Monday, February 1

An Announcement

I've been attending spiritual guidance with my trusted priest for nearly a year now.  The fruits of someone to help me decipher God's will and plan for me has been both a blessing and a trail for me.  The blessings of attending my beloved parish, the opportunities for spiritual growth through reading, talks, and long conversations with friends, and my own personal devotions has also made me a target for Satan.  He's pulled out all sorts of tricks on me for a year now, attacking different parts of me that I can see in retrospect, were simply a failed means to make me feel worthless and meaningless.  It's been a rough spiritual year.

But back to spiritual guidance.  I bring in my issue that Satan has laid in front of me, and my guide helps me see God's love.  I tell him I want to change the world, he reminds me that change begins at home.  I say this group of people, he says your husband, sons, and daughters.  He's doesn't squash my dreams, just reminds me of God's will.  And each time I say yes and truly seek His plan, I am at peace.

I've always thought God had something huge in store for me, and I hope that doesn't sound egotistical.  Even since high school, I've always felt He had a big plan for me.  Figuring out exactly what that means in each stage of life isn't easy!

Today, I read a reflection that really hit the nail on the head and brought it all home for me.
"I sometimes get swept up by notions of the BIG IMPORTANT jobs God had for some folks. Saint Mary Magdalene: First witness to the resurrection. Saint Catherine of Siena: Restorer of the papacy. Saint Joan of Arc: Leader of armies.
I’ll tell him, “Hey God, if you need anyone to pass along some new doctrine, or convert the president, or conquer Canada . . . just let me know.”
So far, He just keeps sending babies."

(Go read the rest of Kendra's short reflection here.) 

When I read those lines, I had to put my coffee down and re-read them, for you see- He has sent me a new baby.  A reminder that my place is here, in this home, with our children.  Another soul to raise for Him.  My heart may want to serve the homeless and spread the good news to foreign lands, but for now He has once again reminded me that I need to be fully present here- serving my family and spreading the good news to them and those whose paths we cross.

I am grateful that He sees me fit to raise another soul (even though some days I might disagree), and that he's given me this gentle and wonderful reminder that my place in the world is right here, in this home.

(New Baby N. coming in early October!)

Thursday, January 28

The End of the Time Known as Rest Time

We've entered a new phase in our lives.  The phase where not only do the big ones not sleep, but apparently no longer need rest either.  The beautiful quiet time that has kept me sane over the past 9 years has come to an end, and I've tried with all my might to keep it going but I can see there's no fighting it any longer.

Rest time is over.

It started with Beth last year.  She didn't need to rest, so she would sometimes do some quiet school work on her own.  She took a lot of initiative and picked up books or work that she knew she'd need to do and she'd try to get ahead.  I'd have been a fool to not allow that!  So I allowed her to have quiet time in the school room while her brothers had to stay in their room.

But they weren't really quiet either.  They like their radio on, and despite my pleas to keep it down, it would slowly get louder and louder.  And if I was in the kitchen or living room, I could hear it through the ceiling.  Or I could hear them jumping off beds, thudding the floor with such force that the chandelier in the dining room would sway.  But, it was rest time- and even though they weren't resting much, I was.  And I didn't want to (or couldn't!) get up from whatever it is I was doing, so I let it go.  Because who is going to get out of bed when napping with a sweet warm baby?

Fast forward to now.  Caeli takes a predictable nap around 12:30 pm, and I try to coordinate her nap with their "rest time."  (It's in quotes now because you can clearly see there isn't much resting going on upstairs, even less now than last year.)  But sometimes she naps earlier, and she winds up accompanying me while the three big kids go upstairs.  So no more sewing during rest time.  No more blogging or writing.  And no more time-consuming tasks that, to me, just aren't worth even getting started with such generous help.  And definitely no more napping.

Now with a three students, one with whom I truly try to stay on-schedule, there's more lessons to be done.  Sometimes we have to school during rest time, which is always disappointing to me but it's a good time to work on something intensive if Caeli is napping.

And finally, we have places to go.  The library, lessons, play times, and errands.  We can't do those things in the morning anymore, and I truly detest running errands after 4 pm.  So that leaves 1-3 pm.  Rest time.

I'm sad to see it go!  Truly sad!  But in some ways, it's exciting because I feel like it's the next step in our lives.  Rest time has served me well over the years, but I accept that it's time to move on to the next phase!

Thursday, January 14

Boys Live Here

Boys Live Here.

Tiny colored pieces hide against the dark wood grain, I find them as I sweep.

I sit on a Trio wrapped in yarn, they shout cheers that I've found the lost bucket of a crane.  Didn't you know we were looking for that?

One eats and eats and eats. The other complains and complains and complains, but I know in my heart that one day I won't be able to keep enough food on his plate either.

Pants turn into capris. Socks get holes.  And shoes get tossed aside because they're pinching toes.

And oh the mud.  Mud, dirt, and sticks.  Mud on boots and on jeans, dirt in every corner of the house.  Sticks that have been carved into pocketknives and pencils.

