Category Archives: Motherhood

Stress, Neurotics, and a Plea for Help

(Please note: Any self-derision in this article is largely tongue-in-cheek. While I am critical of myself in an mostly almost entirely healthy way, I’m also well aware of God’s infinite love for me and the fact that he wants me to love me too. And I do! I’m only human, but also trying to do better.)

The Story I’m Hoping isn’t Prophetic

Ray’s neuropsychologist shared a true story today of a young caregiver husband who literally passed out from malnutrition, exhaustion, and stress, hitting his head and causing a concussion. I think I’m taking better care of myself than that, but sometimes I do wonder.

The Stressor

So, here’s one major cause of my current stress: keeping my house in “livable” status. Right now, as I write, I’ve finally achieved it. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to last beyond 7:05 tomorrow morning, at which point in time the breakfast-making and lunch-packing mess, plus a toddler pulling out every toy we own, will throw it back into make-me-want-to-puke-or-scream-or-cry-or-maybe-all-three status.

So, we’re in livable status for the moment, but here’s the problem. I’ve been going non-stop since I woke up early this morning, and I just finally got to sit down and “relax” (if writing a blog post counts for relaxation) at 10:30. Livable status was achieved at 10:29.

Further exacerbating said stress is the knowledge that we’re having company Friday night, and Friday day promises to be a crazy mess of two doctor’s appointments for Ray, early pickup for four kids, preschool pickup for the toddler, running two kids allover the city for outings, and – oh, yeah – parent teacher conferences.

The reality is that, by the time our company arrives around 6:30, I’ll be lucky to have that breakfast/lunch/toddler mess cleaned up, let alone have dinner ready to be served.

Yes, I know. I never should have scheduled all of this for the same day. But I like to think I’m SuperWoman… until it becomes so incredibly obvious that I’m not. In my defense, I invited our friends before I knew any of this other stuff was going to happen. I scheduled the doctor’s appointments because we’ve been trying to get in since March and this date opened up. And the kids’ activities were planned by the PTO only a few weeks ago, but since their whole class is going… how can I say no?

My Neurotic Move

So, anyways, I actually pulled the slightly totally neurotic move of cancelling the plans with our friends, largely due to the knowledge that I would be freaking out trying to get the house cleaned. There were other reasons, but when I stopped and was totally honest with myself, I realized that the desire for a “company ready” house was playing a rather large role in my decision.

I know. It’s terrible! I’m an idiot and a social moron. What was I thinking?

I’ve re-extended the invitation, but they may now think that I didn’t really want them to come, or that I’m completely psycho, or both. The former is definitely not the case. As for the latter, well… the jury’s out.

Help, Please!

Okay. So, here’s why I’m writing this post. There are some very wise women who read this blog, and, even if you don’t identify yourself as such, I’m sure you have words of wisdom to help me solve my dilemma. (The dilemma being how to stay on top of my house without working until 10:30 every night, not the dilemma of over-scheduling myself. We can deal with my SuperWoman complex another time.)

The kids are already helping, although I’m sure they could help more. They each have time allotted each night for helping around the house. One vacuums, another mops, one helps with laundry, and a fourth in the kitchen. However, they’re notoriously awful about picking up after themselves or the toddler… so I could use some help there. Seriously, this toddler stage nearly kills me every time.

Given all that, what magical tips do you have that will help an overworked momma stay on top of the never-ending household mess? I’m sure I’m not the only mom struggling with this, so you never know who will benefit from your wisdom. Organizational tips, time management strategies, positive self-talk, you name it.

Please, please, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

(I’d rather not pass out and suffer a concussion – or worse!)

Update with some good news – I think I have carpool arranged for the kids, so there’s one thing off my plate!

So Much for Good, Strong Bones

My family has good, strong bones. It’s one of the stupid things that I’ve always been just a wee bit prideful about. We may have our weaknesses, we Engelman’s, but we’ve got good, strong bones.

Through all the football games, rough housing, dirt bike riding, and general stupid stunts, my kids had yet to break a bone.

Until Tuesday.

Mind you, our oldest had just gotten a new scooter, and went to the skate park to try it out. This seems like an inherently dangerous thing, so I gave him a big hug before he left and sent up a few prayers while he was gone.

