/> Raising Angels: February 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

40 Days of Gratitude

Part of my Lenten discipline is to choose one thing each day for which I am truly grateful. Not just a quick, "Thank you Jesus for my family,” kind of grateful, but the realization that I don't deserve this in anyway and it is a pure and beneficent gift from God kind of grateful. I've heard that gratitude can break down barriers. I'm thinking this is why God has led me in this direction. We'll see what He has in store.

Today, because it is Ash Wednesday (a day of fast and abstinence - from meat of course:)- in the Catholic Church), I focused on being grateful for food. This seems pretty basic I know but on a day when I actually denied myself for a brief period, it felt pretty important.

What struck me today is what makes fasting so hard. It's not so much the hunger pangs, although they do get pretty strong mid-afternoon and I get pretty grouchy come dinner time. What makes it hard is that I am surrounded by food. I had to feed my kids, go to the grocery store, make dinner, put things away in a pantry loaded with food, dole out snacks, and see pictures of it in my mailbox, billboards and magazines.

I realize that this is a good problem to have. I have never gone without food because there was nothing to eat. I have never felt true hunger. Now that I'm the shopper in the family, I eat what I like when I like. I have experienced food all over the world.

It's so easy to take something like this for granted, but today I am truly grateful for food.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lenten Preview

Ah Lent - full of possibilities. Some may feel more of a sense of dread and at times I have been there too. But as I've gotten older, I find that I actually look forward to seasons of discipline.

Last year I was totally focused on the upcoming arrival of baby Max. My Lenten journey was all about keeping him safe, delivering him and bringing him home to the old house before moving in here. It was a busy time to say the least.

Here I sit, one year later with 40 days of possibility ahead of me. I'm not sure why but I feel like God has got some big things in store for me. Well, at least that's what I'm praying for...and choosing to expect. My quandary the past few days has been how to help facilitate that process. What can I do? What does God want me to do?

Today, through a few small events, I feel like I got my answer. It was not the answer I was expecting. It was not the answer I was leaning towards. It was - I think - God's answer. And so, I am hopeful. I am encouraged. I am anticipating with joy the season ahead.

I would tell you what it is but I think I'll save that for tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thought for the Day

I'm finding it very interesting that my 8, 5, and 4 year old are just as entertained by Max's birthday gifts as he is.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Max Turns One Today!


It's hard for me to believe that you turn one today. It could be the fact that you are just cutting your 5th tooth, or that you aren't crawling yet, or walking. Or maybe, just maybe I'm in a little bit of denial that my newest baby boy has already been here a year.

I have had some great babies but you definitely win the prize. You have been peaceful and content since the moment you were born. I think that may be the reason you're still not mobile. You are more than willing to sit and play for long periods of time by yourself.

You have such a joyful spirit. You laugh and smile easily. Most mornings you greet me with a smile and a "Hi!" You love hugs and kisses. You adore your siblings. You dance to any music that is playing. You clap, high five and blow kisses with the best of them.

I love that fact that every time I say your name I think of the great saint you were named after. I am excited to see the boy you will grow into, although I can wait a little longer because I love the baby you are right now.

You are such a gift to all of us Max and we love you dearly. Happy Birthday!


Friday, February 20, 2009

A Game By Any Other Name

As Dawson dumped his treasure box find on the floor this afternoon he called to Aiden, "Hey Aiden, want to play this game with me?"

"I don't even know what game that is," Aiden called to him.

"It's Go Fish," I told him.

"No, no, no," Dawson quickly corrected me. "It's not Gold Fish, it's Old Lady."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

911 fun

Just one more reason you should stay in school.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Question of the Day

If your recipe for sweet potato casserole calls for more sugar than sweet potatoes does it still count as a vegetable?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh The Self-Restraint

We went next door today to meet our newest neighbor who was born only a week ago. She is a tiny 7lbs. (the likes of which we have not seen around here since Mackenzie). The kids oohed and ahhed and could barely keep themselves from touching the sleeping cutie.

When we got back home I asked, "Wasn't she SO cute?"

