Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Fun: Name the Sign

While in China we found many street signs that we just could not interpret. We had fun giving them our own meanings though. Ever since we have returned I have wanted to share these signs and get your take on them. I know there are so many of you that are funnier than me and I couldn't wait to hear your captions. I haven't posted them hoping I would come up with a clever title for this, but I haven't come up with one. I decided just to post them despite my lame title on Monday for a little fun to start the week. (You can see why I thought you would be able to come up with better captions than me.)

Here's the first installment:

We decided to arrive in China a little earlier than the rest of the group from our adoption agency. I am glad we did, it gave us a little time just to walk around at our own pace. The first day we were there we walked for almost 10 straight hours, just taking in the sites of Beijing. Having never been out of the country, just following street signs and maps was a little difficult. It was fun though, and we felt adventurous.

Somewhere around Tienanmen Square we ran into this sign. We call it "No Exploding Cars Allowed." We felt safe on those streets and hoped to avoid any of the streets where you were encouraged to blow-up your car. Any other thoughts on what a sign like this means?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Naps

I am not sure we have had a full nights sleep since Banana was born. As a result, Sunday naps had become a real favorite around our house. With just one child it was no problem. We'd keep her awake and then all go down for a nap after a big Sunday breakfast. With each new child, maneuvering a Sunday nap got more difficult.

After Bophie, dh and I struck a deal. I would prefer to sleep later in the morning, he likes a nap. So, I slept in on Saturday mornings while he took the kids, then he took a Sunday nap while I entertained the girls. Sadly, even this has gone by the wayside. There were just too many things to accomplish on Saturdays to allow anyone to sleep in, and even the Sunday nap has been trickier.

Today, however, we somehow managed to get the whole family down for a nap at the same time. All six of us piled into our bed and the baby's bed in our room and took a great Sunday nap. The rainy, gloomy day put us all in a napping mood. Even little Juliana who usually only naps 40 minutes or so is still sleeping after almost two hours. I don't know if she has ever napped this long.

I can't think of a better way to spend a gloomy, March Sunday. Who knows when a small miracle like this will happen again?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Somehow this picture seemed appropriate for the Feast of the Annunciation. Guess I'm not raising any fashionistas.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend Outings

You will notice that there is a glaring absence from this post... There are no pictures, none, not a single picture. After a busy, fun-filled weekend, we didn't snap one, single picture.

On Friday we had a Homeschoolers For Life fundraiser at an indoor pool. My older girls had gone to a birthday party at this pool a year or so ago and have been begging to go back. The pool has fountains and a lazy river and fun water slides. It was Juliana's first time in a bathing suit. Before we left, I came into the house to get the camera. I walked out with my sunglasses, wallet, and an extra towel. I did not grab the camera.

It ended up not being such a bad thing that I forgot the camera. Juliana was terrified from the minute we walked into the pool. I have never seen her as afraid as she was. The look on her face was just panic. She cried, she threw up, then she just went into a quiet shock until she finally fell asleep on my shoulder. I don't know if it was the noise of the water and the kids, or the fact that she wasn't bundled, or just the complete change in surroundings, but she was scared. Her quietness and body language reminded me of how she acted in China. I realize even more now just how frightened she was at the time. I am amazed at how much she has changed since then. I am thankful for how well she is adjusting, I also know to be a little more prepared when heading into new situations.

Saturday, after Mass and a rosary at the abortion mill, we were able to go with my sister Melissa on her first outing in two weeks. We decided to head to the local science museum. My dad pushed her in her wheelchair part of the time, but she was also able to walk quite a bit. It was nice to be out with her doing normal things. Again, it would be nice to have a snapshot of her with all my girls but I didn't think to bring the camera... I really need to get better about that. Missy did really well in the museum, I think better than me. I had worn silly dress shoes because of Mass in the morning, and by the end of the day my feet were killing me.

Please continue to pray for her. The doctors have told her that they will consider it successful to get her heart pumping at 30%, which is still in heart failure. They want to double her medications, but cannot do so at the time because of her low blood pressure. She did not have a heart attack and there is no blockage, which means that they really don't know what has caused her heart to weaken.

I am resolving to be better about taking the camera with me. That doesn't mean it will happen, but I am going to try harder...

