Monday, November 23, 2015

Advent and Liturgical Living Blogs- a Perspective.

Before I start, I want to say this. I love me some blogs about Liturgical Living. I love Advent/Lent Liturgical Living Blogs especially.  They have helped me create sweet traditions with my little family I would have never dreamt up on my own.  I am so thankful for Better Than Eden and the way Mary intentionally and specifically lives each season with her children. I am thankful for Kendra at Catholic All Year, for giving me great ideas on how to incorporate faithful living into our home.  I feel so blessed by Bonnie, at aknottedlife, who gives real practical tips that are applicable to a young family trying to live out the gift of our Church calendar.  

But I don’t feel like everything they say is the Gospel.  And, I know for sure, they don’t either.

Yesterday, I took the boys to see the Christmas Lights at a long stretch of park in our local area. It was awesome.  We blasted Christmas music on the local station and our boy’s little hearts were soaring as they saw the nativity and we talked about Jesus coming. They laughed outloud at the dinosaur Christmas lights, and they delighted in the Menorah as we told them about Hanukkah. 

A lot of bloggers who move with the Liturgical year are adamant about not playing Christmas music until it is REALLY the Christmas season.  I think some of them might judge me for singing, ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ with my crew when we are supposed to be quietly waiting for the birth of Christ.  Waiting has a place right?  What’s with having to rush it?  I get it, I really do, and so some might judge me… but I think more often than not, most wouldn’t care.

Little Aaron is desperate for a specific gift this year from Santa.  He saw it a few months back at a store with Big A.  It’s a gigantic, totally impractical Power Ranger Robot.  It follows every trend today.  It has entirely too many pieces to be a good purchase for our home.  While looking at it, Joey saw a Batman Robot.  Just as big, just as gaudy.  Truth be told, we usually just buy presents from the dollar store (except when I bought the Mass kit for lil’ A that was completely not age-appropriate, and yet Aaron and I were in a squabble so I ‘showed him’ by hitting up amazon one night- OFF TOPIC).  We buy our children 3 presents (one from Jesus, one from us, and one from Santa), and have never spent a lot of money on any of them.  These big, giant, robots are a lot of money.  But little A keeps talking about how excited he is to see if Santa brings them. I can’t even imagine how excited he is going to be on Christmas morning when he wakes up and sees this robot under the tree.  I can’t wait to see his wonder, his awe, when he sees the man in the north pole, who celebrates/works for Jesus, heard what he asked for.

A lot of bloggers have very specific ideas about toys.  Kendra published a blog today about how toys are not helpful for her family this year for Christmas.  Maybe to bloggers like Kendra, it’s a silly for me to spend money on something so impractical, something that will just become ‘junk’ in a few months if not properly taken care of.  But I doubt it.  I think probably these bloggers are writing from their experience, not to throw stones at me and my family's way of doing things. I think bloggers like Kendra are offering gentle suggestions.

Some of those suggestions I take.  They have added to my family greatly.  

Last year, each night of advent, we turned off every light in the house except for the Advent Candle/s, we put up a Jesse Tree ornament, talked about the story of Christ and sang, ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’.  Every night, in silence and stillness, our family reflected on the meaning of Advent.   We make a cake each year on Christmas Eve for Jesus's Birthday (kid's choice, so last year it was Peppa the Pig).  I’m not sure I would have thunk up those little traditions if it weren’t for the beautiful Catholic Blogs that have inspired me. 

But sometimes I feel like a cruddy parent because I don’t make Liturgical Feasts to follow the Church Calendar year.  I don’t have a liturgical living cookbook you guys. I probably never will.  But, who knows? Maybe I am wrong and when my kids are a bit older, I will replace mac and cheese with a dinner fit for a King to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King… maybe… but, doubtful.

Sometimes I feel like a bad Catholic because I love secular Christmas time.  The whole darn season of Advent/Christmas. I blend them.  After the first snowfall, it’s game on for me.  I can’t hold back.  And geez, I know that would probably make some bloggers nervous, I am certain it’s like nails on a chalkboard to the Liturgist when I attend Christmas parties, and say Merry Christmas on November 23rd. I can appreciate their perspective... and still enjoy the way we do things around here.

