Friday, April 28, 2017

7QT about lyfe this week

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
Tomorrow is Aaron Christopher Wilkerson II's 6th birthday.
I've decided it's all down hill from here.
5 was awesome.  As I told the pre-k teacher yesterday, 'they can wipe their own butts, dress themselves, put on their own shoes, it's awesome'.
But from this point on, he just begins the process of leaving me :/ #dramaticmuch

Why, hello 3rd trimester.
I am officially in the 3rd trimester.  Woot woot.
And, check it out...
...as of today I do not have gestational diabetes.
...for the first pregnancy ever, I do not throw up every day
...I have only gained 7 pounds
I know it's about to get rough, as only the 3rd trimester of pregnancy can, but for right now, I'll take it.
I know you've all been on the edge of your seat wondering what we are going to do for vacation next year.
After the feedback I got from those who read this blog, we decided against Europe. It's just not time yet.  The kids are entirely too young.  Five more years.  I can wait.
We've also decided against the Disney cruise.  It's an incredible amount of money and two of our kids won't even be able to use the pools- we are going to wait a couple years on that too.
It's back to Disney for the Wilkersons.  This time during the Christmas Season.  It's just the perfect place to go when one has five children who will be six and under.  The whole darn place is directed towards children, and right now for us, that's priceless.
We are excited!

Yesterday, Aaron started talking to me about Catholic High Schools and if they are on the table for us.
You guys, it will be such an incredible amount of money $$$$ and all at once, because our kids are so close in age.
But in six years, our little house will be paid for, so, in theory, if we stay here, we could do it.
And so, we will start planning for it now.

I told you a few weeks ago about the Minimalism Game I am a part of.
On day one, you get rid of 1 thing.
On day two, you get rid of 2 things.
On day three, you get rid of 3 things.
It's changing my life.
I have donated bags and bags of stuff to goodwill.  If we haven't used it in a year, we get rid of it.
Wanna see something embarrassing?
Here's the before and after of our bathroom sink drawer.  I seriously don't think I've emptied it since we moved in #gross.
The whole house is being whipped into shape and I love it.

Let me know if you want me to add you to the group on facebook for May. I promise, if your home needs organization, or just has too much 'stuff', you will LOVE it.

 Part of this challenge is helping me deep clean our bedrooms for the first time in a long time.
I leave the rooms to the weekend. Aaron has taken the kids out of the house, and I have busted butt to clean.  I have our room sparkling and Malia's room sparkling.
This weekend, the boys room is on tap.
The boys room is disgusting.
There has been sightings of at least 6 ants.
I hate ants.
But I'm gonna put on my big girl pants and get 'er did.

Malia is old enough to reach into our kitchen drawers.
And do things like empty them.
And take out markers and write all over things.
And run around the house with scissors when I'm not looking.

We've never had to child proof the drawers.  I, intentionally, do very little child proofing in our house, and usually it involves duct tape vs. the fancy gadgets meant to keep kids out.  That said, I might just have to, because it is SO annoying.

That's all I got for this week.
Have a great weekend.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

7QTakes give me your play advice and travel advice

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
The kids have been on break all week.
I seriously can't decide if I am the mom who loves the kids on break, or prefers the kids in school :)
I am somewhere in the middle.  Probably more of the loving the kids on break type though.
Our van is in the shop. Which means we are grounded at home today.  Someone give me some suggestions of fun things to do to pass the day?  Not complicated or messy ones either. k? Thanks!

For some reason, I keep thinking 5 is going to be SO MUCH HARDER than 4 kids.
Not in practicality or our day to day tasks... I think we kind of have life figured out in that way.
But definitely in going places.
I don't know if it will be, but i keep thinking it will be.
And I figured out why.
You know how when someone has three kids, the joke is they are outnumbered?
I realized last night, at five, we will be hand out numbered.  We only have enough hands to hand hold four kids... and we are going to have five.  I think it's going to make travel tricky.