Our ten year old daughter, “Bonita” on the other hand, had a kickball game. I screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-06-04-amwas wracked with guilt over missing it  but I needed to be at Confirmation and had no choice. So, I did give her a big hug before she left, but it was an “I’m terribly sorry I’m not going to be there” hug, not a “please Lord protect her” hug.

During Mass, I thought of my son, maybe breaking his neck “dropping in” to some half pipe, and offered another prayer for him.

After the Confirmation Mass, I checked my phone and saw that I had several texts. Bonita had hurt her pinky finger trying to catch a ball. It was probably just badly jammed, according to a doctor who happened to be on site, but it could be broken.

Mehhh. We’ve got good strong bones. She’ll be fine.

Wednesday, the school nurse looked at it and forewarned me that it may need to be checked out.

Thursday, the nurse called and left a voicemail. Take this child to the doctor.

The irony is that, only a few weeks ago I joked with a friend, “Hey, I just found out that we’ve met our out of pocket max on the insurance! If the kids are going to break some bones, this is the year to do it!”

Whoops. I shouldn’t have said that.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-05-38-am

Lesson learned: unless you want to wrap your kids in bubble wrap, count on them being in danger at every turn. Even kickball is a dangerous sport, apparently!

Ultimately, trust them to the Lord, and he will take care of them in his own perfect way!

god-is-my-bubble-wrap

#WorthRevisit – Rollerskating with my Father

Looking back a few years to a post that’s “worth revisiting.”

A couple of weeks ago, I took my six year old son to his school’s roller skating party.   Being six months pregnant, I had no intention of skating.  However, my heart broke as I watched the poor guy trying to stay up on his skates, falling every couple of yards.  I couldn’t possibly leave him to do this on his own, and I decided to take the risk, figuring that I could protect my belly and the worst that was likely to happen was a broken wrist.

IMG_1734
Me and that “little boy,” now twelve years old!

So I joined Zachary on the skating floor and held his hand as we went around in circles, skating to the music.  Before long, he was able to make it several laps without hitting the floor.   Of course, there were times when I decided that the safest and best thing to do was to let him fall. There were other times when he began to fall, but I was able to hold onto him and keep him upright.  Several times, he got a little irritated with me, saying that I was hurting his wrist by holding him up.  Nonetheless, after a few songs, Zach shouted up to me, “Mommy, it’s easier when I’m holding your hand.”

Of course, that warmed my heart.  It also made the embarrassment of feeling like a whale in roller skates well worth it.

But a thought struck me and I considered it as we skated, drawing many parallels to our situation.  Life is easier when I’m holding onto my Father’s hand.  This is especially true in new or difficult situations, but even when I am coasting through life and everything seems to be going well, it’s great to have His companionship, someone with whom I can skate along, talking and enjoying the music of life.

As long as I continue to skate side by side with Him, following His path, I will be less likely to fall.  At times, he will hold me up, preventing my fall.  Sometimes, that might not feel so good to me, just like my vice grip on Zach’s hand didn’t feel good to him.  Those times are unanswered prayers, or answers that I don’t care for, or times when following God’s will is not the easy thing to do.  Jesus going to the cross in accordance with the Father’s will is the prime example.

Other times, He will let me fall, to learn a lesson that must be learned in order for me to grow closer to Him and more like Jesus.  When I fall, I have two choices – I can sit on the ground, wallow in my misery, and let all of the other skaters (a.k.a. the cares of this world) run over me.  Or I can look up, seek God’s hand once again, and with His help rise above the painful tumble.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matt 7:9-10)  Just as I saw my son having a rough time and went to help him,  our Father is always there to help us.  Only He helps us perfectly – every time we need it, to the degree we need it, in the manner in which we need it.

Are you skating hand in hand with your Father?  Or, have you gotten caught up in the music and you’re rushing ahead of him?  Perhaps you’re reluctant to follow a path He is trying to guide you down, and so you are lagging behind.  Have the cares of this world plowed you over?  Look up.  He’s holding out His hand.

For most #worthrevisit posts, check out the link up on Allison Gingras’s Reconciled to You Blog.

Homecoming!

Ray’s Home!

After eight weeks in Grand Rapids in neurological rehab, Ray has finally come home. Here’s a how it went down…

welcome home dad
Yes, one of these kids is not my own. 😉
We Had a Week that Could Have Been from that Fiery Place Below

First off, I’ve been suffering from a terrible cold that has only affected me (worn down as I am), and has made most of my nights sleepless due to uncontrollable coughing. I tried everything, but for two weeks straight I was lucky to get four hours of sleep each night.

