Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thoughts on Lent - In Three Parts

A. Moi:

Lent is always a special and difficult liturgical season. Special because it was the first Friday of Lent 2005 that Lee and I set eyes on each other (and it wasn't love it for sight) and now we get to share the church service - Presanctified Liturgy - with our kids - cra-zeee. Special because we are preparing our minds, hearts and souls for the Death and Resurrection of our Lord. Difficult because we have three days a week at church, with 4 ex-utero children, 2 services in the evening - RIGHT at dinner/bedtime so dicey is an excellent description of how Lenten PSL and Stations of the Cross goes. Difficult because we are juggling (what seems like) a million 'other things' that church takes precedence over - which is fine but stripping ourselves (our family) of worldly cares/commitments is no easy task.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Advent is easier for us with the kids. One weekly activity. One daily Jesse Tree reading. It is more visible. Lent is hard because to small children it just seems like we are in church ALL THE TIME. Not that they are super whiny about it (A is a mess though - but nothing more can be expected of a 17-month-old). There is usually food involved so there maybe griping and some 8-o'clock homework doing but we have a Lenten groove. It is just a matter of pushing the 'other stuff' aside and buckling down and committing to sacrificing our time (and sanity) so that we can allow ourselves to be changed.

This part of PSL has really spoken to me this year:

Priest: Let my prayer ascend to You like incense, and the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice.
People: Let my prayer ascend to You like incense, and the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice.
Priest: 0 Lord, I have cried to You, now hear me; listen to my voice when I call upon You.
People: Let my prayer ascend to You like incense, and the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice.
Priest: 0 Lord, set a guard before my mouth, and set a seal on the door of my lips. 
People: Let my prayer ascend to You like incense, and the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice.
Priest: Let not my heart be inclined to evil, nor make excuse for the sins I commit. 
People: Let my prayer ascend to You like incense, and the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice.
Priest: Let my prayer ascend to You like incense:
People: And the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice.

This is a back and forth prayer between the priest and the people. As my hands tend to be quite full during church I'm trying to focus my prayer on the work of my hands - the work of raising children to be Godly men and women (adulthood is a long way off but we like to start them early). I've blogged about my hands taking a break in church here

But I mean how great is the rest of this prayer (taken from the Psalms) - Set a guard before my mouth - staying away from gossip? Yep that is always necessary. Nor make excuse for the sins I commit - nothing else needs to be said in that department. 

So in the heat of dealing with a screaming A or a distracted M or whatever - this Lent I chose my actions to be my sacrifice and with that in mind it is (slightly) easier to be more patient and compassionate with them since our Lord is fully of patience and compassion for us.

B. E

E has always been a little wise beyond her years so when we had this conversation I wasn't surprised but was definitely cause for reflection. 

My all time favorite prayer is this:

Lord and Master of my life spare me from the spirit of indifference, despair, lust for power and idle chatter

Instead bestow on me your servant the spirit of integrity, humility, patience and love

Yes O Lord and King, let me see my own sins and not judge my brothers and sisters for you are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen

Obviously it can be said any time of the year but it is recited during PSL and we add it to our nightly family prayers during Lent. 

So E and I were having a chat about humility and what that means and how if we pray for humility we need to try and remember that and put it into action. 

Me - So if you saying this prayer and asking God for help, it is important to practice what you are praying.

E - So is this prayer helping you? 

Way to turn the tables there on me E. I hope this prayer is especially helping me with idle chatter and patience (and compassion - because I find P&C to be necessary and hard to come by parts of parenting)

C. R & M's conversation

This is way more light than the first two and not necessarily Lenten but it happened during Lent and I think it is hilarious and try and highlights a 5 yr old perspective

While discussing the merits of moving into different classes for the next school year:

R - Well I'm going to go to Kindergarten
M - Well I want to stay in Mrs. Debbie's class
R - Don't you want to learn.
M - No!
R - Don't you want to learn about Jesus?
M - NO!
R - Well, you'll go right to hell then.

I was dying laughing in the front seat listening to this transpire. Hopefully you will enjoy the truth and humor. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

7QTs - Busy, Busier, Busiest

Linking up with Kelly for a full week recap


Whelp.... we made it through the week. The week that involved two soccer practices, tee ball practice, two swim practices, Presanctified Liturgy, Stations of the Cross, AHG, Bible Study, math club, school meeting, the 3-hr glucose test, and the normal 7-4 school schedule. The transition between winter and spring sports, I have heard, isn't too bad because it lasts about 2 weeks (this is the case for us) but when you sprinkle the Lenten church services into the mix that's when it gets ehem.... complicated? complex? crazy?

