Monday, December 31, 2012

When Life is a Roller Coaster!

Yesterday was a roller coaster of a day.  We had some snow Saturday night....probably 4 or 5 inches.  It was heavy, wet snow.  I enjoy looking at snow from inside a nice, warm house, but I am not an outdoor lover.  I tend to be a "faller", so ice on the ground is not my friend.  Being cold and wet are not my favorite things, either, so I am not a skier or a sled lover either.

I love seeing the excitement that the kids feel over snow!  I love the idea of them building snow men and having snow ball fights(that don't end with someone getting pegged in the face!), but then the reality sets in.  In order for that outdoor fun to happen, everyone needs snow gear!


Boots and snow pants and gloves(that fit) need to searched for and then put on.  It.takes.forever to get it all out and on and then get them stuffed out the door.

What's even worse is when they all trek back in....wet and dripping and leaving all their snow articles strewn from the front door to wherever they manage to get the last piece of clothing off!  Small piles of wet snow lie on the floor as land mines for dry socks to step in for the next few hours!

It just seems like a lot of work for the relatively short time they are playing outside.

I know...I sound like such a 'snow Scrooge'...but like I said before, it's just not my thing!

The whole getting everyone ready makes me feel inadequate...which is a struggle of mine anyway.  With so many kids, we have boots in just about every size imaginable!  We have a slew of gloves that every year I go through and match up to make sure they still have a mate.  As far as hats go....we have plenty!  It's just getting it all together to make sure everyone has what they need.

Eventually, everyone gets something to wear that (mostly) fits.  It reminds me of the scene from Yours, Mine, and Ours when the kids all go to get rain boots and one of the younger kids gets what's left and they are several sizes too big.  (Only their closets are much more organized than ours!)

My struggles with feeling inadequate as a mom/wife, and the ridiculous amount of fear I often seem to be dealing with emotionally, will definitely be a part of my resolutions for the New Year.  That and finally losing this baby weight....a final last hoorah to feel good about myself as my 30's are slipping away.(only 18 months left!)

Jay was feeling down yesterday....a combo of vaca ending and mulling over a comment one of the kids made to him that made him introspective and feeling inadequate as a parent...there's that word again!)  Then, he and Jon and Mike tackled cleaning out the cellar from our recent flood.  The boys were incredibly helpful and they got quite a bit done.  But, right before they called it a day, Mike flicked some sawdust in the air and something got in Jay's eye.  It was all red and irritated and sore despite his attempts to flush it out.

We got to spend time with some friends mid afternoon....the highlight of the day.  By the time we left their house, Jay's eye was really bothering him.  Being a stubborn man, he just wanted to wait until today to go to the eye doctor instead of having to wait in the er.  He (finally!) went at 8:45...and wouldn't let Mike go with him to drive him despite his impaired vision!  Ugh!  Stubborn man!!!  Thankfully, the er wasn't crazy and an eye flush, antibiotic drops, and the diagnosis of a scratched cornea later, and he was home by 11.

In the midst of the eye issue, Jay had left visine on the counter in the bathroom when he was trying to flush out his eye.  Luke walked in to take a bath 4 steps ahead of us and drank some of it!  I called poison control and they said he would be fine.  That all happened around 7.  Starting at 10:30, Luke would cry every 15 min(!!!) saying either gibberish or that his tummy hurt until 2:30.  Add in Kate's multiple wakings and I have bags under my eyes that reach to my knees.:(

Today is a new day, though, and I have plenty on my to-do list to keep me busy.  Our New Year's Eve is fairly sister and her husband and a couple of friends come over.  Nothing super formal...just apps and desserts.  Though even that will be a challenge with such little sleep!

I hope you have a great...and safe...New Year's Eve!

As we jump into 2013, I hope it holds lots of happy surprises for all of us!

And sleep....lots and lots of sleep!

Maybe this will be the year I actually sleep through the night....but I won't be holding my breath!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Oh my goodness...I am so grouchy today!  I think that sleep deprivation, too much sugar, and no quiet time is starting to take it's toll.  That, and I'm starting to feel like I will never get a handle on all this clutter.  I truly love's just so tough to organize afterwards.  We don't go crazy with presents, and neither do our families.  But, with just the sheer number of people in the house, gifts times 10 is a lot to find homes for.

It's also a great opportunity to do a pre-new year cleanse....of stuff that is!  The girls will be going through their drawers today to purge things that don't fit anymore.  I did the same to Luke, Peter and Kate's drawers  yesterdays.  As for the older boys....I just try to avoid their rooms at all times!

I also got all the sheets washed yesterday...way behind on that!  It was one of those things on the list on my head that makes me feel like a bad mom.  But it's done for now...and everyone has flannel to keep them toasty warm:)

I'm off to the grocery store for a few things and then Ellie's basketball game.  I am very much looking forward to heading to our friend's house tonight with only the girls for some (very needed) grown-up time!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lazy Day

Today has been a really nice day.  Jay had today off, so we had a VERY lazy morning.  Kate and Luke came down with colds and did not sleep well at all last night, so we didn't even get out of bed until 8.  Then we hung out in our pj's most of the morning.

Jay did some woodworking...finally(!) getting the chance to work on the base cabinets that I desperately need in the family room.  I did more laundry and continue to tackle the post Christmas clutter.  You know.....I got to sort through things that don't fit to make room for the cute clothes that the kids got for Christmas!

I even got a power nap in:)

 Here's Peter playing with one of his Christmas presents...the Crayola light Globe.
 Kate is eating breakfast and looking quite cute:)
 This is Luke waiting patiently for his breakfast.
 Here's Daddy working on breakfast.....scrambled eggs:)

The best part....Jay has tomorrow off so we get to do it all over again! :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After Christmas.....

Twas the day after Christmas,
when all through our home,
not a room was uncluttered,
with plastic, paper and foam

The stockings were emptied,
all over the floor,
bags of paper and cardboard,
were piled high by the door.