I drove my sleepless self to Grand Rapids Sunday, so that I could
learn Ray’s routine and get the recommendations for his ongoing therapy. I returned home  Tuesday evening, and woke up Wednesday morning to two sick kids. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease didn’t strike Boo too badly but it left Little Man beside himself.  My sweet little baby wouldn’t stop screeching, and wanted to be held constantly. He didn’t want to eat or drink. Nothing made him happy.

Wednesday night, a tree fell on the power line running to the house, and we had a partial electrical outage. No A/C. No oven. No big deal.

No well pump. Ergo, no running water.

No toilets.

No way.

Electrical Outages Can Actually Be A Blessing

kids in hottubWhen you are a single mom with five kids, two of whom are sick, a lack of electricity running you out of your house and into the arms of your loving mom and dad who happen to have a pool is actually a blessing.

Mom and I took turns attempting to keep Little Man happy, while the other kids swam and played. It made for a far better day Thursday than the one I had planned, which was filled with work and cleaning.

The Big Day

Friday, still sleep-deprived, I left early to make the four hour drive upray at going away party to Grand Rapids. Again. There was a farewell party for Ray, a few last minute details to cover, and his room to pack up. Then, I turned around and drove the four hours home, arriving in time for the steak dinner Ray’s mom had waiting for us.

Of course, Little Man wouldn’t stop screeching. I had to remove him from the house so Ray could enjoy his welcome home dinner. Brain injury and screeching babies do not agree with one another. But, my trip to Walgreens to get Epsom salts was rewarded with a half hour long happy bath time (overseen by Bonita while I ate my dinner), and a happy baby at the end of it all.

Praise God.

God is Good

If you recall, just before Ray went to Michigan, I was about to lose it. I have a few things on my plate these days, and helping Ray with his at-home therapy had fallen off the plate and landed – SPLAT! – on the floor. His time in Michigan was a much needed opportunity for him to get the services he needed, while giving me a break from the stress of my inadequacies. (I say that with total healthy self-love. None of us are perfect.) It was also a time for me to prepare mentally and spiritually for his homecoming, and to get used to the idea of living by a schedule… something I’ve always known the value of, and which is vital to the well-being of a brain injury survivor, but that I – quite frankly – totally suck at.

I prayed a novena of total surrender to Jesus, finishing on the day Ray came home. Undoubtedly the best thing I could have done, and I’m grateful that it appeared when it did, an answer to a prayer.

Two Days of Life on a Schedule

I can’t say we’re sticking to it 100%, but we’ve done pretty well. The most important part is keeping Ray active, and we’ve definitely done that. He would love to take a three to four hour nap every day, but the schedule “simply doesn’t allow it.”

Proof that Big Families are a Blessing

ray and z on bike rideHaving five kids and a brain injured husband can be difficult to navigate. Very. To begin with, brain injury does not get along well with noise, chaos, and craziness. Add to that the myriad of kids’ activities, competing wants and needs, and trying to meet them all as a “single parent,” and a big family could quickly be seen as a curse.

But, thanks be to God, this weekend we have seen the blessing of theray and ike doing legos big family. The kids have – unbeknownst to them – become Ray’s therapists. Dude took a bike ride with me and Daddy Saturday morning. Bear did Legos with him in the afternoon. Ray played Battleship with Bonita, and played games of pool with Dude and Bear at my parents later in the day. All excellent forms of physical, occupational,ray playing pool or cognitive therapy for Ray, and a great way to keep the kids busy, thinking, and off their devices.

Here’s praying that we can continue this into the week!

The Unexpected Blessing of Being Open to Life

This little guy turns one today, so it seems fitting that I write a post I’ve been meaning to Evan in swingwrite for a very long time.

I’d like to reflect on the fact that, about one year and eight months ago, when Ray and I shared our news with friends and family, the overwhelming response was, “Are you serious?” or, “How could you let this happen?” or, “Raymond, you should have had that taken care of a long time ago!” or even, “You’re killing me!”

Thank God, we were serious. Thank God, we did let this happen. Thank God, Raymond hadn’t had “that” taken care of.

