Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grown-Up Lunch

I got to act like a grown up today and go to lunch with other grown-ups!  My sister invited me to the community college where she works, (and where Mike goes to school), to attend the special Thursday lunches that their culinary program puts on every spring.  Today's country theme was France...and it did not disappoint!

After a homemade roll, our very friendly student-waitress brought us some french onion soup.  It smelled as good as it tasted.  The salad was very fancy with lettuce, tomatoes, and blue cheese cut very small and placed within a long thin strip of cucumber wrapped in a circle.

I chose the chicken in wine sauce as my entree and it was served with some very yummy au gratin potatoes and peas.  Dessert was especially good...a mudslide torte filled with chocolate mousse.

I have been able to go to one of the spring lunches for the last three years!  My sister and her co-workers are fun to eat with.  One of her co-workers has 4 children who are college age and a little older.  I enjoy talking to her and gleaning her experience for that particular stage in life...and it's nice to see that she has survived it!

When the girls came in the house, they asked me why I was dressed fancy.(i.e. not wearing sweats or jeans and a t-shirt).  I reminded them that I had gone to lunch with Auntie Melissa for French inspired food.

Ellie's excited response, "Did you get french fries!?!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

C.W.A.

I'll be linking up today with  Things I can't say(something old) and Suscipio(something new)....Suscipio is a borrowed idea from Martin Family Moments and the something blue...to finish off this little "wedding rhyme" that popped into my head...was Peter's very bad day at school yesterday that included him throwing a desk and biting two of his teachers:(  (Hopefully, his day is better today...holding my breath waiting for a phone call that (I hope) won't come!)

C.W.A. Stands for Catholic Women's Almanac.....

Things I'm Thanking God For:

~Being able to stay home on this rainy, cold day and enjoy my little ones.  Lots of snuggles and playtime!
~Seeing Mike(20) and Luke(3) snuggling on the couch watching The Land Before Time II.  A new movie for Luke, who has recently gotten into dinosaurs, and a blast from the past for Mike.  I haven't managed to sneak a pic of the two of them yet(Mike keeps noticing)!
~The work that I know He is going to do in Mike!

Reading:
~Boudaries With Teens by Dr. Henry Towsend
~How to Raise Almost Perfect Kids by Dr. Gregory Popcak
(Those are for guidance for When Parenting Isn't Easy)

~Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst(for book club)
~Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss(for bible study)
~Full of Grace by Johnette Benkovic(for my Parish's women's group)

Pondering:
The definition of contemplative prayer...a subject brought up at the women's group last night.

Praying:
For all my kids....but especially my oldest.
For a family member in the midst of a separation.
For our next Pope.
For my husband who has been having a very bad week(struggles with his job and someone stole his GPS)

Cooking:
~I just threw together a small chicken parmesan meal for Mike for lunch.
~I have a cranberry pork roast cooking in the slow cooker for supper.(I like to cook meals from scratch and I am blessed to be home and able to do it:)
~I made a chocolate chip cheesecake on Sunday for Jon's birthday....it's his favorite!

Wearing:
~Comfy black yoga pants and a $5 clearance rack Gap long sleeve t-shirt that is incredibly soft!

Creating:
~Ways to make our budget work until our tax returns come in.  (Can.not.wait!  It's becoming a struggle to "borrow from Peter to pay Paul"!)

Waiting For:
Spring!!!!  And warm weather so I can finally escape the house with these little ones!

Captured:

A baby girl who adores her older brother!  (And a big brother who adores, and is very patient, with his baby sister!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

When Parenting Just Isn't Easy

Each stage of parenting and child development has its own challenges and high points.

Parenting in the older teen years, and now early young adult years, for Mike is proving to be incredibly challenging.  There is just so much drama and angst!

Maybe it's because he's the first child and is the first to prepare to leave the nest?  Maybe it's just his personality combined with life experiences?  I don't know...but it just is not easy right now!

