Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Break Happenings...

...in the Wilkerson Household.


So, isn't Christmas break weird?  I can't believe it is Monday, the 30th right now.  We have been up to too much stuff, but alas, it 'tis what it 'tis and aside from sickness hitting everyone and their mom hard, it's been pretty great. I'd like to tell you about it.

Friday, Dec. 20th
We had my old boss over for dinner and celebrated with some of our friends a little bit of Christmas.  Our friends spoiled our kids rotten and we went home feeling so blessed.  There is a lot I am thankful for this year, but perhaps one of the biggest blessings is having a community of people who love our children.

Saturday, Dec. 21st
Santa came to our house. It was very exciting for the boys.  Aaron was pretty psyched.  Joey was intrigued by Santa's voice, which sounded a little bit like Har-Har's (their grandfather).  John Paul was pretty much amazed as he is with everything in our lives.  Santa brought the boys little gifts and had to trudge through some pretty gross slush to make it to our front door....so we owe him.

Sunday, Dec. 22nd
Deep breath

Monday, Dec. 23rd
Aaron had to work, but we surprised the boys by going to Chuck E Cheese for lunch.  Chuck E Cheese is kind of a right of passage huh?  
It's also pretty disgusting all around.  But the kids were in heaven and it was happy to see Big A at lunch, so overall a win.

Tuesday, Dec. 24th
Lots of people sick canceling plans.  We ended up deciding last minute to hit up the children's Mass at a Church right around the corner.  It was lovely (well, as lovely as Mass with three little children, one of them sick-ish, can be).  Highlight?  Aaron went to go get the car with lil' A and John Paul. It was just me and my high needs toddler Joey.  The choir was playing 'Silent Night'.  Who knew how much more significant that song is when you have a sweet baby boy in your lap, who happens to be your son and you happen to be celebrating baby Jesus' Birthday. I cried.  A lot. We came back to a nice night of movie watching and hanging with my littlest sister.

Wednesday, Dec. 25th
We started out placing baby Jesus on our Advent Calendar and then sang him 'Happy Birthday' with our 'blue cake'.  Then we did present exchanging.  The kids got their heart's desire (car toy eggs- if you know, you know).  Big Aaron made out with 'Dad is Fat' (awesome book) a fancy water bottle and some work out shirts.  And, my life rocked with a bravotv cup/sweatshirt, plus a 'Marian Devotion for the Domestic Church' book (which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about me).  Big A also made me a jar of things.  The things are things to do or say to strengthen our marriage.  Awesomesauce right?
My inlaws came over for brunch and hooked us up with matching outfits, for the boys, a tent and "big brother, middle brother, little brother" shirts, along with other things. All around great morning!!!

Thursday, Dec. 26th
Joey dumped a glass of water on my computer and fried it.  Pray we can recover the files or we have pretty much no record of John Paul's life thus far (silly me, haven't backed up since July)  Lil' A got to try his hand at Roller Skating at the Wilkerson Family Grandparent's Day. It was rad.  
Then, we celebrated Wiglia two days late at my parents (due to all the sickness).  The kids MADE OUT with comfy teddy bears, and cool table settings.  But, I am perhaps the winner of life, scoring real.life.pearls from my mom/dad who found them on a ridiculous sale.  Here's the thing, I am fancy.  We surprised my parents with a set of bikes that all the siblings pitched in to buy.  Lots of joy on this night and really good food :)

Friday, Dec. 27th
Cousin Judy came and spoiled our boys rotten with her love and gifts while Aaron and I got to go on a mid-afternoon date. We went to the cheesecake factory (Shocking! I know) and then wondered around the mall.  It was fun and a nice break.

Saturday, Dec. 28th
Joey down for the count with a cold.  I got to do a fancy afternoon of getting my hair did and nails did.
 Big Aaron's car broke and...we went on an awesome date. I mean really awesome.  Right up there in the books.  Big A won his fantasy football league (that's right, for those of you paying attention, two years in a row) and took all his winnings to spoil me rotten.  We started at the Edsel Ford house, a mansion owned by the Ford Family.  It made me cry it was so beautiful. I felt like I was walking through 'Little Women'.  Then, we went to my favorite restaurant of fancy, 'the Coach Insignia' on top of the Ren Cen.
  A two hour dinner of fancy with no interruptions, so cool.  We reflected on our year and planned for next.  And held hands. I love holding hands.

Sunday, Dec. 29th
The thing I tried to avoid happened and I got sick.  Joey intensified his sickness and we fixed Big Aaron's car.  Aaron's brother Brian came over and we got some good talk time in along with cousin play.

Which brings us to today...
The kids woke up at 6:00 am and I said to Aaron, 'you got to go get them, I am really feeling sick'.  To which he responded, 'I am sick too'.  There is perhaps nothing as not awesome as when both parents are sick when kids are sick. We both have colds/congestion.  At 10:00 am, we put the little two down for a nap, and placed lil' A in between us on our bed, with the ipad, while we both fell asleep.  It's that kind of day.

New Year...we got our eye on you...

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Cry of the Mama Bear...

…or lack thereof.