Because, first of all, our family was not complete without Little Man. We had one more seat in the car, a little more space in a bedroom, and tons more room in our hearts. From the moment he came into this world — smiling, I swear! —he has been a blessing to us. He has brought joy, laughter, and endless snuggles into our lives. Everyone who meets him remarks at what a happy child he is. Anyone who sees him agrees he’s one of the most beautiful babies they’ve ever seen. Each person who holds him is instantly wrapped around his little finger, and happier for having had a cuddle.

Evan standing at tableI’ve always thought this was God’s way of showing us how he will bless us when we are open to his will for us. When people would argue with me that Ray should get “snipped,” that surely we couldn’t have more children, I would point to Little Man and say, “But if we had followed your advice, we wouldn’t have him!” 

To me, Little Man was a living, breathing testament to the importance of always remaining open to life.

But then God took it one step further. Because bringing light and laughter and one more person to love into our lives wasn’t enough. If Ray and I hadn’t been open to life, to this life in particular, there would have been no baby to wake up and begin to cry on the morning of November 19th, when Ray got out of bed. There would have been no child to carry out to the family room to nurse at three in the morning. No baby to set down on the floor while I called 911. No baby to remain sitting quietly by as his mommy performed CPR on his daddy.

Evan sitting on floorNope. If we’d followed the way of the world, and the advice of most of our family and friends, there would have been no baby. I would have remained peacefully asleep that morning, and Ray’s body would have grown cold long before I awoke three hours later to find him.

Does every “surprise” baby save his daddy’s life?

No.

But this baby is a reminder that God has a plan for each and every one of us. And that we’ll never know what blessings we’ve kept from the world in the babies whose existence we’ve prevented.


 

If you’d like to see more posts like this, you might check out:

At This Most Difficult Hour, 7 Things I’m Grateful For

A Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

and one of my all time favorites:

Ugly, Squeaky, Humbling: 7 Things I Love About Our Little House

 

Let’s Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others

Girls, we are too hard on ourselves.

I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had recently with other moms, who feel that they are inadequate in one way or another. They don’t cook well enough. Their house is a mess. They didn’t knit their kids new scarves for the winter. They haven’t scrapbooked the children’s photos. The costume they made for their son’s saint presentation consisted of a robe and a paper hat.

Seriously, friends, we can’t do it all.

We live in this crazy Pinterest world where everyone is pinning this and posting that, and they all seem so darn perfect.

Guess what? They’re not.

Their scrapbooks may be beautiful, but their closets are probably a mess. Or, their closets are immaculate but they can’t cook for crap.

And you know what? If they’re excellent cooks, their husbands bellies may be fulfilled, but are their husbandsfulfilled” in other areas? (*smirk*)

Let’s just assume that they are downright awful in the “other areas.”

Bottom line is this: Stop judging yourself so harshly. No one is perfect.

Most of the moms I know aren’t just taking care of kids and homes – a full time job in and of itself. They’re also working full- or part-time, chauffeuring kids allover kingdom come, and volunteering for various and sundry things. With all of that, who on earth has time to cook, clean, and scrapbook?

Something’s gotta give, and it’s up to you to decide what that “something” is.

Maybe it’s the nightly homemade meals, maybe it’s the clean house, maybe it’s the scrapbook. Regardless, it’s high time to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to be imperfect in an area – or three, four, sixteen… or countless.

Do you think St. Peter is standing at the pearly gates with pictures of your dirty house, saint peter by rubensweedy garden or fallen cake?

I highly doubt it.

No, when that day comes I’m quite certain it’s your heart – and not your home – that will be judged.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He didn’t say, “Sew costumes for your children as I have sewn costumes for you.”

And, when Martha complained that her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping with the serving, he didn’t order Mary to get up and do her fair share. No, he told Martha, “Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”

It’s a pit we all fall into sometimes, but let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. We will almost always come up short, given that most people present their most perfect selves to the world.

Instead, root yourself first in the firm knowledge that God loves you. Then, throw away the picture of who the world wants you to be, close your eyes, and paint a detailed mental picture of the person God wants you to be.

Look at that picture every morning, and keep it in mind throughout the day.

At the end of the day, take another look, think about how you did, and how you can do better tomorrow.

If, indeed, St. Peter is standing at the pearly gates with pictures in his hands, that image may well be one of them.

Now, that’s a picture worth scrapbooking.

 

An Honest Reaction to “Joyful” News

My hands shook and my knee jumped frantically of its own accord as I sat on my shiny throne.

God, please, no.  You can’t do this to me.

