Thursday, March 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Shopping Edition!

Confession: I don't usually shop for myself. When I go shopping, I might LOOK for myself, but I usually wind up buying something for the kids instead. I'm a plain Jane. I'm not frumpy, but I'll opt for comfy over cute any day. Lately, though, I've been wearing jeans to work daily, and not feeling so great about that. I received a few gift cards to Kohl's, so I took myself shopping and found some GREAT things! So I just had to share the fruits of my labor.

--- 1 ---
This sweater is awesome and runs true-to-size (I am an M and got an M). It is medium-weight, which will be perfect for the office in the spring and summer (it tends to be a bit chilly at my work). It does look a bit bunchy with a long-sleeve shirt under it, so I'd probably only wear a tank beneath.

--- 2 ---
I got this shirt in white, and the scroll on the front is a beautiful purple/maroon mix. The pictures of this shirt do the detail no justice. I was worried about the length and the banded bottom, but it fit me perfectly. I have a tea-length maroon skirt that I just can't WAIT to pair it with!

--- 3 ---
I almost didn't buy this shirt because I was afraid it would look too old-ladyish. But for $6 and 30% off, I couldn't resist. I bought a large because I wasn't sure what size would fit me better. A large IS rather flowy, but the material leads me to believe it's going to shrink up a bit. The colors are VERY pretty, though!

--- 4 ---
I also bought this top in a L instead of an M. The material also seems like it will shrink a bit. I love that this top is longer in the back: I am SO self-conscious of when I'm wearing a shirt and my back shows when I move. That seems to happen a lot!

--- 5 ---
I've entered the world of maxis. I wasn't too sure of the skirt on the hanger, but when I got it on I was like, "WOW! I need to get MORE!" I may get another 1 or 2 soon, I love it THAT much. The skirt is made of a thick jersey, and it moves freely. I got A LOT of compliments on it on Monday.

--- 6 ---
I also scooped up this dress. Let me tell you, it's going to be THE DRESS for me this summer. It is SO comfortable, it doesn't even feel like I'm wearing a dress! I'm considering getting another of the same style but have no idea what stripe or print I would choose.

--- 7 ---
This 3/4 sleeve shirt hung out in my cart for the entire shopping trip. I contemplated putting it back no less than 6 times. I have weird issues with 3/4 shirts. I feel the urge to either pull the sleeves down or push them up, and usually neither option works. In the end, I got it, and I'm glad I did. The arm bands aren't tight, so I don't feel too uncomfortable in it.

All in all, it was a GREAT shopping adventure. Between gift cards and Kohl's Cash I only spent $30 on all this awesome stuff! Not bad!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

When Loving Them Isn't Enough (Part II)

On Saturday night I wanted to scurry to the computer and post a RAVING blog post about how well things were going. But then I sat and said, no, wait, give it time. ;)

On Friday while discussing the issues at hand with the kids, especially Julia, D and I came up with a course of action:
  • Discuss with Bebe our concerns, and help her to be a part of the solution.
  • Structure our Saturdays to meet everyone's needs.
  • Whatever we do or say, follow through.
Saturday after lunch we talked about how everywhere you go there are rules. We discussed rules in different places. Then we talked about what rules there were in our house, and it was no surprise to us that Bebe said, "None?" Yep, there was our answer. Together she helped us brainstorm some rules, and this is what we came up with:

Most of these rules are positive, but those that begin with "NO" are ones we want to be especially careful about (hitting for Dois, complaining/whining and watching TV before being ready for Bebe).

After brainstorming those rules, we decided to follow what will be our new Saturday pattern:
  • Bebe does 30 minutes of chores (whatever we give her to do: this weekend it involved sorting laundry, picking up the living room, and helping unload the dishwasher).
  • Since she did 30 minutes of chores (therefore saving us 30 minutes of housework), she earns 30 minutes of one-on-one time with us while Dois is napping. We played Apples to Apples Jr. this week, but she can choose any activity we can do while he naps.
  • After that hour of chores and 1-on-1 time, she has 45 minutes of quiet time. That's where she has to either rest or read or something. This weekend she used her 45 minutes of quiet time to start research for a school project.
When those time periods were up, Bebe and I went to Confession and when we came home, we took a walk with Dois. We spent over an hour walking and playing at the park. It was AWESOME! We came home, ate dinner, the kids took baths, etc. It seriously was THE PERFECT DAY.

Sunday went smoother than usual although the end was a bit harrowing due to bored, overtired children.

So far, so good, when it comes to enforcing and following the rules. Whining hasn't been eradicated, but it has lessened. One of the challenges we are still facing, though, is getting Bebe to bed on time and having to poke and prod her every morning to get moving. It's tough. :( Any suggestions for that one? We start waking her at 6:30-6:45 and need to leave by 7:40. It's always a struggle.

