Get over here and fast: Lent at my house

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Talking to Hubby last night, I asked if he remembered the “rules” of fasting for this week’s Ash Wednesday observance.  This is probably the first year I have not been either pregnant or breastfeeding (and so excused from the fasting obligation) in a long while, so I obviously would be forgiven for being forgetful about what the Catholic Church means when they admonish one to fast.

(BTW: The USCCB website states:

“For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.”

Okie dokie.)

Most of my non-Catholic friends are completely baffled by a religion that tells one, among other things, what to eat and when (fish on Fridays during Lent) and makes you quit eating for certain amounts of time!  Of course fast and abstinence during Lent has a whole lot more theological significance than just the acts themselves, for which some are needlessly wrapped up in the idea of “stuffy old men in Rome telling me what to do” (to paraphrase a beloved relation of mine).

Observing Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter) has, in recent times, become the deepest spiritual experience of my entire year.  Because, for me, meditating upon the willing acceptance of Christ’s impending death (and, by association, His Resurrection) and how that coincides with my own existence is both strangely comforting and, at the same time, disturbing.

And disturbing it should be.  Lent is about suffering.  And sacrifice.  And realizing that all the wonderful gifts and blessings in our lives are not things we should ever take for granted.

If you are anything like me, we spend most of our year wrapped up in ourselves, our own lives, our own families, our own rushing around trying to get Something Accomplished.  The frustrations we feel and the difficulties we face during the year are needless nuisances.  They are unfair.  They make us mad.  We don’t know why they are happening to us.  We’re good people.  We don’t deserve this!  We soldier on, perhaps getting burnt out with our daily lives.  We are trying to Accomplish Something after all.  Once we get that raise, once we get that toddler potty-trained, once we take that trip, we will have Arrived.  Let’s hurry up and get there.  And in the meantime, we have Lost the Point. 

For me, Lent helps me to get back where I need to be.  To make God #1 in my life where he should be, instead of having fallen pretty dang far down the list.

With God, I know what my priorities are and my goals.  His goals, not the world’s goals.  I know what is expected of me as a wife, and mother, and woman.  I don’t have to fear suffering, because with God, suffering can become beautiful.  I sacrifice for Him (in my measly little fasting and abstaining from meat) in celebration of all that His Son did for us.  It may be difficult, but it is nothing compared to innocently suffering and dying for a lot of people who didn’t deserve it.

Lent becomes a time of “centering” for my spiritual life.  And with life as crazy as it is, I really need it.

So what do we do for Lent in my house?

Well, in addition to the obligatory fasting and abstinence, this year, we are braving the 7pm mass on Ash Wednesday as a family.  I can should be able to count on the kids to behave later than their 8pm bedtime so we can do this as a family.

Luckily, everyone really loves fish so coming up with appetizing meal plans for the Fridays during Lent is easy.

To strengthen my faith in the next 40 days, I have committed to saying a decade of the Rosary every day (which becomes surprisingly smooth after a few weeks) and also….eeek…giving up alcohol (this one is going to be hard!).   I figured I could do it for my babies when I was pregnant, I should be able (with God’s help) to do it for Him!  I will keep you posted on this one!

I am also going to try harder to offer up my daily “sufferings” and frustrations to the Lord.  I am hoping this will make me a less frazzled and resentful homemaker (I hope) and help me to express my love to my family better.  Again, I will let you know how that goes!

If you celebrate Lent, what are your traditions or commitments?

 

 

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{7QuickTakes} in the midst of family dance party!!!!

So, it is Friday night and Hubby just called to say he has to stay late at work…ugh.  So I sit here with a glass of vino and KidzBop playing on the iPhone while the kiddos run around like banshees.  TGIF!  Here’s some more excitement akin to the party over at Kelly’s.

ONE.

Not gonna lie, some days parenting is hard.  Sometimes the kids are running around like banshees (oops, already mentioned that…mommy brain…) and you have a sinus infection and the LAST THING you wanna do is make another friggin’ peanut butter sandwich.  But then oldest daughter has to do her reading homework and decides it is a good idea to read to younger brother while channeling her first-grade teacher at storytime.  I had to smile.  So cute.

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TWO

I am not the most confident person in the world.  Luckily, as an adult I have been nowhere near where I was in that regard in high school!  However, I have been going through a rough patch lately.  I am just feeling…I don’t know….frumpy and uncool.  I think it has to do with it being February.  Not a fan of this month.  We’ve all been sick and stir-crazy and I am ready for spring!  But I think that since I’ve been fighting negativity on that front it has come over to bite me on the confidence front as well.  Nothing specific, just an overwhelming feeling of disliking myself.  This, too, shall pass, I know.

