Friday, August 31, 2007

All better now

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. Blessedly this was a short lived bug and I was back to myself by Tuesday. Have you ever noticed that colds seem to hit on Mondays?

This weekend we are off to Eric's small hometown to visit his family. We will spend lots of time fishing, going to the local Dove Festival & parade (the entire parade lasts about fifteen minutes!), eating, visiting cousins, and, of course, sitting on the porch and enjoying my mother-in-law's beautiful flower gardens. Life seems to slow down when we are there and I love it! My cell phone doesn't work there and my inlaws internet access is sketchy at best. I'll come back a more relaxed and refreshed mommy. I hope you all enjoy a fun and stress free holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How could I have forgotten the baby?

I noticed that I've posted pictures of both Jonathan and Elizabeth, but not Augustine! And, he's too precious not to share. So, here he is!

And, here is one of Elizabeth when she is awake.

And, I might as well round out the trio while I'm at it. Here's a different side of Jonathan.

Have a good night everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Incessant questions question

Jonathan has entered the phase of asking endless questions. I try to answer them the best that I can but most of the questions don't have answers or I know that he knows the answer but he asks anyway. Over and over and over again. Some of them are circular, too. For instance -

Jonathan: (pointing at a picture in a book) What is this, Mommy?
Me: That's a porcupine.
Jonathan: What's a porcupine?
Me: Well, that is, that animal in that picture in your book.
Jonathan: This is?
Me: Yes.
Jonathan: This is a porcupine?
Me: Yes, that's a porcupine.
Jonathan: What's a porcupine?
Me: That animal right there with the spikes.
Jonathan: This one?
Me: Yes.
Jonathan: This is a porcupine?
Me: Yes, Jonathan, that is a porcupine.
Jonathan: Which one?
Me: This one...

The conversation continues, but you get the picture. I try so hard to be patient but after a few hours of questions I start to go crazy.

So, how do I try to curb the incessant questions without stiffling his natural curiousity? Or, is this just another one of those parenting things that if you can persevere through without becoming a basket case you will be one step further down the road to sainthood?

Monday, August 27, 2007

There are no sick days...

... for stay-at-home moms. No, you just have to persevere through the alternating hot flashes and chills, through the headaches and fatigue.

And, you are so proud of your 3 year old little girl who entertains herself quietly so that you can rest. And, you thank God when miraculously the 3 year old and the 3 month old simultaneously take a two hour nap because that means you get a two hour nap, too (and boy did you need it!). And, you thank your guardian angel who nudged you awake just in time to go pick up your five year old from school.

Also, this particular cold reminds you of a question that you've always had. Can you offer up suffering for an intention after the suffering is all over? Because otherwise all the good suffering that went on today may have gone to waste because it's so easy to forget to offer it up when your head is aching and your brain is asleep!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Jonathan's Prayer

Jonathan has been all about the short prayers lately. And, appartently, not even the Glory Be, Angel of God, or Now I Lay Me are short enough because he was forced to come up with his own that is even shorter. Here it is...

Everyone has done everything.

That's it. Four whole words. I don't know where he came up with it, but he certainly hasn't forgotten it. He thinks it is sufficient for any situation: before a meal, before going to bed, etc.

So after he had been adding this prayer to all of our family prayer times for about a week, I started to think about what it could actually mean. And, I've decided that my five year old is pretty wise or his guardian angel is giving him a little nudge. Wouldn't it be wonderful if at the end of the day, "everyone has done everything" that God wanted them to do that day? What a wonderful world we would live in! It's the perfect prayer because it covers all the bases. If Jonathan's simple prayer could be true, then there would be no more sin in the world.

I think I'm going to pray his prayer as well. And, I'm going to start working on making it true, beginning with myself by striving even harder to do God's will all day, every day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Poor Elizabeth

She has so many trials in her life. Her bad dreams and encounters with varmints are not her only worries, not with the introduction of automatic flushing potties to her little world.

She has had a few run-ins with in the past that have sometimes ended in tears and others only in a little whimpering. But, during a recent family dinner outing (which doesn't happen very often, especially since the birth of Augustine) she had a particularly bad experience with one of these monstrosities.