It's so hard with the redefining of relationships as he gets older.  Finding a balance between parent and child as he takes on more independence and responsibility...but still lives in our house...is proving to be emotionally exhausting.

Teenagers have quite a bit of self focus!  Trying to help them work through all of their feelings in a healthy way is important, but not always easy.  Mike tends to  'emotionally vomit' on us...which isn't fun.

I have compassion on how difficult this stage is for him.  Everything is changing and uncertain.  He is trying to figure out the direction for his life...what career he wants to pursue...when he will find the right woman...where he will finish his college degree.

It doesn't help that we don't have any personal experience for this stage of life.  By the time Jay and I were 20, we were married, had a 16 month old and had another baby on the way!  I know we made mistakes along the way.  It's definitely better to be an adult first before you have children!  Some of Mike's spiritual struggles stem from things beyond our control...like the grief from losing a baby sister and having a brother with special needs and the way it affects our family.  We can't force him to deal with it...though I wish we would have done more with therapy when it happened.  Kids can seem resilient and fine at the time, but they internalize things that can get stuck and wreak havoc later on in life.

Ugh...there's so many ways to feel like a bad parent!

Mike has so much going for him.  He is smart, hardworking(when it doesn't have to do with something we ask him to do!), and frugal.  He is doing great in college and is focused on his education.  He doesn't drink or do drugs or have bad friends.

It sounds like I'm complaining about nothing, right!?!

It's his at home attitude when he's not "happy Mike".  When he's got negative feeling that he doesn't know how to deal with and the emotional vomit begins it is frustrating and discouraging.  The disrespect is not ok....and his inability to see the disrespect and hurtful attitude and the way it affects us and his siblings is so.incredibly.frustrating.

Sometimes it makes me just want to give up and just put it on cruise control until he goes away to school in September...just manage to co-exist!

But we all deserve more than that!  That won't help him to grow into an adult that can work through his emotions in a positive way, either.  I want to have a healthy and close relationship with him, not cringe every time he walks into the room because I don't know what to expect.  That's codependency!  I have spent many years and may therapy dollars to work through those issues in my own life so I didn't pass on those patterns to my kids!

In addition to bringing this situation to prayer, I picked up books that I've had for several years to seek some guidance; Parenting with Grace by Gregory Popcak and Boundaries With Teens by Henry Townsend.  Hopefully they can shed some light on the way to proceed.

Anyone have some advice to share?  Either as parents of young adults or from growing up in a Catholic family and positive ways your parents handled this particular stage?  How to handle struggles with faith and not wanting to go to church each week?  A disrespectful attitude at times towards family?

I know that it could be so much worse....but it also could be so much better!  So that's what I'm striving for! I know that this is yet another situation in life that will be a marathon and not a sprint!

Gotta love all these opportunities to work on patience and fortitude!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jon!

I'm getting to this post much later than I wanted to today!

Happy 17th Birthday, Jonathan!

I cannot believe that 17 years ago today I was holding his new, little body in my arms.  With a very quick 45 minute labor, all 7lbs. 8oz. of beautiful baby boy entered our life.

We didn't know if he was a boy or a girl before he was born because he was always "shy" during the ultrasounds.  Since we had 2 boys already, I was convinced that he was a girl!  So much so that I only had a girl's name picked out, (Abigail Caroline), and I had bought an Easter dress for "her" to wear.

When Jon was born, there was no disappointment that he wasn't a girl.  I remember how he was already crying as he was being born and I reached down to bring him onto my chest saying, "It's ok, baby, mama's here."  When I glanced at Jay, he had tears in his eyes as he watched his newest baby boy's arrival!  (And he was a very proud papa of three sons!)

Jon grew into a very chubby baby.  He was very attached to mama for quite a while!  He was always  a snuggler...which I loved.


 Look at that cute little face!