THREE.

But…but…something wonderful has happened to my sweet younger sis!  She is engaged!  Yay!  So happy for her and her young man.  We are looking forward to a fall wedding.

FOUR.

Since I suffer from depression, I have always been worried about my children ending up suffering from those sort of things as well.  My oldest, Junior, has always been extremely sensitive and intense.  This year he has been suffering from panic attacks and seems to experience anxiety that is really hard to get a handle on.  We have been in communication with his school counselor and she has been really great about teaching him relaxation techniques and just being available for him to visit with about his concerns.  However, it is scary when he gets so worked up that he can’t calm himself down.  He has especially been stressed-out this week about his upcoming karate testing and a school program where he has to memorize a speech.  It is really hard for me, as a parent, trying to help him through dealing with this anxiety, especially since he is only in 4th grade!  It seems too young to have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

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My favorite stress relief: the sunset out my back porch:-)

FIVE.

Bellie sat and watched the entire 3-episode special of Rick Steves’ Travel Skills television shows with me.  At first she was irritated that I wanted to watch that while I folded laundry (folding, which I hate…sometimes the only thing that gets me through is Rick Steves and wine), but then she was kind-of interested in the lovely locales Rick was visiting.  I think she was most impressed with the tiny Swiss alpine villages.  (I hope we can take the kids over there some day!)

SIX.

Oh the Trolls soundrack.  We have moved on from KidzBop.  Which I have something of an affinity for…I now have small ballerinas dancing to Anna Kendrick’s version of The Sound of Silence.

SEVEN.

I made a promise last weekend that I had to keep.  It was hard.

I let my kids do painting.

It was stressful.  It was messy.  Spike dumped an entire water cup of green-tinted water on the floor but did not seem concerned in the least.  I think they had fun.  And that is what motherhood is all about.

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I can’t resist making my children’s dreams come true.

Blessings for a great week ahead!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 15

I am feeling rather caught up in the whole “blahs of winter” right now.  It is still a little chilly, still a little wintry (although the ugly kind of winter, where the snow is partially melted and icy and dirty) and the sun plays hide and seek most days.  Add that to a severe cold…riiiiiiiiight after recovering sufficiently from the stomach flu….and I am feeling a little gloomy.

Of course it helps to remember that spring is in sight, that the blahs give away to warmer temperatures and being able to spend time outdoors without coats on.  So we soldier on…enjoy these Quick Takes and be sure to check out some more at Kelly’s !

ONE

I scored big at the Used Book Sale (referenced last week)!  Two giant piles of books for $8.00.  I am glad I brought along Junior, who helped me lug my treasures to my car.

TWO.

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Is this not the cutest Valentine ever?  I especially love the Quarter.  Not sure if the drawing is supposed to be of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, but I truly appreciated how the kids worked together to make this extremely thoughtful card.

THREE.

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I love this poster by Arnold Lobel

I have these really cute literary posters that I want to get framed and hang up in the kid’s “book corner”.  The problem is that they are odd sizes, and I am pretty sure I won’t be able to locate ready-made frames and will have to get them specially framed, which I hear is expensive.  I do want them framed, but wondering if there are cheaper options for odd specifications?  I am not very skilled at the whole DIY-thing so making the frames myself is probably not a great option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR.

I am thrilled to be able to bring dinner to a friend and her husband who recently adopted a baby.  They have had dreams of parenthood for years and I am so happy that their prayers have been answered!  I am so awed by how the Lord works through adoption.  Adoption has definitely proven to be a  blessing in my own (extended) family.  My little niece is so fiercely loved.  Thanks be to God!

FIVE.

Sometimes you just want to rub a corn dog on your head. #Spikesgreatideas

SIX.

I had a weird dream last night where all these people were being assassinated at our house (thanks, I think to the Kim Jong Nam assassination).  But apparently Dream Me was less concerned about people meeting their deaths at my home than that fact affecting our social life.  “Nobody’s going to want to come to our house anymore,” Dream Me told Dream Hubby.

SEVEN.