Was it a crazy week? Yes. But doable with dinner planning and extra sleep. Fortunately this week is the last week of swimming culminating with a swim meet next weekend and E is swimming the 50 Fly and I'm hoping her 6 yr old self can power through to the end because if you haven't tried doing butterfly then you have no idea what I'm talking about. She's swimming 8 and under and there's 8 other swimmers and they are all 8 years old - I don't think I'll be filling her in on that small detail. I'm just hoping for her to A. finish and B. not DQ - I'm remaining optimistic but that stroke requires a good bit of strength and when you get tired your form can get wacky so anyways... We shall see. 

Next off the chopping block is Papa's Bible Study which is wrapping up Holy Week? I want to say. Three weeks of Lent left is kind of hard for me to believe because it seems like it just started but that's probably because the first week I was in China and the second week we didn't go to PSL or SoC. 

Then it will be tee ball and soccer and AHG which we've done that before. I'm happily not coaching E's team. She likes her coach and she rolled in from practice the other night and announced she had an excellent time - now if we could just practice at 4:30 or 5 or 5:30 or 6 or 6:30 that would be even more excellent but ce la vi. 


These squirrels bring lots of joy and entertainment and discussion to our family...

So we try and feed them to show our gratitude. Some of our neighbors dogs (hey Stella and Bruno) have discovered our squirrel feeding zone so they've been thrown in the mix :  )


M had her first soccer practice of the season

Thank goodness because everytime soccer has been uttered in the last month she thinks that it is soccer practice day. She was super disappointed to find out there would NOT be snacks after practice but rest assured games will start soon and I'm sure the Ducks will have plenty of post-game food. We survived the end-of-practice-shuffle when Papa (he still has Bible Study, remember?) brings the other kids to be field for all of 10 minutes and then we head back home. It is so, so, so, so much easier that E is look out for A and walk/chase him around. A is in ball-heaven at the soccer field so he's not too ornery. Then we hustle home for showers and homework (because E went to swim practice a la taxi de neighbors). We all said our prayer and then I put the kids down one-by-one. M first, then R and then E. I actually prefer this bedtime methodology (because there is one, right?) because I get to spend time with each kid. M got to pick her book. R got through one chapter of the reading book (that she struggled with 2 times prior because she's a word-guesser not a word-sounder-outer : ) plus she got a story, then E wrapped up her HW and requested a story - which since she's been reading shorter chapter books she hasn't been as interested in bedtime story time : ( 

So I deemed the night a success. I really do enjoy coaching that little age group and the joy/satisfaction/happiness I get from it cannot be replaced so all the work that surrounds it makes it worth it. And if I'm in bed at 8:45 and don't get up until 6:15 then you know why. 


Tuesday was started off crazy because it was my glucose test day. My doctor left me speed ahead right to the 3 hr because I guess after failing the 1 hr four times before the fifth time isn't going to be a charm. Having pregnant women fast is dumb. I came home and I ate pizza, cereal and a cheesestick and I took a nap. Thankfully I passed.... Praise the Lord!

This is how the evening ended: 

R really does enjoy tee ball. It is her thing and no one else does it. I don't love it but I'll love it for her sake. 

I had some kiddos in tow so I'm considering how to rework Tuesdays a little bit. It might require leaning on some people but asking for help is the hardest part of getting help. 


Just to make the week really interesting.... 

Any guesses? 

Can you name that pest? 

It is a.... 


We had a termite swarm at Swimworld this week. The people who own the building are going to have to remediate it and after about 6 hours the swarm stopped but still it was insanely gross while it happened.


We ended the week yesterday with some play time before Fish Fry and Stations

E was at swim but I took the kids early to play because it was awesome weather. A did several nose dives down the slides and thought it was the best thing ever. I was blocking the several open sides of the playset that lead to the rockwall and fire pole and monkey bars soooo... A ended up on the mulchy side of things because he is not cautious or afraid. 

To reflect on church activities for the week, I really want to do a Lent post because some part of PSL always strikes a cord with me it's from the Psalms but part of it is - And the lifting up of my hands, like an evening sacrifice. More on that later? 

The girls did great on Wednesday. A didn't. It is literally a tough time for him. But dinner was great and the girls happily ate bean and cheese tacos. Friday E was ALL about 'getting there early' (its a walk across the parking lot!) so she could sing in the choir loft. I mentioned to the music director last week I thought she might could use E's voice up there and E was SOLD. E's been happily in a pew by  herself for SoC since she was probably 4, maybe 3 (but not as trustworthy at 3 of course). R is just getting to the point where I can trust her for the duration of SoC which is good because yesterday I had to. A did AWESOME at Stations last week but this week was a different story so to the narthex went M and A and me. Again its a tough time of night for A and our normal bedtime hour has been and will be pushed back until Lent is over to account for all aforementioned activities soooooo.... what can I do except pray louder than his shouts. 