Elizabeth is already a little leary of any public toilet because they tend to be very loud when they flush. She usually insists on leaving the stall first before I flush the toilet for her. So, on the above mentioned occasion, it took a little persuading to get her up on the pot, even though she really needed to go. Since it was of the automatic flushing variety, I thought I would just cover the little sensor thingee with my hand so it wouldn't go off while she was still sitting there. But, this was a particularly mean potty so it decided to spontaneously flush anyway. Elizabeth started screaming and jumped off. She was so upset but she hadn't done her business yet and I knew that she really needed to go or we would be dealing with an accident. After lots of comforting, begging, hugging, kissing and promising that it wouldn't flush on her again, I convinced her finally to get back on. But, once again before Elizabeth could relieve herself, the possessed thing went off. Well, that was the end of that. Now we were dealing with absolute hysteria. Even after the initial screaming was over, she continued to wimper and had to be comforted through the rest of the meal (we had not even placed our orders yet before the trip to the bathroom).

Now, any public toilet anywhere is completely out of the question. All because some engineer thought he/she would be clever and invent automatic flushing potties. Engineers... gotta love 'em. Especially since I'm one, and so is Eric, and oh yeah, so is my brother, and my sister-in-law, and my best friend's husband, and my other friend's husband and almost all my friends from college...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The rest of the story

I've written about the discernment process we went through that ended in determining that we were not meant to homeschool in this post. So, continuing the story, where were we going to send Jonathan to school?

I really wanted to send him to Catholic school. I went to Catholic school myself in elementary school and only have fond memories of it. In sixth grade I had to switch to public school because of serious health and financial problems in my family. This change was very traumatic for me. The school I went to was very rough, many of the kids there had lost their innocence years earlier, and there were times when I actually was fearful of the other kids in my class. I saw fights and gang activity. Kids had, or at least acted like they had, knowledge of sexual behavior while most of the time I had no clue what they were even talking about. Needless to say, this was very different from my Catholic school experience. And, even though the public schools in our area are very good, I was very apprehensive about sending Jonathan there.

Eric, on the other hand, had a very positive public school experience. He grew up in a small town, his Mom knew all his teachers personally as well as most of the parents of his classmates, and the school was small. So, he didn't have any objections to public school and was indifferent to the idea of private school.

But, even if I talked Eric into private school, paying for it was another issue indeed. I just couldn't make the numbers work no matter how much I willed them to, especially with a baby on the way and the need to replace my ten year old vehicle that had 140,000 miles on it. Private school seemed impossible but I just couldn't come to terms with the idea. I prayed over and over again that if God wanted us to send our son to public school that he would give me some peace about the decision. That peace never came.

One day at church, Eric happened on a flyer that described an opportunity to learn about the kindergarten program at a local Catholic school. For my sake, Eric agreed to at least go with me and learn a little more about the school. Eric and I sat through the meeting with the teachers, asked several questions and though I was pleased with the answers we got, I didn't know what Eric was thinking. After the meeting we stopped in the hallway to talk. What Eric told me shocked me.

"Jonathan is going to this school, " he said matter of factly and with the authority of the head of our household. "No matter what we have to do, no matter what sacrifices we have to make, we are going to make it happen. This place is home, it is where we belong."

I started to cry.

Even though we had no clue how we were going to make this work, I now felt so much peace. God had finally granted me the peace about our decision that I had been praying for. This school was God's will for us. We turned in our application.

Within weeks the miracles began to happen. Eric received a large and very unexpected (though totally deserved!) bonus at work. Then, my parents decided that they wanted to replace my Mom's minivan so they offered to sell it to us. The price they asked happened to be almost exactly what we had saved up for a new vehicle (well below what the van was actually worth). We could not have afforded a new vehicle any other way. And, to top it all off, four days after Augustine was born, Eric was offered an incredible promotion at work. He had thought that such an opportunity would be years down the road.

So, God took care of everything. Everything. He is so good. I am so truly, humbly thankful.

More bad dreams?

Elizabeth had another tough night last night. She woke up screaming again and came running into our room. But, last night was different. Eric tried to go lay her down in her bed after a few minutes, like normal, but instead of going back to sleep, Elizabeth started screaming and shaking. She was trembling violently from head to toe. Eric brought her back into our bed and she continued to shake for another half hour. It seemed that she could not snuggle in close enough to her Daddy. My poor little girl!

