Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If I could be anywhere, doing anything... it would be right here, doing this.

Pictures above... our afternoons "hiking" around our small "mountain hill" and eating a snack with our friend Charlie!

ABOVE: The mornings: We always brush our teeth together! It's always hilarious.
BELOW: The evenings... the boys watching themselves on a video I took... and a small photo shoot in between hide and seek and cleaning up the kitchen.

Being a mom is hard work. There are days I wake up listening to Anthony crying or Gabriel screaming, "MOMMY, come and get me!!" and I just want to roll over in bed and yell back, "The sun isn't up yet... call me when you see even a glimmer of light." (I giggle to myself, roll out of bed, slap my face some, and march my pregnant butt up the stairs to smile at the two faces who love me most in this world). And then the day begins...

Even though I had spent at least an hour cleaning up the kitchen the night before, making sure the coffee was ready to go and the floor was clean... the kitchen soon gets a beating again while Gabriel spills the milk he is drinking out of his bowl onto the floor and Anthony throws his food and says, "UHT OHH." I manage to make the breakfast, eat with them, unload the dishwasher, clean up the kitchen (on my hands and knees again), and off to get everyone dressed and ready.

While I shower there is at least one fight, one emergency bathroom run (where I jump out of the shower to put Gabriel on the potty), and Anthony generally empties my bathroom cabinets, but he is occupied, so I let it be. They are usually watching a movie, while I finish getting dressed, bow dry my hair and pack up a bag of snacks and drinks to take along with us. I usually spend at least 20 minutes getting Gabriel to wear the outfit I picked out and not Anthony's (although, yes, it was your outfit months ago, when it fit you, but now it fits Anthony, so you are sharing your clothes) and then I lay on top of Anthony to dress him while he battles me to stay naked... he would surely stay naked ALL day if I let him. OK, do I have enough energy to go on. I see now that Anthony has emptied the tupperware cabinet AND has a poop, Gabriel decided to vacuum and help by emptying it, and someone wrote all over my grocery list. We can do this. I know we can make it out the door. Change the diaper, one more potty run for Gabriel and the pregnant mom, and one more melt down where both of them are hugging me and trying to get the other not to hug me...

We finally make it out the door, but not without doing it in slow motion... while Gabriel has to climb in himself, buckle himself and make sure he has his drink close by. And then I yet again, lay on Anthony while trying to strap him in his seat... he is a strong little dude. We pull out of the driveway and I sit for awhile, relieved we made it out of the house... in one piece... and we are all clothed. Generally, even though it's like 9am at this point, I am eating my second meal of the day because the morning exhausted me and made me so hungry. From the driveway to wherever we are going Gabriel asks all about what we are doing, where we are going and when we will be there... and Anthony tries to talk over him. It's really quiet in the car... haha.

We go about our day... while I load and unload them... maybe grocery shop, maybe run around the park, go to story time, or stop by a friend's house. By noon Anthony falls asleep in the car (after eating a lunch I packed for him) and we head home for me and Gabriel's story time and lunch... while Anthony sleeps, we always read, or bake, or play hide and seek. Then Gabriel goes to sleep... and so do I! We all nap... for however long they let me... and when we wake up, we hit the ground running once again... playing outside, games inside, maybe an episode of Blues Clues, reading books, coloring, and a snack. Then comes preparing dinner... PURE CHAOS. By this time, Anthony is hanging on my legs, Gabriel wants to play ten different games, and they are ready to eat... it is CRAZY. So, we push through till Dad gets home and we all sit down to eat together. Prayer time at the dinner table is hilarious... Anthony trying to do the sign of the cross the whole time Gabriel is praying... but trying to sneak a bite at the same time. Then baths. Then trying to dress them. The cleaning the kitchen. Then books. Then prayer. And bed. It is the most exhausting day. Every day. Not to mention that in between I am disciplining both of them, loving on both of them... and always chasing both of them down.