A and I had a special shopping trip last weekend that involved getting a few last minute things for the St. Patrick's Day dance - which everyone raved about Lee's cooking and my mom's sugar cookies. Now you know why I don't cook or bake because I'm surrounded by people who are really, really good at it. 

Looking for spicy mustard which I could have told you we didn't need because spicy mustard on Reuben's? I may not know a lot about food but I know that and fortunately I got that clarified before the chef left the house. 

Goodness he is cute!

Oh and one more thing for good measure, I haven't had any super great pregnancy questions recently but I got one this week. Ready? 

Lady - who I see about once or twice a year and generally can strike up a normal conversation with. She commented that the last time she saw me I was pregnant - not true, but I just went with it and said it was highly likely. Haha, laugh laugh. Then we got to, how old is our oldest? 6 - almost 7. Then question:

Did you mean to have that many kids? 

Yes. I guess. I mean we know what we're doing and they keep coming and we've good with that. 

Maybe it was because it wasn't quite 9 o'clock and the caffeine wasn't flowing yet. But seriously let's get some better word choice people. 

Happy weekend!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

7QTs - Green, Traps, & Irish Food

Linking up with Kelly and adding the necessary amount of green..


Hopefully you celebrated yesterday with lots of green!

I cannot believe it - a decent 4-kid-pic!

The girls weren't thrilled about their green milk at breakfast or the green mac and cheese at lunch BUT its St. Patricks Day and I always add a bit of green to food as a reminder. So they will just have to get over it : ) 


The week started off with a bang and A throwing up (we think it was too much milk at once and not a continuation of the funk he had in the wee hours of Saturday morning - while Papa was in OH on this pierogi mission)

Because after a morning power nap he was pretty much fine the rest of the day.

But that wasn't the only illness of the week, I took E to the dr on Thursday because she had been nonacid off complaining of her ear hurting and school called and said she had a fever so off to the doctor to put this to bed. After one inflamed ear canal (close to the start of swimmer's ear) later and a small bottle of $$ eye drops - she's fine. 


This post is going to sound like an ode to E but it's been a pretty slow week... Any ways, E's been working on a leprechaun trap for a few weeks. 

We craft in stages... 

She first started off with attracting the leprechauns with candy but after reading a Magic Tree House fact checker about Irish folklore we learned that leprechauns are after gold coins - not candy. We talked about her design plans and how the leprechauns might see the coins in the shoebox and etc etc... enter the trap door and the windows. I really wanted to see how/where she'd run with it so I had her draw the cut outs because I'm still not good with handing over a pair of boxcutters to a 6 yr old - though she did make the windows bigger - which she thought was excellent. 

Deep in golden ladder making

While she did that, I tested my Saran wrap and glue gun theory - which is totally doable. I wouldn't recommend trying to do it in tight shoebox corners but it worked. E trimmed the excess wrap and I was pretty sure she was going to punch a hole in the Saran before she turned it in 

A sign and a gold path were the finishing touches 

The finished product. Unfortunately, none of the traps caught any leprechauns yesterday at school. The leprechauns ate the chocolate coins E had in her trap and busted out one of the windows.... 


E hit a big milestone in AR points and I told her she could either go out for ice cream or order a new set of fairy books... I thought she was going to be sold on the ice cream and we all lost out when she chose the fairy books.

She's downed these 7 books in less than 2 days!


Lee's been cooking like crazy for a big school fundraiser... 

Veggie lasagne, Guinness beef stew, Shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, and roasted potatoes. The kitchen has been overflowing with food and great smells. Next weekend it's sausage making weekend for our parish fundraiser which is icky and gross to me so the kids and I will have to evacuate because I can't stand it. 


Wednesday we survived our first pre sanctified Liturgy of Lent (I know scandalous given this was the 3rd week)... with China the first week and Lee giving a Lenten retreat at the parish here the second week - it just wasn't in the cards. 

The kids - even A - did mostly well. E was in a micro-managing mood so I got reports on who was doing what. 

We also hit the Fish Fry and Stations of the Cross here last night (for the first time). E sat in her own pew in the front - and always does a million times better when she's by herself and not distracted. R did awesome too - which I've kind of been waiting for to step up her behavior game. Still wouldn't trust to make through all of Mass but with the standing and kneeling and moving for Stations I think it makes it easier. M and A weren't terrible so props to them. A destroyed a Stations booklet so we have that to tape up and use next week. He found the Holy Water so between that and the prayer cards that he went up and down the pews taking out of the holders, he was actually pretty quiet. Thank goodness we didn't have to go outside because it was FREEZING.

