Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Feminine Heart...

There is always a lot to talk about when you are with a group of women. Women tend to be highly charged, emotional, talkative (at least among our sisters/friends/moms) and easily driven to tears.

I see that this is often mistaken for weakness.  Some kind of abandonment of truth and reason. Women are "crazy" or " too emotional" or "hormonal". While we are indeed emotional, and often hormonal - that doesn't make what we say any less true. It doesn't make the way we think any less rational. I would love to believe that in 2014 we have earned enough respect among our peers, men and women alike, to be taken seriously, even if a tear falls as we speak.

I cry at Mass, almost every week. I sometimes get funny looks, though it has gone on so long that most people don't even seem to notice. But think about it for a minute. Why WOULDN'T I shed tears at the Mass? I am in the presence of Our Lord. The Blessed Mother is near - my own sweet babies in heaven are among the communion of saints. So I just let the tears flow. They are now tears of joy where once they were tears of sorrow. I used to hide behind my hands, knowing that is was pretty useless. But can you, knowing that I am allowing myself to be swept into the Mass, blame me for my tears?

Music moves me. I am no good at it. Can't sing, can't play an instrument, but I love it. So many songs hold deep meaning for me, as I am sure they do for most people. When I hear a song that takes me back to a certain time in my life, reminds me of a precious moment or allows me to feel close to someone now gone from my life, the tears will flow. Even if it is just the beauty of the music, my eyes will often well with tears.

Love for my family, my children, yes - my sweet and amazing husband - absolutely. But also for my grandmother, who is in a nursing home. I can't help but cry every time I leave her. She doesn't really know me, but I know that she would hate being there, not knowing who anyone is or why she is there. When I see a niece or nephew accomplish something - anything, great or small, my eyes fill. When I know one of my sisters or brother is in some kind of pain, I cry. My parents, who are the very center of who I am - my love for them fills me with gratitude and yes, tears.

I choke up when I think of my children and my sweet nieces and nephew who all lost much loved grandmothers this summer. The memory of these sweet ones' trembling chins will fill my eyes. The knowledge that my husband hasn't slept through the night since he lost his mother and knowing my father in law will never, ever recover from her loss will have tears falling down my cheeks.

I cry when I get mad. Anger - it's the fastest way to make me cry. Make me angry, and you will see tears. Act like my tears somehow deny the truth of my feelings or lessen my argument? Big, plopping, furious tears.

And yes, I cry at silly stuff. Commercials, current events, movies, happy thoughts and internet memes. I cry all the time - does this make me weak? Does it make me stupid? Hormonal, overly emotional, crazy?

Or does it make me a woman? Sensitive, feminine, emotional. Seeking something beyond what is in front of my eyes.  Even my kids say I over analyse - but that's what we do - that's how we problem solve, evaluate our decisions. It's how we empathize with the people in our lives and those across the globe. We lead with our hearts because our hearts are the softest place to land. As long as we always keep truth and reason, being emotional is nothing for which to be ashamed. Being emotional does not mean we are weak, it means we love. We have empathy. If we cry for you, we are sharing our love for you - for if you have the ability to make us cry, then you are important to us in some way.

"Why Women Cry"

Why Women Cry

A little boy asked his mother, "Why are you crying?" "Because I'm a woman," she told him.

"I don't understand," he said. His Mom just hugged him and said, "And you never will."

Later the little boy asked his father, "Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?"

"All women cry for no reason," was all his dad could say.

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.

Finally he put in a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, "God, why do women cry so easily?"

God said, "When I made the woman she had to be special.

I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world,

yet gentle enough to give comfort.

I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.

I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.

I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.

I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed."

"You see my son," said God, "the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart - the place where love resides."
 Author: Unknown

Friday, August 15, 2014


My Jonah turned 16 the other day. SIXTEEN. With this birthday comes much rejoicing. Jonah was diagnosed at the age of six with a seizure disorder. He originally experienced a seizure every 5-10 seconds. Later it went down to every 10-15 seconds.

This past year he began to develop headaches, some double vision and dizziness. We of course were concerned and reported everything to his neurologist. We had some pretty extensive testing done. Jonah was fitted with 28 leads all over his head which he had to wear for a week. He also had to record himself sleeping. When the data from the testing came back, his neurologist called me himself with the news. There was ZERO seizure activity for the week Jonah wore the leads. THANKS BE TO GOD. This news was almost astonishing after a decade of worry. This does not mean he no longer has any seizure activity, but it does mean he has made great strides towards outgrowing the seizures AND can begin driver's ed! This as you can imagine is really, really meaningful to a teenage boy, but as his parents we know that the ability to drive impacts his entire life. He will be able to get to work, transport his family, teach his own kids to drive one day. All enormously impact-full.

