Motherhood & Parenting

Children & Chores!

Awhile ago I was asked if I might share what our children do around the house?  You bet.

Children & Chores

It’s just downright hard raising kids, no?

The other day I was delegating extra chores to the children, and it was entertaining to observe their reactions.  One rolled her eyes.  One flung himself on a chair and cried, “Oh, why?!”  Another slid towards the door and ducked out, hoping he wasn’t seen, while The Eldest sermonized on the injustice of it all.

I did have one child quietly and immediately go grab the broom.  (What an angel.)

I had the thought that this would be a lot easier if I could just hire a nanny.  Except that I’d probably need 5 nannies to get all this work done.

Yeah, like 5 nannies, a cleaning lady, a cook, and a mechanic.  That’s what I’d need to run this circus parade.

Just What In the World Do Your Children Do Anyway?

Now, before I begin, I must remind everyone that just because my children do these particular tasks, doesn’t necessarily mean that yours will need to too.  All families are different and have different needs after all.

So without further ado, here we go.

The Eldest (12 yrs. old)

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Here she is.  Diligently drying dishes.

1.  Makes breakfast for everyone Monday through Friday.
2.  Takes out all trash, whenever needed, because she once complained about it.
3.  Wipes table at lunch.
4.  Dries dishes at supper.
5.  On Saturdays, cleans main floor girl bathroom, hallway, homeschool room, and front door area.*

Twin #1 (10 yrs. old)

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He made supper this night, but that’s not his regular chore.  He volunteered for this one.

1.  Washes dishes at lunch.
2.  Washes dishes at supper.
3.  On Saturdays, cleans basement living room, laundry room, and stairway.

Twin #3 (10 yrs. old)

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Whoa, look at those muscles…

1.  Dries dishes at lunch.
2.  Sweeps floor at supper.
3.  On Saturdays, cleans basement boy bathroom (gross, just gross) and upstairs living room.

Child #4 (8 yrs. old)

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He gets to vacuum the garage every night.  He’s terrible at it, though, because he’s so easily distracted by rollerblades, ping-pong balls, baseball bats…you name it.  It takes him forever.

1.  Sets table at breakfast
2.  Sweeps floor at lunch.
3.  Vacuums garage rug after supper.  (Ha!)
4.  On Saturdays, cleans boy bedroom and garage.

Child #5 (6 yrs. old)

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She’s my best organizer.  She’d organize the dirty laundry basket, if I asked her to.

1.  Sets table at breakfast.
2.  Wipes table at lunch.
3.  Carries cloth napkins to laundry after supper.
4.  On Saturdays, cleans baby room and girl bedroom.

Child #6 (3 yrs. old)

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So cute.

1.  She does nothing though.
2.  Just nothing.
3.  What a slacker.

The Toddler (1 yr. old)

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Found her in the pantry.  Just wrecking stuff.

1.  Just wrecks stuff.
2.  Like all the time.
3.  At least she’s happy!

There are other things they help out with too.  For example, this summer the twins had to water all 200 bushes and trees twice a week.  This took them about 3 hours a shot.

And of course all the children help weed and care for the garden and all that.

Chores as a Consequence For Bad Behavior?

Yes.

We are firm believers in administering chores as consequences.  In fact, I’m really into using consequences to my advantage and to the benefit of the house.

For example, if Twin #1 punches his brother, I just pause a minute and look around.  Hmmm…what needs to get done around here?  “Twin #1, you will now need to wash all the living room windows.”

“Ah, Mom!”

“Now you’ll need to wash the dining room windows too.”

Allowances?

Nope.

I know allowances work for some families, and I’ve even heard of families incorporating math with the administration of them, which I think is admirable, but just the thought of that overwhelms me.  In fact, I don’t carry a lot of cash around, and really, I don’t want the hassle of paying the children to do things.  Call me lazy.  Or just plain busy.

That said, I do bribe them from time-to-time with odd jobs.  For example, the other day I wanted the junk drawer organized.  I didn’t want to do it.  I offered Child #5 a handful of gummy bears, if she’d do it?  Gladly.

Then, I wanted the van washed.  “Boys, want to earn $3?”

“Yes.”

And then sometimes they get creative and accost me with a proposition.

“Hey, Mom, would you like the van vacuumed too?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll do it for $2.”

“You’re hired.”

Last Question on Money

From time-to-time the children do get money from us and from relatives on birthdays or whatever.  So, then, what do the children do with their money?

We require them immediately to put half of whatever they’ve received into their piggy banks, which eventually gets deposited into their savings accounts.