Occasionally I wonder if I am doing enough to organically have my 4, 3,2 year old and newborn fully appreciate the movements of our faith.  Sometimes I second guess myself. Actually a lot of times I second guess myself.

But then I take a deep breath, realizing our little family is growing in our appreciation of the faith every day.  And maybe I’ll get there with the liturgical feasts and pure celebration of the seasons of the Church…ha, but maybe I never will.  I’m not quite convinced God will care. 

We are figuring out, like so many of you, what traditions work for us, and that’s A-Okay.

So today I pledge to allow the blogs of others in the Catholic world of parenting to inspire me, but not own me.  To encourage me, but not define for me what is best for my family.  Today I pledge to appreciate how God is shaping all of our families, and maybe I’ll take a little heart in the fact that He appreciates the effort, no matter how small!

Friday, November 20, 2015

7 Quick takes where I give my opinion on all the things

I figured you'd want my thoughts on all the things this week, so I thought I would give them to you including the mundane stuff around here.

 It's complicated. I am suspicious of anyone who isn't naming in our world of instability/terror/danger/etc... the refugee question is complicated.
The simplistic Scripture verses and silly memes aren't helpful in this case.  I'm glad to see in the last couple days, people are admitting they don't know all the things, and that the question is complicated.

Must we open our country to the suffering, the stranger, the alien and the refugee?
Can we do it with a concern for safety and still be good people?
Is it hard to imagine making a move such as bringing in 10,000 refugees with a current leader who I don't trust?
Does the process, which seems incredibly complex, of admitting refugees into this country, seem safe?
Do I hope we safely welcome refugees into our country?
Without a doubt.
Am I confident we can do so?

I laid in bed last weekend, after Paris, and considered terrorism.
I thought about those people in Paris. I thought about the targets...a restaurant, a concert venue, a sporting arena.  Those intentional targets because hitting them terrorizes people. In places of extreme recreation, we just don't expect extreme violence.
Then I thought about the U of M game next weekend.  We are going.  For a second it made me nervous, but then I realized how far away from the conflict we are.  But then I remembered Michigan was specifically named by ISIS, and I was nervous again.
Lyrics from a song I was recently introduced to ran through my head.
"What's the worst thing that could happen?  What's the worst thing they can do?  Threaten me with heaven... that's all they can do."- Vince Gill, 'Threaten Me With Heaven'

I know this seems kind of hokey, but it is amazing to be a person of faith (albeit, weak at times).  Because, death really has no sting.  It still can carry sadness, very real sadness... but it has no lasting sting.  Death offers us what we are waiting for.  How freaking amazing is that?

When I considered that, I smiled to myself a bit in this crazy world.  The one thing a 'terrorist' desires is terror.  A terrorist really can't get that from people of faith.

Take that.

On a lighter note.
My opinion on the fact that my daughter is 2 months old?
It flies by.
And she's the best. With her long hair and her crooked smile.  With her 8 hour stretches through every night, and mild mannered spirit.  She's just the best.
And she melts us all.

I didn't change my profile to a French Flag and I didn't use a fancy hashtag to express my prayers for Paris.

I don't judge you if you did.

For me, it's just kind of gotten old.
The constant crisis and response in social media.
It's the same every time.

We state our shock at the news.
We offer prayers and come up with hashtags.
We post blogs/articles/etc.. laying blame and asking questions
A few days later, the 'extremes' are weeded out and people start to discuss somewhat rationally.
Then the profiles change back.
Then the hashtags go away.
And we wait...
until the next thing...
When we state our shock.

I don't know, I'm just kind of over it.
Probably a bit depressed by it.
Kind of grossed out by it.
I didn't want to participate this time.

I have started back with presentations/workshops and retreats :)
This time, after Malia, I took two full months off. I did not do that after I had John Paul. In retrospect the latter was probably a huge mistake.  It was good to have focussed time with my family.  But, it is good to be back.
As per usual though, I can feel God changing the ministry I do.
Where I once worked primarily with teens, I am finding adults/women/mothers to be a much more life-giving audience during this season in my life.
I was blessed to spend time with the women of St. Francis in Ann Arbor. Gosh- we had an amazing time sharing, especially about the role of joy.
Then, I was able to do some sharing with a local ministry in the Detroit area that serves young mothers.
It was good.
I feel so blessed to be able to do ministry.  As long as I keep my calendar realistic (not overbooking), I hope to continue this ministry for a long, long time.

