/> Raising Angels: February 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

We're Not Perfect

Today in the car the boys and I were listening to a Laurie Berkner CD called Victor Vito. As Aiden and I sang along to the music, I wondered how someone can come up with such silly lyrics and why those lyrics are so very appealling to children. For instance, the title song of this CD starts as follows:
"Victor Vito and Freddy Vasco ate a burrito with tabasco. They put it on their rice, they put it on their beans, on their rutabagas and on their collard greens."

I quickly forgot my deep thoughts as we pulled into the garage and carried on with our day. It was one of those days. Dawson was sick and rather clingy. Aiden didn't nap, was grumpy and so tired he fell and got hurt several times. Mackenzie was so tired she got a bit sassy and teary-eyed as well. And yes, by bed time, I was tired and grumpy too.

Throughout the day, Aiden was singing one of Laurie's songs called I'm Not Perfect. Mackenzie joined in. It was like a broken record.

I'm not perfect. No, I'm not. I'm not perfect but I've got what I've got. I
do my very best, do my very best, do my very best each day. But, I'm not
perfect and I hope you like me that way.

We're not perfect. No, we're not. We're not perfect but we've got what we've
got. We do our very best, do our very best, do our very best each day. But,
we're not perfect and we hope you like us that way.

You're not perfect. No, you're not. You're not perfect but you've got what
you've got. You do your very best, do your very best, do your very best each
day. But, you're not perfect and you know I love you that way.

We all sang that song to each other. By the end of the day those lyrics didn't seem so silly.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Patience is a Virtue

At dinner tonight Mackenzie asked, "Mama, when I grow up to be like you, will we be in our new house?"

"Hopefully, we'll be in the new house LONG before that!" I said.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Multi-tasking Mama

Today those precious two hours that I had to myself were spent blitzing the house. Because we left it in the hands of friends and my parents who took turns taking care of our kids last weekend, it was in the best shape it's been in in years. It was a hard week but seeing the house immaculate was well worth it. The greatest part is that the upkeep is much quicker and today, by the time I picked up Mackenzie, it was shiny and smelling good again.

Since I was feeling so good, I decided to spend the extra time making a nice meal for the family. I was amazed that the kitchen was staying relatively clean even though the boys were in it.

I turned around to check on them while I was cooking. They were out of sight in the laundry room that is attached to the kitchen. My mind went through the checklist. Yes, I cleaned it out last week too. Yes, all poisonous objects are out of reach. Yes, I hear them having fun stacking the soda cans.

Yes! One exploded when dropped. Round two of mopping while cooking dinner made me the multi-tasking mama today.

Two Sides to Every Coin

Before I became a mom, I taught at the school where Mackenzie now goes. My five years there saw me through my single, engaged, newly-wed and 1st pregnancy days.

Back then I loved 1/2 days. I could actually go out to lunch, make it to the gym early, and cook a decent meal for my husband. I never understood why anyone would complain about getting some extra time in their day.

Friday is the one day that both the boys are in school. Once I drop them off, I have a little over 3 hours until I pick up Mackenzie's carpool. This is only the 3rd week I've been able to experience this luxury of time to myself and it is precious.

I had big plans for my day today. There are several projects I've been dying to get to that are not conducive to little hands. I had hoped to go to lunch with a friend and enjoy a quiet, hot meal. I got the call yesterday at noon that Mackenzie would be getting out of school today at 11:50. Then I got a call asking if I could watch the carpool kids for awhile after school let out.

Okay, don't get me wrong. I understand why the school did this. I don't mind watching the extra kids at all. They are easy and currently outside keeping Mackenzie perfectly occupied. I remember how fun I used to think it was to have time off.

Now, however, I understand where the parents were coming from.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What a Way to Start the Day!

I was looking at Mackenzie after we finished with morning prayers. She was standing at the kitchen window watching for her ride, pleated jumper hitting her knees and her white socks folded just so.

"You are so cute," I told her my heart bursting with joy.

"Mama," she said a minute later, "can I have one more kiss before I go? Oh, and one more hug too?"

"Of course you can," I said picking her up and swinging her around.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hooray for Cement!

Today the most exciting thing happened. The floor for the basement of our house was poured. It has been a LONG time coming, like every other stage of this home build, but hopefully, it will get the ball really rolling this time.