So, we are rejoicing. He has another MRI on Monday, but right now - rejoicing. We had a big party - celebrating the milestone birthday as much as the results of the testing. This child, for whom I have prayed unceasingly - is beginning to blossom in so many ways. He is funny. He has a best friend (to whom I give a lot of credit for Jonah coming out of his shell). He is doing very well in school. This was one of his leap years. He tends to grow, developmentally, about every two years. Just when you think the last stage is going to go on forever, this kid makes a giant leap, and suddenly grows into himself SO MUCH.

Oh, and did I mention his deep, deep voice (sounds just like his dad) and his skinny, 126 pound, 5 foot, 10 inch frame? Or the fact that he gets out of bed at 2 in the morning to eat? Or that the last couple of times he has gone with us to the pool there were young ladies clamoring for his attention, to which he gave the cool guy "What's up?" nod? Where did my baby go?

As much as he has changed, he is still the guy who is a great big brother who comes up at night to kiss Priscilla goodnight. He is still the guy who gathers his baby sister up in his arms for a hug, or takes her for walks in her little car. He still loves video games and computer anything. He is fantastic at geometry and horrible at algebra. He doesn't like to read, but is getting so much better about it.

This guy, with his heart stopping, shy smile, his generosity, his kindness and his loping, dinosaur walk. I love him to bits and am so, so proud of him. Thrilled for him, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

About the In-Laws...

It's been a rough summer around here. In May, my gentle and much loved mother-in-law passed away rather suddenly. She suffered a brain aneurysm and passed almost two weeks later. At the same time, both of my sisters' mothers-in-law were ill as well. One, thankfully, was very ill, but it was acute and she went home and is doing well. The other, sadly, passed away after years of illness that culminated faster than expected.

These events have had me reflecting all summer on the way we build families, how we live with one another, and the culture in America in general. We are not really supposed to get along with the in-laws. People make jokes about mothers-in-law all the time, running them down as interfering, or just plain mean. It is, arguably, rather difficult to get along with people you have inserted into your life because you happen to love one of their children. I was very, very blessed in this regard. My mother-in-law, Laquaita, was nothing but love and kindness to me, and especially to my daughter, Meg. Meg was treated as though she had been born to their family. For that, I have always been grateful.

Laquaita never made demands, was always so supportive and helpful, and never batted an eye when she found out we were having another baby. She rejoiced. I was always thankful that we could call her with the news of a new baby and know for a fact we would only hear joy. I know she prayed and worried for us, and shared my love for dressing the kids up. I loved getting my kids ready to go see her, as she made over them and fussed. She once told me that whenever there was a family event, she couldn't wait to see what I put on my girls because they always looked so cute. I loved hearing that, and made sure to dress them up because it gave her pleasure to see them looking smart.

Laquaita wanted her family to be harmonious and happy, but, as families are made up of humans with differing lifestyles and opinions, that was not always the case. She didn't try to intervene, but instead let everyone work things out for themselves, offering love in all directions. I personally think this must have taken a lot of strength, and a huge amount of tongue biting. She probably won a great spot in heaven for her restraint, a rare commodity in any family. I hope I am able to be as loving as she was when I become a mother-in-law.

As we have built our families from our original family unit, we have been blessed with wonderful people on all sides. The other grandmothers have passed on traditions, new vocabulary and recipes. Our lives have been enormously enriched by these people. My kids have adopted words like "brand clean, gummy chewies and grandma juice". They make the "I love you" sign when leaving and give giant, squeezey bear hugs. All things they learned from grandparents or their cousins' grandparents.

They have watched their grandparents and the grandparents-in-law persevere through health challenges with strength and love. They have seen their grandfathers grieve with dignity, while allowing the kids to see their pain and tears, revealing their great love for their wives.

We've been blessed by the people who have lived in our lives, both through birth as well as through marriage. I hope my children, nieces and nephews choose wisely when they marry, because you do marry the family when you marry the love. I chose wisely. We all chose wisely.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Mother's Thoughts on Tattoos, Piercings, Plugs...

