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.