7 Quick Takes Friday

Costumes of Halloweens Past

1) In high school I was Eric Draven from “The Crow” I had seen the movie in the theater with my best friends from middle school our last day of 8th grade and to this day is my all-time favorite movie.

2) A cheerleader. We were living in Charlottesville, VA so I was three. My brother was a ghost.

3) A fairy princess. But everyone said I was a queen except one neighbor. It really ticked me off!

4) My first halloween I was a witch. My mom made my costume from hers and my dad’s college graduation gowns. I went to two houses in our cul-de-sac that were tired of giving out candy and dumped their bowls in my bag. I liked the idea of dressing up for candy so much I was waiting for my dad in my costume the next day when he got home for work.

5) One year I didn’t trick-or-treat but had to wear a costume for school (Spirit week? maybe?) in high school and I was Daisy Buchanan.

6) This one wasn’t mine, but was so good I had to share. When I was a senior in high school, my brother Ben was in the fifth grade and wore one of my dresses to school and was a “girl” for Halloween. The women in the school office didn’t recognize him at first (he wore a hat) and thought he was a new student.

7) Also not mine, but especially humorous. My brother Matt, when he was in high school one year, put a speedo on (he was a competitive swimmer and this was before all the high tech thousands of dollars body suits like Michael Phelps wears in the Olympics now) and a bow-tie and went as Chippendale dancer. He made a killing in candy and cash that year. All he had to do was smile…I’m not sure what that says about the women of North Raleigh, but it was funny.

How soon is “too soon?”

A few months back a close friend confided she was very early in a pregnancy. She wanted to tell someone but wasn’t sure she wanted family to know just yet. Although she had never experienced a miscarriage (this is her first pregnancy), she felt getting pregnant so quickly and easily might be too good to be true and wanted to make it to 12 weeks before she told them. I was flattered and agreed not to share her information. She is approaching five months now and is very healthy, thankfully.

When we talked she spoke of a co-worker who came in the day after seeing the second line announcing to all her co-workers she was pregnant. And a week later suffering a miscarriage. And apparently this woman had done this six times. Only once did the baby make it to term. She didn’t want to jump the gun and tell everyone she knew before she felt certain she was making out a registry.

We discussed the pros and cons of telling friends and family before the twelve week mark. I admitted that with Shelby we told people around six or seven weeks, very nervously (having had a miscarriage before) and almost equally as soon with Joey. Looking back I feel incredibly fortunate those pregnancies led to births. But I also told her how we hadn’t even had a chance to share the news of the pregnancy when I had a miscarriage just before Shelby. In fact, we hadn’t planned on telling anyone I was miscarrying except that my in-laws were in town and when Jeff phoned them to say we would be unable to join them for dinner, they angrily demanded to know why. I was unable to get the word “miscarriage” out and told them I had a sudden medical issue that prevented me from going out. Now, if someone had said that to me, I would have backed off knowing that sometimes that can mean something very personal. They demanded to know more saying, “No medical issue just suddenly shows up!” (Says the person who has never woken up with an eye swollen shut.) Eventually Jeff got on the phone and explained, in detail what was going on. Immediately there were apologies all around and lots of platitudes. None of them knew how to handle this, which was why I wanted it a secret in the first place. It was painful enough to lose a baby, it was worse when people who love and care about you say things like, “Well, something was wrong with that baby, ” or “God wanted it this way.” They expected me to get over it. One family member even gave me a timeline for my grief. Getting over that pain was almost as difficult as the pain of losing our child.

I don’t know how soon “too soon” is to tell. After all, I’ve heard lots of women who have suffered early miscarriages (as I did) tell me how wonderful it was to have all their family and friends praying for them. I also have heard from women who did not get much sympathy from people (as I myself  did not, to be truthful, only my co-workers and boss were truly sympathetic to what Jeff and I were going through, along with members of my family who found out later when I was ready to talk). And I myself have been a mom who has waited to tell people when we weren’t sure they would support a pregnancy (with Will we didn’t tell family until I was almost six months along because there was some opposition to us having a third child by some members because of Shelby’s situation and we had both lost our jobs during the pregnancy). It is hard to know that, “today nothing will happen when yesterday something might have.” Just ask a mother who has lost her baby in her last trimester. You just have to have faith, no matter when you share your good news, that God will take care of you no matter what.

Thankful Thursday

1. Intercessory Prayer

2. Friends who pray

3. Friends who raise their hands and say, I’ve been where you are, it gets better and I love you

4. Children who say, “I love you too Mama, and Shelby says she loves you too Mama.”

5. Cool fall weather, whenever it decides to show up!

6. AC when summer temps suddenly re-emerge

7. Dinner when everyone eats what they are served

8. Family trips to the store that don’t end in a toddler having a meltdown

9. Perseverance

10. Husbands who give you step by step instructions to make sure that a ceiling fan in one of your childrens’ rooms that is setting off sparks is properly turned off.

Small Successes

FaithButton

1) I cleaned out a closet and dresser. Which is major for a packrat like me.

