Friday, September 23, 2016

Let's Do some 7 Quick Takes Shall we?

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
I just don't have words for this one you guys. I really don't. She stuns me, often. And I want her to stop growing up.

Thinking about baby 5.
That's not an announcement, we are not pregnant.  
But thinking about it. Intensely.
Because Malia got a cradle for her birthday.  That used to be my mom's and then was my mine.  She started kind of playing with it, with her pretend baby doll.  
And I love that my kids have each other and siblings.  

The cradle. 
My mom surprised us with it.  She made a quilt, 'mattress' and pillow for it to match the quilt she made for Malia.  It made me cry.  It is so beautiful. I love so much that we have it.  Here's a picture over-share.

Stranger Things.
You guys weren't lying, it's awesome.
The husband tried to pretend he didn't like it for the first two episodes- just to be cooler than the guy who likes it. 
But we are four episodes in, and I think he is ALMOST ready to admit how much he likes it.

Flag Football Saga Continued... 
Little Aaron just found out that he is NOT on the flag football team his friends from class are on.  And he was like, 'well, can't you just sign me up to play next weekend with them, they have jerseys, they are playing flag football, I want to play with them'.
But I told him we didn't sign up, so he can't play.
He cried. A LOT.  
Not in a bratty way either, in a heartbreaking way, "But mom, why can't I play with my classmates"...
Um, because you have brothers.

Joseph Michael Wilkerson came home with a pant change on Monday.
I got concerned that he had an accident, as he is the age when accidents still happen.
His teacher pulled me aside though, and said, "Well, this one took awhile to figure out"
Apparently during bathroom time three boys were at the urinal.  And a little boy knocked into another boy, who lost control of his stream... and um, peed on Joey.
Boys are so weird. 

This was just too funny not to share.
This is little Aaron when I went to go check on him last night after they all fell asleep.
He had hung up his clothes on his bunk bed planks for school today.
To say this boy LOVES school is the understatement of the year. 


The reading doesn't have to stop here, head on over to http://thisaintthelyceum.org/ to read more quick takes!

Friday, September 16, 2016

7 Quick Takes in which my husband blogs and Malia gets looked out for

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
Aaron, my husband wrote a blog post on his decision to leave his current job.
It's really good. 
It made me REALLY proud of him.
It was a really profound decision for our family, in many ways, I think this job switch has changed the path we were on as a family.
And I am so thankful for that.

Malia was up from 10:00 pm- 2:00 am
I actually considered taking her to Urgent Care because it was so weird.
She woke up this morning just fine.
Is it rational to be angry at a 1 year old for stealing sleep from you?
Thank God for a good husband and team work.

My brother officially got a job in a local department 'round these parts.
His wife has been in Michigan for several months solo.
With seven children to care for and cooking an 8th.
Anyway, last night we had a party for my mom's birthday and all the cousins played together on a Thursday night.
And that's really, really cool.

This weekend Malia Paul turns 1 year old.
Can you even believe that?
She has just lit up our lives in a way I didn't expect or anticipate.  The transition to four children has gone so smooth, so wonderful. 
We don't do big parties for our kids anymore.  We have a lot of them and it's really hard to pull off.  But for the 1st birthday, we invited some folk.
Folk will be coming here on Sunday.  
A lot of folk.
It should be awesome.
And lucky John Paul, because his birthday is so close, he gets to have a big party too.  

We are SO off track with our healthy living goals of 2016.
It bums me out
I haven't been to the gym at all this week :(
And our eating is pretty terrible again.
I'm hoping next week, when things in terms of INSANELY BUSY level out a bit, we will be able to get back on track.
But I am worried they won't because I am worried insanely busy is just our new norm between school, Aaron's job, BOLD MINISTRIES and the Parish Youth Ministry job. 
So, um
I'm gonna have to learn how to meal plan/eat healthy/exercise when life is insane.
I haven't that yet.

Should my boys do scouting? 
The controversy regarding scout leaders and sexuality doesn't bother me, so that's not why I am asking.
I am asking because the amount of insane shenanigans these boys get into at sleep away camps is enough that I am proceeding with extreme caution.
But maybe Aaron (husband) can be a scout master or something?


I love this picture. So much.  It's at our local mall. We had some errands to run, so I let the kids play in the play area.  We've been there a million times before, but Malia is old enough to play now...
well, kind of.
Things like this here climbing thing are a bit too tall for her. I distinctly remember Little Aaron being afraid to play on this slide when he was like, two years old.  But our Malia, almost a year old, scaled the steps and was getting ready to slide down.

