Thursday, September 18, 2014

Small Success Thursday: School & Home

The last two weeks have been so incredibly busy. I'm still trying to get my hands around it so we can settle in to a normal pattern. I'm looking forward to spending the next three days at home with the kids, getting the house in order & planning for the future. With that in mind, here are my successes of the past week.

- We had open house at the school last night. Sophie & Bella were very excited to take us into their classrooms & show us all the things they've been working on in school. We are very fortunate that both girls have fantastic teachers & their classrooms reflect that. I even got to meet one of Bella's classmates & exchange phone numbers with her mom. I am excited for my shy Bella to start having playdates & making friends.

- I don't want to celebrate yet, but all signs are pointing towards a successful house purchase! This has been a long process, several houses fell through at various steps in the process. Because of our past experiences, I'm not getting overly excited. I'll start that process after we get the keys & officially begin to move in. Right now, there are still too many hurdles to overcome before we are at that point. In the meantime, I will say that the house is amazing & would provide about twice the amount of space we are currently living in. If/when this house comes to fruition, you'll be hearing about it & I'll share lots more!

- My third grade religious ed class is off to a great start. This is the first time I'm teaching the same grade, as I've bounced around the last couple of years. So I'm looking forward to taking my curriculum & making a few adjustments based on my experience last year. The kids are attentive & excited. I also have a high school senior & recent Confirmand as my class helper. She's very excited to take a role in helping prepare these kids for their First Communion in the spring.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm looking forward to finishing up a couple of blog posts I've been working on. Jesse is working at a retreat tomorrow & Sunday is religious ed, so we've blocked off Saturday as a family day. Yay!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Small Success Thursday: In the Chaos

This week has been incredibly hectic! I left the house at 7:30am & didn't get home until 9pm last night. After putting the kids down for bed, it was all I could do to stay awake to crawl into bed. So, Small Success Thursday is being posted on Friday.

Last week, when I looked ahead to this week's agenda, I knew it would be hectic & I would need lots of patience & prayers to get through it. My maternity leave ended (all too soon) & I returned to work on Monday. Our oldest started first grade & Jesse resumed teaching 8th grade theology. We have been working all week to get back into a routine & it hasn't been easy. But, I think we'll eventually work out the kinks & get back to some semblance of normal.

1) I found myself saying over & over, "We'll try again tomorrow." It's very handy & calming when circumstances changed & obstacles came up. Just imagine the possibilities...

"Mommy, I was tardy on my second day of school."
"We'll try again tomorrow."

"The baby fussed & cried for an hour until you got here."
"We'll try again tomorrow."

"The diaper bag doesn't have any burp clothes or a change of clothes for the toddler."
"We'll try again tomorrow."

2) I've always wanted to teach higher education. My dad was a college professor until he got sick & I always loved the college environment. I have been offered the opportunity to teach a freshman business course beginning in the spring 2015 semester at Gannon University (our alma mater!). I am shadowing the current professor of the course this fall & attended the first class yesterday. I had a lot of butterflies, but the longer I spent in the classroom, the better I felt about being able to teach this material. It was also very nostalgic to walk around the campus where Jesse & I met & fell in love. I have so many wonderful memories of my college years & I can't wait to be back more often!

3) The baby slept from 9pm-4am the other night. I woke up at 2am in a minor panic because he hadn't stirred yet. But when I reached my hand into the co-sleeper & felt his little chest going up & down, I quickly retreated back to dreamland. I'm thankful to the little guy for letting me get a few additional hours of uninterrupted sleep...goodness knows I need it this week!

4) This one hasn't happened yet, but I'm counting down the hours because for the first time in I don't know how long, neither Jesse or I have any commitments this weekend, so we are actually going to enjoy a full, three-day weekend as just the six of us. I can't wait!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Small Success Thursday: Renewed Faith

I really enjoyed doing the Small Success Thursday (SST) link up with & so as part of my renewed plan to begin blogging again, I'm going to use SST as a way to journal the everyday happenings that get lost in the chaos as well as forcing me to blog at least once a week!

This past week has been very hectic, full of highs & lows. But the greatest outcome of all the craziness is a feeling that I need to stop focusing on everything around me & spend more time in prayer...

1) We attended the FEST a couple weeks ago & I stopped by the Mom's Relaxation Station to pick up a bag full of goodies. In the bag, I discovered a pamphlet for Mary Undoer of Knots. I had never heard of it, but as I read about its meaning, I feel compelled to pray the novena & begin this devotion. Wish me luck...I'm starting tonight!

2) Jesse had an amazingly successful Young Disciples retreat in my hometown this past weekend. As part of the takeaway, he asked everyone to share what they were most thankful for during the trip. When it was his turn, my sweetheart said he was most thankful for a supportive & loving wife because without me, none of his work would be possible. I'm so fortunate to have such a great man of God to call my husband.

3) When I got home from the retreat weekend, Jesse had cleaned up the house & grilled an amazing dinner, complete with a warm fire in the outdoor pit & candles on the patio. It makes me feel so special & loved as a wife when he does these types of things for me.

Smiling with JPII at the FEST!

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.