Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oh No She (they) DIDN'T


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

At first I thought she was kidding.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

And now, the plea.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

That is all.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On newborn falls, snuggles and the need for good young men in little girl's lives...

A few days ago, Malia was laying in a Boppy pillow on the couch. I had to use the bathroom, so I hollered out for my husband Aaron to keep an eye on her while I left. I came back a few minutes later, and Aaron was holding her.  She was whimpering a bit.  Before he had a chance to tell me what happened, my oldest son Lil’ A shared, “John Paul (our youngest) knocked Malia to the floor. " You read that right, to the floor, our hardwood floors, from the couch, at four weeks old.
I called John Paul over, he got a stern talking to and crying apologized to his baby sister.  
A phone call to the pediatrician had me convinced Malia didn’t need immediate medical attention.  Four days later, it appears she is just fine.

Yesterday, we were in the playroom.  Being the smart and efficient mother that I am, I have a pack and play for Malia to lay in, so I can pay attention to the boys and we can all be downstairs together.  Lil’ Aaron went about the task of collecting toys for Malia to play with, gently placing in her make-shift crib rattles, blocks and little toys for his little ‘Mia’.  Just as I was delighting in the sweet moment, John Paul ran up and threw a foot long plastic ‘Lightning McQueen’ car into the crib for her.  Only thing is, he threw it in, and it whacked her in the face.  The car is as big as her.

And just now, while typing this here blog post, John Paul (are we noticing a theme here?) tried to jam a cheezit in his sister’s mouth, convinced she was hungry.

Being the little sister to three big brothers is not for faint of heart. 

Frankly, I’m not sure this sweet lil’ lady is going to survive her newborn/infant stage in my house of boys.  This stuff constantly has me on high alert, and as you can see, I am not exactly doing a smashingly swimming job of ensuring her brothers don’t hurt her.

But the thing is. They don’t want to hurt her.

Quite the opposite they are completely and totally obsessed with her.  This girl gets more kisses, more love than you can possibly imagine. 

 You see, the other day, I walked into our room and little Aaron was laying next to Malia on the bed, singing her songs. One after another, he only stopped because I made him because we had to leave.

Joseph, our middle child asks to help me with her bottles and burping each and every time I feed her in his view.

John Paul lets me know the second she is crying. “Mia cryin” he says with urgency.  He gets frustrated with me if it takes me more than a few seconds to get to her.  John Paul, the big teddy bear can’t stand to hear his sister uncomfortable.

First thing in the morning the boys want to see her.  
Yesterday, they went to my parents house.  Right before they left, little Aaron made me promise I would send pictures.  Send pictures of his sister, because he didn’t want to leave her, even for a few moments.

 ~ ~ ~ ~

I was talking to my big sister the other day.  Though she is expecting her sixth baby, her older ones are on the opposite end of the spectrum.  They are well into the teenage years and have begun (GASP) dating.  We were talking about how to navigate our children through that phase, how to help them understand the importance of protecting their purity, while still allowing them to date and develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex. I had remarked to her that in some ways, in today’s culture, I think it’s much easier to raise girls who are willing to ‘wait’ or demand respect than it is to raise boys.  She said  it depended.  

It depends on if our daughters really understand their worth. 

  Because understanding their worth is essential to helping them choose young men who will do the same.  We both discussed how our husbands will be essential in helping our teenage daughters to understand that.  We discussed the important role of fathers…
To tell our daughters they are beautiful.
To tell our daughters they are good.
To tell our daughters they are worthy of authentic love.

I believe that to be true- but I also believe my sweet Malia will have an extra bonus.
She has three brothers who love her. I am hopeful they will tell her she is beautiful.  I pray they will protect her from accepting anything less than what the Heavenly Father wants for her.

And if she ever doubts just how loved she is…I’ll show her this picture, a picture caught on a Monday afternoon, of her brother speaking to her so gently singing her “You are My Sunshine” for the twentieth time.