Jon was always a teaser as well!  I may have shared this before (sorry if I did!), but one of my earliest and most vivid memories of Jon is when he was around 16 or 17 months old.  Mike and Andrew were playing with their toy farm in their bedroom, when shrieking erupted.  As I walked toward the room, Jon came running out as fast as his wobbly little toddler legs would go with a toy cow in his hand and the biggest mischievous smile on his face with a look of complete glee in his eyes!

I knew then that I was in trouble with this little boy!


Jon is the kid that puts tape on the kitchen sink sprayer so that someone gets soaked.  He teases people to the point that his siblings are ready to throttle him!  His favorite target when he was younger was Mike.  Since Mike was 3 years older and so much bigger than Jon, there were times when we feared for Jon's well being!  Thankfully, he could run a lot faster than Mike!



There are also a lot of similarities between Jon and this little boy....(In a lot of ways it's like having a little Jon all over again!)  Don't Jon and Luke look a lot alike?!?

Jon still continues his teasing ways.  This past summer we visited Hershey Park and Jon came up with an interesting way to use a leftover sample piece of chocolate!

Jon is the most outgoing of our first 3 sons.  We jokingly call him "Mr, President".  He can start conversations with anyone and is super personable.

 (Jon loves the Patriots!)

Jon can also fall asleep anywhere.  He certainly enjoys napping!  He is known to fall asleep in the middle of family parties if he sits in one spot for too long.  His brothers say that he has controlled narcolepsy!

Jon is an easy going, spiritual kid.  He is involved in lots of clubs and sports at school.  Jon will be the varsity goalie in soccer next year, is on the varsity basketball team, and also plays on the newly formed volleyball team.  Jon is an alter server at our church and is very involved in the youth group, too.

So far, his teenage years have been very easy....and I hope that continues!  Jon is a hard worker and is just an overall enjoyable kid to be around!

Lest I make him sound like a saint, he does have one major weakness....he is a slob!  His room looks like it could be on an episode of Hoarders!  (Yes, Jon, I went there!)

 He's also a huge Notre Dame fan!

Other than the slob part, he is a great kid that is turning into a great young man!  Jay and I are really proud of him.

Happy 17th Birthday, Jon!  We love you:)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wings Contest!

Our three oldest sons are all born in February.  For the last several years, as their gift we take them out to lunch or dinner and then go someplace fun/interesting for the afternoon without all of their younger siblings.(except a nursing baby)

With birthdays so close to Christmas, there usually isn't anything that they really need or want, so spending time doing something together has been a fun alternative.  One year we went to the Patriot's Hall of Fame and then dinner at the CBS Scene.  Another year we went out to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and then played games at Dave and Buster's.

This year, we got some inspiration from the TV show "The Middle" to do something separate with each of them.  Getting alone time with each child when we are so outnumbered is something we need to make a conscious effort to plan.  They need it, and we need it, too.  It's amazing how the teenagers open up when you get them 1:1.

We will be taking Mike out for his day next week since he had to wait until basketball was done.  He wants the plan to remain a surprise...so mum's the word for now!

I had found something I knew Andrew would love...tickets to see Bill Cosby.  (Who Andrew loves to quote).  Jay and Andrew will be attending the show in a couple of weeks.  (It's at night and too late to bring Kate out...and too close to her bedtime when she really needs mommy to leave her behind.)

For Jon, I found an advertisement for a winter festival in Newport that included a "wings contest".  Jon loves chicken wings...especially buffalo wings!  So a wings contest is right up his alley!


So Jay and I headed out with Jon and Kate today.  The wings festival was busy!  They didn't allow carriages in the ballroom where it was being held, so it was quite challenging to hold Kate in one arm, a glass of water in the other, and get the wing samples.  But we managed!;)  Towards the end, I found a quieter corner with Kate and a couple of other toddlers and their parents.

