was definitely doing it poorly!

I still made lots of mistakes along the way during those early years of Peter's diagnosis. Mostly because I didn't reach out and ask for more help or try to find more help that we really needed. I'm sure there were people that God would have provided if I had only looked for them.

Sometimes, God doesn't want us to be Wonder Women...especially when we are feeling like we're emotionally held together with duct tape! It's a tough lesson to learn...

If you ever find yourself feeling like you're life is falling apart in some way or if you have nothing left to give, spend some quiet time with God and ask Him to give you the grace for the help you need....even if that means humbling yourself and reaching out to family, friends, or someone else God will place in your life. You're worth the 30 minutes of quiet time no matter how crazy your schedule is....and the benefits of peace, hope and guidance are priceless!


Image result for picture of scripture for i know the plans i have for you



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

For It is In Giving That We Receive

I was thinking today about the story of the rich man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-31) Lazarus lay at the rich man's gate covered with sores and starving. When I picture this poor, sick man in my head, it's easy to convince myself that I would never have ignored the needs of Lazarus. I would never be like the rich man "feasting sumptuously every day" while a poor man suffers to death right outside my house.

In reality, I certainly have plenty of failed opportunities when it comes being Jesus' hands and feet  to the people in my little world!

There is always a 'Lazarus' that God places in our lives. (Sometimes several at one time!) Anyone in need that God puts on our hearts to help is a Lazarus.

The Lazarus in our life will probably not be a poor, starving man with sores sitting outside our door. Some wounds are more difficult to see...and easier to ignore. I find it so hard to give in situations where I can't 'fix' the problem. It's hard to jump in when someone else's life is messy. There can be strong emotions that are uncomfortable to deal with. There can be physical suffering that I can't do anything to relieve.

In a lot of ways it's easier to write a check for poor and suffering people on the other side of the world that I have no personal contact with then it is to share my time and emotional energy on people God  places in my life...or even with members of my own family!

I find that I'm always struggling with balance in my life coupled with a copious helping of guilt! There are so many things to do each day, so many people in my life and the whole world, and I am so inadequate to meet anyone's needs completely. It makes me want to turtle...but that doesn't help anyone!

I think that choosing to be selfless is something that will always challenge me! I'm trying to be a better listener so that I will respond in the best way when God reveals "Lazurus" to me each day. I'm also trying to listen to the WAY God wants me to respond. I can't solve anyone's situation, but I can bring them a little encouragement and hope. I can send a quick email or a text, or I can stop in to visit someone, or I can make someone a meal or a cheesecake. I can say a rosary or a chaplet...or I can utter a simple prayer if that's all I'm inspired to do. Mother Teresa said, "It's not about how much we give but how much love we put into giving."

After all, it's God's grace that brings the comfort and healing.

We are merely the vessels He uses at any given moment to deliver the graces....we just need to cooperate.



Friday, September 9, 2016

Send In the Sandman

I can't seem to make up my mind...

At 7:30 tonight I decided I was done mothering for the day. Anyone else have those moments? When you're just "done", and try to find somewhere to hide until the kids' bedtime?

Thankfully, Luke had dragged Jay into building elaborate Lego creations and I managed to convince Kate that her sisters were having "extra special girl time" with "music and everything". (I really had no idea what "everything" was. It just made it sound better!) Kate went running to knock on their door and ended up with a mani/pedi and a game of Chutes and Ladders. (Truth be told, she asked me to play the game before the girl time, but I stalled to change into my pj's, heard the music coming from the girls' room, and tricked convinced Kate that sister time is way more exciting than hanging out with mom. Ahh...lazy mom 101 at its best!)

So I parked myself on the couch and ignored the Star Wars ships being flown around the living room by Luke and Jay and waited for bed time. I even ignored the "light saber battle" with pillows that ensued because Jay gets way too silly!(That's why the kids always want to play with him!)

The magical hour of bedtime finally arrived! Teeth were brushed, the potty was used, water cups were filled and kids were tucked into bed. Twenty minutes later, I heard Luke's voice call from the bedroom, "Mom, I can't sleep." (I'm thinking that a rousing battle of pillow "light sabers" was a poor choice on Jay's part right before bed!)

