October 31, 2015

31 Days: Siblings.

So I pretty much failed at writing every day for 31 days.  I might keep up with the series though.  That reason above is the major cause of falling off the wagon.  

Which brings me to this: siblings are a treasure and I hope you always remember that.  I think you know it deep down just based off your excitement when we told you about the new baby.

I don't expect that you will be best of friends with every single sibling every single time.  Some of that is just being at different ages and stages.

Siblings are a treasure because they can be there for you when I can't.  They're going to understand when you need someone to complain to about Mom and Dad.  They're going to watch your kids when I'm too old to do it anymore.  They'll be there for you when you need to celebrate. They'll be your best friends. 

I am so thankful to have each one of you in our family. I am so thankful to see the love you have for one another.


October 22, 2015

31 Days: Have fun.

Dear Child,

I want to take this feast day of Saint Pope John Paul II to tell you to have fun.  If there was ever a person, a Pope especially, who could show that loving Christ and loving life went hand in hand--it would be JPII.

Life with Christ IS a wonderful adventure. And living a life with Christ still means you get to have fun.  Look at this beautiful world around you that delights the senses and you know that's what God intended.

So enjoy yourself in all the right, Christ-loving ways.  Ways that still give glory to God.  Hike the mountains, swim the seas.

Happy feast day, JPII!! Pray for us and help us to inspire others and love others as you did-- in the name of Jesus.


October 20, 2015

31 Days: On mothering and fatigue.

{This post was written July 14, 2011 for a private blog, but never posted here.  I thought it applied here because it was a record of my feelings as a one-month postpartum mother.  I think my kids could stand to know what that is like.  The dilemma of being pulled towards the worldly things yet knowing that the most important thing one can do is love. }  Added note: a migraine has kept me in bed pretty much the last two days.  So, ahem, this is a desperation post and pretty darn fitting for this week.  :)

There are times in life when I am full of energy.

I am not in one right now.  Pregnancy and the new-baby phase drain me.  Emotionally and physically.

Suffice it to say, my kids look for me first in my bed if they don't know where I am.  Is that bad???  Maybe I shouldn't admit that!

Nonetheless, I do think that in today's world it is so very not cool to be tired.  I mean really--I'm supposed to be able to raise all these little people (homeschooled and all), cook a fantastic dinner, play board games, knit a sweater, exercise for 45 minutes a day and look awesomely toned, meet friends for coffee, and still speak sweetly to my family.

Yeah, I can't do it.  I think that (maybe) there are people who can.  But not me.  I need rest.  I need naps (though my need for a nap will decrease as my baby's age increases--but probably not until after this first year).  I'm a total grouch when I don't get any rest. Or at least, downtime. AKA--time not holding a baby or taking care of someone else.  I don't think this is being selfish.  It is recognizing the fact that rest is a necessity like food or water. Only it is harder to get!

But, you know, I feel guilty that I need rest.  I feel like I'm not getting enough done--not enriching the lives of my family enough.  I could be doing so many other sophisticated things.
Like making jars and jars of strawberry jam.  Or something.  I wish I were so don't think that I'm belittling those who can.  I want to be like them!!  I want to have something awesome to show at the end of my day.
But I don't.
And, in the end, I have to think of all that I AM doing (like feeding a baby every 45 minutes) and be satisfied with that.  I have to trust that it is better to rest than be a crabby mother.  Hopefully my kids will remember that when they are grown.  That I wasn't a crabby mother.  At least, all the time.  Just sometimes.  Caring for these people is the most important thing.

October 14, 2015

31 Days: Parents aren't perfect.

Dear Child,

I didn't forget to write that follow-up about Love from the other day.  I just haven't had time to thoughtfully articulate it.  I'll get to it... it might be next year.  But, I'll get to it?

Which brings me to this:  Parents aren't perfect.  I know, that's not a newsflash to you.  Especially if you are a teenager when you read this.  However, it is true.  In fact, there is no perfect human.  Something to do with Original Sin and free will.

Despite our best efforts, parents can't always stay true to their word.  We don't always get to follow through on the plans we had with you.  Heck, we don't always get to follow through on the plans we had for dinner.  It has something to do with all those other people we all live with that have their own plans.  We try really really hard to do what we say we're going to.  So the next time that much anticipated bike ride (or whatever) doesn't happen, give us a little grace.

Parents are also often late.  We don't make what you like for dinner.  We might not agree with your clothing choices, or be happy about your grades.  We aren't always smiley and full of encouragement, it is true.  Sometimes we do "weird" things or look "dorky" or just flat out won't give you what you want.