Aaron is going out of town again.
I am not going to tell you when so you don't come kill me (but if you do, #threatenmewithheaven).
I am not scared this time.
The cluster of him going out of town when Malia was 4 weeks and the kids had pneumonia was really THE.BEST thing to happen to me.
Because I did it.
So I feel like I can just about do anything.
As long as I have a 6 pack in the fridge :)

They have started arriving. My siblings, to the area. And bringing with them my nieces and nephews.
All of my siblings are coming to town.
With all of my nieces and nephews.
It's somethin' like 41 people.
To my great depression, even though EVERYONE will be in town, it doesn't seem like we are going to be able to find a moment when everyone can be together at once (due to arrivals/comings/goings/other family visits, etc...).
But there will be a couple times when most of us are together.
And we have such fun planned.
My kids are FREAKING OUT.
There is nothing better than cousin best friends.
It's gonna be a whirlwind.
It's gonna be fun.
I am sure it's gonna be stressful.
But I wouldn't want it any other way.

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Friday, November 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes- SAHM Life Hacks Part 2- Takin' Care of YoSelf

I went to Confession with my friend Erin this week. We exchanged kids so we could get soul-clean.  It was kind of a cluster to be honest- my kids are much easier to take out in public in a lot of ways, but they are hard to wrangle. Anyway- I received a penance of 3 Our Fathers, it wasn't till nine hours later that I was able to pray them, when I was laying in bed.  I got through the first half of the first Our Father, that's the last thing I remember...I fell asleep.

Prayer is tough since having all these babies. Real Tough.

But I am not dumb, and I know it's important.

A couple weeks ago, I read on Jenny's blog her method is engaging with the Word before doing anything electronically (checking social media, email, texts, etc...).  It sounds so logical, but I hadn't thought of it before.  It's been a bit of a game-changer.

If you are a 'she' and not familiar with Blessed Is She, you should get familiar.  It's an email sent every morning, with the readings for the day- along with a short reflection.  I gotta tell you guys, I think started my day with a little bit o' the Word is already making a pretty large difference in my life.  
Realistic Mary
Aaron first explained to me the concept of 'Realistic Mary' vs 'Idealistic Mary'.
I think I have spoken about it before on the blog.
Basically, Idealistic Mary wants to do all the things, go all the places, make all the plans.  Idealistic Mary wants to be able to live as though I am in my late-twenties with no children to care for and no time commitments that come from raising those children. Idealistic Mary is lovely, I really really like her.

The problem is, when I start living, making plans, dreaming as idealistic Mary, I become a bit of a monster to my family.

I am a wife to a wonderful man who is currently working a lot of hours in a high stress job that, as of today, he loves.
I am a mother of four children under the age of five.
And that means I just can't do certain things.  I can't commit to certain things. Lots of activities just won't work for our family during this season.

When I live in the truth of what our family is realistically capable of, I am a much happier, healthier person.

Disappointing People
This part is hard.
It's tied to realistic Mary.
It's the canceled plans.
The inevitable word 'no'
It's the good friendships I feel slipping away because I can't make them work.
It's understanding as much as we'd like to be able to do all the things, it's never going to happen.
Disappointing people is a difficult part of where we are at with our family of six.

Sometimes in this season, people might be disappointed by our limitations.
I am learning to be okay with that.
And almost always the disappointment comes with understanding.  I am forever grateful for that.

No Comparing EVER
When I feel myself comparing our family to other families, my mothering to other's mothering skills, my wife-ing to other's wife-ing, it can become a really intense slippery slope of crazy.

Admiring the qualities of others is a really, really good thing. Taking those qualities, in a healthy way, and incorporating them into our family structure (if it makes sense) is a great.
But comparing our family, or feeling less than, based on someone else's family is no bueno.

Each family is unique.

My kids closeness in ages; the dynamics of Aaron and I; our financial, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual reality; is different than others.

It has taken me several kids to do so, but I have really pretty much stopped comparing myself to others almost always.