Speaking of travel... I am all starry eye'd thinking about travel in 2018.
To review.
We live in a small house (for 2017 standards) and we do so intentionally.  It allows us to do things we want to do, like travel and send our kids to Catholic schools.
Our travel budget is bigger than most families, but our house is smaller than most families... so don't judge :)
Okay, I feel better writing that.
Back to the starry eye'd planning.
We were saving this year to, in theory, take a 6 days Disney cruise as a family.  It seems like it would be so fun, and almost even relaxing, which is quite impossible with our kid's ages.
But Disney Cruises are CRAZY expensive, because we would need two rooms.
like, crazy expensive.
We realized, we could actually go to Europe for LESS THAN what we would pay for a Disney Cruise.
So then we started thinking, maybe we should bite the bullet and take our first European trip (on the list, Rome, Fatima, Ireland, Spain).
BUT THEN, we were thinking we could also go to Hawaii.
OR, we could do two pretty major USA vacations (several things on the table).

So we are trying to decide what to do. And it's so fun.  What would you do?
Aaron (husband) quote this morning...
"Don't start off cranky, you get one cranky day a week, and that was yesterday, so no cranky today"

We are late the party.  But Designated Survivor????  SO FREAKING GOOD.
It's got me thinking all kinds of 'what would I do?' type of things. HIGHLY recommend.
(by the way, we are only 7 episodes in, so if it ends up being a flop I will be seriously sad).

 This girl. God has been so good to our family.

If you're not familiar with the Rosary, it's a meditative prayer that helps the faithful move through the mysteries of faith using the intercession of the Blessed Mother.  No, it's not praying, 'to her' that would be silly, it's asking her to pray with with you.  And we ask people to pray with us all the time, and I think, sometimes, we specifically ask people of faith to pray with us.  So it makes total sense to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray with us right?!?!  SUCH an amazing prayer.
You guys.
I've believe with my whole heart praying the Rosary is a crazy tool of protection for the family.
I believe it.
I know it.
And yet, the Rosary with my crew?  Um. No
I know some people who do it with little people (shout out Rakhi), but there was just no way I was going to attempt a 15-20 minute memorized prayer experience with my kids.
They'd be bonkers
I'd be yelling.
I just kept waiting for the 'right' time.
My friend Erin created this...
Now, here's the thing.  I've seen the concept before, but never geared towards children.  The 'Easter Bunny' brought one for the kids and this week we completed our first family ROSARY!  AND it was completely painless.  The kids enjoyed praying and moving the beads, and it's something we are easily able to add to our bedtime routine (just a decade, I ain't crazy)!

Check it, you need you to get you one.  Seriously.  First communion gifts, baptism gifts, family gifts... it's perfect. I HIGHLY recommend it and not just because Erin is my friend, but because I can't believe how awesome it was to pray the Rosary with my crew.
Comment on this or in social media if you want Erin to message you info on it!

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Miracle in the Holy Land

At 'da club' Aaron on my right, the now Father Steve on my left
8 years ago today, I left for a 10 day-ish trip to the Holy Land.  The night before we left, I went out to see a show called, 'Mega 80s' at a club in Ferndale, Michigan. I invited my new friend Aaron along.  I had been crushing on him for awhile, but a week before, he told me he had a 'lady friend' destroying my 'he's a potential' dream... however he was super cool. So I wanted to hang out with him.  Our friend in the the seminary, Steve Mateja came too.  He swears, that night, at the club, he said a prayer Aaron and I would somehow end up together.

I got up in the morning, packed last minute things, and left for the Holy Land full of anticipation, joy and nerves.  I was attending the trip a little broken.  Life just seemed really hard, as it does sometimes when one is 28, single, living in their parents house, and working a ministry job.  My little sister was getting married, and I was so excited for her.  But, I was having to have the 'Oh, is it weird to you that your little sister is getting married before you?' conversation, more often than I would have liked. I wasn't sure where my life was headed, I knew I wanted to be married, but I wasn't. I knew I needed to move out of my parent's home, but I couldn't figure out finances... I felt a little stuck.

I've told this story before, but I decided, during the pilgrimage, my main intention would be praying about my future, and being specific. I asked God to bring me a spouse.  BUT, I also told Him, at the very least, if marriage wasn't in the cards for me, to somehow make my heart peaceful with that reality.  I prayed it everywhere we went. I lit candles, I conversed with God about it.  In the place of the Wedding Feast of Cana, I asked the Lord to please bring some clarity for this area of my life.  It was different than when I had prayed before for my future spouse (did you know people did that?  They do!).  I was praying with a sense of trust, I would either meet someone or I would know the single life was going to be my reality and I would start to embrace it.

