Wednesday, August 20, 2014

STOP - in the name of Love!

I had a lot of things I wanted to get done yesterday. School supply shopping, returning library books, baking a few sweets, exchanging some baby clothes for bigger sizes, going to the bank, writing baby shower thank you notes, sending a few emails...the list could be endless. Since this is my last week home on maternity leave, I started the morning out with lots of motivation & determination. Jesse was on a confirmation retreat all day, Sophie & Bella are camping with my parents, so I only had two kiddos to drag around on all these errands.

I figured the best way to tackle all of the running around errands would be to take two trips; one in the morning & then one after nap time. Very doable, right? I couldn't have been more wrong!

The morning started out fine & we successfully made it to the bank, library & Target. Maddie fell asleep on the way home & was incredibly grumpy when we got home. Francis wet through his outfit & onto my shorts (outfit change #1). Then, I tried compiling a school supply list while Maddie played quietly for a few minutes before nap time. This is where it all went downhill. Maddie was overly tired & so I spent the next two hours putting her in bed, hearing her get up & come down the stairs, then picking her up & placing her back in her bed. Repeat. For two hours. Finally, I gave up & decided if she just stayed awake that she would go to bed earlier.

Francis woke up a couple times during this nap time fiasco & after feeding him, he showed his appreciation by spitting up all over me (outfit change #2). Since we were going stir crazy in the house by this point, I took them outside for a walk. On our way back, Francis wet through his diaper & since I was carrying him in a front pack, he tinkled all down my leg (outfit change #3). Maddie was throwing a big fit that we had to go back in the house so I could change.  It was at this point that I recited my favorite, albeit simple, prayer.  "Mary, Mother of God, please give me patience."

Once in the house with everyone melting down, I realized that I needed to give up on my wish list of items to accomplish & just stop. Stop & pay attention. Stop in the name of love & do what my kids needed. So, I took both kids upstairs & sat with them in the rocking chair. I hummed a few tunes & within a couple of minutes, Maddie, the child who had been fighting nap time for hours, suddenly gave up the battle & cuddled on my lap, sleeping soundly.

As I sat rocking my babies, part of me wanted to just lay them down & resume my to do list projects. But then another part of me realized I was accomplishing things...they just weren't items on my list. And, I was exactly where I needed to be in that moment. This might not seem earth-shattering, but it really was an eye opening moment for me. How often in our lives do we just do what we need to do for ourselves, but never stop to just listen to God's whisper in our ear? Are we truly doing God's work if we don't stop to listen to our Father? Or if we are listening, do we not give Him our full time & attention but rather try to rush through it to get on to other things? My personal goal for the week is to take time out, not only for my kids, but my husband & my God. Can you do the same?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Showered" with Love

For each of our pregnancies after Sophia (our oldest), Jesse & I have debated the etiquette of what is known as a "Baby Sprinkle."  For those of you not hip to this term, a baby sprinkle is basically a baby shower, except the expectant family already has a child or children.  Usually it happens when you are expecting a child of a different gender than your previous one(s).  So, in our case, as we had more daughters, Jesse would inform me that if/when we had a boy, that he would be throwing me a shower so we could get a few boy clothes to bulk up his closet.

After Francis was born, I didn't really think about our previous discussions, but Jesse had been.  A couple weeks ago, he asked me if I would give the talk at youth group.  He wanted the kids to hear about sacrifice, told from the perspective of a mother.  All day, I thought about what I would say to the kids, but I didn't really write too much down.  I have found in the past that my youth group talks are better when I jot down a few notes, rather than write out an entire speech.  At 6:30pm, Jesse came & picked us up to head to the church.  I was feeling alright about my topic, but still unsure if the kids would find it relevant.

Upon our arrival, I was surprised to walk into a superhero-themed baby shower (or baby sprinkle!).  I was shocked that Jesse was able to pull off the entire thing & catch me completely off-guard.  The room was so beautifully decorated, a delicious spread of food & many thoughtful gifts.

Then, as I walked around & greeted everyone, I was touched that so many people thought of us & were there to share in the joy of our new arrival.  I couldn't help but thank God for putting so many wonderful people in our lives.  Most of these people came into our lives through Jesse's ministry & it was very touching that they were so invested in our little Francis Oliver.  Even though ministry work can be very exhausting, moments like these make me so thankful.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm baaaaack!!

