Thursday, January 31, 2013

Precious memories-- part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the precious memories I have from when my first baby really was a baby still.  Then I started thinking about how every day I am making precious memories with my children.  I don’t always see it in the moment but every day with my children is a gift and a blessing.  

In ten years, when I look back to this little window of time, I suspect I will feel about it, the same way I feel about those quiet, simple days when I had only one child and lots of time to spend with her.  

These days, my life is much, much busier and my schedule is much, much crazier but it is all still precious.  These are the days I have all five of my children at home and I am home schooling multiple grades.  These are the days I drive my oldest to math co-op and my youngest to swim lessons (well not in January, but from April to September every Tuesday and Thursday) and referee fights over which kid gets to sit in which seat every single time we get in the van to go somewhere!  These are the days that I am a master at teaching second grade phonics and overseeing eighth grade Algebra 1, all with a toddler at my heels begging me to help her with her pre-school workbook or to play doll house with her.  

I can carry on five different conversations and field phone calls from every solicitor in town wanting to sell me something and make dinner for my family of seven- all at once.  I can fold laundry and read Dr. Seuss and braid my daughter’s hair almost simultaneously.  There is something to be said for all that! 

Someday, I will not be so needed.   

And, I will miss all this.

This time with my kids is precious and this chapter in my life, like all chapters, is fleeting.  I am making precious memories with my kids every day.  I just pray God will help me to remember that the next time I am completely overwhelmed and want a minute- just ONE minute to myself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Precious memories

When my oldest was my only and our days were spent enjoying life's littlest pleasures, "Little People" were a huge part of my life.  We had only one car back then and Tim needed it for school and work so my daughter and I were often stuck at home.  We had no money to spare and I had few friends in the area, having only lived in Florida for a year or so. 

So my toddler aged daughter was my only companion.  And, I was hers.   Life could not have been more simple.  But, the two of us always found ways to entertain ourselves.  We would bake homemade bread from scratch once or twice a week, we would walk to the dollar store down the street and look at all the cheap junk (that we could still not really afford), I would fill a bucket with water and would sit out in front of our townhouse and watch my little one play in it- happily occupied for at least a half hour. 

But, my daughter's all time favorite way to spend the long lonely quiet afternoons was with her Fisher Price Little People.   All day long I would hear, "Mommy, play people" and since there was time to fill, I would almost always sit down next to her and the two of us would play pretend with her little plastic people and their amazingly detailed plastic homes and businesses. 

There were days the loneliness got to me and I longed for adult friendships but for the most part we were very happy- my daughter and I. 

Eventually I got more involved at church and I made lots of new adult friends.  My daughter went to pre-school and made a few wonderful friends of her own. 

Our family grew. Tim graduated from school. We got a second car.  Life moved on.  We are now so, so far from the simple days of my first-born's toddlerhood, but there is something so precious in those early memories of my mothering.   And that little window of time- when life truly was simple and my child was my whole world, will always be some of the best days of my life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Southern Belles

In our fancy dresses near the "soldier's camp."

            When a friend first brought up the idea of going to the civil war re-enactment that takes place near us every January, I loved the idea.   First of all, the event is held at the Boy Scout campgrounds and my son would be camping there and attending the event with his troop.  Second of all, what home schooling mother would pass up the opportunity to give her kids a front row seat to watch history come alive before them?  

            Then, my friend asked if I would be interested in dressing up for the event.  She had two civil war era dresses, both hand-made by her, both hanging in her closet just waiting to be worn.  At my age there are not a lot of opportunities to play dress up and the dresses were both so beautiful- with their big full skirts and their poofy long sleeves.  Why not?  I thought.  So on the morning of the “Raid”, as it is known, with my daughter’s help, I buttoned myself into a gorgeous historic dress, tied an authentic old fashioned sunbonnet on my head, pulled a pair of white gloves on my hands and then looked in the mirror to see what I’d look like as a real southern belle.  

It is amazing how different clothes can make you feel like a different person.  No wonder my girls have always loved playing dress up!  They actually still love dress up.  In fact, they wore their own historic costumes to the Raid.  We were stopped by strangers and photographed quite a few times, even though we were surely not the fanciest girls there.  