Our love for you, though, is about as perfect as it can get.  We'd do anything for you and will always, always love you.  No matter what.


Apple Picking.

Since I feel pretty much behind on everything in life... I figure I better spend a little time playing "catch-up."  Or ketchup.  Whatever.

A couple weeks ago, we dropped Ken off at the airport.  (He went to Germany!) Then, the kids and I headed to a family apple-picking trip.

 It was a beautiful day and the orchard was crazy busy.  The last time I had been to this orchard was a field trip and we had the place to ourselves.  I hadn't thought that it would be so full of people.  Taking the tractor ride to the apple trees was not going to happen.  Especially with our large group.  So the guys took the lead in heading to the picking place.
 Nicholas really likes his apples. Pretty sure he ate his weight in them on this day.  We sampled several different varieties while we were there, which is fun.

 Caroline gets her picture taken the most since she's the only one not running off with cousins yet! :)  Here, she's showing off one of my favorites: golden delicious.
 Everyone likes to climb the trees to get the apples at the very top.  (Of course, they are the best.)  Caroline had to have a turn, too.
 Nathan was the muscle for the trip--carrying the apples in the 5 gal bucket all the way back to the front.
 Peter enjoyed having his own bag of apples.  Though they were the worse for wear by the time we got home, lots of bruises!
 Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed themselves!  

We used up our apples with a couple apple pies, apple butter, apple crisp and eating them straight.  I had hoped to make another trip to the orchard, but of course, that hasn't happened!

October 12, 2015

31 Days: Love.

Dear Child,

Pope Francis recently said at the Festival of Families, "Only love is capable of overcoming difficulties.  Love is a festival.  Love is joy.  Love is to keep moving forward."

I think that love is possibly the most over-used word today.  Or ever?  The Bible mentions love somewhere around 300 times, depending on what version you are looking at.

What is love?  It certainly isn't that touchy-feely, "mushy like mud" stuff you see in the movies.

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,

Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

If you ask me, love doesn't seem so easy or mushy.  Love is hard to do.

St. Paul goes on to say in verse 13 that "...faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."  

Jesus says in John 13:34, "I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you should love one another."

Think on these things.  I'll be back to talk about love some more.


October 11, 2015

31 Days: You are Fun!

Dear Child,

In the midst of telling all the things I want to remind you of (and there's more... if I can manage the time to write them all down), I don't want you to forget that you are fun.

Yes, FUN.

I really enjoy being with you.  Of course, life is not always fun.  Mostly, life isn't amusing at all but rather a lot of hard work.  You, however, bring enjoyment to our family life like no other person could.

I find the greatest pleasure in the simple times.  Those times when we are all piled on couches, caught in silly conversation completely satisfied to just be together.  I love hearing your thoughts, your plans, your creativity.  I love seeing glimpses of the person you are growing into.


October 10, 2015

31 Days: Time

{Originally posted on a private blog I had on April 3rd, 2008.  Reposting here because I thought it applied.  I've had this fear of losing family memory for awhile, I suppose!}

The Days Are Fleeting.

Do you think they'll remember, when they've grown and their children are being rocked in their arms, the countless hours spent rocking and singing with the lullabies repeating in the background? Will they remember, somewhere ingrained in their psyche, the feeling of being pressed, nose first into a warm body and loving it? Will they remember having a sweaty head from being pressed into my arm all night? What about the lullaby cd--will that forever be etched into their brain? Will they be able to play it on the piano someday from memory?

Maybe not. I don't remember any such things. I can't think of anytime a smell or a feeling has garnered any sensations of such times. I'll just have to tell them. I'll have to tell them that my favorite part of a baby in summer was when they would sweat and I could smell the outdoors on their head. Their head, their once tiny head. I'll have to tell them that I loved nursing them, holding them, rocking them. Even though it was hard sometimes and that I was tired a lot. I'll have to tell them to cherish their first-born because that baby is the hardest and you don't appreciate the first fully until you have the second. I'll have to tell them that even when times were hard and they didn't feel loved--they were.  They were (and are) loved a lot. More than they'll know until they rock their own child with love.

Nathan will surely remember this lullaby cd--he's listened to it for almost 8 years now! They'll all remember the fun we had--dancing to Christian rock, giggling over knock knock jokes, reading all piled up on the couch. And, if they don't, I'll just have to keep telling them.

October 9, 2015

31 Days: Fridays.

Dear Child,

I do Fridays for you.