When I feel tempted to, I remind myself about how each family is unique.
It's amazing how healthy one can view their family if they aren't viewing it through the lens of someone else's family.

Getting my Go-out on
The SAHM community has changed so drastically in the last couple decades. In order to see and talk to real people in real life, with as many little kids as I have, as young as they are... I need to be intentional.

Who knew my life would one day lead me to a day when talking to people in real life has to be a conscience effort???

I HATE going out without my husband.  I actually hate doing things without Aaron.  I really really like him as much as we squabble.
For me, it's not even really about guilt when I go out without him (though that's a part of it)...
It's more.
 I'd rather hang out with him than anyone else, any day.

But the thing is, we are in a season where that really isn't possible very often. We still do go out because of life-things once a month, but regularly going out together just doesn't happen.

I realized three weeks ago how much I miss talking to adults.
Talking to adults without having to correct kids.
Talking to adults in real life vs. communicating electronically (which has a place and has been life-changing to me as a SAHM).
I miss talking to people over the age of four face-to-face.

Aaron gets home, and understandably, he is tired.  Having good conversation is tricky during the week- because he's been talking to grown ups all day, and I've been talking to little kids all day.

And so, I have instituted Thursday night go-outs.

For who-ever in our little group can.
Early evening so we all can get to bed before 9:00 pm.
On Thursdays the last three weeks, I feed the kids dinner, lay out pajamas for the boys and when Aaron gets home I go meet friends for a couple drinks and good conversation.
It's proving to be a really healthy thing for me, even though I still wish Aaron could come every week.
I love so much that I am married to a man who is okay with me doing this once a week.

Early Bedtimes for Adults
I have spoken about this lots before.
After John Paul, I realized even though I DETEST going to bed early, it's absolutely essential for mental health.
Most nights I am in bed by 9:30 pm.
I hate going to bed at 9:30 pm.
But I am up all through the night, and our kids get up wickedly early.
Sleeping 4-5 hours a night with constant interruptions and get-ups does not work for me.
Sleeping 7-9 hours a night with constant interruptions and get-ups is do-able.
And so, like it or not I get myself in bed early.

Know Thyself 
I get real upset about where we are at as a society.
Real upset.
Sometimes I like to comment on these things.  Yesterday on facebook, I posted a status about a current event that I actually can't handle. I started engaging with people, my kids woke up from nap, I was shaking mad because of this particular issue.  I had plans to make soup with my kids.  I made a decision to delete the post and stop discussing it.  I didn't need affirmation that I was right, and I didn't need to convince people why they were wrong.
I didn't need to be worked up over a current event while my four kids were up.
We laughed and made soup with our pretend chef-hats on.
I'm still upset about that current event, but I am glad I didn't let it dominate a whole afternoon.


Last week, several of my friends posted an article about 'responses to say when people find out your baby doesn't sleep through the night'.  It was cute, and funny and I could see how over-tired mamas would like it.
Malia sleeps through the night.
She pretty much has for the last three weeks.
The article, implied that those who's babies sleep through the night, somehow love their babies less.
I stopped reading the article after three or four responses.

The kids are getting older, and cuter.  They say cute things, and want to play. They live for projects and this non-crafting mom is challenging herself to do more projects with them despite my inner repulsion of them. I'm shutting off the computer a lot more lately.

It's hard to leave the house with all these tiny people.
I sometimes feel trapped inside my little house.
I love getting out, even with the effort, and taking adventures.
We've been taking adventures most days (to a park, or the mall, or the pet store).


Game. Changer.

What are your taking care of you life hacks?  How are they workin' for you?

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Is it HIS money or MINE?!?!?!

Money is a complicated thing isn’t it?

Bonnie did a series on Financial Hardships and Surprise Pregnancies  It was good.  She got questioned on the 10% tithe in the comments- She then wrote a follow up that I am still rolling around in my head because it was that good.  Read it now.

My friend Father Mario called this morning, he is helping to give a marriage prep retreat/conference thing this weekend.  He said he thought he remembered that Aaron and I tithe and was wondering if we would write about our experience to share with the couples. Most young married couples don’t tithe.  Father Mario/his parish want to introduce the concept in marriage prep. I think that’s not only necessary, it is good ministry.

