Friday, February 27, 2009

Will the Winter Ever End?

It is raining here, and the weather reports it is going to get cold again. I think I have mentioned many times how much my sinuses love this kind of weather. We have all been battling a terrible cold/flu that started when Banana got strep throat. I thought we were all on the mend. I was looking forward to getting out of the house a little more, and getting some full days of schooling. The saga never ends though.

I was back at the doctor's office yesterday. Now Bear and Juliana have ear infections, and Juliana has some fluid in her lower left lobe. Another couple rounds of antibiotics for us. I am hoping the antibiotics will kick in more today and my children will not be in pain when they lay down. I feel terrible that I missed the fact that Juliana was in such pain. Last night dh said he was getting a sore throat. Let's hope he isn't coming down with this now.

I came across this post about Lent. I was again reminded of that one line prayer "Thank you Jesus for everything". Like Karen's Lenten season, I am finding that I am being asked to make sacrifices I hadn't anticipated making. I know that they are bringing me closer to God, and for that I am thankful. Although, I have to admit that last night my thank you was sent through gritting teeth as I had yet another sleepless night :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lenten Wisdom

Yesterday we had to be out most of the day. I wanted to spend a quiet first day of Lent at home, but we had other scheduled activities. While we were between appointments, I decided to pick up a few items at Target. My girls love to go to Target because they love to hound me for an Icee. Knowing it was Ash Wednesday and there was no way I was caving, Banana very graciously offered up even asking (begging) for one. Her response was, "This isn't sooo hard the first day of Lent, but I don't know about the third or fourth..."

Then later at home, we were letting the girls put their sacrifice jellybeans in their Lent jars. They collect them for good deeds and then may eat them during Easter. This has worked relatively well in years past. However, this is Bophie's first year for collecting and the concept is a little beyond this almost 3-year old. She doesn't understand that she gets them now but has to wait to eat them. At bedtime, she collected her last two for the day and once again asked if she could eat them. I said (for the thirteenth time) she had to wait till Easter. She quickly licked each one, put them in her jar and said, "When Damma (Grandma) comes, I will eat them."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pushing Rocks

Lately, I have been feeling a little like Sisyphus.
Sisyphus was compelled to roll a huge rock up a steep hill, but before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back down again, forcing him to begin again.[2] The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for Sisyphus due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus. (From Wikipedia)

I do laundry, but it just piles up almost as fast as I can put it through the machine. I wash dishes, but my sink always seems full minutes after I wring the dish rag. I change countless diapers, I wipe endlessly runny noses, and I am always trying to decide what to prepare for the next meal. On top of all that, there is school. Another Math lesson, more Spelling tests, It seems just when I think I have that rock pushed up the hill and have a good routine going, the rock tumbles back down.

This February has been particularly difficult for me. I am not getting enough sleep because of a little one who likes to play at 2 a.m., I am worn down from a flu bug staying too long in our house, and I am trying to kick our schooling into high gear after a much too long hiatus because of the adoption. Maybe it is being overtired, or maybe the sickness, but the last month or so I just feel like that rock is not just falling back down the hill, but flattening me in the process.

Then it hit me. I really am Sisyphus. I am condemned to a meaningless task that I will never accomplish. I have been given this sentence because, like Sisyphus, I think I am more clever than the gods-- more clever than God. I have been neglecting my prayers, especially my morning offering, and allowing pride and self-reliance into my spirit. I have been so busy doing it all, I haven't been trusting in God.

It isn't until we recognize our dependence on God for strength that we will stop pushing that rock up the hill. When we realize we are not as clever as we think and ask God to align our will with His, we will also realize that we are not working at a task that will never be accomplished. We are climbing steps to heaven. Only when we put ourselves at God's disposal will we stop working at meaningless tasks and be working out our salvation.

This weekend a dear friend, who doesn't realize what a mentor she has been to me, told me about a prayer she has been praying. It is a simple one line, "Thank you for everything Jesus." Through this simple prayer we give ourselves perspective. We realize that even the difficulties we face were given as a gift to help work out our salvation. When I am awakened in the middle of the night, God has given me a gift that, if I choose to unite it to Him, will in some way bring me closer to Him. I must abandon my will for His. I must thank Him even for the tasks that seem most difficult or bothersome to me.

The amazing thing is that this little bit of perspective makes all the difference. I still have piles of laundry, the kids are all still sick, and I was awake more than asleep last night. Instead of allowing this to overwhelm me, I am depending on God for strength. I realize I am not clever enough to do it all so I am praying more. When I do this, I no longer feel condemned to pushing rocks.

Someone be kind enough to remind me of this next February?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy First Birthday Juliana!

A year ago we were praying for a child we had not yet met. We had already been waiting two years for the child chosen for us, and at times it seemed that day might never come. Around this day last year we lit a special candle to pray for those who would have a hand in the early months of the child we already loved, even though we had never seen her face. Little did we know she was born at that time.