I'm learning that parenting is so much about patience and I am trying to embrace the need to be more patient but it is hard. Maybe adding another baby will slow things down some and cause me to stretch and add a little more. patience


But until then... We will par the course and carry on with the crazy like always

Spring sports is starting up - there's only a few weeks over lap with the end of swim season. Thank goodness the practices are 5 minutes away because everyone is on a different schedule. I'm not coaching E's team this year which is new but good. I think its good for her to learn from someone else plus I couldn't do a good job if I wanted to given the fact I might have some or all kids in tow because spring pool season is upon us and St. Joseph seems to be taking care of Lee in the lots of work department. R's doing tee ball again but the wacky cold and rainy weather has canceled the first week of practice. M starts her soccer next week. She's decided to be the purple Ducks. I'm coaching her little team because I enjoy it and I feel pretty good about Lee being there most days and E and R are pretty self-contained and A cannot wander too far because he is super into every single ball there is in sight so he'll probably stick right with me. 

I'm actually kind of excited about the spring season of activities because they really force me (and Lee) to stay on dinner schedule and have a plan and stick to it. Yes, there are some late showers and meltdowns but everyone learns a little bit of sacrifice for another person. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

7QTs - China, Swimming, S'mores

Linking up with Kelly and the usuals...


M reading to A

I can't say it ended well for M because A wanted to snatch the book but she was surprisingly understanding and didn't mind. They're giving books to kids as part of a reading initiative at our pediatricians office which is great however if a kid has an electronic or a book 9 times out of 10 they're probably picking the electronic soooooo.... the solution would be? 

Cut the hand held and toss your kids a pile of books. Our girls do surprisingly well during the hour drive to and from church especially if they have a mountain of books to read. 


The weather around here has been crazy warm - but we might get a few inches of snow over the weekend?!?!?!  (that didn't happen it was more like a few flakes) - so Papa fired up the pit and we had s'mores the night before Lent started. Our family doesn't give up desserts or TV for Lent (though they are admirable things we ought to consider for future Lents). We do our morning decade of the Rosary in the car to school (no reading for E but she mostly okay with it) and Presanctified Liturgy and Stations of the Cross and a few foods we don't eat. 

The pray and fasting parts of Lent are easier for us; the almsgiving is so hard to teach to little kids - I find. Side note, funny story, so E and I went to Mass one Saturday night and the priest who was filling in did not stand at the pulpit/ambo and preach. And he's loud and animated and he's super into his homily/sermon about Lent and the gospel for the day (Jesus being tempted by the devil three times) and he comes up to our pew and he looks straight at E and he asks - what the gospel teaches us about Lent (Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving)? She is stone faced and barely looks at him and I whisper her the answer (but I thought she knew) and she still wouldn't answer and finally after about a minute he gives the answer. Seriously, it was kind of funny how nervous she was but she wasn't having ANY of the attention. When we got in the car I asked her about it and she said that the priest was really loud and when was the regular priest going to be back. 

ANYWAYS.... S'mores




(A missed out) 

It was deemed a success

E insisted she roast her own mellow but then got nervous about the fire so she passed it off to me


E in Rainbow Fairy Book heaven... 

E has been into the Rainbow Fairies pretty hardcore this year. The premise is EXACTLY the same. There was a set of fairies - color, gemstones, baking, sports, days of the week - you name there is a probably a fairy for it and Jack Frost and his goblins steal the fairies magical object and the human and fairy worlds are in disarray until the two girls help the fairies get their objects back. Exact same story. every single time. It's okay though. She LOVES them and talks to me and Lee like we should know who they are. Like Briana the Tooth fairy and Samantha the Swimming fairy and duh you should know their names. 

Anyway, E has exhausted the school and local library fairy books. I looked on Amazon and for books (to the tune of a dollar - no luck with shipping). But Grammy's library has a good (but far from completely available) collection of Rainbow Fairy books. I took E and R one Sunday after church and they freaked out. 

I think they ended up with 16 fairy books and I didn't even feel bad about them checking that many out because there were so many duplicate copies. I'm still on the hunt for a good used book store or library sale because R is 'reading' these books now too and M likes to look at the covers and discuss who is who. 


E had her second to last swim meet of the indoor swim season a few weeks ago...

In deep discussion over DIVING off the blocks... 

A did surprisingly well. 