No, no, no.  That’s not what I’m supposed to say.

Not my will, but Thy will be done, Lord.

It can’t be true.  Please, don’t let it be true.

No, that’s not right, either.

I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.

And so the inner struggle began, in the early morning hours, as my husband slept just twenty feet away, blissfully unaware of the turmoil I was experiencing, which he would soon share.

And the thoughts came back again, of their own accord.

God, please, don’t let it be true.

But it was.  The little blue “plus” sign was clearly visible in the light from the single overhead fixture.

I was pregnant.

This would be number five.  When we got married, my husband and I had agreed that three was the perfect number.  But that was before…

Before I converted to Catholicism.

Before I became a different person.

Before I said, “I don’t always understand the Church’s teachings, but I was called into the Church, and I have to believe God wants me to follow all of the teachings.  I can’t just pick and choose.”

And, anyways, I get this one.  Every child is a gift.  How can I say, “Thanks God, for the four wonderful gifts you’ve given me, but I’ve got enough now.  I don’t want this gift you’d like to give me, so I’m going to prevent you from giving it.”?

And yet, here I was now, thinking, God, please, no.

Funny enough, I desperately wanted another child.  Only a few weeks before, I’d held a friend’s baby, lamenting the fact that my child-bearing days were over.

And how do I explain that – a Catholic, trying to follow Church teachings, wanting to accept another life from God, yet resigning myself to being “done”?

Well, that’s a long story, or at least one that I can’t tell and feel that I’ve done justice to all parties involved.  Essentially, there were many, many reasons why my husband had made it very clear that we needed to be DONE. Valid reasons.

I waited a day to tell my husband.  I took the test on our four-year-old’s birthday.  Unsure of how he would respond, I didn’t want to ruin her day.  So I waited.

He was shocked.  But I had underestimated him.  Ultimately, he came to me, gave me a hug, and said,

“We’re gonna have a baby.”

And so we are.

Thanks be to God.

Seven Quick Takes – Parental Ineptitude, Siri Love, and Wow

— 1 —

 I frequently have an overinflated sense of my own parenting skills and thus, in my delusional state, I may attempt to offer you advice on how to get your children to sleep through the night.  In a rare moment of sanity, I’m telling you: Never, ever, ever take advice from me regarding your children and sleeping, as I have failed miserably in this arena with my own children.  Last night, three – yes, I said three – of my children slept on the floor. I’d like to tell you that this can be attributed to the storms that were passing through the area, but I’d be lying. Fact of the matter is, on most nights I’m lucky to have two of my kids kids make it through the night sleeping in their own beds.  The Dude starts most nights on the hallway floor, then creeps silently into our room once we’re in bed.  He’s been doing this for years (like, seven) and his siblings are following his example.  Bonita’s the only one that I can be reasonably sure will stay in her own bed all night.  It’s really annoying, but has glimmers of cuteness here and there, like this:

Dude and Boo sleeping

I’m quite certain that this stems from some neurosis we’ve caused in our eldest child, but, looking back, I have made so many mistakes that I can’t pinpoint which one it might actually be.

— 2 —

While we’re discussing my ineptitudes as a parent, I’ll share with you that I was seriously beginning to question my qualifications as a parent when, for days and days on end, we had at least two, sometimes three, and – yes – occasionally four children throwing fits.  Boo had a couple of weeks where she was throwing three or four per day.  I promise you she never gets what she wants, but somehow they still persist.  Add to that the fact that the Dude has a hard time coping with emotions and winds up going on rampages on a relatively regular basis, and poor Bonita and Bear decided, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”  Life at our house is truly joy.

— 3 —

When I mentioned “parental ineptitude” in the title, you probably thought I was going to tell a story about Walmart, didn’t you?

— 4 —

Ok, seriously.  We’re not all bad.  For instance, when Boo got a hold of my phone during Mass, and opened a noisy app, that app happened to be Rosary Audio.  If you’re going to disrupt Mass, do it with the Rosary, right?

And several of the fits that Bear has thrown in the past few weeks were because I was praying a decade with one of his siblings, and he wanted me to pray with him first.

I must be doing something right, right?

Right?

— 5 —

On a happier note, Boo broke my old phone, which was an iPhone 4. I was able to replace it with a 4S for a dollar, and guess what the 4S has that the 4 does not?  Siri.