Tired faces are many,
from waking too soon,
little things often ignored,
are now ugly moments of gloom.

Goodies and treats,
are seen all around,
kids search through the bags,
til their newest treasures are found.

Kids on vacation,
enjoying their toys,
issues with sharing,
leads to loud, screechy noise.

Toys put together,
not quite a snap,
And really all I want,
is to take a nice nap!

Moments like these don't come every day,
kids (mostly) at home,
ready to play,

Milling around,
oh what will they do,
candy, and Risk, and some videos, too.

Waiting for Daddy,
to get home for the night,
our tag team approach,
makes everything right!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

On this beautiful family day, mixed with lots of emotions, sleep deprivation, and way too much sugar(!).....I wish you all a very Blessed Christmas!

Here are a few of our highlights.......

 A special  Rudolph:)
 A little boy with a favorite present!....of the moment, anyway.  He loved his new tool belt(from Grandma and Grandpa) and tool bench(from Grandma and Pa)!
 A tired Daddy with his beautiful baby girl:)
 Nap time!
 I'm not supposed to tell you that the teenagers are playing with Legos.....(hee hee)
Pretty girls making piggies in a blanket....
 Santa Peter
Playing Risk of Andrew's gifts.

My favorite moment....snuggling with Luke late this afternoon with a sleeping baby next to me reading Where the Wild Things Are (4x).  I'm so grateful for my family!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wrapping Up Advent

Today's Quiet Moment

Saturday, December 22

Take the time. Don’t be forever dashing. Try sauntering. The word saunter has an
instructive background. It’s from the French Sainte Terre, Holy Land, and refers
to the easy pace taken by the pilgrims who were enjoying the trip itself
as well as relishing the goal.
Life itself is a holy land, and deserves to be enjoyed en route.
Joseph Gallagher

Love this quote!  Especially the line "enjoying the trip itself as well as relishing the goal."

I wanted to make my Advent this year more about living in the moment and listening and moving the way the Spirit lead.

Did I do it perfectly...umm..definitely not!  But I think even trying to keep my focus on God and His Will for me, even in the little things, has made a huge difference in my Advent!  (Hopefully, it will be something that continues to change me over the next year!)

There was something that struck me in our Deacon's Homily today.  He was talking about Mary's visit to Elizabeth and how John the Baptist "leaped in his mother's womb" upon hearing Mary's voice.

I was thinking about how Jesus would come to me this Christmas.  How will I receive Him?  Will I recognize that He is even there?  I want to!

I can see Jesus in the love of my family....any special gifts they may have chosen for me; all of us being home together and creating memories of another Christmas we are blessed to share; the kind words from friends....

I was also thinking about how I can bring Jesus to others.  My words and actions can be life giving, and way more powerful, if I am offering them with Jesus' love.  My words and actions are so much more powerful if I am trying to follow the path that God is showing me.

I can say that, during this Advent experiment, the times that I have heard God's whispers and acted on it have been incredibly satisfying experiences.  Despite the craziness that the to-do lists that I have this time of year, I feel like I had more peace and more energy to get things done....even when I was doing the "extra" things I felt God asked me to do!

Part of that is because I had more peace letting go of some items on the list rather than try to stuff in everything I wanted to do.  Guess what?  Even though I didn't do everything, what I did do is so much more satisfying and I don't even miss what was erased off the list!

I'm not completely finished!  There will be things to do tomorrow to finish preparing for Christmas.  There's a cheesecake in the oven as I write and 2 more to be baked tomorrow.  There's always the laundry and the dishes...and some extra cleaning to get the house ready for Christmas Day.

My hope is that I will spend the last day of Advent giving joyfully of my time and energy to make Christmas Day fun (and tasty) for my family.  Most importantly, I want to give my kids a cheerful mom that puts their need for time and attention above a perfect house!

And now I am off to have a "picnic" with a special little 3 year old who is looking for attention:)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Looking at the Blessings Within the Speedbumps

I am still in denial that Christmas is only 3 short days away!  I continue to try and keep on my schedule for shopping and baking while keeping up with the laundry and the dishes and the rides to and from basketball!  (All without losing the holiday spirit!)

Tonight I hit a speed bump.  Thankfully, I have spent my time laughing over it and not crying!

A couple of days ago, I was playing with Luke and Kate on the floor and Kate hit me right in the teeth with a Thomas train she was holding in her hand.  My two front teeth, which were shattered when I was in 8th grade in an incident that involved a classmate diving over me and hitting my head hard enough to smash my mouth against the cement wall, felt "not right".

Fast forward to tonight around 9pm and I was sitting at the computer checking my emails when I pushed my tongue against my teeth, which still didn't feel right, and a chunk broke right off!

I am absolutely serious!

Three days before Christmas....on a Friday night...and I have a broken front tooth!  I look like I belong on that show "Moonshiners" that I have had to suffer through watch because my teenage sons think it's hysterical!

Never mind a Christmas outfit...I will just find a pair of farmer jeans!

The first thought through my head....super glue!

My second of my best friends is a dental hygienist.  No answer at her house.

My third thought....we have a family that we are friends with through the kid's school and the dad is a dentist.  So I called him...asked about the super glue.  Turns out it's a no-go because our mouths secrete an enzyme that breaks down super glue.

Thankfully, this wonderful man, who is not supposed to work until after Christmas, is going to fix my tooth tomorrow morning.  I am so grateful....the blessing within the speedbump:)  Thank-you, Dr. Gomes!

So even though my baking list is a mile long, tomorrow morning will be spent fixing my smile.  And that is ok!

Guess I can wear my Christmas outfit after all!

Jay's reaction, other than laughter...."You're the prettiest red neck looking woman I know!"  Thanks, honey! Then he said that I reminded him of the gopher from Winnie-the-Pooh because it sounds funny when I say the "s" sound.:/

"All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" takes on a whole new meaning!

