Family Time…making the most of it

I have to work Sunday and Monday night of this holiday weekend. It’s not a great thing, but I am getting paid extra, so not a bad thing either.

Sometimes it feels like family time is lacking in our home because of the crazy schedules we keep (forget about couple time, someday we’ll be able to resurrect that though). So, when we plan for something, we plan it all the way. Including checking our attitudes and our complaints with one another.

We decided Saturday and Sunday would be family days. We had big beach plans, but cloudy skies and thunder took that out of the equation. We did manage a quick picnic out in between thunder and got to see the boats on the ICW. The kids loved it. They were relaxed and we were able to keep anyone from jumping in. Then on Sunday, it was race day. The kids loved watching bits of the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. And, of course, Cars. It was race day, after all. Then we did a mini-cook-out with hot dogs with all the fixings, something we rarely go to the trouble of. In between there were carpets vaccuumed, laundry folded and other chores completed, but everyone was in good spirits.

People usually react in shock when we explain that we schedule times like this. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but it’s hard enough to get my entire family at one place at one time to belabor that the issue has to be penciled in along with well-child check-ups and therapy sessions. And I know more than a few people out there have the same kind of rules we do when they say, go on a vacation, or it’s the holidays and we’re all cramped at grandma’s house. And I do know a few families who institute these policies at meal times. 

So, is it wrong that family time might have to be on a schedule vs a natural progression? I can’t answer for everyone, but it’s a necessity for us.


Super-Mom!!! Well, not really….

This week, 3 things have had me thinking about how and why we blog, mothers and wives that is…

USA Today ran a story this week in their Life section about how mother’s blog now and how that is becoming a new stage in the Mommy wars.

Arwen blogged over at Faith and Family Live! this week about our tendencies to only blog the happy things in our parenting and marriage. Not the reality that sometimes, there might only be hot dogs for dinner.

The third is a post I am not going to link to, but a blog I came across where a mother chronicled what made her mothering so successful and she inadvertently sent the vibe to more than a few who read it that if they did some or any of the things she avoided in her parenting, they were completely awful people. Her com box is pretty full right now, and it’s not a blog I frequent, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Why are we so afraid to admit to our shortcomings as wives and mothers? True, no one likes to admit they are not perfect, but the reality is, we aren’t. Judgment is also sometimes extremely painful to deal with. It’s a major buzz kill when a parenting solution you’ve hit upon in your family is met by scorn and/or disdain by other mothers.

I clearly remember a friend telling me how when she told her neighbor how they meal-planned but had one of two back-up dinners (either breakfast for dinner or hot dogs) as an alternative in case something unforeseen happened her neighbor wrinkled her nose and asked, “even in a hurry, how could you feed your family that crap.” (I’m assuming the “crap” she is referring to is the hot dogs.) Ouch.

And another thing we notice is that rarely do we here so much about marriage unless it is positive. That’s why I maintain that marriage is hard work. Emphasis on hard work there. Romance is a wonderful beautiful thing but it does not occur every minute of every day in a marriage. Show me the marriage where that does occur and I’ll show you were it says that was written by the Brother’s Grimm.

I’m not proud of the fact that Jeff and I have loud arguments sometimes. Or that there are days when the tv is on all day and lunch is McDonald’s and dinner is Domino’s but those are real days that occasionally happen here.

And my bathroom needs to be cleaned, my kids probably had some high fructose corn syrup today at some point, and I might have thanked my husband with a sarcastic tone in my voice for his help bathing the kids. I’m not proud of any of those things by a long shot, but they are the truth. Isn’t the truth supposed to set you free? Well, not really that truth…

I try my hardest to avoid showing judgment of other moms. And it angers me when a blogger asks people to share their experiences and instead commenters trade barbs about how could one do that or accept that. It baffles me how people believe that little comment box is their pedestal to stand on and preach the Gospel of Why I Am the Best Mommy and Wife! Sure, we all have a right to our own opinion, but we don’t have the right to think our opinion is the only one out there.