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Castle Combe, a Cotswold Village in Wiltshire. Courtesy of Saffron Blaze, via http://www.mackenzie.co

Trying to make a final decision on a mini-bus tour from London.  In the running: Warwick Castle, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon; some sort of Cotswolds-centric tour; and Dover, Leeds Castle, and Canterbury.  Any suggestions?  I love the extensive history of Warwick Castle (plus what historian doesn’t find Warwick the Kingmaker fascinating – I loved his portrayal in the White Queen miniseries).  The Cotswolds, of course, are delightfully English.  And I have always wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover.  Also, one of my best friends used to live in Canterbury and I would love to see where St. Thomas à Becket was martyred.  Hard decisions when you’ve only got one day to devote to one of these tours!

Wishing you a blessed week!

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 14

I couldn’t stop laughing at Kelly’s 2nd Capsule Wardrobe post!  There are more funny folks over there, be sure to check it out!

One.

This has been week numero dos for the Great Stomach Bug of 2017.  Every time I keep thinking the family is finally through it, somebody else vomits in my car.  I was feeling better myself and then, a week later, was sick again.  So far, Hubby and Evvie have not gotten it, but the incubation period seems to be about 7 days, so I am sure this time next week I will probably be needing to buy more bleach.

Two.

Hubby and I don’t generally make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  Hubby also doesn’t generally send me flowers, particularly not for specific holidays – he likes the element of surprise, he says (which, also, he says, has nothing to do with forgetting most of the time).  One day I told him, “Gifts are my Love Language.  I wish you would think about sending me flowers once in a while”  and then the joke became him telling me, “I thought about sending you flowers today.”  I would always nod appreciatively and say, “Thanks, It’s the thought that counts!”

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In an about face, eschewing just The Thought of Sending Flowers, I received these via delivery on Tuesday.  Along with the card (no signature, who could they be from?:-)  Which leads us to

Three.

After the delivery guy left, I asked Spike who he thought could have possibly sent me these beautiful flowers.

Spike: I don’t know!  The guy that just dropped them off??

Me:  But why would he do that?

Spike: ?? Because he loves you??

So, if that is not a testimony to all husbands out there to set an example by sending your wives flowers more often, I don’t know what is.  You don’t want the children thinking there are random flower delivery guys who love your wives more than you do!

Four.

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I have to remind myself to be grateful for the quiet moments when they are getting along courtesy of Netflix.

Five.

I like to try to make Valentine’s Day special for the kids.  This year my goal is to make them hand crafted Valentines, complete with personalized love notes and carefully selected candy.  Haha!  Just kidding.  It is more like I will scatter some Hershey’s kisses on the table Tuesday morning, while scrawling I Love Yous on Post-it Notes.  It’s the thought that counts.

Six.

As soon as Hubby gets home from getting a haircut we are planning to do a major Slash and Burn of the kids’ bedrooms.  It has gotten Out. Of. Control.  They are pits of despair.  Well, mainly, dirty laundry, misplaced bric-a-brac, and garbage.  Oh the garbage.  Apparently the physical act of getting trash into the proper receptacle is lost on my children.  Except Bellie.  Because, for Bellie, there is no such thing as Trash.  It is all art.  Or could be used in the future for art.  At any rate, it is NOT WORTHY OF BEING THROWN.  This is why I need to clean out her room in secret, or if she is at school.  Otherwise what generally happens is that she tearfully picks through the garbage bag, taking out every last worksheet and piece of candy wrapper, saying, “Don’t throw away my stuuuuuuuuufffff”  It is dramatic.  Garbage might just be her Love Language.

Seven.

My library holds quarterly book sales of donated used books and withdrawn library titles.  I am mildly obsessed with used books.  I honestly have no need for any additional reading material right now.  I honestly have no more bookshelf space for any additional reading material right now.  But, yet…I am trying to decide if I should head on down to the library this weekend.  Just to see.  Just to browse.  Many books are 50 cents!  I am Rebecca and I have a book problem.  Anyone else?

Have a fantastic week!

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: Vol.13

Good day to you!  I am sitting at a local coffeeshop – by myself (doesn’t that sound scandalous?) – and I am happy to get my 7QTs in today!  See more at Kelly’s!

ONE

Hubby got back from a business trip yesterday.  I was really happy to get him back.  So were the kids.  He was only gone 5 days, but it was a LOOOONNNNNGGGG 5 days.  (See below Quick Take)

TWO

Stomach bugs while (temporarily) single parenting suck.  Stomach bugs while single parenting especially suck when they only hit said temporarily single parent while the children being parented are their own boisterous, exuberant, curious, and healthy selves.  I am glad that I was not having to parent sick kids while being sick myself, but….still.  I’m a complainer.  Edit: Bellie came home from school sick today….so….this might be the beginning of a fun weekend.  At least Hubby is home!