The other half they may do with as they please.  Usually they just stuff it all in their piggy banks anyway.

Any other questions?  Be sure to ask!

 

 

*These Saturday cleanings are supposed to be very thorough.  Each child has a check list of things that they must do to each room.  Now, there are slackers among the ranks, and we do have to help those slackers to remember to actually DO their cleaning…

 

 

Motherhood & Parenting

In the Hospital Again

Dear Readers,

I am sorry to have such depressing news lately, but it cannot be helped.  We need your prayers once again for Paul.

Last week he began having prolonged headaches again, and we knew something was up. On Sunday I drove through the night, back to Rochester.  It was an excruciating drive, as he was vomiting, and during intense periods of head pain, his body tightened into a ball, and he slurred his speech, unable to control even his facial muscles.

I prayed that Mary would fly us to the hospital.

Paul prayed for Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, that he might come to his senses, and for my brother, who is suffering from a terrible year of farming.

Well, we made it, and spent a few sleepless hours in the ER.  Yesterday Paul had surgery to revise his shunt once again, which, due to the incredibly small space within which the catheter must go, keeps getting blocked.

Tomorrow he’ll undergo a second surgery to place another shunt in his spine, in hopes of alleviating the pressure in his brain.

Today, Paul is feeling much better.  I am sorry I don’t have a picture to show it.  I am incapable of figuring out how to sync photos from my phone to the laptop.  My Web Master* will hopefully attach a photo later this evening, for those of you who might be interested.  So be sure to check back.

In any case, we pray that this next surgery will be successful, but if not, we pray for the strength and courage to continue suffering this battle.  And if you think of it, would you kindly say a prayer for us too?

* Compliments of the Web Master:

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Homeschooling, Motherhood & Parenting

10 Things I Wish I Knew 8 Years Ago

Well here we go again – the start of another school year.

For those of you interested in homeschooling, today I’ve updated my List of 10 in honor of another year of teaching.  For the original, see HERE.

Homeschooling: Hard, But Rewarding

Now I’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years, and this has been the hardest job I’ve ever had.  It’s certainly harder than when I taught sophomores at a high school.  Or the time I shelved books in a library.  Or the time I cleaned toilets at a state park.  Or, well, you get the idea.

And I hate to break it to those of you just beginning, but it does get harder.  For example, eight years ago, I only had a kindergartner.  Now I’ve got a 7th-grader, two 5th-graders, a 3rd-grader, and a 1st-grader.  (Not to mention a 3-year-old and a tornado-wrecking-toddler.)  But the good news is, it’s all worth it.

The following is a list of things that I’ve found helpful to remember over these last 8 years.

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10 Things I Wish I Knew 8 Years Ago

  1.  Get up before the children do.

Yep, you just need to do it.  You’d never stroll into your old job at the office without being ready for it.  I mean, praying, showering, putting on “real” clothes…  If you can do this, your day is set.

Now that said, there are seasons when this is not possible.  For example, the three-month-old baby screamed all night and Susie puked and Timmy wet the bed.

But just because I think this one is really important, I’ll give you Jennifer Fulwiler’s thoughts too:

“It’s not always possible, but if you can make a habit of getting up an hour before everyone else in the house, it will change your life. (I say this as the biggest non-morning-person in the universe. There are vampires who enjoy watching the sun rise more than I do.)”**

**Click HERE for Fulwiler’s complete list of things she’s learned while parenting.  She’s hilarious.

  1.  It is a bad idea to compare yourself to others.

I’ll repeat that: it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others.

For example, I will never be a crafty mother.  I detest finger-painting, gingerbread-house-making, and sticker charts.  If my children can’t do the project on their own, forget about it.  Now I know some of you are very talented in these artistic areas.  This is a good thing, and I’m genuinely glad for your family.  I’ve decided not to worry about my creative disabilities, however, and it’s freeing.

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This is the extent of my “craftiness.”  The children may draw whatever they want.  Then they can hang it on the Art Wall themselves.  My Art Wall, which adorns a hallway, consists of a white board with a few clothespins stuck on it.

But it goes beyond not worrying about my lack of creativity.  I’ve also got to not worry about all that awesome curricula that other mothers are using and I’m not.  So what if my kids don’t have a Book of Centuries?  Or don’t have official Science books?  I’m ok with that because we’re working on things that we’ve decided are important for our family.

All families will look differently.  And that’s a good thing.