Little by little I'm confident we'll get there... 

Setting aside dreams for motherhood?


I should preface this by saying that these are thoughts running through my mind, not necessarily whines/vents...

We all know that motherhood involves sacrifices, but how many dreams have you set aside when faced with just how much motherhood has changed your life?

When I got pregnant with Bebe, I had only become a youth minister a year and a half earlier. When I got pregnant with her, I had only been at the parish I was at for six months. If you remember, Bebe is a honeymoon baby. It didn't take long after D and I got married for the rumor mill to start that I was pregnant and leaving, and they were right (sort of). I was determined to remain a youth minister after having Bebe. Since my job was only 20 hours/week (probably 16-18 in the office and the rest with the teens) I figured, "It's doable." I asked if I could bring her with me when I worked in the office, and that request was granted. I set up a Pack N Play and a bouncer in my office (which was like a giant living room), hung a privacy sign on the door when I was nursing, and ATTEMPTED to work.Only, the problem was, most days I wasn't getting work done. I was torn between my child and my job. I had to schedule our youth nights when D wasn't working or had school. I felt like I was giving neither 100%. At about the time when Bebe got mobile, a new priest took over the parish where I worked. He walked into my office and said, "Is this a daycare?" I knew then my days were numbered. They decided to create a full-time position, and I was welcome to apply for it, but it was not automatically mine. I applied and interviewed, but left knowing that it wasn't for me. I had nothing to show for the year I'd been there, so I gracefully bowed out. It was hard, leaving youth ministry behind. I was juggling so much on my plate (a small, refluxy child, a husband who worked odd hours between working FT and being in school FT, we only had one car until Bebe was 5 months old, etc.) I know I NEEDED to, but I still often think back on it. How could I  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thoughts & Reflections on the election of Pope Francis, 1 week later.

In 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI was elected at the papal conclave, I was ... somewhere else. I don't remember anything about the conclave or the news stories that followed it. I recall hearing about "Cardinal Ratzinger" before the conclave started. News media said he was a shoo-in, and that he was VERY conservative. At the time, I was not, so my thoughts were, "Oh great..."

I will admit that I had a sort of detachment to Pope Benedict XVI. I can't say why precisely. I just never felt an interest in him, as I did in Blessed John Paul II. Maybe it was because I had the opportunity to see JPII in Toronto in 2002, and I was still mourning the loss of the man who had been The Face of The Church for my entire life. Maybe it was because I still had many misunderstandings and misgivings about my own faith. I don't know.

I never expected to get as excited as I did when I realized that Pope Benedict's resignation (is that the correct term?) meant that I would get to experience a conclave, and this time I would really pay attention to it. And I did!

I was at work a week ago today, watching the Vatican's live feed on YouTube, waiting for the smoke to come, and Tweeting like a madwoman. I waited... and waited... and waited... and then, there it was! WHITE SMOKE! I remember my heart started pounding, a huge smile crossed my face. I knew what was coming next: HABEMUS PAPAM! But who, who would it be? The news media had said there was no real "front-runner". I hadn't expected the white smoke so soon! And then I waited... and waited... and waited... and then Cardinal Tauran appeared. And I sat still.

In anticipation of the conclave, I had pulled up YouTube videos of "Habemus Papam!" videos for Bebe and I to watch. We watch the announcements and first words of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict the XVI. I knew the format: The announcement of, "Habemus Papam!" then some Latin, then the new Pope's first name, more Latin, then the Pope's last name, more Latin, and then the name the Pope had chosen to take. In both videos we watched (multiple times) as soon as the new Pope's first name was announced, the crowds went absolutely bezerk.

So when Cardinal Tauran named Georgium Marium.... I was surprised at how QUIET it was. But Cardinal Tauran continued and said the name Franciscum for the Pope's name... and it was still fairly quiet. I know, I myself said, "WHO?" I did not know who Jorge Mario Bergolio was before that moment when I heard his name.

Then I waited... and waited... and waited... for what felt like an eternity. And then, there he was.

I can't even describe how my heart swelled when I saw him. Many of you are probably nodding your heads knowing just what I mean. And THE HUMILITY he showed, when first he asked us to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and then asking us to join him in praying for HIMSELF? I was knocked over. Completely. I can't even describe it, but at that moment, I was SMITTEN.

And one week later, I'm still smitten. Pope Francis has already brought a new energy to The Church which is hard to explain. Non-Catholics have expressed curiosity in him. They've heard my excitement and they've lent an ear--they want to know who he is, what he stands for, etc. Friends who are Catholic in name more than anything are finding hope in him. His humility, his simplicity, and his steadfastness in major tenets of the faith are admirable. It's his commitment to LOVE ALL ABOVE ALL that is ringing through loud and clear already.