This morning I went in to wake up Jonathan for school. Suddenly I noticed something that surely was the source of Elizabeth's terror (Jonathan and Elizabeth share a room).

"Eric, come here and listen to this," I called.

Eric came in and heard, scritch scratch, scritch scratch, thump, scratch.

"We have a varmint," he declared.

And I was actually relieved! I was truly glad that we have a "varmint" in our house. Varmints we can fix, terrifying bad dreams, we can't.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I can't believe it!

I forgot to post a picture of my big kindergarten boy! Here he is. Isn't he cute!?!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Our decision on homeschooling

This topic is something that I've thought and prayed about so much over the last couple of years. I very seriously considered homeschooling. In many ways it seems like a natural fit for me. I've always been a firm believer that I should be the primary caretaker, nuturer, and molder of my children's character. So, when I quit working to stay at home five years ago, I did just that. My kids have never gone to Mother's Day Out, preschool, etc. I wanted to be the primary (read that as only) influence during those precious, early years. I wanted to instill my values and standards for acceptable behavior in my children, not those of a stranger.

So, for the last five years I have spent my days coloring, painting, playing, exploring nature, singing and dancing with and teaching my children. Everything has been very informal and unstructured, but I think it has worked well for Jonathan and he is well prepared for kindergarten. So, should I continue being his primary educator into his more formal schooling years? That was a tough one. To be honest, the thought terrified me. I was so afraid of messing up. What if I didn't teach him how to read the right way and I messed him up for life?? The thought of researching curriculm was daunting and I was intimidated by the organization that homeschooling would require. Could I really do it when as it is I can't even keep up with the laundry?

All of these thoughts were going through my head over the past year when I was pregnant with Augustine. It was a very tough pregnancy. I was extremely ill (even with medication) for the first five months of pregnancy. Wonderful friends from church brought us meals every other day for months. Even after the nausea, vomiting, and dry heaving finally subsided, I was very weak and it took at least another month to regain my strength and energy (at least as much energy as a woman in her last trimester can expect). How could I homeschool in such a condition? (How do you do it, Lillian? I know you get very sick when pregnant as well.) We want to have more children (God willing) and unfortunately I've been getting sicker with each pregnancy rather than the other way around. Such incapacitation during pregancy would force us to abandon homeschooling and I want more stability in my children's education than that.

But, I know all of these objections could be overcome if I really felt that God was calling me to homeschool. He can make even the most impossible things happen if it is His will. But, after much reflection, I don't believe that He is calling me to homeschool. I have not be blessed with the drive and passion that would be necessary to overcome all these difficulties. While I respect and admire homeschoolers very much, I lack the passion for it that I see in the homeschooling mothers I know. That passion helps them push through all the hard work, frustrations, and exhaustion that comes with homeschooling.

So, after finally determining that I was not called to homeschool, what was God calling us to do with Jonathan's education? Well, the answer was, for me, very clearly to send him to Catholic school. I felt an unextiguishable passion for Catholic school. But, the road to it was littered with just as many obstacles and difficulties as that for homeschooling. But, God made it happen. I'll share that wonderful story (that I still can't believe happened) soon.

God bless and good night.

"I loved everything about it, Mommy."

Jonathan's first day of school was awesome. My shy little boy suddenly wasn't shy anymore. He hung up his backpack, shelved his lunchbox, and found his desk like an old pro. I can't express how incredible it was to watch him today. He was so full of wonder and awe, joy and excitement. His smile was so contagious, it stifled the tears that briefly threatened to trickle down my cheeks. We are so, so blessed that he is able to attend this school and that he has such an amazing teacher. I actually met Mrs. Jones about three years ago. We both were animators for our respective FAMILIA groups (an apostolate of Regnum Christi) and so I know what an incredible woman of faith she is. God is so good! Thank you, Lord, for this day. I will forever treasure all these moments and "ponder them in my heart".

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tomorrow is the first day of school...

and I've never seen Jonathan so excited! He's been waiting, as patiently as a five year old can, for months for this day to come. I just hope that he actually falls asleep tonight!

