Thursday, March 5, 2015

This Day We Fight!

Caution:  whining alert!

I'm sorry...this winter is just kicking my New England butt!(and I know I'm not the only one!)  We woke up to more snow falling and, even though it isn't supposed to amount to much, the snow is making everything slippery and still needs to be shoveled.

It's depressing!  We've been buried under white stuff since the end of January and it feels like it will NEVER end!

Ok...rant over!

This has been a long week for me.  You know when you feel like it should be Friday already and it's only Monday that you're in trouble!  This week has been busy and sleep deprived...which never helps anything!  Just last night, Kate was awake from 3:30 to almost 5!  Oh the joys of parenting!

Between the weather, the sleep deprivation, and anxiety I was ready to just wave the white flag and give up!  (I mean, seriously, do you know that it still isn't Friday yet!?!?!)

Then I took a deep breath and tried to shrug off the shawl of discouragement that seems to have wrapped itself around me.  A short plea for strength("Please, God, help me to do what needs to be done today!"), a timely blog article entitled "Keeping A Vibrant Spirit in Your Home{When Your Body is Bone-Tired}, and an unexpected compliment have already started to fill my encouragement tank!

Last night and this morning I have been thinking that we need a Braveheart/Lord of the Rings pre-battle type speech to help get us through the rest of this winter!  Aragorn's seemed fairly appropriate!

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of Men fails
When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship
But it is not this day
An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Man comes crashing down
But it is not this day!
This day we fight!
By all that you hold dear on this good earth
I bid you stand, Men of the West!

(Except in this case it would be "People of the East"!....and our enemies are discouragement, depression, and hopelessness!)

Spring will come....the snow won't last forever(even though it feels it will)!  Hold onto hope....Easter is coming!  (and next week we are forecasted to have 4 days over 40 degrees!!!  Heatwave!!!;)  We will make it!  I'm pretty sure that Spring will be appreciated in an entirely new way this year in New England!

"Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off."
-Proverbs 23:18

Saturday, February 28, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday on a Saturday!

Well...A day late and a dollar short seems to be my life's motto!  My Friday Quick takes are a little late...but I do have a good reason!

#1:  Involuntary Penances

Those involuntary penances just keep on rolling!  Over last weekend I had symptoms of a UTI, went to the doctor's, got antibiotics, then a call later in the week that it wasn't a UTI and probably something called cytosis.(which, from what I understand thanks to Google, mimics a UTI but is not caused by bacteria and there are a host of reasons why it can happen.)  I have a follow-up on Wednesday...sigh.  #Lent

I got the van stuck in the middle of our street this week just backing out of the driveway! The back wheels were just spinning.  A fed-ex truck ended up behind me and the man was kind enough to help me shovel out from around the tires and help me put down some sand!  I was very grateful!

Yesterday, I got a phone call at 3am from my grandfather because he was feeling really shaky and dizzy and Felt that he had to go to the hospital.  My parents are out of town, so I got to his house before the ambulance came and spent the morning with him in the ER.  They ran all kinds of tests and everything came out normal.  He was feeling better, so they sent him home around 10:30.  Once I got him settled, I ran to the grocery store then headed home and crashed!  I was very grateful that my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law helped Jay get the kids to school and watched Kate so he could go to work AND picked up Luke from school and watched the littles until after 3 so that I could take a much needed nap!  I was also grateful that my sister came to the hospital to hang out with me!   

I'm hoping for a little less excitement this weekend!

#2:  What Brothers Are For

Kate:  Come on Jon.  You are my have to dance with me!
...and Jon obliged because who can turn down such a cute partner!

#3: The Obsession Continues!
Most of the day, Luke can be found creating Star Wars ships and humming the Star Wars Theme Song.  (Like right at this moment...I can hear it from the other room!)  He loves all things Star Wars!

#4:  #toomuchstarwars!