I treasure precious gifts of parking lot rocks, yellow-flowered backyard weeds, and very wet kisses.  They get this look in their eyes, a look I know will one day be for another woman, and they tell me they love me, and plant those kisses on my cheek.  Or wrist or hip, wherever they can reach at the time.

The chandelier shakes and I hear their favorite singer yahhhh-yahhh-yahhhing the same song for the 11th time.  Because "repeat" and "volume up" are their favorite buttons on their CD player.

They quarrel and argue.  They disagree on how to build the castle, or who can be which colored knight.  They can't find a belt and blame the other one for hiding it.  They tease each other, and I know the younger of them usually quietly instigates before I hear the older one yell at him.  They think I don't know.

They are the reasons I sport a few new gray hairs and keep a hidden stash of dark chocolate.

They keep this house lively and loud.  And I love them to death.

Boys Live Here.

Sunday, January 10

Happy 2nd Birthday, Caeli Rose

Two years have gone by since I gave birth to this amazing little girl.  A child who has brought me delight day in and day out.  She has brought me peace and multiplied my love in ways I didn't understand was possible.

As I ponder her second year, she has grown and changed like any one year old should.  She favors her siblings in her looks and in her mannerisms, but has a personality all of her own.  We all dote on her, even her big brothers are reduced to squealy-high voices when they talk about how cute she is!

Caeli still loves to wake up early and keep me company in the early mornings.  She and I will cuddle and read, or she will play with the saint peg dolls as I read.  Usually she prefers to sit with me.

She is very expressive, "talking" with her hands while explaining to me a very detailed story or singing us a song!  Her speech is growing and she definitely has a clear understanding of how to tell us what she has to say, even though we don't quite understand everything.  She's very possessive of everything, from toys to her stroller, her shoes, and even me!

She loves playing with her babies, rocking them up and down and shushing them to sleep.  She's been known to rock- and-shush anything from a dump truck to a shoe!

Caeli is a creature of habit.  She has rituals and routines and prefers that things go as she pleases.  As she falls asleep, usually in the crook of my elbow, she likes to stick her hand up my sleeve.  This has been a little more difficult in winter months when my sleeves have been tight around my wrists!  She also settles quickly this way when she's distressed, or when she's found her Nuk and she comes to me or a bit of cuddle time.  She always calls for "Nuk!" when she's sad about something, and over the past two weeks she's developed a funny self-soothing habit that involves coming into my bedroom, closing the door behind her, and rolling around on the carpet on my floor while she pouts and fusses.  I come in and check on her and ask if she needs anything, she tells me no, and I ask if she wants me to stay, she says no again, so I leave!  She comes out just fine after 10 minutes or so, sometimes she's raided my closet and comes out boasting a pair of mommy's heels!

She's obsessed with her Nuk. I've considered trying to wean her from it, but I can't wrap my head around taking something that she loves so much!  It's going to be painful when the day does come!

She always makes me smile, and I can't stay grumpy at her for very long!  We all love this girl- happy birthday Caeli Rose!  

Sunday, December 20

Our Christmas Card, 2015 Edition

Hello! If you're here by way of our Christmas card, welcome!

Years have gone by and I keep meaning to type up a family newsletter to include in our Christmas cards, but for various reasons it hasn't happened and I haven't made it a priority.  Then I realized I could include it here for anyone who would like a quick update on our family. :)

2015 has mostly come and gone in a fury!  Our family took a major trip in September- a drive to the northeast to see family and Pope Francis, a few smaller weekend trips, Ryan and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a vow renewal and reception, Beth had a two-day stay in the hospital thanks to an infected cut, and we almost sold our house (twice).  And we have three school-aged students now, which has been quite a change for me!  We had a few major events, but for the most part we're continuing to all grow and change, each of us in our own time. 

Ryan turned 35 this year, without fanfare!  He celebrated 9 years with his company this year, a family-friendly 8-5 job at a local company that continues to treat him respectfully and generously.  He used all of his vacation days this calendar year- which was a first!  Ryan has enjoyed a few good books this year, reading alongside Beth in her school work and of course, reading Little House books (again) to a couple of boys who are very interested in being Farmer Boys.  Ryan used his talent and time to build shields for the boy's club that we belong to, and took me on a fantastic trip to Antigua to celebrate our 10-year anniversary! He continues to support and guide me and our family as our spiritual head, and our relationship continues to grow and flourish as we live our busy and beloved lives!

I have had a year in which I've cut back on events and commitments and tried to be more intentional and reflective.  In some ways I was busier, taking advantage of Ryan's vacation days to travel and making a monthtly commitment to a day dedicated to spiritual practices, but I've also cut a lot out of my schedule.  The biggest change was this year I took only 4 doula clients (the previous year I had 14), and I've decided to end my career, at least for now, as a doula.  We switched to a new co-op, which entails more driving for Caeli and me, but has been a huge blessing to me as it's a drop-off program and I'm no longer responsible for teaching a class of kindergarteners!  The kids also love it, which in turn makes me a happier mama too!  I've read more this year than last, started attending some seriously awesome classes at the gym and ran a 3-mile race, and while I haven't been crafting as much as I'd like, I did manage to sew a few skirts for Caeli in May.  I discerned that I should drop out of social media completely (Instagram and Facebook), so you can check here periodically for updates, or give me a good old-fashioned call. :)

