Friday, June 28, 2013

7 Quick Takes- Written by the Husband

Today's a big day! After 30 months and lots of intentional spending and saving, we are officially debt free! To celebrate, the ol' husband (who is taking a quasi vacation day today! Woot woot!) asked if he could write the Quick Takes...how could I say no?
1    Very surreal feeling being here.  It’s like having our kids.  You know the day is coming for so long and all of a sudden it’s here.  It’ll take some time to fully wrap my head around this reality.  We’ve fought for so long to get here.
1     In terms of work, we worked extremely hard to get here.  Definitely in the top 4 things that I’ve had to give everything I had to accomplish.  Up there with Marriage, Parenting, and Engineering School.
1     Life definitely threw us lemons.  The first month we started in this journey, we owed $4,000 in taxes.  So we had to save up to pay it by April.  Then, we had to get a new humidifier.  Then in April, the basement flooded.  Then July new brakes.  Also, there was a new air conditioner.  Also, a new water heater.  Also medical bills for 2 new babies.  However, we worked through it.
1    Any success we had I attribute it to my wife, Mary.  She had to sign up to be part of all this and she worked the plan like a champ.  There were many bumps along the road but she was the key to our success.  Especially towards the end and continuing to work while pregnant with #3. (aww..this is Mary, how sweet was that!)
      There was many times that I struggled along the way.  Many times I didn’t want to worry about budgeting anymore, weekly grocery shopping, or continuing to throw thousands of dollars at banks.  But I kept my eyes on the prize and I remembered what my reason for doing all this was.  To be able to bring my wife home and be free from payments (except the house) once we did that.  Prayer got me through the really tough times.
      What keeps me going now into the future is thinking about legacy.  I want to be the last one to have to borrow money for any reason and my children will get to grow up not knowing what debt is and how it can affect your life.
1   There’s no reason that everyone can’t be out of debt.  You just have to have a vision, make a choice, create a plan, and execute it.  Of course there’s more to it, but it’s not an impossible feat.  If we did it, anyone can do it.  It’s not about the math.  It’s about behavior and learning how to control yourself and say “no” more often.  I believe that it could change the world.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Man! This is hard!!!

Being a mom is hard work. I know, DUH.  But these last couple weeks, time and time again, what I keep thinking is, ‘My gosh, this is really hard!’ 

Maybe it has to do with this being my second week as an official Stay at Home Mom. I am so excited about this new role…not because it will be ‘easier’ than working mind you, but because it is a calling I feel deep within my heart.  But man, it is hard. 

It is hard to keep the house clean.  I am really striving to have the kitchen/family room clean by the time Aaron comes home at 5:30.  But, that is like, impossible with two little kids and a smaller space.

Don't be fooled by the size, this lady's got 2.5 more months to go!
It is hard to constantly reach up and down to pick stuff up.  This might have to do with a massive stomach, which appears to be 
housing a child of nine months, but is actually housing a child of seven months. 

It is hard to use nap time to get things done, when I really just want to take a nap myself.  Sleeping, for those of you who have been paying attention, is very difficult for me these days.  So, at around 2:00 pm, when the boys go down for their afternoon nap, I barely have energy to do anything but shut my eyes…but, alas, much needs to get done. 

It is hard to ignore the constant whining.  Om lowercase g, my little Joseph has decided to show his personality in a huge way the past month or so.  And, SPOILER ALERT, his personality is ornery.  Constantly ornery.  I cannot tell you how many times we have said in the last couple weeks, ‘thank God for that kid’s smile, or we would totally be returning him’!

It’s hard not to lose patience.  I decided to be a rock star mom (which is ALWAYS dangerous) and bought a couple of tubs for ‘sensory time’.  One filled with rice, and one filled with water.  I was so cool I even bought scoopers and measuring cups for each.  Best. Mom.Ever right?  That is, until lil’ A decided it was WAY more fun to dump the rice on the floor than in the CLEARLY marked bucket.  I may have yelled at him and made him cry for that one!  SCORE!!!  Rock-star mom move down the drain.

Oh yeah, and it’s hot.  And this pregnant mom hates hot.

But, you know what else I am realizing?  Being a mom is also awesome. And it is the moments of awesome get you through the moments of, ‘oh my gosh, no one told me how hard this is’!

It’s awesome at the end of naptime.  My first thought is, ‘oh shiznatch, he’s up already’ but then 9 times out of 10, I walk into the room of one of my boys smiling the biggest smiles in the world.  The way my kid’s face lights up when he sees me…it’s priceless.