The other day, Luke and Kate were having a Lightsaber battle...which they call "Lightsavers".:)
Kate:  You killed my fadda!
Luke:  I am your father!
(I told you he was obsessed...and he drags his little sister in, too!:)

#5:  100th Day of School
Thursday was the pre-schooler's 100th day of school!  They celebrated with a pizza party and made these cute hats!  They also did a poster board project which I forgot to take a picture of!  I am not a good project person...and forgot about it until the last minute!(bad parent award!)  Luke was talking about some of the other kids' projects whose parents had passed them in early(......).  In particular, there was a drawn fishbowl with 100 glued goldfish crackers inside.  But no pressure!  I had Ellie search the art cabinet for stickers...because, I swear, everything I glue falls off!....and all she came up with were Anna and Elsa stickers and Easter stickers!  So...Easter stickers it was!  I had Sarah draw a basket and Jon helped Luke count out the stickers in groups of 10 and glue them on.  (See...having a large family has its benefits!:)

#6: He Said
We were watching The Middle on Wednesday night.  There was a scene where a smooch occurred.
Luke:  Can we skip this?  I don't like the "woman parts".
(Jay and Jon thought that was just hysterical!)

#7:  Missing Men
Our parish is holding a Men's Retreat Day today so most of my friends and I are flying solo.   I hope it's a meaningful day for all of them....and that they come back refreshed and ready to take over so us women can run away for a couple of hours and eat chocolate and some yummy appetizers!  (I think it's a fair trade off!) 

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

34 Days To Go!'s your Lent going?  How are you handling all of those involuntary penances?

We've had our share of involuntary penances around here this week, too!

One of the things that I added into my life in an attempt to grow(at least a little!) during Lent was the daily Dynamic Catholic emails.  Some days they have been quotes and some days short videos.  I am really enjoying them!

Yesterday's 3 minute video was a good one...and a challenging one!  The topic was "Stinking Thinking" with the broken philosophies of Individualism, Hedonism, Minimalism, Relativism and their fruits...such as selfishness, isolation, laziness, procrastination, gluttony, mediocrity, and hopelessness(just to name a few that spoke to me).

This winter has been hard, cold, snowy and L.O.N.G.!  Being stuck inside for weeks and having all kinds of winter paraphernalia everywhere....gloves, boots, hats and snow pants!...makes everything in the house feel cluttered and claustrophobic!  I have found that I just don't have the motivation to thoroughly clean and organize everything that needs to be addressed in the house.  We've had too many busy Saturdays so all the inside projects that we have put off until winter are still not being accomplished!  I find phrases like "Why bother" and "It's just too big to tackle" swimming around my head a little too often lately!  It's easier to just shut a door than deal with what needs to be done!

Well, after listening to that video yesterday morning, I did a (mostly) thorough cleaning of Peter's room...which is also home to all of Luke's Legos, the little kids' books, stuffed animals, and what ever else gets brought in there!  The rug has been in great need of a good vacuum for a while!   But it's been one of those rooms I've just shut the door to rather than deal with it!

It's still not perfect now!  It's much more organized, though, and better for the kids to play in!  What I love about an organized room is the sense of peace I feel when I walk into it!

Now I have to tackle my room!!!(insert wailing and gnashing of teeth!)

Last night, I was reading The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis and something I read stuck out to me and seemed to tie into the video from the morning:  "Living Holy Week means....following and accompanying Christ, staying with him, demands "coming out of ourselves", requires us to be outgoing; to come out of a dreary way of living faith that has become a habit, out of the temptation to withdraw into our own plans, which end by shutting out God's creative action."(pgs.72-73)

That "dreary way" feels like the dreary winter we are enduring and the lack of inspiration or motivation to do much of anything!  I have given into the desire to hibernate a little too much!  Laziness and procrastination have taken up residence!  Getting back on track isn't easy!  It's certainly something I can offer up this Lent as I attempt to re-organize and re-energize my house....even though I would rather stay in hibernation mode!)

Good think I have about 34 more days to work on it!