  1.  Quit worrying about your children not learning anything.

This one’s absurd.  Anyone remember Andrew Pudewa relating his experience in a “public prison,” by which he meant a public school?  How he would get so bored, he’d see how hard he could bite himself?  Then, when he’d get sick of that, he’d see how long he could hold his breath.  (I actually remember doing that one in public school too.)  The point is, our children are learning.  And in the very least, they shouldn’t have to resort to arm-biting and breath-holding.

  1.  Make a “Rule” or schedule for your days and stick to it.

This is really freeing–almost as much as not comparing yourself to others.   With my Rule, my priorities are set, and I know what I’m supposed to be doing at all times during the day.  If you’re looking for more about this, I recommend Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life.  She’s really intense, but insightful.

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This is my 3rd or 4th copy, as I keep giving them away.
  1.  Just because one child seems born to learn quickly, don’t think they all will.

I had a child who sat down and read the Old Testament for fun, at the age of five.  I can tell you, it was a piece of cake teaching that one to read.  But with the next two children I spent at least three years in purgatory, just sitting on my couch, praying to Jesus to give me the patience to not rip the book out of the kid’s hand, chuck it across the room, and storm out myself.  (May it please God to not test my patience any further with slow readers, for I may not make it.  Amen.)

  1.  Outsource those terrible subjects you hate.

I hate math.  And guess what?  When I attempt to teach math, my loathing for the subject comes out, no matter how hard I try to hide it.  But my husband loves math, so a few years ago, he took it over.  (I will love him forever for it.)

In our household, math starts at 7am.  Yep, before breakfast, and it still goes well.  If there’s a subject you despise, think creatively.  Maybe switch a subject with another homeschool mom?  Or, budget for and hire a tutor?  Enroll in an online program?  (We’ve got one enrolled online this year too, and it’s awesome.)

  1.  Eat breakfast like a prison camp.

In our house, everybody eats breakfast at the same time; everybody eats the same thing; everybody cleans up their spot together.  We eat peanut butter toast every single morning.  We’ve done it for years.  There’s never any complaining about it because they know what to expect.

And I never have to worry about meal planning for breakfast.  On the weekend, there is a reprieve.  Saturday is oatmeal.  Sunday is cold cereal, which is their favorite.  You can imagine their excitement when my parents give them orange juice, as a present.

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I keep the bread and PB right above the toaster, as it’s The Eldest’s job to make all 13 slices of toast every morning.
  1.  Learn to say no.

Do you want to destroy your family life?  Then frantically run from event to event, never eat a meal together, and never pray together.

As a culture, we are far too busy.  Little Sally does not need to participate in gymnastics and tee-ball while playing on the soccer team and taking violin, piano, and voice lessons.  This is ridiculous.  Pick one.

And let your children experience a childhood of climbing trees with their siblings, reading a book on the grass, eating dinner as a family, and receiving Dad’s blessing at night.  This other Chosen Busyness is Satan’s great attempt to divide families.  And it’s crept right into Catholic and home schools.

  1.  Are you going crazy?

From time to time, I have to put myself in time-out.  I mostly prefer to hide in the laundry room with a glass of wine, but there isn’t anywhere comfortable to sit, so sometimes I sneak out to the garage and grab lawn chair.  What do you do to get away?

Furthermore, I recommend instituting quiet time every afternoon.  And if possible, take a few Saturdays off a month, and go on a monthly date with your husband.  Life is too short to do otherwise.

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This oughtta look classy in the cupholder of my camping chair in the garage.
  1.  Lastly, and most importantly, begin each day with prayer.

This goes along with #1.  Get up before the children and pray.  You need it.  In fact, not only should you have a regular time for prayer every day, but you should also consider a weekly Adoration hour.  Shoot, it might be the only quiet hour of your week.  (It is of mine.)  So, get after it!

Jesus should always come first.

 

If you’ve found this post helpful, send it to someone else who might appreciate it.

Anyone have other thoughts or ideas?  I’d enjoy hearing about them.

Motherhood & Parenting

A Mother’s Heart During a Miscarriage

I just recently miscarried our 8th child.  I had only been pregnant 5 weeks, which is to say, that I had only known I was pregnant for about a week before the baby died.

Backing Up a Bit

Now let me back up a bit.  In case you’re new here, you may not know that our family has had one wild year, with the most stressful thing being the health of Paul.  In particular, we have spent the last few weeks making multiple trips to Mayo in Rochester, resulting in two surgeries.

In the midst of this, I became pregnant.  Now I know some of you will think this is irresponsible.  Some of you will shrug your shoulders and scoff at the effectiveness of NFP.  Some of you will think we’re just downright crazy.

