/> Raising Angels: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dancing the Night Away

Eight years ago, when Mackenzie was six, my brother got married. She was his flower girl. We arranged for someone to take her and the boys home after they had some cake at the reception. Mackenzie, however, had another idea. She hit the dance floor and stayed there the entire night.

Saturday, Nelson's cousin got married, and it was Max who was six, not Mackenzie. Guess who not only hit the dance floor but led most of the dancing?

 Yep. This little guy.
 He danced
 and danced
 and danced. It was so much fun to watch and remember and realize how fast the years go by.

 Congratulations Amber and Corey! Thanks for letting us share your special day. And thanks for letting my boy dance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fighting a Losing Battle

Today my Instagram feed was blowing up with pictures of the new Dunkin' Donuts on our side of town. I'm usually a Krispy Kreme girl but now that this place is a mere mile down the road, I may be persuaded.

As I was loading up Felicity and Max to pick up the other boys from golf, Max asked what was for dinner.

It was a day full of run stuff, plus some laundry, plus a few carpools, piano lessons, and a husband on his way out of town. "I think we'll grab something on the way home," I told him.

"Where?" he asked with excitement. 

Thinking I would make his day, I said, "Dunkin' Donuts just opened up. We could go there and just have some donuts for dinner." 

"No!" he shouted to my surprise.

"Really?" I said thinking what a great job I have done somehow teaching my new six-year-old that donuts for dinner is not really okay (that is, unless you have a day like I did and your husband is out of town).

He quickly suggested, "How about ice cream?"

Oops. "Well, we can't eat ice cream for dinner."

"Why not? It's the same thing." 

Laughing because he was totally right, I tried to explain that donuts included healthy stuff like, um, flour. "We just can't," was how I encompassed that thought.

"Okay, how about cake?"

Clearly, I have my work cut out for me.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Still Got Some Learning to Do

On the way home from church today, I asked each of the kids what they learned in Faith Formation (Sunday School). Each child had something interesting to contribute until we got to Aiden.

"What did you learn Aiden?"


"Come on bud. I'm sure you learned something."

"Really Mama, I didn't learn anything I didn't already know."

"Why don't you tell us something interesting you did?"

"We watched a movie about Moses."

"Okay, that's a start. What was the best part?"

"Well, he was talking to the burning bush which didn't burn up so that was kind of cool. Then he sent out all those plags."

"All the what?" I asked.

"You know those plags - the frogs and blood and stuff."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hang in there - Babies are hard

Lately I've been thinking about appearances. I've also been thinking about reality.

For instance, you may read that blog post and think I always have my hair and makeup in place or dress just so. You may see me at an event looking nice and think I’ve got it all together. Reality is that I shoot for that goal, but don't always reach it. I have days when I wear my workout clothes to the grocery store and have people over with no makeup on. I also have days when I can’t remember the names of my neighbors of six years.

Truth be known - I like looking put together. I want people to think I have it all under control. However, that is not reality.

Lest you live under the illusion that my life is perfect, I want to share something with you. 

It is not.

Life with a baby is hard. Life with a baby and four other children is hard too. Life with a baby, four kids, and a water heater that breaks over your bedroom, closet, and bathroom is harder. I could go on, but you get the point.

I'm not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I'm telling you this so that you know you are not alone. Mothering is one of the hardest...actually THE hardest thing I've ever done. 

It is not easy to hold a baby who is crying in pain. It is difficult to try to go about the day holding that baby. It's a challenge to see how many tasks can be accomplished with one hand. It stinks to have to put thought into whether a shower or sleep is more important when you don't know when the opportunity for either will come around again. It really stinks to change a baby blow out, especially when it involves changing sheets, clothes, and bathing...for the baby AND you.

I have five kids and that makes none of this any easier. In fact, it's probably harder because, nine times out of ten, all of the above happen simultaneously while several other children need things as well. 

Don't fear. There is hope.

After five children, you do gain a bit of wisdom here and there (even though you often can't remember what it is). So when I've been holding the baby so long that my arm is shaking from all 15 pounds 11 ounces of her, I can remind myself that this too shall pass. She will grow up. She won't always be so needy. Someday she'll be able to tell me what's wrong or what hurts.

