Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer is NOT Over!...

Ahhh, here in Ohio the weather this summer has been weird. We have had exactly one week of hot weather, a lot of rainy and cool weather, and some pleasant days. It has now been cooler for a while and people are starting to act and dress like summer is over. PEOPLE! There is still plenty of summer left! Put down the school supplies and back away...I just can't face school supplies just yet, not when there is so much summer left!

This week is one of our area's best weeks all summer - probably all year, actually. Hall of Fame week is loved by almost all Cantonians, as well as those from surrounding towns and cities. It starts off with fireworks, a hot air balloon fest, fashion shows, luncheons, and goes straight on through the Grand Parade, Induction and the Hall of Fame Game. It really is so much fun. My favorite part is the Grand Parade, so many inductees come back year after year. Everyone loads up on coffee and donuts and grabs their spot on the route. It is pure summer time fun, folks.

We also want to try and hit an amusement park this summer. We are thinking Kennywood - it is only about an hour from our house and has lots of rides for big and little kids. Should be fun.

We also have a flurry of end of summer birthdays around here, starting with my Jonah turning FIFTEEN. I honestly can't believe it. He recently spent an entire evening talking to a girl. A girl who is not a sister, nor a best friend of a sister, or a cousin. First time ever. So weird, I guess that he is that old, but he is very shy. Every time I ask about her, he gives me that shy-smiling grin of his. I think he might have thought she was pretty cute. I have asked him what he wants for his birthday, and he always replies "cash". Gone are the days of begging for the newest Lego, I guess. He is saving up for some new gaming system.

Then comes my Jenna's 13th birthday. We had a big, all girl surprise party for Kenzie's 13th, but Jenna has asked for a special photo session with her cousin who is the same age. We are going shopping for coordinating outfits, and they  have the session planned out on Pinterest. I hope they have a lot of fun! Such as sweet and special way to mark their 13th year as best friends and cousins.

In September my Sweet Priscilla Grace (who is now known as any of the following: PG, Peegers, Rissa, Cilla, Gracie, Gracie-Pants or Grace-Face - depending on who is talking to her) has her very first birthday. We have a sweet birthday party planned, with all our family and friends. I know she won't remember it, but I sure am having fun planning it! My sister is helping me make invitations and decorations, and it is going to be so sweet and fun. I can't wait! Although, I am not so anxious for her to not be my little baby anymore.

See, there is tons of summer left. We even still have swimming lessons left to attend! Is there anything better than sitting by the pool for 45 almost entirely uninterrupted minutes while you watch your littles learn to swim? Not in my book. C'mon summer! We are still here soaking up every minute!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Being a Teenager...

My kids are growing up. I will soon have THREE teenagers in this house. One just got her drivers learning permit. One is now heading out on his own to visit friends across town, riding his bike and making new friends of both male and female variety. And the last one? She has been my baby girl for so many years. The fact that she is turning 13 at the end of the summer is mindboggling.

We've been down this road before, we have two grown daughters. We were so blessed that they were and continue to be "good" girls. They have lovely, wonderful friends, have made excellent choices for their lives.

Last summer one of my daughter's best friends from high school was found dead of a heroin overdose. I still think about it all the time. I didn't know her particularly well, she was a "school" friend...she and my daughter we close, doing plays, musicals and choir together, and making crazy plans to move to New York to become big stars. But her death haunts me. I am not sure why, except that it hit so close to home. She had a tiny son. That little boy now has to grow up without his mama, and for what? For drugs? I don't understand why so many young, talented, beautiful, smart kids with their entire lives in front of them get involved with this evil, life stealing poison.

How do we keep kids off drugs? The 1980s question still has yet to be answered. It seems to be almost unanswerable, as kids from every walk of life seem to get involved. What have we done right with our first two? I am not sure we could even tell you. We talk about it. A lot, actually. I think my kids have seen my heartbreak for other mothers over the loss of their children to drugs. They have heard me refer to it as poison. And I think they have seen a lot first hand.

When I sent my daughter, Meg, back to high school her freshman year, the very first day of school a boy just a year older offered her drugs. She came home crying. I felt like I had offered her to a pack of wolves. But she went back. She spoke up against drugs and alcohol, for religion, for life, on so many occasions that she didn't have a lot of friends. But, her last year in high school? One of the boys who was mean to her for her outspokenness came back to tell her that even when he was fighting her, he was listening. Because of her words, he thought. And then he quit doing drugs and drinking alcohol.

My Kenzie and I used to love GLEE. It's gotten weird, but we were still keeping up with it because of the old characters. If you watch TV at all, you know that Cory Monteith, who played Finn died of a drug overdose recently at the age of 31. He was a beautiful, talented young man. He spent all of his life from the age of 13 battling his addiction to drugs. Such a waste of life. It's heartbreaking, and yet we see it everywhere.

As my Jenna approaches her 13th birthday, and my other teens are beginning to stretch their wings a bit, I have been thinking about the things we did to educate their big sisters about drugs. The kids know that drugs are poison. They know they kill. And yet, so many try it anyway. Why do they do that? As homeschoolers, we are somewhat insulated against the random school drug dealer, but we can't keep them in the house forever. They have to know how to say no. They have to be equipped with the knowledge that the stuff is poison, and the strength to defy anyone who would offer it to them. How do you do that? How do you give that to them?