Though Jay might be the "fun parent", I'm the "nice parent".(Jay would call it soft.) As I called to Luke that he could come out with us for five minutes, Jay's voice overpowered mine and said, "No, stay in bed." Then, we compromised and told Luke he could read in his bed for 10 minutes.

As Jay and I sat together on the couch watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, (his current obsession), my heart shifted a bit.  Instead of relishing in this "little kid" free time...all our teen and young adult children were all milling about...I found myself missing Luke and wishing we had let him get out of bed. Luke is my snuggle buddy!

Having birthed 9 children over the last 23 years has given me lots of experience in many different areas of parenting. One area that I have failed at miserably with several different children is independent sleeping. I admit it...it's because I'm the "soft" parent! I'm always worried about making sure my kids feel loved, and that spills over into helping them get/stay asleep.

When our oldest, Mike, was a toddler, I tried to do the textbook bedtime routine. Bath time was followed by some quiet snuggle time and then we would read a couple of books in his bed. I would get close to the end of a book and he would grab the book, close it, and immediately grab another one, (that I intended to read anyway), thinking it would push off bedtime just a little bit longer! I would often lay with him and he would twirl my hair until he fell asleep.

Funny story: One night, when I was VERY pregnant with our second son, Andrew, I was trapped between a sleeping Mike and the child bed rail. I couldn't roll off and I couldn't just sit up because of my enormous belly. I started trying to rock to get enough momentum to sit up....I was totally like a turtle stuck on it's back!  It took a couple of minutes to finally free myself! When I turned to leave the room I found Jay laughing at me in the doorway! He watched the whole thing and just let me struggle! He got my "angry eyes" that night!

Fast forward a couple of years and we had 3 little boys. Jon would fall asleep on the couch most nights watching Blue's Clues during our night time routine. Mike still liked me to lay with him. I felt guilty that Andrew was laying alone even though he was younger than Mike. So, sometimes I would get Jay to lay down with him...even though Andrew didn't necessarily want him there! Oh, the joys of mom guilt!

Fast forward another couple of years. After losing our first daughter, Therese, our hearts were starting to heal with the addition of baby Sarah to our family. We lived in a 2 bedroom house, so a few months after Sarah was born we added on an extra bedroom and bathroom. Sarah was actually a pretty good sleeper, and she moved into her new bedroom when she was about 6 months old. Jay and I would go to bed some nights...umm, might have been most nights...and I would be missing her! I was hoping she would wake up and want to nurse so I could bring her into our bed. After several comments to Jay about missing the baby, he would go to her room, pick up a sleeping Sarah, and bring her into our bed. (I know, most of you are shaking your heads! I couldn't help myself!)
A sleeping baby Sarah!

I'd like to say that with experience I became a better sleep trainer of children.  Unfortunately, although my desire to have my babies and toddlers sleep became stronger as more of them arrived, the only one that actually complied was Ellie!  To be fair, Peter's struggle with sleep was not my fault....undetected food allergies and a sleep disorder due to Autism made night time a nightmare for many, many years.  I'm so grateful that he eventually grew out of it...although it took about 12 years!

Luke was an extra needy baby and toddler and it took many years to get him to sleep all night long independently.(We finally resorted to bribery...if he slept in his own bed all night for 3 weeks then he could pick out a medium size Lego set!)  Kate wasn't quite as bad as Luke, but there are still many nights that she wakes up scared and wants me to snuggle with her. (And it's much harder to sleep on 6 inches of bed as a 42 year old! My sore shoulders, sore hips, and knots in my back that Jay has to massage out are signs I'm getting too old for this! Although, snuggling with Kate is way easier than climbing into Luke's upper bunk in the middle of the night...thankfully, that's a very infrequent occurrence!)

So, if family members or friends ask my advice about teaching kids to sleep independently, I honestly tell them I don't have any great advice to give. I can tell them a few things NOT to do if they don't want kids in their bed for, well, years! Then I refer them to my friend, Colleen, who is the sleep master!

I AM making progress, though! You will all be happy to know that I did not have Jay go get a sleeping Luke out of his bed! And it's not just because Jay fell asleep on the couch before Luke! There's hope for me, yet!