2) I am finding a path toward running my house more efficiently and incorporating my faith teaching for the kids without losing “me” in the middle. See here.

3) I’m not freaking out about the beagle in my back yard digging a hole to China (hi Jen Ambrose on the other side!) looking for grubs because it is raining.

It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that. ~Danielle Bean

Finding the “Me” in Mommy

I guess I’ve been stuck for a good little while. I had thought I had this being a single parent on weekdays thing figured out. But I was exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally. And I ceased to be Kristen. To my children I was “Mommy” and to the rest of the world I had become “Shelby, Joey and Will’s Mommy.” I began to really enjoy my television at night because the characters on tv didn’t know me as anyone…

Last week I lamented on facebook that I was tired and needed a hug. So many of my mommy friends reached “across the wall” arms outstretched. One friend, a guy who’s not yet a Daddy, told me I was doing the most important job in the world. I admitted the reason I was struggling is that I was having a huge problem balancing being a wife, mother and myself. And whatever I compromised something suffered. I said there, and I still intend to do it, I was going to get Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life. It seems to have helped so many of my friends and other bloggy moms. The weekend came and went. It was my last one working and I did get a ton of clothes out of my closet that I either didn’t wear, didn’t fit or didn’t know I had. But I still felt way behind. On EVERY front.

I have been saying this week I need to get my groove back. And yesterday, something happened. I went over to Katherine’s blog and read this. How making a schedule that carved time out for her was the way to go. And in that post was something else that touched my heart. Her praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with her girls. I really enjoyed the post but it didn’t click right at that moment.

After dinner, and Shelby and Will were in bed and Joey was in my bed quietly watching Wall-E. I cleaned the living room and kitchen in preparation to watch Parenthood. This show is one of my favorites in large part because it very accurately portrays the day to day struggles of parenting an autistic child but also because the relationships between Adam and Kristina and Julia and Joel. They are marriages that are varied and complex, but surprisingly real. The episode last week when Julia described Sydney sleeping in the bed with them as wonderful that she could inhale her while Joel offered a pained smile and their discussion where he told her he was the parent all day and in bed was the only time he wasn’t while she said that was the only time she felt like a parent hit home in a house where Daddy is away working all week long. So, I watched last night and was struck mostly by Kristina’s overwhelming empathy for Adam as he struggled with having to lay off employees he had worked with for fifteen years. The way she (and their daughter Haddie) ultimately helped him work through what to say and how to say it was familiar. It’s the way Jeff and I would talk through how to reach a student if he worked closer to home or he had gotten the job earlier in the summer and we were able to go with him.

Last night I went to sleep and did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I cried. Not out of self-pity, but out of submission…I was going to give this to God. For some reason, with all the things I do give over to God, I had yet to give over this struggle. As I prayed for God to help me with this, I remembered Matthew 11: 29-30: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Immediately I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from me. I was able to quickly fall asleep after this.

A couple of hours later, I was awakened to Joey (who I had moved to his bed when he fell asleep) yelling for me. This is highly unusual and I didn’t want Will up too, so I ran to get him. He asked to watch Wall-E again. We were in the bed watching when I realized it was almost 3 AM. I wasn’t going to be able to sleep anyway, so I got online and went to www.savior.org for virtual Adoration and prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Rosary and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. I also said a Morning Offering and prayer to St Joseph for my works of the day. I felt refreshed when I finished. Then I thought back to Katherine’s post. This was time for just me. God came to me in the quiet and I listened. As a good Baptist friend of mine is fond of saying, “When you’re knocked on your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” I fell asleep quickly and despite my overall lack of sleep woke to my alarm feeling very ready to take on the day. I got the kids off to school and the boys and I had a good morning at home. We even said an Angelus at noon. After retrieving Shelby from school, Joey took a late nap. While Will and Shelby enjoyed snack and Spongebob, I found myself at 3 pm and went in to watch EWTN and pray another Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Somewhere into the first decade Will toddled into the bedroom and climbed on the bed with me. He grabbed my Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and mimicked what I was doing with my Rosary beads. For half a second I thought about getting out Joey’s large, wooden, chaplet, but immediately thought better of it. Me getting knocked out would not be a good thing. He quietly sat until he got bored and left. He’s eighteen-months. I was pleasantly surprised he was this interested.

I am feeling the best I have since Jeff started working again. I feel like I’m Kristen and “Shelby, Joey, and Will’s Mommy,” and somewhere in there, I’m Jeff’s wife too. It all came down to giving it up to God and finding time for me in all the chaos. It wasn’t easy. And I probably was fighting it harder than I thought, but I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now.

The “Go-To” Saint Volume 1

St Anthony of Padua

I have a bad habit. Well, I have several, but one that causes me much distress is I lose things. I rarely put things away “right away” or in the same place twice so I lose A LOT of things. Most frequently, my phone. And in the last week, a USB drive and the brand new memory card for my camera (that are still unfound).

Because my phone (like my keys) is something I never leave the house without, I rely heavily on St Anthony. My prayer is not the usual St Anthony prayer, I usually just repeat, “St Anthony please help me find X.” And I’m sure the reason the USB drive and memory card have not turned up, I haven’t really been praying for them to…but I digress.

