Monday, November 29, 2010

I AM doing enough!

    Did you ever read one of those home school articles that make it seem like all home school students are geniuses?  You know the ones that present all home schooled children as multi-lingual, classical music loving, spelling bee winning, perfectly well-behaved angels?  And all home school mothers as organized, patient, supermoms who bake home made bread, sew their own clothes, and grow gardens with fresh vegetables to serve their families for dinner every night.  I hate those kind of articles.  Instead of inspiring me to do better they always leave me feeling incredibly insecure and inadequate.  The reality of my home school experience is nothing like that.  The only foreign language I have attempted to teach is Latin and my kids and I have started our Latin program four years in a row and have yet to get all the way through one year of it.  We listen to classical music once in a while but usually prefer the Christian station or country music.  My sons spell okay but my girls’ spelling is atrocious.  And, if you’ve read my blog before you know, their behavior is not quite perfect... yet.  As for me, I am completely unorganized most days, I struggle to be patient but find myself taking a lot of deep breaths and even needing time outs at times (for me, not necessarily the kids).  I actually do like baking bread from scratch but have never sewn my own clothes, and cannot keep a plant alive to save my life.  I just don’t measure up to those perfect home school articles.  I never have. 
    After receiving an unexpected free copy of a home school magazine over the weekend, I excitedly flipped through hoping for some practical advice or inspiration.  It had a few of those articles in it though.  Instead of being inspired, I was left feeling like I’ll never do enough because I could be, should be, doing so much more.  I was discouraged about the whole thing and went to my computer looking for a pick-me-up.  I searched for “home schooling- not feeling like I do enough” thinking there must be others out there like me, imperfect, unorganized but still trying to do the best I can with my kids.  As it turns out, there are.  I found this blog post over at “Guilt-free Homeschooling” with a quiz that addresses my very concerns.  Am I doing enough?  Are my kids learning enough?  Are they well adjusted, properly educated, socialized?  I loved the quiz.  It made sense.  It wasn’t about whether or not we have finished our Latin program, or whether or not the kids know all about the circulatory system.  It was about whether or not they are learning to learn.  And, as it turns out, I am doing fine.  They are doing fine.  If you, like me, home school your children and find yourself questioning yourself.  Check it out.  Take the quiz.  Even if the results are not exactly what you hoped for at least it should give you a reference point to start from.  And rest assured, you are not alone in your worries, many, many days I am right there with you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An unhealthy obsession

    It all started innocently enough, when I got the mail one day.  I rifled through the usual stack of junk mail and the baby, being the curious toddler she is, wanted to see too.   I came across a political ad with adorable little ducklings on it, and absent-mindedly handed it to the baby to keep her happy.  “It has little baby duckies on it,” I told her, “quack, quack, quack- little baby duckies.”  Then I went back to sorting and reading the mail.   While I was innocently reading my mail a love affair was conspiring next to me.  Staring at those cute little ducklings, baby fell in love and she carried that bit of junk mail around with her the rest of the day.  Every once in a while she would proudly hold it up to me showing me the picture again and I would repeat, “quack, quack, quack- little baby duckies,”  and my sweet little baby would grin from ear to ear and look again at her precious junk mail.  After a few times of her showing off her “treasure” and me quacking for her, she caught on and started quacking herself.   She showed her sisters her mail and quacked for them.  She showed her brothers her mail and quacked for them.  When Tim came home she showed her daddy her mail and quacked for him.
    The duckling junk mail stayed around our kitchen for weeks- long past the election because those cute little baby duckies made our cute little baby so happy.  The ducky obsession has gotten a little out of control in recent weeks however….  With the help of her siblings she started noticing duckies everywhere, and everywhere she saw them, she quacked.  She quacked at ducky bath toys, and she quacked at ducky board books.  She quacked at ducky billboards, and little ducky t-shirts.  The rest of the family has aided and abetted this little addiction of baby’s and  we have provided unending opportunities for quacking.  We borrowed The Million Dollar Duck movie after it caught her eye on the library shelf causing her to disturb the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere of the library with her loud, excited quacking.  The movie, of course, offered her an hour and a half of uninterrupted quacking joy when we watched it at home that evening.   The older children have scoured the picture book section of the library looking for any and all duck books to check out for baby’s quacking pleasure, as well.  We have searched the internet for ducky songs, ducky videos, and ducky websites just to see that priceless smile and hear the inevitable quacking that always accompanies it.  It has definitely gotten out of hand.  Baby now quacks at other birds too.  She quacks at sea gulls.  She quacks at penguins.  She quacks at pelicans.  In fact, anything with feathers makes her quack.  At church she quacks at the picture of Noah’s ark in her children’s Bible, at dinner she quacks at the picture of birds on her sippy cup, at stores she quacks at birds I don’t even see.   I am afraid she has crossed a line and a ducky intervention may be needed.  Her fascination with ducklings no longer seems reasonable or healthy.  So for her own good we will be going “cold turkey” on the quacking-- unfortunately I fear it won’t be easy for any of us. Those baby duckies are just so darn cute and quacking can be a hard habit to break…

