Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Simple But Special

It's been such a crazy week so far.  It is so nice having a "normal" routine today.  Of course, it is Halloween, so the schedule isn't completely normal!

I have to say that I am feeling emotionally discombobulated.(I really like that word!)  Things seem to have been on fast forward lately.  It's challenging having a toddler and an infant at home and trying to get anything done.  It's difficult doing the college visits and knowing that a big change is coming soon.( x 2 since both Andrew and Mike are doing the college search).  It's been so busy with soccer and cross country schedules...which are winding down thankfully.....but just as basketball season begins.(That's our true busy season with 4 kids that play..and Andrew runs Track!  Ugh...gives me some anxiety just thinking about it!)

We are sliding into the holiday season, which I love.  But, I struggle between finding a balance between trying to make things special and trying to do too much.  And there is the whole "staying on a budget" issue.  That's a tough one for me.  Each year I've gotten a little better, but I have to make a conscious effort to just.stop.buying.  Again, I want each of my kids to feel special.  I want the gifts to make them feel loved.  It's so much harder as they get older.  I'm blessed that our kids aren't materialistic.  (So are they because they would be sorely disappointed...lol).  Mostly, they don't really ask for anything specific.   They say to surprise them, which is so much harder than it sounds.

(Although Jon asked for toys this year!  He's feeling nostalgic and missing the Christmas excitement of his pre-teen years.)

I always wrestle with the desire to be simple...a couple special gifts and a fun stocking(all shopped for before Advent even starts so I can focus on and encourage the spiritual side of Christmas) vs. feeling like it's all "enough".  Inevitably, it's much easier to shop for certain kids...especially the girls and the little ones...and I worry that I didn't get enough "special" for the kids that I don't have the best ideas for.

Simple but Special is a great motto!...and one I really want to commit to this year!

It's easy to get caught up in the commercialization of it all.  Shopping online or in stores brings products in front of my eyes I never would have seen otherwise...so many of them "cute" or "something so-and-so would  love".  I'm always tempted for that "one more little thing"....which leads to guilt if it's too many "one more little things" when the bill comes in!  I would really like to avoid that this year.

There are signs in my life that things need to change.  My desire to lose weight vs my lack of healthy choices and not making the effort to make the time to exercise.  That has got to change...but I have to commit to changing it for more than a few days!  Jay's stress levels have increased with the changes in his job due to changes in Medicare and are not good.  I know that needs to change....and the only way it can is to re-vamp some of our budgeting.  God provides...we just need to make very good choices with what is given to us if we will be able to keep all the kids in the Catholic schools that we feel God has chosen for them to be at.  Some sacrifices are challenging, but worth it.

We also need to continue with the efforts to organize our home.  We're off to a good start, but we certainly have a ways to go!

Thankfully, each day is a new day.  But, I need to have more of a plan and a goal for all the areas of concern in my life.  Otherwise, each week passes by without change and just adds stress and discouragement.

Prayer, a plan, goals, prayer, focus, prayer....that's where I'm headed.  I'm honestly looking forward to the structure..and to the inner peace that always comes from putting God first and letting Him lead!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let There Be Light

It's been a long 24 hours of no power!  It just came back on a very short time ago...and it was welcomed by our whole house!

I have to say that yesterday, I really did ok with the lack of power.  I kept my outlook positive and tried to focus on the little things.  We got things to work as best they could.

Seeing the older boys pull out the big bins of Legos and all creating together, (except Mike who never really did get into Legos), was pretty heartwarming.  How often do you see teenagers, elementary school kids and a toddler all enjoying something together?(and with minimal fighting!)

Dinner was a bit of a challenge, but we grilled bbq chicken and I made a salad.  Eating by candlelight with all the kids is definitely not romantic(or all that much fun) and included lots of warnings to not blow out the candles(Luke and Peter) and to not lean over the flame and set their hair on fire.(Sarah and Ellie).

My parents had an extra small generator that we were able to hook our fridge up to so we didn't lose the food.  We went over to their house after supper to watch a movie..which was great.  Otherwise it would have been a really long night for the little ones!

Bath time by flash light was interesting.  Luke and I had fun making shadow puppets on the shower walls.

The time without power wasn't all bad.  We even had a built in night light from the very full moon outside our windows once the showers passed.

I have to say, though, that waking up to no power again this morning made it much harder to stay positive.  All of the kids' schools cancelled again.  Some of them were grumpy about the lack of power, too.  The morning seemed to drag. Kids were starting to get on each others' nerves.  I was feeling overwhelmed.

It wasn't horrible, but I'm definitely glad our time without power has ended!  I would have made a terrible pioneer!


Monday, October 29, 2012

A Rather Blustery Day

We have quite the windy Monday here.  The gusts are definitely picking up this afternoon...only to get worse as the evening progresses.  We lost power for a couple of hours due to a tree taking out some wires up the road for us.  Thankfully, it was fixed and, at least for now, we are able to use all our electronic devices.

So far the kids are being good sports.  The initial joy of having an extra day off started to fade a little.  For the most part, everyone is still happy and not driving each other crazy.(Yet!)

Who would have thought that the end of October would include a hurricane!  So crazy!

I will be glad when Jay arrives home shortly.  He was stubborn and insisted on working for a while.  Mike had to work at his local hardware store job, too, but he should be home soon as well.

This is another Living in the Moment moment....not easy to have everyone home and stuck inside, especially without power, but it's the moment that I'm living.  I'm trying to make the most of it.  For today, there are low expectation and lots of little prayers for protection for my family and my neighbors and everyone that will be touched by Hurricane Sandy.  Things could be so much worse.

And, like Andrew said, if the power goes out again we will have to make the sacrifice and make sure the ice cream doesn't go to waste!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Bliss

I love, love, love, lazy fall afternoons.  Hubby is getting in a much deserved nap, baby is sleeping, Peter's playing at my dad's house, the football game is on, we've had some yummy game time food (quesadillas, taco dip, cupcakes Sarah made herself from scratch, and later on, some homemade apple crisp), and we're all together.

Momentary bliss!

Definitely enjoying this moment!

I hope you are having a rejuvenating Sunday, too!  I'm so grateful God gave us a day to rest!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Joys of Teenagers

Okay, everyone!  It's Friday(hooray:)!  And another full day for me...but, in reality, what day isn't?

I'm joining in with 5 Minute Friday again!  Today's word is:

Voice

Talking to teenagers/young adults is a true challenge.  They are growing up and ready to start stepping out and making some of their own decisions and taking on more responsibility.  But they don't always have the best judgement.  When you try to help them correct their judgement, it seems to turn into a battle of wills and "You don't trust me" type comments.  Sometimes, for both parents and teens, it's so hard to truly "hear" what's being said!

We had a recent encounter over an issue that we felt was unsafe but Mike's opinion differed.  There was quite a bit of strife over it all.

One of the biggest struggles was how to use our voice in a way that would help him to understand where we were coming from and not just turn into a yelling match that had the possibility of developing family riffs!

In the end, Jay's calmness and honesty was able to break through Mike's previous porcupine demeanor.  It was a moment of grace from prayer and the Holy Spirit!  Previous exchanges about the subject always ended with hurt feelings and frustration for all of us.