And, how's Mommy doing? I'm . . . processing. Right now I'm just going to feel, experience, live these precious moments with my first born little boy. I'll write more about it . . . later . . . when I'm finished processing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

We're so excited!

We're off to meet Jonathan's kindergarten teacher this morning and we are so excited! I'm so grateful that he is able to go to this wonderful little Catholic school and I pray that it will provide an enriching experience for my first born son.

Dear Lord, thank you for your great love for us and for the gift of children. Please bless Jonathan as he begins this new phase in his life. Bless his teachers, classmates, staff, and volunteers. I pray that Jonathan will grow in knowledge, faith, love, and humility under their care and guidance. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity for him to be able to attend St. Anne Catholic School. St. Anne pray for us. Amen.

P.S. I would like to post more about our decision to send Jonathan to Catholic school but right now I need to go wake my kids and get them ready. Hopefully I'll be able to post that soon. Stand by.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Playing restaurant

We had fun today at lunch. Since Augustine was actually sleeping when lunch time rolled around, I had two free hands. So, I decided to give in to the kids' request to "play restaurant". They recently did this while a friend of mine was watching them and they loved it.

First, I take their orders. I was quickly corrected by Jonathan when I tried to take his order without writing it down on a notepad. The menu is limited (it's determined by Mommy) but they are able to customize.

Jonathan requested a clementine, shredded ham and triangle cheese. Elizabeth wanted rolled up ham, a clementine, square cheese, and tomato slices. The tomato was not on the original menu but Elizabeth saw the last one of the year from our garden on the counter and requested it. Since she loves tomatoes so much (way more than any sweets) and it's healthy, I was happy to oblige.

At the end of lunch time, both plates were clean, there had been no complaining, and no one had had to be reminded to stop playing and eat! It was great! This won't be an everyday thing, but I will definitely use this succesful lunch technique again the the future. We mommies need an arsenal of such ideas to draw on when the going gets tough!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On not judging...

Margaret from Minnesota Mom has got me thinking about something that has been on my mind a lot/I've been struggling with lately. In her post, The Grace of Losing It (Part I) (part two can be found here) she talks about witnessing a mom "lose it" in a BIG way with her children in a public place.

That got me thinking about my internal struggle with not judging such mothers when I see them interacting with their children, whether it's their tone of voice, their discipline methods (or lack thereof), etc. that I disagree with. I feel like I'm finally making some progress in this area lately (it's only taken five years!). I try to give the mother the benefit of the doubt that maybe she's having a really bad day or just really doesn't know how to discipline. I acknowledge to myself that I don't know all of her circumstances and that I would probably behave the same way or maybe even worse if I was in the same situation and finally I say a prayer for her.

So, with that background information, I want to relate to you a story.

The other weekend I was out running errands without kids. It was great! I went to four or five different stores and I was able to get in and out so quickly.

My last stop was Target to get some school supplies and miscellaneous household items. As I'm walking the aisles (you know the ones that have the things that mommies like that you never go down if you have the kids with you), I hear a child screaming either at or for his mother. Over and over again he yells, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" It's a very big store and he sounds far away so he must be yelling very loudly.

My non-judgmental self thinks, wow, someone must be having a tough day, and I continue shopping and try to ignore what I am hearing and think about other things.

But the child continues to yell over and over and over again. I remind myself that I don't know the circumstances of what is going on and maybe there is a reason for this behavior. And then I think, what if this child is lost! He could be lost and calling for his mother! How horrible! I hope he finds her or she finds him soon!

Shortly after these thoughts the yelling stops and I feel assured that the mother and child must have been reunited.

I continue shopping and after a while I head down the aisle with school supplies. As I'm throwing a couple of things in my cart I hear the child yell again for his mommy. However, this time the yell is very close by. In fact they are in the same aisle as I am and it is obvious that the screaming child is being extremely sassy and disrespectful to his mother. I think that surely this mother is going to correct her son and not let him talk to her this way. I pretend to be deeply engrossed in looking at the various types of lunchboxes so that way I won't embarrass the mother as she deals with the situation. But what I hear her say is, "Well, then, do you want the blue one instead?"

What!?! I'm shocked! Not only did she not correct her child's out of control behavior but now she is catering to his demands! You've got to be kidding me!