Colleen wrote a blog today on her experience of giving.  On being generous with financial resources like we are called to be generous in other ways… trusting that God will provide.

So I've been thinking a lot about tithing in it's practicality.  I've been thinking about how a lot of us think about giving, and some of us don’t.  Some of us have excess to give from, and some of us just can't find room in our budgets for it.  Some of us wonder if it’s supposed to be about giving from our excess or giving our ‘first fruits’ even when it hurts.

I thought I’d write a bit about my experience and then my family’s experience.  Before I do, I am assuming you know that ‘tithing’ is giving 10%. A tithe is a measurement.  It is 10%.  Anything less than 10% is not a tithe, anything more than 10% is over the tithe.  I bet most of you know this, I had no idea until I started understanding money, giving, and stewardship- so I thought I would start there. 

When I was single…
I graduated from college with a LOT of debt.  A crippling amount of debt actually. I spent the majority of my 20s panicked because of how much money I owed people. I lived in a cycle of stealing from Peter to pay Paul.  I was also really, REALLY bad with money.  I wasn’t intentional about my dollars.  I talked about having no money to give because of my debt and how ‘poor’ I was… I believed it to be true.  I really did. I remember one year I ‘owed’ on my taxes and I was furious that I barely had enough to get by, but I had to give Uncle Sam ‘More Money’ (I thought it was ‘more money’ that’s how bad I was with finances). 

I felt very, very broke.  At the same time, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, had a car payment of $300 (vs. driving a used car), went on vacations, ate most meals out, had a fancy phone plan- and...I didn’t tithe. I didn’t think I had enough money to tithe.  This makes me cringe now, and I’m sure it makes some of you cringe as well.  I should have been tithing or hustling to get out of debt so that I could begin tithing.  I know how easy it is to justify not giving to one’s church community.  I did it for a really, really long time

When I got married…
We got married with a lot of debt.  We worked really, really hard to pay it off.  To talk numbers, we payed off 86 k, in 2.5 years, making $100,000 combined (hopefully real number talk doesn't make you nervous).  If you do the math, we lived off of about 40-50 k to make that happen.  During those 2.5 years we had 2 kids via c-section, we went through another pregnancy, I worked through three pregnancies, and we had to replace a crazy amount of things (water heater, flooded basement, air-conditioner, car repairs).  During that time, we were committed to giving, but decided until we paid what we borrowed {sidenote- huh, imagine that? Being convicted that one should PAY what they BORROWED} - we couldn’t give a full 10%.  During that time we gave between 1.5-3 % of our income to our Church community. I know what it’s like to not give a tithe because you cannot afford a tithe.   We couldn’t afford a tithe until we were out of debt.  We couldn't afford for me to be a stay at home mom until we paid off our debt, we couldn't afford a lot of things while we were paying off our debt.  

As soon as we got out of debt we began giving the tithe (10%).  You know I love me some DaveRamsey.  He does really well explaining the importance of tithing and what it means to be a steward of the resources you have been given.  Maybe I should have always known this, but it really rocked my world when I started considering that everything we have belongs to God, and we are given the noble responsibility of being stewards of His belongings.  Our children, our families, our resources, they are all meant to serve the Kingdom.  We do that by first taking care of our families, and then our Church community and then the wider community.  At least in theory…

Here are some thoughts, now that we tithe the full 10%.  These thoughts aren't a judgment of you and your giving; they are thoughts that have worked for us in terms of guidelines for giving.  I think it’s really important that we don’t judge the giving of other people, for a whole bunch of reasons. Aaron and I are on a journey of discernment when it comes to giving and being good stewards of the resources we work for and have been given.  Maybe you will relate to this journey, or some of these thoughts could add to your journey.  But they in no way are meant to condemn.

If we were still in debt…we wouldn’t give a tithe.
If giving a tithe meant we couldn’t feed our family...wouldn’t give a tithe.
If giving a tithe meant I had to work outside the home… we wouldn't give a tithe.
If giving a tithe meant we couldn’t afford insurance…we wouldn’t give a tithe.
If giving a tithe meant we couldn’t afford essentials (telephone, transportation, gas)…we wouldn’t give a tithe.

However, tithing is a priority in our house, even though sometimes it hurts.  