If you're a new mom or a seasoned one, hang in there. Even the moms who look together have tough days, tough seasons. Every mom has moments that bring her to tears (not always the happy ones). 

There will be moments when you feel like a failure. Those are normal. Don't buy into them. All moms make mistakes. Learn from them. All moms need a hand at times. Ask for help. This doesn't make you weak or a failure. 

If you're not currently the mom of little ones, find one who is. Hold the door open for her when she's pushing a stroller. Find something she's doing well and tell her. Better yet, notice the good you see in her kids and compliment her. When she's looking the most frazzled, give her a hug and assure her that what she's doing is the hardest job in the world but so very worth it.

When people do these things for me, it sometimes brings me to tears (the good kind). Those small acts of kindness and love get me through the tough days. They inspire me to do better. They cause me to pray that I don't forget these feelings so that I can do the same for another mom one day.

Children are gifts. They are wonderful and bring you more joy than you ever knew was possible. They fulfill you in ways you didn't know you needed. They help you love deeper than you thought you could. They are worth every - single - minute.

But when they are babies,...they are hard...and that’s okay.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mother Nature at Her Finest

The boys are getting used to the breastfeeding around here. It began with  numerous questions. "How does she eat while she's sleeping? Did I eat like that? How does she know she can drink from there? How do they make milk?"

I try to answer as honestly and real as the situation allows. My hope is that they will see it as a very natural thing so that one day, if they get married and their wives choose to do the same, they will go with the flow (um, excuse the pun).

Lately, I've felt like maybe I've gotten them a little too comfortable with it. They don't hesitate to kiss her goodnight...even if she's in the middle of eating. This is a little weird for me, I won't lie, but again, in an effort to see it as normal, I try not to react. 

I know that breastfeeding is all about bonding time with the baby. I also see all those beautiful pictures of mothers breastfeeding in total peace and solitude. This is not my reality. Life with five kids does not lend itself to moments like this (or moments of solitude at all...like ever). 

This afternoon I was feeding Felicity while I was helping Max with his homework. As he was writing, he looked up and remarked, "Wow Mama, your breast is...um...very juicy."

So, now that we've reached total comfort level, it may be time for a little more discretion.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Putting Your Best Foot Forward - Thoughts on Beauty and Balance

When I was in college, I had a roommate who was into fitness. I asked her one day why she exercised so much. Her response was that she thought of her body as a temple of the Holy Spirit on loan to her from God. She felt it was her duty to take care of it.

Her attitude seemed the perfect balance. She wanted to look nice for all the right reasons. She was, and still is, a beautiful person inside and out.

From that day forward, I wanted to approach outward beauty the same way - not as an act of vanity, but as a good steward. 

Exercise has always been a part of my life. I've danced, played team sports, run, and worked out at gyms and at home. I joke that exercise is my Prozac. Honestly though, it is. I feel better about myself and life in general when I'm on some kind of regular routine. 

I discovered this a few years ago when we dropped our Family Y membership. For years, I had faithfully worked out for three to four times a week. It was habit, and then suddenly, it wasn't. Without realizing it, I stopped working out at all. I entered a kind of funk. I felt fat and ugly, even though I knew I was neither. Having a counseling background, I recognized the negative feelings, but I couldn't stop them.

Early one morning, in an effort to help Mackenzie train for a race, I went running with her. We didn't run far, but when I came home, I felt fantastic. I knew right then and there that those endorphins are a necessary part of my make up. 

Since that day, I have made it a priority to exercise. It's actually kind of funny for me to talk about this now since between the awful pregnancy and readjusting to having an infant, I haven't done much of it and it's killing me. I'll get back into a routine soon...I hope. In the meantime, I do things like run up and down the stairs, do squats while I brush my teeth, and attempt a few crunches before I fall into bed (that is, if I don't fall asleep on the floor before I get started).

Staying in shape for me is the biggest part of the package. If I'm not healthy, if I can't keep up with my kids, not much else matters. 

The other stuff came much more gradually. In high school I was a natural kind of girl...perhaps the only one in history whose mother would say, "Go put some more make-up on" before I left the house. I was all about wanting people to love me for who I am, not what I look like.