It is hard to find the line between when to stand firm on what we think about a given situation and when it's time to give in and compromise as kids become young adults.  Definitely one of those difficult parenting moments for sure!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

One Moment at a Time

Thank-you to everyone's congratulations on our special anniversary yesterday!  If you missed my post to my husband on our 20th anniversary, just click here!  I am still working on wrapping my head around 20 years of marriage....I think it might take me most of this year !:)

There are so many ups and downs in life.  We have friends that are struggling financially and with job issues and with teenage issues.  We have a couple of bumpy patches ourselves right now....trying to be consistent with a difficult three year old, a child struggling with his faith and praying like crazy to figure out what we are supposed to "do" to help, and we need to have Jon looked over because his heart occasionally starts racing for no reason.  Sometimes it's just so hard being a mom!

Strangely, despite my heavy heart today, there is an underlying peace.  I guess that Jay said it best today, "These are opportunities for us to grow in trust."  That's definitely true.  Somehow, He always works things out, even when I can't see the next step clearly.

I'm trying to live in the moment today and take care of my family and trying to give everyone what they need.  Week 4 of the Fall Challenge I have been trying to do is to spend more time with my family...truly focusing on their individual needs.  With the number of individuals in this house, that is definitely a challenge.  Even though I am no where near doing it perfectly, I'm trying to be more present to each of them as the opportunity presents itself.  For instance, giving eye contact and really listening when they are talking, taking time to play with Luke throughout the day when he asks, snuggles with Kate.  I'm also trying to listen(and respond) to God's quiet, inner promptings to go the extra step and plan things if he puts it on my heart.  I need to fit in a trip to the mall to get Ellie some Halloween earrings...she got them pierced in September and is ready to take out the studs.  Plus, it will give us some 1:1 time which is definitely overdue.  She's also got a project due next week that I need to help her plan.

Sounds easy...but it isn't when I have to work around the school Halloween party Friday night which Sarah, as an 8th grader, has done all the planning for so it's an important event for her.(and the 8th grade parents have to help at...still not really sure how I'm going to manage that one between Jay's work schedule, needing to watch Luke and Kate at the party, Jon having an away soccer game, and Andrew being the mascot at the Homecoming football game.)  And a Saturday which will be completely full between a college open house with Andrew in the morning and early afternoon, a birthday party for Ellen's friend in the afternoon,  and Homecoming Dances for Jon and Andrew at night...at two different schools!  Andrew is attending the dance at his girlfriend's school an hour a way!

Why is everything always on the same night!!!

Busy...but all good things!  Lots of opportunities to fill the emotional tanks of my kids with love!  It's definitely an opportunity to Live in the Moment through the eyes of faith and enjoy each aspect of real life with our children at all the different stages they are at!  We will get there...one moment at a time.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And rely not on your own understanding:
 In all your ways acknowledge him, And he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-7

Beautiful Thursdays

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Twenty Years in the Blink of an Eye!

Today is my 20th Wedding Anniversary!!!  I have no idea how twenty years(!) could possibly have gone by!  The dates don't lie, though, so 20 years it is!  Amazing....

Jay and I officially met in high school, but our lives crossed paths many times before then.  We were born 8 days apart in the same hospital.  We both grew up in the same town, but he went to the town's public school and I went to the Catholic school.  Our families both belonged to the same parish, so we made our First Communions and Confirmations together.  In fact, we were both chosen to read at our Confirmation...which is kind of a funny coincidence.

In high school, we sat next to each other in English class since both our last names started with "H".  Jay was rather quiet...and me, well, not so much!  I teased him a lot!

We both ended up being members of the swim team at our high school and at the local Y.  Jay also ended up being best friends with one of my best guy friends from elementary school.  We spent a lot of time together and dated through most of high school starting the summer before sophomore year.(With only two brief "intermissions", we were together that whole time.)

We ended up getting married sooner than we thought we would.  Although those first few years were a little crazy between college, 3 babies, and grad school for Jay, we grew and changed along the way....then had a few more babies and grew and changed along the way...then had a couple more babies and are continuing to grow and change.  We blinked, and somehow 20 year went by!



In honor of our anniversary, I'd like to dedicate this special post to my husband.....

My Top Twenty for our Twentieth!

#20:  Jay works incredibly hard for our family.
Even though being a husband and father began sooner than expected, Jay has always worked incredibly hard to take care of us.  When he was in college, he was incredibly focused knowing that his grades and ability to get into grad school meant everything if he was going to be able to provide for his family.  He had his sights set on being a physical therapist, which was an incredibly difficult program to get in to.  Jay worked so hard that he got into all three programs that he applied to!  Then he spent two and a half years commuting to Boston and working his butt off in order to finish his degree.  All his spare time was spent with me and our three little boys.  He graduated into a field that had just been decimated by Medicare changes, but, God provided.  Jay received a full time job offer the day after I found out I was pregnant with Sarah!  And he still works incredibly hard with both a full time and a per diem job to take care of all of us!

#19:  Jay is incredibly faithful.
Jay has always remained right by my side during all the highs and lows of the last 20 years.  I don't have any specific statistics, but my guess is that we are in the minority of marriages that survived getting married and having a child(and then children) so young, going through the tragedy of losing a child, and then having a child diagnosed with moderate to severe autism.  There were also a couple of years that I suffered through pretty severe depression...and Jay not only did his part, but also picked up most of mine!  We carried quite a few crosses over these 20 years...through God's grace, we've always made it through together.

#18:  Jay is incredibly faith-filled.
Jay's faith has always been so much stronger than my own.  I'm embarrassed about it now, but when we were first married, I would often tease him about his prayer life.  Thankfully, God clunked me over the head before too long, so faith has been another walk that we have done together over (most of) these 20 years!

#17:  Jay is an incredible father.
Jay is a great father...and a great daddy!  He loves each of his children immensely.  He has spent countless hours over the years playing on the floor with little ones, playing pretend with toddlers, playing games with school age children, coaching, teaching them sports, working on projects, rearranging his work schedule to go to all the teenagers' home games and many of their away games, dropping everything when kids or teens need to talk, etc., etc.  He is a true 'daddy' and his relationships with each of his kids reflects that...even during the messy teen moments that occur occasionally!

#16:  Jay is incredibly patient.
Jay is so much more patient when it comes to the kids...or even just life in general.  That's not to say that he never loses his temper...but it doesn't happen very often.

#15:  Jay does the dishes.
'nuff said!

#14:  Jay cleans the bathroom.
When we got married, there were two things that were very important to me.  First, that we would eat dinner together as a family almost every night.  And second, that Jay would clean the toilet.  I grew up in a home where my dad cleaned the toilets.  For whatever reasons, cleaning toilets really gross me out.(But I have cleaned them occasionally)    And, to be truthful, the boys spend way more time using the toilet than the girls.  Plus, boys don't always have good aim...so it seems only fair that they clean it.  But I appreciate it!