It’s awesome when we are leaving the house and lil’ A has his cars lined up.  He goes up to them and says, ‘bye cars’ before we leave.  But, then, wait for it…when we get back, he says, ‘Hi Cars’! Watching him learn to play is like watching wonder come to life.  It’s so fantastic.

It’s awesome when I get to watch my children play together.  Joseph Michael follows Aaron around from room to room.  He loves when his brother pays attention to him.  Today, Joseph woke up before lil’ A, but they both needed to be up. So, I just brought him into his big brother’s room and put him into the crib to wake Aaron up.  I left the room and after a few minutes, heard them laughing.  How freaking cool is that?

It’s awesome to do little projects, like sensory tables.  The rice was a total debacle, but…I ended up letting them play with their water bucket after.  The kitchen looked like a pool, but when daddy got home and walked in the kitchen, I heard Aaron say, ‘look, water play’!   Rock star mom might have had a bump or two, but it seems lil’ A only remembered to tell daddy about the good stuff.

And, it is AWESOME when I get the spontaneous hugs and kisses throughout the day.  When lil’ A is laying in his crib and says, ‘MOM’.  Or when I call his name and he says, ‘What’?  Watching these kids grow in love and affection is fantastic.

So, I guess the thing I am learning is being a mom is really really tough.  And I am very VERY far from being good at it.  BUT, the little freaks are well worth the struggle.  And being their mom is by far the coolest thing I have ever done.  So, I just gotta remember to focus more on the awesome and less on the overwhelming urge to throw up my hands and say, ‘It’s too hard’!  Because each day I get to work on not screwing this mom thing up, is a privilege and a honor.  Love you boys.

Friday, June 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes

So, my children like to live on my nerves when they are hanging out inside me.  With Aaron and Joseph around 7.5 months it would start to get pretty bad.  At one point when I was pregnant with Joey, I remember literally having to crawl into Aaron’s room and I couldn't lift him out of his crib.  It was bad.  However, it was nowhere near what I experienced on Wednesday. I woke up with the kind of pain that is difficult to explain. If I was not moving, it was absolutely fine.  The minute I moved it was a blinding pain, the type that has you screaming out loud. I lay in bed the entire day long.  And I learned three important lessons.  1)  My parents rock (they got a call at 7:00 am to take the boys, I do NOT know what I would have done without them).  2)  My husband, though lacking in empathy, gets things done like a superstar (he had to take the boys to the opposite side of town, wait on me hand and foot, etc… 3) Thanks to my friend Mary, who blogs at Better Than Eden, I learned that increased back pain is sometimes normal when you have babies close together.  I have a physical therapy appointment in July, in the meantime, here’s hoping I don’t have an episode like that again.
I don’t think Paula Deen is even kind of racist.  When asked on the stand if she has ever said the N-Word she answered, ‘yes, of course’. To be honest, I think a lot of people on stand would have to say the same thing, myself included.  Any one of us who sang along with most rap music would have to admit we've said the n-word.  And it sucks and it is wrong, but I really dig that she told the truth and spoke candidly.  I find speaking truth and speaking candidly is a good thing. And, I hate the word.   
My husband said the funniest thing this week on the facebook. Ready?  He said, “I would still have her over my house to make me some food. However, I might secretly whisper, "who's the slave now?" #realtalk”." I mean, how freaking funny is that?!?!?!
I LOVE looking at pictures on facebook!  So much!  But my favorite types of pictures to look at are honeymoon pictures, wedding pictures and pictures of new homes.  I’m like the best facebook stalker in the world.  For realz yo!
Er’body gonna be all upset, but I actually don’t think what the president said about the Irish situation was that big of a deal.  AND, I definitely don’t think he meant there should be no Catholic education.  And I definitely don’t think he was sending a warning to the US Bishops.  Sure, it might have been a dumb thing to say, but I got the intent of what he was getting at.  I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I think the uproar is a bit misplaced.  Like, I think there are enough reasons to question this man, (including the fact that he is threatening to veto a bill that says babies who can feel pain shouldn't be killed in the womb…how sick is that?) without making huge deals out of non-deals.  
I just took a noodle out of my Joey’s hair and put it back in his mouth. SCORE!
First week as a SAHM had its ups and downs.  For shizzle my nizzle.  But, lemme just say, yesterday I hit it out of the ball park!  I am kind of excited about this new lifestyle

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, June 14, 2013

7 Quick Takes- the 4:00 am addition

We have so much to look forward to this summer, I can hardly stand it!  We have a fantastic trip to Nashville planned, some cottage time with the ol' family, lots of little plans and, you know...no work for me :)  I am most excited for our trip to Nashville.  I just always feel like such a legit family when we travel together. For our Nashville trip, we have booked three different hotels and will be staying with our besties one night on their farm. I mean, how freaking fun is that!?!?!
Paul and Ann's Farm in Nashville 