Saturday, November 20, 2010

While the cat is away...

    A few months before I started home schooling Tim got a job that allowed him to work from home.  He turned a small space in our bedroom into his home office and I turned our guest bedroom into a classroom.  It worked out really well.  I actually loved it.  I loved home schooling and having the kids with me all day and I loved having Tim just down the hall doing his work without leaving home.  I loved that at lunchtime Tim would come out and join us while we ate. I loved that when things went well with his work, (he was just starting out as a financial advisor, studying for his licenses and then trying to build a client base) he would come out and we would celebrate his successes together.   I loved that our week started out together and ended together.  I loved that we were together all the time in between.  On Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm we were all home together.  On Wednesday at 11 am we were all home together. It was cozy and comforting and after years of Tim rushing off to work and me dropping our oldest off to school, life was really family-centered.
    Over the years things have changed, of course.  Tim no longer works from the bedroom and I have had to move our classroom out of the spare bedroom to make room for our fifth child but I still prefer to have all my family home with me, if I can.  This weekend, Tim is taking his youth group kids on a homeless retreat.  It sounds like a very cool opportunity to learn about what life is really like for the homeless by eating next to nothing and sleeping in a field with little to no comforts.  It will, I’m sure, be an eye opening weekend for them all.  But, with Tim being gone over night, I am left home to worry.  I don’t know how other women do it when their husband travel regularly.  I really don’t like it when Tim is gone, even for just one night.  It doesn’t seem right to say our bedtime prayers without him.  It doesn’t feel right to climb into bed or to wake up the next morning without him here. 
    As much as I dread Tim’s business trips, which thankfully have been few and far between in our married life, I try to make the best of it.  The kids and I are having a party without him this weekend.  I bought us frozen pizzas, and slice and bake cookies, and borrowed a few movies from the library.  So, while Tim is not sleeping on the hard, cold ground with an empty belly and nothing but the stars overhead, the kids and I will put on our p.j.’s, eat our pizza, and snuggle in front of the t.v. to watch our movies.  I guess it seems silly that I was the one dreading this weekend.  I am pretty sure I got the better deal this time around…but it still would have been way more fun with him here!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Making holidays a true celebration