I absolutely LOVED picking up Bebe from school and telling her, "We have a Pope!" Sharing my excitement with her was contagious. When we got home I pulled up the video and we watched together. I hope it's something she'll never forget. I know it's something I won't.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When loving them isn't enough.

How can love not be enough? What happened to "love is all we need"?

I'm learning the hard way that love isn't enough. You can't just LOVE your children.

I LOVE my children. I really and truly do. I LOVE them. I CARE for them. I CHERISH them. But it isn't enough.

D and I have failed them. Dois is still young, so let's just say this--we've failed Bebe.

Now, how can I say that we've failed our 8-year-old? Is she smoking? Is she living in juvenile hall? Is she constantly being punished? Is she flunking out of school? No, she's not doing any of those things.

At the same time, she doesn't interact with her peers appropriately, she knows no boundaries when it comes to personal interactions, she expects the world to bow down to her beck and call, she is disrespectful to others, etc.

We've sat back so many times and said, "How did this happen? We've LOVED her. We've CARED for her. We've FED her. We've met her basic needs! How did this happen?"

We ignored Proverbs 22:6: "Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it." 

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." The saying goes. Are we heading for Hell? I don't know. But some days, especially on the weekends, it feels like hell.

Our house has no rules. Not a single one. There is no across-the-board rule that I can think of. Everything is tolerated. We say a lot of "don't do that" but do we enforce it? No. Enforcing takes more effort. We can't make the effort because we're too tired. We're too tired because we work full-time (and D works full-time and part-time), there's a home to care for, chores to be done, etc. Enforcing rules will be met with resistance and resistance is exhausting. Then when Bebe goes somewhere and someone tells her what to do, she disregards them. And we wonder why?

God entrusted us to be parents to our children and we are failing them. We don't beat them, we don't starve them, etc. but our parenting thus far can be just as damaging long-term.

I don't know where we're headed from here. We always say we'll try harder, we want to do better, etc. but it hasn't happened yet. "Better late than never" but what if it really does become never?

I'm so discouraged, and sad for our children. It's not their fault they are who they are, it's entirely ours.

(Part II coming later: The Plan)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An inkling...

For years D has been asking me if I will go back to school and get my Master's degree someday. I've always responded, "Maybe... when I figure out what I want to be when I grow up!" If I'm going to get my Master's, I want it to be in whatever I KNOW I'm going to do. I don't want to get it and wind up in some other field (sort of like my bachelor's).

I started out in college as an elementary/special education major. I did two entire years studying to be a teacher. But my classroom experiences never felt right, my schedule was tight (I was to have only ONE elective over 4 years), and I just didn't feel called to teaching. After some pretty amazing faith experiences, I opted to change my major to Theology and minor in Writing. I wanted to become a youth minister, I decided.

Well, I graduated (with a lump of private school loans--yay, fun!) and was a youth minister for 2.5 years. But, like teaching, it just never felt right. I worked the next few years in various jobs (leasing assistant at an apartment complex, child care worker at a gym), until I landed the job that I have now: as a proofreader for a Christian publishing company. In some ways, I'm using my degree AND my minor in this position (although the company's audience is primarily Evangelical Christian and my degree is in Catholic theology). Still, I've never thought of this job as a "forever thing." I enjoy it, but this is not my career.

Sometimes I've thought about journalism. It would be awesome to work for Catholic News Service or something like that. Other times I think about getting back into ministry--maybe elementary or preschool-aged instead of teenagers. Or maybe I would just make a full-time career out of writing novels, magazine articles, etc. someday.

Every year our region of the Diocese puts on something called "The University." There are, like, 80 classes offered during Lent on various Church topics, from scriptures to modern-day issues. I had attended a class years ago, but not since. This year, I planned to attend at least one. I chose one titled, "A Very Special Mary." I wanted to learn more and know more about Mary, and it was at a parish close to home, so why not? Well, I loved it. The presenter wasn't the best, but I LEARNED something. And I walked out of there saying, "Man, I really want to go back to school." I would love to study the scriptures more in-depth. I would LOVE to become a professor of theology.

Then my head interrupts my heart: "But wait! How will you do that?! You still have student loan debt from your bachelor's degree! Master's degrees in Theology don't come cheap! You can't go to a state school for it! How will you raise two (maybe more) children and go to school? Wasn't the plan for you to be a stay-at-home-mom? How could you pull THAT off?"

My head has shot down my heart. But my heart is hopeful. I'm prayerfully asking God to guide me if this is what I'm meant to do. I hope it is, because I can't even begin to explain how excited I feel about the possibility of going to school and learning so much more. I told D last night, my #1 regret in regards to my education is NOT the debt that it put me in, but the fact that I blew off/did the bare minimum in most of my classes. I wish I'd paid attention more, especially for how much it cost me!