To appreciate it as much as I do, which is virtually impossible, you have to know a few things:
1. We bought the house that used to be on this property almost 2 years ago.
2. This summer, we picked that house up and literally moved it up the road.
3. The dig began late October.
4. First it was 3 feet too short.
4. Next it was 2 feet too deep.
5. Then it rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained some more.
6. With at least 10 tons of dirt on our properties, we had to actually BUY dirt so they could compact the floor to prepare for the cement.

Today, thanks be to God; Bob, our project manager and angel; my husband; and the good people who own the cement company we have the beginnings of an actual home.

Hip, hip, HOORAY!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mama Loves You

Ah, I'm feeling exhausted, excited and somewhat accomplished.

I'm exhausted because life is busy. I mean look at the time. I have been on the go since the wee hours and still have a couple of hours of work ahead of me.

I'm excited because all of this work is in prepartion for 4 nights in a house on the beach in Charleston. Just me, my husband, and another couple. I will have four mornings to sleep as long as I want. Four days with absolutely no plans. Four dinners eaten while they are still hot. Can't wait.

I'm accomplished (somewhat) because the house is the cleanest it's been since Dawson was born. It's amazing how motivated you become when you have other people coming to stay in your house for a few days. It's a small price to pay to have the kids be able to sleep in their own beds.

Tonight, as I put each child to bed, I had that same weird mother thought I have every time I'm about to leave my kids for more than a day. What if something happens to me? Will my kids remember me at all? I know it's strange. I don't spend time worrying about this, it's just something that crosses my mind at times like this. It was enough to choke me up as I sang "Jesus Loves Me" to each one before kissing them goodnight.

I'm quite certain the boys would have no memory of me at all. As I held those two precious giggling boys in my lap, I knew without a doubt that no one would ever love them as much as I do. I love them for who they are. I love them because they are my gifts from God.

Mackenzie at this point would retain some vague memories of me...I hope. What would she remember? Would it be all the times I expect too much, get frustrated, or tell her to wait just one more minute? Or, would it be the way I scatch her back as I sing to her at night, draw pictures on her napkins in her lunches or dance and sing with her in the kitchen? I hope if nothing else, she will always know that no matter what she accomplishes or who she becomes, I will love her with all my heart.

I tell my kids that I love them often. The nice thing is that it produces a pretty good return. Mackenzie is very affectionate and tells me she loves me often. The boys don't exactly leap at the chance to do that, but they love giving and getting kisses and hugs...most of the time. As much as I've told them in their brief little lives, I always wonder if I've really done it enough.

Mackenzie, Aiden and Dawson, Mama loves you very, very much. I have from the moment I knew you were coming and I will until the day that I die.

Interesting Fact

Two individually wrapped mini Snickers Bars, when washed in warm water on the heavy cycle, come out perfectly unscathed and edible.

Note to self: Do not try this experiment in the dryer!

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Mother's Prayer

The boys were holy terrors at mass today.

They screamed so loud that I'm sure everyone heard them even though we were in the bathroom. They screamed for so long that I missed the reading, response, Gospel and intentions.

When I finally returned almost in tears I was asking God, "Why?" Why did I bother to come? Why can't they be good for just 30 minutes?

I suddenly remembered that today was the day of month that I have committed to offer my mass intentions for all of the seminarians in our diocese along with praying for more vocations. At once I was glad I had come.

"Oh Lord, I pray for my brother and all seminarians that they grow in holiness and their desire to serve You in the church. I pray for an increase in vocations. In fact I pray that my boys have vocations. Do you think you could recommend to the vocations director that he begin taking them a little early? Amen."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Father Make Us One

We spent this weekend celebrating the Alleluia Community's 33rd birthday. It was a jampacked three days that left us exhausted but counting our blessings.

The community's way of life goes back to the days of Gospel living. Every member works hard to live the life that Jesus calls us to live - a life of holiness. We do this through prayer, service and just plain spending time together.

Today we had mass in the school gym. The community is a multi-demonational group so we all gathered together for a common prayer before beginning our separate services and we reconvened when they were over to end in prayer together.

I will be the first to say that I love my Catholic Faith more than anything. I also know that Pope John Paul II so longed for unity among Christians and Pope Benedict desires the same. Today, I was so encouraged by the act of ecumenism we are living out on a daily basis. To join hands with people of all different Christian faiths, say the Our Father and then sing "Father Make Us One", was very moving.

I can't help but to wonder what the world would be like if everyone could live like this. If we focused on what we have in common rather than what separates us, we might all find more joy. Instead of arguing with each other we could help each other grow closer to Jesus by sharing our faith together.