On one of the last nights, we were eating a dinner in a hotel restaurant.  A priest, not with our group, walked right up our table.  He saw I was wearing a Franciscan University sweatshirt. I will never forget the conversation.

"Did you go to Franciscan?"- he said.

"I did"- I answered

"It's a great school!  Are you married?"- he kind of asked this question a little out of nowhere.

"Nope" I said, used to this conversation, "Still waiting for my prince charming"

"Just so you know... prayers in the Holy Land are always answered"

He walked away.  I didn't tell him my prayer was to find a spouse. It was such an odd experience, I wrote about it in my prayer journal.

at my sister's wedding
Three weeks after I got home from this amazing trip, Aaron asked me on our first date.  3 weeks after that, he bought a one way ticket to Lexington, Kentucky to attend my little sister's wedding with me. It had to be one way, because he only had 1 night, the next day he was leaving for mission trip from Detroit.  When I was driving home from my sister's wedding, I thought to myself, 'Oh my gosh, Lord, I could see myself marrying him'.  We dated for six month, and then before the Blessed Sacrament and on a picture of the Big House's 50 yard line, he asked me to be his wife.  We were married six months later, 10 days after our first date.
Prayers in the Holy Land, for me, were answered.

Guys, he drives me crazy.  On Tuesday he came home late, without calling and then acted surprised I would be upset about it.  There's a box on our kitchen floor I've asked him to move downstairs every day for almost a week.  Marriage is hard.  It's rare we have a week without some type of drama, squabble, fight or tension.

However, last night he rubbed my back till I fell asleep. He does this almost every night because sleep is so hard for me when I am pregnant.   This morning, he got up with the kids, while I slept in bed. He changed their diapers, took up and down the laundry, and ran to the store to grab some last minute groceries... all before 8:30 am.  As he left for work, he gave me a kiss and I said a little prayer for him, in thanksgiving.

Because 8 years ago today, I set out on a pilgrimage journey that would change my life.  And now, 5 kids and a tiny house in Redford, Michigan later, I know I received a miracle.

I don't get why some prayers are answered and why some aren't.  I do believe in miracles, and Aaron is the greatest miracle of my life.

Friday, April 7, 2017

7 Quick Takes with daily happenings

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?
Om lower case g. Our Malia Paul had a rough week.  She is our first kid who I can remember tumbling down ALL the stairs (from the very top, to the very bottom).  Poor girl had rug burn all over her face.  She went from that to getting hit with teething and allergies.  On Tuesday, she was so miserable and congested, nap wasn't happening.  She came out on the couch and snuggled under the covers, reading beside me.  She's pretty much a teenager.

 I have begun a much needed three week break from ministry.  Praise you Jesus, the downtime will be good.  Of course, I'm filling it with entirely too many things, but good things- so Imma take it as a win.

Minimalism Game
I've joined a facebook group I am loving. For one month, I am going to donate/clear/trash the clutter in my life. On day 1, you start with 1 item;  day 2, 2 items;  etc... etc... by the end of 30 days, you have de-cluttered 500 items.
How depressing is it that 500 items wouldn't begin to declutter my home?
Here's a few pictures of some of the things I've gotten rid of so far.
old shoes
medicine cabinet stuff
all size 3t clothing
People have been entirely too kind to our family this week.  It's been a CRAZY week with appointments, sick kids, a husband who was very busy at nighttime and packing to go out of town.
A school family, the Wingates, have brought little Aaron home three afternoons this week. That's a game changer, because this week buses aren't running, so pick up is a mess.  It's been so nice to not have to wake the kids up from nap to go get him.
My sweet cousin came over to watch the kids while I ran to the store.  She brought wonderful goodies for each of my children, including THREE PAIRS OF MATCHING PAJAMAS.  And you know how I feel about matching pajamas.  Here are my power rangers...

We leave tomorrow for Niagara Falls for 2.5 days.  Still SO much to do to make it happen.  But I'm sitting here blogging instead.  What is wrong with me!?!?!?