And so we are.  For we knew what we were doing.  It was not a reckless choice; rather, it was a decision of love.

Because I do chart according to the Creighton Model, I knew I was pregnant before I took the test.  And truthfully, in spite of it all, I was struggling with feelings of doubt, of stress, and of, well, craziness.

In fact, I spent an hour with Jesus in Adoration, discussing these very things.  After I poured my heart out to Him, I opened my Bible to read my passage for the day, which happened to be Isaiah 61.  Knowing my passage was coming from Isaiah, I fully expected to read something about fire and brimstone and years of exile.  Instead, I got this:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called the oaks of righteousness…”

A Year of the Lord’s Favor

I read and reread that passage.  A year of the Lord’s favor…garlands, oils, mantles of praise…  I let it wash over me, and I left Adoration feeling light and full of hope.  This was going to be a year of the Lord’s favor.  I mean, that’s awesome!  Who know what’s in store for me?  Whatever it is, it’ll be great.

A few days later, a pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions.  I’d be lying, however, if I said that I was all jumping jacks and high fives.  No, I was worried.  My pregnancies are never easy after all, and how was I going to handle this?

Then I thought of all the things I’d have to say “no” to.  No to a silent retreat.  (I’d be too sick.)  No to running and biking and even walking later on.  No to fitting into my clothes again.  No to wine and lemon martinis.  No to sleeping ever again.  No, no…no.

Thankfully, however, I have great friends who reminded me of my silliness and then, I also remembered Isaiah  61–a year of the Lord’s favor.  After I hyperventilated for one more minute, I stopped and laughed out loud.  A year of favor from the Lord!

Yes, suffering and pregnancies and children are great blessings from the Lord.  All one needs to do is read Psalms 127 and 128 to know that.  In fact the Bible is replete with passages about children being a blessing.

As a couple of days went by, my husband and I began to be excited.  8 kids!  Under the age of 13!  Wow, we’re so blessed!

St. John Marie Vianney’s Heart

During this time, the heart of St. John Marie Vianney happened to be at the Cathedral for two days of public veneration, so I loaded the children up and braced myself for long lines.

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This is the holy card that they handed out at the door of the Cathedral.

When we walked into the church, however, almost nobody was there.  I held the baby, grabbed the hand of the 3-year-old, and led the children straight to the kneelers, which were placed directly in front of St. Vianney’s heart.  We knelt and prayed.  We touched our scapulars to the glass of the reliquary.  Then I handed the baby off to The Eldest and prayed some more.

I prayed that my guardian angel would somehow take the heart of St. Vianney and touch my heart with it.  I prayed that he’d touch the heart of my cousin, who suffers from alcoholism.  I prayed that he’d touch the heart of a certain priest I know.  I prayed that he’d touch the heart of my husband, my children, and lastly, the little baby growing inside of me.

My heart swelled with emotion, as I knelt there with all 8 of my children surrounding me.  God is so good, so good.

Afterwards, we stopped by a friend’s house, and I mentioned my pregnancy and the Isaiah passage about a “year of favor from the Lord.”  She said, “You know, that reminds me of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary with, ‘Hail, Favored One.'”

How beautiful!  To connect a year of “favor” and pregnancy to Mary, Full of Grace, and certainly favored.  My heart was full.

My Heart Breaks

Two hours later I began bleeding.  At first I couldn’t believe it.  Maybe the baby would still be ok?  I called my doctor, but I couldn’t get in to see him until the next day.

And that night the baby died, as I bled and bled.

In the morning, my husband and I stood before the icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and my soul cried, My little baby!  I will never hold you in this life!  Did I tell you how much I love you?

My husband held me.  We prayed Morning Prayer and knew that the baby needed a name.  As I had mentioned Isaiah 61 and the Annunciation to him earlier, we named the baby Gabriel Marie.  We thanked God for his life, and we commended him to Jesus and Mary.

We told the children too, as they joined us for Morning Prayer, and we answered their innocent, concerned questions as best as we could.

Then my husband had to go to work, and I had to take care of the children.  It was an emotional day.

My Heart Grows

Life must go on.

A few days later I was in Adoration again, and I was overcome with a spirit of doubt–doubt about my feelings, doubt about naming the baby, doubt about the existence of the baby himself.  Maybe I was just being ridiculous?  Overreacting?