I hope you get a good laugh at my expense:)  Sometimes comic relief comes from unexpected moments!
How does this fit into my 2012 Advent Challenge?  Well, I am grateful that I had the peace to not freak out over my broken tooth and I am thankful for our family friend who is taking his personal time to fix it for me.  God must be at work if I can still be calm despite the interruption in my lengthy to do list....and the way I look with a broken front tooth!  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Cookies!

Today is my first of two cookie baking days.  We give a lot of cookies out as gifts to teachers, support staff, neighbors, and some family friends.

I really enjoy baking, so this time of year is extra special.  I scour through my cookbooks looking for treats that catch my eye to add to the list of 'must bake' cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies are always a must have, as well as sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin, and surprise package cookies.  Surprise package cookies are Jay and Mike's favorite!  It's basically a sugar cookie wrapped around an Andes candy...sweet and minty!  

Baking cookies always reminds me of  the year of Mike's first Christmas.  He was 10 1/2 months old and had crawled into the kitchen, pulled himself up on the table where the cookies were cooling, and, when we caught him, had a cookie in his mouth and in his hand!  The look of glee in his face was priceless.  We took a picture that's in one of our photo albums...I will have to find it!

Today's baking session went well!  I think it went extra well after a certain comment that was made by Mike and seconded by Ellie this morning.  I announced that it was cookie baking day and Mike said, "Oh, that mean's you will be stressed today."  Ellie echoed the same comment a few minutes later.

My thought...."Oh, yeah?  Challenge accepted!"  I did it, too!  I felt like it was a little nudge from God.  It fits in with my 2012 Advent Challenge.  Mike's comment made me determined to be more patient and just focus on what I was able to get done, even if it wasn't everything that I wanted to get done.  I considered why I even baked in the first place.  It was to show appreciation to the people in our lives.  So I prayed that having patience and joy in the baking process would add extra love into the cookies!:)

  I even stayed calm when I dropped a dozen snickerdoodles into the oven and they broke into a billion pieces!

Kate gave me the thumbs up on the chocolate chip cookies:) 

 Luke was too busy eating to say anything!

   The girls were a huge help making the sugar cookies...and keeping Luke from dumping out all the sprinkles!

It was a fun day!  The first of our pre Christmas baking prep days!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Baby is One!!!

Today is a special baby girl is 1!!!  I cannot believe that an entire year has flown by so quickly!  Yet, at the same time, it seem like she has been here forever!

Kate was actually supposed to be born on the 15th.  I was going to be induced primarily because I did not want to chance in any way being in the hospital on Christmas....with the medical excuse of having gestational diabetes.  Plus, I was already 3 cm dilated and, with a history of short labors, I was worried about missing the window for an epidural.(After 7 natural, unmedicated births, I decided it was in my best emotional interest to have an epidural with Luke's birth.  So.much.easier!  I wanted a repeat performance with Kate's birth!)

Anyhow, after dinner on the 14th I got a call from my OB saying that a freakish amount of women went into labor and my induction was cancelled for the morning.  I joked that there was "no room at the inn!"  

Honestly, God knew what He was doing!  I got to attend Ellie's Christmas concert, have another weekend to spend with my family and do pre-Christmas planning, and, best of all, I got to have the doctor I really wanted to deliver my baby!  (Thank-you, Dr. Joy Vardo!)

My labor with Kate was easy-peasy!  Jay and I spent a quiet and restful few hours waiting for my body to get ready for her arrival.  She would have arrived several hours sooner, but when my water broke in the late morning,  there was a pouch of fluid that remained that cushioned her head and kept it from putting the necessary pressure on my cervix.  Once Dr. Joy broke that, Kate arrived a very quick 4 contractions and 2 pushes later at 2:35pm!  She weighed in at a very surprising 9 lbs 1oz...I really didn't look that big(she had arm chub:)...and 21 inches long!  She was healthy, a great nurser from the get-go, and we were home by dinner time the next day!(I hate being in the really get no rest.)

Here is Kate just moments after her arrival!
This is one of my favorite pics.  I took it with my phone when she was only a few hours old.  It was just me and Kate skin-to-skin in the hospital room after all her siblings had left and Daddy had gone home to take care of Luke.  She was just completely wide awake and gazing right at me.  It made me fall in love with her all over again!
This pic was taken by my sister-in-law, Julie, when we were waiting for her hearing test so we could be discharged!  My sister-in-law, Jackie, developed the pic and had it framed for us.:)  We were a very proud mommy and matter how many kids you have, each one is such a little miracle!

The kids were so happy to have another sibling.  The girls were thrilled to have another sister.  Kate gets lots and lots of love!

And today.....

Kate is cruising all over the place.  She has taken a couple of independent steps, but cruising and crawling are still her preferred ways to travel!

Kate says mama, dada, hi, bye, and cheese(which she loves to eat!).  I'm pretty sure she said egg yesterday, too!

Kate is definitely more of a serious, take it all in, kind of girl.  When she really likes something or gets excited she has a really great giggle!

Kate is a mama's girl for sure...though she definitely loves her daddy, too.  Her favorite thing to do is sit on the couch with the both of us crawling back and forth from my lap to Jay's:)

Kate gives lovely open mouth kisses on our cheeks....complete with drool.  She also cuddles into us frequently and lays her head on our shoulders...which is!

Kate loves to make noises with her tongue....and loves when we copy what she does.

Kate never really liked baby food, but she is loving table food!

Kate is such a joy and a blessing!  Jay and I are so grateful!

Happy Birthday, Kate!

For my 2012 Advent Challenge, the following quote really spoke to me today.  It truly is all about timing!

Today's Quiet Moment

Wednesday, December 19

Generosity lies less in giving much than in giving at the right moment.
Jean de la Bruyère

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Weekend Flies By!