The picture is a bit deceiving though because the slide is actually quite tall, and very steep.  The boys know that.  So when Malia climbed up the stairs, to the top, they separated.  John Paul stayed with her on top, and Joey/Aaron when to the bottom of the slide to catch her.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  I love how God crafted together our family.  As parents, we are only going to be able to do so much to protect our kids.  But I pray all the time for good friends and good relationships to help my kids grow into kind people of faith.  But Malia gets an extra bonus.  She gets three big brothers who can stretch her to do all kinds of adventurous things, but will also be there to catch her if she might need some extra help.

I'm a lucky mom.


The reading doesn't have to stop here, head on over to http://thisaintthelyceum.org/ to read more quick takes!

Friday, September 9, 2016

7 Quick Takes...where Aaron gets a new job and I listen to yo gabba gabba

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
This is not a short one.
My husband, Aaron handed in his two week notice. 
Today is his last day at his current position as a Business Intelligence Manager for a global company.
And I couldn't be more proud of the man I married.

A couple of years ago, I heard an awesome talk on authentic manhood.  Bishop Byrnes (an Auxiliary in Detroit) explained how one temptation for men in the modern day is working so hard to financially support their family, that they kind of lose their family in the process.  This was starting to happen to us.  

It started with really crazy hours.   Working with different time zones at all hours of the day and night, but not being able to comp any time, because work needed to be done.  In January, I told Aaron this wasn't the kind of life I wanted.  It's nice to make a great salary, take fancy trips, buy a van with (TWO) dvd players, pay for Catholic schools, and be a SAHM mom.  Those things are nice, but they clearly weren't worth the cost.  Remember our trip to Disney this year? It was awesome, but it was also really frustrating.  Aaron worked everyday.  Waiting in every line he was on his phone.  At night he was on his phone.  Waiting for elevators, he was on his phone.  It wasn't good.  He was THAT guy.

Since January, Aaron and I have been in constant discernment if the benefits of this position were worth the consequences of time away from family.

After shifts in management. coupled with stressful leadership, Aaron decided this summer he needed to start looking elsewhere and perhaps take a step down on the corporate ladder in order to be the husband the father he needs to be.  

Yesterday, Aaron said he might come out of 'blog retirement' to blog about his decision. I hope he does.  

I think it's really hard, in 2016, to take a considerable pay cut and a "step down" in order to truly provide for your family. There's all kinds of things that could stop a man from making that choice-  ego, worries, pride...etc...
Aaron's presence in our home is the most valuable commodity we have, and I am so proud of him for recognizing that.  

Starting on Monday, Aaron will be back in the position of Business Intelligence Analyst.  He will provide for us more than just financially, but emotionally, spiritually and with his presence.  I am so glad I married a guy like the guy I married.

I got one more about my husband you guys.
Because you know he drives me crazy. Like, 'whoa' kind of crazy.  
But he does awesome things too.
I couldn't sleep last night.  I've been up since 1:45 am.  I'm in a bit over my head with the start of the school year, the practical start of my job as youth minister, and BOLD MINISTRIES .  At 4:00 am, I couldn't believe I was still awake.  At 5:00 am, I was using swear words.  But, at 5:45 am, Aaron turned on "Dreams" from Yo Gabba Gabba on his phone, and rubbed my back.

I know I've said it before, but if you don't have a Bae yet, find you a Bae like my Bae.  


Aaron is in Kindergarten.
Joseph is in Pre-K
And John Paul is distraught.

But, when he gets too sad, I remind him that he gets to go to "Mom School".  And then he gets happy again.  It's the simply things with this kid.

I just spilled an entire cup of coffee on my coffee table.
It's not really a coffee table, it's one of those pink plastic tables from Ikea.
I was calm in my reaction and didn't even scream.
This will be a valuable lesson for me.  Because if one of my kids had done it, I would have screamed.
Sometimes, accidents happen.

Oh friends.
School is hard huh?
The pace of it is rough, rougher than I ever gave moms credit for.
 The "Out the door by 7:30 am!!!" reality of it all.
The "oh crud, I can't find my kid's picture day shirt, so we have to leave NOW and run to the store with all four kids at 7:00 am" kind of  hard. 
I'm sure it will get easier- but dang.

I know you were waiting in anticipation, so I'll give you the verdict.
We decided not to do flag football this year :(
We had both sets of parents over last Sunday, and every grandparent shot it down in a vote. It was er'body against me, so I waved the white flag in surrender.
Sad, right?
Maybe next year.