Now I look over at the mother and I lock eyes with . . . my neighbor! It was my neighbor's three year old son that I have been hearing this entire time! I know I have a surprised and extremely guilty look on my face and I struggle to find something to say as my cheeks begin to flush.

"Um, hi." (Boy, that was a brilliant recovery.)

She responds with a hello, we have a little small talk and then I get out of there as fast as I can.

So, I still have a lot of work to do. It was hours later after relaying this story to Eric that I realized that I never did say a prayer for her. So, I started out okay but in the end I broke all the rules that I had set down for myself to keep myself from judging others.

Maybe I need some new rules, or maybe I just need more practice. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bad dreams and fast cars

Elizabeth has been having a lot of bad dreams lately. She wakes up in the night crying hysterically and comes running to our room to be comforted by Daddy (I usually have Gustin with me). Last night was one of the worst we've had; she was in our room three separate times and finally fell asleep between Eric and me. The picture above is the peaceful little face that I woke up to this morning. But, wait. Notice that there is something else in the picture. It's Elizabeth's favorite car (she's all about cars these days, all her babies are being neglected) that is named Lightning McQueen (of course, after all, it is red). Even in her screaming hysteria after being awoken by a particularly terrifying dream, she didn't forget to grab her favorite toy before sprinting to our room as fast as her three year old legs would carry her. Priorites, people, priorities.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Poop Phobe

As in someone who has a phobia for or fear of poop. That describes my husband. Well, that's not completely fair. He does a great job of changing diapers or cleaning up after the dog. No, his fear is a very specific one. He only freaks out when it involves breastfed baby poop that has leaked out of a diaper onto his hand, shirt, arm, pants, etc. Then my farm-raised, tough, country boy husband absolutely freaks out and almost throws the said leaky-diaper baby at me as he sprints to the closest decontamination zone.

Now me, I frequently go all day long with yellow breastfed baby poop stains on my clothing and poop on my hands, arms, etc. rarely elicits more than a sigh. It's a good thing that men are not mothers!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Can you tell I'm a new blogger?

Three posts in one day, I just added my favorite blogs to the sidebar and now I just finished creating a signature. This is so much fun!!

Which one do you like better?
This one that is no nonsense...

Or this more feminine one...

h/t: Moms Who Blog (for the signature)

What Season are You?

This is definitely me. I am spring all the way!! Bring on the flowers, porch swings, butterflies and birds, and a newly sown vegetable patch and I'm happy!

You Belong in Spring

Optimistic, lively, and almost always happy with the world...
You can truly appreciate the blooming nature of spring.
Whether you're planting flowers or dyeing Easter eggs, spring is definitely your season!

I've always wondered...

What do babies dream about? For a few minutes after Gustin falls asleep he has a series of smiles that flit across his chubby face. What do you dream about when you don't understand language, don't yet see very well, and don't even realize that those things you keep sticking in your mouth are your own hands? I think that half the time he dreams about nursing since often his little tongue is sucking against the roof of his mouth. Or maybe he just dreams in feelings; warmth, love, softness, closeness. What wonderful things to dream about...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Where the Green Grass Grows

Okay, so I stole my title from Tim McGraw, but, for me, it really communicates what I want this blog to be about. I've been a stay at home mom for more than five years now and recently gave birth to my third child. We live in a suburb of a very large city but I'd much rather be living outside a small town on a few acres where I can sit and rock quietly on the front porch and watch the wildflowers and green grass grow and let my stress just drain away.

But, at least for now, that is not an option. (Even if we did live in the country, I don't think my three small children would let me just chill quietly on the porch anyway. :) ) So, I'm creating this blog to be a spot where I can mentally relax, unwind, unload, and bring some refreshment to my days. I will write about whatever is on my mind or what will relieve the most stress at the moment. I also am in desperate need of a consistent intellectual and creative outlet. I've even recently been considering doing a little consulting work from home, not for the income, but to exercise my brain cells that seem to have atrophied in the last five years (not that I would want them to have been any different or that I regret my decision to stay at home). To continue to be a good wife and mother, though, I NEED to start making some of my needs a priority. I hope that this blog will help fulfill that need because the idea of doing mechanical engineering work at home with my energetic kids and my tired, foggy brain seems like it would cause as many problems as it would solve!