A Proud Mom

Yesterday was our homeschooling group's annual Speech Meet. It is a forum for the children to get a little public speaking experience. It has always been one of my favorite events and this year proved to be one of the best yet. There was singing, a little dancing, funny poems, tongue twisters, prayers (in Latin no less), and more.

Last year Bear worked for months memorizing her poems, she looked forward to getting up and reciting them. When the moment came, she froze. This year, she worked even harder. She memorized two longer poems and worked on saying them slowly. When the moment came, she froze. Then she took a deep breath and delivered them beautifully. She spoke slowly and clearly and gave one of the best recitations of "The Puffin" I have ever heard. Of course I am biased...

Banana did equally as well. She is becoming a pro at this. I was a little more worried this year because she chose two very lengthy poems. We had memorized the first in the fall while working on American History and I was afraid she would switch the stanzas since we were so late in beginning our review. She delivered beautifully. Her second recitation was "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud" which is often called "The Daffodils." It was a most fitting poem for such a nice spring day and though she had to quickly learn the last stanza this week, she did a fantastic job.

The moderator (me), on the other hand, was not so adept at the whole public speaking thing. Dh confirmed my suspicions at home last night that I had managed to overkill a joke-- I just couldn't let it go. Those dear children and their families were subjected to my poor sense of humor, my talking too fast, and general uncomfortableness with a microphone. At least the food and coffee were good, and the kids were entertaining.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This weekend I did something really stupid. I was in a rush (again) to get out the door for Mass. It seems that no matter how much earlier I get up, we are still rushing to get out the door. Hair ties, shoes, and coats seem to fill an infinite amount of time.

I was rushing between the coat closet in the front of the house to the mudroom where the shoes are kept when it happened. My feet slipped from underneath me. It happened so quickly, or my response time is so slow, there were no attempts to break the fall. I landed squarely on my behind--hard.

Now there is this lovely sharp, burning pain each time I bend over. As a mom of four, there are only a few occasions for this so I figure I am alright. I only hurt when I have to: change a diaper, help my potty training toddler, pick up 4 million little toys, help someone put on tights, tie a shoe, pick up more toys, give a bath, pick up the baby, put the laundry in the dryer, pick up toys again, feed the dog, put on my socks, pick up still more toys, pull out the pans to make meals, empty the dishwasher, etc.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Dear Girl

I took Banana and Bear with me to visit my sister last Monday after she had been diagnosed with heart failure. As a mom, I wanted to protect them from the worries that accompanied all the questions and uncertainties about Aunt M's health, but I knew they were concerned and it might help just to visit.

Banana has a good habit of putting the letters JMJ (this is shorthand for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph pray for us) at the top of all of her schoolwork pages. I had noticed that Monday, after hearing that Aunt M was pretty sick all her schoolwork had JMJ Pray for Aunt M. I was touched that she was so concerned for her aunt and I was proud of her for remembering to do all she could for her aunt.

I was especially touched that evening though. As we sat in my sister's living room, various friends and family filtering in and out, a particularly emotional high was hit when my brother came in. I watched my girls take it all in. I worried a little that this was too overwhelming for such young children. Then Banana showed me how wrong I was.

When the conversation lulled, she quietly spoke up. "You know, I was thinking it is like we are all in a room and there are lots of crosses of all different sizes" she paused looking for assurance. Then she continued, "and Jesus loves you so much," she said to my sister, "He chose to give you the biggest cross as a gift."

She understood it all, and I am so thankful for how beautifully she handled the situation.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Birthday Celebrations

I wanted to share a few pictures of our combined birthday celebration last Sunday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm sure she'll love this story when she's sixteen

Do you know what my dear, sweet, darling, potty training, third child did?

She tinkled on the floor!

I know you are thinking she did this because she is just learning to control these bodily functions. You may think I am overreacting, little ones often have accidents when learning to use a toilet. The thing is, she did it on purpose-- on purpose.

Not because she was curious, not because she didn't know better, not because it seemed fun. She did it because she was upset her sister was using her bathroom (there are three of them in this house). Where she got the notion that my conveniently located downstairs bathroom was hers is beyond me.

Talk about sibling rivalry...