THREE

Six months to EUROPE!!!!!!!  I am feeling like everything is falling into place and can barely contain my excitement.  I need to work on the guilt feelings, though.  I mean, I can hardly sneak off to a coffee shop by myself on a Friday morning for an hour leaving Hubby with the two little ones without feeling like a complete worthless human being who is shirking her family responsibilities!  I will have to explore this idea more in future posts.

FOUR

Loving Victoria on Masterpiece.  I do think Jenna Coleman is a bit too pretty to play the illustrious queen, but oh well.  I am slightly obsessed with the Victorian Era, so the costumes and the hairstyles are completely thrilling to me.  Plus I think Victoria (who interestingly enough, was against women’s suffrage) was one of the most influential and fascinating women in the history of our modern world.

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Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria at her coronation.  (Courtesy pbs.org)

FIVE

My mom is doing better.  She came through her surgery (to repair her leg) just fine, and is currently on the mend.  Talking to her on the phone nowadays she seems to be back to her old self.  It will still be weeks before she is permitted to put weight on her leg, but she seems to be wheeling herself around her house just fine, and other than being confined to the ground floor of her home, is doing well.  I have taken the suggestion to call her often – and I have been touching base with her via text daily, calling every other day.  If nothing else, I hope that this whole experience has convinced her that her children really do care about her.  We were all forced to break out of our mental business to actually reach out and make an effort to keep in touch.

SIX

I’ve got a dear friend who is going through a divorce.

There has been a group of us who have been friends for a long time.  We did a Bible study about Catholic Apologetics several years back together; it was so enlightening and educational for us, plus it brought us closer together as friends.  It definitely ranks as one of the best experiences I’ve had, and I have always felt that those of us who participated share a special bond.

Our families have hung out often, our husbands have gone out for beers together and helped each other with home improvement projects.  Each year we go to Bear Lake, Utah camping as a group and traditionally spent Super Bowl Sunday together.  Our kids are all friends.

Over Christmas, one of the couples split up under tense circumstances.  We are friends with both of them.  We like and respect both of them and want what is best for their kids, and their family as a whole.    But my friends and I are having a hard time wishing them a DIVORCE.  Especially in light of Catholic teaching, which we studied together in detail all those years ago.  We are not privy to all the information about the circumstances of their separation, of course.  There seem to be some seemingly insurmountable obstacles for them to stay together.  But….still……ugh.

It’s a sad situation all around.  We have tried to be supportive of our friend without bashing her husband.  We have been praying for them.  A lot.  And I truly believe that God has a plan for their family.

Still, anyone have any words of wisdom about supporting a friend (couple?) who is going through a divorce?  What are our duties as Christian/ Catholic friends?  Friends who believe in and confess the sanctity of marriage, especially when both parties in a divorce proceeding are convinced there is no hope for their marriage?  I am struggling here!

SEVEN

Well, as I type this, I can’t avoid the obvious:  my cuticles are a horror.  Winter wreaks havoc on my hands!  The air is so dry here in Idaho that dry skin is a matter of fact, but in winter it takes it up a notch!  My poor kids have inherited my problem; Bellie’s hands are dry and red ALL WINTER LONG unless she remembers to always always wear gloves when she goes outside (which doesn’t usually happen).   All of my kids seem to suffer from excema (particularly on their cheeks) during the winter.  My solution: Eucerin is my friend.  I buy an industrial size of the tub at the beginning of the winter.

 

 

I hope all of you are keeping warm and protecting your skin this winter!  Have a delightful weekend!

Explorations great and small

The whole idea of the “one word” for the year as your overarching New Year’s resolution has intrigued me.  Not because I intentionally eschew resolutions, but because it does seem a simple way of creating a theme, or focus, maybe even a “mission statement” for the year ahead.

This year, my word is EXPLORE.

The most obvious incarnation of this word in my year ahead will be to travel parts of the world I have never explored before.  But the word also means “explore” in a more general sense: to see the familiar with new eyes.  To make a more thorough examination of my surroundings; to recreate the experience of being a tourist in my own town and region.

It struck me, one time when I was traveling to a distant area of our own country, that the people in this quaint, fascinating, and beautiful place actually got to live here all the time.  How cool, and how lucky for them!  I doubted they ever got sick of their adorable town, never took for granted the history that made up their communal understanding of who they were, never felt bored whenever they drove across town to Walmart, or longed to visit anywhere else.