Dawson responded immediately in a higher pitch with his whole body scrunched up, "Yes! She was SO cute that I couldn't even kiss her!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Power of (School) Prayer

I have taken on a new project this year. Yes, I know, I tend to do that a little too much but this one has quickly hit the top of my list. Every Monday morning, after dropping them off, I stay at Mackenzie and Aiden's school to pray.

I join a small group of moms and their kids in the school chapel and offer intentions for the school, teachers, students, and other school related things. After about 15 minutes we take to the grounds and pray around the physical property. The whole process usually takes less than 30 minutes.

I have struggled with not being able to do much at the school after having the boys so I jumped at the opportunity to do this. It's not much, I thought but at least it's something.

Well, that little something has turned into a spiritual empowerment I haven't felt in a long time. I have always believed in the power of prayer, but there is something very real and satisfying about doing it on the actual property.

As we walk through the grounds, I can see into Mackenzie and Aiden's windows. I love the fact that they see me at their school, know I'm praying for them and wave to me (and even occasionally blow kisses). I also love that the teachers can see us from their windows as well. Can you imagine how encouraged and protected they must feel to know that there is a group of people praying for them? I can. I used to teach and would have loved to see this out of my window. The superintendent even told us last week that he has seen a marked difference in this school year and he attributes a lot of that to our prayers.

I don't say this to blow my own horn by any means. I say this to give all the praise to God. I know that He honors our prayers no matter where we pray them. And let me tell you that most of us have babies and small children with us. We are often distracted. The boys bring various weapons to fight the battle with us. Some weeks we spend more time rounding the kids up than we do praying. When we walk around the school we don't carry crosses or shout or anything like that. If you saw us, you might just assume we were just walking through.

What I have come to realize is that even though these little prayers don't seem like much, they are perhaps some of the most important work I can do as a parent. Prayer is a powerful weapon and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to use it like this.

If you don’t believe me (and especially if you do), I challenge you to do the same for your children and their schools. The difference will be amazing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Clear Expectations

We've been having some challenges lately with the kids at mass. Last week we tried a new approach. In the car on the way to church we laid down the law. This time however we left nothing to question. "Okay guys listen up," I said in the car on the way to church. "There are some new rules for church. During mass you do what we do. You sit when we sit, stand when we stand and kneel when we kneel. There will be no talking unless you have a question about the mass. Do not ask us when mass will be over. Do not ask whether we are having brunch after church. Do not ask us to read a story. And finally, do not ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. We do not leave church once mass has started. Understand?"

A chorus of yeses came from the back. With clear expectations in front of them, mass was a totally different experience and we let them know afterwards how proud we were of them.

Today I thought a brief review might be in order so as soon as they were buckled in I began. "Alright guys, you were so good in mass last week. I want to see if you remember the rules. Dawson can you tell me any of the rules?"

"Sit when you sit. Stand when you stand. Kneel when you kneel. Go potty before mass if we need to so we don't have to leave church. And...don't talk."

I was amazed at the retention level of our 4 year old. I was amazed at everyone's behavior during mass. I was amazed at how such a simple thing can make such a big difference. It was easier for them because they had concrete rules to follow. It was easy for us because we had specific expectations of them. Most importantly, we all participated in mass much better.

I think a lot of life is like this. Most things that seem impossible or complicated are not really as bad as we think they are. Easy? No. Simple? Most of the time yes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Late Night Thought Process

So I'm having 26 people over tomorrow for a Valentine's Grandmothers Brunch with Mackenzie and her Little Sisters pals. We did the food prep this afternoon. I've been cleaning for awhile and still have a lot to do to make the house presentable.

I'm wondering why I'm sitting here instead of mopping my floors. Then I remember I ended up here because I forgot to write up the personal scavenger hunt activity for tomorrow.

I didn't want to sit down for fear of losing that momentum that I had going. Seems my gut instinct was right because baby, it's long gone. So now I'm wondering, will anyone really be looking at my floors or using my bathroom. As much as I'd like to say no, let's face it, these are grandmothers we're talking about and yes, they WILL notice.

Round two - here I come.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Much Is Too Much?

Today I got out of the shower and had barely gotten dressed when the phone began to ring and as I ran to find it my cell phone joined in and before I picked up either the doorbell rang.