Oh...and if you're interested you can find the "Stinking Thinking" talk here!  You can also find Dynamic Catholic here.  Sign up for your daily dose of's free!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jon!

Today is a special day!  Jon has entered his last year of being a teenager!  I can't believe it has been 19 years since he was first placed in my arms!

It has always amazed me how different my kids' personalities are and how early they shine through!  Jon was always a very attached little guy.  As a baby, he was the first child I successfully nursed, and that gave us a special connection!  He was always a professional cuddler!  My grandmother used to love to just sit in a rocking chair with him snuggled on her lap and watch movies with him!

While he certainly doesn't cuddle with us anymore, Jon is still the one who gives daily hugs and is outwardly affectionate with our family.   I think it's a good thing!:)

Jon has always been the resident teaser!  That character trait showed itself as soon as he could walk!  A very vivid memory of Jon...which I've shared before so sorry for being redundant!...was walking towards the boys' bedroom because I heard complaining and Jon came "toddler running" out of the room with a toy cow in his hand and a look of sheer exhilaration and mischief on his face!  One look at that face and I knew we were in trouble!

Jon is laid-back with a very outgoing personality!  He has adjusted well to a demanding schedule as a mechanical engineering major at our local university.  He continues to alter serve at our parish and spends his free time napping, hanging out with his friends, spending time with his girlfriend(who is very nice:), playing Legos with Luke, watching Sportscenter(he is a huge Boston fan...especially the Patriots and Red Sox), and teasing his siblings!(some things never change;)

Jay and I are so proud of the young man he is becoming!(although sometimes I miss the chubby toddler he used to be!)

A brand new baby with no name...(that's a baby name book on my lap!)
We only had a girls name when he was born!

Happy baby!
Jon with Memere on his 1st birthday

He started his Smartfood addiction early..but look at those cheeks and big brown eyes!

With his school mascot

Some Father/son time at Fenway

Jon and Marisa

Happy Birthday, Jon!  We love you:)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thoughts on Lent

1.  Cravings
Do you notice that on fast and abstinence days you are waaaaay hungrier than any other day?  Why is it that on abstinence day our bodies just seem to need meat?!?  It's such a head game!  We tell our bodies 'no' and they react like small children that find a toy they never really touch in the giveaway pile...all of a sudden it's their favorite.thing.ever!


#2.  Sacrifices
Every year is the challenge to figure out WHAT to give up for Lent! Sometimes I forget to take the next step.  It isn't just about giving up the (food, music, sleep, coffee, etc.)'s about adding something in to fill the void!  For example, let's say I give up desserts and all I spend my time doing is thinking about what I can't have.  You know that when you give up desserts, everyone around you will be bringing in goodies to share!  Then the mantra in your head starts..."I gave up desserts.  I gave up desserts.  I gave up desserts."  Then the weakness sets in and you try to find some way that those brownies or donuts could be classified as something other than "dessert".  When that fails, you start thinking that maybe you should just switch what you gave up for Lent.  Obviously your original thinking was flawed. 

There were times in the past that this "logical argument" won over and I gave in!

I've mostly gotten stronger about these temptations...and it's all about changing your thinking.  As much as I may want to stuff my mouth with whatever chocolate goodness is in front of me, I now see it as an opportunity to get extra grace out of a sacrifice!  Giving up dessert is a good sacrifice, but it's a lot harder to give up dessert when it's right in front of you! In my mind, more difficulty and re-affirming my decision to give up something with the temptation in front of me= more grace for the person I'm offering up the sacrifice in the first place! #moregraceforthewin!

#3:  Enjoy the Cartoons

Lent - A Claudia Cartoon

#4:  Hooray For Lent
Yeah...that's not quite how I feel!  I know that Lent is an opportunity to give ourselves a "spiritual check-up" and tweak the sloppiness that has sneaked in over the year.  I also know that God provides lots of involuntary penances during Lent.  While those involuntary penances are certainly opportunities to grow in holiness....they usually aren't all that fun!  I'm definitely a spiritual lightweight...something else to add to the list to work on!