Have a great weekend!

The reading doesn't have to stop here, head on over to http://thisaintthelyceum.org/ to read more quick takes!

Friday, September 2, 2016

7 Quick Takes about pictures and books on race :)

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
Well, we survived week one of school.
I know I was a bit dramatic about it on social media. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to apologize ;)
It's a big deal.
Thank God for great teachers.
Praise Jesus for friends who offer their assistance so you can avoid long pick up lines of chaos and show up after the fact with a calm kid.  
Oh, and thank you Lord God for really cute kids.
(I know, right?)

The thing about school though, is my Aarons and Joey have to be out the door by 7:30, which means wake up and get moving at 6:45 am.  My kids have always gotten up early, but that usually translates to lounging around until 8ish and then getting the ball rolling. Not crazy-flurry-of-activity by 7:00 am.  I am not used to this. I do not like this.  It makes for VERY long days and VERY tired kids (mama) by 7:00 pm. I am hoping we will get used to it.  And, as per usual, thank you JESUS for coffee.

I know I wrote about this on facebook/instagram, but you guys... LOOK at what my godson, Shawn made me.  
It's my favorite singer (Adam Duritz) with my favorite song lyrics (Anna Begins).  Can you even with that?
Just so you know he is crazy talented and taking requests.  Any artist/any song.  Or, get this... ANY SAINT WITH ANY QUOTE?  They are hand drawn. I think these are kind of priceless.  What a wonderful gift for yourself or others.  Email me if you would like one, he is attaching a fee, but for a piece of art like these.. um #worthit

Not to keep talking about this, but I'm going to keep talking about this.
He also is in the process of finishing up this drawing in anticipation of Blessed Mother Teresa's canonization.  He has to add words.  
Not the best lighting... but you get the idea
Now, can you imagine having one of these bad boys in your home to commemorate this modern saint?  AND, because he's AWESOME, he is donating 25% of proceeds to the Catholic Action Center in Lexington.  
Teenagers who are awesome give me hope.

I recently bought two books, both are age-appropriate stories about race. I have opinions on why I think racial tension has been flaring up the last couple years (I shall keep them to myself *cough, leadership *cough) but I thought it would be good to be proactive about it with my kids.

The first book is called, "These Hands" by Margaret H. Mason.  I partially read it at the library and bought it right then and there.  It's the story of a grandfather, telling his grandson named Joesph (grace) about his hands.  All the things his hands have done.  BUT, all the things his hands weren't allowed to do.  I was really moved by the first 10 or so pages, and I am just crossing my fingers it didn't take a turn after that.  I though it would be a good way to introduce racial history to my kids.  We tried the African American Museum last year in Detroit, but, um... let's just say the slave ship was a bit too intense for my little guys.  Maybe we will try again in a couple years.

The other book we bought is about the different shades we come in. It's called, "Happy In Our Skin", by Fran Manushkin. I don't lose sleep over it, but I am aware that God has crafted our family together in all different shades.  Each of my children has a different skin tone and I wonder how that's going to play out at school with their peers. Not to mention that Aaron and I don't 'match'.  Hoping the book anticipates some questions from peers at school or whatnot.
Look at me, being all racially proactive.  
Mixed families for the win...

We are going on a couple's date night tonight with our little group of friends.  A few weeks ago we were able to go to dinner with one of our favorite couples, and now this!  I'm pretty much feeling like a social butterfly.  We are hitting up a Spanish Tapas Bar (thanks Amy Wingate for the suggestion last year) in midtown, Detroit called La Feria. I am SO excited but a bit concerned because there will be seven of us, and it is a small place.  But it has the best sangria in the world, and delicious tapas, and it's a night with grown ups.  BRING.IT.

Tomorrow is the day.
The day we wait all year for.
Remember when I told you all about WHY I LOVE MICHIGAN FOOTBALL
I seriously look forward to this day all year.  This year, we decided against buying season tickets.  It was a HUGE time commitment for our family last year, and between the games/babysitters/parking, etc... ended up being a bit more expensive than we anticipated.  Fear not though, the husband promised we will go to one game this year!  Oh, and social media friends, we are going to be looking for four tickets together because we are going to bring the older two boys. If you know of anyone looking to get rid of some... let me know!
In the meantime, football party tomorrow with the kids.... GO BLUE!

Should we start little Aaron in flag football?  It's through his school and I think it would be adorable.  Big Aaron says 'no', I say, 'yes'... 
Let's let you guys decide.