#13:  Jay has a great hobby.
Jay has a great hobby that he doesn't get to do nearly as often as he would like to.  Jay does woodworking.  He uses his math skills that he inherits from his dad to re-create pieces of furniture that I find(but can't afford) and then makes them for a fraction of the cost(and out of better wood!).  So far, Jay has made 2 bunk beds, a bureau, a sideboard, a kitchen table, an island, a bookshelf, small cabinets, large(massive) cabinets, our bathroom vanity, and is currently planning our new kitchen.  The new kitchen will probably be a 5 year plan, but it's exciting nonetheless!

#12:  Jay lets me indulge in my love for shopping without complaint.
Occasionally he may raise an eyebrow, but he is very generous when it comes to getting things for the kids...and for me.  I really try to stay out of stores because it usually doesn't end well.  I have gotten better at only getting what everyone needs.  (Except maybe when I shop for Kate at Gymboree!  But I've been doing better with that...well, mostly!)  Yesterday we walked around at some outlet stores on the way home, and I stopped when the money was out!  I got a few tops for me and then we went into the Stride Rite Outlet store.  Kate needed a pair of 'first walker' shoes.  I found a cute little pair that Kate grabbed immediately and got all excited over.  Jay doesn't think that bodes well for the future.  He even indulged my find of a pair of super cute boots for Kate.  (It was buy one, get one 50% off after all!)

#11:  Jay is willing to watch sappy chick flicks just to make me happy.
Jay's favorite movies are filled with action and danger.  Not me.  I am a happy ending with everyone's body parts intact kind of gal.  I have a lot of natural fear and anxiety so stressful movies give me nightmares!  While we don't really get a chance to watch that many movies together, they are often of the romantic comedy kind.  What is Jay's most heroic sacrifice re: movies over these 20 years?  When I was very pregnant with Peter, and struggling with depression, Jay went out and bought the 6 episode BBC film Pride and Prejudice...plus Sense and Sensibility and Emma.(And watched them with me multiple times!)

#'s 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, & 2:
I hope that no one considers this cheating, but our children are definitely the greatest fruit of our marriage.  While both of us always said we wanted a big family, sometimes we are truly shocked that God has entrusted us with all of these blessings.  Our sons, and all of our daughters, have shaped us in ways only children can!





(The group pics of the girls and boys were taken by Deanna DiMarzio of DiMarzio Photography.  She has done a fabulous job of capturing our family over the past couple of years!)



Drum roll, please....................

#1:  I am truly married to my best friend.
I can't imagine my life without him.  He (truly) completes me. 



Happy Anniversary, Jay!  I'm glad we are on this crazy ride called life together!  I wouldn't want it any other way!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Special Couple Time

Jay and I had a great day yesterday!  Our 20th Wedding Anniversary is tomorrow, but, due to babysitting help, it was easier to spend Monday together, so Jay took yesterday off.

The weather was perfect!  (Thank-you, God:)  We drove about an hour and a half to the Wayside Inn to have lunch and enjoy the grounds on a beautiful fall day.  The Wayside Inn is the oldest operating Inn in the country!  It's began it's life as an inn in 1716.  There is also a "Little Red Schoolhouse"(1798), a small church(built 1940), and a grist mill(built 1929) on the 125 acre property that is owned by the inn.

Kate slept the entire ride up to the inn, so Jay and I were able to enjoy the entire ride with uninterrupted conversation...a real luxury in our world!  The Inn's restaurant was really pretty, decorated in pieces from the time period it was built in.  Everyone there was very nice!  We had a great lunch.  I had a lobster roll and chowder and Jay had the pot roast(one of the Inn's specialty meals).  Kate enjoyed pieces of bread, yogurt I had brought her, and some of Jay's potatoes and squash.  Kate was such a good girl and got lots of attention from both the wait staff and the other diners.


After lunch, we walked around the beautiful grounds.  First, we walked over to the schoolhouse.  You can see it in the background of this beautiful tree.(It really is little!)

After Kate played in the leaves...
...we walked over to the church.
(Did you notice that they have the same grin? :)
There was a man taking pictures near the church who was nice enough to take some pictures of us:)


Then we walked over to the grist mill.  It was such a beautiful spot!  There were two couples taking pictures, a bride and groom taking pictures, a woman having pictures taken of her pregnant belly, as well as a few amateur photographers wandering around.  I could understand why with the beautiful scene surrounded by incredible foliage.

 I love Kate's expression!
And look at this view of the pond!

After a quick stop for some caffeine at Honey Dew, we ended our day with a little shopping on the way home.  It was so nice to spend the day together!  
(.......more on our anniversary tomorrow!)

 
The Coffee Shop

Monday, October 22, 2012

Excited for Monday!!!!

I am very excited today for a couple of reasons!

Jay took the day off today so that we can spend the day together(with Kate:) celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary! Our actual anniversary is Wednesday, but my parents have Mondays off to help with the other kiddos, so we decided to spend the day together today.  I cannot believe that it's been 20 years.  I can't believe that I'm old enough to be married 20 years....reality is popping my denial bubble for sure this year!  Stay tuned....I will be sharing more on our 20th on Wednesday.

The other reason I'm excited today is because I am doing a guest blog for the very first time!!!  Today, my post will appear at Julia's place....There's No Wine in Mom.  Love that name:)  I'm sharing a post about some of the things that I've learned from Disney movies.  It's a fun one....and will hopefully bring back some great childhood memories and entertain you while reading how a certain fish and a lion could be so thought provoking!

So....please click on the link below and head on over to There's No Wine in Mom:)  I hope you enjoy it!

