"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Counting with Clothespins

I let my little ones practice counting with clothespins today. I used number cards I swiped from another activity and Dollar Store clothespins that I bought forever ago. (I like them because they have fat, rubbery tips so they are a little easier for my littles to handle!) My 2 year old and 4 year old both enjoyed this activity quite a bit. Their excitement didn't last forever, but it kept their attention long enough for me to work with my big kids on a separate activity.

After posting this pic to Instagram so my mama friends could see and possibly use the idea with their littles, I decided that I wanted to make my own printable with pictures on each card for my 2 year old. That way, he can match up a clothespin to each star! Once he gets better at counting, I can swap him back to the number cards without the pictures. 

I'm going to print these out and laminate them so they won't get ruined by my destructive little boys. I was hoping to share the file on here, but I can't seem to find a way to do it. (Help?!) So...if you'd like for me to send the file to you, just comment here or send me a Facebook message!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Gift of a Great Daddy

Elijah sat up in bed this morning, gasped, and said, "Daddy!"
Then he climbed over to Buddy and gave him a huge hug.

After working 2 jobs all week and barely seeing each other, I don't know which one of them was loving that hug more. I wear many hats these days, especially when Buddy is working a lot of extra hours, but every time I see him give the kids a big bear hug, it confirms what I already knew:  

There is no way to replace a great Daddy. 

Buddy, thank you for all that you do for our family. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for teaching our kids how to be hard workers and good providers. Thank you for being the kind of man that takes pride in taking care of his wife and children. I might be the one spending more hours with them every week, but you are teaching them so much by your example.

So when we kiss you goodbye, I hope you leave us knowing how much you are loved and admired, and I hope you are able to take that love and admiration and use it to keep you going when your body is tired and your days seem unending.

Buddy, this Thanksgiving (and every other day of the year), 
we are all so very thankful for YOU.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Miss You

I miss you.
As I typed those words to Buddy this morning, I had a lump in my throat. Instead of hitting send on that short but meaningful message, I kept typing...

I miss you.  I keep daydreaming about you showing up at our door with flowers and reservations for a weekend away. I wish I could push away the desire for such things; I know the reality is that we cannot afford them (much less pursue them with the kids), but my heart is heavy with desire for you. It's not just physical desire, although that is definitely part of it; it's emotional and spiritual desire too. I want a weekend away from all of the noise and stress, so we can just be together - to talk, to pray, to embrace. I miss you so much.

I started to hit send, but stopped myself. While it's true that it's been far too long since we've spent more than a couple of hours alone, I decided it was best to bring my desires to prayer.

While I prayed, God reminded me how incredibly blessed I am to have such a strong desire for my husband after almost 10 years of marriage.  Many couples these days lose that fire before their first anniversary. As much as I pray for God to change our current financial struggle, I realized that if this is the cross that we must carry at the moment, as long as we have one another, it is worth the weight (and the wait, because I am still praying this trial doesn't last forever!).

To have a husband that I love and that loves me in return is priceless. The sacrifices we must endure seem like such a small offering when I use them to give thanks to God for the gift of my husband. It may be another 10 years before he can show up with flowers and reservations for a weekend away, but as long as he is the one at the door holding the flowers, I can wait.

God made me realize that one of the many blessings of our marriage is that we miss one another. I have a husband that I love so much that I actually miss him while he is gone! The sad truth is, some marriages don't even have that much.
Buddy, the next time you get that simple text from me, I hope you feel all of the love behind those three little words. That simple I miss you is more than just another way to say, "Hey, how's it going?" It's my way of saying that this marriage of ours is worth every sacrifice - the current one being the time I have to spend away from the one I love.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Never Say Never

My sweet baby recently learned to ask politely if he wants to nurse. He will climb on my lap and say, "Nurse, please?" 

When he remembers to be polite, it's a huge improvement from the shirt pulling, demanding little monkey that used to whine his way into getting his favorite snack. 

And then, just when I thought his cute meter was already off of the charts, I sneezed while nursing him this morning, and he stopped just long enough to say, "God bless you!

So. Freaking. Cute.

When I first decided to nurse my kids, I never, ever planned on nursing this long. Before I had my first baby, I didn't have the opportunity to be around other babies and toddlers very often. Most of my friends weren't even married, much less having kids.

Honestly, the first few times I saw someone nursing a baby past age one, I found it to be a little odd. A walking, talking kid still nursing?! I always thought the boob (and/or bottle) got taken away when the baby turned one. I certainly didn't think it was a bad thing; it was just...strange.

Well, with the company of many other parents, my motto has slowly become...


When my baby hit her first birthday, she wasn't ready to wean. I didn't have any reason to force the issue, so I didn't push it. It suddenly didn't feel weird to have a walking, talking baby still nursing. To me, it felt normal. Just because she was starting to walk and talk didn't magically turn my baby into a grown up!  She was still my baby, and she still needed to nurse.

It's funny how things can suddenly seem so different when you see them from a new perspective.

I also used to be one of those parents that said I'd never let a baby sleep in my bed.  Well, I made it through three kids on that plan, but by number four, we needed a new plan.  I caved when he was around 18 months old. He had been sick for 3 months straight, and I was tired! One night, I decided to bring him in our bed so I could nurse him while I snoozed, and we both slept so much better!  He's obviously gotten better since then, but he still loves to come into our bed. (He always starts off in his own room, so I still get some kid free time at the end of the day, thank God!)
So for now, especially since it might be a while before we have another baby (At least 9 months! Ha!), I'm enjoying his sweet snuggles in all the ways that he likes to give them, and I'm leaving my "nevers" for things that really matter. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Please Step Away From My Bedroom

It's no secret. Buddy and I are trying to avoid (or TTA in NFP terms) getting pregnant at the moment.  We have our reasons, and while I won't get into them all here, most of our family and close friends already know that the main reason we are avoiding is due to our current financial situation. 