So, I asked a good friend tonight... how can I love my life more? Especially when it can be so monotonous, so hard, such long days, such thankless days, and such exhausting days. She reminded me to do a few things... enjoy my nap, get time away from my kids here and there (and thanks to my husband, I do), and to write down all the things that give me comic relief throughout the day. And since she is a counselor by trade, she asked me, "Kristi, is there anywhere else you would like to be? Corporate America? Anywhere?" It took me no time to answer. "NO." If I could be anywhere, doing anything, it is right here. No questions asked. This is what I have always wanted. A big family, a home to create, an amazing husband. God is generous. He has given me the whole caboodle. So, as of tonight, written in lipstick on my mirror, it will say just that: "If I could be anywhere, it would be right here." (I mean, of course, the beach would be nice... but you get what I mean). Right here... as a stay at home mom. In the place God wills me to be. It is nice to be reminded that I love what I do.

And then I remembered the quote my friend, Lauri has on her wall... and after looking around at my messy house and kitchen tonight... but, then looking at my big belly and my two precious boys... I felt the quote to be appropriate for all of us. It goes like this:

"We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all."

As much as it all feels like a mess sometimes, OK, all the time, it is really just perfect.

Friday, February 24, 2012

In all humility...

I recently pulled together a group of beautiful women into what I am calling "The Mommies' Club." After having "one of those days" with my kids, I was inspired to create a group to meet every other week, read and discuss, encourage and spend time, share prayer intentions and struggles and just be together. As a mom I am realizing more and more the importance of community.

The book we are reading is called "The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers" written by Meg Meeker, a Catholic pediatrician. It has opened my eyes to many things already and the conversation was awesome.

At our last meeting we discussed what makes us valuable as a mother, as an individual, as a child of God. What gives us value? What are we good at? What do we hope for? In the midst of chasing little people around, trying to feed them, dress them, bath them, discipline them, spend quality time with them, get them in the fresh air, potty train them, and get to and from places with them in tow, we hardly have the time to sit down, let alone remember what we are good at or why we are valuable. First, we had to recall the love of God for us... that it is real, it is present in our lives, and present in our children. Next, we had to remember what gifts we were given by our Heavenly Father. That was a tough one. What am I good at? And lastly, we had to accept with humility that we are good at things and we need to use those things as moms, as wives, as individuals to give him glory.

So, I write tonight to encourage you in whatever vocation you are in... to recall in all humility what you are good at and what gifts He has bestowed upon you... because they are for good. For the good of your children, your spouse, your community, the Church.

I remembered recently with the help of my wonderful husband and with the help of some friends and through prayer what I am good at.

In all humility I share with you that I am a good cook. It may not be super gourmet, but I cook healthy, good food for my family and I work really hard each week on planning our meals and making sure we get enough nutrition in our diets and I make sure I pack a good lunch with fruits and vegetables for Patrick, and I try shop organic in the cheapest possible way. So I am happy to say that I now consider myself a good and healthy cook... this is one way I take care of my family and I thank God for giving me the grace to know how important nutrition is, how important alternative medicine is (although I am not anti medicine), and how important continuing research on it is.

I am also good at planning parties, events, and retreats. I love for people to be together in community to have a good time, to uplift one another and most importantly to grow closer to Christ. I may not have had the highest GPA, but I can surely organize! And I love it. And I've seen the fruits God has grown through it.

I am also a good listener. I feel like I do well at listening to others and I feel I do the very best I can to listen to the Holy Spirit to guide them... or make the best decisions possible for my own life. At least, this is what I am told... and after thinking about it, I am starting to believe it, in all humility. (I will forever be the lady standing in the middle of the grocery store listening the someone tell me their life story... for about 20 minutes... after only smiling at them... that's just me).

And lastly, something I found to be critically important in our conversation and for me personally, was to make sure I am aware of others gifts... and to actually point them out. While sitting there with some friends, I told them what I thought they were good at and what I appreciated about their friendship... and they almost seemed shocked in a sense. One of the women couldn't think of much she was good at and when asking her husband the evening before, he had a very long list... and she was completely flattered to be reminded. I am sure he had told her before, but it wasn't every day at the dinner table that he pointed out how great she was at constructing arguments and what delicious food she made. People don't hear it enough. It is good to build one another up. With compliments. With encouragement. With reminders of how God's loved has worked through them straight to us. (And many times as women, our pride, our vanity and even our selfishness will keep us from offering even the smallest compliment where it is due). So, the point is, point it out.