If you follow me on the instagram or the facebook, you know I got to be little Aaron's 'Mystery Reader' this week.  The mystery reader gives the teacher five clues, they are read to the class, and then the mystery reader appears to read a few books to the boys and girls.
You guys.
The joy on my son's face was amazing. He jumped right up and into my arms.  I told that part on already on social media.  What I didn't tell you is what he said after school.
When he got in the car, he said,
"Mom thank you so much for being the mystery reader.  When the clues were being read, I was so nervous my stomach hurt and I could barely breathe, because I wanted it to be you so badly. I think if it wasn't you, I would have cried"
Here's why God is good my friends.
When he asked about me coming for mystery reader about a month ago, I could tell it was something he really wanted me to to do. I could hear it in his voice.  But, to be honest, things like that are such a pain in the butt logistically (to run up to the school for ten minutes, sibling free).  However, I felt a real prompting in my heart that this was important to him, and I should make it happen.
Praise God that I did.
I mean, his stomach hurt and he could barely breathe, after all.
(no, he does not get his dramatics from me...or maybe he totally does).

It's like I don't have the words.  And I don't understand the complexities of the situation.  I try to understand, I try to read and discern through party lines.  But it's so hard. Children, so many children are dying, and we have video of it.  People were sharing video on facebook yesterday of victims of a chemical warfare and Syria.  I scrolled past every single one. I couldn't watch. I can't watch. It's like I have to turn off the situation in my head or it will be too maddening to even cope with.  But that's awful isn't it?  What do we do with that awful. I don't know.  How are you coping with it?  How are you responding as a Christian/Catholic?  What are we suppose to do?  The only thing I've seen concretely is people gathering items for refugees.  Though important, is that enough, is that really addressing the situation?
The song below has been running in my head all morning...

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Triduum With Toddlers

As most of you know, I am not a 'pinterest' mom.  Crafting, creativity, etc... just aren't my gifts. It's not something I mourn, as God has been very good to to me and I have great people in my life who help create a magical childhood for my children... BUT...

Last year, the Holy Spirit (and other mom blogs) completely inspired me and our family had an awesome, age appropriate Triduum experience.  I wrote our plans here, but today I am going to write about what we actually did and how it worked out.

For those of you who don't know, the Triduum, is the 3 day, day.  The days between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, where we observed the greatest mystery of our faith, the reality we have a God who loved us enough to die for us in a painful, horrific, lonely way,  but then, just when all hope was lost... HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD.  The awesomeness is hard to understand for grown ups, but to help little ones move through it is a challenge in itself.  Last year's 'Three Day, Day' went so well, I wanted to write about it and maybe if you have little ones (or big ones) you can incorporate some of the ideas.  The Catholic Church has beautiful liturgies for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.  BUT, for our family of four (five) children under the age of six, these liturgies just don't work (we've tried). They are beautiful, but they are long. The symbolism is lost on my children and the few times we have attempted to attend, I end up acting REALLY un-Christian trying to manage my little weirdos.  So, we began our very own tradition to get us through this season of littles...  I'm also going to add pictures, because pictures are super fun.

 After school we begin to set up for our Jesus meal.  Apparently, mimicking Seder meals is frowned upon, but that's not what we are trying to accomplish.  Our goal for this night is to eat as Jesus ate and to practice our very own foot washing.  We laid big blankets on the floor of the family room with pillows underneath them.  The boys dress in long t-shirts, tied at the waist with burlap ribbon. Last year, I wrapped malia in scarf around her head.  We all sit on the floor, and say our prayers and then eat a simple meal of delicious 'Jesus Bread' ('Iraqi bread' from the most wonderful bakery- called Ishtar in West Bloomfield for you locals), hummus, sliced apples and cucumbers.  We put all the food on big platters, and the boys got a huge kick out of eating with their hands right off the center platters.  After dinner, I read a simple story of the foot washing, and each child washes the feet of their siblings/mom/dad.  Last year, Little Aaron did not want to get his feet washed at first, and that was a-ok, this night is about calmly and peacefully giving our kids an insight into the mystery of Christ.  By the end of the footwashing, Aaron was game, so we all washed each other's feet.  The cutest by far was watching Malia excitedly get her feet washed by her brothers.  We use VERY little water, because I am mom who doesn't like messes... feel free to do you if you don't mind the mess.  