As I wonder about all this, and try to figure out how to arm my kids against all these evils, I pray for the soul of the girl who was my daughter's friend, for her little boy, growing up without his mama, and for all the people who get involved with drugs - that they have the strength and knowledge to stay far away from all of it, and to help their friends stay away.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Falling in love....

I have always had a romantic heart. Probably so much reading, and old movie watching as a kid, combined with the fact that I am a complete and total sap. I love everything about falling in love, weddings, babies, children, grandchildren...all of's just good stuff. The mushier, the better, I always say (and get picked on for it). Honestly, if I could spend the majority of my time doing anything, it would be helping other people get that  - the love, the wedding, the babies. As it is I spend a goodly amount of time praying for people to fall in love, or get that baby or whatever it is that they truly want in their lives.

I want that for my kids. I want them to grow up and fall really and truly in love - whether it be with a spouse or a vocation or both. I want my daughters to grow up and get knocked off their feet by some fine, young man whose life's goal is to be a partner to her, and help her and their children get to heaven. I want them to be swept off their feet. I don't want them to settle for anything less.

I know I have told the story about how Doug and I fell in love, and I know my children know it, but I don't know if they have any idea what was truly in my heart at the time, or now. When Doug and I first met, we were a broken hearted pair. We had both been betrayed in a fairly heartless manner, him more so than me; but God had bigger and better plans for both of our hearts. I just know that everything happens for a reason, according to His plan...

....for instance, when I was married the first time, there was no time to be married in the Church. This was God's providence. He knew this was not the man for me, and so the sacrament was not received.
When Douglas got married the first time, it was in A church, but not the Catholic Church, and with the agreement that should things ever get messy, they would just get divorced before it got ugly (which automatically invalidates a marriage in the Catholic Church). Not his idea, but he went along with it, thinking it was a strange thing to say before getting married.  Probably should have been a red flag, but he was very young, and honestly, didn't want to heed any red flags, though they were numerous.

We both went on to have daughters, they were born just 7 months apart, in fact. And we were both separated by the time our daughters were 2 years old, or there abouts. This gave the two of us something in common - other than these life experiences we really didn't have anything in common, and might never have crossed paths if not for those little girls. God is very mysterious in His planning, indeed.

When we did meet, it was not quite love at first sight, more like extreme interest. By the second time we met, we had been talking non-stop on the phone for a of those conversations was probably the moment I started falling for him, big time. He was sewing Elizabeth's pants...he knew they needed sewing and just did it...I found that to be amazing, after the non interested, wanted to give my daughter up for adoption fiasco of an ex-husband.

When we did fall in love, it was an all-consuming, mind bending, heart full, walking on clouds kind of love. I swear, honestly and truly, I felt like the only person on earth who had ever felt this way. I couldn't imagine other people in love just going about their day as if nothing was different, so they must not really be in love, they just thought they were. So after running around, grinning like idiots for a few months, and running up enormous phone bills (we were long distance at the time), we got engaged. And then a few months after that, married.

We have had so many ups, and some pretty serious downs. Some babies with health issues, the losses of 6 of our sweet babies, and the struggles that come with being a blended family, but all of these things simply brought us closer. We are the very best of friends. We are lovers in every sense of the word. When something happens, he is the first thought in my head. He is the first thought in my head when nothing happens. He was the only person who could reach me through my grief when we lost our little twins, and he is the person who made me see that God was there with me all along...he insisted that I see Him, that I know God was there. I want this kind of love for all of my kids. I don't want them to settle. I want them to find that one person who God has planned for them. I really hope they can be patient and not have too much heartbreak in order to find that person. I hope they have learned from us how to love a husband or wife without ceasing, how to stick it out through think and thin, and how to just be so comfortable with that person that the absence of him or her makes you uncomfortable.

 I wish all of these things for you, my children. And even with all of that, I wish for you the wisdom of knowing that as much as you love your husband or wife, they can never be that fairy tale love...that all consuming love for which so many people search. The only place that all consuming, completely unconditional love can be found is in the arms of our Lord. Don't expect a husband or wife to have the capacity to love like that, the way we humans seem to crave. Only Christ can love like have big expectations, and fall in love - hard. But please, fall in love with someone who wants to help you get to heaven, so you can rest together in the love of the Lord someday.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Miss This...

Gosh, I miss this blog. I haven't abandoned it on purpose, it just sort of happened. That whole pregnant/newborn/infant/baby after 40 thing really kicked my butt.

So, what have ya'll been up to? We have been doing the same things we always do, plus one. Our baby, Priscilla Grace is closing in on 10 months old. It went so, so fast, as it always does.

We've been busy - swimming as much as possible, running around for different summer time events. Same as you and yours, I am sure.