....These were the trophies....
 ...Jay  and Jon right before we went in...
 ....Action photo!...
 ...Kate nibbling a chicken wing(Don't worry!  It was an empty wing that she snagged and I took it as a photo op moment!)
 ...Jon and Kate sharing a tech moment...
 ....Jon and mom:)

There were 11 different wing contestants.   Most contestants had 2 types of wings to try.  There were a lot of buffalo wings, a couple of gold fever wings, some bbq wings, a balsamic bacon wing (different!), oriental wings, peanut sauce wings, meditteranean wings, and probably a couple more I'm forgetting!

I was torn for a favorite between O'Brien's bbq wing and Rhody Joe's gold fever wings!  In the end, I voted for the bbq wing and Jay and Jon voted for the Rhody Joe's wing.  (They haven't posted the winners, yet!)

....Jay went back for "Just one more" of his favorite Rhody Joe's wing.(He came back with 2:)

After the contest, we walked around Newport for a while.  Jon got some of his favorite things....candy!
Then, he spotted a froyo store and wanted to try it!  Kate fell asleep right before we got there so she missed out!
 ....Jon enjoyed it:)...and he ate Kate's share, too!
Then we bought some chowder to bring home for tomorrow from the Black Pearl.  We had no room left after the wings and froyo!

It was a fun day.  We enjoyed spending the (almost) one on one time with Jon.  Since tomorrow is his actual birthday, it's like he has a whole weekend to celebrate!

....more on Jon tomorrow:)

Friday, February 22, 2013

The End of a Season and an Era

Last night, most of family went to watch Mike's last basketball game at his community college.  It is the "end of an era" for Mike because I don't think he will pursue playing at whatever college he goes to next year...though I'm sure he will probably join a club team and play pick up ball forever!

His basketball schedule has definitely dominated much of his life for the last two years.  His team starts practicing in early September and doesn't end until the end of February.  He spends hours almost every day with his team watching film, lifting weights and practicing.  Because they have to share a gym with the high school next door, their practices generally don't start until 8ish every night and last until 11 or 11:30.  Getting home at midnight, starving and needing a shower and a while to wind down, the mornings he has 8am classes for are a challenge to get up for.

(But get up he did!  Mike has a 3.9 GPA...something I'm even prouder about than his commitment to basketball!)

Here was Mike's last game in pictures....

....the sign we made to embarrass encourage him with.
 ...the pregame moment where they announced each of the graduating players and presented them with a framed action photo from the season.

...announcing Mike in the starting line up!  First time starting for Mike, and his teammates all imploded on him for a lot of enthusiastic bumps and fist pumps!
 ....Mike's personal fan section!
 ...a (kind of) action shot....
 ...intently watching his teammates.
 ...me and Kate, who was super adorable the whole game:)
 ...another action shot.
.....Mike and one of the graduating captains having a moment at the very end of the game.  Endings can be bittersweet!
 ...Mike with 2 of his biggest fans.(and Jon photo bombing in the background!)
 ...our 6'4" basketball loving young adult who now has quite a bit of time on his hands...and about to embark on the next part of this adventure called life!
  Congratulations, Mike...Dad and I are very proud of you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Vacation!

February Vacation week!  Oh, how I wish I was somewhere warm.  The couple of times that we have been blessed to go to Florida during February vacation were heavenly!  One of my favorite all time memories was sitting by the pool, eating dinner and watching the kids swim at 7pm on a February night!  It doesn't get much better than that!

Despite the lack of warm weather, it's been a good week so far.  The kids have done a lot of hanging out and relaxing.  They have spent, and will continue to spend, some time with friends.

I was the one feeling antsy today.  But with Peter having therapy in the am, Mike having an early morning college class and Jon needing to be at school for 3:30 to leave for his LAST BASKETBALL GAME of the season(!!Hooray...One season down and three to go!), it didn't leave me much time to do something.  I also didn't know what the "something" was that I wanted to do!

It's not easy to plan something(not too expensive) that a baby, a toddler, tweens and teens will all enjoy!