But the truth is, familiarity gets the better of all of us.  No matter what fabulous location you may inhabit, or what lovely views you have out of your window every day, the vast majority of us eventually take it for granted.  It is human nature.  It’s easy to look past the sights you see each day amidst the routine of daily life.

Travel can help.  Every time I return from a trip, I am struck anew with how much I love where I live.  After having been a tourist for a few days or a week, I am still stuck in “tourist mode” and it seems that mentality transfers over for the next few days.  I think, “What do visitors find interesting about my town?”  and, “What would I write about in a guidebook to this place?”.  It helps me to refocus on the wonder and pleasure of my own “place I call home”.

Those of us who lack the means or time to travel can still experience this.  It takes a little more imagination, but trying to see things differently is the name of the game.  Is there some restaurant you’ve been dying to try?  A museum exhibit that you haven’t seen yet?  Maybe visit a new park and try to write a review in your mind of its best features and how you might recommend it to a friend?  Any places outside the city limits but within a short drive that might offer a great picnic spot or opportunity for a vigorous easy hike (hey, I’ve got energetic, yet easily tired – go figure – youngsters!)  What sites might you encourage out-of-town friends or relatives to visit?  Which places in town would rank as your “Must See” sights?  Blogger Shauna Fontaine at Days to Come has this great post that also has some great tips to get you thinking about that!

Another aspect of “explore” for me is also to spend a little more quality time with myself this year.  Through prayer/meditation I really would like to become a little more centered, a little more OK with myself, get a little better understanding of who it is God wants me to be.  Getting time to explore one’s own psyche is pretty difficult when chasing one’s kiddos around all day long, but I want to try to make it a priority this year.

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{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol 12

Lately it has been sort-of hit or miss with {7QT} but I’m here today!  Check out other more motivated bloggers at Kelly’s!

ONE.

Happy Inauguration Day!  There are Americans who are happy, Americans who are sad, Americans who are angry, and Americans who are resigned today.  But the point is, this is how democracy works.  This is how America works.  And I still think we have the greatest political system in the world.  Sometimes we don’t like the outcome of elections, or Congressional votes, or laws that are made.  And that’s OK.  Because we are able to disagree civilly, and work together to come to a compromise.  We can air our grievances, and work to change things we don’t like.  We are free to speak out.  And that’s pretty awesome because there are countries in the world who do not have that option.

At any rate, one of the paramount aspects of our political system is a peaceful transition of power (another thing many countries in the world do not have – hello Gambia).  So, like him or hate him, ecstatic or morose (or, I guess, the negligible percentage of Americans who just plain don’t care one way or the other about him according to the media), President Trump is the newest leader of this great nation and the amazing people within.

TWO.

I got a new phone.  I didn’t want to, my Samsung Galaxy III was working just fine, thank you.  Except for that I couldn’t get picture messages and it deleted all my contacts on me.  Hubby wanted to graduate from a 2000’s-era flip phone to something a little more sophisticated, for work, you know.  And since we were on different carriers, two different bills, two different kinds of coverage, we decided to simplify the matter by just getting matching phones.  Which is our romantic way of celebrating Valentine’s Day early.  (Isn’t that how the Millenials do it anyhow?  Skip the flowers & chocolates, opt for Apple products?)

THREE.

My baby turned 2 earlier this month.  Supposedly, she is our last one (according to Hubby, but I could easily be talked into another!) so I am going through the whole gamut of emotions relating to that and all my babies getting older.  Of course, kids growing older comes with its benefits obviously: they can strap themselves in the car, put on their own clothes, and can generally follow directions.  But, baby-lover that I am, I miss those days of little bundles sleeping all day and cuddling while breastfeeding.   I am getting more sleep these days, which is a plus.  But….still.  Sigh.

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Princess Evvie turned 2!

FOUR.

………….I am whisper-typing this, in case the Universe decides to play a trick on me….but I *think* I can claim victory on the Spike Potty Training journey.  He has been a trooper since Christmas, with accidents few and far between.  He really does excellent when we are out and about in town, it’s mainly when he is at home and distracted by tv or a complicated Lego creation that he sometimes forgets to go until it’s too late.  Yay!

FIVE

In just a few short weeks it will be….SIX MONTHS TO EUROPE!!!  More on that later.  So excited!!  It is really feeling more real now that everything is coming together, tickets have been purchased, reservations have been made.

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Coming soon!