    With the holidays right around the corner I find myself thinking about celebrations and how in my experience it is so easy to make it through the entire holiday season without ever really celebrating anything.  I have many memories of Thanksgivings where the day was more about going through the motions than about truly celebrating anything.  I think about the traditions and values of our culture and they all seem to be centered around food and material objects and seem to overlook the beauty of true celebration.  The dictionary definition of celebrate is “to observe a day or event with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.”  A second definition says, “To extol or to praise.”  So, according to the dictionary the meaning of the word celebrate is to rejoice.  To honor the day with festivity.  To praise, which, of course, means worshiping and adoring God and admiring His goodness that is all around us each and every day.  Celebrate does not mean spending the morning in the kitchen cooking up a storm, and then the evening in front of a sink full of dishes with little more than football games and a lovely meal in between.  Yet, many of my more recent Thanksgiving holidays have been just that.  This year I find myself yearning to celebrate.  To delight in the blessings the Lord has given me over the last year.  To fill the day with festivity and rejoicing and not just enjoying a nice meal and then packing up the leftovers with little thought as to what it is all about.  In America, it is so easy to take things for granted.  A nice, hot meal is not a luxury or a treat but an everyday occurrence.  A day of relaxation with time to watch television all afternoon is commonplace, really.  Maybe that is why, even on holidays, things don’t always feel very festive.  Things don’t seem very different.  The day isn’t necessarily joyful.  This year I want to really celebrate my gratitude.  I want to rejoice and delight in God’s love in my life and the blessing of my family and friends.
    The very first Thanksgiving was a true celebration.  A day, a few days actually, of games, dancing, feasts, and visiting.  A time of prayer and praise and joy.  Celebration itself makes us thankful.  Rejoicing fills our hearts with gratitude and helps us to really see God’s goodness around us.  Celebration opens our hearts to share with others all that we have and makes us happy and peaceful and grace-filled.  The first Pilgrims and their Indian friends knew that.  They understood real celebration and their day of Thanksgiving flowed from hearts that were bursting with gratitude, joy, and praise.  Rather than be complacent and just “go through the motions” this Thanksgiving, I want my heart to burst with gratitude, joy, and praise as well.  I want to dance with my children, kiss my husband, savor each bite of our feast, and shout with joy in my heart to God that I do see all that He has done and it is good.    I pray that you, too, will be celebrating with your loved ones and that your heart will be filled to overflowing with love and gratitude like mine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A very sad day

    Our turtle died today.  I thought about writing a cute little obituary for him but decided that it would be insensitive of me to make light of it since my son is heart broken over the loss.  Instead I will write about the life of our beloved pet, Greenleaf Cinco De Julio Turtleton. 
    My son, who is now nine years old, received $20 from his great-grandmother on his fifth birthday.  He told me he wanted to buy a racecar track with the money.  I took him to Toys R Us and watched as he compared all the race tracks and agonized over the decision.  He finally picked one out and we headed to the check out but as we waited in line he wanted to know if he would get any cash back from his purchase.  I told him he would not and he promptly changed his mind about the race track.  About a week later, he informed me that he wanted a pet turtle and so, this time as a family, we went out shopping with the birthday money once again.  At the pet store, he beamed as he was handed the little plastic bag with the quarter sized turtle inside and he did not balk at all at spending his whole $20, once the plastic home and food were added in.  He took one look at his adorable, little turtle and declared that his name would be Greenleaf.  We had discussed many, many names but Greenleaf hadn’t been one of them.  Nevertheless, Greenleaf was his name (all the middle names were added to appease other members of the family).  We brought him home and settled him into a ten gallon fish tank, saving the little plastic home for a temporary holding place during tank cleanings, in our backyard sun porch.  We all enjoyed watching him swim and showing him off to our friends.  The kids drew pictures of him and for him, taping artwork to his tank so he could see it from inside.  He loved to swim, balance bubbles on his nose, and rest on his “island” of little rocks.  He ordinarily ate turtle food from a can but preferred fresh fish which we found out after my son caught a couple minnows in a creek and shared them with his pet.  We were shocked to find out that our normally calm, quiet Greenleaf had a bit of a wild streak in him.  He tore the fishes’ heads off and gobbled them up in pieces.  That might have been his coolest accomplishment in life.  Unless you count the time he won the race between the Tortoise and the Hare.  We set up a race track and pitted him against my son’s stuffed bunny and, of course, Greenleaf, who though he was a turtle was remarkably fast, scrambled quickly to the finish line leaving the poor bunny still stuck at the starting line looking baffled.  Greenleaf weathered four winters, the first few I worried about him freezing to death and so brought him inside but we later found out that though he was much less active in the cold months he was a hearty little turtle and could take the cooler temperatures just fine.  He, of course, liked the sunny Florida summers best when we could soak up the heat from his island or paddle happily in circles around his tank.
     I know it sounds silly but he really will be missed and my son was not the only one to shed a few tears as we buried him in the backyard this afternoon.  We don’t believe there is a turtle heaven for him to swim happily in for eternity but we are thankful and comforted that he had a happy turtle life and he was loved.     