Confession time: I have not put any effort into blogging for the past couple of months.  Actually, that's probably not much of a shock if you've been kind enough to visit this blog during that time, hoping to see any new updates.

Good news: I've spent some time thinking about where I want this blog to go & I'm super excited to begin blogging again.  Hopefully it will blossom into the blog I envisioned when I first started writing.

Best news: The most exciting thing to happen during my time away was the arrival of the new addition to our family.  Allow me to introduce Francis Oliver...

He is a wonderful baby & such a blessing to our family.  We were not complete without him!  I will be sharing much more about him & our family as we go forward.

So, allow me to welcome you, either for the first time or returning, to the life lessons of a Catholic youth minister's wife!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The "Grass is Always Greener" Effect: Why I Can't Read Other Mommy Blogs

I decided to start a blog last year because I was hoping to find a community.  Perhaps some other working moms, youth ministers' wives, whatever it was.  I spend my time either at work or with my kids & hubby.  I don't go out much.  I can count on one hand since I've had kids how many times I leave everybody at home & just go out by myself to do something I enjoy.  So, the fact that this blog has been completely unsuccessful in that one goal is very disheartening & is often the reason I sit at my computer wondering whether I should even post the various draft blogs I have written.

Lately, I've really been feeling the panic that sometimes comes along with losing yourself to all the job titles that we as mothers have.  I am Jesse's wife; Sophie, Bella & Maddie's mom; I am someone's employee; I am the caregiver, housekeeper, dishwasher, laundry do-er, bill payer, kisser of boo-boos, planner of family events...the list is never ending.  But somewhere in that list, I've forgotten to include myself or anything that I enjoy doing for me.  I realize it is a big part of my unhappiness, but I can't seem to find anything that I'm passionate about just for me.  My parents love the movie, "The Bridges of Madison County."  It's not one of my personal favorites, but there is a quote from that movie that keeps playing in my mind...

"When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children, in one way her life begins but in another way it stops.  You build a life of details.  You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move.  And when they leave they take your life of details with them.  And then you're expected to move again only you don't remember what moves you because no one has asked in so long.  Not even yourself."

I can't speak to the part about children moving away yet, but I can certainly relate to not remembering what moves me because I have become so identifiable with my family & their needs.  This feeling is only perpetuated when I read other people's blogs.  In particular, I find myself angry when I read about the stay at home mom who takes online courses or the posts about cute, simple recipes or adorable house decorations.  I suppose I should be encouraged, inspired or at the very least, indifferent to the happenings in the lives of other mommies.  However, most of the time the only thing I feel is frustration in being unable to live up to those standards & wishing I had the circumstances they have.  I find myself comparing myself to these other moms & feeling constantly inadequate.  It's not a personal thing against any of the moms writing these blogs, it's more in finding fault with my lack of motivation or ability to take on such things in my own life.

It's getting to the point where I'm not sure I should read those blogs at all anymore.  And, it is forcing me to take a long hard look at myself, the things that are most important to me in raising our kids, and what things in my life cause my unhappiness/lack of motivation.  The frustration lies in knowing what things I want to change, but having circumstances beyond my control keeping me from changing them.  Jesse has long said that I have to find things to do for myself so I have something to look forward to.  Although I agree with him, I'm not sure where to start.  I think turning to prayer needs to be more prominent so I can find some answers or at least peace with where I'm at.  After that, who knows.  But hopefully there will be some revelations in my life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

You know you're a YM Wife when...

I started this blog with the hope of finding other youth ministers' wives.  It is a unique situation that we spouses find ourselves in & I think there is a lot to be gained from sharing our experiences.  In seven years of being a youth minister's wife, I have made some observations of the ways that ministry work is more unusual than your typical 9 to 5 job.  This is not to say that other occupations don't have their own nuances, but I am speaking specifically to my situation here.  So, without further ado, here are (some of) my reflections on what it means to be a youth minister's wife...

- When your small children know all the top 40 songs, not because of your radio station selection, but because of the influence of the youth group.

- Most students at the parish school know your kids because they spend so much time there, even though they aren't old enough to be students yet!

- When you have a serious conversation with your husband about buying the 12 passenger church van when the priest sells it & surprise yourself by realizing how practical it actually would be to own that vehicle...