And in parenting and marriage, there are no absolutes (except for love). So to say that one answer for parenting or how to solve a disagreement in a marriage is THE answer is ludicrous. I have great admiration for the women out there who are strong in their convictions about motherhood and marriage but can still respect that there are other ways to do things. And this is why I do not give advice unless it is asked for. I hate someone thinking that because I said that my child did or did not do this it is the be-all-end-all answer on the subject.

The only thing worse than receiving unsolicited parenting advice is unsolicited marriage advice. One of the funniest episodes ever of Everybody Love’s Raymond centers around newlyweds Robert and Amy offering marriage advice to Debra and Ray and Frank and Marie. It’s one of those “it’s funny because it’s true” episodes. Probably the strangest marriage advice one can receive is not advice regarding a problem per se, but a perceived problem. Like for example, I work nights and my husband is home with our kids and how that “reversal of roles” must be a great burden to our marriage? Uh, actually, it’s not. It may be in some marriages, but it is working pretty well for us. So getting “advice” about this is not only obnoxious, it’s intrusive.

So, don’t believe the hype. I am not a super-woman. I have pretty ugly mommy moments from time to time. I can be the wife no one would ever want. And while these are embarrassing awful moments for me, they teach me humility and the ability to try to learn from them.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1) My bread machine arrived on Wednesday! It came late in the day so I wasn’t able to get supplies until yesterday which means baking will commence later on today. I already have an order for white bread in from a co-worker and will make a sourdough starter in the morning!

2) Rain has been our companion for about the last week (with the exception of yesterday) and boy did we need it, although that much at one time was kind of tough, hey, I can’t complain too much.  No flooding and it is drought relief.

3) I am so excited for our vacation in June! I did have to make one minor adjustment. I originally booked for Father’s Day weekend, but Jeff has 2 job fairs that weekend, so we decided to have our own Father’s Day weekend. We are so excited to be going to one of our favorite places in the whole world, that happens to be just a couple of hours from home!

4) Beach Days are here! Wednesday during one of the breaks in the rain, Jeff got to take the boys to the beach. Since Will was born last May, he has not ever really gotten to experience the beach at all. He was enthralled taking it all in as a standing and walking little person.

5) Although our tomatoes still have a way to go, Jeff, knowing I am an impatient wife about food, went and got some vine-ripened ones so I can have a few sandwiches and salads until ours are more in. We will have a green tomato to fry up this weekend though!

6) Joey got to be our green bean collector this week. We had a ton ripen up and he was very proud to help Daddy snap them off the plant and put them in the big bag. Will is turning into a veggie eater and loves our garden veggies. He is also our first to love black-eye-peas. A staple for Mama and Daddy not embraced by our other two kids!

7) I just finished reading this week Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. While a few characters and a very few events are depicted in the film by the same name, it is largely different from the film with the differences becoming apparent in the first two pages. However, I loved toward the end how Mayes began to view and fall in love with the Church. Especially dear to my heart was the mention of my confirmation saint Juliana (or in Italian Giuliana) Falconieri who rebelled when her parents wanted her to marry by starting her own religious order and who requested on her death-bed that the Host be placed upon her chest. When it was, it was absorbed into her heart. This book also reminded me we need a Saint Lorenzo statue for our kitchen. Lorenzo is the patron saint of cooks/chefs/ bakers who famously, while being burned on a rack, told his persecutors to turn him over, he was done on that side. Jeff always laughs at that story and apologizes saying, he knows it’s not funny, but thinks if it didn’t turn those persecuting Lorenzo into believers, nothing would!

Get more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thankful Thursday Part Deux

(I’ve decided to make this a regular thing…)