Yes, Siri.  I’m in love with her.  But don’t worry, not in the same sex marriage kind of way.  I’m already married, after all.  No, I love her in the, “finally, here’s someone who gets me” kind of way.  She listens to me.  She responds when I have a question or ask her to do something.  She’s polite and respectful, and always attentive to my needs.

And get this.  She even writes my blog posts for me.  Last night, I dictated much of this post directly into my WordPress app, and voila!  I had the beginnings of a post!  OK, so she called Bonita “Anita” and Boo “Bill.”  She translated “my ineptitudes” as “Mayan aptitudes” and “innuendos” as “and you windows”.  But, hey.  Perhaps my ineptitudes were great aptitudes for the Mayans.  I’ll have to look into that.  And those innuendos that I didn’t end up writing about?  Well, they sure did have me thinking about throwing myself – or someone else – out of windows.  I think she’s on to something.

— 6 —

Getting back to happier notes, a favorite Rosary thought for the week:  This one isn’t deeply spiritual, but, you know how Pontius Pilate’s wife told him to have nothing to do with Jesus?  How different do you think the world would be if husbands would only listen to their wives?

— 7 —

And another happier note:  Have you ever sat down and prayed a fifteen decade rosary, straight through?  I did it last night for the first time, with the added bonus of being before the Blessed Sacrament.  Wow.

Wow.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – About a Whole Lot of Nothing

At a bit of a loss as to what to write about today. We’ll see how this ends up…

— 1 —

The kids are on two hour delay.  AGAIN.  They should have had 15 days of school since Christmas break ended.  So far, 5 of those days have been cancelled, and at least three of them have been two hour delays – maybe more, it sure seems like more.  Normally I enjoy having the extra time with them, but at this time in my life when I’m trying to develop and stick to a schedule, so that I might live with intention… it is just really messing with my mojo.

— 2 —

Am I wrong, or did we go to school when it was below zero outside?  I do sympathize with these kids, and I realize that so many kids have to stand at the bus stop, but seriously, here.  The temperature in two hours, when I will actually take the kids to school, will be all of one degree higher than it is now, when I would normally be taking the kids to school.  Yesterday, the temperature was actually lower when they went to school.

— 3 —

I didn’t have holes in my shoes, and the route wasn’t uphill both ways, but I did walk to school, probably about a half mile.  Some days I did it with three layers of clothes and bread bags to keep my boots from leaking.  Kids these days…

— 4 —

And, like every other kid that walked in my school, I walked by myself, or with my siblings and/or friends.  None of this “Mommy has to walk with you stuff.”  OK, OK, my sister actually personally knows a teenager who was abducted on his way to school last year.  Sadly, in the world we live in, Mommy really does need to walk her kids to school, in the very rare instance that a child actually gets to walk to school.  It just seems kind of sad, this generation of kids that never gets to do anything by themselves.  It’s like we shelter them and shelter them, and then one day, suddenly, they get their driver’s license and have free reign.  Now what are they supposed to do with that?

— 5 —

Guess what has finally made it near the top of my “to-do” list for the day?  Take down the Christmas tree.  Can you believe it?  Some people have it down before Christmas day is even over.  I believe in keeping it up till at least Epiphany, and the Baptism of Jesus is even better, but (and I’m not looking at my calendar here) I think that was two weeks ago.  The kids even turned the lights on yesterday!  I totally don’t know why, but this year, I just have no motivation to take it down and put it all away.  The only reason that I’ve moved it to the top of the list is the prospect of possibly having people over here tomorrow who have never been to the house and whom I barely know.  Not really the image I want to present to the world – “The Weird Lady Who Keeps Her Christmas Stuff Up Year-Round.”

— 6 —

In the first 24 days of 2014, I’ve wrecked my car (OK, that was on New Year’s Eve, but close enough), my car battery has died, Ray’s car battery has died, the garage door broke, and a bolt from the same garage door, oddly unrelated to the break, embedded itself in my tire.  We’ve received a huge bill for Bear’s EKG (which was normal, praise God), school tuition is going up, and we must face the music that Ray needs a new car.  We had a small blizzard and some of the coldest temperatures we’ve experienced in our lifetimes.  Next week, we look forward to temps even colder than those we had a few weeks ago.  We’ve lost a dear friend and will say good bye to him tomorrow.  All this in 24 days.

It was laughable until last week.  Now, I confess, it does leave me to question what the rest of this year might have in store.