I soon realized, however, that these agitating thoughts were not from Jesus, and I cast them aside.  But still, in a place of fear, I begged Jesus, Please will you give me a sign about little Gabriel?  Jesus, I am weak.  If my Gabriel was real, let me come across someone named Gabriel today.  But not my will, only Your will be done.

I left Adoration feeling a little down and drove to the grocery store.  As I pushed the cart around, I forgot all about my prayer and moved to a checkout lane.  I zipped by an empty one, because I was looking for a particular clerk that I always go to.  But she wasn’t there, so I backed up and entered the empty lane and began unloading my groceries.

When I glanced up, I noticed a new clerk, someone I had never seen before.  His name was Gabriel.

I was stunned.  Could this be a coincidence?  No, for there is no such thing for those who believe in God.  Oh, how my heart swelled again!  How weak and fickle I am, but Jesus is so good to his little ones.  I felt His love in that moment and knew that my Gabriel would be ok.

I continued unloading my groceries, and I smiled at Gabriel the clerk.

When I got home, these greeted me:

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While I was away, someone had anonymously sent me these beautiful flowers with a quotation from the Bible which reads,

“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, alleluia.”

Motherhood & Parenting

Paul’s Surgery is Done

For those of you who are following Paul’s plight, here’s an update.

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On Monday we began the long trek back to Rochester for a second surgery, which lasted about 3 hours.  His doctor reopened his incisions from 7 years ago and made a thorough examination of his old shunt system, beginning with the shunt itself, down to the valve behind his ear, and finally snaking all the way down his neck into his stomach cavity.

The doctor was hoping that he’d discover that it was malfunctioning, which would be an easy explanation for the incredibly high levels of pressure in Paul’s brain during his migraines.  But he did not.  The old shunt was functioning.  Nevertheless, he replaced it with all newer equipment, in hopes that even though the old equipment was functioning, perhaps it wasn’t functioning optimally.

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Here’s a closer shot of two of his incisions.  There’s a third on his stomach, where the tubing ends.

And how was Paul during this four day trial?  Physically he was as well as could be expected, but emotionally and psychologically, he was down.  Very down.  As a mother, this was the hardest thing to watch.  He didn’t want to be in a hospital anymore.  He didn’t want to have wires and tubes sticking out of him.  He didn’t want to wear a hospital gown.  But he didn’t cry about it; he just looked terribly sad.

So we prayed through it.  This time he chose to offer his sufferings for our family.  We prayed rosaries.  We prayed morning and night prayer.  But really, I think he was just exhausted, as we all were.

Finally the day after his surgery in the afternoon, he picked up a little, as the beautiful water fountain out of his window was turned on that day, and he could watch it from his window.

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When he could move around, he sat up in the window and watched the courtyard fill with people enjoying the fountain and warm weather.

My mom and I also walked him down the hall to a pottery class for the children on his floor.  He didn’t want to walk out there in his hospital gown, dragging an IV cart along, but he did.

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Here he is, painting a mug.  The local company that sponsored this activity will fire it and mail it to him.

We also found other things to distract him with.  We watched the Twins play baseball.  (Paul’s a big fan of Rosario, and it was neat to see him hit a few home runs.)  My mom bought a lego set, which he put together, took apart, put together…  We read a few light books, you know, like Frog and Toad.

In the end, it is our hope that this new shunt will somehow alleviate his migraines, and they will disappear.  High levels of pressure in one’s brain is a very serious thing.  Children with hydrocephalus die or go into a coma with the same levels that Paul was experiencing–levels into the 40s and 50s.  But because his levels are cyclic, however, he manages to be ok, and has not had any damage to his brain, yet.

Paul’s doctor has said that if this shunt doesn’t work, then we’ll have to think about another surgery wherein he’ll take apart his cranium and reassemble it with a plastic surgeon to allow for more space, in an attempt to alleviate those pressure levels.

Lastly, a Thank You

Truly, my husband and I are very thankful for the great help of the staff, doctors, and nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.  They’ve all been so helpful and kind.

We’re also greatly indebted to our parents who have done so many things for us over these last four weeks–watching children, cooking meals, paying for hotels and gas and food, allowing us to use their reliable car, and indeed accompanying us on these many trips.  How could we do it without you?  We couldn’t.  May God bless you for your generosity and love.  We love you all so much.

Lastly, we want to thank everyone who has prayed with us during this difficult trial.  As prayers and sacrifices are hidden things, and we may never know about them, we pray that God, who is a great Father, will reward you all abundantly.