It has been a long, long day of co-op fun.  Now I want to climb in bed with a movie, a book, hot tea, and chocolate.  And sleep while I do all that ^^.  Not compatible, I know!  That's what Fridays do to me.

It wasn't until I was pretty old that I realized that I'm an introvert.  I need my peace and quiet and the all day fun and conversation and interaction pretty much just drains me.  Not to mention that I usually end up with a headache from lack of water (someone always takes my water bottle and well, I let them) and staying up too late the night before getting ready.

I do it for you. You love it and I know it.

So, when I don't feel like Parcheesi on a Friday night at 9.27 pm.  Forgive me.  Ask me again on Saturday.  Ask your siblings or your Dad on a Friday.

I love you but I am DONE.  I just can't help it.  Going to bed now....


October 8, 2015

31 Days: Family.

Dear Child,

Pope Francis just said yesterday that families, "free us from the sea of loneliness and indifference, so that we can all experience the freedom of being children of God."

Well, I would guess that maybe sometimes, just once in awhile, you would like to feel a little lonely?  Ha.  Haha.

What is important about this quote is that our desires aren't always good for us.  In fact, those things (or people) who sometimes make us crazy are in fact leading us straight to heaven.  So, perhaps that wish for your own bedroom would actually NOT be good for you.

A crazy idea in today's world.  That, you know, it really isn't at all about you.  It is about US.  All of us working together.  All of us forced to get along.  We can't be indifferent to one another.  The struggle of it all makes us see that we have to work together.  Gives us the tools to work for others.

John Paul II said, "To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children.  Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others."  Recognize that quote?  Yeah, it is hanging on the wall so I'm sure you do!  Does that mean that parents have to always serve the kids?  No.  What about the kids always serve the parents? No.  It means for our joy as a family together--we have to work together.  Help each other out.

It is good training.  JPII could just as easily say, "To maintain a joyful world, requires everyone, in a special way, to be a servant of the others."  Don't you think?

What a joyful world it would be!  Look for the ways you can be a servant to others.

With love,

"I applied myself above all to practice quite hidden little acts of virtue; thus I liked to fold the mantles forgotten by the Sisters, and sought a thousand opportunities of rendering them service."
--St. Terese, the Little Flower

October 7, 2015

31 Days: Fellowship.


Dear Child,

Gosh it was a late night last night.  And we are all a little tired today.  And yes, I realized I didn't post a note for you yesterday.  Just never made it to the computer.  It was one of those days, eh?  For you, too, I think.

I was glancing through the four photos I took last night at your cousin's Confirmation.  I realized I had something to say about this photo:

Fellowship.  Community.  You may not be friends with everyone in this photo right now.  You might be friends with them someday, who knows?  It isn't really about this photo or that everyone is acting a little goofy.  Or that Father Lambert is trying hard to be the goofiest of all.

That photo made me think of faith and community.  You might not realize it as a child entirely but your Dad and I are working hard to give you friends that share the same faith.  Friends who can hold you up and hold you to it.

You have friends who don't share your faith.  You will, especially as you get older, hang out with people of other faiths or who have no faith at all.  Those people can be wonderful friends, too.  So don't think I'm being all exclusive and saying that you should only hang out with people who think just. like. you.

I'm not saying that.

I am saying that growing a community, a network of friends who share your Catholic faith will be invaluable.  Those friends are going to be the ones who help you understand when you are questioning.  Those friends are the ones who will turn you around if you start going the wrong way.  Those friends will help you raise your children, feed you when you are sick, pray for you when you are hurt.

That also means YOU need to be that person to your friends.  Be strong in your faith so that you can help them understand, pull them back, help with their kids, feed them when they are sick, pray for them when they are hurt.  That's how the body of Christ works.  We're all in this together.


October 5, 2015

31 Days: Work Hard.

Dear Child,

I know you've heard me say it.  Do your best.  Give 100%.  Work hard.  Work before Play.

There's a quote attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola (as well as St. Augustine, go figure!):

"Pray as though everything depended on God.  Work as though everything depended on You."

We live in a society where everyone wants everything free.  Where people believe they have a right to everything--a house, a job, a nice car.  There is some truth in that we do deserve good things just by being a child of God.  But we don't deserve everything free.  There is nothing "free" in this world.  It all costs something.  If it is free to you, someone else paid for it.  If you have a job, then someone else doesn't.

The value of hard work is underrated in today's world.  Everyone wants "something for nothing" or "good things come to those who wait."  Nothing comes to those who wait.

There is value is working hard.  In accomplishing things on your own.