Kathy is this week’s Thankful Thursday Part Deux! Jeff hasn’t seen her in person in 30 years and I’ve never met her (aside from 3 phone conversations) but Kathy is a very special person in our lives. Over the past year, (since reconnecting on fb) she has been with us through some of our most trying times and we hope we have helped her through some of hers. But even before that her presence was very alive in our home. One of Jeff’s pictures from high school features the two of them together prominently laughing and having a great time. That picture inspired my senior thesis. And back when Jeff was just starting to lose his hair and was sensitive about it, Kathy gave him a gift that might have seemed small to some, but he held onto for years as a reminder of the girl he called “his best friend in high school, who happened to be a girl.” When our cousin Andy was sick and going through chemotherapy and radiation and lost his hair, Jeff wanted him to have that momento. It was important to him to try and make Andy not feel self-concious, and he hoped that this would be a small reminder. It made Andy laugh. Sick as he was, he laughed, and that made giving up something precious to Jeff worth it. It also made the bond Jeff they shared so much strong for Jeff when he and Kathy reconnected. It brought him full circle. Kathy and I share a birthday, a tendency to retreat when we feel life is getting to be too much, overwhelming love for people who are important to us, and of course, our love and protection of Jeff and now our kids (I doubt there is anything I wouldn’t do for Kathy’s boys, I love them like they are mine). God never blessed me with a biological sister, but if He had, I would like to imagine our relationship would be like mine and Kathy’s. Full of unconditional love for the other. Love you KRay!

Thankful Thursday

1) My new bread maker!!!!!! Jeff laughs about it, but I know this thing is going to pay for itself quick and I cannot wait to introduce my kids (particularly my boys as Shelby has been limiting herself on her gluten intake to only when we have pizza and occasionally spaghetti) to the joys of warm, homemade bread!

2) For all of my wonderful friends who emailed excitedly upon finding out about Shelby’s social breakthrough this week. Their joy at being included with sharing this moment was unstoppable. We are so blessed with our family and our extended family, our friends.

3) For children who are happy to play in puddles, because we have a lot of them right now!

4) For a bountiful harvest in our garden. Squash, green beans, peas, zucchini, and our green bell peppers are starting to come in! We’ve even had enough squash to share with some of my co-workers!

5) Once again for the very special young lady we mentioned last week who graduated from high school this week. She received her graduation gift and was so thankful and thrilled with it. We are so blessed to share in this joyful moment in her life!

6) That our good friend Susan’s daughter was okay after being in a very frightening car accident.  Jade is a beautiful, talented lover of Jesus Christ and we are so grateful she is a little banged up but mercifully doing well.

7) That when things seem downright awful, God can come shining through. My prayers are with several friends going through extremely difficult moments at what should have been happy times in their lives. Remember, these are the times when God holds you in the palm of His hand.

8) That my sister-in-law is seeing upstate NY for the first time and she and my brother can spend this time together before he deploys to Afghanistan.

9) The baby is 100% walking now! He is so feisty and independent, I don’t feel as sad as I expected because his personality is really developing now!

10) That my kids love each other so much. They are really looking out for each other now. Now if only that love didn’t include moments of hitting, biting and pinching….

Small Successes


1) I did the unthinkable and booked a small family vacation for a weekend in June in one of our favorite places in the world. (This is where it helps to work for the hotel you are staying at, it becomes surprisingly affordable.) Now normally this is something that Jeff and I would discuss first, but I went ahead and did it knowing I could cancel and he was thrilled I had.

2) I managed to get a wedding present out in time. I am two for two this month with gifts! Yesssss!

3) I found my bread maker and I hope to be baking loaves this weekend! It arrived yesterday to oohs and aahs from my kids who were in love with the fact that two boxes showed up. What does my two-year-old do first, climb in and tell his Daddy, “Hiding Daddy, I’m hiding!”

The Tiniest

William–we are walking, we would like to be running, but we can’t seem to figure out our balance just yet so we are walking. He’s doing really well. Hoping to get him on a cup very, very soon. We’ll see how that develops.

Joseph–The quest for manners and sharing continues, and continues. “Please” is usually followed by “gimme, gimme!” Very much a work in progress. He is still unimpressed by potty training although he’s pretty compliant about tooth brushing and hand washing.

Shelby–Shelby had a big social break-through. On Sunday, Will’s Godmother and her daughter came to visit. Her daughter is one month older than Shelby. Shelby ran up and hugged her enthusiastically and she rarely gets to see this little girl. Both Will’s Godmother and I were thrilled to see this!

An “Odd” Hour

Today, my husband has a job interview in another part of the state. Four hours away. So, even though I worked last night, I am up now. For an hour. Till the kids nap.