Http://www.wineinmom.blogspot.com/2012/10/normal-chaos-guest-post.html

Sunday, October 21, 2012

~~~~~Boundaries~~~~~

Jay and I have been working hard lately on the issue of boundaries with a couple of the kids lately....namely, Mike and Luke.  With Mike being close to 20 and in his second year of college, there's a lot of tugging going on by him and by us on expectations and limits.  While Mike is a good kid, his decisions are not always stellar because of lack of life experience and that teenage attitude of invincibility.  Mike often makes me think of a poster that hung in the bathroom at one of my first jobs..."Quick, teenagers, move out now while you still know everything!"

The worries of parents of teenagers exhaust me.  I want my teens to have responsible fun and have friends that will share in that fun.  There's only so much control we have with Mike and his decisions...and that control is decreasing rapidly.  It has to.  He is almost an adult and needs to learn to make decisions as an adult.  But is he ready?  There's just so much at stake.  Many "grown-up" choices have severe consequences and I SO want him to choose the right path.

As a mom, I walk on a slippery slope.  Suggest too much and you push them to do the opposite...suggest too little and I'm not being a good parent.

There's all the doubt:  Did I do enough?  Did I do too much?

Sometimes, teenagers can make you feel like such a failure as a parent!  They definitely make you pray more...because there is no way I am making it through this stage alone!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Attacking the Clutter!

Today has been a very busy, but productive, day.

I started the day off early with a small Bible Study group that a new friend has started.  When I got home, Jay ran off to do an errand for the youth group and then a trip to the local hardware store.  By the time he got home, it was time to make lunch...which Jay volunteered to do:)

After lunch, Jay helped me tackle our bedroom.  We de-cluttered and Jay shredded and sorted and put things away in the attic.  After a couple of hours(!), it looks so much better.  I still have to re-organize our file folder of paperwork because one of our little ones made a mess of it.  I also still have 'picture world' to sort through...thanks to Peter(and my own disorganization)!  The will take several hours, if not longer, to sort through.  But it was a great start today and at least all the pictures are in one box.  (Except for the bag of pictures I have hidden from Peter in my closet...and the one in my drawer...and the one in the cabinet!)

It's so much easier, and faster, to tackle a clutter problem with an extra set of hands!  Thanks, honey:)

Oh...and did I mention that right now he's helping me make an apple crisp and quessadillas for a potluck we are going to?  Yeah...he's pretty great;)  I'm a lucky woman:)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Look

Five Minute Friday....
The word is
Look

Look at the crazy mom who can't seem to get her act together.
Look the 3 year old that is driving the crazy mom even crazier with the constant mischievousness!
Look at the baby that has finally taken not only one, but TWO, good naps in the same day.  Guess several days of bad naps and a couple rough nights will do that!  Maybe those teeth have finally come through.  I will have to check it out when she wakes up.
Look at the teenagers all going in different directions....school, soccer,  basketball, cross country, work.  
Look at the crazy mom trying to keep track of it all!
Look at the 9 year old who has so much paperwork for the crazy mom to look over....grades from the week, yet another fundraiser, field trip forms to finish...
Look at the 11 year old who just keeps asking for another snack, in sentences using the wrong pronoun..."Do you want a muffin?"..."Do you want a pear?"  I answer, "No, thank-you, Peter."  

And he just laughs and asks again!



Five Minute Friday

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Soaking or Skimming?

As a busy parent, do you ever feel like you are just skimming over life?  Each day can be so filled-to-the-brim that we just skim along the surface of life getting to each activity, each chore, each meal, each clean-up until the end of the day comes and we lay down exhausted in bed trying to figure out where the day went.

It's like skipping rocks on the surface of the water.  If we get good wrist action, the rock can skip 4, 5, or more times across the water until it sinks.  That's just like us everyday.  If we get a good night sleep, or have so much to do that we have no choice but to keep going, we skip along our to-do list until we "sink" into bed each night.(Or fall asleep on the couch as soon as we sit down!  That happens a lot in our house!)

Wanting to Live in the Moment has helped me to look at my life in a different way.  It's taking a lot of effort to keep my mind on the task at hand and not just push forward in my mental to-do list.  I have such limited opportunities to do anything with my complete attention that I'm always trying to squash too much into those moments.

I want to change that.  I want to try and soak in what I read....not just skim over the words to get to the end.  I want to soak in the moments with my baby and toddler....not just squeeze them into my day filled with cleaning and cooking and taxi service.  I want to give my complete focus to the older kids when they share about their day.  I want to be an encouraging and calming voice to my husband when he comes home after a crazy day of work.

There's so much I need to adjust in my own way of thinking and doing things that it can feel so overwhelming that I just want to give up!

So, for today, I am choosing to just focus on today!  I'm going to embrace being home today and do my best to enjoy my moments with the munchkins and enjoy getting my to do list done as the opportunities present themselves....and it definitely won't be on my time table!

I really need to figure out a way that keeps our home in more order and works for our family.  With two little ones at home all the time, and teenagers that are super busy between school, sports, and working, what I can accomplish has changed a lot.  I haven't adjusted.  I keep waiting for things to change enough that I can go back into my old schedule of home cleaning/organization.  It's not going to happen.  We have entered into a "new normal".  Things won't be "back" to the way they were...so I need to move forward, too.


Beautiful Thursdays

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just.Here.Waiting

I sat in church this morning for a little while, trying to soak up the "Son".  I so needed a chance to re-focus and sit in the quiet to find some peace.  Actually, I probably could have used an entire day of quiet and prayer!

I just feel unsettled lately.  Too much to juggle, not enough sleep, too much stress, lots of fear filled nightmares...it's starting to take its toll.  Sometimes everyone's needs around here are so much more plentiful than my own energy level.

What's the lesson I'm supposed to be working on right now?  It's one of those moments when I need to shrink my world because my functioning level is nowhere near capacity.  I need some emotional recharging and I'm just not sure how to get it.

So I'm waiting on the One who knows me better than I know myself.  I'm waiting for understanding of my feelings and directions as to what to do about them.

Just.here.waiting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tales From Diaper Land



I thought I would share a comical Living in the Moment exchange that happened last night....

Jay was out, so the kids that were home were helping out a little more than usual.  Sarah was giving Luke a bath and I told Jon to take Kate out of her highchair, undress her, and put her in the tub, too.   So, Jon takes her into the bathroom and a minute later I heard......

Sarah:  "Eeewww...Jon, Jon, Jon she has a poop!"
Sarah and Jon:  giggling and laughing
Jon grabs the wipes and then you hear:

Jon (to Sarah):  "OK, wipe her butt."
Sarah:  "No, you wipe her butt."
Jon:  "No, you wipe her butt."
Sarah:  "No, you wipe her butt."
Jon walks out of the bathroom holding Kate on her belly like he's giving her an airplane ride.  Kate is completely naked...with poop all over her bum!
Jon:  "Mommmmmm....can you wipe her butt?"
So I go into the bathroom and wipe her in that awkward position, explaining as I go how to clean a little girl appropriately.(Which completely embarrasses Jon!  He cannot stand when we talk about body parts.  The medical field is obviously not his calling!  You should have seen Jon's face 2 weeks ago when Luke, naked from his bath and covering his private area so he wouldn't pee on the floor, looked up at us and said, "Mommy, I have stomach balls!"  Jon just shook his head and left the room. lol)

Jon obviously has a dysfunction about changing poop diapers in the wrong position, too.  He tried changing Luke last year standing up against the tub.  All we heard from Jon, (with Sarah helping him that time too), was.."Help"..."Oh, No"..."Ugh"..."There's poop everywhere!"

I'm pretty sure that sometimes Jon tries to do things poorly thinking we won't ask him to do the same task next time!  But, we are on to him, so he doesn't get away with it!  I generally don't ask him to change poopy diapers, though...because it's just not fair to the child being changed!:)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere.....