You know, I am pretty aware that I am old fashioned. I know I am traditional and that a lot of folks won't care what I have to say on the topic of tattoos, piercings and oh, my - those awful ear gauge deals.
When you have a baby, and she (or he) is this perfect, beautiful baby, you always picture her that way. Anything that comes along to mar her beautiful skin breaks your heart a little. Over time of course kids get scars from trips and falls, surgeries and so many other ways, and each thing that mars your child's skin is a little bit of a heartbreak. You hope it won't show. You hope they won't be teased about it.
Then, they grow up and for some reason, get minds of their own, even though you still see a sweet, darling little six year old. With the cute hair and the sweet smile and yes, that unblemished skin.
Then they go and pierce something. Or get a tattoo. They don't understand that you don't understand why they would purposefully scar themselves with something unperfect. Something not of God, and not in keeping with the pristine and beautiful skin they were born with. Also, there is something that just - at least to me and I think many people who feel the way I do about tattoos and piercings - just looks unwashed, or at a minimum, classless.
It might sound silly. It might not be any of my business, but here are my thoughts on the whole thing...consider them guidelines to really, really consider before you permanently mark your body. Forever. Like, it's never going away without some sort of surgery.

1.Consider placement. After all, it is MY generation who will be doing the majority of the hiring for most of your career. If you must pierce or tattoo, keep it someplace easily covered. I promise, this is for your own good.
2. Please, please, please do NOT carve into your body ANYTHING you have ever seen on a bumper sticker, an internet meme or in a comic strip. Just don't. It's cheap.
3. Take a turn through Google images before you go and get what you consider to be the "oh so unique and one of a kind" tattoo. Chances are it's not that unique or one of kind. If you have to do it, at least be original about it. I really do get the desire to commemorate some person, event, etc. I would be inclined to buy you a plaque or set up a photo session, but I do get it. If you just HAVE to do it, at least make sure your new body art is as unique as you are.
4. Only add to your body things that add to your beauty  - that goes for men, too. If you do something that takes away from your natural beauty, people just wonder why, shake their heads and assume you have some issues. For real. That includes those huge gauge things I keep seeing, the barbells in people ears, eyebrows, noses and for heaven's sake, necks, etc.
5. Do your research! Make sure the place you go is clean - like uber clean. No mother wants to worry about you getting Hepatitis because you didn't check the place out. Also, make sure the person doing the tattoo/piercing actually knows what they heck they are doing. Is there anything worse than paying someone to permanently scar you BADLY? Just...do your homework. Make sure they know EXACTLY what you want.
How is this pretty? Pretty gross...
6. Think about what you will look like at 40, 50, 60 gah...80 with scars from piercings and gauges, and how saggy and absurd your tattoos will be. Just. Think. About. It.

Try to remember that you ARE AN ORIGINAL. There is no one else like you on the planet, so there is no need to tattoo, pierce or plug any of your parts in the name of originality. Look around - your entire generation (and some of mine, heaven help us) is carving chunks out of their ears, tatting themselves up and piercing everything. While many still seem to think it is cool, it is no longer new or original. You don't need to add anything to be original - you were made that way, in God's image.

Such a cutie - why, oh why the gauge?
Some may try to misconstrue my "perfect, unblemished skin" comments as vain or all about outer beauty - and it is to some extent. But, what I am getting at is - I think you should try to be the TRUE, unblemished version of yourself as much as possible. Because you were perfectly made. You cannot be improved upon by man made jewelry or 'artwork' - even if it is beautiful art - it cannot ever be as beautiful as what God made.
The tat is pretty, but not as pretty as she is...

Just something to think about. I am pretty sure I am gonna get flack for this one, but hey, it's been a while since I said something that was sure to get me into trouble soooooo.....

God bless!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Dad...

My dad is lots of things. He is a husband, father, grandfather, brother...but he is also this dynamic, amazing, loving, fun, water skiing, camping, boating, ocean loving, grandkid tossing, all around fantastic human.
When I was growing up he was the provider, the math tutor, the politico, the car fixer, the tickle monster (not in that order), the catechist, the oceanographer, the spider killer, the Nancy Drew reader, the driving instructor, the mailbox replacer (long story), the handyman, and most importantly, just Dad. He has always been this larger than life figure. He has always been my moral compass...because ya know, if Dad thinks it is wrong, it really is wrong, and if Dad thinks it is okay, then you are on the right track. My siblings and I all tend to get Dad's read on something if we need help making a decision.
My dad is still all of those things...and lots more. He is getting ready to retire at a very young 70. For some reason, this has been giving me a ton of anxiety and it actually took me nearly a month to figure out why. Of course I think he needs this time - it is their time - his and my mom's - to go and do what they want. See things, visit people, run around and have some fun.
My dad's dad retired, and from what I can remember, soon had a stroke, and wasn't able to do much. He died when I was just five years old, and I have more impressions of him than actual memories. Probably because he really didn't seem to be able to do much after he had the stroke.
My mom's dad retired, built a house, then had a stroke and died. It was longer than that, I know...but that's how it felt. So, I guess I feel like my dad retiring is so, so scary. I want him to be this young, energetic guy forever. Can we please just keep him like this forever?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Like, The Third Time I've Said This...