This is right about the time she DQed in fly : ( 

She swam 6 events. DQed in two : ( . And was half a second away from third place medal in 6 and under back (her favorite) - SHE REALLY WANTED TO WIN A MEDAL. She broke just under a minute in 50 back so overall it was fun to watch her do what she enjoys.


A loves his bath times...

In fact last night he walked over to the sink after dinner and started banging on the cabinet doors to be put in the tub. So a quick bath it was. 

M and R notoriously take the time to pick me flowers : ) 


A few notes about China. 

1. I made it back. Thanks for the prayers. I am grateful for the crazy and the noise. 

2.  This is how A's stocking started before I got on the first flight

I had some crazy sleep schedule going with the 13 hour time change and long flights so instead of reading a book at 3 am I worked on the stocking! I'll have to post of the progress pic later : ( 

I'm still trying to figure out how this worked out. It seemed a sticker or something was put on the apple because it is branded on the peel of the apple. As if sunlight hit or didn't hit that portion of the apple? 

Shanghai skyline from the hotel. 

Don't forget your key. You have to insert your key into that slot in order to turn on an lights in the room. Fortunately I didn't forget to grab it on the way out because I was only issued one key

I had to figure out chopsticks really fast. At least when I was eating with someone from China I made a point not to use a fork - as slow and humorous as it may have been. Despite this pic, there was not a lot of rice served. Noodles in soup but mainly meat and veggies. I was served gelatinized pigs blood BUT I skipped right over that and grabbed something else from the massive soup bowl. 

The view from the river


E went swimming with me last week in the morning 

She stuck me as really grown up for some reason so I had to snap a pic. She enjoyed a splash of coffee on the way home so she was feeling kinda grown up too. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Five Things I Had to Do Before I Left for China...

I got the green light to go to China from my doctor a few months ago (and was totally shocked he said YES) and between getting everyone and schedules organized and life and being sick with Strep not once but TWICE in a month (free and clear now though) - these were some big things that were a taking up large portions of my overflowing plate. 

1. Taxes

I knew the taxes needed to get submitted before I left because who doesn't need their tax refund??? It is always more of a process than I remember and if I actually kept up with a few things it might make my life a bit easier but somehow I never learn... 

2. The Class Auction Project

I think I need to talk about my brilliant quilt idea at length. There was a quick preview of it here.

Anyways. Ultimately it is done and finished and I miss it and I really hope that it rakes in a bunch of $$$ at the auction in a few weeks. Maybe more on my thoughts on it later because I (of course) have a few. 

3. The Clothes

Our family has been blessed by a number of people who give us clothes (THANK YOU). New, hand-me-down whatever. It is a blessing. It is awesome to be able to raid the closets for any season and basically never come up empty handed - especially in the girls department. Some clothes wear out faster than other. Others have stains that will NEVER come out so it was time to really go through and make sure we didn't have 25 3T sundresses.

4. Ice Cream Party for 30 

(Mental note for me next year for the toppings I got this year and get the Sprinkles not at Target because they only have Wilton and they are $5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I could talk about this one for ages as well... Our little Catholic School has an Annual Fund. I think a number of Catholic and other parochial schools are moving in that direction. Stop selling everything under the sun and make a donation to the school. No magazines, oranges, wrapping paper, candles. Just a check. 

Anyhow, I was asked to help head up the Annual Fund this year and we set a ridiculous goal compared to years past. At Christmas I had resigned to the fact it wasn't going to happen but then a month and a half later and a few prayers (yep I this has been something I've been praying about) we are actually, almost within reach of our $40,000 goal. Its kind of a big deal. So I thought about pushing back the ice cream party (for kids who had met the participation goal) to see if we could make another push. 

But then I thought better of it and realized that April would be a terrible time for me personally so we kept the ice cream party as set - end of February. And the weather was perfect and I think the kids enjoyed it (along with some extra time outside). 

A enjoyed some remnant mini Oreos 

And if you want to help some reach our goal go here

5. M's Stocking

I knew with an insanely long plane ride to the tune of 14 hours (times TWO) I'd have loads of time to cross stitch. I knew I didn't want to back stitch because it is kind of boring to me even though it makes the stocking really POP. So I was REALLY trying to finish M's stocking (and least the front part) but I didn't. It is at home in the safe with the other completed stockings waiting for me. I probably would have finished what is left of the front stitching on the plane to LAX and I knew I couldn't take two sets of colors and stuff. Side note, I LOVE A's stocking. Pic of that to come

So all in all, I left with things relatively in order. Many thanks to everyone, family and friends who are keeping our family running like it should while I'm gone and helping Lee with the kids. More on some of the crazies (its not that crazy) of my week gone when I return : )