Thursday, April 24, 2014

Picture Perfect

There are a handful of times that I have been asked the question, "how do you do all you do?"  I heard it more frequently when I was working full time and all my kids were really little, but I still get asked this from time to time.  Whenever the inquiry arises, I feel very humbled, because it leads me to believe that I am portraying an unrealistic portrait of myself and our family.  I don't "do it" by myself.  I have a lovely village that greatly supports our family.  Without them, so much of what we do would not be possible.

I bring this up, because earlier today I was in conversation with a woman who said to me, "whenever I'm having a confrontation with my daughter, I step back and ask myself, how would Shelly handle the situation?"  Upon hearing this, I began to sweat bullets, partly because Honey Bunches was with me and I was waiting for him to either laugh or bust me by asking the woman, "are you sure you want to know how my mom would react?"

Here is a reality check.  I write this blog as a memoir to my children.  I want to record funny things that they say, include pictures of our days, and tell stories that reflect our faith and family life.  I do not embellish nor exaggerate stories (with kids, one doesn't have to!).  I do, however, have full creative control as to what gets published here and what I choose to keep private.  So although it may come across that we have little or no struggles, in all actuality, our home has arguments, harsh words, sassy attitudes and the occasional glass of wine to help put life in perspective (that last one really only applies to me).  I go to bed, more times than not, feeling guilty for not having put my best foot forward during the day.  I try hard, but I pray even harder, everyday, that God will give me the grace and wisdom to parent to the best of my ability.  I have some successes, but I have lots of failures too!

I'm not going to unveil all of our family secrets, but here are a few examples of my imperfections.

When Cucumber was 3 years old, she received a Dora doll that rode on a horse.  I cannot remember the exact situation, but one day I was angry at something and I took that doll and threw her down on the floor, resulting in her leg snapping off.  Yep.  I had myself a regular little temper tantrum.  I, of course, felt horrible for having broke my child's doll.  What made matters even worse, was that Cucumber attempted to fix Dora by using duct tape to re-attach the leg.  It didn't work.  Whenever Cucumber placed Dora on the horse, the poor doll would just fall off.  There was no balance to be had with just one leg.  Every time I looked at that doll, I was reminded of how inappropriately I had behaved.

I won't forget the time that I had asked Honey Bunches for the umpteenth time (that is an actual number) to pick up his Lego's.  When I walked downstairs and had to tiptoe around the zillion pieces laying on the floor, well, I had had enough.  I kicked over the tub of Lego's, resulting in a zillion more pieces to be strewn all over the floor.  Definitely not one of my finest moments.

Here are a few more:

I yell.
I give myself time-outs.
I sometimes use the T.V. as a babysitter.
I don't like to share my dessert.

When all is said and done, I love my kids with all my heart.  I would give my life for theirs.

And so, we keep on keeping on.  I try hard, but pray even harder that God grants me the grace and wisdom to guide His children on their paths to holiness.  And someday, when the Love Bugs reflect back on their childhoods, I can only hope that they remember their mom (and dad) as being firm, but loving, imperfect, but forgiving, and providing them a home and life that was Christ centered and full of love.

This hangs by our door and is our daily reminder of what we strive towards.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Holy Week Review

Wednesday of Holy Week

Egg Carton Easter Crafts

Holy Thursday

Washing of the Feet

Kneading Unleavened Bread

We ate our bread, warm from the oven, with butter and honey.

Good Friday

Resurrection Cookies; here the Love Bugs are "beating" the nuts, which mimic the beatings of Christ, during His Passion.

"The Tomb"

Holy Saturday

Honey Bunches leading us in "Amazing Grace"

Easter Sunday

Removing the Resurrection Cookies

Praying at the graves of Grandma Trinie and Grandpa Beno.

"The Amazing Race" at Sissy #2's house.

Polish Horseshoes

An Easter tradition; our family picture on the steps.

Happy Easter! 

Our Easter season centerpiece.  Monkey received this candle 14 years ago when he was welcomed into full communion at the Easter Vigil.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Home Stretch

Holy Week

I was recently asked the question, "what is the difference between a New Year's resolution and giving stuff up for Lent?"  My very simple answer was that the center of a resolution is "me" and the heart of a Lenten sacrifice is Christ.

When I choose to resolve something, is tends to be about me and attempting to make a lifestyle change for the better (i.e. shed a few pounds, eat healthier, shop wiser, read more, etc.).  When I choose to give something up for Lent (fast), its foundation is based on my relationship with God.  Through fasting, whether it is from a favorite food/beverage, or from technology, or from a habit, I become keenly aware of my dependence on God, for it is only Him that can satisfy my deepest hunger. 

For me, I look at my Lenten journey as a sort of spiritual pilgrimage.  If you've ever been on a pilgrimage, you know that it breaks one down; spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically.  But then in the midst of our brokenness, we recognize that it is God who can make us whole once again.  We come out of the darkness and into the Light.

The beauty of fasting is that it is not intended to last forever.  A fast is not designed for that, for after the fast comes the feast.   On Easter Sunday, we will feast on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and celebrate wholly a joyous new life in our Risen Lord.  Hallelujah!

Holy Week is my favorite week of the calendar year.  We submerge ourselves in tradition and symbolism and the richness of our faith.  Without the events of this week, there would be no Easter story to tell.

Just one more thing. . .I did not give up sweets for Lent.  I was craving chocolate one afternoon and Monkey bought me this.  It is pure delight and has now been added to my secret chocolate stash.  Shhh.  Don't tell the Love Bugs!

The Love Bugs

I have activities planned this week for the Love Bugs and a few special surprises for Easter Sunday.  I'm so excited that I'm a little giddy about it.  I admit, I am a bit of a catechectical nerd. 

A few weeks ago, I was talking to the kids about confession.

Me:  Does anyone know the steps to a good confession?
Gummi (jumping up and down):  I know this!  I know this!  Give him (the priest) a firm handshake and look him in the eye!

In case you're curious, the steps to a good confession are: 
  1. Examine your conscience
  2. Be sorry for your sins
  3. Have a firm resolve to avoid those sins in the future
  4. Confess your sins to a priest
  5. Satisfaction ~ fulfill your penance

It has become a habit of Sweet Pea to exclaim, "Nuts!" in any number of situations.  Now I understand that she could use much worse words or phrases, however, she says this so often that we have been encouraging her to think of other ways to express herself.  Yesterday, as she was working on her homework, she made a mistake on a worksheet and needed to erase it.  As usual, she said, "Oh nuts!", but then she caught me looking at her and she quickly added, "I mean nuts-a-roo!"

Well played Sweet Pea.

This past Saturday, the girls and I were watching cooking shows on T.V.  One of the shows was Martha (Stewart) Bakes.  We were probably 15 minutes into the show when Sweet Pea asked, "Mom, is that woman a man?"

Sorry Martha. 

I hope you all have a blessed Holy Week and a beautiful Easter!  Enjoy "new life" that is budding all around us.