I was the only antsy one in the house anyway!  Jon, Sarah, and Ellie spent a long time playing Monopoly.  The boys spent some time playing video games.  After lunch, Andrew, Jon, Ellie and I spent time playing Just Dance 4.  (It's fun and exercise....I wish they had a Just Dance 80's Edition!)  Then Luke and I played Legos together.

It's been a nice, uneventful week so far!  Maybe there's not a lot of (extra) hoopla going on around here, but the kids are enjoying it!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey

I'm doing something new today:)...I stumbled across this a couple of weeks ago......



"I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by
Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”



Keeping Love in Lent is an interesting topic.  It should be a no brainer, right?  Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was all about love....giving things up for Lent is inspired by wanting to show our love and appreciation for His sacrifice and our desire to grow closer to Him.

And yet.....

Lent goes beyond the sacrifices we've decided to make and the prayers we've decided to add....I think of those as our "voluntary penances".

How about all of those "involuntary penances"?  Have you found that this season of the year is filled with challenges and changes that were completely unexpected on a day to day basis.  It's like God is..ahem...blessing us with our own special opportunities that challenge us to stretch and grow beyond our comfort zone!

Our very own personalized Lenten journey!

 People that I know will be feeling frazzled because "X, y, and z happened and I don't know why?"...and I look at them and say, "It's Lent!"  

This Lent has certainly not been disappointing for me in regards to involuntary penances.  In fact, Ash Wednesday was one of the most emotional days I've had in a long time.  I found myself struggling with a lot of unexplained anxiety that day that, by dinner time, was making it challenging to function.  While I was making dinner, I received a text message that a couple close to me was separating.

I felt devastated....for both of them and for their families.  My heart just ached over it. 

To top off the day, there were two basketball games that night and a practice, and Andrew was working, so I was home with all the little kids with only Ellen as back-up.  Kate's molars were breaking through so she was clingy and miserable.  She was exhausted, but the only place she would sleep was in my arms.  Luke was being 3, and particularly whiny that night as well.  I couldn't get the dishes done and the house looked like it had thrown up on itself.  When the teenagers did come home  they were tired and a bit cranky from fasting all day.  And I was emotionally reeling.

Involuntary penances.

God graciously provided a couple more examples of involuntary penances last night as I was trying to finish this post in my head!

Yesterday, Mike had his last college basketball away game.  It took the team 2 and 1/2 hours to get there and both the men's and women's teams were playing so they had a school bus and driver for the day.  The girls played first followed by a very "chippy" guys game that had a lot of bumping and back and forth that ended with a win for Mike's team.

When the bus driver walked out of the building, he was jumped by students from the other school.  Thankfully, his injuries were not serious, but the EMT's told him he couldn't drive home.  Instead of being home by 7:30, they had to wait for another driver and the bus did not leave for home until close to 10!  They arrived at Mike's college a little after midnight.  Mike started driving home with a couple of his teammates but something wasn't right....flat tire!  The guys tried to change it but one of the bolts was stuck!

Thankfully, we have AAA.  Mike called me to tell me what had happened.  I can never really sleep soundly until my kids are all safe in the house at night.  Until I hear the sound of Mike's alarm beeping and hear him walk in the door and lock it behind him, I am only dozing.  I am grateful that Mike didn't have to wait long....only 20 minutes.  He called me again around 12:45am to tell me he was on the way home.

So Mike had opportunities to be patient, and wait, and then be patient and wait again.  I had the opportunity to be patient and wait and sacrifice sleep.  

Involuntary penances!

Just some of the "perks" in Lent!

Keeping love in Lent by having the right reactions to these "opportunities" can be really challenging!  I wish I could say that I rise to each challenge like a mountain climber until I reach the peak of holiness.

Umm...no!

Thankfully, God always gives us more chances to have the right response!  (And Confession!)

 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

    his mercies never come to an end;
23 
they are new every morning"
Lamentations 3;22-23

Has God given you a very personalized Lenten Journey this year?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.
Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!