The reading doesn't have to stop here, head on over to http://thisaintthelyceum.org/ to read more quick takes!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thoughts on Starting Kindergarten

I knew all-day Kindergarten was going to be hard for me. Like, real hard. The all day thing has bothered me practically since he was born. I completely understand all-day kindergarten makes sense for full time working parents, but man, I'm just not ready for it.  Aaron is completely psyched though. Aaron is totally excited. Aaron has a countdown next to his bed because he cannot wait.  He met his teachers, picked out his backpack, and is asking me daily about when he gets to go.

And I'm sick to my stomach about it.

The years with just me went by waaaaaaaay too quick.
Strangers will be with him during the day more than I will.
He's not a baby anymore, and although the baby years are hard... I know the complicated reality of raising children in today's culture is just beginning.

So here's how we are coping.

On Saturday, I was downstairs with all three boys.  We were talking about school and how much I am going to miss them (Joseph is starting Pre-K), but how happy I am for them. It made me think of the song below.

(trigger warning... if you have children growing up and you are melancholy about that, click with care)

I decided to play the freaking song, while snuggling with my three boys.
I, of course, got teary eye'd.  But I was holding it together.

Then the husband comes downstairs.  He saw I was upset.

"What's wrong?"

Innocent question...

So I start explaining how sad I am that Aaron is going to all day kindergarten, and how sad I am that Joey is going to preschool.  And then it starts, the ugly cry... "IT'S ALL GOING TOO FAST, I'M JUST GOING TO MISS THEM SO MUCH"...

Because I am so selfish, I didn't even consider my three boys watching me ugly cry.  All of a sudden little Aaron puts his face down, and within five seconds he is in hysterics...



I wiped my tears, calmed down, but sweet little Aaron was beyond comfort.  We let him cry it out with his whole heart and then, to get him to stop (my ears were hurting), I finally told him if he didn't want to go to kindergarten he didn't have to.

<<<Before you judge me too hard core, realize he dried his eyes and five minutes later I asked him if he would go to school and he said, "Yes, I am excited">>>

The moral of the story?

Next Monday is the first day of school, and I am not going to do well, you can feel free to pray :)

Or give me advice, but I don't think advice will stop this heartache :(

It just goes too fast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Things I Don't Say 'Thank You' for...

This morning, my friend Ann posted this article.  She did so with a reminder to be grateful for our spouses. She understands the necessity of that gratefulness in a deeper way now, since she lost her husband, my friend Paul.  And it got me thinking…

My husband, Aaron, drives an old van without air conditioning. 
It’s been a HOT summer, and humid, and gross. He gets off of work around 5, or 5:30 every day, drives home in a van without air conditioning in dress pants, a button down shirt and sometimes a tie.  A van that sits in the sun all day long.  In the Spring, we totaled two cars, in the span of 2 weeks. Aaron is a bit frugal (cheap) by nature.  I am a bit of a spender (bougie) by nature.  I wanted a really nice van, with the automatic things, and fancy dvd players.  He made that happen, but had to compromise by driving around a less charming van.  A van without air conditioning, that smells like stale cigarettes and doesn’t even have a cd player.  This summer, I haven’t heard him complain once about driving home in the heat, in his van, without air. 

And I haven’t really thought to say thank you.

My husband works all day.  When I say ‘all day’ I don’t mean 9:00 am-5:00 pm.  He gets up around 6:00 am and begins to answer international emails.  He takes a break to shower around eight, and then goes into work.  He comes home, plays with the kids for a second, tries to be present with me, then turns on his computer to prepare work for his offshore guys who will work while we sleep.  Often times, he works 2-3 hours a night.  My husband knows how much this bothers me. Working all the time is a dangerous habit for a man, and I bring that up often.  So, when he gets home, he asks me when I would like him to work.   He usually begins as I go to bed, staying up till 11 or 12 at night, in order to do everything he needs to do.

And I don’t usually say thank you.

My husband wakes up with the early risers.  He allows me to stay in bed and say my daily prayers. My prayers are really necessary to my sanity. I am a nicer mom when I start my day with Scripture.  I yell less. I can take on the demands of our four children (the constant.freaking.demands) if I beg Jesus in the morning to give me the strength to joyfully live my vocation.  So, Aaron gets up first.  He wakes up with the younger two, locks the door so the older two can’t disturb me, changes the babies and begins his work for the day.  He does this pretty much every morning.