On a more serious note, please continue to pray for my little sister. She has been diagnosed with heart failure. She expected to hear she had pneumonia and this has completely floored our family. We are now waiting to see how she will respond to the medications.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Third Birthday Bophie

It's hard to believe you are no longer a baby, how quickly you have become such a sweet girl. It has been such fun to watch you grow, to hear the new things you say, to see your personality shine! Many blessings to you this year.

Prayer Request

Please keep my sister in your prayers. She went yesterday for a heart stress test, she was unable to take the test and the results were not good. Her heart is currently only pumping at about 15%. She has a difficult road ahead and our family would really appreciate any prayers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Lenten Reading

Recently I blogged about my "Sisyphus Syndrome". I mentioned in that post a friend who recommended a prayer of "Thank you, Jesus, for everything." I have really taken to this one-line prayer. For me, it works better than counting to ten or taking a few deep breaths. Sometimes I do that as well, but this little prayer really puts whatever has arisen in perspective.

The prayer came from a book entitled He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek. He was a Jesuit priest who spent more than two decades in a Russian prison after going to serve as a missionary in Poland during the war. He first wrote the book With God in Russia, which details his time in Russia (I will hopefully read this in the future). He Leadeth Me is not about giving an account of his time, but rather to show how his faith carried him through the ordeal. It is truly an amazing book and certainly what I needed to shed a new light on my Sisyphus syndrome.

In the following excerpt I read earlier this week, he talks of how often we try to tell God what His will is. I think this is the root of my Sisyphus problem. I forget my vocation in life will often seem monotonous and overwhelming. I feel over-qualified for dealing with endless mounds of laundry, piles of dishes, dirty diapers, and runny noses. I want to educate and train my children in virtue, but I didn't realize how that would mean the bulk of my day would often be spent in what I considered menial and endless tasks. Often it is hard to see success in these tasks. And yet, it is precisely these tasks that lead to my salvation. These tasks are part of God's will for my life. I should accept and bear them as such.

Ultimately, we come to expect God to accept our understanding of what his will ought to be and to help us to fulfill that, instead of learning to see and accept his will in the real situations in which he places us daily. The simple soul who each day makes a morning offering of "all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day" -- and who then acts upon it by accepting unquestioningly and responding lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God -- has perceived with an almost childlike faith the profound truth about the will of God. To predict what God's will is going to be, to rationalize about what his will must be, is at once a work of human folly and yet the subtlest of all temptations. The plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that-- not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God's grace, but every day...
From He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek.

I want to keep typing more of this book. It is just amazing. I am only a few chapters into the book, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are future posts. If anyone decides to read this, I would love to try to do an online discussion.

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Horizons

Does this face sum up the pride felt in a new accomplishment?
I will not show you a picture of my face, hers is much cuter. I can say it is not as content as little Juliana. It is rather frazzled, there are bags under my eyes, and the pigtail just doesn't hide the fact I have had no time today for any sort of appearance maintenance. Now when I turn my back I have to worry where the little one has climbed!

It is amazing how quickly she is gaining new skills. It is hard to believe only two months ago she was barely sitting up. Now she is crawling, pulling herself to a standing position, and even climbing.

OK, there is a little pride in my eyes-- it will be easier to recognize when she learns how to come down the stairs...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lion or Lamb?

I am hoping the cold weather today means March has come in like a lion. While it was sunny and looked nice outside, the temperature had dropped. Or maybe it is just that we have all been couped up inside a little too long with all the sickness we have had lately.These are some photos of my middle children (we do still remember to take pictures of them occasionally). They just had to go outside, even if it was just to walk the poor dog around the house. Poor Bella was shivering in spite of the down jacket she was wearing.

The coat was a gift. In my opinion, no dog should ever wear such a frilly thing. However, I happen to live in a house full of darling little girls who think bundling up a dog and doing laps around the house is tremendous fun. On a cold, rather dull Sunday, I was happy to oblige them in hopes a little activity after all our sickness would do them some good.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of little Bophie with her ribbons in her hair (they looked much nicer before her nap and romp out in the wind). Look at that cute face. She is still all about the jellybeans and keeps asking me when it will be Easter. Since it was Sunday, and she is just too sweet, I let her have a few today. I am sure I will pay for that tomorrow!