Mondays are a challenge.  It was a not so stellar night for sleep, so my eyes struggled to open this morning!  The day has to go on no matter how tired I feel!  Somehow, everyone made it out of the house without being too off schedule!

I'm entering into Week 3 of the Making Your home a Haven Challenge from Angell at Passionate and Creative Homemaking.  This week's challenge is to work on:
 CLUTTER

Now, this is a subject that makes me groan!  Clutter is always a challenge for me.  Too much stuff...too little time to clean...too many people that don't clean up after themselves....this has been a sore subject for me lately.  I have tried over the past year to go through our things and donate what we really don't use or throw out the trash(that I don't even know why we have kept!).  Despite my efforts, it often feels like a losing battle!

In fact, I had a little "moment" on this very subject on Friday night.  Things have been extra busy around here between everyday chores, kids' sports, and planning for the first fundraising event of he year for the Senior Youth Group at our church that Jay recently became the leader of.(Which went great...but it was a ton of planning and leg work!)  

My discussion with Jay on Friday was about our need to spend some focused time, once the fundraiser was over, on attacking the clutter in our home.  Because, on my own, I am completely losing the clutter battle.  With a clingy baby and an active toddler, it's a struggle to get the laundry, dishes, and dinner done every day...never mind all the extra areas that need attention!  It's like a fungus that is starting to spread to the whole house.  Being home with all of those trouble areas staring back at me every day is very discouraging.     

I have no desire to live in a show house. (Good thing!)  I just want to be able to have an outward calm in the house at the end of the day because there's a place for everything we actually need....and that the "place" isn't just the corner of my bedroom.  

I also talked to Jay on Friday about the need for a family meeting to remind everyone that cleaning up after oneself is important.  Lately, laziness has reigned with shoes, backpacks, and sports bags being dropped  and forgotten as kids walk through the door.  Cleaning up after taking out snacks or lunch ingredients has become a problem area as well....throwing dirty laundry in the hamper, putting away shaving supplies, not putting dirty dishes in the sink, leaving papers meant for the trash on the counter...I could just go on and on and on!  Each little thing on its own isn't a huge deal....but with 10 people in one house, each little thing can create a mountain! 

Not to mention that, as a mom, I want them to learn to be responsible and considerate with the little things....and not just when they "feel" like it!

My Living in the Moment plan for the week will have to be to focus on what I can do to fix the clutter issue as the moments present themselves throughout the week.  Clutter will also be a subject for instruction and re-focus for all of my kids, and an opportunity for Jay and I to work together to solve some logistics issues as well.  Sometimes just knowing that we have a common goal takes a lot of the pressure off of me(so it doesn't just keep building up and I pop!)

I guess this week's focus on "clutter" is great timing for me!  I think it will take much more than a week...but just starting to head in the right direction will be positive.(and very needed for my sanity!)


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Rest

I'm grateful for Sunday rest.  A (mostly) relaxing day filled with church, playing with  the little ones, spending some time on the photo album, and a late afternoon Pats game.  Football is a bonding experience in our house and something the older boys...and the hubby... really look forward to.

I try to cook something a little fun and different on game day.  Today, Sarah and I made piggies in a blanket, taco dip, and mini burgers on waffle fries.  Everything was devoured so I think they enjoyed it;)

Now, it's half-time, and Jon and Mike have dozed off.  Jay doesn't look too far behind!

I still have (lots of) laundry to fold.  I'm hoping the guys will do the dishes after the game since the girls cooked!  But, I'm trying to enjoy this moment of family time before tomorrow morning comes and we all jump into a new week heading in different directions!

I so need this Sunday rest!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Transformation

Today I will be linking up with Five Minute Friday....the word of the day allows me to embrace another aspect of my Living in the Moment theme...and our schedule is packed today(and tomorrow!) so a 5 minute post fits right in:)

The word of the day is:

RACE

This Tuesday will be Andrew's last home cross country race of the season.  Other than a few state meets coming up, the cross country season is winding down.  It will be a bittersweet moment.  This will be the first of the many "lasts" that will happen for Andrew this year as a Senior.

Cross country is Andrew's favorite sports season.  He has been a captain the last two years.  His three best friends in high school all run cross country with him.  Cross country has been a special part of Andrew's high school life.

I hope he has been able to enjoy each moment in an extra special way this year!  Andrew has grown so much in the last year..and I don't just mean his height.  I have seen him grow from an introvert who spoke minimally to joining clubs and becoming president of the youth group and sharing ideas and trying to lead and encourage the students around him.  

What a transformation!  I am so thankful for the opportunities he has been given and for how he has stepped out of his comfort zone to find and support things that are meaningful to him.

It gives me so much hope for his future...even as I embrace the sadness that comes with a child growing into a young adult and getting ready to step out even more on their own with each passing day!

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Living in the Moment Through the Eyes of Faith

Today, October 11th, marks the beginning of the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church.  A focus on growing in faith will be a special theme starting today and going until the start of Advent, 2013.

This year of faith felt like the missing piece to my own personal puzzle about the direction for my own writing.  The first piece of the puzzle is definitely learning to Live in the Moment...Through the eyes of faith is the second piece of the puzzle.

I want to spend this year focusing on being more open to allowing each moment to be God driven....because I have found that His way is always SO much better than my own.  (Unfortunately, sometimes it takes me a few tries on my own to realize this!)  I want to be more aware of the ways He moves in my life...through the people I encounter, to the things I read, to the teachable moments in my everyday life with my family.

I opened the Bible to Colossians today for inspiration on this journey.  This is what touched me:

"And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you,
asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
to lead a life worthy of the Lord, 
fully pleasing to him, 
bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
May you be strengthened with all power, 
according to his glorious might,
for all endurance and patience with joy,
giving thanks to the father...."(Col. 1:9-12)  

Knowledge of his will for me with HIS wisdom and understanding(not just my own half-baked thoughts!)....leading a life that is worthy and pleasing to the Lord...bearing fruit in all I do for my family, friends, and the people He places in my path...growing in His knowledge and strength...to grow in endurance and patience(I so need this!) with JOY(!!!)  

All in thanksgiving because I know that all those gifts come from Him...I know the fruit from doing things on my own and it isn't pretty!

A year focused on Living in the Moment Through the Eyes of Faith...I think it will be quite an interesting journey!  You are all welcome to join me in whatever way "Faith" means to you!  I hope it will prove to be a very inspiring year!

Beautiful Thursdays

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Creating More Peace in Our Homes


Angell at Passionate and Creative Homemaking has shared the following thoughts for week 2 of the fall challenge to bring peace into our homes.  I know my post from yesterday about being an engaged mom and wife was a lot of info!  (If you missed it, just click here.)  

The ideas from this week's challenges are just as thought provoking!  So if you've had your daily dose of coffee...dive right in!


1. When you feel tempted to raise your voice, use a child’s name in a snarl, furrow your brow into a scowl or speak rapidly in anger…purposely lower your voice to just above a whisper.
Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Focus on gentle words, facial expressions, and touches.
2. Purpose to not let someone else’s anger make you angry.