SIX

One of the hardest things about living so far away from family is that you are not available to help in times of need.  Two days after Christmas, my mother fell and broke her leg really badly.  She is extremely independent and lives on her own, so this has caused her to completely reorder her life (including her willingness to ask for and receive help).  She is now recovering from a successful surgery but will be unable to bear weight on the offending limb for a few months.  In the meantime, my geographically-closer siblings have really stepped up to the plate and helped her with transport and shopping and stopping by to check on her morning and night.  My sister has taken on the bulk of this, for which I am really appreciative, because it is next to impossible for me to drop everything here and go there, what with kids in school, a husband on back-to-back business trips, as well as financial concerns.  It is hard feeling so impotent when it comes to helping out.  Anyone have any experience with this?  When you are unable to physically be there for someone, how can you Be There for someone?  Aside from sending money, what are some things I could do, both for my mother and my siblings who are taking on the responsibility for caring for her?

SEVEN.

Listening to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive on audiobook.

41a2znogcclIt is forcing me to think differently about our society’s definition of “success” as well as how to take better care of myself.  Huffington’s main mantra: Get enough sleep.  So I am trying.  The goal is to go to bed earlier so I can get up at 6 with the kids before school after getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep.  So far, so good.  I am hoping that in the long run I have more energy and am more focused.  Generally, I stay up late at night to “get stuff done”(which, incidentally, is what my mother always did growing up – and subsequently was a zombie all day) and then proceed to hit a slump shortly after lunch, where the world looks bleak and I am too tired to function.  Yesterday after 8 hours of sleep I didn’t feel that slump, which was awesome!  Hoping that will continue.  I will keep you posted.

Have a delightful week!  We’ll chat again soon!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: New Year’s edition and 2016 catch-up

Happy New Year!  And happy Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, if you will.  Here’s a long-awaited update about what’s been going on around here:

One

Six weeks ago Junior and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to celebrate my sister’s graduation from a prestigious law enforcement academy.  We had a great time.  It was so fun to spend time with my oldest son while showing him important places in America’s heritage.  We visited George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon; went to dinner at a happenin’ farm-to-table restaurant called Founding Farmers; had a tour of the Capitol building; saw aviation history at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; practiced our espionage skills at the International Spy Museum; and attended a delightful performance of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre.  Junior and I got to spend time with his grandmother who we don’t see very often, and my awesome sister who I miss being away from very much!  It was a great long weekend.

Two

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Spike channeled Garth on Thanksgiving.

Three

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For my birthday, Hubby got me a new chandelier for our two-story stairwell.  Before it was a flush mount (read: boring) light fixture that I didn’t feel did the space any favors.  We got this chandelier at a really great Black Friday weekend sale and Hubby put it up before my early- December birthday.  I love it.  It really adds a new level of style to the steps!

Four

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Bellie performed in her 3rd annual Nutcracker.  It is a lot of rehearsals and late nights, but I really love being able to watch her and relive my glory days as an amateur ballerina!

Five

We had a lovely and relaxing Christmas.  Of course I entertained all sorts of ideas about crafts to do and cookies to make, but I only really got around to making a gingerbread house with the kids.  And I guess that’s enough!

Six

We spent the new year at dear friends of ours’s cabin up near Yellowstone National Park.  It was lovely.  The snow made it just like a wonderland.  We spent our time cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, drinking hot cocoa, and just enjoying each other’s company.

Seven

New Year’s Resolution:  Become an Ultimate Book Nerd.  Our library sponsors the challenge: read 50 books in 50 weeks.  My friends and I are doing it together!  I am pumped!  I am hoping I can do it!  I will keep you appraised of my progress.

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Hope everyone is settling into the New Year in a lovely fashion!  Check in with Kelly to see what more awesome people are resolving to do this year!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

That darn perfection illusion

I apologize for my long hiatus…it has been insanely busy!  Between a post-election trip to Washington D.C., Thanksgiving, Bellie’s third annual round of Nutcracker performances, Christmas preparations and the like, I have been swamped.  But I promise to fill you in on all those adventures in due course.  Life has been good, I have been staying upbeat, but wouldn’t you know it…once the kids finished school for the year and I was finally allowed a break I came down with the flu (flu shot notwithstanding!).  It has been a fun three days of that but I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Right when I start feeling better I am sure the rest of the family will follow suit and get sick.  Right around Christmas day, I’m sure:-)  Oh well, c’est la vie.