You know how people talk about being mama-bears?  Although sometimes I feel a  deep sense of defense for my children, more often than not, I am on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Can I tell you a story that has stayed with me so deep in my heart that sometimes it makes tears sting my eyes? 

About a year ago, this awful thing happened.  We were at this place and there was this dude (side-note- I am being purposefully vague, but I am quite certain if you are reading this blog, you weren't at this place and you weren't the dude). And the dude started rough housing with little Aaron.  The dude was an adult.  And the dude was hurting my son, I could tell.  But for some reason, I didn't speak up. I didn't speak up when lil’ A looked at me, and I saw pain in his eyes. I didn't speak up even though my stomach was hurting and my palms were beginning to sweat.  The whole thing probably lasted around 3 minutes, and then someone else said, ‘it doesn’t look like he is having fun, it looks like you are hurting him’.  And, praise God, the man stopped. 

But I didn't’t stop him.

I didn't stop him because I was afraid to embarrass this adult. I was afraid to be ‘that mom’ who jumps to fast and defends too quickly. I didn't stop him because I am a new mom and kind of insecure .I didn't stop him. 

And it still bothers me that I didn't.

You see, I don’t think I am a ‘people pleaser’ by any means.  But, I do try to my hardest to make people feel comfortable.  And I do fight against some of the coddling trends I see in current parenting.  And sometimes, I do it to the detriment of my kids.  Sometimes I yell at them first in a crowd of kids, just so we are not ‘those people’ who let their kids get away with anything. 
Sometimes, I am quick to make a sarcastic comment about them in response to a compliment.  Sometimes, I forget that my job, second only to getting my children to heaven, is to protect them.

And, I am trying to get better at it. I really am. I am trying to remember and find courage to speak up against people when they are making my kids uncomfortable or going against my wishes. I am trying to not put us in positions that aren't good for our family, for the sake of not hurting other’s feelings.  But damn. It’s hard.

I know it’s not a "Talk to me Tuesday", but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  However, right now, thoughts or not, I am writing it out. I am writing it out because it is 10:04 pm at night, the day before Christmas Eve and I was just getting ready for bed.  As I was,  I thought about the look in my son’s eyes when that man was hurting him.  And the tears stung once again. I thought to myself, ‘you need to be a bit more of a mama bear’. 

Hopefully, for the sake of my children…I will.

The "Mosts" post

Linking up with Amongst Lovely Things  to join in the 'Posts with Mosts' to end the year!

Post with the most clicks.
This was my post entitled 'A Defense of Marriage...Or Not"   It was written after everyone started putting the equal sign up as their profile pic.  I had thoughts. So I wrote them.  I have lots of thoughts on defending marriage and homosexuality.

Post with the most comments
'A Defense of Marriage...Or Not"  I know this might come as a shock to many of you but people have REALLY strong opinions when it comes to defending marriage!

Post with the best picture
Imma say 'THIS ONE' and it was lots of pictures.  With the guy I love.  He's my fav.

Post that was the hardest to write
THIS ONE.  After I yelled in a weird way at my kid.  And I was embarrassed. And I wasn't even sure I was going to share it.  Turns out, it was really great that I did.

Post that was my personal favorite
I think THIS ONE  C-section moms take a lot of hits from people that REALLY misunderstand why it goes down and the process of choosing it, particularly in the Catholic Blogging World. I'd imagine it is kind of how people who do home births take 'hits' in the secular world. It felt good to clear up a few of the things I was used to reading/seeing from different blogs/articles/etc... on why I made my choice and how I was lied to.

This was fun!  Go do it. You won't regret it!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Talk to Me Friday- keepin' it interesting edition

So, Talk to me Tuesday moved again...this time to Friday.
If you are worried about the Quick Takes...you can find them HERE
They are good, you should give them a read.

But, in the meantime, I am now ready to ask you the dreaded question, because we are about to go on the dreaded journey.  You ready?  We have purposefully not gone on this journey until now and we will not be starting until after Christmas...but...


It's about that time for Little A.  He will be three in April, so I am ready to get all of your advice and then pick and choose what to do for our 'method' of potty training the children. I want it quick, I want it painless and I don't want to be cleaning up gross all the time.  So Talk to Me.

How did you potty train your boys, or how have you heard that people have potty trained boys?  I'm not really interested in the girl thing, because I have heard it is totally different with boys.  What kind of 'training toilet' did you use?  Pull ups or no?  How'd you reward?  How'd you explain?  What works?  What are some things everyone does that totally don't work?  How can I get this over and done with quickly, since I have the other guys at home?  Tell me I am foolish if I think it doesn't have to be a disaster...you know, all the goods. Give them to me!

K- Thanks. Bye.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes in which I talk tattoos, sensitivity and workshops...

So...I did this.