When we get to Heaven one day (please Jesus) there will be no more separation. We will all be worshipping our Savior together. Today for a moment I experienced what that will be like and it was a truly beautiful thing.

Father make us one. Father make us one. That the world may know Thou has sent Your Son, Father make us one.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Some Days

Did you ever have one of those days when you wake up and wonder when you'll catch up? You know, the kind of day that plays out in your mind before you even roll out of bed. You stop to think about when you'll get some rest, when you'll get a break. Then you remember, this is your life. There are no breaks from who you are or what you're called to do. You just do it. Some days are not so good. Some days are exhausting. Some days are okay. And some days are beyond your wildest dreams. Today was not the latter...but, tomorrow could be.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Dawson is saying his first word other than 'mama', 'dada', and 'anen'(Aiden). I was so excited to hear it.

Tonight at our support group potluck supper, we saw his godmother, Joyce, who loves him like one of her own. She carried him out to the car for me and gave him a kiss goodbye.

"Dawson, tell Aunt Joyce 'Amen!", I asked him. But he said not one thing. "Come on Dawson," I begged, "say Amen!" A few giggles from him but no words. I asked one more time but nothing came out of his mouth. He waved goodbye to Aunt Joyce and I buckled him in.

As soon as all of the car doors were shut, Dawson gleefully blurted out at the top of his little lungs, "Amen!" "Amen!" he repeated over and over again all the way home, giggling away.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Time Well Spent

Last week I agreed to make a bus for Mackenzie's kindergarten class. After I did that, I discoverd that the bus needed to be 17x5 feet. The project was too big for any place in my house so I went to the school gym Monday morning at 8:15 with the two boys, 17 feet of paper and a few supplies.

The morning started off fine. I gave the boys some basketballs and set to work. However, what started off as a simple 1 hour art projecct turned into a 3 1/2 hour ordeal. The boys tired of their basketballs as soon as Aiden made it to the other end of the court, looked up at the basket and said, "Aiden too little to play this basketball Mama!"

In lieu of basketball, they managed to throw a stack of 100 paper cups all over the gym, jump off of the bleachers, climb onto the stage and hang off the edge until I ran to save them, go into the bathroom and roll toilet paper everywhere, leave dirty footprints on the white bus and use paint brushes to smear the drying black paint onto the white background. At that point, I called my dad who rescued me...and them.

During their 30 minute car ride I was able finish the bus and clean up the mess they made. When they returned, they had had it. They both had colds, were tired and crying. We got the bus to the classroom and waited for the class to finish lunch so we could help them practice.

When it was finally time to go, I had to drag two screaming boys down the hall. By the time we reached the door, I was crying too. My patience was spent and my back was sore.

On the way home, I lamented the fact that I had agreed to make that bus. I was embarassed that so many people had seen my boys in that state. I was frustrated at my inability to control the situation or them.

Then it dawned on me. The problem wasn't the boys. The problem was me. I had expected way too much of the little guys. After all, they are 2 and 1. I know a lot of adults who can't entertain themselves for 4 hours, I'm not sure why I thought they could, or should for that matter.

As I pulled into the garage, I looked into the rear view mirror at two dirty little boys, with glazed over eyes and runny noses. I began to cry. When, oh when, will I learn that kids are kids? They are not miniature adults and they are not perfect. Neither am I.

I scooped them both up and hugged them tight. "I'm sorry mommy got so upset today. It was a hard day. I love you both very much."

At the end of the day I had learned a very valuable lesson. I had two boys who took very long naps and woke up as if the morning had never happened. I had one kindergartener who came home and said, "Cool bus mom!"

In the end, it was time well spent.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Gift of Suffering

The first reading in the Catholic Church today is from Job. Even if you have never read the Bible, you know about Job. If given one word to describe him, we might all say 'suffering'.

Mackenzie caught the last sentence of the reading - I will never again feel happiness. "Mama," she asked curiously, "why will he never feel happiness again?"

I could explain why Job felt the way he did. What was hard to explain was why he had to suffer. It's not something most of us would choose to do. Generally, it is not seen as a good thing. Consequently, the question often arises as to why a God who loves us would allow us to suffer.