I've been wondering lately how much is too much technology. I'm not sure just yet what the line is but today I definitely tripped over it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photo Op

What's that you say Mama? Did I hear you turn the camera on?
Hold on a minute and let me get myself together for you.
Alrighty then - click away! Here's the money shot.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Personality Test

Today the boys sat at the kitchen table writing out their Valentine cards. Each boy was instructed to fold them, place two Pixie Sticks in them and place a sticker on them.

Dawson had to know who each card was for before choosing the candy to go inside. "I'm giving the girls red and purple ones and the boys orange and blue ones," he said justifying his questions.

"I'm just picking whichever ones come out first," was Aiden's response.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ah, the Insanity

I'm having some serious issues lately. I wake up every day exhausted. I am forgetting about commitments I've made, missing appointments and am generally unorganized. I can't even keep up with the blog. It's not that there’s nothing to write about, I'm just too tired to do it at the end of the day.

I've spent the majority of the past year wondering what in the world is wrong with me. Granted, I'll be the first to tell you that I have never had it all together. However, before now, I was relatively decent at having a good enough cover to appear as if I did. This has not been the case this year. I feel that I'm falling apart and everyone knows it. In short, I'm driving myself crazy.

This morning everyone was up so early that we had more than enough time to get to mass except for the fact that Max decided he wanted a bottle as well as breakfast, Mackenzie elected for French braids, Dawson got dressed with his shirt on top of his sweater vest and his pants on backwards and Aiden climbed on a chair in the closet to get to his piggy bank which he had been banned from doing. Even with all that we made it to church in plenty of time at which point Mackenzie wanted a drink of water and both the boys had to go potty.

In a brief moment of clarity I realized what a huge chunk of my day is taken up by feeding and caring for my four kids, one of whom is not even a year old. Motherhood is a time consuming, mind losing, self-sacrificing vocation. It will wear you down. It's doing that to me presently.

The good news is that this is a season. It won't last forever. I'm not sure what I did when Dawson was an infant, Aiden was one and Mackenzie was barely four. I'm sure I didn't have it together then either. The difference is that I didn't have a blog to record it. I'm pretty sure that I made it through that time as evidenced by the arrival of Maximilian; and so I'm fairly certain I will survive this too.

Until then I will ride it out and chalk up my "disorderly" conduct to motherhood and be grateful for every cotton picking minute of it.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Little Resolve

I have a confession to make. No matter the day, no matter the hour, no matter the exhaustion level, I can't leave the kitchen a mess. I can't go to bed without counters wiped, dishes clean and floors swept. I know. It's somewhat of an obsession. Something about waking up to a dirty kitchen makes me feel as if I'm starting the day behind.

I also usually try to pick up the family room. I can't relax with toys scattered everywhere...even if they're Max's. Tonight however, I sit typing among literally hundreds of Lego’s, Lincoln Logs and wooden blocks. I told the kids to pick them up earlier, but then there was Catechesis, making dinner for two other families, feeding my own family, bathing 3 boys all with no husband at home.

Now that the house is quiet, I sit tempted to clean all this up myself. It will be less painful, faster and neatly done...but not today. Today I will be strong and let the toys stay in their places. When the angels who are currently sleeping awake, they will be charged to complete the task of cleaning they were issued this afternoon. They will not be doing anything else until they do.

They won't like it. They will most likely complain. They will most definitely not do it perfectly. But...they will do it. They will learn. They will get better.

And one day...they will thank me. Maybe.

Monday, February 02, 2009

What We've Been Up to Lately

A little hog hunting - just Nelson, not the kids. We did, however, watch the cleaning and processing of the animals. We also ate one for dinner, in spite of the blood and guts show before. To all you vegetarians out there, for a brief moment, I understood you.
Our first family trip to the roller rink. First time on skates proved to be a bit challenging for the boys. Thankfully they had beginner skates that were a little more their speed. How about this skating cowboy?
After a few times around holding our hands, they took off on their own. We all had so much fun we thought we might try it again sometime soon.
Today we found a way to kill two birds (or more) with one stone. A third grader who has to log 300 minutes of reading to get her Book-It! certificate this month and a Kindergartener who needs at least 6 books read to him lead to this scene today. Reading time for them - check. Quiet time for me - check!
And all of this activity has made for one tired little guy. It's hard to believe that our baby will turn one this month.