In doing this I was SHOCKED to find the amount of people who think that getting tattoos is a 'sinful' action.  Weird.  It's not.  It can be a dumb decision. Mine wasn't dumb. I have wanted it for a long time.  Four years ago, I went on a life changing pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  After not being on a date in a half a decade,  I prayed fervently during that Holy Trip that the Lord would bring me a spouse or allow me to be content as a single person.  3 weeks later, Aaron asked me on our first date and the rest- well, you know!  This tattoo, I have seen on others who have taken the trip to the Holy Land and ever since then I have desperately wanted it.  Being with my crazy sisters gave me the courage. Et Voila!
Sisters weekend rocked.  A lot.  Starting with free drinks and a free breakfast by the kindest hotel staff ever, followed by bonding and tattoos, a delicious dinner, meeting 'Drake' the singer twice and engaging in just enough shenanigans to make it memorable.  OH!  And no fights, and no drama.  A few moments of sass, but nothing our tough skins couldn't handle.
Speaking of tough skins.  So, this is weird but it has been on my mind.  Often times, I allow myself to be made fun of and I use self deprecating humor as almost a tool to bring people together/make people comfortable.  I dig it.  It's kind of what I do.  However, I am realizing that sometimes doing that allows people to go a bit too far and cross into areas of sensitivity/teasing that can be hurtful.  It reminds me of racial things. I'll never forget when Aaron and I got engaged, him saying, 'you have to be careful how much joking you allow about race, because then you give people permission and some people don't know the line'.  I didn't understand what he was saying until people crossed that line a few times.  Anyway, stuff to ponder.  No one wants to be a stick in the mud, but no one wants to be constantly laid into either.  thoughts?
I like our new gym AND...AND...I discovered I can watch netflix shows whilst working out. Jackpot.  Consider me happy. Oh, and we had to buy swim diapers...why?  Because it has a fun little toddler pool to take our munchkins in.  Oh, and it has a cafe, with real food. And two hours of babysitting per kid per day. So, date nights at the gym I'm thinking.
I cannot wait for Tuesday, December 24th.  Both because we get to celebrate baby Jesus' birthday (with a blue cake) at night AND because Big A is going to be home for a week.  We need this week.  It's been a bit crazy around these parts.  I am very purposefully making not a single plan until Jan. 6th. I don't want to do anything but hang out with my little family.
Hey! Are you a Church professional, catechist, volunteer, etc...in the AoD or beyond?   Check it out.  The ol' ministry partner, Mike Chamberland and I are leading a workshop for Office for Evangelization and Catechesis on a pastoral approach to discussing the 'hot topic' of homosexuality.  We are super pumped about the day and it'd be great to have some familiar faces.  PLUS, after years of prayer/etc...I feel good about an approach that 'works'.  Wanna hear more about it?  Sign up!
Lemme leave you with a little 'Yo Gabba Gabba' awesome for those of you who are not my facebook friends.
Despite this kid's face, he was super psyched to be DJ Lance

Love me some kids!

Joey is wondering what's on his head and Aaron is wondering why the hell I am taking pictures (clearly)

Joey is looking to his big brother as to an explanation of why they are dressed in bright orange suits!

Happy (almost) Friday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Generation Selfie

Have you been here?  A picture is taken and then someone says, ‘wait!  Let me see that…hmmm, I don’t look good, can we take it again?’.  Working with teenagers, it was an everyday occurrence.  And I hated it, but never said anything. I’d delete the imperfect one, take another, while silently mumbling in my head about the egos of kids today.

I wish I would have said something.

Generation Selfie-  Let’s talk about it.

The other day, I was cruising with a young adult in the car, and I noticed she was taking pictures of herself. At first I ignored it.  That is how much I hate the selfie, I can’t even handle a discussion on it.  But then I had to ask, ‘um, are you seriously taking selfies in the car right now?’  Turns out, she was just snap chatting (I still don’t get the appeal).  BUT, it led to  conversation.

Acceptable Selfie- more than one person
You see, I don’t understand the selfie.  And let me explain what I mean by selfie. I’m not talking about group pictures. I’m not talking about silly pictures. I’m not talking about pictures to show off a new piercing etc… I’m talking about the epidemic of young people (and some older people) taking multiple pictures of themselves and posting them on social media.  It has always sat really uneasy with me, but I wasn’t quite sure why.

So, I asked this young person, ‘Don’t you think it’s weird, to like, take multiple pictures of yourself and post them on social media?’
“Not weird at all” she said, “It’s basically what Instagram is for”. 
“But why!??!” I asked.
And then she said it, “Well, if I look good, I want people to know I look good, so I post a picture of it.  If I look skinny, I post a pictures of it. Selfies are awesome”.

I was almost offended by her honesty, but then she challenged me.  “Hey, when you used to go out to bars, didn't you get yourself ‘did’? You wanted to look good and you wanted people to know you looked good”

And she was right.  I went on to ask her if she thought it was egotistical, if she thought it was shallow.  She reflected that maybe it was a bit, but she didn't’t think there was anything wrong with it.  So I let that sit and I let it sink in.  And I figured out why her statements sat uncomfortably with me.

Taking a selfie and posting it on social networking is NOT like going out to a bar. It’s not like dressing up and looking good.  It’s not like going out and meeting people, talking to them, smiling/laughing with them and letting them see your soul.  Taking a selfie isn't showing people who you are, it is showing people who you are is what you look like.  And here's the thing... what you look like is a PART of who you are, but perhaps the LEAST important. Generation selfie makes it MOST important.