I think I mentioned earlier that I have befriended a new-to-motherhood and new-to-the-area young lady who is married to a coworker of Hubby.  We’ve been hanging out every few weeks or so; I have been introducing her and her baby daughter to the various activities available in our town for family fun/child enrichment.  My younger kids get a kick out of hanging out with her baby, and I think she is genuinely appreciative to have the companionship.  It is fun for me, too, to experience, through her, how far I’ve come as a mom.  I mean, ten short years ago, I was that new, slightly uncertain and definitely appreciative for friendship – young mom.  Several years later, I don’t know if I would claim that I’m an expert or anything…but I am WAAAAAAAAY more laid back and more confident (sometimes) about my parenting skills.  Still, it made me dissolve in laughter when Hubby called me from work one day.

Hubby: [previously mentioned co-worker] told me his wife is super-jealous of you.

Me: What???!!!!  Why???? (silently thinking, “Did she SEE my four-year-old eat that gum off the bathroom floor at playgroup?”)

Hubby:  Yeah, she thinks you are like the perfect mom.  She thinks the kids are always so well-behaved and you discipline them so well.  And you always are on time and have your makeup and hair done when you guys get together.

Me: (Trying not to choke on my 8th cup of coffee that morning while the kids dump an entire box of cereal onto the floor)  !!!! Oh my gosh!!!  I have TOTALLY mislead her.  That was not my intention.

Thinking back, I really was only trying to not scare her off with my frumpy slovenliness.  Generally I am not on time, anywhere.  And I don’t usually do my hair, but I thought I should put forth a little more of an effort with someone I am getting to know. (It’s weird how friendship with other moms is sort-of like dating.  You want to put on your best face until you know you can relax a little around them in your own skin.)  I certainly did not mean to make her think I was…Perfect.

Hubby to the rescue:  It’s OK.  I set [previously mentioned co-worker] straight.  I told him that generally I come home to a house with cereal all over the floor and no one has gotten dressed for the day.

OK, that was once.  But if it serves to burst the perfection illusion my new-found friend has developed about me, so be it.  I don’t want to be seen as perfect!  That is a lot of pressure.

I think women, moms especially, are set up for failure with the perfectionism thing.  I mean, we start out young, unmarried and childless bombarded during our preteen and teen years with images on Cosmo and Vogue of these gorgeous supermodel/actresses and are convinced that is who we need to be (airbrushing be damned!).  Our images of perfection may also be tied up in being the smartest, getting into the best college, having the most prestigious (and lucrative) career.  We may spend hours on facebook and instagram looking at our friends’ “perfect lives”.  Then, we graduate to the competitive mom-ing.  Oh wow, that mom fits into her size-2 jeans and always looks like a million bucks, with her five beautiful children in tow who look like they stepped out of a Gymboree ad.   And that mom volunteers for Everything at school.  Isn’t she superwoman?  Plus she holds down a full-time job AND is going to grad school at the same time!  How is it possible this other mom keeps her home so immaculate with her two sets of multiples?  I have never seen her with a hair out of place, and she’s always cheery and friendly.  I’m sure her life is so charmed.

The danger in this “Projected perfectionism” thinking is that it tends to be a whole pack of bulls**tPeople, no matter how hard they try to make outsiders believe it is so, are not perfectionistic automatons.  There are happy, hard-working people who are living their best life, sure.  But they will be the first (often) to admit that their lives are not “perfect”.

Just yesterday, my little group of best girlfriends was blindsided out of the blue with some information that left us stunned and devastated.  A marriage we had always viewed as strong, a couple with a strong commitment to their family and community, had suddenly spiraled into a place none of us would have imagined.  Domestic violence, safe houses, and divorce proceedings.  The whole story is not immediately clear, but what an incredible shock for friends who have only ever seen the one face of their relationship.  How could we have missed if something so dangerous was going on with our friend?  Why didn’t she come to us for help before?  I always had (and still do) look up to her for mentoring with my parenting.  She was always so calm, so serene and so capable that I never would have imagined anything like this could happen to her.  And as a couple, they completed our little group that hung out camping and doing fancy dinners.  Our several families of combined children were good friends.  We were all so happy together.  I grieve for my friend and her family in this.  (Prayers greatly appreciated on her behalf)

The lesson?  Well, I could say “Try not to appear too perfect.”  But, in reality, it might be more prescient to say, “Don’t assume anyone’s life is perfect.”  Everyone has challenges.  Everyone has things they keep hidden.  If you suspect something with one of your friends that seems “off”, follow up.  They may not be ready to share, but they might be able to tell you how to help.