Last weekend of work...EVER!  Crazy huh?  And I am going out with a bang.  Actually, I am quite unsure of how I am going to accomplish all I need to accomplish in the next 48 hours, which might be one of the reasons I am currently not sleeping. I am not necessarily overwhelmed with the amount I have to do at work, but this is also a really busy weekend with my brother-in-law's high school graduation tonight, his party tomorrow, and Father's day on Sunday. If you want to shoot some prayers my way, I won't deflect them.
Aaron and I celebrated our third anniversary on Wednesday. I know to some of you, that must seem like such a short time.  But three years, and three kids later, it was nice to celebrate! On Tuesday night, I was up from 1:30 am-5:30 am with a brief mental breakdown at 4:30 am (that included waking up my husband with a LOT of bad words).  So, at around 5:00 am, my dad text and reminded me that they'd be willing to watch the kids for the night if we were up for it.  Um....yes please!  The husband and I went to dinner, and came home sans the children for an evening of quiet.  How awesome is that?!?!  BUT, wait for it...the best part was the morning.  We both got up slowly, were able to relax a bit, and joked about how we probably should have waited to have kids, because it was so awesome.  Don't worry, I'm actually pretty pumped we had kids right away :)  It was just a really nice and quiet 15 hours at home.
We went to our favorite restaurant, Comparis, in Plymouth, for our anniversary dinner and it was horrible. The waiter was really weird and basically ignored us all night (very unusual for this place) and the restaurant was pretty much empty.  Of course, I had to draw some conclusions from that, particularly because he was very attentive to other tables.  BUT, what I'd like to talk to you about is the following.  Aaron decided to only leave an 11% tip.  Is that weird?  How do you handle really bad service at restaurants?  It was very awkward as we were leaving, because I had to use the bathroom and the awful waiter had already picked up our check. I swear he totally evil eye'd me on our way out.  The whole situation was so weird. Like I said, I don't anticipate hitting up that restaurant again.  Bummer, because it was the place of our first date :(
In Detroit, there is currently a court case occurring with a police officer who accidentally shot a 7 year old in a raid a few years back.  The whole story is just so sad, and my heart breaks for the police officer, who in the chaos of trying to do a good job, ended the life of a child.  It makes me really appreciate police officers, in a lot of ways. It's funny, because often I make them the enemy ("seriously, are you giving me another ticket for turning right at a red light?!?!?"- I get those a lot), but honestly, the job they have is so very difficult and so very dangerous.  We should make sure to pray for our law enforcement officers.
On Father's Day, after I work a bit, we are going to head out to the Strawberry Festival in Belleville.  Big Aaron has great memories of it from when he was a child.  Do any of you go?  Any tips for us?  We are exited. I cannot tell you how much I love doing things like this with our little family.  It's my fav.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, June 7, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
selfie from this weekend
So, I try to be honest about the good stuff and the bad stuff that happens in the day to day life of the Wilkerson clan on this here blog.  This morning was some good stuff.  The husband blew me away with service.  He totally cleaned our refrigerator (which was much needed). The type of clean where you take out shelves, soak off stains, etc... And he did it at 7:00 am, whilst I slept.
--- 2 ---
True and funny story. Yesterday, on the ol' facebook, I remarked that I have been feeling good more days than I have been feeling bad, and how awesome that is.  I made sure to write, 'knock on wood' after the statement.  I then proceeded to vomit most of the day :)  Just goes to show...
--- 3 ---
Speaking of social media.  Here's a lesson for you all.  I was watching a horrible movie called, 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' last weekend because so many teens said I would LOVE IT.  It was awful.  But, halfway through the movie one redeeming story line was the love that a boy had for his aunt who had passed away. It was shown through flashbacks. And every time I saw a scene, I teared up, thinking about my own nieces and nephews.  SO, before the movie was over (and this is important) I wrote on the ol' facebook something to the effect of, 'I hate this movie, but I do like the aunt story line, because it reminds me of how I love my nieces and nephews'.  Anyway, we proceed to watch the end of the movie and RIGHT at the end of the movie the story line shows that the aunt had abused her nephew through his young life.  Right, and I had put on my facebook that the only reason I liked the movie was because of the aunt story line, because it REMINDED ME OF HOW I LOVE MY NIECES AND NEPHEWS. SCORE!- add it to the talk :)
--- 4 ---
I adore how animated my oldest child is.  When he gets excited, there is no hiding it.  We get several thousand 'wows' a week, and my new favorite is, 'WHAT'S THAT???' said with a joy you can't imagine.  How cool is it raising these little freaks?
--- 5 ---
Answer...super cool. Although, Joey has discovered that one can cry when they are unhappy or annoyed.  Which is awesome. Because, turns out the mellowest baby is annoyed a LOT of the time.  And, he has also discovered cries don't have to be sweet and squeaky, rather, they can be ear piercing and constant.
my sweetie pies
--- 6 ---
Busy weekend on the horizon.  Cleaning and organizing ten years of my life at Saint John Neumann. At first, I called in reinforcements, but actually, most of it needs to be done by just myself. So, spotify and I have a hot date tomorrow at Saint John Neumann!
--- 7 ---
Please, everyone who is reading this, say some prayers for a blogger that I just love to read.  Her name is Dwija and she is that perfect blend of quirky and fun in her writing. She is expecting her sixth child and is having serious complications with the amniotic sac and fluid.  The waiting game just has to be so torturous.  Pray for peace, pray for a miracle, pray that comfort is brought to the family!  Thanks!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 3, 2013