Generation Selfie, for the most part, leaves little room for imperfections.  We post pictures showing us at our best angles, with the best lighting, the pictures that make us look ‘thin’ the pictures that hide the imperfections…the flaws. I once had a picture as my profile that wasn't the most flattering. BUT, I loved it- because it showed true joy. I had a laugh on my face, that was being shared by my oldest son.  I loved that picture.  Do you know, when I took it down, SO MANY PEOPLE commented/said, ‘I am so glad you took that picture down of yourself, I HATED it!’ (if you said that, it’s okay, I get it!)?  I can’t tell you how many times I have taken pictures with women and they have said, turn your face, pull your chin up, it makes you look better.   But the thing is, maybe we don’t always need to ‘look better’.  Maybe we can look good, just as we are.  Maybe our flaws, our imperfections, the ‘bad pictures’ taken of us show people a realness this world is desperately seeking.  Maybe, we can be okay with who we are on the outside, (assuming we've taken the time to be healthy).  Maybe, God loves us and made us, with some ‘flaws’ with some ‘imperfections’ and maybe those are the very things that make us vulnerable enough to be real with people.
My awesome and apparently unacceptable profile pictures

At the end of the conversation I said, ‘You know, I don’t like this and I don’t think it’s good. I don’t think it’s good. We are so concerned with how our exterior looks to the point where we feel we have to be perfect in every picture’.  This young adult said, ‘you might not like it, but it is not changing, it is the way things are’.  And I felt sad. 

And then I said, ‘well, there’s always the second coming…’


Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes- No Sass Edition (admit it, you are disappointed!)

I had the absolute pleasure of presenting at St. Regis' Advent by Candlelight last Sunday.  It went really well. Like, really well. And I loved every second of being with such beautiful women.  Would you do me a favor? Would you pray I can discern where God might be leading me/BOLD Ministries?  Things are going so well, and I am loving every minute. I am also very aware that I am called to be home with my three beautiful boys. Just trying to find balance...
The retreat I went on last week with the 'Oprah Nuns' was beyond awesome.  One thing they really stressed was a relationship with the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary). Now, I don't ignore the lady, but I don't have a very specific devotion towards her.  That is changing.  I guess, silly as this sounds, I didn't realize how much her example can help me, especially when it comes to the thing I REALLY stink at...selfless love.  The sisters said there is no circumstance we go through as mothers that the Blessed Mother can't relate to.  MIND.BLOWN.  Thank you captain obvious...moving on.
So, we are joining lifetime. Don't judge. I am so freaking excited. 
Another opportunity for judgment if you'd like!  Tonight, our little family is going to the Fox Theater in Detroit to see Yo Gabba Gabba live.  Be still my freaking heart!  Lil' Aaron is just beside himself this morning with excitement.  We are going to meet Grammy and Papa for dinner at a pizza place downtown and then take the 'People Mover' (Detroit's FABULOUS transportation system) over to the FOX for the show.  Our besties are watching lil' JP, so it's just the big boys tonight. I think it's going to be so special.
Sisters Weekend- tomorrow!  Hey, can you say a prayer, we have been looking forward to it, but it is suppose to snow and I hate driving in snow.  The plan is lots of bonding, confession, some Jesus, some tattoos (true story, I think I'm gonna get my first, a Jerusalem cross on the inside of my lower arm- to commemorate my trip to the Holy Land...is that a huge mistake?!?!), some adult beverages and hopefully lots of laughs.  Here's hoping we can all play nice! It happens about 20% of the time us ladies get together.
The husband got up at 5:00 am to go to the gym this morning.  He couldn't find his keys.  He made a BIG ruckus.  Woke up the whole house by 5:45 am, so I've pretty much been rockin' it since the wee hours today.  Not that I am bitter.  Maybe, in the future, we should lay out our things if we plan on going to the gym at the A-- crack of dawn?  Maybe?  Good idea? No?  Oh, btw you read that right, the husband got up at 5:00 am to go the gym.  He is a rock star (aside from waking the whole darn house out). I am so proud of his commitment to crossfit.  Also, he kind of is awesome because he got up at 5:00 am, so that he could work out and get into work early so he can leave early so we can get our 'Yo Gabba Gabba on'.  I heart him...but he should still leave his clothes out the night before.
And finally, your smile for the day.  
"Do you know what the difference is between you going away for the weekend and me going away for the weekend"- Aaron
"What"- Me
"You won't be getting any angry messages from me while you enjoy your time"

#truestory #workinprogress

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Talk to Me Thursday...(see what I did there)

Okay, it's that advice time of the week again! Only instead of Tuesday, it's on a Thursday.  Can ya dig?  Here we go...

So, as stated in previous posts, we are def. trying to live healthy as a family.  We see the value of a 'better' diet and exercise weekly and we are willing to commit to make it happen.  But as any one with lots of babies knows, that is easier said than done.  Big Aaron has found crossfit.  He loves it.  Like, leaves the house at 4:30 am twice a week and goes 5 times a week loves it.