Meanwhile, next time I get together with my new-mom friend and her baby, I think I will put her more at ease by showing up 5 minutes late in my sweats, leaving that grape jelly smeared all over my kids’ faces and regale her with the tale of the “Floor Donuts” (that delightful time I let Spike carry the dozen-box of frosted donuts to the register at the grocery store.  He dumped them, the box came open, and all of them plopped juicily to the grubby floor, frosting side down.  And before I could begin cleaning them up, Spike wipes his hand over the frosting-smeared floor and begins eating it the delicious goo.)

Who’s a perfect mom, now?  🙂

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{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: Halloween and the Couch that Smelled of Pee, or Scary Adventures in Potty Training

Hello!  We survived a scary week of Halloween being on a Monday.  It was rough,  and I can imagine even more so for my children’s teachers – having to get through an entire week of dealing with candy-addled youngsters.  I salute you, teachers.  Your courage and fortitude is beyond my capabilities.

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What is scarier than kids hopped up on candy??

Here is what else has been going on around here:

ONE

I realized that I am becoming a Bah-Humbug Halloween mom.  This is so extremely sad because, generally, I love Halloween.  It’s one of my favorite holidays, and not for the whole pseudo-occult-scary-zombies-and-skulls-everywhere reason.  I just like to dress up.  But this year, the day before Halloween, as I was rushing around trying to find all the pumpkin-carving tools and laying down newspaper on the table while trying to remember where I put the battery-operated tea lights, it occurred to me that THIS IS JUST TOO DANG MUCH WORK.  And, of course, the kids are running around in crazy anticipation of things to come (i.e. candy) like wolves who get a whiff of a wounded elk two miles off.  Of course, I suck it up and remember that this holiday is for them, not me, and power through.  But I lament the fact that I can’t seem to find the joy in Halloween any more.  I will need to work on that (and don’t even get me started on Christmas!)

TWO

Hubby and I met 16 years ago at a Halloween party at his college fraternity house.  I was a cowgirl….he was a  – flasher [because what other Halloween costume can you make up with things you already own – a coat and boxer shorts (luckily he was a G-rated flasher)? – excited to try to explain that one to our kids later…] but it always makes the Halloween season special for Hubby and me.  I like to try and go out to eat or something to celebrate our Anniversary of Meeting.  This year, we did something different and went to a sip-and-paint place (you can bring wine in and everyone in attendance gets instruction about how to paint a specific picture).  I had been there once before with my girlfriends, but I was pleasantly surprised how my analytical, science-minded husband really took to the creative experience.  He was really excited about his painting afterwards and talked about the experience for DAYS.  It was really a fun date night.

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He’s a better artist than me…his steps had WAAAAAYYYY more structural integrity than mine.

THREE

Yeah. So…my couch smells like urine.  I am so done with this “potty training” stuff with Spike.  He turns 4 in a month and I am pretty sure he will still be peeing his pants then.  We have tried everything.  Pull-ups are glorified diapers, people.  I have never successfully used them to potty train.  So we are just going the underwear route, along with a “potty timer” so that he has to at least try to use the toilet every 45 minutes.  This works well, except for when ha! Mommy forgets to reset the timer, or, he has the urge to go between timer dings.  Apparently I need to give him VIP-escort to the bathroom whenever I read his mind that peepee is coming, or no cigar.  Grrrrr!  Junior was a pain to potty train as well.  Bellie, on the other hand, was a breeze.  (She was so embarrassed about pooping in her auntie’s bathtub that she instantly decided poop would never again go anywhere but the porcelain throne.)

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Quit your smiling, McQueen! This isn’t fun.

FOUR

I ordered my Christmas cards already!  I am totally on top of things.  Of course, they will still probably not be mailed until the day before Christmas, but it’s the intention that counts, right?

FIVE

That is how many baskets of clean laundry I have in my living room that currently need folding.  Ugh.  Sounds like a Friday Fun-day activity.100_9805

SIX

We are hardly ever out and about after dark around here and the other day I had to run Junior to karate with the other kids in tow.  The sun had gone down and it was getting darker and Spike worriedly asked me if we were still going to be able to find our way home in the dark, or if we were lost.  It genuinely concerned him, and I was glad I could put his mind at ease:-)

SEVEN

I hope everyone remembers to vote on Tuesday!  Hubby and I were having a conversation about the upcoming election and he remarked, “I don’t think the country has ever been more divided in an election before.”  Of course he is not a history major, but I had to remind him of the election of 1860…

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…at least we’re not to the point of secession – at least not yet.  God Save Our Country!

And God bless you all in the coming week!

Be sure to stop by Kelly’s for more fabulous Quick Takes!