Tithing came before we consider moving. 
Our house is smallish (I am embarrassed to say that) by today’s standards for our family.  We are a family of six, and we live in a house just barely over 1000 square feet.  The truth is, it’s plenty big for us, and we have a game-changer finished basement, but sometimes it does feel small to me.  Our immediate neighborhood is just fine, but if I am being honest, my city has a bit more crime than I feel comfortable with, and the schools make me nervous for my kids as well. We’d like to move, but we won’t do it at the expense of our tithe- so it’s going to take a bit longer.

Tithing came before we considered saving for retirement or school.  
Tithing came before we considered private schools for our children.  

Tithing is a reality, even if that means we drive around used cars and live pretty tight when it comes to clothing and other things to purchase.  
Tithing comes before family activities, vacations, gift-giving to others.  
Tithing comes before almost every.single.thing once the essentials are taken care of. 

If Aaron lost his job, and we had to tighten up to afford essentials alone, I am positive we would stop tithing.  As long as he has his job and we are out of debt, we don’t consider the 10% as money that is ours- it’s our Church community's. 

Oh, and I fully understand even with giving the tithe, my husband and I probably still bring in ‘more’ money than many other families.  Which is weird and another reason why I think it’s really important not to spend a second considering what others are doing in terms of tithing, but to constantly discern what our family's call is.

Those are just some guidelines we as a young-ish family follow.  It’s good because it reminds us constantly that being good stewards means understanding that our money is ‘ours’ in as much as we are discerning with God how to best spend it. 

I share this because it’s what we do, but I do have complicated feelings with it all.  
For us, we can ‘tithe’ and still go on vacation… is that fair?
For us, we can tithe and still save for retirement… many couldn’t.
For us, we can still enjoy unnecessary things and give a tithe… maybe that means 10% needs to be more?

Those are the questions I ask myself.  I’m not sure the answer, except to acknowledge the importance of being in constant discernment about what we have been given through our work, choices and grace…  What do you think?

Friday, November 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes- SAHM Life Hacks Part 1

So, I had my fourth kid.
And my oldest is four.
Intense right?  But I don't feel like I am drowning everyday... which is pretty amazing.
I've been thinking about what's different with this one- what we are doing differently.  
So I thought I would tell you- 
I don't do all these things perfectly, but they've made a significant difference in my life.
A lot of them will probably be completely obvious to seasoned SAHM/Ders... but for me, I had a sliiiiiight learning curve :)

Part 1 will be about Controlling the Chaos- and Part 2 (next week) will be about taking care of myself in the land of crazy.


Remember THIS POST when Aaron was out of town for a week and my kids got pneumonia?
That was a hard week. But you know what it made me do?  JUST DO IT.
It forced me to take all four outside to the doctors.
It forced me to go to CVS to get some drugs with terribly sick children.
It forced me to have a tight schedule in order to be sane.
And being forced to do all that?  It gave me confidence.  Much needed confidence.
So now, when I think something will be overwhelmed, I tell myself...


It might have taken me four years to learn this, but trying to leave the house with children is hard.  Super hard.
There are always meltdowns, shoes missing, last minute diaper changes, and items forgotten for the diaper bag.  You guys. I kid you not when I say when John Paul was a newborn, I would actually be a sweaty and swearing mess by the time I got my kids in the car.
I was rushed, they were slow, and I HATE being late.

Now, before we to go somewhere, I start getting ready an hour ahead of leaving time.  You'd think that would be absurd right?  Waaaay too much time?  It's not.  It leaves room for meltdowns, last minute feedings, children who are refusing to find their freaking shoes...etc...
I haven't been a hot mess getting my kids in the car in a looong time.  It's not because I have become more patient (ask Big Aaron) it's because I have accepted the absurd amount of time it will take to leave my house.

The amount of eye-roll I would give to moms who would swear by making their bed everyday for sanity, cannot be overstated.
Until I cleaned my room "real good" before having Malia.  The dusting under the bed and all surfaces clear, kind of clean.
And I wanted it to stay that way because it made me feel peaceful.
So I've started making my bed everyday.  It's so funny, but it immediately gives me a sense of control over the chaos that can be our lives.  I like that I can leave my bedroom door open when guests are here without being embarrassed of the mess.