Christmas is fast approaching....and it's coming at a much faster pace then my ability to get things done on my to-do list.  Somehow, I am not freaking out at all over least yet!  It is the season of miracles after all!

This weekend certainly had its ups and downs.

Friday night we  went to the Christmas pageant concert that Ellie was in at her school.  It was very nicely done with the focus on the real reason for the season:)

On Saturday Jay discovered that our sump pump had burned out....several days earlier!  Our basement was covered with a foot of water.  That was not a pleasant surprise.  It derailed the plans of the entire afternoon.  Jay was in the middle of building a train table for Luke to go with his Christmas presents of Thomas accessories.  He was supposed to bring the girls out for some Christmas shopping and a daddy/daughter dinner later on in the afternoon, but that had to get postponed, too.

There was disappointment all around:(

But, honestly, after what happened in CT last week, what's a little disappointment?

On Sunday, we had a little family party for Kate since it is her first birthday this week!  How can a year go by so fast?

After a few minutes of initial shyness over all the attention, Kate was all smiles and babbles!

Kate loved her gifts...some great new toys and some really cute clothes!  She loved the butterfly cake that her Grandma made.  Jay's mom's cake is always the family request for birthdays!  It's really no surprise that Kate loved it!

 This was Kate and my grandfather, Pepere, entertaining each other:)

In regards to my 2012 Advent Challenge, last night what inspired me was just a feeling of peace and joy...a football game was on and being watched by the teenagers, the girls were reading and chilling, Jay was laying on the floor building with legos with Luke, and Kate was sitting in the middle of the lego bin kicking her little legs and having a great time!  Life really doesn't get much better than that!  My, and healthy, and all together...priceless!

Friday, December 14, 2012

There Are No Words

In light of the horrible events that happened today in Connecticut, anything that I was going to write today seems completely unimportant.

I'm pretty sure that everyone's inspiration today will be to send floods of prayers to the families of those killed in this senseless act of violence.  From what I've already read on just my own facebook reel, so many people are reconsidering what's really important in life...and it's the faces that sit around our tables.  (And I don't think anyone will care if those faces are whining or have sour expressions tonight...we will just be glad to see them!)

Hopefully, all our prayers and compassion will help cushion, in some small way, the intense hurt that those families will be suffering with for a very long time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Special Moment

Thanks for all the support from yesterday's post!  I am grateful that everything has been resolved, though I am still working through all the emotional hurt from the situation...and trying not to let the fear of a repeat performance manipulate my thoughts!

Thankfully, preparing for Christmas is keeping me busy and keeping my mind off of it all!

Turning my focus back to my 2012 Advent Challenge, I want to share what I feel was God's inspiration to do something for someone else today.  Today was Peter's Christmas Concert at his school.  Jay took some time off from work today and met me and Luke and Kate to watch Pete sing.  Well, really we watch him stand....and look excited...and hop up and down...but, still, we were there and he saw us and was happy!  He had fun...which is all that matters.  The fact that he could even be up in the midst of all the kids and in front of all the parents is a feat all in itself!

What touched me more than anything was the little boy from 3rd grade that stood next to Peter during the singing.  (We found out later his name was Max.)  He was so kind to Peter.  If Peter looked like he was starting to walk away in the middle of the song, Max put his arm on his shoulder to guide him back to his place.  When Peter was just standing there enjoying the moment, Max prodded him to join in.  And Peter did....raising his hands in the air and shaking his arms then leaning over with his hands on his knees just like all the other kids.  You could see the gentleness and kindness in the way Max encouraged Peter.  That melted my 'mama heart'!

After the song that Peter was in, we met him in the hallway.  He was so excited...and he wanted to go home but it was only 9:30 so that was not happening!  His teacher invited us up to his classroom to meet his new classmate.  We also got to go into the 3rd grade classroom and meet the famous Mrs. Perry, who Peter talks about every day!  Peter spends a good amount of time in Mrs. Perry's class in the mornings.  He does math and other projects with them.  It has been such a positive integration experience!  I was grateful for the chance to thank her in person.

Mrs. Perry is very kind and had lots of positive things to say about Peter.  All the kids in the class looked at Peter so kindly as makes me so grateful that 'neurotypical children', (I hate the word normal!), can like Peter for Peter!

Mrs. Perry also introduced us to Max and I was very grateful to be able to thank Max and praise him for the way he treated Peter during the concert!  Max also partners with Peter during class time as well.

I had it on my heart to show a special thank you to Max.  Peter is going Christmas shopping with his teachers tomorrow and I had sent in a little money for him to choose some gifts with.  So I gave his teacher a little more money and asked her to help Peter pick out something for Max.  I plan to send a Christmas card from Peter as well, with a note in it from me sharing our appreciation for his friendship and care of Peter.(Hopefully his mom gets to read it, too!)

The way Max treated Peter truly touched my heart.  I was afraid that, after all that happened last week, it would be really hard to be at his school.  But seeing Max's kindness made me feel so grateful that Peter is so accepted!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hitting a Special Low

I'm taking a day off of my 2012 Advent Challenge to share about a difficult challenge that we were presented with recently.  Our lives hit a 'special low' last week.  I got a phone call from the director of Peter's collaborative program that they were filing a 51a because of scratches that Peter had on his face.

In case you don't know what a 51a's a report to the Department of Social Services about possible neglect or abuse.  It makes me want to throw up just writing the words.

Why did Peter have scratches?  Just in case you're a new reader, Peter has autism.  Not high functioning autism either.  He is 11 with the cognitive function of a young preschooler.  Peter likes to get a rise out of people.  His newest "game" is to put his face inches away from Luke(our 3 yo) when Luke's watching tv or playing on the floor and then call his name in a very annoying and teasing way so that Luke screams and tries to hit or scratch Peter, which Peter loves and laughs maniacally while Luke is hitting him.  We have been, and continue to, put Luke in time out for hurting and put Peter in his room for instigating.  Peter is obsessed with getting that reaction out of Luke so, as soon as I'm making dinner, or nursing the baby, or putting away laundry, he sticks his face near Luke again.