I encourage all those mamas (or peeps) out there to make a list of the gifts God has given to you. What are you good at? As part of the Body of Christ you are responsible to use those gifts. I think Lent is a good time to rediscover how we can give (ALMS!) We need you. So, in all humility, remember you were created to be loved and to love and get on it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat Tuesday... Ash Wednesday... and Lent is here...

It is super exciting to me to begin to share in the Church's liturgical year with my children... although they are not totally understanding everything... we are surely beginning with feast days, colors of the liturgical year, what is going on with Jesus in the Church calendar, and what we should be working on in our own little hearts. It was great fun to serve up chocolate donuts on the morning of Fat Tuesday because we never give them sweets for breakfast (at nap time, I realized why... sleep strike showed me!), but nevertheless, we are celebrating... and as Fr. Baker says, "We always are to fast with the Church and feast with the Church!"

Now comes the "mortification" if you will. What could I give up? What could I add? How can I semi-fast being pregnant? What should we do as a family? As we went through the possibilities I realized more than ever how we can get stuck in a rut... we can get stuck doing the same old thing... we can get stuck being mediocre. I am so thankful this year for Lent already. I can see within just half a day how my life can be better when I spend less time on the internet, more time with my kids, and I already know that the few "bad" things I have removed from my diet and that taking my prenatals EVERY day is something that will make me better. Now to get through our first evening without television. Our flesh dreads change... at least mine does... but, I already have so many ideas of things we can do tonight instead of watching TV. There are many more small things on my list... things that don't need to be mentioned... but, it is truly a blessing to be reminded how we can LIVE more in Christ every day by just changing some small things. By doing or not doing something, even something very little, it is transforming us... and making us holy.

Lastly, there is prayer. Besides the extras and the "I give ups" we can not forget prayer during this holy season. It is in prayer that we have the chance to look at ourselves and examine who we are, how we need to be forgiven, and that is where the resolutions take place. So, however it is for you... a meditation, reading of the Gospel, the rosary, Stations of the Cross, etc... don't forget to find Christ in the silence and still of your day and renew your love for Him. This is my goal... to fall more in love with Jesus every day by meeting him in prayer consistently. We have an appointment every day.

Lent... tis the season. Live it up.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do you see the focus?

These are my guys at bath time... the focus... it's intense. They are pouring water into and out of cups. This is one of the qualities they got from their dad... great focus when involved in a project. It cracks me up when I find characteristics in them that remind me so much of their daddy. It also makes me appreciate Patrick more for all the wonderful things he has given them that I surely did not pass on!

Someone once told me that being able to find really great characteristics in your children that you or your husband also possess is a gift... they also told me that when you see your weaknesses in them, it also helps us to be more forgiving. I find myself being more forgiving of myself and much more forgiving of Patrick when I see the human qualities that we have passed to them that are a little less than perfect.

Just my thought of the day. I love these guys!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Long time no blog... so, here's the boys right now!

I realized I haven't blogged in so long. We are expecting our third baby... really our fourth, considering we have one tiny soul in Heaven already... and this pregnancy has been just as rough as the other two! So, I will have to forgive myself for letting it go (and for the few of you who read my blog, forgive me too). So many wonderful things are going on in my little world of raising two boys. As you can see from the pictures above, it really doesn't get much better than this. I am gonna brag... but, I am convinced that I have two of the sweetest (yet, most different) boys ever. They are super affectionate, super thoughtful, and super hilarious. We have been working so hard on discipline, but it has actually been fairly easy because Gabriel is so good.

Instead of spending ALL night long typing, I would like to highlight my little guys and catch you up on them...