Full Disclosure.
At the end of pregnancy Aaron took down the laundry, started it, switched it and brought it back up.
He continues to do so.  I just told him this morning, I think that's just going to start to become one of his jobs.
But pretty much every morning he brings me a basket of clean cloths.  I fold them right away and put them away right away.
It makes laundry so much more tolerable when I don't have six or seven loads piling everywhere demanding to be sorted, folded and put away.

Every night I start a dishwasher load.
Every morning I unload it and begin reloading for the day.
Logical right?
It's amazing how much more peaceful life is without a huge pile of dishes awaiting me.
I'm also trying to wash by hand any dishes that need it, at night or first thing in the morning.
Clean counters make for a happy mama.

After breakfast everyone gets dressed, myself included.   This is for a bunch of reasons, but mainly we all have to leave the house at least once a day to pick up lil' A from school- if we are dressed in day clothes, all the way down to our socks, it makes the leaving much easier.
And, this is a common theme, but having all my kids/myself dressed does make me feel more peaceful throughout the day.  Less behind.
It's also much easier than dressing them slowly or one at at time throughout the day.
I grab all their clothes at once, make a pile on the floor that I sit next to, and they come one by one to get changed.  It takes about 8-10 minute and we are done.
Clothes can be a big deal of fuss when you have a house full of babies, toddlers and preschoolers-. This has taken the fuss away.

My mom has told me this my entire life.
"If you just picked up as you go, you'd never have a mess"
It has finally sunk in.

When I leave a room I do a quick scan-
...any trash, diapers, trash, or trash goes into the garbage.
...any dirty clothes go in the dirty clothes basket.
...any toys that I can reasonably grab with one hand, go into our toy baskets.
...any dirty dishes go straight into the sink.

Honestly, for the first time in my 'having kids' life, if someone randomly stopped by, I wouldn't die of embarrassment due to the condition of my house.  And that my friends feels good and peaceful.

I have been praying with the word ACCEPTANCE for awhile now and it has been so helpful. I have asked God to give me joyful acceptance of the fact that serving my family (children especially) is what I am called to do in this season in life.  It's hard because sometimes it can be overwhelming, looking down the barrel of years of this type of service.  It isn't glorious, it isn't celebrated in the world, it isn't service for recognition... it's the hard, nitty, gritty kind of self-donation that comes so difficultly for this selfish girl.
But I am finding the more I accept my state in life, the better I am at making it pleasant.  The more I accept that the buck stops here when it comes to housecleaning, the more I can pick up that sweatshirt of lil' A's for the ten thousandth time and smile to myself because I have four beautiful children to pick up after.
Dude- you guys, I have even started to accept that sleep just doesn't get to be what it once was for me, and counting it a win when I get a solid 3-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And that, my friends....is progress.

If you feel so inclined, give me your best SAHM/D or Working Mom/Dad life hacks in the comments :)

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oh No She (they) DIDN'T


Our family (praise God) belongs to an incredibly family-friendly parish.  Today, due to timing we decided to attend another Parish (not to be named).  We walked in a little after the start of Mass (#fourkidproblems), and before we were even in the pew, a women in front of us gave us a dirty look.  As we were sitting down, the woman turned around and told my youngest (2 years old) to be quiet.

At first I thought she was kidding.

After about three minutes, lil' Aaron whispered (a legit whisper) to Big Aaron that he had to go the bathroom, as they went to leave the pew- John Paul not-so-whispered, 'I COME TOO!'.  The woman in front of us again turned around, gave me a dirty look and said, 'BE QUIET'.  She then turned to her husband and loudly asked/gestured if they could move pews.


At that point, I whispered to her, 'you understand you are talking about BABIES right?'- and, instead of have a thrown down in the back of the church...


... I grabbed Joey's hand and Malia and we moved to another section of the church.  The ushers gave us dirty looks, and frankly the entire vibe around us was weird.  Really, really, really weird.  I have never felt so many eyes on every sound my children made- even the whispers.

The Church was beautiful, and the congregation older.  My kids were by far the youngest in attendance, there was a smattering of elementary and middle school children as well.

Now, blog readers- you know I don't play this card often, but...

Maybe it was because Aaron is black?
Maybe it was because we have many young children?
Maybe it was because the Church is not a welcoming environment?