Buddy has had a steady job now for almost a year, but the truth is, we are still struggling.  We aren't where we need to be, but he is working, and for that we are grateful. At the moment, we are just trying our best to stay afloat financially and emotionally, although some days are more difficult than I care to admit.

One of the worst things I've come to realize about financial struggles is that everyone seems to have an opinion.  Everyone seems to know exactly what you should and shouldn't be doing to make your life work better, and sadly, your sex life is no exception.

Ever since Buddy lost his job 2 years ago, we've heard an increase in comments about how we shouldn't get pregnant again.  Sadly, it's mostly been from family members who like to casually slip it into conversation as if they are discussing the weather, only they are actually instructing me not to have sex with my husband. 

"You do NOT need to get pregnant right now."  

"That is the LAST thing you should be thinking about!"

Any time the subject of growing our family comes up, I try to reiterate that our plan is to practice our faith. We may be TTA, but no matter what our reasons are for trying to avoid pregnancy at the moment, we will always remain open to having more children.

Since so many people feel that they have the right to step into our bedroom and dictate discuss our plans for children with us, I am going to spend a few minutes explaining what TTA means for us right now.  

TTA means we are praying.  We are in constant prayer about if and when we should change our practice of TTA to TTW (trying to whatever, which means just being open to whatever happens) or even TTC (trying to conceive, using my signs of fertility to try and achieve another pregnancy). 

TTA means we are sacrificing.  We are avoiding being intimate any time I have signs of fertility. Being postpartum and nursing means my cycles aren't always easy to read. If there is a question about if I am fertile, that means we don't have sex. 

TTA means we are committed.  When you are TTA, you aren't popping a pill in your mouth every day for birth control; you are using self-control. It's not a mindless act like taking your vitamins; it requires a major commitment. Since we have prayerfully discerned that we need to TTA, we have to remain strong for one another.  Denying ourselves sex can sometimes feel like cruel and unusual punishment when the world is doing such an amazing job of promoting "SEX! SEX! SEX! Anytime, anywhere, with anyone!"  The truth is, even though Buddy and I would obviously love it if we never had to abstain, we aren't buying what the world is selling.  We are committed to one another, we are committed to our marriage, and are we are committed to our Catholic faith.  That means we are also committed to using NFP when we need to avoid pregnancy.

TTA means that we are fully aware that God is in control. By using NFP, we always remain open to life.  While we are using the signs that God has given us to track my fertility, every time we have sex, we also know that God could still send us a child. To be completely honest, we might freak out a bit if we found out I was pregnant again, but we trust in God to provide for us.  We know that if God sends us a child when we are TTA, it means He knows better than we do about the timing of our next baby.

And we aren't just OK with this plan--we take comfort in it. 

As you can see, we don't take our family planning lightly, so consider this my warning. The next time I hear a comment like, "Well, we ALL know that you aren't pregnant RIGHT NOW!" I might not be able to hold my tongue.

Instead, I might just let you in on a little secret:

The only ones deciding whether or not I get pregnant right now are me, Buddy, and God. 

Now I'd appreciate it if you'd please step away from my bedroom.

Monday, May 19, 2014

We Do I'm Sorry

Confession: I struggle a lot with losing my temper.

I don't know if it's from lack of sleep, stress from our financial situation, or if I'm just feeding off of the crazy little monkeys that I hang out with all day, but lately, the amount of time it takes me to get from awake to losing it is alarmingly short. (And no, before you suggest it, coffee doesn't seem to do the trick.)

Sometimes, I really worry about what these moments of insanity are doing to my kids. When I completely lose it, I'm teaching them that behavior. I'm essentially telling them, "When you get really upset about something, all bets are off."

I'm teaching them that when you get really angry, it's OK to go all Hulk on one another.

I might start my day with good intentions, but after answering the same question for the fifteenth time in a ten minute span, the ish usually starts to hit the fan.

There are days when I am able catch myself and pray my temper down, and then there are days when I get angry so fast, I don't even notice my shirt ripping to pieces and my skin turning green.  

Besides praying my way through these challenging moments, I've also found that it helps to sit down with my kids and to explain to them why I blew up.  We talk about what they did that contributed to me losing it, and after discussing what we all could have done differently, we apologize to one another.

Wait. YOU apologize to your KIDS?

Yes, you read that right.  I ask them for forgiveness.  I look them in the eyes and ask them to forgive me for letting my temper get out of hand. 

It is really important to me that I set a good example for my kids. From the beginning, I knew I didn't want to be one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" kind of parents.  If I'm going to expect my child to learn how to control his or her temper, then after 30 years of practice, I can't allow myself to set my bar lower than theirs.  If anything, I should expect more from myself. That being said, when I screw up, I let them know it. 

I know that some people might disagree with me on this, but in my opinion, allowing myself to be vulnerable with my kids is invaluable to me. It lets them know that we all screw up.  We all make mistakes, even Mama, and when we do, we must ask for forgiveness. 

The thing is, my kids are smart cookies.  If I don't practice what I preach, it's going to bite me in the ass. If I don't show them that even Mama has to ask for forgiveness, then I feel like I am giving them a false sense of what it means to be an adult.  

The truth is, I screw up all of the time.  Now, I don't want to go around shouting that from the rooftops, but if my kids see me make a mistake, I think that it's good for them to see me try to fix that mistake.  

Learning to ask for forgiveness is such an important lesson in life. None of us are immune to making mistakes, and I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want my kids thinking that I can't own up to my own sins. I want them to hear me asking for forgiveness. I want them to see me go to Confession. I want them to know that we are a family, and in this house we do I'm sorrys, and we do LOVE.

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