It is hard to imagine a year has passed since those days of prayer. Even though we have only been with Juliana for two months, it seems she has always been a special part of our family. She is a joy to her parents, adored by her sisters, and doted on by countless friends and family. I am so thankful that we are together to share these special moments of her life. How blessed our family is to have this newest addition! I am so grateful for Juliana.

The celebration of Juliana's first birthday is to me a celebration of life. When I see the joy this little child has brought to all those who meet her, I am reminded of the beauty and precious nature of every life. I am so incredibly thankful she was given that gift.

UPDATE: She liked her cake!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Belated Two Months With Juliana

Now that we are back in the Midwest, I can expect that the months of changing weather will not only bring thunderstorms, rain, hail, and high winds; but also will often bring headaches, achiness, runny noses, and sore throats. This past week, the brief spell of spring-like temperatures were enjoyed by most people. Those of us with sinus problems, however, do not enjoy such quick changes in temperature. This time it brought the perfect storm to my health. I developed a sinus infection that caused bronchitis and to add to the fun I decided to catch Banana's strep throat.

My Valentines Day? Spent in bed. Poor dh spent the evening watching movies by himself after having spent the day alone as I didn't quite make it out of bed, except for a visit to the urgi-care for some heavy duty antibiotics. The meds are starting to have some effect for me. I feel somewhat better this morning. Banana, on the other hand, had to go back in today for her second round of antibiotics. Thankfully the strep is gone, but it looks as though she has inherited my sinus issues.

While I was down for the count, I also missed out on the two month update with Juliana. This month has been another month of growing in affection. She now not only smiles when I pick her up, she also often lays her head on my shoulder. She has been fussy the last few days and it has required me pulling out the backpack so I can get some work done. She often spends the afternoon riding along as I finish household chores and make dinner. All my girls have gone through the backpack stage, so I figure this shows how well she is learning our ways.

I think the fussiness is a result of some teeth finally making their way through. So far only swelling, but I think soon enough we will start to see some pearly whites. She is also starting to pull herself up on the furniture. Dh thinks she has only a few weeks before walking, I think it will be a little longer. She loves to play peek-a-boo, clap her hands, and shake her head yes and no. I so enjoy watching her smile and look so delighted when she masters some small feat. She is such a joy to our family.

I was asked a question about what lead us to adoption and I am sorry if it seemed I ignored the question. I did not mean to do so. When I started to try to answer that question it became a jumbled mess. I am trying to find some time to edit the post. Hopefully you will see it soon. I am also planning to get the nickname poll going...sometime soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Pictures

This seems to be the week for picture posts for me. So when I was tagged by Amy, I decided to play along. I don't mind showing off my adorable children. The bonus in this picture is my dh in a wetsuit! It was fun to think back to this trip.

Here are the rules:
1. Choose the 4th folder where you store pictures on your computer.
2. Select the 4th picture in the folder, and post it on your blog.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag four people to do the same.
5. No cheating (cropping, editing, etc.)

In this picture Banana had just turned 4, Bear was about 20 months. Dh was trying to convince either of them to go out into the ocean with him. They both decided they were having enough fun with Mom making sand castles. It is from a trip to Southern California a year after we moved. It is also the day I embarrassed myself horribly by screaming like a teenage girl in the middle of the beach. Dh loves the water and we happened to be lucky enough to be at the beach on a day when the leopard sharks were migrating. He was begging me to come out and see them. I eventually (very reluctantly) relented. There is something about chasing sharks that doesn't seem right to me. He proceeded to scare one (they are about 24-36 inches long) into my direction. I did the natural thing and screamed -- I was pretty loud too. The other shark watchers were not happy with me.

For fun, here is the next picture in the folder. It is one of my all-time favorites.

I tag Kim, Regina, Bia, and Corrine.

Mini Me? Part II

I wrote this post in my early days of blogging. I think it is so cute to see my little ones trying to be helpful. It is a reminder that little eyes are always watching. Little Bophie still likes to pretend to be me, and while today she did not have the hair clip she still thought she would be "Mom" and cook dinner. Here is what I found:
What is it with this child? Why is it that whenever she is pretending to do "Mom" tasks she isn't wearing any pants?

Wordless Wednesday

A tribute to Mom's new glasses.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I mentioned yesterday that I needed to balance my Monday Moments with some gratitude. I have so many things to be thankful for. I was really having a hard time narrowing it down to one Tuesday post.

I decided that this week, I am most grateful for the efforts of my family to make a dreary week in February more interesting. I also appreciated all the extra efforts they made to help get us out the door and have things run more smoothly. Dh mopped the floor, twice because of his beer, Banana has been a real trooper as I drastically ramped up our schooling. Bear has become an excellent babysitter for her youngest sister. Even little Bophie wanted to be helpful. She thought she would feed Juliana for me while I had my back turned. This is what I found:
I appreciated the effort, even if it meant extra stain removal duties.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Moments

I should have done the 7 quick takes on Friday. Since I didn't get to it I thought I would share a few quick moments from our week.
  • It turns out my eyes are even more football shaped (how apropos) so now I get to wear glasses full-time.