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Here he is on the way home.  The doctors gave him some gear to show his siblings.  He’s also sporting his new Twins Rosario t-shirt.  Thank you, Mom!
Motherhood & Parenting

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom: Post Revisited

Awhile back in January, I wrote the following post in honor of my mom.  Today I am highlighting it, in honor of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!*

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This is my mom and me.

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

  1. She doesn’t mind that I call her obnoxiously, like every other day.  I’m a natural chatterbox and like to talk.  Who better to call?
  2. When she visits, she likes hanging out with me.  I mean, she’ll actually ditch the grandkids and willing do something with just me.  She’ll even go to a coffee shop, even though she–gasp–hates coffee!
  3. She’s sacrificial.  Like I just said.  Furthermore, even though she despises onions–horror of horrors!–she’ll feign to eat them for my sake, for I can’t live without them and put them into practically everything.  She just smiles and nibbles away at them.
  4. She also hates running, but guess what?  She’s ran a few road races with me.  And one time, we even convinced my sister to run one too.  But that was awful because she complained the whole time that she was going to die, which she obviously didn’t.  (Speaking of, want to do another one, Mom?)
  5. Did I mention that she’s seriously sacrificial?  When she visits, if my dishes need washing, she’ll wash them.  If my cupboards need cleaning, she’ll clean them.  If my toilet needs scrubbing, she’ll scrub it.

I’ve got a lot to learn from my mother.

Thank you, Mom!  I love you!

Final Note

Today, since it’s January 22 and the anniversary of that horrible Supreme Court decision to allow for abortion in this country, and since you’re obviously alive and reading this, give your mother a call and thank her for giving birth to you.  (Especially if you were born after 1973, the year that satanic law went into place.)

Secondly, pray for an end to the Scourge of Abortion.  Do an act of penance.  Today our family will be eating plain bread for breakfast.

*The funny thing is, she doesn’t read my blog!  Technology is not her thing, nor mine either for that matter.  So, I’ll have to send the link to her phone, or have my husband do it…
Motherhood & Parenting

The Plan For Paul

For those of you interested in my son, Paul, here is another update.

Last night he finally slept, and as you can see from the photo below, he woke up with a little more pizzazz.

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Here he is, feeling better.  

As an aside, the other day, when the nurses wheeled him in for surgery prep, one of the nurses asked him, “Do you know any jokes?”

With a twinkle in his eye, Paul politely answered, “Yes,” and calmly asked, “Have you seen the new movie called Constipation yet?”

“Nope.  Never heard of it.”

“Well, that’s because it hasn’t come out yet.”

And that, my dear readers, is my son’s favorite joke.

The Plan, In Short

After two days of monitoring the pressure in his brain, his doctors have determined that his existing shunt is malfunctioning and possibly sucking in bits of his brain.  So next Tuesday, Paul will have another surgery to remove the existing shunt and to place a new one in.

One more week of this!  Oh, please pray for me too!

And a Thank You

Lastly, we want to thank Fr. Kasel from the archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul for traveling to Rochester to anoint Paul.  Truly, we are very grateful.  He not only anointed him, but prayed with him, heard his confession and played cards with him.

May God bless you,  Fr. Kasel!

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Paul, my husband, Shawn, and Fr. Kasel
Motherhood & Parenting

Update on My Son, Paul

Dear Readers,

I write this morning asking for prayers.  Our son, Paul, is currently in Rochester, MN, being monitored at the hospital in the ICU.

My husband and father-in-law drove down a few days ago for an Intracranial Pressure Monitor to be placed under his skull.  This device monitors the pressure in his brain to determine if there’s too much.  For example, the doctor explained, when you have a bowel movement, the pressure levels in your brain reach 30, but only briefly.  Normally the levels of pressure in your brain do not exceed 20 mmHg.

One cannot sustain high levels of pressure for extended periods of time without eventually doing great damage to the brain.  In fact, one of the first things to go are the eyes.  Blindness will result from high, extended levels of pressure.

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Paul, after surgery yesterday with the Intracranial Pressure Monitor

In any case, Paul’s doctors are concerned that his existing shunt, which was placed in 2012 to drain an arachnoid cyst, might be causing problems.  The only way to determine if this is the case, is to monitor it.

Immediately upon placing the monitor on his brain, the doctors noticed elevated levels of pressure of around 40.  Obviously, this is not good.  After a few hours, however, it did go down, when Paul’s migraine went away.

Last night, though, was a rough night.  Paul had another migraine and spend the night intermittently vomiting.  The pressure levels in his brain reached into the 50s and did not return to normal until around 6am.