Beth will turn 9 in a week, is in third grade, and I have to admit that I am really looking forward to this next "phase" of girlhood.  She is leaving early childhood behind and becoming a young woman who is a delight and a pleasure to be around.  She devours books as soon as she can get her hands on them, reading late into the night and checking out books from the library as much as I'll allow her! On our Christmas card, the photo of her with her hands in the air is my favorite picture of her celebrating coming home from the hospital after a brief but dramatic stay!  She's learned to rollerblade this year, started piano lessons, and some days she completely takes over the kitchen from me and will bake until her heart is content.  Her sense of humor is maturing and while she occasionally rolls her eyes, she's still such a joy to my heart.

Luke turned 7 in October and is currently missing 3 teeth.  He's very proud of that fact!  He is in first grade, learning to read, and is preparing to make his First Holy Communion in the Spring.  We call him our worker man, because he has a deep innate desire to be constantly moving and using his body for God's glory!  He and Jack have dug holes in the backyard and filled them back up again, created "secret hiding places," taken apart broken appliances, and asked questions about pretty much everything.  He has a natural talent for math and building, and can get lost for hours in a pile of Legos.  He can also be super sweet and cuddly with me, planting slobbery kisses and giving tender hugs.  I accept because I don't know how long they will last!

Jackson is five-and-a-half, as he will proudly announce, and started kindergarten this year.  He is also learning how to read, loves doing his math workbook, and spends a lot of time playing dress up.  He's gone through phases of being a knights or priests, and right now he likes to dress up as a shepherd.  He loves to draw, play outside, and basically do anything that Luke does! We had a big baseball-themed fifth birthday for him in the summertime, which he loved despite the fact that he sometimes can be very shy.  He doesn't particularly love going to Sunday School or co-op, but he always has a good time with his friends in the classes!

Caeli Rose will be 2 in a few weeks!  She continues to be a huge blessing a joy to me.  We all always marvel at how cute she is, and Beth takes delight in knowing that Caeli acts and plays the same way that she did.  She is starting to speak clearly now, loves identifying animals and body parts, and she's definitely the most expressive child we've ever had!  She speaks not only with words but with her hands and head- well, her whole body!  She dances and sings, reminds us to pray before we eat, and just loves playing baby and tea party.  She loves Beth and her brothers, running to give them a hug or kiss when they wake up in the morning.  She's not quite sleeping through the night consistently yet, though it has happened a handful of times and we have hope that it will happen soon!

Please feel free to explore my blog, click around and read away.  What's here is written for you; it's not too personal for me to share.  I opted to not publish a few things that maybe were on the verge of being too much information, but what I've shared here is because I think these things are worthy of being discussed.  I renamed my blog in January and have used that as a platform to sort of dissect my feelings and struggles this year.  My true hope is that, as my children grow and venture out into this world, they see this blog as a memory book of their adventures and lives.  That is truly why this little blog is here!

God's blessings to you and your family in 2016!  May we all grow to know and accept His peace and will in our hearts and lives. 

Friday, December 11

Quiet Time at the Library

Peaceful and quiet, we rest at the library during the afternoon while toddlers nap and other big kids are still at school. We own this place, resting in silence save for the rustle of turning pages. The smell of old books and dust reminds brings me an inner peace but watching my children search for beloved authors brings me immense joy. They're whisked away, far away from me, lost in the olden days of Tomie dePaola or the silly antics of Cuirous George, yet their little bodies are right next to me.  Here we find rest.

Tuesday, December 1

The Past Month- In Photos

We went to see Grandma and Grandpa's new (temporary) digs!  All 800 square feet of it!  It's been wonderful having them live only 15 minutes away!

We squeezed some fat toes into shoes from my own childhood..

This is a teeny tiny portion of the hundreds of people who attended the funeral of an amazing and loving homeschooling friend.  The entire church was packed and I saw people at the reception afterward that I didn't even know knew her.  She was a blessing to me in many ways.  She let me know it was okay to not do everything perfectly, even though she seemed to always have it together!  She was real to me, and I value and appreciate that so much.  Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for the husband and five children who miss her dearly.

Playtime at the church playground before co-op started.

My early-morning companion and her companions.

Beth wanted to make a "special snack" during an afternoon visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  She made a list of items she'd need, drew out a sketch of how she'd set it up, and then did it.  Where on earth did she learn how to do that?!

A Martinmas procession with friends at the park.  In the dark!

Beth wanted me to snap a photo of her leaving the church after mass one day at co-op. 

Lost another tooth!  That third one will be out before Christmas!

Tea before bed. 

Black Friday shopping with Mommy!

I took them to see a local dance school's production of The Nutcracker.  Have I mentioned how much my kids love The Nutcracker?  They were the Rat King, Marie, and The Nutcracker for Halloween!  We listen to the music and watch a DVD of it year-round!

Beth and her friend Madeline, who was in the performance.  I can't believe these girls have been friends for 5 years now!
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