And I will remind her, just how priceless she really is.
In the eyes God.
In the eyes of her Mother.
In the eyes of her Father
And, of course, in the eyes of her brothers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

7 Quick Takes- Michigan Football Edition

So, I'm gonna spend this quick take writing about something I am certain no other quick takers are gonna write about.  The other night, the husband and I were watching an ESPN special on USC football.  It was so good, and I kept thinking to myself, 'MAN- I LOVE FOOTBALL'.  And so, with the big in-state rivalry game tomorrow (and my triumphant return to the Big House) I decided to share with you seven reasons I love Michigan Football (memory edition).

I love Michigan Football because going to the Big House for the first time is one of my earliest childhood memories.  What is the Big House?  For all you who might not know (I mean, I hate to stereotype but I think most of the people who read my blog are Catholic Ladies who might not know) the Big House is the largest stadium in the United States and the second largest in the world (according to 'the wiki).  It's big.  And it is magical to walk into it for the first time.  But all that isn't why I remember my first game.
I remember my first game because my dad took me and my sister. I was five, my mom packed bite-size snickers (I have shared this before somewhere on the blog).  And I felt so so so VERY special. It's one of my most cherished memories.

I love Michigan Football because you never know what's going to happen.  You just don't.  Games can go either way.  Expected good teams, can be not as good as expected.  Undefeated teams can lose.  A few seconds left on the clock can be the difference maker.  I remember years back (maybe 10?) I went to a game with my cousin Aaron.  It was against Penn State.  Penn State fans are THE.WORST. I have never witnessed a fight in the Big House, that day I saw several from belligerent Penn State Fans (you know who you are).
Anyway, Michigan was behind with like 3 seconds left on the clock and it was their ball.

 I remember turning to a stranger next to me and asking, 'Is there anyway we can win this game?'
He responded, 'There is always a way'
We scored.  And won.  It was AWESOME.  ELECTRIFYING.

Speaking of strangers, I love Michigan Football because it makes strangers, friends.
There is nothing quite as magical as when you're in the Big House and Michigan scores during a big game.  Strangers become long lost friends as high fives and hugs are shared.  It's not entirely unthinkable that in an intense moment, one could grab the strangers jacket in front of them, or hand beside them.  Our family has sat in the same section since the 70s.   We sit by the same people every week.  We look forward to seeing them each season.  I don't know any of their names except 'Big John' the patriarch of the family that sits beside us and in front of us.  This summer, we were out in Detroit at a restaurant and one of Big John's son walked outside the restaurant.  Aaron pointed him out. It was so funny, like a fourth wall was broken.  That's our stadium family- how bizarre to see them in real life!
The agony of defeat
I love Michigan Football because of everything associated with October Football Saturdays.  The tailgates, the beer, the anticipation, the drive to Ann Arbor while looking at fall colors.  The smell, you guys, the smell of a crisp fall football Saturday gets me every time, and I love it.

I love Michigan Football because of all the things associated with November Football Saturdays.  The freezing cold that turns fingers to ice while walking to the Big House.

When I was in Middle School, my dad took my sister and I to a game in November.
You Guys.
We pulled up into our parking lot and my uncles met us.  The took one look at us and knew we'd freeze our little tails off (thanks Dad). They went into their cars and before we knew it, we were in mens clothing, jackets, hats, anything to keep us warm during the game. I won't forget my Uncle Danny telling me if I tucked my hands under my armpits under my shirt, I could keep myself warmer (seriously? It worked).
There's a love/hate relationship with November Games.
You wouldn't trade some of them for the world, but, at the stadium, there is an awareness that one's family room/big screen tv would be a heck of a lot more comfortable to watch the game.
Yet still, we go.

I love Michigan Football because of Game Day with my children.  They are starting to understand.  Saturdays are for game-day jerseys and special snacks.  While we watch, they 'set...hike!' on the floor with the players.  Big A thought it would be a good idea to pull a football upstairs the other week and play in our family room while watching (mom shut that SH$% down quick).  I love how our family watches together/apart. I love that my sons like to know who the 'good guys' are, and that they are already learning to detest the scarlet and grey.  There is something generational about being fans of this team that I just adore.

And finally, I love Michigan Football because of the Big Games.  The Good Games.
The games where you can feel something a' brewin' all week long.
Michigan has had a rough go these last few years, so we haven't had lots of games like it...
...the anticipation of a rose bowl
...the drama of the Big Ten Championship on the line
...the game when Michigan/Ohio State were ranked 1 and 2
...the games with National Championship consequences
...or the Game tomorrow.