Later today, we should know more information, as to what the doctor wants to do.  He’s only seen a handful of these cases – children with existing shunts experiencing dreadful migraines.  We are praying that the angels will guide the doctors into making the right decisions.

Please, remember Paul and his doctors in your prayers today.

Motherhood & Parenting

Bare Midriffs, Bikinis, and Leggings – Oh My!

Since I brought up the topic of clothing and closets in the last post, I thought I’d examine it a bit further.

When I was younger, I got away with wearing just about anything.  Tight jeans?  No problem.  Bare midriffs?  Big deal.  Tube tops?  How cute!  Bikinis?  Of course.

My parents were too busy to notice, and I took advantage of the situation.  But let me be clear, I knew what I was doing.  I wanted attention from men, and I got it.

I’m older now, and I’ve thought about these things.  Truly, it was really damaging for me to dress that way, for I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough, but that I had to, in a sense, sell my body for attention and love.

About 15 years ago, when I came back into the Catholic Church, I began to look seriously at how I dressed.  These things matter after all, and I found that I was sending the wrong message.  No, it wasn’t ok for me to dress in such a way as to make men’s heads turn.

The body is to be hidden, veiled if you will, because it is holy and beautiful.  And no, this does not mean that one must wear only denim jumpers and turtlenecks, far from it.  Rather, we are called to wear clothing that is simple, but dignified and beautiful, if possible.

In our culture, this is hard.  It takes an extra effort to search out those stores that even make suitable clothing.  But this is a battle worth fighting for, and I’m thankful that my husband takes the lead on this one.  He sees that our culture is losing this battle, and he wants our children to begin wearing appropriate clothing now, as little children, so as to grow in the habit.  These things matter.

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Daughter #2 hard at work this morning.

For example, when leggings became all the rage a few years ago, our family made a conscious decision to never wear them alone.  This goes for me and even the two-year-old.  If we want to wear leggings, we must wear a skirt or dress over them–just a shirt doesn’t cut it.  My husband and I want to be sure that our girls know that they are beautiful and have great dignity, and that there are other things to wear besides just leggings.

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The Two-Year-Old this morning.  She refused to smile for me.  She picks out her own outfits.

Most people “get it” that husbands and dads don’t care to stare at women out in public wearing skin-tight clothing, but from a woman’s point of view, I find it hard too.  I don’t like to see other women wearing revealing clothing because sometimes it makes me feel poorly about myself.  I think, “Wow, she looks great.  I certainly don’t have that kind of body.  Maybe I should workout more…”  And then, if I don’t stop it, those thoughts continue to speed downhill.  This will always be a struggle for me.

I mention all of this today because I want to encourage those of you who do attempt to dress in a modestly beautiful way, and I want to challenge those of you who may need to take a closer look at your wardrobes.

Just how should one dress as a daughter of the King?

I know I have some work to do, as I am in constant need of conversion.  How about you?

 

Motherhood & Parenting

More Migraines

Dear Readers,

Today I ask for prayers.

My son’s migraines have been increasing in frequency lately.  Instead of suffering a major episode once every 3-4 weeks, he’s now experiencing them every 5-10 days.  In case you’re new here, his migraines begin with a headache, but quickly advance to an all-out debilitating migraine.  He quits moving; he quits eating.  He curls up in a ball on the couch or his bed and trembles in pain.  His eyes glass over, and he moans.  Hours later, he vomits and vomits.  It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours to come out of it.

After visiting with three of his doctors yesterday, we have yet another CT scan scheduled for tomorrow to check his shunt.  (When he was 3 years old, we discovered an arachnoid cyst that covered 1/3 of his brain.  This shunt continually drains this fluid into his stomach cavity.)  I am not very hopeful, however, that anything will be discovered because he just had an MRI this last fall with everything checking out just fine.

In any case, if you have a minute, stop what you’re doing right now and offer a small prayer for him.  His patron saint is St. Paul, who was no stranger to suffering himself.

Motherhood & Parenting

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

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This is my mom and me.