The kids still talk about this night and our looking forward to it this year... here are some pictures...
ready to go
super excited

the disciples ready for their meal

mama participates too

this kid eats nothing, but he loves him some hummus

messy faces are worth it


love her face in this one.  She totally got into it.

washing their tiny feet

Malia getting her feet washed by her brothers

lol, not sure she understood she wasn't just being spoiled

Aaron allowed us at the end to wash his feet
We wake up in the morning on Good Friday and watch 'the LEGO JESUS STORY'
You guys. My friend Jaime from MOPS wrote about this on facebook a few years ago and we randomly watched it. My boys ask for it all.the.time.  I think it's a great way to tell the story of Christ in a way that makes sense to three little boys (remember, they are very little).  The boys are captivated by it, and I am telling you, like it or not a 2, 3 and 4 year old REALLY can better grasp the mystery of Good Friday by watching it played out in legos. I promise.

After watching, during the morning, we made Jesus 'thank you cards'.  Cards that thank Him for His cross.  We knew last year we wanted to bring them to a Church, to an altar to drop them off.  We didn't anticipate so many churches would be closed in the morning. BUT, it ended up being the best happy accident.  Our Archdiocesan Cathedral, Blessed Sacrament was open.  It will be our tradition to go there every year. We put our Thank You cards before the tabernacle and spent some time (a short bit of time) in prayer.  The kids, my little little kids, honestly had a sense of sorrow and thanks moving through it in this way.  If you are local and want to meet down there this year, we ended up there around 10:30-11:00 am.  We'd love to meet up with you and your thank you cards.

When we got home, we took the time to 'shroud' all the holy images in our house. This includes statues, pictures, crucifixes, etc.. We placed small pieces of fabric (I mean, let's not lie, it's me, so I think we even used old t-shirts and scarves).  The kids took naps and we ate a  meatless dinner. 
Here are some pictures.

John Paul in front of his namesake's chair

I didn't think to take a picture, but a dear friend was at the cathedral later and saw the cards and snapped a picture for me.
As a child, we always participated in the Polish Tradition of the Blessing of the Baskets.  But, since I don't really cook, I didn't think I had enough to 'fill' the baskets with. Last year, though, I decided Jesus wouldn't mind if our baskets didn't have a lot of stuff in them.  The Blessing of the Baskets is an awesome tradition, you can read up on it here.  Basically, it's the seeking of God's blessing for the material goods we will enjoy on Easter.  We began by coloring eggs, and then filling our baskets with the eggs and Easter Candy. And I think some string cheese... because... toddlers.  The service is short (thank you Jesus) and the boys enjoyed carrying their little baskets.
Coloring Eggs

John Paul loved it.
loading up the baskets

adding the special touches

It looks like John Paul's basket legit has crust in it.  It's okay, Jesus doesn't mind.
YAY, we've made it to Easter.  For Easter, each of our kids gets a special 'new ish' outfit.  Oh my gosh, how fun is it buying Easter dresses for little girls?!??!?  Seriously.  
During the night, I took the 'shrouds' off all of our Religious articles, and replaced them with fresh flowers.  Last year, we had one shared basket (we will probably do the same this year), that the Easter Bunny hides.

Speaking of the Easter Bunny... we ain't got no problem with him.  You'll see in the pictures below, our Easter Bunny (and Santa Clause) work to celebrate Jesus.  These imaginative wonders help to bring alive the mysteries we share with our children about our faith.  It's all good.

Our Easter basket is simple.  Usually each boy gets one of those$1-2 religious books (although last year we did a big expensive book called, 'Letters to Pope Francis' which they loved), 1 small toy (Imaginext super heroes last year) and candy.  It's the perfect way to celebrate.  
The last few years, we've gone to breakfast with my inlaws at a delicious pancake house. After, we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  After Mass, I hide 15-20 eggs full of one candy each around the yard- I do this while the family is the car getting ready to go to breakfast.   The boys (and this year, girl) really enjoy finding them, so it's a tradition I will probably stick with.  
We go home, nap and then head to my parents for Easter Dinner.
Here's some pictures...

the basket

The Easter Bunny working for Jesus

Fresh flowers

Papa and Malia at Mass

Easter egg hunt

This part is so fun for them

he couldn't wait to begin the tasting
The crew at Mass
And that my friends is how the Wilkersons live the mystery of the Triduum in a special, holy and age appropriate way.  Maybe this helped to give you some ideas?!?!?!  Get 'er done.