But once I start the morning breakfast routine, the servant part of my job, I rarely think to thank him for starting me off right.

There’s other things too...

The laundry loads up and down the stairs
The trash in and out of the house
The bills that I never have to worry about
The oil changes
The car fill-ups
The meat grilled for weekly meals.

I don’t say thank you a lot.

My sister, Theresa, pointed out last month, we do a lot more with our time when we know we are being appreciated.  That has led me to reflect on how far a simple ‘thank you’ can go to encourage us in this vocation of marriage. I’ve been thinking about the necessity of grace, and being kind to one’s spouse.   I’ve been trying to place myself in Aaron’s shoes, the stresses he carries, the way he serves.  
I’ve been wondering how I got to a place where I forget to say thank you.

I think it’s started with life getting insanely busy with children.  You know, the pregnancies, the hormones, the feeling sorry for myself.  I began to think more about the things I should be thanked for, than the things my husband was doing on a daily basis.  I turned inward to the sacrifices I make for our family, often times completely overlooking the way Aaron lays down his life for us. 

I'm going to start saying thank you more often. I'm going to look for opportunities to be grateful for my spouse and how he provides for our family in so many ways.  Marriage is hard in 2016,  Marriage is hard in 2016 when you've chosen to have 4 kids in six years.  I want to try my hardest to have a good marriage, and I think a really big key to that, is going to be saying, 'thank you'.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Friday, May 27, 2016

7 Quick Takes- Because I know you wanted them...

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?

Last week, I read an article title (not the article... ain't nobody got time for that) which linked depression to clutter.  I agreed with the title statement (who knows about the article?).  I have toy-binged for the last 1.5 years, every six months- but it's time to release the clutter in other places as well. So I cleansed my linen closet, which hasn't been tended to in six years.  And I organized our family room bookshelf, which had become the catch all for everything in our home.  My plan today is to go at my kitchen drawers...wish me luck.
It's amazing how freeing it feels to let go of stuff.  I've found I have to donate or throw out quickly, if I think too much about it, I hesitate.  If I haven't used something in a year, it's gone. With the exception of my punch bowl.  I am keeping it.
This picture SERIOUSLY doesn't do my hard work justice because the 'before' was taken after 1.5 huge garbage bags of stuff was removed.

During the cleaning, I found the didgeridoo Aaron bought when we were both in Australia together, staying at the same school with a couple hundred other people, but never met.  Anyway, I found it, put it aside and asked Aaron to bring it down to our storage room when he had a chance. 
So far, there have been two occasions when I am hiding in a room, trying to talk to my sisters on the phone. I look up to the door being slowly opened, the end of a didgeridoo peeking into the room and Aaron begins blowing... 
So annoying.
And really funny.
Should have just thrown it out ;)

I had a really great, 'I'm totally in love with my husband' moment last night.
We went to go see X-Men through an event meant to sell a business application.
As we checked in we were told there would be a contest for the 'best tweet' sent during the movie.  I said to the people at the table, 'Oh, we are going to win'.
I am married to a very funny man. 
And I take crazy pride in that.
I was certain, we would win the Apple I-Watch being given away.
It ends up we got 'second place' (a YETI tumbler... who knew?) but ONLY because the contest was just for the first hour of the movie and we didn't know that.  Aaron had just shot off two tweets and was getting warmed up.  
I am very proud of my husband though, and during the movie I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
He is a hard worker
He is a good father
He always tries to be better

X-men was really, really good.
I love those movies. And I love the guy who's really fast (I forget his name)
And I REALLY love Charles.
A lot.
But not as much as my funny husband

We started at the fancy gym.  I do love it. So.Much.
But I forgot that Gym Daycares breed germs.
Everyone is sick here today.  Just colds, but it's annoying.

We bought a plot in our community garden.
In theory we are going to plant stuff this weekend.
This was Big Aaron's idea. 
I do not garden, I don't love outside, and I don't love bugs.
What are the easiest and most satisfying things to plant?
I can't believe we are doing this.
BUT, lest you begin to judge...
I agreed to it because I think it's really cool.
I think it's really good for the kids.
I think it's really good for the community.
I think it will be a really good project for our family...
I don't have to like it.

Aaron completed Pre-K this week.
He was allowed to choose a place to go out to dinner as a family.
He chose Panera (obviously) where all the boys ordered a bagel, cream cheese, juice box and a bag of chips.
How's that for a healthy dinner.

He's pretty much a teenager now that he's done with Pre-K

Have a great week and don't forget to go check out more Takes--- Click this link.