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

  1. She doesn’t mind that I call her obnoxiously, like every other day.  I’m a natural chatterbox and like to talk.  Who better to call?
  2. When she visits, she likes hanging out with me.  I mean, she’ll actually ditch the grandkids and willing do something with just me.  She’ll even go to a coffee shop, even though she–gasp–hates coffee!
  3. She’s sacrificial.  Like I just said.  Furthermore, even though she despises onions–horror of horrors!–she’ll feign to eat them for my sake, for I can’t live without them and put them into practically everything.  She just smiles and nibbles away at them.
  4. She also hates running, but guess what?  She’s ran a few road races with me.  And one time, we even convinced my sister to run one too.  But that was awful because she complained the whole time that she was going to die, which she obviously didn’t.  (Speaking of, want to do another one, Mom?)
  5. Did I mention that she’s seriously sacrificial?  When she visits, if my dishes need washing, she’ll wash them.  If my cupboards need cleaning, she’ll clean them.  If my toilet needs scrubbing, she’ll scrub it.

I’ve got a lot to learn from my mother.

Thank you, Mom!  I love you!

Final Note

Today, since it’s January 22 and the anniversary of that horrible Supreme Court decision to allow for abortion in this country, and since you’re obviously alive and reading this, give your mother a call and thank her for giving birth to you.  (Especially if you were born after 1973, the year that satanic law went into place.)

Secondly, pray for an end to the Scourge of Abortion.  Do an act of penance.  Today our family will be eating plain bread for breakfast.

Motherhood & Parenting

My Favorite Book of 2018 & It’s My Birthday

My Favorite Book of 2018

For those of you wanting to start the year off with a good read, I thought I’d look back on all the books I read in 2018 and pick my favorite.  It is Michael O’ Brien’s Strangers and Sojourners, which I reviewed HERE.  It’s actually the first book in a series 7.  Click HERE for a look at all 7.  (And yes, you should read them all!)

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Seriously, this book is awesome.  It was written in 1997 and is prophetic.  

Some of you may be wondering what I’m reading right now.  Well, I’ve got a few books in the hopper and hope to do a some reviews in the coming weeks.  So you’ll have to wait.

And now, it’s my birthday, and so to honor my loving parents, I offer my Birthday Post from last year.  (Be sure to note that I am now 37, not 36!)

It’s My Birthday; My Mother’s Birth Story of Me

Today I turn 36.

 

I’m sure of this because I asked my husband, and he’s good at math.  I remembered I was born in 1982; he commented it was 2018; I said I couldn’t do the math, and he said, “You’re 36.”

 

Well, and here I was thinking that I was older.

 

Because birthing stories are never boring, I decided to call my parents to find out about mine, and my dad answered.  I asked him what he remembered about my birth.  The first thing out of his mouth was, “Well, there were five deer standing on the north side of the driveway.  It was snowy.”  And that was it.

 

So I asked my mother how it went.  You see, I am the Firstborn, which is always exciting because as you know, mothers and fathers have absolutely no clue what’s going on with Baby Number One.  And apparently I also offered some excitement for the little, rural hospital where I was born too.  For nobody else was having babies at the time, and those nurses were all bored and probably standing around the front desk smoking cigs.  In fact, I was the first baby of the year born there, and I had my photo taken for the newspaper.  This is my special Claim to Fame.

 

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This is the actual newspaper clipping of my mother holding me.

 

My mother said that she and my dad went to a New Year’s Eve party a few days before I was born, where everyone kept asking her, “When are you gonna have that baby?”  Her response was, “Tonight!”  Well, that didn’t happen, but on the morning of the 2nd she awoke with a pain.  So, at 8am she waddled out to the car and off they drove, apparently right by five deer in the snow.

 

Now as my mother was saying this, I could hear my dad in the background adding, “That car was a 1980 AMC Eagle.  Silver, and quite a fancy one.”  Then my mother added, “Well, and we needed that car like we needed another hole in our heads.”  And he responded with, “It was one of the first four-wheel-drive cars made.  And was a good one.”

 

Anyway, I was born at 6:28pm, and my mother was happy because I was normal.  Evidently she was pretty worried about that because I wouldn’t come out at the end of all that labor, so the doctor had to use some scary-looking tool – a forceps – to yank me out, which left a scrape alongside my upper right cheekbone.  (Look very closely at the above picture for the scab.)  So, besides my head being cone-shaped, which took her a little by surprise, she was thankful and happy to learn that scrapes do heal.

 

And so here I am, 36 years later, mostly normal, even though I was bottle fed and diapered with cloth and safety pins, which my mother said was “crappy.”  (They couldn’t afford the fancy disposable diapers.)

 

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This is my dad holding me.  Notice his sweet hair.  It was permed.  Now that’s getting your priorities straight – nice cars and sweet perms, but no disposable diapers.

 

Happy Birthday to me.  And Happy Birthday to St. Therese the Little Flower; she was also born on January 2, but in 1873.

 

St. Therese, pray for us.