Many times as a wife and mom, I find myself responding to other’s emotions. Someone in the family is grumpy and two minutes later I’m grumpy too. Someone in the family is speaking harshly and two minutes later I’m speaking harshly too. Purpose to stay in control of your emotions and not let the other members of your family dictate your mood.

3. Yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom.
Your home will not blossom into a haven if you are not controlling your temper.
4. Continue to light your candle and pray for peace in your home.
Persevere in prayer for your family. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

#1 is always a challenge to me.  I am definitely prone to yelling when my first (and second and third) request to do a specific task is ignored!  Teaching obedience is not the easiest task and I definitely have room for improvement in this area!  Plus, I don't want my kids' memories littered with images of mom freaking out on them.  Being sweet and calm is not the strong suit of a first born, type A personality...so that means I have to work even harder at it!

#2 is a struggle for me, too.  It isn't just when someone is angry, either. When people are sad or discouraged I can get caught up in those emotions, too.

#3 speaks for itself.  #4 I am enjoying.  It's amazing how just seeing the candle, whether it is lit or not, reminds me to pray for peace.  Saying that prayer reminds me Who is in control and is a reminder that He is always there.  That gives me more peace...and that creates more peace in our home all by itself!


The Coffee Shop

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being An Engaged Mom

Here we are in week two of October already!!!  I feel like I'm doing a little catch-up since there is so much I want to share/do this month!

First, I want to share something from Courtney's blog, Women Living Well, that elaborates on being an engaged mom...something I touched on last week.  (If you missed that post just click here.)  

Sorry, I wanted to get this in last week but I just ran out of week!  The following 5 ideas are definitely challenging..especially on the difficult days!  For my guy readers...I'm sure there are some nuggets that might hit home for you as well!

1. The woman of the home is engaged. She is aware of what everyone is doing right in that moment. If a child needs help or correction – she is right there to give it. If her husband needs a hug, an encouraging word or a helping hand she is right there to care. She is playful and makes time to tickle, dance, play checkers or Wii with her family. This is a woman whose family praises her (Prov. 31:28).
2. The woman of the home is wise with her time management. She guards her family from getting so busy that they lose their connection with each other. She dissects her calendar and eliminates things that are unnecessary. She is prepared when it is time to go somewhere to alleviate the stress that comes from late minute rushing. She and her family enjoy the slow paced life she has created in her home.
3. The woman of the home has a pleasant demeanor. She does not stay up late watching television, reading, surfing the web or working. She goes to sleep at a reasonable hour so she can wake cheerfully for her family. She knows that some seasons of life are harder than others so she is patient with her season of life and is confident that she will reap what she has sown. She works diligently trusting God with the results of her labor.
4. The woman of the home is content. She knows that no home, husband, child, church or neighborhood is perfect. So she chooses to be content with what God has given her for today.
5. The woman of the home prays. She knows that she is weak but God is strong and that she cannot fulfil the role of wife, mother, homemaker and sometimes employee, on her own strength. She is completely dependent on God and practices this dependence by daily praying for all of these things.

I don't know about you, but I get tired just reading over the list.  It's not because what she says doesn't make sense...because it does.  I want to be organized, playful, encouraging, loving, balanced, rested, hardworking, content in the moment(!), and prayerful.  My perfectionist self would love to just bounce right in and try and be the perfect mom, wife, and women.  My realistic self knows my limits well....and that taking it all on for perfection is just a recipe to  fail, get discouraged and give up all together!

So, my suggestion is to start with number 5...because "With God all things are possible"...and I know that without His Grace I can't change anything for long!  Then, reading those other four points, I plan on working on an aspect(or two) that speaks to my heart.  My challenges may not be your challenges, and vice versa, but it's still the same journey with the destination of being the best mom, wife and woman we can be.(or dad;)

Being more engaged(#1) and Living in the Moment, which I feel is very similar to being content(#4), is already a focus for me this month.  Being more aware of God in the everyday moments, and the way He is orchestrating each day for me, is also a focus for me this month...so that ties in #5.  Time management(#2) is always an issue...especially with trying to coordinate 10 different schedules and make sure that my family gets the down time that they need.  And I need to make sure that the down time we have, especially in the moments we are all together, is enjoyable!  It's a constant juggling act, but so worth the effort!

Now...."Having a pleasant demeanor"....that's a trickier one.  For instance, "knowing that some seasons of life are harder than others" is much different than accepting that some seasons of life are harder than others.  Sometimes I go backwards because I am looking for the peace I had before __________ (fill in the blank...I had a baby, we bought a house, we did renovations, a job change, a family illness, etc, etc).  BUT....when circumstances change, what was normal is no longer...well, normal.  We have to look for a "new normal".  That's not easy...but I make it even harder than it needs to be many times because I'm trying to fit my life together in the same way it was before.  It doesn't work...you can't make a 24 piece puzzle work if you have to use 25 pieces!

(I know this but does it stop me from trying most of the time...sadly, no!)

How about what #3 says about going to bed and waking up cheerful!  (Did you groan out loud when you read that...waking up and cheerful in the same sentence?!?)

If you happen to be new to my blog, sleep is elusive in my house.  I have several lousy sleepers and have not slept through the night in at least 11 years.  Prior to those 11 years I had 5 children in 9 years so there wasn't a whole lot of sleeping then either!  Most days, waking up seems like an accomplishment...but cheerful!  Enough said!  (Obviously this is an area I can improve in!)

And, last but not least, the end of #3 mentions "reap what you sow" and "trusting God".  The first things that come into my mind when I read those parts are "oh, crap" and "do I really have to do that?"  When I think of all my parenting failures and failures as a wife...that "reap what you sow" makes me shudder.  I definitely have to trust that God will bless my efforts and make up the difference for all that I lack in any given moment...and some moments, it's a lot!

"She works diligently trusting God with the results of her labor."  So I'm supposed to work hard and trust God with all the rest.  For me, it's more like...I have to work diligently to trust God and let go of control!  I know that when I do things God's way it turns out so much better.  Then why do I find myself wrestling with God all the time over something I want Him to have anyway?  I think it's just years of the bad habit of trying to control everything myself....and years of doing things the hard way and making more messes than the "quicker picker upper" could ever handle!

So much to consider!  Baby steps are great!  And, remember, all forward progress counts!



Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday Fun

Sunday was another beautiful fall day!  We finally got to do a yearly family tradition....apple picking!  We usually get to the orchard sometime in late September, but between pneumonia and rainy weekends, this is the first chance we have gotten!

Kate was decked out in her new fall outfit....
I just love the tights!



First, we went on a hay ride.
And, yes, there is someone missing.  Andrew was not interested in heading to the orchard despite multiple requests on our part:(

  

The hay ride brought us to the pumpkin patch.  Ellie went off in search of a big, round pumpkin.  Mike helped Luke find a "Lukie size pumpkin" and then found a perfect, giant pumpkin with Sarah.  Peter had fun wandering around the pumpkin patch.  Jon and Jay were walking around chatting and holding Kate.  I have to say that I did a really good job living in the moment and not just trying to efficiently(and quickly) pick a pumpkin and get back on the wagon.  I wandered around with Ellie as her search led her to the very corner of the patch where she thought she saw the "perfect pumpkin" when we drove up in the wagon.  She was very proud and happy with her choice.




  
After the hay ride back to the apple area, we walked to the trees that still had apples on them.  Jon was pretty excited that his favorite apples were available....golden delicious.  Usually, when we go apple picking in mid-September, that section isn't open yet.  