Saturday, February 16, 2013

Party Fun

Last night I threw small surprise party for Andrew.  Eight of his friends, including his girlfriend, were over for a night of Quelf(a very funny game the teens are hooked on), chatting, Just Dance 4, and a little Mario Cart.  Add in some cookies and caramel chocolate pretzel creations made by his girlfriend, some chips, soda, cheese pizza(since it was a Friday in Lent), and some chocolate cupcakes that I made using my mil's recipe, and it was a really good night.

The teenagers all got along well and had a lot of fun.  Andrew was surprised, which was great!  I thought he had overheard us talking about it and was just pretending not to know.

I kept it small since Andrew is not a big fan of being the center of attention!  I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he's 18!

I'm glad I had the party.  It had it's bumpy moments....

Like when I overcooked the bottoms of one of the cupcake tins...the other tin came out fine!  Must be the oven!  But I just saved those for our family...no one complained!

And when Luke picked pieces off of the top of several of the cupcakes while they were cooling when we were all busy cleaning and not paying attention to him for 20 seconds!  That was not a stellar moment!

And when Peter was Soooo excited for the party(and the cupcakes) and kept hugging Courtney and her friend and making loud noises while we were waiting for Andrew.

Never a dull moment in our house!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Blogiversary!

Today is my "blogiversary"!

One year ago, I finally took a step toward's my years long desire to write by starting a blog.

I'm really glad I did.

I love that I have a place where memories have been captured that the kids will someday use to see a glimpse of their family life.

I love that I have a place to write my feelings and thoughts.  I hope that it will help my children to know me better and to see my joys and struggles with parenting and family life when they have families of their own someday.

I am grateful to have something for me that I have consistently stuck with for so long.

Sometimes I feel tempted to go all firstborn, type A personality in regards to blogging.  I start to get discouraged about growing my blog, or overwhelmed with the technology options that I don't really understand, or get frustrated about not knowing if blogging will need to a "next step" in this writing adventure and what I need to do to get there.

Instead of giving up, I have been able to take a breath and refocus and pray that God guides me in the direction I'm supposed to go.  Blogging has given me the opportunity to practice contentment and just choose to appreciate where I am on this writing journey.  Because of blogging, I have concentrated more on "Living in the Moment  Through the Eyes of Faith" with my children, my husband, my extended family and friends, and even in growing and expanding my blog.  (Slowly, slowly, slowly...but God certainly knows I need to practice patience!)

Not all of my children always appreciate that I blog.  Occasionally, the teenagers make the comment when they say or do something, "This better not end up on your blog, Mom!"

I think they enjoy reading the family stories from past and present moments, too.  :)

I like the connections I have made with other women bloggers.  I have gotten some great ideas, learned from other people's writing styles, and am privileged to have a glimpse into other people's lives.

Thank-you to all of my readers who take the time to have a glimpse into my "Normal Chaos"!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Angst

I know there is a side of Valentine's Day that includes roses, candy, and special treats.  My day actually included all of those things!  (Thanks, Honey, the roses are beautiful!)

Valentine's Day can also include a lot of angst!  We've had a lot of that around here, too.

Watching a couple that is close to us go through a separation is very painful.  It is ironic that on a day that is meant to bring couples together, a marriage is taking a break.

There is angst for a son who has not had a girlfriend.  Valentine's Day is like a slap in the face since everywhere he turns is a reminder of what he doesn't have....yet!  I really believe that God is just protecting him in a special way...and I know that he will meet someone once he gets to college next year and actually has time to do something besides play basketball!  But, that's no consolation for him right now.

Another son has angst because, although he has a girlfriend, she had too many tests to study for tonight and couldn't get together.

I have to admit that my heart is hurting for the broken marriage.  I'm not feeling very celebratory when two people that we are so close to are hurting so much.

Another Valentine's Day bummer.....3 basketball games tonight!!! I mean, really!?!  At first we thought there was just one, so Jay and I were going to go to the game together.  Not a whole lot of romance watching a bunch of sweaty teenage boys running up and down the court, but at least we would be together.