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In the middle

        Growing up I was the middle child in my family.  I mean, technically because their were four of us, I was not exactly the middle child.  I was third and mathematically speaking there was no actual middle but I always felt like the middle child.  I was not one of the oldest so I felt left out by my two sisters.  I was not the youngest.  My younger brother, the only boy in our family, had that honor.  So, at least emotionally speaking, I was the real middle child.  And my behavior and self esteem reflected that in every way.  I was sensitive, cried easily and was teased by my siblings all the time.
    Now I am all grown up.  I do not cry very often (at least not because of things my siblings do or say to me).  I have not been teased much lately unless you count Tim’s silly flirtatious joking, which though it is teasing, is flattering and enjoyable.  Now instead of being one of the kids, I am the mother.
    Of all my children only one looks just like me, my seven and a half year old daughter.  My middle child.  She has inherited not only my dark curly hair and brown eyes but also my middle child status and my sensitivity.  I am very strict about not allowing any teasing in my house, but somehow it happens anyway.  And being the middle child, and the most sensitive, my little look-a-like tends to be the victim.  She may be sensitive but she is also feisty and has held her own around here pretty well up to now.  Lately, though, she seems to be struggling a little more.  She seems to be more easily frustrated, more easily provoked.   It just isn’t easy to be the middle child.  I know.  I still remember.
    I have been a lot more aware of her struggles lately.  I have been watching her while she interacts with her siblings and friends and I see so much of me in her.  I see her trying so hard.  Trying to fit in, trying to get attention, trying to feel special.  I see her trying to mother her baby sister, who clearly prefers big sister #1 if mommy is not around.  I see her getting frustrated with school when she watches her older brother do his work effortlessly as she struggles to master her spelling words and tries to read chapter books that she is just not quite ready for.   I see her enviously watching her little brother as we cheer for his reading successes, which consist of about 7 page Hooked on Phonics books.  I can see that she feels like she is in the shadow of her talented older siblings who get all the privileges and her super cute younger siblings who are praised just because they are little.    
     So, how does a sympathetic mother make the middle child see what a beautiful and special little girl she is?  Amazingly, it is not so hard.  I have noticed, as I watch her with the other kids, that she, herself, shines with even the smallest amount of praise and attention.  A note from daddy telling her she is a great kid.  A hug from mommy when she finally aces a spelling test.  An invitation  to be my little helper when I bake home made bread.  A chance to help keep an eye on the baby while I grade math workbooks.  It doesn’t take much to make her feel special, just a little acknowledgement, just a little encouragement.  But, though it doesn’t seem like much to me, it means the world to her to know she is loved and valued.  I know.  I still remember.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The best laid plans...