- When your husband misses your daughter's 1st & 2nd birthdays because he's at Creation for the week with the youth group.

- You rarely go to mass together & if it weren't for being known as the youth minister's wife, you worry people would think you are a single mother.

- When you do go to mass together, you rarely go in the same vehicle.

- Your kids refer to your church as "Daddy's office."

- You end up driving the 12 passenger church van to work a couple days a week because your husband was too tired after taking kids home to go back to church & pick up your vehicle.

- You have eaten more leftover pizza then you care to think about.

- You find it totally normal to drive the 12 passenger van (sometimes with the trailer attached) even though you are the only person in the vehicle.

- Your husband's laundry consists of t-shirts from youth events, funny quips & sweatpants.  Are you living with a college student?

- Date night consists of going to his guest speaking arrangements.

- Lots of kids call you "Mom" that aren't your biological kids & you're ok with that.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken Soup Visit

So, the illness that has been making me miserable for nearly three weeks seems to finally be loosening its grip on my sinuses, though I do still get an annoying cough & some congestion from time to time.  Though I love being pregnant, there is nothing worse than feeling terrible & being able to take nothing but Tylenol...which basically does nothing to help.  So, I had to tough it out & try my best with the homeopathic treatments as well as lots & lots of rest!

Knowing how under the weather I've been, my mom planned a visit for this past weekend.  It was originally intended as a trip to make me chicken soup & let me lay in bed all weekend resting.  But, because I was (finally!) starting to feel better, it turned into a restful but also very productive weekend.  I was able to sleep in...words can't describe how wonderful that felt!  But more than that, I love having my mom come for visits like this because she has the ability to kick me into gear on some projects I might otherwise be finding excuses not to complete.

For starters, we took down all the Christmas decorations.  I had already taken down the tree, but all the other signs of Christmas still remained.  And with the arctic cold temperatures that we've been experiencing this winter, I didn't really appreciate the reminder of how long winter is likely to remain.  So, I packed everything up & we did a quick clean of every room.  Then, I brought up what few Valentine's Day decorations I have & put them up.  The girls enjoyed helping put up the window clings, but I also got a little crafty & made a couple really simple decorations.  I'm so proud of them & think they look super cute!

One of the unexpected things that I finished (and that gets me on track with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year) was to complete our pre-approval application so we can finally start house shopping.  It is painfully obvious that we are outgrowing our current rental house.  In addition to needing more space, I am greatly looking forward to getting a dishwasher.  I can't even describe how exciting that will be!

Overall, I owe my mom a huge thank you for helping me feel better, making me chicken soup, letting me sleep in & kicking me into gear on a few projects to start off the new year right!  I've been trying to continue this attitude & move forward with some other things that need done around the house.  So far I've been fairly successful, but it's only been a couple of days, so we'll see what happens over time!  I'm very blessed to have her as a close friend who always has a willing ear & open heart to help me out.  I hope someday to be able to provide the same loving care for my daughters as adults as my mom does for me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From my sick bed...

I have been home sick for a week now.  I got this lovely respiratory flu that seems to be going around.  Between  the aches, sinus pressure & coughing, it's all I can do to get from room to room.  Perhaps the worst part is that because of my pregnancy, I can't take anything but Tylenol & Sudafed.  I'm getting close to surrendering & just going to the doctor, but I don't think they'll be able to give me anything either.

I don't get sick very often.  In fact, I'm rarely ever sick.  If I do get a little cold, I'm always able to push through it.  Jesse said to me last night that this was really the first time he could remember seeing me this sick & miserable.  And I have to agree with him.  I've felt just awful, but it goes beyond the physical pain because I haven't been able to be the mommy that the girls are used to.  They've watched me lay on the couch, not being able to play or color with them.  I feel terrible about that, but I keep trying to remind myself that I need the rest in order to get better.  I just wish it would start happening already.

I've had to spend a couple of days home with the girls while Jesse works.  Those days have been the hardest because all I want to do is lay in my bed & sleep, but when you are in charge of two little ones, you have to be a bit more attentive.  So, we've been watching lots of cartoons & reading books.  And I absolutely relish their nap time!

And now I have to stop this post because I have a three year old that wants to cuddle.  It's enjoyable for both of us since that's about all I'm able to do with them.  Until next time...hopefully I'm feeling better.