Doing good for the sake of others.  They go hand in hand.

When you work for an income, or in order to accomplish a task, you are working for more than your own selfish needs.  Oh sure, you need new shoes.  Or you would like that new fangled contraption.  But your work in itself accomplishes something beyond you.  And when you do it with a servant's heart, you accomplish much in the kingdom of God. You touch those around you who might not know God yet.  Blessed Mother Teresa says, "The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it."

What's the takeaway?  Work is worthy.  Work is good for you.  It builds character.  Ask your Dad or your Mom about their work history.

Ignatius also said, "Go forth and set the world on fire."  Let's see you do it.

Ora et labora,

October 3, 2015

31 Days: Birthdays.

Dear Child,

I am 40 today.  I know that you are going to show me lots of love today!

What do I want you to know today?

40 is not so bad.  I no longer care what people think like I did when I was in my teens and twenties.

I still wish I looked like I was in my teens or twenties!!  Except the stretch marks.  Because you gave me those.

At 40, life is good.  It is very very good.  A wonderful husband, wonderful children (seven on earth so far and one in Heaven, I am so very blessed).  I feel settled.  Unlike when I was younger when we felt very much like every home was temporary, I no longer feel temporary.  A wonderful feeling.

Sure, sure, at 40, I can't eat what I want and I think about money more and fun less.  That's all stuff of the world.

What do I want you to know today?

To embrace every year.  Enjoy it where you are.  Don't wish to be a different age. Love those who love you.  And remember that birthdays aren't about presents, they're about people.   Eat lots of cake and make a wish when you blow out your candles!


October 2, 2015

31 Days: You are loved.

Dear Child,

I want you to know how much you are loved.

Your father and I love you so much that you cannot even begin to fathom it.  Not, at least, until you have a child of your own and you gaze at their sweet face... your heart will swell with the joy and hope that little person brings you.  You might begin to grasp this kind of love in the face of your new spouse.  The love of a child is deeper, rawer, than even that.  Because it is not an equal love.

Parents sacrifice everything for their children.  Until you experience that sacrifice:  the sleepless nights, the giving of material goods, the giving of love, energy, time; then and only then will you truly understand.

This is not a bad thing, for this is how it should be!  Parents are meant to be selfless and children are meant to grow.  Some things we are not meant to understand until we live them ourselves!  It is how God intended and it is good.  Your father and I have loved every minute of it.

Your father and I have loved every minute of you.

The first time we saw you and kissed your tiny fingers.  We loved you.
The first time you tasted ice cream and your eyes grew wide with wonder.  We loved you.
The first time you fell off your bike and scraped your knee.  We loved you.
The first time you told us no?
The first time you refused to do as you were told?
The first time, and every time after, that you disobeyed us?  We loved you still.

Why do I write this, you ask?

Life is hard.  There are arguments and bad times.  There are times when you will lose your way.  There are times when you might be downright lost and feel like you have no where to turn. I want you to know you can turn home.  You can turn to God.

You are loved.

There is no one else for us like you.  There are no words that can be said to change that.  There are no actions that can remove our love for you.  Hold on to that.  Trust in that.

We love you.  Whoever you are, whoever you become.

October 1, 2015

31 Days: A beginning.

I would hardly call myself a writer.  I jumped on the Write 31 Days bandwagon, and eek! What was I thinking?

I was thinking that I have a lot of thoughts.  That I never write down.

Especially, thoughts for my kids.  Do you lay in bed at night and think about all the things you want your kids to grow up just knowing?  Really, really knowing.  Way down in their soul knowing?

Like how much they are loved.  How much God loves them.

How special they each are, even in this BIG. MESSY. family.  That they each have God-given talents and gifts and things that are just THEM.  Unique in all the ways and it is very wonderfully good.

Those things.  Those things that don't get talked about often enough.  Those things that maybe they don't hear you when you say them because life is hard.  Because they're too little.  Because they're too teen and have a hard time accepting that you mean what you say.  Because.

I know that I often felt very unloved as a child.  For a whole slew of reasons.  Sometimes, I look back and wonder, did my mother tell me these things and I don't remember? Maybe I didn't believe her? Maybe I couldn't hear because I was too hurt inside?

I don't want my kids to feel that.  I want them to be able to read the words over and over.  In the times when that voice whispers, "that isn't true" or "you aren't loved" or "your God can't love you now."

I honestly don't know that I can keep up for 31 days.  Can I even have 31 things to say??  I don't know! I'm going to give it a go though.  At the very least, there will be evidence that I tried!