I have started LA Fitness. I like it when I can get there but the only time that is realistic for me is around 5:30 pm right now (as long as I don't have childcare, more on that in a second).  And, I am finding that time just seriously doesn't always work out in our schedule. I often have talks/meetings/etc...right around that time and, frankly, wouldn't mind hanging out with my husband AND kids at least once a week.  So, it has been decided I need to bring my kids to the gym with me in order to go during the day.  And here is where I need your help...SO


I can add the childcare option at LA Fitness. It is SUPER reasonable.  $10 per kid per month for unlimited.  That rocks right?  Then, we could go during the day, almost as an activity (remember I am a SAHM now, which makes it way easier).  BUT, the childcare workers are REALLY bad. The center has open windows, so I peak in there almost every time.  Generally the 'child care provider' is sitting on the floor in front of her laptop while the kids play around her.  One time, the 'child care provider' had doctor Phil on the TV whilst the kids played around her. I have NEVER in the past two months, witnessed the child care provider actually interacting with the kids.  Now, big A is all like, 'um, it's an hour, who cares?'.  But I'm all like, 'I have three stinkin' babies, I need someone who is it at LEAST going to look up from her screens while she is watching them'.  So, what do you think?  Big deal? not a big deal? do the child care anyway?

The other option is switching gyms and the one I got my eye on is 'Lifetime Fitness'. It's suppose to have awesome childcare.  The hours are wonderful.  They have a toddler pool, so we could really make it a weekly activity for our little family.  And, we can sneak it in our budget (it is reDONKulously expensive).  BUT, here is the issue... It's 20 minutes away and I have three little babies.  Do you really think I'd pack them up and drive twenty minutes a couple times a week in the dead of winter to work out/have them play?  Would we be able to even make use of the toddler pool because, who can really manage three babies in a pool at once?  Would I be able to justify the cost by how much I use it?  Or will the distance/cold/challenge of taking the kids out of the house make it not worth it?  Anyone have experience with this?  What do you think?  The thing is, LIFETIME has a large start up fee, so I am hesitant to join, then realize we can't make there enough to justify the cost.  #midaswellburnmoney

The final option/thing I am seeking advice on...what do YOU do if you are a mom/know a mom/etc...as far as gyms are concerned?  BTW- I need to join a gym, it's the only thing that works for me (tapes/exercise equipment at home, things like that don't work). Do you know of another gym in the Redford/Livonia/Dearborn Area that you like AND has childcare?  

And, btw- I totally know #firstworldproblems

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In Defense of Santa...and other things

I’ve been noticing ‘round these Catholic parts, some people have an issue with Santa.  QUELLE HORREUR!!!! (Just kidding of course- whatever works for your family and gets them ready for Jesus’ birthday). 

I’d like to let you know how we do Advent/Christmas- blending the ‘secular’ (which is beautiful) and the ‘Holy’ (or somethin’ like that). 

Do you know, I found out last year, there is a priest in the Archdiocese who actually calls forth the children at the CHILDREN'S MASS, and tells them, collectively that Santa isn't real?  Are you joking me?!?!
We believe in Santa.  We just do.  My dad, who is a senior citizen, well,  he believes in Santa.  If anyone tries to say Santa isn’t real, he lets them know what’s up.  Santa is the spirit of giving that occurs during the Advent/Christmas season.  It is the nudge you have in your soul to generously give and the feeling you get when you have given of yourself, your time or your treasure.  When each of us siblings reached the age where the ‘Santa Talk’ had to be had, that’s how it was described to us. And we got it, and we loved participating in the mystery for the younger siblings.
Right next to our tree, I have this poster-puzzle a Mercy Girl made for me long ago.  It is a picture of Santa, he is done making the rounds and he is dreaming of the Christ Child.  On the top of our tree is a star and right below the star is an ornament of Santa adoring the baby Jesus.  These are the symbols we use to blend the ‘magic’ of Santa with the awe-inspiring reality of a God who become next to nothing, born in a manger.

We don’t do elf on the shelf. As I have already described, we do an angel who comes bearing gifts such as bananas and flashcards to announce the coming birth of Christ.  It works for us.  We think the Elf is pretty darn cute.  Maybe one year, we will want a little elf creating ruckus to inspire our children to behave during this season of crazy.  But for now, our ghetto- banana carrying angel is working.  And it’s fun and the boys look forward to it every morning.  I’m shocked by how many people have strong feelings of hatred for a little elf.  He’s awesome.  Back off.  And so is my angel.

On Christmas Eve, we will celebrate at my parent’s house with the Polish tradition of Wigilia.  We will go home for a few hours and start a new tradition of Christmas pajamas and a Christmas movie.  We will go to Midnight Mass (or something’ close to that) upon the husbands request (because, who in their right mind would go to Midnight Mass with three babies?!?!  Answer- my husband).  We will end the night with Big Aaron reading from the Gospel the story of Christ’s birth.