Easily explained.  If you ask Peter who scratched his face he always says, "Luke" and than laughs.  Scratches on Peter's face have happened a few times over the past 3 weeks.  I had been telling the teachers when it happened and what was going on.

But that't not the way the law works.  The nurse at school confronted the teacher.  And the teacher had no choice but to report it or jeopardize her job.

The kicker is that the teacher knows and believes that the scratches were caused by Luke.  But she has to protect herself because the nurse pressed the issue.  Report it to the state...that's the procedure...that's the "rules"...

And there's nothing I can do about it.  Because that's the law.  No common sense simple questions to find out the truth...just report it to the state.

What about the family and what they go through and the pain and anguish it causes them?  

One of the things the director said to me when she called to let me know that they were filing was, "Don't worry, it's kept private.  No one else will know so other people won't be thinking that you are "one of those parents.""

One of "those parents" mean a parent who has been wrongfully accused of hurting their child!?!

I have nothing to hide.  I would venture to say that most parents deal with moments when their children get physical with each other.  Bumps and bruises among siblings are fairly commonplace.  

So does that mean that now, since Kate is entering into a biting phase, that I need to make sure that she is never around Peter for fear that if she bites comes another 51a?  What about the scab on his face that he keeps picking at?  Does that mean another 51a?

I can't keep Peter in a bubble to make sure that he never gets hurt.  And I feel like we are under a microscope that will send someone running to the state to cover their butt every time they see a bump or bruise!

How is that fair?

How am I supposed to parent feeling like someone is always looking over my shoulder?  I feel like every word and every action will be picked apart.  I am second guessing everything, worrying about being scrutinized by people that know nothing about me but will come to judge me and my ability to parent.

It's a horrible feeling.

I guess I can only speak for myself...maybe it wouldn't really bother some families?  I don't know.

I do know that I can't stop crying about it.  I know that I feel so frustrated because I am powerless to change anything or protect my family from it happening again.  (Except maybe by keeping Luke or Peter attached to my hip to make sure there is no rough housing!  Yeah, that's realistic!?!)

I know that my anxiety and fear are at very unhealthy levels.  I know that I will never be able to truly relax again with the school Peter is at....there will always be some level of worry.  My relationship with his teachers and the director of the program will never be the same again, either.  I have always felt that we were a team working for I just feel like it's us against the world.

My knee jerk reaction is to yank him out of the school.  Unfortunately, this is the first time in 3 years that he is actually having a really good year.  So do I take him out of that environment and drop him somewhere else mid-year?  Is that fair to him?

I honestly don't know if I can make it through the year, though.  I have resolved to not make any decisions until this has passed and the dust has settled a bit.  It's just so hard:(

I just feel so discouraged....

I have to say that our sped director was very kind...and the director of our home therapy services and Peter's home therapist have been very supportive and willing to back us up completely.  A woman from a special DMR program that Peter was involved with for a year has been very supportive as well...even though his participation in the program ended in September.  I'm grateful for their support and the encouragement of our friends and family.  I'm grateful that after speaking to people involved in Peter's life, especially the director of his home therapy, that the state found no reason to open a formal investigation.

But it still sucks to have to go through this.

Raising a child with special needs, and all the extra sacrifices it takes, can be exhausting.  Parents of special needs kids need all the support we can get.  Being reported falsely and living in the atmosphere where we have to fear being reported again for easily explained incidences does not make our lives easier.

We already live life hard....we don't need the people that should be supporting us to make life harder.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

God Thought

I can't believe that Christmas is two weeks away!  December always goes by at lightning speed...and each year I still find myself surprised.

Despite a good start, I find myself lagging behind in creating my master to-do list.  Despite not having the list, or being as organized as I usually am, I still find that I have peace about it all in my heart.  This morning I realized that another layer of simplification will be in order...and I'm really ok about it.  I have a baby and a toddler and not enough time and not enough energy to accomplish everything I really want to.  It's just where we are at this year.

And, honestly, the emotional upheaval  that last week's events caused still has me feeling unsettled.  It's amazing how working through your emotions over a situation can take so much longer than the situation itself!

Anyway, as promised, I will be explaining it all in my blog post tomorrow.  Thanks for the I said, I'm still trying to work through it all in my head.

My inspiration for today came from a thought from God that led to a peaceful morning...when it easily could have been a very tough morning.

It's work day...Luke and Kate aren't sleeping well because of sinus colds/coughs, which means I'm sleeping even worse than usual.  Jay also had to leave extra early this am to drop off paperwork before his day could start.

So...I didn't wake up early and Jay, forgetting I was working, woke me up late.  As I jumped in the shower, I had the thought that whether I freak out or whether I encourage everyone and stay positive and do what needs to be done to get everyone out of the house, the end result would be the same.  I could freak out, hurt people's feelings and end up with guilt.  Or I could focus on getting ready as best I could and remain calm.

Definitely a 'God Thought'!

I made the choice, and received the grace, to get through the morning and get out of the house pretty much on time.

Along the same lines, my thoughts on Christmas took the same path.  I do not want to be a stressed out, miserable person trying to do everything I 'think' should be done in preparation for Christmas.  So what if I only make 4 kinds of cookies instead of 10?  So what if the house is not decorated as much as it could be?  I have things that absolutely need to get some baking and wrapping and cleaning...but I can make a list and work it out with Jay and the older kids to get the help I need, or to delegate the tasks that they can handle.

Realistically, even the house isn't where I would like it to be.  There are walls and trim work that need repainting.  There are cabinets that need to be built in our family room.  The family room itself still needs to be painted since last year it was an entryway and 2 separate bedrooms until 2 walls were removed....and it's still 2 different colors.