Luke had a ball picking apples.  Ellie filled her bag in only 5 minutes!  It's amazing how fast it goes with so many hands helping.

Can you guess what I did all afternoon?  I made an apple pie and 2 apple crisps(a regular one and a gf one for my dad).  Special thanks to Sarah for peeling the apples.  Then I made homemade nuggets and taco dip for the 4pm Patriots game and Jay made chili.



It was a fun...and yummy...day:)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Who Hears Who?


The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God.
William McGill

I found this quote so intriguing.  So many times I am bringing my requests to God with a particular path for getting my request accomplished already worked out in my head.  (And a particular time table for the answering of said prayer, too!)

While I am bringing my petitions to Him, I'm not completely relying on Him...I just want Him to do it my way.  Even though from my view my way might seem best...God has a much more complete(and perfect) view.  So often, things don't work out the way I hoped and it can make me stressed or frazzled.  However, things always seem to work themselves out in a way that was better than I could have imagined! 

I guess those times are just a reminder that God is much better at His job than I am!   

My 'Living in the Moment' moments today...working together to get the house (reasonably) neat, enjoying the sunshine and last of the warm, summer-like weather at the park, enjoying my extra clingy baby even though I had to clean with one hand, and laughing at my 3 year old reluctant potty trainer's comment at the grocery store.....

Luke was sitting in Jay's carriage talking about how the box of diapers were his.  I told Luke that he needed to use the potty and be a good boy and sit properly in the cart.  Luke banged on the diaper box and said, "No, I need my diapers and you be a good mommy."  Oh, brother!  Hopefully he will be using the potty by the time he's ready for middle school!

Friday, October 5, 2012

All We Have To Do Is Ask

A new day.  Thank-you, God, for some sunshine after two days of rain!  Sunshine makes such a difference!  Sunshine is like visual hope to the soul....and I can honestly say that I needed this boost of hope today.

Sometimes situations and hurt are so difficult to face and work through.  I know, in my own experience, that when I am trying to work through difficult emotions, it can feel as if the situation is hopeless to change.  The past hurts have caused such a deep emptiness inside of me that seems impossible to fill.

I've tried ignoring the hurt and burying the hurt with denial.  Which, in case you're wondering, is not a good idea...if you don't deal with your problems then your problems will deal with you!  I've looked to other people to fill the emptiness..that always turns out badly, too.  I've tried filling the emptiness myself and that doesn't work either.  I get to a point where I almost despair of ever getting through the hurt and resign myself to try and enjoy life despite the crater I carry around in my heart.

But, that isn't living life abundantly...and that's what God promises.(John 10)

God can fill me completely and heal me of the emptiness that past hurts have caused.  With God's help, I can work to change relationships in the present.

God can fix all the brokenness so that I can live fully in the present moment without always falling into the potholes(and black holes) of past hurts.  That's what this month is all about...learning to live in the moment through the eyes of faith.  Sometimes that requires a detour into the past to fix something that was broken.  Not only will He fix it....He will help us use our experience of hurt and healing to encourage other people He puts in our path!  Healing and bringing something good out of bad situations...much better than carrying around emptiness all my life!

This healing is for everyone...all we have to do is ask Him!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When The Going Gets Tough....

Sometimes living in the moment is just hard.  The days that I am tired and grumpy and overwhelmed make me want to be by myself, not enjoying a moment with my kids...who seem like they are on a mission to annoy me constantly anyway.  Ironically, it's also book club day and we are discussing a chapter titled, "Keep a Contented Heart"....and my heart is anything but feeling content.  In fact, I don't even feel like putting in the (what feels like gargantuan) effort to even try to be positive.

Re-reading the chapter yesterday, I really identified with the desire to be kinder, less critical, and more positive.  Here it was less than 24 hours later and that desire was G.O.N.E....nowhere to be seen!

It's amazing how being tired, dealing with some triggered unresolved hurt, and some difficult family news can throw me off so much.  Isn't this very moment of challenge the golden opportunity to change and grow stronger?  Do I want the healing and grace more than I want to be negative and critical?  Why is it so much work to choose to be positive and life giving?

It's like being on a diet and wanting to eat the chocolate cake in the fridge.....a battle within yourself.

I'm not even sure how I'm supposed to respond.  All I know is that the way I want to respond, and have responded in the past, isn't the right way.  My "How, What, Where and When" questions to God regarding showing a right response to all that is unsettling me haven't received an answer yet.

So I am waiting...and trying to keep my mouth from opening up and causing harm.  I want to be encouraging and kind and build people up.

Meanwhile, I will light my candle and pray for peace in my home...as well as the homes of my family and friends.  "Lord, make me a channel of your peace...."

An appropriate prayer on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Out For Dinner

Living in the moment isn't just about the happy times....it's about living fully, even in the difficult moments.  For example, last night I was going out to dinner with two of my friends.  You know how it is as a mom...if we go out everyone else still needs to be taken care of.  I was supposed to leave a little before 6:30 and Jay wasn't getting home until then, so I was on my own getting dinner ready, taking care of the baby(who was very cranky and in need of a good nap), and trying to get myself ready to go out.

I decided to just make cheeseburgers and hot dogs with freezer fries for dinner since it required no real prep and not much clean up for Jay.  I started the grill and the oven in plenty of time to have it ready as the teenagers came in the door from sports so that I would have some time to get myself ready.

It was raining a little, but that wasn't a big deal.  I don't melt.

I put the burgers on the grill and went back inside to get the spatula and tray and the hot dogs.  A few minutes later I went outside and.....the grill is cooling off.   Turns out we ran out of propane.  Ugh!

Thankfully, my parents live across the street so Mike went over to their house and borrowed their propane tank, hooked it up to our grill, and restarted it.  I was now running behind, the baby was crying with Sarah, and the fries were just about done.  Deep breath...trying to stay patient.

I go out to flip the burgers(in the rain) and notice lots of smoke coming out of the grill!  Oh, no.....grease fire!  I mutter a quick prayer of  "Please don't let the burgers be on fire and ruined", since I have no plan B.  I opened the grill and flames shot up all over the place.  I flipped the burgers quickly and put them all in an area that had the least amount of flame!  Most didn't look too bad.....a couple looked a little like hockey pucks!  Ugh...well, cheese hides everything, right?!?

I finish the burgers(quickly) and turn off the grill.  I come inside to take Kate and nurse her to get her that much needed extra nap.  At 6:25, Jay has just gotten home and I am sitting on the couch  nursing the baby in the sweat pants and t-shirt I have worn all day...no make-up, no hairspray....and I was supposed to leave at 6:20!

I was sitting on the couch, trying to focus on living in the moment, and trying not to be resentful that when Jay goes out with his friends he only has to come home, change and leave without worrying about anyone else!  Why is it, as a mom, that it is so much work just trying to get a break?

And.....why can't I ever seem to get more that 5 minutes to try and make myself presentable?

It all worked out in the end.  I managed to put Kate down, asleep, for the first time that day without her waking up.  (Did I mention she desperately needed a nap?)  I managed to throw on some (clean) jeans and a dressier shirt.  I didn't have time to search for earrings, but I did put a little make-up on and brushed my hair and teeth quickly.  I think I have perfected the 5 minute readiness routine!

'Living in the moment' with my friends was much easier that 'living in the moment' of preparing to go out.  There were certainly more opportunities to practice patience in the preparation moments....and it could have gone a lot worse.  The only person throwing a fit last night was Kate...so that's an improvement on the past!

I had a great time with my friends and I got to eat a meal that was warm and eat with both hands!  Having adult conversation was a nice touch, too:)