On Christmas morning, our children wake up.  The first thing we will do is put Baby Jesus in his proper place on our ‘countdown to Christmas’ Calendar.  This year, we will be singing happy birthday with a ‘blue cake’ that little Aaron is so excited to make.  Our baby Jesus from the manger will be in the center of the cake.  We will have ‘first breakfast’ with a tiny slice.  After, we will read my children a note from Santa.  He will thank them for their cookies and milk and then remind them that Christmas is about a God who loves them.  A God who is proud of them.  A God who continues to be available to them as their very best friend.  After, that we will move to presents.

And my children will get three presents (thanks Theresa)…one from Santa, one from Jesus and one from us.  Then, my in-laws will come over for some spectacular waffles made by the husband.  By about 2:00 pm, our house will be quiet and we will celebrate together, as a little family, the joy that comes from it all.

You see, Santa, that spirit…well my friends, that spirit IS Jesus and it doesn’t have to be a conflict even though many have chosen to make it so.  Christmas doesn’t have to be about ‘too much’.  Too many presents, too much secular, too many parties and constant stress.  Rather, it can be about simplicity. It can be about Joy.  It can be the birth of Christ!  And a guy who ‘lives up north’.

Oh, and Jesus told me to tell you that he doesn’t mind the Christmas music a few weeks before his birthday.  Just kidding- he didn’t tell me to tell you that, I just am!  But, for real though, I think, when we get to heaven he’s gonna be like, ‘yeah, I totally didn’t mind the Christmas music’. And Imma be like, ‘good!  Because I have been listening to it and singing loudly in my car to prepare for your birth’!

Happy Wednesday.    

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's ridiculous that we have to go to confession to be forgiven...

...just kidding!  It's not.

About 25% of the time in my new life as a Stay At Home Mom, life is exceptional.  Things run smoothly, schedules happen, the kids are adorable, and I cannot believe I am blessed with the type of life we have.  I do some projects and cook dinner, feeling like super mom all the while.  It’s awesome.

About 50% of the time, things are good. Nothing special.  The kids are kept alive and not melting down, we are aware of our blessings, everyone naps once a day and eats the meals placed in front of them.  I am aware that ‘good’ is a gift to be treasured.

About 20% of the time, things are hard.  One kid refuses to nap or is whiny, I am riding the struggle bus of being so tired and the guilt that comes with just putting on a show so I can take a second to think.  I get overwhelmed by the things that need to get done and the overwhelmed shoots back at the kids, so we are all on edge.

And about 5% of the time, things get a little out of hand around these parts.  When none of the kids want to nap, all of them are cranky, no one wants to eat, nothing can bring our house joy...you know the drill.  The great thing is it is just 5% of the time.

picture by R.wasylyshyn
And though I would love to tell you during that 5% I respond with grace and holiness, the fact is. I don’t.

I lived that 5% last week.

I was trying to finish up the last paragraph of a blog (I know, I know, so self important- post on that to come)…Joey  and John Paul made it obvious that a morning nap was NOT going to happen.  My sweet Aaron was whining and demanding, and shouting, ‘no’ with his lists of demands.  I could have dealt with this any way, but instead, I had one of those ‘epic fail moments’.  Though I haven’t said ‘SHUT UP’ to my child since THIS FAMOUS MOMENT….I looked at him and said, ‘If you don’t shut your mouth RIGHT NOW, I am going to smack you across the face’ (for the record, smacks across the face actually don’t happen around these parts yet).  He looked at me scared.  And, I realized my yelling was disproportionate to the situation.  My children weren't being, ‘bad’ they were being toddlers and babies.  And,  you don’t get to yell at a baby/toddler, for acting like a baby toddler.

You just don’t.

So I shut the computer and didn't open it again until they went to bed.  I held Aaron in my arms and I apologized for losing my temper (thanks moms for that suggestions).  I played better with the kids and tried to let go of the fact that I unfairly screamed at lil’ Aaron and lost my temper.

But as much as I tried, I was struggling to let it go.

Because life works out that way, later that week, we had a sitter and I was blessed to go to confession.  As I was waiting to enter the room of reconciliation, I was examining my conscience. I was thinking about all the ways I fail as a mother/wife/friend/disciple.  And you know what? I started crying a bit.  Why?  I was crying because I was so very thankful for the gift of the powerful forgiveness of Christ as expressed in this beautiful Sacrament.  I thought about yelling at lil' Aaron, ‘IF you don’t shut your mouth RIGHT now I am going smack your face’ and I knew I was going to be able to ‘whisper it into the ear of Christ’ in this awesome Sacrament we get to partake in.

After Confession, the priest told me that I was forgiven and that God loved me.  And you know what?  Once again, I believed it.  I wasn't struggling to let go of my failing as a mom, because I HEARD Jesus say, ‘I absolve you from your sins’ through the gift of the priest.

There’s all kinds of reasons why the Sacrament of Confession Rocks.

It rocks because Jesus started it and commanded the first priests to forgive sins
It rocks because the Church has held the tradition of confessing since Jesus’ death and Resurrection
It rocks because it is the way the Jesus CHOSE sins to be forgiven here on earth…

But wanna know why it really rocks?
It really rocks because sometimes we have to hear it.  Sometimes we have to hear a priest say, ‘you are forgiven’.  Sometimes we have to physically name our failings and be certain that our God acknowledges the ways that we fail, then says, ‘I absolve you’.