It's just challenging with a (clingy)baby, a (very busy!)toddler, a child with special needs, 5 older kids involved in different sports, and a husband that works 2 jobs.  Just getting the laundry, the dishes, driving everyone where they need to be, being emotionally and physically present to the kids to meet their needs, basic cleaning and the grocery shopping done feels like a Herculean task most weeks.....never mind the "extra projects."

Challenging...but how do I deal with it?  I do get frustrated sometimes...just ask Jay.  More often, I do accept that this is just where we are right now.  We are a work in progress!  (Jay reminds me of that a lot...and sometimes I remind him:)

So I will focus on my 'God Thought' from today....focus on making the "getting there" of all our every day moments as positive an experience as I can!(even when the 'getting there' takes a lot more time than I wanted!)
Has God inspired you in a special way? Or used you to inspire someone else?  Consider sharing your story by linking below and join my 2012 Advent Challenge!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hope...and Somehow Things Always Work Out

Today, I felt God's touch through our pastor's homily.  Actually, from the 2 sentences I actually heard from our pastor's homily.  I missed the readings and the Gospel because of 3 children that are outnumbering us and making it impossible challenging to actually pay attention while we are at church.

Kate has found her voice...and her screech!  Once she realized that the church echoes, it was all over!  Now , distraction with crackers, or toys, or nursing only lasts so long.

Luke is that very difficult 3 year old stage of a rambunctious little boy.  Sitting still for him is a challenge.  Playing quietly with the trucks he chooses to bring is a challenge.  He does not whisper and he is very wiggly.

Peter is Peter.  He is always wiggly.  He does not whisper.  He is obsessing over several phrases and sounds and says them over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.!  Then there is always the random standing up and turning around.  I always feel bad for the people around us.  Although, really, most people that are regulars know who we are, (we're pretty hard to miss), so I guess if they choose to sit around us it just is what it is.

Trying to keep the three of them quiet is so much work.  Paying attention is so hard, so bits and pieces of things is all that we hear.  The very few bits and pieces that I heard was an extra difficult day....came from our pastor's homily and included the word hope multiple times and the idea that 'somehow things always seem to work themselves out.'

It was a good message for me after the week we just came off of.  Thankfully, the difficult moment that we faced seemed to have fizzled out.  By tomorrow afternoon we should know for sure.  While I feel a great amount of relief, I'm still dealing with and trying to work through the whirlwind of emotions I'm still feeling.  I feel like a boxer that won a fight but still has to deal with all the cuts and bruises and pain in the days that follow.

But I will choose to focus on the (very few) words I heard this morning:  "Hope"...."and somehow things always work out."

...and I'm making a visual rewards chart for Peter for Mass next week to see if we can improve his behavior.    And I think we will be sitting in the back for a while.  And I think Kate and Luke will be spending  a lot of time in the 'cry room'.  Peter might end up there, too!
Did God inspire you to do something that made a difference?  Or did God inspire someone else to make a difference in your life?  If He has, please share your post and link up below to join my 2012 Advent Challenge!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Be Anxious for Nothing...

Today I have been seeking God's comfort.  When I started the 2012 Advent Challenge, I expected my own contribution to be a lot of warm, fuzzy moments because that's the way the first few days of Advent started for me.  That's not the way it ended up after Wednesday.  It still hasn't been resolved so I still can't explain it fully, yet.  But the post is already written and saved.

It has been a challenge to function on any "normal" level when something so big preoccupies my minds and  my heart feels like an elephant is sitting on it.  I feel like everything needs to be put on hold until this issue is resolved.  Although, even once the resolution comes the effects of what we have been through will still have to be dealt with and we may need to make some changes because of it.

But for today...for Living in This Moment in the Eyes of Faith...God spoke to me through a facebook post from a young woman that I have never met but is someone we have a special connection to.  Let me explain it a little!

A couple of years ago, a visiting missionary priest from Rwanda, Fr. Leonard, came to our parish.  He shared about his country, and a donation was taken up that day.  But it didn't end there.  Fr. Leonard was doing advanced studies in a seminary about an hour away from our parish.  After his visit, some people were inspired to connect our Parish school with a service project to raise money to help some Rwandan children attend school for the year.  Our school ended up sponsoring 10 children, doing a fundraiser later in the year to send soccer balls to the Rwandan children, and now we hold a yearly Variety Show to raise the funds to continue sponsoring the same 10 children in their schooling.

Fr. Leonard has visited our parish many times since that first day.  He is such a joy filled priest!  Jay was very inspired when Fr. Leonard first came and had started a dialogue that has led to a warm friendship with our family.  Before it was set up with the school to sponsor the school children, Jay asked him if there was anyone we could personally help with schooling.  Fr. Leonard had a niece that was in the middle of their equivalent to college whose father had fallen ill and needed financial help.  We had the blessing, along with a couple of our friends, to help Stella finish her degree.  We corresponded with Stella by email several times a year.  She is a faithful, hard working young woman!

It was her post that inspired me a whisper from God that touched my heart.

"Be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and petition,with thanksgiving,present your requests to God, and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts. Phil.4:6-7"

..."and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts."  My take, and how it comforts me, is that despite all the craziness that attacks our lives right now, God's peace can still be in our hearts.  And not only be present in our hearts, but guard our hearts!  Why guard?  Because when we are hurting it can be like an open door for spiritual attacks to come and rip away the peace we so desperately need even more when we are struggling with something in our lives.  We have definitely experienced those attacks here in the last day and a half!

So, special thanks to Stella.  Ironically, her inspiration to me comes on a day that I will be giving Fr. Leonard something that I felt inspired to give to Stella a couple of weeks ago.