NFP Ruins Romance!!!

NFP (Natural Family Planning) ruins romance.  No, seriously, I am not being sarcastic or cute…NFP ruins romance.  

From the time I was little, I was given images of what it means to be in love and express that love romantically, and lemme tell you, I loved them! I love all things romantic.  And, NFP destroys those things.  

I am blessed because everyone in my immediate family enjoys the fruits and labors of practicing a sexual life without the barrier of artificial birth control, so we are known to have VERY honest conversations.  The husband and I were sitting with my sister (who has four kids, three and under) and her husband (who isn’t Catholic, but goes along with this whole lifestyle thing for the love and respect of Theresa….winning!).  We were discussing how ‘hard’ NFP was.  And my brother-in-law said something insightful.  He said, ‘we totally know how to not get pregnant, it’s just sometimes that’s really inconvenient’.  Imma tell you blog readers…NFP ruins romance.  BUT, there’s a silver lining. 

 NFP ruins romance, but here’s my question, ‘how’s romance working for us?’  And, NFP ruins romance, but increases intimacy.  Confused?  How about I take a hot second and explain…

First, how’s that ‘romance’ thing working for us? 

Do you know, prior to marrying Aaron, more than one person sat me down and said that my expectations for our wedding night (we decided, with the Grace of God, to hold out till the ol’ union was witnessed by the Big Guy before we gave ourselves fully to each other) were way too high and I would probably be disappointed? 
You see, the type of romance that NFP ruins is a type of romance that has been defined by a media machine that isn't really leaving anybody super satisfied.  You know the type right?  The type where you rip each other’s clothes off whenever you feel an inclination.   The type that reminds us that you absolutely must ‘check out the goods’ before committing to a lifetime with them. The type of romance that shows sex as totally consequence free, do whatever whenever, and with whomever you’d like, no worries, it’s a sign of power.  Only, the thing is, people are more empty than they have ever been.  Divorce rates (for those that even bother to make such a bold commitment as to claim a desire to be together until death parts) are sky high.  ‘Family’ is redefined out of necessity because romance is so freaking fantastic, that it can’t keep us entertained for more than a couple years.  The thing is, I’d argue, maybe ‘romance’ albeit awesome…isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be.

But you know what is? 


This is something I have been a bit hesitant to write about in this blog, because I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way, but when I found out I was pregnant with my third child in three years, I was terrified.  Not because I didn't know ‘how that happens’. Not because I didn't know that when we decided to make love, there was the slightest chance a child could be conceived. I was terrified because I cannot stand pregnancy.  No, for real, I don’t like one damn thing about it. It’s 1:09 am, and I am up right now, writing a blog on NFP because pregnancy takes away my ability to sleep.  BUT, what’s FAN FREAKIN-TASTIC is I still have to work a full day tomorrow, followed by coming home and caring for my two in diapers, just to probably face insomnia again tomorrow night.  The thing is, I freaking hate pregnancy.  So, when I sat up in bed in January after trying to fall asleep, mentally calculating dates and telling Aaron, ‘you have to go get a test right now’…I paced the house for twenty minutes while he went.  When he got home, I went in the bathroom but Aaron asked if this time, he could be the one to read the results.  I sat in the family room until he came out.  With a smile on his face he said, ‘here we go again…’ and do you know what I did? I BURST into tears.  Not cute, happy tears, but, "WTF, I can’t go through this again, my body isn’t ready for it, I have five more months of work, we were suppose to go on a cruise, I can’t be sick for nine more months, I have two babies to take care of…" sheer terror tears.  Friends, I was hysterical.  And, do you know what the husband did?  He held me.  He rubbed my back.  He promised me we would get through it.  He reminded me want a big family and I am a good mom. He swore he would put in 110% to make this work.  He left a couple hours later and bought me two dozen roses and all my favorite foods.  He said, ‘I can’t believe we are having another’.  He loved me maybe as good as he has ever loved me before.