Watching the battle on a beautiful January afternoon.
What fun we all had pretending to go back in history.  And it really was educational, for my kids and for me, to watch the North and the South battle it out with their cannons and their guns.  The Union boys in their spiffy blue uniforms won the battle and though I looked the part of a southern girl, I am, at heart, a “yankee” (having been born in Pennsylvania) so I was glad the “good guys” won!

As a sort of side note to our day of living history- the girls and I had a talk on the way home about how dressing like a lady and acting like a real lady encourages men to treat us as ladies.  We talked about how important it is to be authentically feminine and to be graceful and respectable as the Southern Belles of old always were.  The girls shared that, like me, they did feel different in their fancy clothes and I think they really understood that it is a gift and a responsibility to be a woman.  

After our talk, we stopped to pick up some pizza to take home for dinner.  At the pizza place, there was a girl next to us with bright purple hair.  She was covered in tattoos and piercings (one in her nose reminded us of a ring in the nose of a bull).  We couldn’t help but notice the contrast of her fashion choices with all the beautiful women we had just seen at the civil war re-enactment.  

“Do you think that girl is ever treated as a real lady?”  I asked once we were back in our car.  The girls did not have to think too long about that one….   We did pray that God would bless that young lady (and I secretly prayed that my girls would remember our conversation and the real-life lesson in femininity for a looooong time.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40 years....


In the party stores, this milestone is very significant- commemorated with "over the hill" signs and black balloons.  

Black seems especially fitting for this 40th anniversary--

Because for 40 years, it has been acceptable in this country to kill a child who is seen as an "inconvenience" or an "accident."  

Today, I am praying we will finally get "over the hill " (mountain) of selfishness and indifference that have allowed this to go on so long.  I pray that we, as a country, will get "over" considering murder acceptable and appropriate under any circumstances.  

I realize it will take a miracle considering the state of this country and the people in the current administration, but today, I am praying we will not make it to 41 years of legalized abortion.

I ask that you please take a few minutes today and pray with me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My new "job"

When I put in my two week notice back in late December, quitting my job of three months, I made a decision to devote more time to writing.  If ever I had to work outside the home, writing would be my dream job.  Getting paid to put words to paper- either in fictional stories or informative articles or descriptive accounts of real life events- it all sounds like fun to me.   Even though, no one is paying me, I have decided to try to approach my writing almost as though it IS a job--  My new job, where I am employer and employee both.  And I must be self-motivated and self-disciplined to have any chance of success.  

My hope is to spend at least an hour a day writing.  Late in the afternoon, after all the schoolwork is finished and the kids want nothing more than a little downtime spent playing all on their own, I can certainly find the time to play around with my fiction ideas or write the blog posts I had so little time for through the Advent and Christmas seasons.

I have been finished with my out-of-the-house job for more than a week now- and well…..  my intentions have been great but my follow-through has been not quite perfect.  The whole family (except me and my oldest daughter) have spent the last week taking turns with the flu.  It has gone from one family member to the next with not even one day of full health in the last 9 days!  As soon as I thought we were out of the woods and no one else would get it, another victim would fall prey to the high fevers, runny noses, and scratchy throats.  Between taking lots of temperatures and getting lots of cool rags for burning little heads, writing has not been forefront in my mind.

I guess this week has been proof that this is the perfect new "job" for me-- it will never get in the way of my family and I will never get in trouble when life comes before work.  Still, I hope next week will be quieter louder and healthier around here and that I will be able to settle into a routine of regular writing.  Maybe I'll even get to finish the story that has been in my mind for a few weeks but up to now, has only had a few paragraphs actually written down.  

Even now there is so much more I’d love to write about…but my latest patient is still burning up and in need of his mommy……

Oh-- Just one more quick thing before I go check on my sick little boy though--- tomorrow begins the free e-book promotional offer of my novel The Life I Dreamed...check it out here!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A very meaningful giveaway

In just a little more than a week we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade decision to legalize the murder of innocent pre-born life.  This is a devastating anniversary and my heart aches as I think about all the pain that has followed that monumental court decision.  I wonder, sometimes, what can I really do to change this nation and promote a respect for the beauty and sacredness of all life.  