I feel like I have so much to say, I don't know where to start....but things that have been circling in my mind that I would have normally blogged about:
  • Yeb seems to be experiencing a severe bout of reverting to babyhood since Priscilla was born
  • We switched schools....again....
  • Kenzie is auditioning for a local production of Annie
  • The big boys have been sleeping in a tent every night for a couple of weeks now
  • Jenna is turning 13 at the end of the summer, and then Priscilla Grace will turn ONE! 
  • Jonah is suddenly becoming so much more grown up
  • Summer is flying by way too fast
I miss this place so much, I am trying to get back into the swing of life with a baby, and hopefully will be popping on here more often...just to get the circling thoughts out of my brain, because I am pretty sure I don't have any readers left....

See ya'll soon!

Money, Frugality, Humility and Lessons I Still Haven't Learned....

 On Being Catholic and an American...

We've been dreaming of a new, bigger house, and then getting smacked down with so many left over medical bills that our credit will not allow for a new house, even though our current home's value is finally starting to climb again due to all the oil and fracking folks buying up everything in our county.

This of course, has led me to whine and complain and generally be ungrateful for all that we have. mean, with this many kids, we should have a bigger house, right?! And we totally need more bathrooms, right? And we need a bigger yard, right? None of that will help my kids get to heaven, though some of it may save my sanity.  We have a sweet little home that has housed us all just fine for over ten years. It will continue to suffice as long as we need it to so I need to just get over it, already. The fact that is known in the neighborhood as "the house with all the kids" is just a testament to how well this little house can hold a dozen or so people.  The furniture in this little house looks like we bought it at a garage sale and then tried to raise 10 kids on it...and well, it's just embarrassing. Another lesson in humility. No one ever went to heaven because they had nice furniture.

We used to be broke, like, the poor kind of broke. Now, I am not sure what we are, but it isn't poor. We make plenty of money, I just can't seem to ever carve out enough to make ends meet. And yes, I know what you are going to say - we have a lot of mouths to feed. Yes, that's it, but it is not the whole story. At some point, post-poor but never solvent, I decided that certain things were allowed. Like, mega-expensive toothpaste, just because the dentist said so. Dove soap, because so many of us have that horrible dry skin that turns into a rash if you use anything else. And buying actual baby wipes, instead of making my own as I had always done. And not really bothering with resale shops and just going whole-hog Baby Gap and Gymboree. Now, I only ever buy sale items, but still.

And of course, groceries. We used to shop mainly at Aldi and other less expensive stores. Now, we rarely take the time to do that, and when we do, we wonder why we don't do it all the time.

So, my checkbook this week? Well, I have a tendency to think that ya know, $1000 is actually $1,000,000, so you can imagine what happened there...and no, it wasn't on shopping or anything like that. I tend to get overzealous, pay a whole bunch of stuff, and then leave us nothing to work with as far as gas and groceries go. Soooo, ya know what I do? I will go shopping for groceries on Thursday, knowing that we get paid on Friday, so I am actually spending the next paycheck before we even get it. Super smart, right? And forget coupons. Who has time to clip coupons? Certainly not I. I must spend that time doing just about anything else you can think of, because unless it basically just falls into my lap, I don't do coupons. I want to... but, seriously, don't even know where to start or how to fit that into my schedule.

So the first thing I need to get over is this pride thing. You know, if you take this many kids out in public, they better look great, or you are going to get know, the looks that say, "Wow, you have too many kids, you obviously can't even afford to dress them!" I need to remember how cute my kids always looked even when I was only getting them what they needed, as opposed to what I wanted them to have, or even a particular daughter's case, what they are bugging to buy, find or order. And that they don't have to look cute to get into heaven...

And I have to really plan our meals. My current favorite meal plan is me wandering into the kitchen whenever the kids start begging for food and rummaging around until I come up with something - usually something really simple. If I planned out our meals, I would probably save money on groceries - at least, that's what I hear. We don't buy chips, or junk food or anything - ya know, extra. But I am no where near as careful with our grocery dollars as I should be, especially since during weeks like this, there aren't any.

And the diapers - oh jeeze. I really like the soft, pretty diapers. I honestly believe my baby's bottom deserves the softest, comfiest diapers - if you had to sit in a diaper all day, you would want it to be comfy, right? BUT, I could probably switch her over to something a little less pricey...right?

As far as electric goes - this is a HUGE part of what is wrong in our world. My kids just won't turn lights out...even the 23 year old leaves her lights on all the time. It drives me crazy, chasing around turning stuff off all the time. I mean, what the heck? How hard is it to flip the switch, people? We are always getting those comparisons from the electric company, telling us we use way more power than anyone else.

So, yes, my old frugal self was really a better self. I gave more away, I made more meals for people, I somehow found a way. I was  used to doing better with less. I know I can find ways to be more frugal, to make the money we have go a little farther, so we can breathe a little easier as well as doing more for others. I need to let go of the pride thing...and that is tough for me. My kids are homeschooled, but I don't want them to look the part, if you know what I mean. I want them to be able to bring friends in the house without being embarrassed by the horrible carpets, the falling apart couches, and the garage sale recliner. Where do you draw the line between frugality and just having some pride in your home?

Suggestions welcome.