Each and every month (when I am not knocked up) we have to gauge where we are at as a family.  Where we are at emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually.  During our fertile window, we have to talk about whether or not we can handle another child. We have to take inventory of our lives, our kids, our marriage. People pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit on counselor’s couches to figure out a way to discuss the things that NFP demands you discuss at least once every thirty days.  And, for us, during those windows…sometimes we decided we weren’t ready (believe it or not).  Sometimes we decided we were (lil' A and Joey).  And sometimes, we decided that we’d trust that the act of loving each other was such a good and necessary thing, that we’d be open to having another (Baby #3). 


Do you know what freaked me the freak out about nfp?  Like, for real?  Like, I needed to seek counsel from women who had been married longer than I? I could not figure out how to live chastity in marriage during times of abstinence.  Check it!  When Aaron and I decided that we didn't want to have sex until after the Sacrament of Marriage, we had to be careful about certain things.  We didn't live together, we didn't change in front of one another, we didn't lay together every.single.freaking.night.  Because, if we did, chances are, our ‘commitment’ to waiting wouldn't have been successful (and we had some issues mind you…).  So after having lil’ A and getting our first taste of NFP, I completely didn't know how to live the virtue of chastity in the correct way in order to abstain during ‘fertile’ times.  It freaked me the freak right out.  Do you know we had to go to confession to discuss lines of chastity being crossed in our MARRIAGE?!?!!?  Who knew!!!  But, as we worked at it, we were given a gift.  A gift of communication.  A gift of cherishing each other and working on loving each other even during those darn ten days when sex isn't really an option (without getting pregnant).  And that stuff is good my friends.  FRUSTRATING!!! But, oh so good.


I have shared this story many times with teens, but about three months into dating Aaron I said, "Just so you know, at some point, I am going to want to sleep with you…and I need you to be the one that puts a stop to it".  And, sure enough, sometime later, that is exactly what happened.  I wish so desperately every teenage girl I work with who feels pressure to have sex could know what it feels like to have a man say, "I made you a promise, and your soul is the most important thing to me, so we, for right now, are going to shut down what we’d like to do and spend some time in prayer".  It is awesome.  I wish, so many married women I know, would be able to feel what it’s like to have a man put aside his desires (and trust me, maybe TMI, but I've got a guy full of desires) in order to selflessly love her.   Now, albeit, the fact that I am on my third kid in three years shows that it doesn't happen often, but through the frustration of ‘times of abstinence’ there is a beauty when my husband has said, ‘Mary, we just have to wait a few more days’.  You see, self control is not something that men are celebrated for and known for these days (with the porn industry, popular media, etc… telling them at every turn it isn't a value they need to perfect, it’s no wonder why), but it is so.darn.wonderful to see it acted out.  And you know what that is?


So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it does suck. It sucks when living NFP you can’t just rip each other’s cloths off whenever you want.  Sometimes, it really sucks you have to tell each other ‘no’ when all you really want to do is hold each other all night long.  Sometimes, it does suck when you find yourself pregnant a bit earlier than you anticipated you would be because your silly husband is just too darn good looking.  But you know what?  I’d take the intimacy any day, over the romance that doesn't really seem to be working for people.

Right before I got married, I was giving a chastity talk for just girls.  We were discussing how hard it is to not have sex before marriage.  I was sharing that being an engaged woman, it was so much more difficult than I thought it would be.  And this woman who had been married over twenty years shared something to this effect.  She said that after 20 years of marriage, her and her husband still have a very active and beautiful sex life.  She said out of all the friends she knew, not one of them could say the same thing.  She shared that she credits that to the time they were dating, the decision to wait till marriage.  For them, sex was never something they took for granted, but something that was always special. 

That stuck with me and I have full confidence that 20 years down the line, because of the intimacy we live daily due to our decision to love each other through NFP, we will be a holier, more connected couple.

DISCLAIMER- Before er’body gets upset. I am not claiming that couples who do not use NFP cannot be intimate and have shallow relationships based on false romance.  I am just sharing what works for us and why it does.  To remind you, I’m not judgin’ you because, ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’… J