Gabriel: His first year of school has gone great. They tell me he speaks like a 6 year old and has great manners, and still holds the record for the only kid in the class with no potty accidents. He only goes one day a week and I miss him terribly when he's gone, but it has been good for his eating and his respect for people in authority other than Patrick and I. His vocabulary is through the roof and his thoughtfulness is much greater than a wise old man. He asks me daily how I am feeling and how the new baby is doing. He always is trying to help Anthony out when he needs just about anything and he remembers to pray for anyone who he promises prayers to. I am daily amazed by him. He is gentle and kind, but super determined and VERY, let me add, VERY independent. Our life goes by in slow motion as he dresses himself, wants to bath himself, puts on his own shoes, climbs into the car, etc, etc. ALL BY HIMSELF! He is beginning to say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" and "excuse me, Mommy" and I love all of these things that come out of his little mouth. He is LOVING nursery rhymes right now and wants to sing them every moment we are in the car. He also loves to narrate our day and constantly is asking, "What am I doing today?" the moment he wakes up. He's into Spiderman and other super heroes and likes to watch Blues Clues and Tangled. He's great with plots of the story and likes to make up stories too. He prays the Angelus with me before naptime, always reminds us to pray before meals, loves night prayers, and every Sunday after Mass, he religiously visits the Blessed Mother to say a Hail Mary and kiss her feet and then to St. Joseph where you will hear him whisper, "Pray for my future spouse!" I know... he's like a man in a little guy's body. I just adore him. There is so much more... but this is him in a very small nutshell.

Anthony: Ohh, Anthony! My life is crazy funny because of this little dude. I have started to tell people that if you want to know how Anthony walks, just watch Johnny Depp stumble around on the Pirate of the Caribbean. He is so clumsy and so rough... and SO hilarious. You can most often find him giggling a crazy gut giggle just about anywhere... laughing about just about anything. Today for instance, I turned around to find out what he was laughing about and he was STANDING on my coffee table. He has recently been pooping in the tub and thinks it's funny. He LOVES to be outside, whether it's below zero or hot. And he adores animals. I never knew what people meant when they said their children were animal lovers, but I see now, that Gabriel does not care for animals and Anthony would squeeze the heck out of any of them. My poor baby now has a scar on his face that he will carry for the rest of his life from a dog bite... super traumatizing for me, but he is alive and well, with a battle wound to prove that even a dangerous dog is worth a big hug. Anthony loves to be rough and then chase you with kisses and he really loves his mom, but has a special love for his dad that I never saw in Gabriel. Anthony has recently been crying anytime Patrick leaves, which is sad, but I kinda love... because I like that he misses him. Anthony has begun to say lots of words... ball, dog, Mama, DaDa, cookie, snack, no no no no, stop, and a few others... and he now does sign language for please and more, which is so cute... and he can pick out all of his body parts when asked... head, nose, eyes, ears, head, hands, feet, belly button. It's super cute. When it's time for prayers at the table he reminds us by slapping his hands together and waiting and he attempts the sign of the cross which I just love to watch while he has that BIG smile on his face. He is totally my rough and tough little man, but sensitive and sweet all at the same time. He is definitely, without any doubt, going to be my lady's man. Flirt lives on his face and he really does love the ladies. He's got those eyes that just say it all. Anthony in a nutshell.

And me. As of now, I am surviving.. Like most moms at this point in being a mom, life is really joyful and at the same time really hard. Every moment is selfless. There is no time for myself, but lots of time to love and that is always good. I am learning to be more flexible, live in a mess if I need a nap, and I have been OK with things not going as planned. It's all good. I feel so blessed to be here in those giggling moments with them and so blessed to be here to hold them when they are sick or cutting a tooth. I am so glad I am not working anymore. God has been good to allow me to be home. I have so much peace... and feel more than ever that this is where I belong. So, now I pray for grace to get through each day of selfless love. And grace to have a sense of humor in it all. And the grace to not give up on always doing what is best for them... be it discipline, being less controlling or just being present. Being a mom is about being present. I am learning this more than ever. They aren't grading me. They benefit from me striving for holiness... and me being around.

Thank you, Jesus, for mommyhood. Thank you for my boys. And thank you for the husband who so wonderfully helps me raise them.