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Creating an Atmosphere of Peace

There are a couple of things I am focusing on this month.  I talked about or alluded to them yesterday, and today I will explain a little more(just like I promised:).

I was inspired by several ideas that have all mixed together to (hopefully!) make October an extra special month!  Angell at Passionate and Creative Homemaking is running a Make Your Home a Haven challenge during the month of October.  The idea was originally run last year by Courtney at Women Living Well.

Every week there will be a challenge that helps to Make Your Home a Haven.  This week the challenge is to light a candle and, whenever the flicker catches your eye, you pray for peace in your home.  Such a little thing to do, but it really keeps my awareness focused on something so important!  (And I can always use all the grace I can get...so extra prayer is always beneficial!)

Creating an atmosphere of peace in my home is really important to me.  I want our home to be a loving, safe and fun environment that gives all who live, and visit, a reprieve from the weight and cares of the world....a place to recharge and find peace.

In some ways, it sounds comical.  I mean, really, peace in a house with 10 people?  My blog is named 'Normal Chaos' for a reason.  But, despite the hustle and bustle, peace and life giving love can be achieved!  It takes a lot of work, but the results are so worth it!

Where do I see these peaceful moments the most?  (And, no, it's not just when everyone is asleep!haha!)

I see peace and companionship when we all sit down to dinner together.  I see it after Mass on Sunday mornings when we are all sitting around the kitchen putting breakfast together or having a conversation with the teens over a cup of coffee when we are cleaning up after breakfast.  I see it when we are all sitting in the living room enjoying a favorite family tv show(our fav right now is The Middle) or sharing a movie together.  I see it when Jay lays on the floor playing with the little ones.  I see it when one of the teenagers opens up and shares about their day.

Unfortunately, I also see opportunities for peace ripped away too often because, at times, one or more of us let our own moods or emotions run away and, instead of making an emotional deposit into the family's love tank we are making withdrawals.  Too often, that person is me.

Sometimes I just miss opportunities to make emotional deposits in my family's love tanks because I'm too busy just trying to get things done.  I miss living in the moment because I want the moment to wait until I've finished the laundry, or the dishes, or made dinner, or written a blog post, or checked my emails, or facebook, etc, etc......

Like I've said before, multitasking can be a great tool, but it can also be a great distraction.  Sometimes, those you love need your full attention, including eye contact.  Too often my kids, and sometimes even my husband I'm sorry to say, are talking to me as I'm washing counters, sorting through mail and I'm only half listening to what they are saying.  An occasional, "Uh-huh" or "really?"  is not a good substitute for giving people the attention they deserve.

Along with lighting a candle, the Making My Home a Haven challenge included a reflection for this week:  Being a Distant Mom or Being an Engaged Mom.  (For my guy readers...this can easily be adapted to Being a Distant or and Engaged Dad!)  There's so much included in that reflection...which could easily be labeled as "things that make you go Hmm!?!"..that I will share more in another post.  Making My Home a Haven fits in very well with my intentional "Living in the Moment" theme for October as well.  I still want to expand on where I started and where I'm going with that theme more, but it will have to wait for later in the week.

Today's "Living in the Moment" moments...at least so far...have been taking advantage of snuggle time with a clingy baby and pretending to be ninja turtles with Luke(I am the "mommy ninja turtle" and Kate is the "baby ninja turtle" according to Luke).  I also walked away from writing this post multiple times to change a blowout diaper for Kate, make an early lunch because it was obvious they were hungry, and to give Luke some extra attention since he was trying to "fix" the window sill that he started "fixing"(read; break) a few months ago.

So, onward October....hope you get a chance to check in tomorrow as this exciting month of growth and challenge continues!:)

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's October!!!

I have SO much to write about!  I think I may end up sharing everything I have to say over the next couple of days!  Way too much excitement for one post!:)

First of all...today begins my favorite month of the year!  I love, love, love October!  I love the crisp fall weather.  I love the changing colors on all the trees.  I love turning on the oven and bringing out the recipes for soups and slow cooking oven meals.  I love apple picking and picking out pumpkins at our local orchard.  I love turning all the apples we pick into pies, and crisps, and homemade apple sauce.

This is a month filled with power house saint feast days!  Just this week alone celebrates St. Therese, Guardian Angels, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Faustina.  The lives and writings of these 3 saints have touched my life in very special ways over the years...and I always appreciate my Guardian Angel!  (We joke that Peter must have 3:)

My wedding anniversary is also this month, so I get to look forward to a little alone time with Jay to remember that special day and reflect on all our memories over the last...wait for it....20 years!  I can't believe we have been married that long!  But, more on that later in the month....

I have some really special goals this month.  I promise I will elaborate over the next few days...it might even take the whole week!

I am concentrating in a special way this month on living in the moment through the eyes of faith.  This theme has been percolating in my heart for the last few months and I have been trying to wrap my head around it.  I don't have it all worked out, but I'm jumping in with two feet anyway.

It will make this October even better!

Today was a beautiful fall day.  After 3 days of rain I was so ready to get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine with Luke.  The idea to go to the zoo popped into my head.  Felt like a good fit.  So, after we got ready for the day, off we went.

This is the first time I've taken Luke and Kate to the zoo by myself.  I was looking forward to the adventure. I even remembered my camera!

Since my focus is to "Live in the Moment"(LITM) this month, we went through the zoo on "Lukie pace".  I let Luke lead the way and just followed along and redirected when necessary, which was hardly at all.

The train was getting ready to go on its first ride of the day as we walked into the zoo.  I had tickets left from our last visit so I asked Luke if he wanted to ride.  He was a little hesitant until I told him that Kate and I would ride, too!  After that, Luke jumped right on:)



Kate wasn't so sure about it at first, but they both ended up enjoying the ride.  The attendant was nice enough to snap our picture at the end....I'm thinking that I have a new facebook photo!

After the train ride, we wandered around the zoo for an hour.  We stopped for a snack when Luke wanted.  We stayed by the animals for however long, or short, Luke wanted.  It was so cute.  When he was ready to see the next animal, his squeaky little voice would let me know, "Let's keep going, Mommy."  We counted the pigs and the goats and the cows.  He helped push the carriage for a while.  No rushing, no plan...just together time.

Luke spent some time climbing this rock over and over again towards the end of the zoo.  He had a lot of fun:)


When we were done with the zoo, I asked Luke if he wanted to go to the playground for a while.  Luke was thrilled.  Up the ladder, through the tunnels, down the slides he went for another 40 minutes.  I did have to encourage him to leave because Kate was ready to go.  Luckily, there was a front end loader working on the elephant cage and the elephants were hanging out in the grass next to the chain link fence near the playground so Luke was willing to check it out on the way to the van.

My favorite fall leaves were featured on a tree in front of the zoo.  I love the orange leaves!

A smaller, but still significant "Living in the Moment" moment happened right before we went to the zoo.  Andrew had forgotten his english binder with his homework at home this morning.  Since the zoo is a mile from the boys' high school, we dropped the binder off for him.  Andrew was in study, which he generally spends in the Campus Ministry Office.  Andrew saw me pull up and he called to me from the door.  He was with one of his best friends.  

Andrew looked so happy and "in his element"...which is a big deal for my most introverted, sensory defensive son.  It was a little "God wink"...just knowing that the sacrifices that we make for him to be at that school are worth it because he is thriving.  I was grateful for that little moment.


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