.....Luke's way too heavy to try and lug out of the top bunk, anyway!

Just kidding!;)





Monday, August 1, 2016

#BigFamilyBlessings

Turning the calendar to August 1st is filling me with trepidation! The dreaded countdown to school begins. Along with the (hopefully) slow slide towards the end of summer, comes all the mama responsibilities that have to be accomplished: summer packets, school supplies, uniforms, school shoes, new sneakers! Just a wee bit stressful and a whole lot $$$!

Yesterday, I read a good article entitled The One School Supply I'm Missing This Year. The gist of the article is this: "what if we spent as much time praying for our children as we did shopping for them?  What if we prayed as much as we planned?  What if we prayed a little more than we worried."
It's helped me to have a better perspective as I get used to the fact that August has arrived! The article offered a challenge to pray each day in August for each of your children and all the hopes, dreams, and fears you have for them this year. It's definitely worth a read and it's something that I will be doing...and I'm thinking it will help me as much as it helps the kids!
This morning I got to go for a walk while it was still cool outside! The first song that came on my phone was "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman. It's quite the emotional song...and I was proud of myself that I didn't cry and just blubber for all the neighbors to see...but it did make me pretty reflective about all the changes that will be coming this year.

This little girl right here is starting 1/2 day preschool at the end of August!

Honestly, I have no idea how this has happened. I have found myself staring at Kate all summer and taking in her personality that has just exploded over the last few months! A deeper sweetness has made her such the love bug! Kate has such a curiosity about everything and still wants more than ever to keep up with her big brother, Luke. I keep looking at her long Hamel legs and her cute expression and I'm just so grateful that God blessed us with this "Bonus, Bonus" baby! I'm going to miss her SO much while she's at preschool, but Kate is excited to start her new adventure! She told me yesterday that she wants to get a butterfly backback and a butterfly lunch box because, "Butterflies are beautiful!". So you know that's on my (ever growing) list of back to school supplies!

Luke could.not.wait for August to get here! It has nothing to do with school starting and everything to do with his birthday coming up in less than a week!

We had a family party for Luke and Peter's birthdays over the weekend, and Luke got all of his wish list and then some! He spent all weekend building Star Wars Lego sets...his two favorite things rolled into one...every.waking.moment! He built almost everything by himself with the occasional shout out for help to Jon or Andrew when he had trouble with a step. Me thinks we have another future engineer in the making!! Luke is heading to 1st grade in a few weeks...my baby boy is growing up! sniff! He is such a gentle giant. I will definitely praying that Luke continues to develop good friendships, is able to be a good friend, and has the fortitude to step up to the challenges of first grade. (Because most days he would rather be home building with his Legos!)

This is an EXTRA exciting school year coming up because we have a TRIFECTA of graduations this year! So many blessings and so many memories for Ellen, Sarah and Andrew that will be made during this special year of  "lasts"!

This girl right here will be an eighth grader!! Eighth Grader!! What the what?!? Just unbelievable!

Ellie has grown up right in front of our eyes!(and at 5'8 3/4", she is still growing!) Ellie has the biggest, most beautiful heart of anyone I know. She is SO loving and SO sensitive! Just this weekend, Ellie sat with Jay as he spun all his tales about his favorite saint JP II. At some point, Ellie's beautiful, big blue eyes overflowed with tears. She articulated well when she said, "My heart just feels so many things!". She's a beautiful person, inside and out!

Sarah is entering her senior year of high school at the end of August!

As I write this, she is on the tail end of the biggest adventure of her life: World Youth Day in Poland! She has been gone for 11 days and has had lots of amazing experiences that we can't wait to hear more about when she gets home in 2 days! The group she went with is finishing their amazing experience  in Zacopane, where JPII spent many of his younger years hiking and sharing his faith as a teacher and young priest. Since Sarah shares Jay's love of  JPII, getting to see his homeland is an awe inspiring experience! I'm sure she will be talking non stop about her trip for weeks afterward!