#5:  A Little Help is one of many sites that is offering free daily messages to help make Lent more fruitful!  I subscribed to it, and the video that was in my inbox today was a good one!

Part of the 6 minute talk that struck me...
"Everything makes sense in relation to God's Dream. When we feel like life isn't making sense, it's usually because we've lost sight of God's vision for our lives.  God wants us to choose the best version of ourselves....will we choose God's dream or the modern culture's nightmare?"  

Yeah...I could probably spend all of Lent on those few sentences!

#6:  Sharing With Our Kids
There are so many great ideas for helping our kids understand Lent floating around social media!  It always amazes me that, even after 22 years of parenting, I can still read what other moms do during Lent, (or any other time of the year), and the Bad Mommy Guilt starts to seep in!  I am not a craft loving person!  Most days, cooking, cleaning, and laundry consume my whole day!  Even after 22 years I have to remind myself that what other moms choose to do with and for their children doesn't mean that it's right for me.  There are seasons of life when I have more energy and inspiration than others.  Being honest about where I am on the inside is important!  Even if what I add in for teachable moments isn't as much as what the "perfect mother in my head" would do, that doesn't make me a bad mom!  Reality is that a little bit done with love...and a sane, calm the best choice for me and my family!  (I really need to write that down and read it every would save a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth!(for me!))



Happy weekend!:)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The First Day of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday...the beginning of a new Lent!  In Lent pasts, I have spent time on this blog talking about involuntary penances, a.k.a penances you don't "volunteer" for that God so kindly provides.  These involuntary penances happen all the time...even when it isn't Lent.  Yet, I find that they happen quite a bit more between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday!

Every Lent begins the dialogue in my mind about what I want to give up. (Usually food related since that's where many of my weaknesses lie!)  Then there's the dialogue in my head of what to add.  (This year it's to consistently say a family rosary and read a spiritual book...St. John Paul the Great by Jason Evert is the book that I feel led to read.)

Beyond that, it's to humbly accept and work through all those involuntary penances that come up every day.  So far, Lent has not disappointed me! (lol)  Peter was up and ready to go at 5am.  I attended Ash Wednesday Mass with Peter, Luke, and Kate with only Sarah and Ellie for back-up where Peter kept being obnoxious, Kate whined because I didn't bring gummies, and Luke was just his normally, wiggly 5 year old self!  Jon's car didn't pass inspection and has a multiple item list that needs to be attended to...or a car that needs to be replaced!  Sarah got a migraine right before dinner.  Jay and Jon went to the 7pm Mass so clean-up and bath-time fell in my court because my right-hand girl was in the dark on the couch!

It's Lent for sure!  Even though there were lots of involuntary penances to go around, that just means there were lots of opportunities for Grace to be had, too!  I will be the first to admit I wasn't perfect...but I wasn't a colossal failure either!  Patience and trust are always things I need to work on!
So, onto Day 2 we go!

(How did the first day of Lent go for you?!?)

Monday, February 16, 2015

S.O.S.: Stop (the) Oppressive Snow!

Well, the 8-10 inches of snow that was in our forcast for Saturday to Sunday turned into 22 inches(!)...with drifts 3 feet +!   There is just snow everywhere!  Another 1-5 inches is predicted for tomorrow and possibly more on the weekend!  This has been a rough several weeks for New England!

I will just end up whining my way through this post, so I will let the pictures speak the story!
There used to be stairs leading out the door!

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Snow more than halfway up the sliders, now!

Jay shoveling a path to get to the snowblower!

Look at the size of those icicles!

A few more inches and we will have an inground pool!

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Ellie stuck in the deep snow!


Icicle Harpoons?!?

At least they were having fun...I'm not sure they did much shoveling!

 I don't know where the knob is to turn off the snow machine but I sure wish someone would find it!