It REALLY rocks because our sins hurt the community.  And as much as we try to forgive ourselves, what we need, most often, is the reassurance through our penance that the community is being healed.

Check it.

If you haven’t gotten your ‘confession’ on in awhile.  Might I suggest, during this Advent, you make it happen?  You won’t regret it.  Ain't nothing better than a soul that is cleansed by the forgiveness of a God who loves.

I’m just sayin’

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes- little bit of joy, little bit of sass

So, I think there is tremendous value in simple living and not giving children 'too much'. I actually think a huge part of the problem we have in our society is having too much stuff, without the expectation of work (rights and RESPONSIBILITIES).  So, I'm not gonna lie, I may have severely judged parents in the past that I think go way too overboard with gifts/presents.  Until last night.  It's St. Nicholas day...you know, the day where some pieces of candy might appear in your shoes if you leave them out.  Well, I kind of went a little...hm...overboard.  The thing is, I just couldn't stop when I thought about the joy these little gifts would bring the boys. I think resisting the temptation to spoil children is gonna be harder than I thought.  Lesson learned.  But, holy man...how cute are those slippers!!!!
no self control!
Sisters weekend is just over a week away.  Excited much?!?!  I think so.  Let's just pray my sisters and I can hang out for a full 24 hours without wanting to kill each other, Aaron says it is doubtful.
Warning- Scrooge McDuck here. I actually cannot HANDLE the current National Conversation on minimum wage.  Now, read this VERY CAREFULLY...I am totally okay with examining if it needs to raise, to MINIMALLY ensure basic rights are taken care of (read- basic). BUT  $15 (starting wage) to work at McDonalds is about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of.  And, I am TERRIFIED at the amount of people, particularly the young, who think it is necessary.  Entitlement in this country has gotten so out of control.  I cannot handle it. For realz.  And, before you start...lemme just say, I worked mininum wage jobs, LOTS of them. In fact, I worked three of them, at one time, for two years (jr. and sr. in high school) 40 hours a week, whilst completing high school. So DON'T.EVEN.GO.THERE.
I'm going on a retreat this weekend.  A personal retreat.  Can you believe it?  With the 'Oprah Nuns' (Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist). I have not been on a personal retreat in about 8 years (I know, I know). I am so excited.  And, weirdly enough, a bit nervous.  Hanging out with holy rollers for a whole weekend...can I handle it?  (just kidding- kind of!).  Truth be told, like many moms I'm sure, now that it is here, I kind of wish I never signed up. I have like, a kazillion things to do, I don't LOVE to be away from the kids and husband, etc... BUT, I have a sneaky suspicion I am going to be so grateful once there.  Say a prayer things go well, judging from Quick Take #3, I could use a little more charity in my heart!
Advent is awesome.  And we are starting very exciting traditions that are so lovely (thanks to the suggestions of so many in the blogging world).  My favorite, that will be a keeper?  Each night, before bed (after pajamas) we go out in the family room.  All lights go out except the tree and we light the advent candle and sing the first verse of "O Come O Come Emmanuel".  Each week, we will add a new candle and another verse.  It's so cute, lil' A can't sing the words yet, but he hums along and makes up his own words.  Awesome-sauce and a fantastic way to end the day.
So, I have taken A LOT of heat on facebook regarding my 'Angel on a Shelf"  She comes announcing glad tidings every morning (think 'Elf on the Shelf' catechetical version). Now listen, I'm not the most creative person in the world, so I'll admit, in hindsight, having her come, bringing a banana one morning this week probably wasn't the MOST fun idea.  At least I didn't post the picture of when she arrived bringing flash cards.  Sigh...fun mom, I am not!
Oh, she brought a banana on top of the Fantasy Football Trophy.  Woot woot.
Were you wondering how John Paul is doing.  You guys, he is a JOY.  The best baby with the most kissable cheeks.  More than any other child of mine, in this newborn stage, I just love staring at him.  He has this crooked smile that lights up his whole face.  And his laugh, oh my. Is there anything better than a newborn laugh?  Anything?  sigh... Well, actually there is, the newborn half laugh they do while they are sleeping.  Dear Jesus, help me to remember we should wait a hot second before having another.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Talk to Me Tuesday- In which I ask for help

This is a little bit of a different Talk to Me Tuesday.  Because this week, I am asking for your help.  I am under no false impression that I am the most popular blogger out there J  I really don’t have a desire to be.  But I know there are about 300-400 of you who read my blog on the regular, and I am asking, most sincerely, for your help.

There is a couple I am very close with.  As I tell their story, some of you will realize you know them too.  They have asked I write this without using their names, so if you leave a comment, I ask you to leave out their names as well.

This couple is a good couple.  Two people who strive to be the best versions of themselves. They are a couple who love each other and seek to spread that love to others.  They are a faithful couple.