    The beauty of home schooling is that so many of the lessons we learn each day come from the life we are living and not only from contrived lesson plans.  The real life learning we experience is often much more valuable and more meaningful than anything I could plan ahead of time with carefully constructed lessons in my lesson plan book.  This morning, I awoke with a plan in mind for our school day.  It included math, spelling, history, religion, and lots of fun literature activities.  But, first I had planned a trip to the library.  So I piled all the kids in the car along with two big bags bursting with library books to be returned and we set off as I mentally reviewed the list of books I wanted to check out…  books on Italy, Sri Lanka, France, England, Jamaica, and Vermont, a story about ducks for the baby, a few mystery stories for the older children, and some easy readers for my kindergartner.  We pulled into the empty parking lot of the library right at the time they should have been unlocking the doors, thanks to my perfectly timed plans.  But, like all perfect plans of mine, something very imperfect was in store- the library was closed.  “Oh yeah, today is Veteran’s Day,” I told the children as we pulled right back out of the parking lot after seeing the “closed for holiday” sign on the front door.  On the way, home we had an impromptu discussion on veterans and why we honor them.  We talked about the freedoms we have as Americans and how lucky we are to live here.  I guess that counts as history, right? 
    Once home we all sat down at our school table and got to work on our previously planned lessons.  We got through religion with no incidents.  Worked on math quietly and did some sight word flashcards.  Then I let the boys have a little break to play.  They got it into their heads to build a tower of blankets and pillows on the love seat, then dive into it all.  What fun!  In fact, it was so much fun that my super sweet nine year old son decided to let his 15 month old sister in on the joy of it all.  He threw her on top and then pulled her by her arms off the pile to do it again.  She immediately burst into tears.  Ten minutes later even with lots of snuggles and comforting she was still crying.  I noticed she was also favoring her left arm.  Uh-oh, maybe her tears were not just from utter terror at being tossed around.  I called Tim hoping he could come home for a few minutes to access her injuries with a clearer mind than me- I tend to overreact about these things.  No such luck, he was in his car on the way to a meeting.  I called the doctor and, though they had no openings, told me to bring her in right away, they’d fit her in somehow.  So off to the doctor we went. 
    Instead of doing fun literature activities we spent our afternoon in waiting rooms and examining rooms talking about how we should be careful with small children no matter how tough they may seem.  We learned about nursemaid’s elbow and how if pulled little arms can pop out of their sockets, and how if you are really, really lucky they pop back in on their own but that that is still quite painful and can make for very fussy toddlers.  We learned about x-rays done just in case, and the dangers of big brothers and sisters in the x-ray room and the blessings of kind-hearted medical center front office workers who are willing to play I-spy with said big brothers and sisters to calm the nerves of a mother not to sure about leaving them alone in the waiting room unattended.  We talked about how our joints work and about tendons and ligaments on the way home while our bellies rumbled from missing lunch and the tired, traumatized baby slept in her car seat. 
    All in all it was a very productive day of learning even if it wasn’t exactly what I had planned and thankfully when we got home and baby napped we were even able to fit in one fun literature activity.  My children may not remember every lesson they learn, they may forget how to measure the area of triangles, or the proper spelling of the word “announcer” but I am pretty sure they will always be careful not to pull a baby by the arm again.  A valuable lesson for sure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A tough question- part 2, my final answer