And then came Nelson. I am blessed to be married to this man for many, many reasons, not the least of which is the way he boosts my self-esteem. Nelson is complimentary...all the time. Not very many days go by that he doesn't tell me I'm beautiful or say how great I look in something I'm wearing. This suddenly, but not surprisingly, changed my whole way of thinking.

Add to this equation that my brother started dating sorority girls who looked like a million bucks...all the time. I showed up to my first family day at his UGA fraternity house in jean capris and a cute top. I was stunned when I saw the guys in coats and ties and their gals in skirts and dresses. It was the first time in a long time I thought that it was time to step up ye ole wardrobe.

It took me thirty or so years, but I finally felt like I was working on the whole package. I realized it didn't take any more effort to slip on a skirt and top than it did to put on jeans and a t-shirt. I relegated all t-shirts to the work-out drawer. I don't buy anything I don't love. And I try, though I haven't mastered, to get rid of things I don't love.

Now that I am back to having an infant in arms, it's a little more challenging to try to look better and more awake than I feel. However, I feel like it's probably more important for me to do it now than it ever has been. 

This may sound a bit crazy, but hear me out. I have five children, which believe it or not, is not a gigantic family among my close friends. It is, however, to most people I come into contact with outside of this circle. I feel very strongly that the best pro life move I can make is my witness. 

If I walk through the mall with all five kids looking like a haggard mess, why would anyone want my life? However, if I look put together and happy, people may think my life looks pretty good. To me, an extra ten minutes (to put in my contacts, apply make-up, and maybe even some jewelry) is worth presenting an image that says, I have five kids and it's great. I love them and my life.

I know this sounds simplistic and perhaps even vain, but whether I like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover and often, the first impression is the only chance we get. I know that my looks and my figure are not what make me truly beautiful, but hopefully they help draw people in so that I can show them it's really about something much deeper.

When I worked with the Missionaries of Charity, I learned what became my favorite prayer. This is the beauty I seek. The beauty that does not come from me, but from Christ within me. The beauty I hope will draw others to Him.

Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole beings so utterly 
That our lives may be a radiance of yours.

Shine through us, and be so in us
That every soul we come in contact with 
May feel your presence in our souls.
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!

Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as you shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, Oh Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be ours:
It will be You shining on others through us.

Let us thus praise you in the way you love best: by shining on those around us.
Let us preach You without preaching, not by words, but by our example,
By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do,
The evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.


*If you'd like to read more on this topic visit  In the Sheepfold.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Who's the Boss?

 The days...and nights are long, but the years are short. At least, that's what I keep reminding myself. This sweet girl, who just happens to be my fifth child, is determined to teach me that she is indeed her own person. She, in fact, is not like the others.
 Those others who slept through the night between two and three months, and didn't have reflux, or eczema...yep, not like them at all.
Then again, none of them had the red hair plus the dimples with the added feature of being female.
 Each day, as she makes her own way in the family, she also makes her way deeper and deeper into our hearts. Never mind the inconvenience, or the blow outs, or the occasional crying spells. One dimpled smile and she's right where she needs to be - with all of us wrapped around her tiny finger.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

My Support Team

The boys are participating in a school basketball league. It's a sweet little setup where they learn some basic skills at practices twice a week and then get to play in games on Saturday. All three are playing, each on a different team. It makes for a lot of time spent at the gym on Saturday mornings. With an infant in the mix, it's not my favorite thing to do (though, quite honestly, going anywhere with an infant is not exactly my favorite thing to do).

None of that matters much when I catch a moment like the one below, during which my dad got on the court before game time to give Max a little pre-game pep talk. 
 I don't take moments like these for granted. I realize how blessed I am. Sometimes is not about the event so much as the support you receive during it. My kids will know without a doubt that their grandparents love and support them because of a simple act of love like showing up at an elementary basketball game. 

I know my kids will feel this because my folks did the same for me. In fact, I feel just as much love and support when they are there for my kids as when they were there for me.

Thanks Mom and Dad for every dance recital, band concert, and sporting event of mine that you attended. Here's hoping we get to keep sitting next to each other as we do the same for my own kids!