Sometimes, it seems there is not much I can do.

But, I can pray and pray and pray.  And I can instill in my own children a respect for human life.   I can also share my own pro-life values through this blog and through my gift for writing, a gift which God has bestowed upon me.   

So, in order to share the pro-life message as best I can, I am going to offer my pro-life novel, The Life I Dreamed free of charge for three days next week.  Beginning on January 21 and ending on January 23, the Kindle copy of my novel will be available at Amazon for no charge at all.  

 Please feel free to download your own copy and to tell everyone you know about this great giveaway! 

And on January 22 (and always) please join your prayers with mine, and with those of all the pro-life community, for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life- from conception to natural death.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A really difficult decision

            After only three months of employment, I am once again- “just a mom.”  It was not an easy decision to leave my job.  Though, I was officially hired on as “seasonal” I had the option to stay on after Christmas.  In fact, I was asked by one of my superiors, on two different occasions, about whether I was willing to consider moving up in the company.  I quickly explained that I had no interest in moving into a management position.  I definitely did have an interest in staying on at the store.  

But, as it turned out, I just couldn’t.  

I found that, as much as I enjoyed the job and as well as I felt I was balancing all my responsibilities, there just wasn’t enough of me to go around.  There were too many days that Tim and I did not even see each other until 9:30 at night because he left for work before I got up in the morning and I left for my job before he got home in the evening.    There were too many days when the children were left alone, in the care of my oldest daughter for up to an hour or more, between my departure and Tim’s arrival home from work.   

I loved my job.  I loved the feeling of being good at something and being out in the world.  I loved going to work and feeling like I was accomplishing something and feeling like I was part of a team.  I loved having something that felt worthwhile to do in the evenings and then I loved coming home to hug my family and tell them all about my time away.  Work was fun and it was validating in so many ways and it was easy compared to what I do at home with the kids.  The outside-of-the-house, for-pay job was a great reminder that I am good at something and I am capable of worldly success.

But, as great as it all was and as much as I agonized (and let me tell you-- I agonized and agonized for weeks) about the decision- I guess I knew in my heart that I was needed at home.  I guess I knew all along that worldly success is not what matters most…….

What I do in my own home is what matters most though home does not provide me the same feelings as working outside the house did.  I do not always feel confident with what I am doing at home with my kids.  It is hard to feel capable of great things when my three year old is whining and my nine year old is nagging and my fourteen year old is giving me attitude.  It is hard to feel successful when my eleven year old tries to manipulate my every decision and my seven year old completely misses half of what I say to him.  It is hard to feel I’ve accomplished anything when the laundry is never ALL done and the sink always has dirty dishes in it and there is no conceivable way to keep up with the clutter of Legos and Polly Pockets and books and schoolwork and so on…….  

It was a tough decision to resign my position at work and even after I made it, I felt torn.  I continued to agonize and to try to figure out another option.

But then, two days after I gave my notice at work, it was the Feast of the Holy Family.  The homily that day was all about how families are breaking down.  The priest talked about how people just do not value family anymore and about the far reaching effects of our shifting priorities.  As I listened to Father Ross’ words, I knew God was talking to me. 

He was telling me I made the right decision for myself and, more importantly, for my family.  He was, very clearly and very pointedly, giving me the validation I so desperately seek.   He drove home the point by allowing my family to be the one to bring forth the gifts to begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist and then by sending the nicest little old man up to us after Mass to thank us for being such a beautiful family and to tell me I was obviously a great blessing to my children.  

I am a mom.  Motherhood is the gift and the vocation God has given me.  And when I asked Him in prayer what to do-- He answered.  He wants me to focus on being the best mom I can be—full time.  

I understand, now more than ever, why working moms do what they do, balancing all those different roles.  Working outside the home feels good.  Making a little money is nice too.   There are so many ways we can serve God out in the world and sometimes He calls mothers to do just that.  

But, me?  I am called to be just a mom.  I found that out first hand over the last three months.  So, though I am sad to leave my job after such a short time, I could never be sad to be with my children full time.   It is not easy to be “just a mom” but it is a blessing and, for me-- it is what’s best. 


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