      As promised, I have continued thinking about the tough question posed to me (and a room full of other Catholic parents) at a meeting about a week ago. “How would someone, who did not know you or your family, know that your children come from a faith-filled home?”   I have decided that while my initial reflections are true, they alone do not answer the question adequately.  A fleeting glimpse of my children at play might or might not reveal the depth and beauty of our Catholic faith and the love of Christ at work.  If you were to observe my children at a playground for ten minutes or so, or you happened to spy them tagging along with me at a store running errands you might not be able to tell that, in our family, we strive to be good loving Christians, because strive as we do, we do not always achieve that goal.   However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if you were to really spend time with them, talking to them and getting to know them- you would absolutely realize my children are being raised in faith.  Because, despite our imperfections, my children are wonderful examples of at least a few virtues….
    First of all, my children are wise.  I was talking with my five year old son the other day and I asked him a few simple questions.  First, I asked, “What do you believe in?”  He answered, “God.”  Then, I asked, “What do you believe about God?”  He answered back, “God loves everybody, even the bad guys.”  Not bad for a five year old.  I happen to know there are many adults who lack even that basic understanding.  His brother possesses wisdom beyond his years as well.  Over this past weekend I mopped the kitchen floor.  I worked hard and long making it shine yet within an hour my work was un-done.  The baby had climbed up to the kitchen table and spilled an entire glass of sticky lemonade all over my newly mopped floor.  As I cleaned up the mess, mopping for the second time that afternoon, I jokingly said something like, “Baby you are lucky you are cute because I am not paid well enough for all this work you create for me.”  My nine year old son called out from the next room, “Don’t worry mommy, you will be rewarded for it all in heaven.”  No, my boys may not be perfectly kind and loving every moment but they are wise.
    Second of all, my children are forgiving.  I occasionally have bad days.  I even lose my patience once in a while.  A few days ago, after a rough morning of school, I looked at my sweet, helpful oldest daughter and was filled with remorse.  “I am sorry I was so hard on you this morning,”  I said.  She smiled at me.  “You were not so hard.  You are a great mother,”  she said, obviously forgiving and forgetting more quickly than I usually do.  In fact, every time I find myself apologizing to her for one mistake or another, she readily offers not only forgiveness but reassurance that I am a good mother and should not be so hard on myself.  A beautiful example of forgiveness and, maybe even a little bit more of that wisdom I mentioned!  My middle daughter had been sent to her room in the midst of that same difficult day and when she came out she gave me a note that said, “Dear mommy, I am sory.  I will try hard to be beter.  I love you vary much.”  Now, her spelling may need a little work but her forgiveness was sincere.
    Lastly, my children are loving and affectionate.  They kiss and hug us every night before bed without fail, not going to sleep until they tell us that they love us.  They practically knock Tim over flinging themselves into his arms when he arrives home from work.  They climb up on the laps of their aunts and uncles when they see them, even if it has been months since our last visit.  Whenever we go to my parents house for the day the children always have a picture or treasure of some sort to give them.  It may not always show in their interactions with each other but they are truly loving, generous children. 
    So, after all my reflection and pondering, I have come to the conclusion that, with enough time, even a stranger could see that my children are being raised to know God, to love God and to serve God.  And though they are far from perfect, they certainly do show some signs of being little saints-in-training.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A tough question

   “How would someone, who did not know you or your family, know that your children come from a faith-filled home?”   I heard this question at a meeting last week and as soon as I heard it I knew I wanted to blog about it.  It is a question all Christian parents should think long and hard about as they raise their children.  For a week, I have had this question bouncing around in my head and as I have tried to decide what to say about it, and more importantly, how to answer it concerning my own children, I find myself feeling a little uncertain.  An old song I heard as a child keeps popping into my head and all I can come up with is (sing it with me…), 
    “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. 
    They will know we are Christians by our love.” 
As I picture my children, with that song running melodically through my mind, I am having a little trouble reconciling the image with the lyrics.  I keep thinking about how my children play together and wondering what it would look like to a stranger.  Would they look loving and kind?  Or selfish and uncaring? As I type this, the four older children are all playing Lego’s together (the baby is napping, thank goodness) and the voices coming from the room are a mixture of cooperative play and bickering, laughter and conflict.  My oldest daughter is being a little bossy, as is her way.  My oldest son seems to be hoarding the best Lego’s, as is his way.  The other two sound like they are getting along with each other but I hear them snapping at their older siblings, par for the course for the two of them.  So, is the room exuding love?  Not exactly.  Is the spirit of Christianity thriving in their interactions with each other?  Again, not exactly. 
    So, would an outsider be able to tell my children are being raised with faith?  And if so, how?  I honestly am not sure how to answer the question, even after pondering it all week.  My children are very normal kids.  They are amazingly kind and loving one moment, helping out their baby sister, drawing pictures for Tim and I, my five year old even washed the dishes yesterday because, as he said, “I want to do something nice for you.”  Then, the next minute they are not quite so kind and loving, fighting with each other, making messes and leaving them for someone else to clean up, getting annoyed when asked to do their chores, making excuses for irresponsible actions.  In fact, if a stranger showed up unexpectedly at  my door for a short visit, I’m not sure what he or she might witness.   If a stranger showed up at the right time they might be blown away by the Christian service in my home, but at the wrong time they might not be convinced that my children have ever heard a Bible story or been taken to Mass- ever (let alone every week of their lives!)  This is not the answer I was hoping to give but… like any other Christian, the people in my house, grown ups and kids alike, are sinners.  Our home is faith-filled but we are imperfect.  So, while an outsider might be a little confused as to our values, God thankfully can see into our hearts and He knows we are trying.  He knows that even with our imperfections we are filled with love, both for Him and for each other- it just is sometimes a little harder to see than others.
    For the record, though, I am planning to continue reflecting on this question in the hopes that I may come up with something a little more definitive, a little more positive.  Because the truth is my kids are really good kids, they are faith-filled and certainly there is undeniable evidence of that in their everyday actions and interactions.  So, stay tuned…..