But I have NEVER had an experience like that in a place of worship. EVER.

And now, the plea.

Please, if you work for the Church in any capacity, even volunteer- speak to your staff, your community, and your daily Mass attendees about the importance of welcoming families.  The importance of children (even young ones) having a place at Mass.  The importance of understanding the community of believers is open to all, even the youngest of us.  Please speak to your staffs about how Jesus welcomed even children , and how he rebuked those who did not understand a child's place in the Kingdom, in the mystery of faith.  Please TEACH your community HOW to be child and young family friendly.

My husband and I have chosen to make faith a priority in our lives (even if we fail all the time at it)- and the experience today really shook me up.

I have worked for and with the Church since I was 15 years old (that's 20 years) and the experience today made me feel unwelcome and unloved in my own home.

Our family will return to Church (though not that specific location EVER), and I will frame this experience as a moment of weakness for a community that probably has a lot of good things about it.

The thing is, based on our experience today and the experiences of so many of my friends with young families who have similar stories... the NEED to discuss this with your parish is essential.

Put it in your Church bulletin
Put a reminder in your pews


Because it needs to be done.  What happened to our little family today at Mass shouldn't happen in a place of worship. It shouldn't happen during prayer.  And it certainly shouldn't happen at something as mysteriously beautiful as the Eucharist.

That is all.

EDIT- Apparently there was a cry room, we just couldn't find it :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Seven Quick Takes in which I celebrate the good news...I survived.

I'm doing my Friday Quick takes on Saturday... so, um, there's that.

Aaron was out of town this week.  At a conference in Las Vegas at the fanciest hotel I have never stayed in (see what I did there?). He was gone the whole week.  At at a conference that ended each night at six and didn't start up until 8:30 the next day.  He ate fancy meals all week long.

I am 5 weeks postpartum- but we had a good plan in place with babysitters, breaks, etc... What could possibly go wrong?

Oh yes.
A call from lil A's school on Tuesday morning to come get him with a fever.  And all the downhill from that.  The kind of downhill that includes multiple trips to the doctor's office and not one, but two kids with pneumonia.

I think the high point, for me, was being at CVS to get prescriptions with all four children and being told our insurance wasn't updated.
Don't worry pharmacy man, the 1/2 hour wait ain't no thang with a screaming baby in one arm, Joseph Michel literally laying underneath the counter because he was so sick, and John Paul pulling anything he could off the shelves. I think at one point, I even pulled him by his fro (gently) to get him back to the waiting area.
And by waiting area I mean pharmaceutical counter.

Imma go ahead and shout out the Chamberlands in this post, even though I am not quite sure either will read it.
First- Michael Chamberland, ministry partner extraordinaire who took lil' A to school on Monday prior to the 'ish hitting the fan. He did so in order to save me from having to drag out the whole crew to drop lil' A off (which includes a flight of stairs and an elaborate sign in process)..
I love that my kids are comfortable with my friends.
Second- Kellie Chamberland, who brought me a six pack of beer on Thursday night when I realized I had survived the week and desperately needed to celebrate and recover.

Malia Paul Wilkerson has decided sleep isn't necessary or possible unless she is in my arms.
I have three boys under the age of five.
This combination is not a pleasant one.
In case you were wondering.
Made even more unpleasant by the pneumonia and stuff.

I'm so pleased with lil' A's school.
He loves his teacher.
He loves his friends.
He is learning about good things like letters, numbers, shapes, colors, proper behavior, and Jesus.
In an awesome environment.
That said...
Seriously, this house has been sick since I brought home Malia home from the hospital.
I don't even know what outside looks like anymore.
Not that I am complaining...
only, I am totally complaining.

Before we knew Aaron was going out of town this week, we had agreed he would spend today (Saturday) at his alma mater with some friends.  To celebrate the closing of a dorm or something.

 (this is what people do on the westside of the state...let it be known he can never mock Franciscan University again)

So- flying solo again today.
Not that I am bitter...
only, I am totally bitter.
He sent a text and was like, "Too bad we have four kids or you could be here with me"
He sent the same text regarding Vegas.
He should probably stop sending text.

All that said...
In case you were wondering...I wouldn't trade this for the world :)

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/