It seems, through our worldly eyes, that God is picking on us. There was Job, a faithful servant, who suffered greatly. My uncle, who made his living and found his identiy in being a farmer, who was diagnosed with MS over 15 years ago and has suffered mentally and physically ever since. His wife, my aunt and his caregiver, who was diagnosed about 5 years ago with ALS and died in September. Our pastor, Father Tim, who just lost his mother and father within 54 days of each other.

If you look through spiritual eyes, you may begin to see a slightly different picture. People with faith, and sometimes people who have none, find themselves drawn closer to God during their suffering. Those who come out of their suffering are much stronger than they were prior to it. Those who do not are well prepared for the final journey home.

Father Tim told us that suffering is really Jesus saying to us, "I love you so much that I want you to climb up on this Cross with me." I guess that if Jesus, who was perfect in every way, can suffer for us, the least we can do is offer our suffering up to him.

As parents we spend our lives teaching our children about our faith, right from wrong, and basic things they need to survive. When we have taught them everything we know, we still have one last gift we can leave them. We can teach them how to die with dignity. We can live our final days in such a way that when they come to the end of their lives, they will remember how we ended ours and want to do the same themselves.

I'm not sure I'll ever be at a place where I can ask God to allow me to suffer so that I may be more holy. However, if I ever have to suffer, I hope I do so with grace and dignity. I hope I will be drawn closer to God and by my example draw those around me to Him. I hope I will remember my Aunt Pat and the unbelievable courage she showed during her suffering and death. Honestly though, I hope I die peacefully in my sleep after living a happy life full of health.

Either way, I hope I end up with Jesus.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dawson's First Day of "School"

Today was Dawson's first day at Mother's Day Out. I debated for some time about whether or not I should send him. With Aiden, it was a necessity for me. I needed one day when I could grocery shop and run errands without all 3 babies (Mackenzie 4, Aiden 15 m. and Dawson a newborn). Now that Mackenzie is in Kindergarten and Aiden goes to Mother's Day Out twice a week, I really struggled with whether or not I should do it.

We are currently in the process of building a home from the ground, or should I say basement, up. I have one brother who is getting married in July and three of us are in the wedding. Another one of my other brothers is being ordained a Roman Catholic Transitional Deacon in October...in Vatican City. It's going to be quite a year. Nelson told me that it might be nice to have a few hours a week to work on the house and wedding stuff and with his encouragement I agreed.

I dropped him off this morning and he never looked back. He waddled straight to the play dough and began playing. I took pictures, gave hugs and kisses and said, "I love you." No reaction at all.

After I left, I peered in to watch his teacher sit him at the table on the chair. I couldn't believe how big he looked sitting there. I couldn't believe that just 15 months ago I was sitting in the hospital with a newborn taking very deep breaths in preparation to return home. I was so scared to go anywhere with all three of them back then.

When I picked the boys up from school, Dawson cried because he had to leave. He fell asleep on the ride home and he stayed asleep even through the trasition from the car into his crib, where he is still sleeping now.

I guess he'll be okay after all...and so will I.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Note to Self

When books and papers are what you are trying to put away, do not load them into the biggest container you have and then try to haul it up the rickety attic ladder by yourself.

As I was three-fourths of the way up the ladder with one hand hanging on for dear life and the other quickly losing grasp of the container that probably weighed at least fifty pounds, I thought to myself, "This was not a good idea!"

Just trying my hand at adding pictures. Practice makes perfect. Here's my whole family on the beach in Ireland on the Ring of Kerry the day after Christmas.

This is a test. It's me in Ireland at the Ballycarberry Castle. Now if I can just figure out how to make this my profile picture!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My Little Ballerina

Rushing Mackenzie to her ballet class this afternoon, I glanced at her in the rear view mirror. Her hair up in a bun, wearing pink shoes, pink tights and a pink leotard, she was grinning from ear to ear unable to contain her excitement about class.

My mind flashed back to 29 years ago when I was her age. Dance was a big part of my life for a very long time. I LOVED dancing and when my parents pulled me out of it in middle school I was devasted. My favorites were tap and jazz classes and apparently as I got older, the dances became more provocative . I remember my parents saying to me, "We think you know how to shake your tail well enough." If I could, I would be dancing still.

As I watched my little angel gather with her fellow ballerinas, I wondered how time had passed so fast. Am I really old enough to have a child doing the things I remember doing myself? I don't think of myself as being old enough for this, does she?

Even though it's tough to be reminded that I am not as young as I used to be, it's wonderful to remember how fun it was to be little. What a gift it is to be able to share that with my own flesh and blood.