Friday, November 5, 2010

Piling up and uP and UP!

My mother keeps her house immaculately clean.  There is not a speck of dust on her shelves, not a sticky spot on her counters, not a smidge of dirt on her floors.  She does, however, have a few piles sitting around.  She has always had piles of papers on her counter, neat and tidy little piles, but piles just the same.  I did not inherit my mother’s neatness.  I am no where near the house keeper she is.  I take after her in only one way when it comes to our homes.  I, too, have piles around.  Mine are not as neat or tidy but, they are piles just the same.  This little poem is inspired by both my mother and myself, but ....mostly myself….

    I look around me and all I see are piles, piles, piles,
    Piles on the counters, piles on the floor,
    Piles on the table and piles by the door.

    Piles in the bedrooms, piles by the phone,   
    Piles of stuff to donate and piles of stuff to loan.
    Piles of junk mail, piles of books,
    Piles from lunch, of the stuff that we cooks.

    Piles of papers, piles of clothes,
    Piles of schoolwork, piles of woes.

    I can’t keep them neat, not even by force.
    I just can’t escape the obvious source.
    A home full of living, a house full of kids,
    Stuff just piles up, we’re flipping our lids…

    ‘Cause the piles keep growing, they never get less
    But life is still good though the house is a mess.

    The stuff is inevitable, and it just seems to pile,
    But our family is happy so I just have to smile!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My civic duty

    After the fun of Halloween and the beauty of All Saints Day we now have to face election day.  I hate politics.  I am so old fashioned I would be perfectly happy if women had never been given the right to vote and we just left the politics to men.  I tend to get very discouraged around election day, at least in the last few years.  I find myself worrying about the future and what lies ahead for my children.  Yet, every year on election day, as much as I want to avoid all politics, I dutifully cast my vote.  Because women DO have that right and we need every vote we can get to try to keep our country true to the Christian values it was founded on.  This election day is no different for me.  I've been feeling discouraged, I've been worried, and yet I went and voted, 5 kids in tow, as is my civic duty.  Then, I went and did something even more valuable. 
    My polling place happens to be located at my church.  It is literally just a few short steps from the voting booth to the beautiful, holy Oratory where our Lord is waiting.  So after casting my votes, I took my little brood and we knelt before the tabernacle in prayer for our country.  I told the children on the way in, that this was truly the best thing we could do for our country and they all cooperated as I spent time in prayer before our Lord.  The baby sat quietly in her stroller.  The older children knelt in prayer around me.  And though we only stayed a few minutes, I felt much less discouraged as we left.  We drove home and, full of the peace that comes only from trusting in God, I knew that whatever the outcome of the election, whatever the future may hold, He is always in control and He will bless His faithful followers.   My children, my future, and my country are all in God’s hands, as am I.  He is bigger than our government, more powerful than any earthly leader and that is enough to ease my worries and fears.  On this election day (and everyday), my hope is in the Lord.


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