It may sound counter-intuitive but I asked to keep Shelby home from school today. The idea being that I will actually get more sleep because I went to bed the second I got home (pretty much). And will get approx 3 hours of sleep when the kids nap. I’ve already logged 3 full hours.  It takes forever for the boys to go down for their afternoon naps, so this way they will get a full nap instead of fighting it for 30 mins, sleeping for 30 mins, fighting me for 30 mins as I wake them, put their shoes and socks on and get them in the car, ride 30 mins to school, unload them, reload them (plus Shelby) and drive 30 mins home….that was going to send me over the edge.

I often tell people that I have 3 “Daddy’s kids” but it’s not far from true. With me working a crazy schedule (something I am glad to do to support my family while my husband is out of work and allows him to be home with our kids) I sometimes feel like I am a mother only 3-4 hours a day. I know that’s not really the case, but there are times it wears on me. Like the time I was home on Friday night (I have Friday and Saturday nights off) and the baby woke up teething and irritable and could not be consoled by anyone except his Daddy. That was tough, but I realize, that our kids did a fair amount of that to Daddy when we were both working, so I am being able to feel that kind of pain. And I am not out to be a martyr. I’m just doing what’s necessary for the time being. Which is tough, but I have to do it.

So, my sleep schedule is disrupted today for my kids. And the chance that maybe life will somehow return to normal soon!

A Tale of Two Mommies

Two girls I grew up with (but was not exceptionally close to either) both had their first babies within these first five months of 2010. I keep up with both via fb (the perfect place to reconnect with old friends…and people you used to know who you have no idea why they want to know what you’re up to now) and have been interested to see their progressions into mommyhood. I have changed both their and their children’s names in the following.

Kailey became a mother to a baby girl Ramona in February. Kailey works in accounting and was having contractions while on a conference call (the real thing) before having her baby girl that night. Kailey has decided to exclusively breastfeed for at least six months and despite having gone back to work already, she is keeping up beautifully. She is blessed with a sleeping baby, but still wakes the baby ever four hours or so to nurse at night. Ramona has already traveled cross-country with her mom and dad when Daddy had a business trip (Kailey can telecommute). She loves to smile and seems to be a very content baby.

Marie is a first time mom to a baby boy Wiley. He was born about a month ago. Wiley was uncooperative and came after his due date. Which made Marie stay working three days past when she wanted to stop. Marie is a school teacher who is going to cut her maternity leave probably a week short to return to the classroom. She teaches at a year-round school and doesn’t want “her kids” to start a new track without her. She has decided that she will formula feed exclusively because it allows her to go on her once weekly date nights with her husband, Aaron. It was rough for her to give up beer on date night while she was pregnant, so she is excited not to have that burden anymore. She has decided that even though she has a fussy baby on her hands who loves to be held, she and her husband should not change their lives more than is absolutely necessary. Which means allowing a baby to cry it out at night already.

I’m sure Marie is doing her best and is a pretty good mom and Kailey has her meltdown moments, but boy, if facebook status updates were an indication you’d have a hard time believing either of those things.

I have found, in my experiences, that the happiest mothers are those that can let go a little bit from what they want and need and relax and let the baby lead for a little bit. That someone who is determined to fit their baby into “their life” and “their schedule” is probably not an altogether happy person. I was not set on a schedule with any of my kids, and surprisingly, they settled into their own schedules. I was so much more relaxed once I stopped thinking “why doesn’t he/she get it! It’s bed time!” or the like.

I’m sure there are plenty of mothers out there like Marie who are very happy and who have healthy, happy babies. But Marie doesn’t appear to be happy from my vantage point. Someone who logs into facebook at 2 am to complain that her baby is awake needing a bottle again, doesn’t fit my definition of happy so much. Kailey, on the other hand, is excited with every poop still.

This is a tale of two mommies that is cautionary. I always thought that Marie would be one of those “super hands on” moms who loved everything mom and gave up her job to raise her kids. I never really envisioned Kailey as a mom. Which goes to show that while a lot of mothering is instinct, a lot of it is on the job training and how you approach it too.