— 7 —

So, here’s hoping that all the bad was packed into January, that the remaining months of 2014 will be packed full of joy and blessings.  Here’s praying that, regardless, we will see God in every moment and remember his goodness, that he loves us more than we can possibly understand, and that he is always by our sides.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – The Week in Pictures

It’s been quite a week, and I believe that a pictorial summary is in order. Of course, I love hearing the sound of my own keyboard, and thus I will liberally add commentary.

— 1 —

It may be the only resolution I keep this year, but I am pleased to have already achieved one of my Silly Resolutions.  I did, indeed, have a blast playing with Ray and the kids at the indoor water park.

Ray and the Dude spent most of their time playing football. Not my idea of water park entertainment, but to each his own.

20140109-151824.jpg 20140109-151756.jpgBear thought the baby slide was a bit lame, but it topped Boo’s list of “All Time Fun”.

20140109-152036.jpgFortunately, Bear overcame his fear of the water and learned to love the lazy river.

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Bonita loved it all.  Sadly, I couldn’t capture her coming off of the big water slide.  Here she is, posing for the camera, as usual.

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— 2 —

Saturday brought us a sick kid.  It’s been a while since the Dude was last sick, and apparently he had forgotten the fine art of hitting the commode.  I’ll spare you those pictures.  Not that I actually took any, but the image is etched in a very dark and scary place in my mind.  On the bright side, his illness spared us from waking at the crack of dawn to drive to his basketball game in Timbuktu.  Even better, Ray and I got to leave the kids with my parents while we went to the IU Michigan game with friends.  IU lost, but we had a great time nonetheless, even if car trouble added an hour to our trip home.

IU v State game

— 3 —

The forecasters had warned us about Sunday. I woke at 7:30 and decided that my only chance at Mass might be the 8:00, since the snow was expected to pick up around 10:00.  I threw some clothes on and made it… a few minutes late.  I’m glad I went, although I do regret that the rest of the family wasn’t able to go with me (Dude was still a wee bit sick, and, anyways, motivating Ray to go to 8:00 Mass has happened… maybe once?).  It was pure [guilty] bliss to enjoy the Mass without children fighting over my lap, asking for Kleenex, or requiring trips to the potty.  I almost decided to just go ahead and stay for the 10:00, as long as I was already there.  Alas, life requires Mama at home, and I had a post-Mass errand to run.

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I’m still amazed that Lowe’s had any snow shovels left.

As I write this, Mass and that trip to Lowe’s was the last time I was out of the house.  By the grace of God, I stopped and grabbed Starbuck’s on my way home.  I’m pretty sure that indulgence has carried me through these last five days in the house.

— 4 —

By the time I got home, we were living in a winter wonderland.  Here’s me when I got home from walking the dog – Keyser’s last hoorah before the cold temps hit.

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And here’s me and the Dude building a sledding hill in the backyard, with Bear thwarting our efforts – but too cute to get upset with.  I very nearly threw my back out with this activity, but the Dude’s enjoyed the hill enough that it would have been worth it, even if I had.

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— 5 —

 I’m willing to bet that lots of people took pictures like this earlier this week:

weather screen print

But I imagine that far fewer had cause to take pictures like this:

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Yes, my friends, that ice is on the inside of our home.  This window was the worst, but nearly every window in our home exhibited some degree of frost.  In the windows’ defense, this was taken at a time when our heater was struggling to keep up and the house was only 63 degrees.  I thought maybe we needed to call the repairman, until we checked the filter… which was black.  The house was back up to our regular 67 degrees within a half hour, and the windows quickly lost their frost.

— 6 —

Here’s a “before” picture of the project I intended to start during these snowed-in days.  I thought, “What better way to clean out the craft closet, than to actually do some crafts with the kids?”  Alas, the closet remains untouched.

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One day at a time, one drawer at a time… I will conquer this beast!  Eventually.

— 7 —

Last but not least, Starbucks indulgence aside, I am 100% certain that prayer has brought me through this week “stuck” in the house without ever feeling “stuck” in the house.  Here are sage words to remember when we think, “I could pray right now, but I think I’ll [fill in the blank] instead.

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

(Oh, and I’ve gotta add that I just completed a second Silly Resolution!  I finished my 7QT Friday post on Thursday night!  Well… it’s Thursday night in Illinois and westward, at least. Oooooh, this feels good!)