Then we found out that both the girls had games.  The girls' games are at the same place but one was at 6:00 and the other at 7:30.  Jon's is at the high school at 6:30!  Ugh!

So, Jay raced home, ate dinner standing up, and raced out the door to get Ellie to her game.  After Ellie's game, they both went to Jon's game.  Jay's dad took Sarah to her 7:30 game.

When Jay gets home it will be around 9:30.  Our romantic moment will be falling asleep on the couch next to each other 10 minutes after we both sit down.....

Good thing love isn't just about a day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What a Roller Coaster!

Well...Lent is less than 24 hours old and I already feel like I've been on a roller coaster with my emotions.  (I really don't like roller coasters!  I'm more of a lazy river in the water park kind of gal!)

I've felt like my emotions are a pot of soup that someone turned the heat up too high on and I'm just bubbling and spurting all over the place!

And I'm not even sure why I feel that way!?!

Welcome to Lent...guess I have 40 days to figure it out!

Tonight we got news from opposite extremes of the happiness spectrum.  The difficult news is that someone close to us has a struggling marriage that is escalating to the next stage.  It's breaking my heart for the pain they are both going through.......Prayers would be much appreciated.

An hour later, I remembered that the night before, a woman from our parish who also works for one of the colleges that Andrew applied to mentioned how great it was that he had gotten a merit scholarship.

A merit scholarship?  He had gotten an acceptance package but never mentioned anything about a scholarship to that university.

Well, I forgot about it by the time I got home.  Tonight I remembered and went to find his acceptance folder.  Sure enough, on the second sheet of paper behind his acceptance letter was the letter explaining the scholarship!

This particular school is our local state university.  In all honesty, it's his back-up school, but there was always a good chance he would actually go there without an incredible aid package from one of the other two schools.

Anyway...the scholarship was for $8000(!!!!!) and it's just under $12000 per year for commuters.  It's a guaranteed 4 year scholarship as long as he remains full time and keeps a 3.0 or better GPA!

Jay and I were floored!  Andrew is at work so I could only send him a long text over the news!

Andrew is still waiting to hear from the other two schools he applied to. Then Andrew will have to discern where the best place for him will be.  (In fact, I have to upload our tax info onto the FAFSA worksheet tonight since I just got it back today....and upload the tax info for the high school kids' financial aid....and finish paying the bills....and finish writing thank-you cards.  I am just drowning in paperwork right now!)

This is great news.  We are very proud of Andrew!

Like I said before...what a roller coaster.  It's only 7pm, but I'm spent and ready for bed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ready, Set, Lent

Welcome to Fat Tuesday!

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent.  Every year, Lent is an opportunity to work on some  bad habits and attempt to resuscitate re-energize my prayer life.

What I want to do for Lent has been on my mind the last few weeks when I realized it was right around the corner.  I have been praying about the areas I need to work on.  I wanted to have a plan set up so that it would be something I could make into a routine and, hopefully, be consistent with!

Fr. Landry had a really good article in the Anchor this week that addressed Lenten sacrifices.  His suggestion was to choose 3 things to sacrifice based on the categories of faith, fasting and almsgiving.

I have just spent 15 minutes searching for the newspaper so that I don't misquote something.  I couldn't find it where I left it.  Since I had encouraged my teenagers to read it I started visiting their rooms to ask if they had it.  Andrew said it was in the family room.  I thought to myself, "Great!  He read it."  Proud mama moment....not quite.  Andrew said, "Yeah, I think I threw it at someone this afternoon.  It's probably on the floor somewhere."

Just great!

Anyway, as I was saying; faith, fasting and almsgiving.  I am a terrible pray-er.  Too little sleep and hardly ever a quiet moment any time in the day or night with the age ranges of our kids makes focused prayer challenging for sure!  Then I feel guilty that I didn't take time to pray in a more structured purposeful way.