The short story is that at the Variety Show that raised money for Rwanda a couple of weeks ago, one of our parishioners was selling Silpada jewelry and offering all the profits as a donation.  She was also raffling off the hostess bonus and the winner would receive the money towards free jewelry that the party generated.  The night of the Variety Show, I ordered something for Sarah that Ellie desperately wanted to give her and I ordered something that Andrew had picked out for his girlfriend for Christmas.  I had the thought of wanting to get something for Stella, but the jewelry I was eyeing did not fit into my budget!

So...guess what happened!  I was the winner of the drawing!  I never win anything either!  I got to go on a shopping spree with a little over $300!  I got the bracelet for Stella I was eyeing, 2 pairs of earrings for friends that God put on my heart that I don't ever exchange gifts with,  a pair of earrings for Ellie, a pair of earrings for a family Yankee Swap we do at Christmas, and, I even got a pair of earrings for myself!  I have wanted a nice pair of snowflake earrings for a couple of years...Silpada had them and they were on clearance!  That made it feel even better!

I have to wrap the bracelet and a faith book that Jay wanted to give her.  We will see Fr. Leonard tonight and he is heading to Rwanda in a couple of weeks to celebrate a wedding for his family.  Perfect timing:)

That's how God used someone to inspire me today...and how God used me to bless someone else!

Do you have a story about inspiring or being inspired by God to share?  Link up below with the post to share and inspire others:)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When Things Get Bumpy

I'm reeling today from a situation that happened yesterday.  I can't explain the details here yet, but I have shed many tears and muttered many prayers to try and work through it all.

So....since it's still my 2012 Advent Challenge no matter how I feel.....I guess the question is "How do I see God work and find God's inspiration when I'm feeling so sad(and angry, and fearful, and discouraged)?"

For today, I would have to say that I have found God underneath all the yucky feelings in a level of peace that I know would only be possible with God.  I have found the introspection and desire to do things the right through my feelings, confront the people that need to be confronted in a (mostly) calm, rational way, and to work to forgive and not allow bitterness to take root in my heart.  I reached out to people that had professional information to help me, too.  I am not willing to just sit back and be a victim.

At the same time, it's not easy to accept the reality that I have no real control about the chance of a repeat appearance in the future of this same situation.

It was incredibly difficult to get out of bed this morning...and not only because the sleep I got was broken and restless.  Facing the day was not easy, but it had to be done.

Advent is a time of penance....and my Advent penance has definitely been provided!  I would have rather given up chocolate!

"I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me"....I have repeated this phrase many times today.

I am trying to see how God can bring good out of the situation we find ourselves in and I am trying to praise Him through it all!
Has God inspired you to do something special or meaningful today(or recently:) for someone....or has someone done something inspired for you?  Please consider linking up and sharing that experience below!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soaking in the Good Moments

I'm continuing with my 2012 Advent Challenge of Living in the Moment Through the Eyes of Faith.  My inspiration for today came from Mothering From Scratch in today's post titled 'Delayed Gratification'.  Melinda wrote about her teenage daughter and used a present day moment to launch into the idea that someday her daughter would come to understand and appreciate all the time, love and boundaries they gave her.

Melinda's post was encouraging to me since I often have the same thoughts about my own teenagers, especially my oldest.  I know that Mike dismisses my worry with his teenage confidence.  He often overlooks the privileges that he takes for granted(like having a family that loves him, a house to live in, a car to drive, the opportunity to go to college, etc.)....although I am guilty of that offense at times as well.  He usually doesn't see all the thought that goes into cooking a special meal with him in mind, or buying him a little something because he was on my heart....or trying to rack my brain to find a Christmas present that will please him because he likes to be "surprised"....or trying to stay positive and patient even when his attitude is less than desirable.

Sometimes I feel so frustrated that it makes me just want to give up and just wait until he matures and grows out of this stage!  (Do parenting stages ever really end?)

Someday....probably not until he is a parent himself...he will understand.  Hopefully he will see my perseverance with his ups and downs as an act of love.  Hopefully he will see our Wednesday trips to the store, or the zoo, or to lunch as proof of how loved he was...even when he didn't want to feel it!

I have to adjust my attitude as well, and soak in the "good moments" to be more resilient to the not-so-good moments!


If you feel like God inspired you today, or recently, consider linking up below to share your story and encourage others to see God working in their every day lives, too:)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Choices and Opportunities

I am excited to blog today because of the way that God has funneled the ideas in my head for this post. I am continuing my Advent 2012 challenge: Live in the Moment Through the Eyes of Faith! I am having a link up for each day for anyone that wants to share how God is working in and through our lives. Maybe it's an act of kindness or generosity or a word of hope or wisdom you have been inspired to do for someone...or something inspired that someone did/said to you or someone close to you? I invite you to link up at the end of this post:)

Today's inspiration for me actually began this morning with a not-so-stellar 'mommy moment'. I was in the kitchen trying to make lunches, prep a crock pot dinner, and get ready for work. It never fails that either Kate or Luke or both of them together don't sleep well Monday nights so, getting up earlier on Tuesday mornings to get out of the house on time, never seems to happen as it should. I was also worrying about Mike who has been a little down lately and trying to figure out how to help him.

Anyway, amidst the 'normal chaos', Ellie picks this morning to be extra chatty about miscellaneous things. (Ironically, Ellie only said 'da da' until she was 2...we always say she has been making up for lost time ever since!) With minutes to go before Jay and the girls left for school, her 243rd comment of the day ,"Mom, why do football players want to jump into the crowd during football games?", threw me over the edge.  I was feeling overwhelmed and snapped at her that I didn't know and I didn't really care at that moment. It's definitely not going to get me nominated for 'mom of the year'.