Lil' Aaron's school is letting the students wear their Green/White or Maize/Blue today.  Lil' A is wearing his game day jersey today. He has been instructed to share a friendly, "Go Blue!" to anyone wearing green.

 It's gonna be huge.  And honestly, as the hype has been building in our state all week- the truth is, neither side knows who's gonna win.  It really could go either way.  And I'm thinking it's gonna go ours.  And I cannot wait!


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


Friday, October 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes in which I try to form coherent thoughts...

You guys.
I want to be blogging so much more. I really miss doing it, but man, it's hard to keep one train of thought for very long lately.  Yesterday, I couldn't remember the word for 'driveway' so I told Aaron I would be parking the 'parking lot' and he'd have to help me bring in the kids.  WTh?!?!
Alas, at least we have the seven quick takes as our steady right?!?!

I believe Jenny, at Mama Needs Coffee admitted that she has quit preschool.  I must confess, being a preschool drop out is super tempting to me right now.  Between the sickness lil' A keeps bringing home (he is sick AGAIN); the fear of an unexpected business trip meaning I have to take the whole crew inside the building to 'check' Aaron in (why, oh why, do they do it this way) for a week (though I am going to cash in on some offers for help); and lil' A saying, 'can't I just stay home with you guys?' pretty much every day...
... it's starting to seem like a lot.
He LOVES it when he is there. I LOVE how it is teaching him to interact with his peers, and frankly, I am not full of awesome at home teaching (unless the ipad counts)...
So for now, we stay.

Fact- I was going to insert something controversial here, but when I tried to formulate sentences, it just wouldn't work.
Let's just say this.
I think it's wrong to take advantage of women who have just gone through pregnancy/birth by suggesting they insert a permanent or semi-permanent artificial birth control device inside their body or, suggest they 'fix' what isn't broken.
It's annoying.
That is all.

We are adjusting to four kids.  Man, you guys, I have four kids.  It is equal parts amazing and daunting. I look at you champions with bigger crews and I am astounded at the amount of work it must take to keep your households going.  Seriously. Because recovery has been less than ideal, my parents agreed to take the lot of big kids on Wednesday to give me a break.  It was just Malia and I.  Lemme tell you, I know when I had just one I was completely overwhelmed for sure. I know those feelings were real.  I am not slamming at.all.the work it takes to care for one newborn.
Just Malia and I was the biggest break ever.  It didn't even feel like parenting. It felt like a day of peace :)
And it was sweet, because I had time to really cuddle/love on the lovely lady.  That part made me cry.  Because of the crew of kids and their ages, I pretty much just move Malia from feeding, to sleeping, back to feeding and back to sleeping.  It was nice to give her focused attention of cuddles/love/snuggles/songs/kind words. It was just the break we needed.
Plus, the boys got to play at my parents, and they needed some good play time.
My parents don't read my blog, but if they did, they should consider themselves warned that I will probably be asking for the same break next week :)

I know politics is one big sh#$ show. I think we all do. However, in following the campaign of Ben Carson, it is shocking to see what a real sh#$ show it is.
The amount of times simple quotes are taken completely out of context is amaze-balls.  It's so intentionally devious to discredit my boy.  
I love, love, love, how calm he is though when explaining how once again something he said has been taken out of context, or twisted to mean something it was never intended to. 
He really is our guy. 

How could I not at least mention Michigan Football.
This weekend's game is huge.
And once again, I can't go :(
I was going to try to go, but honestly, I don't think the ol' body can handle a game (or the benches) 3 weeks out of surgery.
I better.  BETTER make it to the Michigan/Michigan State game.

This weekend is Malia Paul's Baptism.
I'm so excited because I love me some Baptisms.
And I love me some Baptisms of my kids.
And I love me some post-Baptism parties at restaurants (ain't nobody got time for party planning after just having a kid).
And, I LOVE me some sister coming to visit because she is the godmommy.  And her bringing her crew of four.  And the double date we have set up for Saturday night.

Good stuff, my friends, good stuff.
This took an hour to write.  Heaven help me :)

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