They have been married for 10 years and in that 10 years have had to walk the very difficult road, a road some of you know so intimately…the road of infertility.  They have seen the doctors, taken the tests and the shots.  They have struggled with the limits of fertility ethics and trusted in God’s plan, as laid out through the Church.  They have never been told they cannot conceive, just that they have enough hurtles to make it very, VERY difficult.  They have had two babies.  One they lost very early on, the second, they buried last year.  

This couple has two saints in heaven.

And, now, after ten years, they are ready to walk the road that has brought so many people joy.  They are ready to not only be parents to their two saints in heaven, but to be parents to the child/children God has chosen for them here.  

They are ready to adopt.

I know there are lots of ways to make that happen.  I know the couple will be pursuing all those avenues (agencies, etc…).  However, I know sometimes, little miracles happen. I know sometimes, someone knows someone, who knows someone, who is looking for a good, maybe even specifically Catholic, home for their child to be raised and loved by two parents who will have the child as their own.

What I am asking is for you to share this story.  Help me use the awesome influence of what the Church calls a ‘digital continent’. I know some of you know people who work for Crisis Pregnancy Centers, for Dioceses, some of you know people who work for different Catholic Charitable organizations, some of you are priests, or know priests who could help. 

This couple desires to be parents, they are meant to be parents.  Would you consider keeping them in mind and mentioning them to others (or sharing this blog)?  Would you consider helping them find the child who is meant to be theirs?

Thanks you for your help on this Talk to Me Tuesday!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Very Holy Thoughts on this first Sunday of Advent...

...just kidding...I'm just gonna write about college football.

When I was a young child, before the age of five, my family had to drive through Ohio.  As we crossed the border, my dad said in a scary voice, ‘we are now entering the EVIL state’. I was terrified and could not be consoled.  Imagining terrors out the window trying to get us.

When I was 5, my dad took me to my first Michigan football game.  A graduate of Michigan, he has 2 season tickets since the 70s.  It was a family ritual, each child got to attend their first game at five. I remember my mom packed me a lunch (you were allowed to do that then), with snickers candy from Halloween. I felt so special, being at the game with just my dad.  In a family of six, one on one time with the parents didn’t always happen, I will  never forget what it felt like.  And, I was bored to death with the game.  SO BORED.  But really, really thankful for the snickers (still my favorite candy).

When I was in Elementary School my sister and I went to a game in November.  It was freezing and sleeting.  The wind was unbearable.  We got out of the car and were assaulted by our uncles who covered us in their coats, their tarps, their hats and gloves. I remember my Uncle Dan telling me I had to put my arms into my shirt, under my winter jacket  and under my armpits to keep them warm (true story).  It was so cold. I don’t remember if we won. I remember feeling so loved and protected by my dad and all my uncles.

When I was in Middle School my dad and I started going to the Minnesota Game together.  The ‘Little Brown Jug’, oldest trophy in college football.  That became my game.  Anytime it was at home, we’d go together. 

When I was in college, I lived in the ‘evil’ state. I had to deal with horrible Ohio State fans (who I, incidentally, love), as the rivalry went back and forth. 

I was there when Michigan beat Penn State with only a few seconds left. I remember looking at the time on the scoreboard and asking a complete stranger, ‘is there anyway we can win this game?’.  ‘Doubtful’ he responded.  And then we won.  And the obnoxious Penn State fan who was sitting in front of us, who started the game by saying, ‘The Big House is really not impressive’ (remember the ‘Big House’ is the largest college stadium), I remember her hanging her head in silence as she left the stadium.
I remember sitting in my apartment, Michigan/Michigan State were playing into triple overtime. I remember screaming so loud and scaring the crud out of our cat as I pretty much had an out of body experience and chucked the remote across the room.

I always tell people, I am an emotional football watcher.  I don’t really know all the nuances.  I still don’t understand ‘holding’.  I’m not someone that gets into the nitty gritty of what positions the players are getting into.

But I love college football.

I love the fall drive to Ann Arbor at least once a season
I love the feeling I get when I walk into the stadium for the first time.
I love the guy who sits behind us and screams ‘cheaters’ every time a flag is thrown.
I love tailgating with friends, drinking just enough to get a little buzz on and stay warm during the first quarter.
I love hugging complete strangers when the intensity is high and an unbelievable play has happened.
I love hosting little gatherings at our house, watching football with friends and family.
I love, I mean ADORE putting my kids in their game day jerseys and getting them to scream, ‘Go Blue!’
I love the trash talk that comes with the rivalries that are so special, Notre Dame, MSU, Ohio State.
Oh, and I love hating Ohio State. 
Truth (judge if you must), I totally enjoyed the fight yesterday during the game, TOTALLY.  No one got hurt, OSU showed themselves as dirty, and it reminded us all why the rivalry is good (I know, I know, Pope Francis would NOT approve). 

Yesterday, I was with great friends, enjoying everything I love about college football.  A great game that stops your heart, high fives and even, occasionally, the crushing blow of a game lost by one point.
For me, it’s about tradition.
For me, it’s about my dad.
For me, it’s about my childhood…
For me, Fall is all about Michigan football!  
See ya next year Big House!!!

The Team, The Team, The Team!