 I had the random thought that, if life were like a game show where a buzzer went off every time I had a non-loving moment, that would have been one of them!:(

Fast forward to lunch time when I was checking my emails, facebook and blog....when I noticed that my friend, Anne-Marie,  had joined my link-up from yesterday.(Thank-you, thank-you!:)

Anyway....some of the things she said really made me think. The gist of how it touched me is that if I'm not bring life giving love to my family, then all the other 'extra stuff' I could do for them really doesn't matter. So what if I can give them clean clothes, or food for their bellies, or gifts from their wish list if I can't fill them with the most important and very first

We can't build joyous events without a foundation of love. Picture a pyramid in your head...please:) Make it red and green to designate it a Christmas pyramid. At the top is the actual Christmas celebration...but if we don't have a good base about why we celebrate in the first place then that pyramid will come tumbling down with the inevitable stress that excitement, change of routine, too much sugar and not enough sleep will bring. 

If God is the base of our pyramid and the next block is prayer and love, we will be off to a great start. If we find a way to concentrate on that, then we will get the grace to complete the other blocks that we would like to form our pyramid shopping, baking, wrapping, etc. And, more importantly, if we concentrate on God as our base, then we won't fall apart if the blocks we wanted to get to in our 'master plan' don't happen in the perfect way...or even happen at all!

 Let's face it, low expectations are needed sometimes! But wouldn't a simpler, quiet Christmas be better than a busy Christmas with a melting down, Mama? I think, as moms, we have all these great thoughts and ideas in our heads and then crack when we don't live up to our own expectations! But did our family really want or need all those presents, activities,decorations, ___________ (fill in the blank).

Is that really what God wants for our families?

~What do we really want our kids' memories to be when they are adults?
~Us stressed out and freaking out because we took on too much and expect perfection?
~Will anyone really remember those uncleaned nooks or disorganized cabinets?
~Isn't it the "warm fuzzies" we want them to hold in their heart...the feelings of closeness and love?(in spite of the inevitable meltdowns and squirmishes...there is no perfection!)

Start with the bare minimum...then anything else we feel inspired to do will be bonus points!

Today, I chose poorly and allowed my stress to overtake the much more important focus of my daughter's feelings. I feel bad that I hurt her feelings and am looking forward to her coming home from school so I can apologize.

Isn't it a blessing that I have the opportunity to make my afternoon better than my morning?

Just like this Christmas is an opportunity to make it into what it needs to be for our family based on our circumstances this year!
 Did God touch you in a special way that you want to share? Consider linking up below!

Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 Advent Challenge

A friend of mine forwarded me a story.  I thought it was great and fit in with the way I've felt God moving in my life lately and it certainly fits with my theme of Living in the Moment Through the Eyes of Faith!  What if, for this season of Advent, (of waiting and of hope), we really tried to be aware of the way God is working in our life?  Not only in the big things, but in the little things?  And what if we shared these moments with each other to give God the 'shout out' and to share the moments that He amazes us to encourage each other and give each other hope?

I think it could be a great way to search for God in this special month....

What do you think?

I will start.  It's only something small today, but God can do such amazing things no matter what the size!

This morning, my friend, Janine, popped into my head.  Her amazing family lives about an hour from us and we don't see her and her husband and their 16(!) children very often.  (She could actually have 17 children by now but I haven't gotten her Christmas card yet...or even 18 since she's had 2 sets of twins!)  But, Janine and her husband, Jay, are the kind of friends that when we do get together every couple of years, it just feels like we picked right up where we left off.  Great people!

Fast forward to this afternoon, and she is the friend who sent me the following story.  Definitely a least I think so! Plus, what she sent inspired me to suggest sharing the way God is moving in our lives during Advent, aka Advent Challenge 2012!

I am seriously stretching my technical ability by trying to start a link party!  Hopefully it works!

If you feel inspired to join in at any time this Advent, just link on up!  The goal is to be more aware and to praise God for His influence in our lives and to bring encouragement and hope to each other through our experiences!

Here's the story...hope it inspries you, too!

"Friends are God's way of taking care of us."
This was written by a Metro Denver Hospice Physician:

I was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in traffic on Colorado Blvd ., and the car started to choke and splutter and die - I barely managed to coast, cursing, into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck. It wouldn't even turn over. Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the " quickie mart " building, and it looked like she slipped on some ice and fell into a Gas pump, so I got out to see if she was okay

When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, and I picked it up to give it to her. It was a nickel.

At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat), and the gas pump reading $4.95.

I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept saying " don't want my kids to see me crying," so we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and that things were very hard for her right now. So I asked, "And you were praying?" That made her back a away from me a little, but I assured her I was not a crazy person and said, "He heard you, and He sent me."

I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fuelling , walked to the next door McDonald's and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car, who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little.

She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City Her boyfriend left 2 months ago and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn't have money to pay rent Jan 1, and finally in desperation had finally called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about 5 years. They lived in California and said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there.

So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.

I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said, "So, are you like an angel or something?"

This definitely made me cry. I said, "Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people."

It was so incredible to be a part of someone else's miracle. And of course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I'll put it in the shop tomorrow to check, but I suspect the mechanic won't find anything wrong.

Sometimes the angels fly close enough to you that you can hear the flutter of their wings...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's December!

Happy December!  This is such a special month!  So much excitement, lots of special traditions, yummy cookies and cakes and pies, special family time....a jam packed month for sure!

Last night we watched Unaccompanied Minors(Jon's request) and today we put up our Christmas tree.  It went well for the most part....there was one accidental elbow between Mike and Ellie and Luke threw a candle into the Christmas bin and broke a decorative candle holder.  No major arguments or problems!

I just love Christmas lights.  There is something just so magical about the glow of the Christmas tree lights and the lights around our living room windows!  Definitely one of my favorite things!

Another momentous occasion took place today!  Kate took her very first step:)  She is 17 days shy of her first birthday!  (Where the heck did that year go!)  She got so excited when I started cheering for her!  Then she took her second step to daddy(and he just melted:).  Yep, he's wrapped around another baby girl's finger!