I miss blogging. I think about it all the time, but never seem to get here. I think out posts in my head, but never type them out. Right this minute, I have so much stuff to do, and so much going on, but I really miss this little corner of the web.

We've had the usual going on around here...like everyone else in this part of the country, we've been sick on and off since December. The baby - who is really a toddler, keeps getting random illnesses. We've done a horrible job this winter with getting people to PSR on Sunday mornings and to Mass. It's always something being passed around.

I hate the living daylights out of homeschooling - again and still. I really feel so overwhelmed and under-motivated. I tend to get that way when I feel like there is just too much. I think six school kids, a preschooler, a toddler and a household to run, plus working part time is just more than I can handle. I have always known my limits, but ignored them, and then done something poorly. All the way through college, in an effort to finish sometime in that decade, I would take more classes than I could handle, but I tried to make sure I had a "pass class" - a class I could just skate in. Otherwise, I would just not be able to cope. I do the same thing, now. I skate on something, and tend to rotate what that "something" is...unfortunately, it tends to be school. I really, really don't want to be a homeschooler. If we had a viable option, and it were just up to me, we wouldn't be doing it anymore. Unfortunately, we just don't have a lot of options here that work for us. I think we will probably keep homeschooling, but next year I am going to farm out everything I can...especially for my highschoolers. There have to be classes and things they can do without me.

Yeb and Priscilla are becoming really good buddies, and I love that. Maybe his reversion to babyhood was so he could grow up with her?

Kenzie has a boyfriend. A beau. He's a really great kid with all the credentials, ya know? Smart, Catholic, kind, gets her, motivated. All that stuff. She's set the bar pretty darn high for all future romantic interests.

My Jonah is growing up...he is so TALL. He is so good, and handsome, and loves his baby sister so much. All the kids love Peege, but he LOVE loves her. He comes up when she is sleeping in my lap and just lays a hand on her...my heart trips over itself when he looks at her, then looks at me and gives me that goofy shy smile of his. Gosh.

My Jenna is teaching herself to draw. She is AMAZING already, and draws a lot of patterns for fabric, and the skinny clothing model figures and clothes. I need to find lessons for her...

Kolbe is a full blown GUY. He's 11, and smart, and kind of a smart ass, but great and fun, too. I am not sure what he does all day, because I don't see much of him. He's always got something brewing.

Benny is 6. Very, very 6. He wants to go outside all the time. He doesn't understand why he can't play in the street alone. He wants to ride his bike and he will be just outside or be right back, okay, Mom? Nope. Sorry, pal. Not old enough to wander the streets alone, even in our small town. Drives him crazy that he always has to have a big brother whenever he wants to do something. Ah well...

Luke and Ben are getting ready for soccer soon. Lukey is so excited, but he is a bit on the chub side of things. I think he will be huffing and puffing for a few weeks...this will be so good for him, and we are ready to get the HECK out of this house, y'all! Oh my - what a winter. We all feel as though we have been trapped inside these walls forEVER. We've had a couple tiny tastes of spring so far, which have been met with short sleeves, windows flung wide and bare feet. I think our entire state is ready to say goodbye to snow and cold.

We have some hard things happening in our extended family, a very, very ill family member in need of prayer, so if you pray, please offer some up for Pam and her little guy. I know they would appreciate it.

As always, I have to be grateful for my Douglas. He keeps us all moving forward. I have been struggling with some anxiety. It took me a while to figure out what was causing it, but he has
kept me from falling to pieces for the last three or so weeks... I kinda dig that guy. I was just reading my old post about him. I am such a sap, but just thinking about him makes me cry. I truly wish everyone had a love like him in their lives. I pray all our children will find it...

I have a couple of posts floating in my head...I always do. One is about my dad...he is retiring. I don't like it. I 'll have to get back to you about why but my kids are waiting for dinner...

Pics in the sidebar to catch you up...