  • I burned the bottom of my feet (in true Michael Scott fashion) in hot turkey grease yesterday. In case you are wondering, burning the bottom of the feet makes every little step filled with pain.

  • If my calculations are correct, I changed about 42 diapers this week.

  • I have mitigated at least 63 meaningless squabbles between siblings. H/t to my friend Emily who suggested I give each child a day to win said squabbles. The coveted head chair at the breakfast table is now no longer a daily battle as the girls know whose day it is and therefore who gets the chair. The Child of the Day also gets to pick what is for breakfast, although Mom has ultimate veto power.

  • Dh is bottling his newest beer tonight, this means my newly mopped floor will need to be mopped again. It (the beer) will be done in time for him to give it up for Lent.

  • The dog ran away today when I forgot to let her back inside. We live close to a school with little ones out for recess. I, of course, assumed she went there and had to approach the school teachers in my sweats, slippers, unbrushed hair, and coffee breath. Turns out she was just on the deck.

  • I did succeed last week in getting the girls out the door on time without yelling. The kicker for me came on the last day. We had to be out earlier than any other day and we were going to be out for most of the day so I had extra gear to pack. After all my efforts, we got out the door and to the dentist's office on time only to have the receptionist apologize and tell me that the girls were not due for a visit. We could still have their teeth cleaned, but we would have to pay out of pocket for a cleaning they didn't need.

While all of these did not happen on Monday, they still feel like Monday Moments to me... Of course, for balance I am pretty sure I will need to remember GratiTuesday tomorrow. Here's hoping for another week full of memorable moments!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stepping out

It has been a really busy week here. Probably the biggest enemy to my homeschooling is anything that requires me to be out of the house during the schoolday. It just seems to be such a production to get everyone dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed, shoes and coats on, and get out the door. By the time we get back I am so worn out it is hard to get much schoolwork done.

Getting out is not only an enemy of schooling, but also a hard test of my patience-- especially if there is a set time we need to be some place. I find myself barking at the girls and I can feel myself getting more and more upset as we get later and later. We are inevitably just barely on time to everything, despite my well-intentioned plans of being early.

This week we have something out of the house every day. We have dentist appointments, doctor appointments, special Masses, gym classes, art classes, and so on. I didn't mean for it to all be in one week, but here it is. Knowing this was coming, and knowing I was particularly grouchy last week getting out the door, I resolved that this week we would leave the house and make our appointments on time without me yelling or losing my patience.

It has meant I had to turn a blind eye to incomplete work I wanted done before leaving. I have to turn the other way and not look at the mess we leave in the wake of just getting out the door. I also have to give up the notion that my children will have on clothes that match and have hair that doesn't resemble Animal from the Muppets. Sometimes I just have to be thankful we are all in the car and on our way.

I really wasn't sure it was possible, but so far we have been on time or early for every appointment. We have gotten out the door with relatively little fuss. There have been a few meltdowns, but they haven't been my meltdowns. I consider this my small victory for the week. It seems appropriate that it fell during the week of St. Blase's feast. My biggest throat ailment is not any virus or bacteria, but rather the things I say. I am thankful for his intercession as I strive to speak more kindly.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Who Are You?

My girls have always enjoyed pretending to have other names. On any given day they could decide to have twelve or thirteen different names. I remember once when Banana was three and Bear was just walking I took them to a story time for reading and crafts. Another mom saw Banana and asked her what her name was. I was astonished to hear her say "Mary, and that is my sister Elizabeth"-- these are not their names. I wasn't sure if I should stop this woman I didn't even know and tell her those were my children but that was not their names. I decided she might just think I was crazy, so I spent the morning calling them Mary and Elizabeth.

This game has continued through the years. The girls get different names, their dolls get names, the dog gets named. By the time they determine who gets what name, they are practically done with the game.

This morning as I was making breakfast, Banana was the mom bringing her family to my restaurant. Her daughter (Bophie) was introduced to me as Grace. Already feeling like a short order cook (some want eggs, others oatmeal, and still others cereal), I played up the part. Little Bophie would say "Lady? Lady?" trying to get my attention. I called back in my best Texas accent, "Yes, Gracie."

When breakfast was ready dh sat down at the table. Bophie, wanting to make sure Dad got things straight, says "I Gracie!" Now you have to imagine this in typical two-year-old tone. Some pronunciation was lacking.
Dh turns to her and says, "Your crazy? Why are you crazy?"
Bophie replies, "NO, I Gracie..."
Dh, "Yeah I know your crazy, you get it from your Mom."
Bophie, "NO, I GRACIE!"
Dh finally looks at me with his best what am I missing expression.
It was almost too funny to watch the exchange, I didn't want to interpret.