Sarah is one of the most passionate people I know! Bring up anything to do with pro life issues or her faith and her face just lights up as she talks with boundless energy about all the ideas that she has and all the ways she wants to get involved in helping those without a voice. Sarah wants to change the world! Right now! It's not a surprise to me that she is drawn to the field of speech therapy and wants to work with kids with disabilities. Sarah is chomping at the bit to jump into life with everything she has to make a difference. Unfortunately, she has to actually finish high school first before she can take the next step! Despite her impatience, in typical Sarah style she throws herself into her studies with everything she has. Senior year will be filled with 5 AP courses, trying to maintain her school rank of second in her class, being president of the Pro-Life Club, campus ministry, Drama Club, baking cookies for her friends that are celebrating a birthday or having a bad day, and any other endeavor she somehow squeezes into her insane schedule!

Andrew, God willing, will be graduating with a degree in Computer Science from UMass Dartmouth this year! He has a challenging schedule as a senior and needs to take one extra course, Statistics, that will hopefully be offered in the Spring semester at a time that can fit into his schedule!(This is DEFINITELY one of the things I will be praying about this month!) I can not believe that our second son is on the brink of graduating from college and getting started on his adult life! It just blows my mind! #dontblink

Not to leave them out....
Peter turned 15(!) yesterday and will be staying at his current program, which we LOVE! He is going to have the opportunity to do more inclusion this year and we are so excited for him! This program is everything that we have wanted for him and Peter is SO happy!
Happy Birthday, Peter!
He was modeling his new shirt.
He loves cut off shirts AND Martha's Vineyard!

Jon is entering his junior year as a mechanical engineering major at UMass Dartmouth. He has done so well that he will most likely be invited into a special program that would allow him to start on his Master's Program during his senior year and finish his masters degree in just 1 extra year. So...big decisions for him to make. He's also going to be working with some upper classmen/grad students on a professor's project. He's really excited and is looking into options to specialize in some kind of Marine Engineering. (I'm probably getting all this terminology wrong, but that's the gist of it!:) Jon was also a world traveler this summer and had the opportunity to spend over a week in Rome. He had such a great time and loved all the history and faith that he was able to experience!

Mike is currently figuring out what direction to take in his professional life. A job that he was hoping for fell through, but, when God shuts one door he always opens a window! So, once his summer job ends at the end of the month, we're curious to see where that window will lead him!
(As a side note....having young adults is less physical work, but the emotional energy is still very difficult! Not to mention, these big life decisions need to be made by them! Our job is to offer encouragement but that's about it. The "Art of Letting Go" is not so easy!)

So many times, people will comment about how challenging it must be to raise a big family. (And you can tell by their expressions that they are SO glad that they are not in our shoes!) Yet, I'm especially grateful at this stage of our lives for our big family! It's so hard to see our older kids start to pull away and begin their lives apart from us. The change in our relationships does bring about some grieving now that we aren't the center of their lives anymore. Having the younger kiddos is so consoling! And, even though I dread the days when Luke and Kate will be ready to expand their worlds and spread their wings, I figure that by that time we will have had some weddings and a few grandchildren to fill up the void. I'm perfectly happy with never having an empty nest!



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hi!...and a little review!

It's been quite a while since I've visited my own little space in the blogosphere! June was a tough month for me! I crawled through the end of the school year feeling very burned out. The summer has been better, but busy in its own way. I'm really trying to focus on doing fun(cheap/free) things with the younger kids to make family memories and being nice to myself so I can re-energize!

Several months ago, Marianne Bell from Adventures in the Ballpark asked me to review a book that she wrote, "The Twelve Days of Christmas Adventure". This book is filled with ideas to be a blessing to someone else over the twelve days of Christmas! It's so much fun to surprise a family or individual that God puts on your heart, and Marianne gives lots of examples that her family has used over the years.

So...even though this review is incredibly overdue, it just so happens that Marianne is offering a special sale on her book that is good through Sunday! A little 'Chistmas in July' special! 😊 Even better, some of you mamas may be running out of steam and ideas to keep your kiddos occupied during summer vacation! What better way to spend some time in August then on planning and creating blessing boxes that will be ready to go come that crazy time of the year?!? Kids occupied + doing something for someone else + having blessing ready to give come December = WIN!

**Bonus: TheTwelve Days Of Christmas Adventure is only $6.99 if you snag it in July!

Head on over Here to check it all out!