I pray lots of interjectory prayers during the day..."Jesus help me!"(to have patience and not scream at this toddler whose whining is driving me crazy)...."God have mercy on me!"(and inspire this teenager to do what he's supposed to do without me having to lose it on him)..."God be with me"(and help me not to burn this dinner while the phone is ringing, the baby is clingy, the toddler is needy, and everything needs to be ready in 10 minutes or certain kids won't be able to eat before their practices!)

I just don't seem to have the focus...or the quiet(!)...to pray in a deeper way and be more open to receiving the direction and guidance I really need.

In my experience, if I don't get at least the occasional quiet time to soak in His peace, I don't have a whole lot to give to all those He has placed in my care.  Frequent, quick prayers are important.  But, they are like drips from a leaky faucet on a sponge.  You're not going to get much out of the sponge when someone squeezes it.

However, if you spend purposeful quiet time with God, it's like submersing the sponge in a pool!  There is lots of excess to share with anyone around you who needs it!

It's been on my heart for several weeks now to ask my mother-in-law to come and watch the little ones for an hour or two each week.  Since Kate is now much better about being left behind for short periods of time, I'm hoping to get some adoration time each week so that I can soak in God's grace and peace so that I can be a more loving, patient, peaceful version of me!

Lent seems like a good time to start that habit.

Another area in the prayer category that I want to work on is saying a daily rosary consistently...preferably as a family.  Colleen Martin over at Martin Family Moments wrote something about her parent's tradition with the family rosary that made sense to me.  Every night, they would announce they were saying the rosary and invite the kids to join in.  For me, that idea took some of the pressure of confrontation off of me since we have one child who has some struggles when it comes to praying and faith and the thought of family prayer made me cringe because I didn't want to deal with negative comments and attitude.  I know it was a weakness in me not wanting to deal with it, but some battles that you can't win and will just push people away, just aren't worth fighting.  (At least on the outside...I know that God is using my prayers to work on him on the inside!)

For the last two nights that's what I've done.  Like Jay said, "Praying the rosary with our crew is not going to transport us into the 7th mansion of prayer!"(A little St. Teresa of Avilla reference)  Kate and Luke are not at the ages where they will sit still quietly at all for very long.  But praying together is important.  We used to do it when the older kids were younger, and Lent is a good time to try to get back into a good habit!

I also want to intentionally sit down and read my Bible for just a few minutes a day.  I need every opportunity I can to be open to Him speaking to me so that I can stay on the right road and encourage my kids to do the same!

The fasting piece is always a struggle for me.  I know that I have some issues with food that I am working through...slowly...and I'm sure Lent will give me many opportunities to bring my struggles to God.  More on that in future posts!

Fr. Landry had a few good ideas in this area as well.  He suggested only drinking water during Lent, giving up condiments on food(salt, pepper, sugar, butter, ketchup, salad dressing), and not eating between meals.  He also suggested fasting from television and replacing that time with Scripture and spiritual reading.  (I've noticed that once the little ones are in bed I am too quick to put on re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond and mindlessly watch 3 episodes until the little ones start fussing(I birth terrible sleepers!).  Cutting back on that will give me some extra quiet and the time to catch up on the reading for the three groups I am a part of...a Bible study, book club, and our parish's Women of Grace.....without kids crawling all over me.(As long as I don't just fall asleep after a couple of pages!)

In terms of almsgiving, this is an area that Jay and I will have to spend some discussion time on over Lent.  I know that as long as we are open, God will be sending opportunities for us to share our time, talent and treasure with the people He places in our path.  I already have a few ideas about the general direction God is leading us in, so it will be interesting to see how it all develops.

Fr. Landry said, "To become holy is the purpose of the hold season of Lent, but it will achieve its purpose only if we go "all in.""  I feel like some of his ideas are a good fit for me and the areas that I want to work on at this point in time.

Lent will definitely be a marathon for me...not a sprint!