St Anthony, for me, is a practical saint, a “go-to” saint. He’s never left me hanging. And he’s provided some humorous anecdotes like this one Jen at Conversion Diary shared so candidly about her mother-in-law Yaya. 

I love St Anthony for many reasons, among which is that he is a Franciscan and I grew up with Franciscans as priests. I love him for his devotion to Christ and willingness to defend the church against heretics. And it is important to remember that when one asks St Anthony, through prayer, for his intercession, one also should remember to feed his poor!

Come On, Feel the LOVE!!!

Many of you are also huge fans of Betty Beguiles and so some of you probably heard the horror that occurred in the Lord household. It makes me shudder to think they were living with unwelcome houseguests! But, thanks to generous readers and an awesome Baby Beguiles Godmommy, we are gonna get the Lord’s a new couch to replace the one that was infested. Click here to find out how YOU can help this wonderful family!

AND: great news was just updated here! Awesome blessings to Hallie, Jen and their families! I am so proud to be associated with both of them!

Why Republicans are wrong about NPR… (via Extraordinary Beauty in an Ordinary Way)

This is a post from a friend of mine, Megan. She is smart and sensitive and new to blogging. I think she expresses some really interesting points here in regards to something that, personally, has kind of rocked my world upside down. Please be-ware, these are her words not mine and there is a little bit of profanity in this.

I am registered a Republican and have always voted that way. I believe in small government, lower taxes and right to bear arms. I believe human life begins at conception and abortion is murder. I believe that capitalism is the way to go. That being said, I take exception to the recent outcry among Republican politicians regarding NPR's firing of new analyst Juan Williams. I think people like Mike Huckabee are wrong to say they will not speak to N … Read More

via Extraordinary Beauty in an Ordinary Way

My son’s guardian angel’s name is Raphael

Readers of the blog at my old address will remember that last December, my son William was airlifted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Children’s Hospital with an telescoped bowel that was obstructed. As I made the drive northwest without my son, I prayed constantly. I prayed that he be taken care of. That the kindly air-flight paramedics would be able to handle anything that arose, that he would be assigned a  good pediatric resident, that he would have wonderful nurses. That he would be safe.

As I drew closer to Chapel Hill, I began to hear a voice saying, “Raphael, Raphael, I am here, I am here.” I wasn’t sure what to make of it and I heard it louder and louder. As I approached the hospital, I found a front row parking spot closest to the walking bridge to the hospital’s main entrance. It was a cool winter afternoon by the time I arrived. As I descended the walking bridge I saw two squirrels run directly in front of me stop and look up at me then run up a tree. Then it hit me. I knew.

When I was in high school, my youth leader had told us that he had found out a few years before that our guardian angels had names. He spoke of a very devout Hispanic woman whose husband helped us in the youth group often. She had told him in passing one day that, “Yes, Ralph, our guardian angels have names and if we pray we may know them.” As it turns out, he started praying one day outdoors when a squirrel came near him. He had been wondering what his guardian angel’s name was and during his prayer heard the name Gabriel. He thought, surely no, Gabriel wasn’t his guardian angel, not “THAT Gabriel.”  He wanted to be sure so he prayed, if Gabriel is my guardian angel, let that squirrel not be afraid and come closer to me. The squirrel approached him.

My mind flashed to hearing that story when I saw those squirrels. Raphael had been with William on the helicopter, and in the hospital when I could not be. Those squirrels, like Raphael and Tobiah, were on their way somewhere, and my seeing them was no accident. I arrived on the floor to find my son was in radiology where the first procedure would begin shortly. The nurse manager quickly found me and brought down to be with him. The wonderful radiologists were gentle and kind and offered me a radiation shield to stay closer while they attempted the procedure: an enema of air. I declined knowing my son was safe in their care. That their hands were guided by God and Raphael. While I awaited in the anteroom, the young pediatric resident assigned to Will came in. He had become very attached to him the short time they had together. He had walked Will and rocked him and soothed him while I journeyed up I-40. Then I heard the radiologists say, “there it goes.” The procedure had worked. My son, who had been lethargic and refusing food all day, within minutes was smiling, laughing, and hungry.

Raphael had been with Will as he had endured all those scary moments (not as scary to him as to me, although) and I don’t dwell on Raphael being my son’s guardian angel often, except every once in a while people will tell me how beautiful he is. How angelic. How his soft curls look as though they were painted on one of Raphael’s cherubs. And it’s a small reminder of my everlasting devotion to this arch-angel.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

Things I used to hate that my kids helped me love

1. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “O Christmas Tree” –really really, I disliked those Christmas Carols with a passion. Until my kids loved them and asked me to play them over and over and sing them. Their love of those songs was contagious.

2. Speaking of “really really” Shrek 2. I just could not like that movie to save my life. The only part I liked originally was the scene where they showed “Knights” and were arresting Shrek (as a man), Donkey (as a stallion) and Puss. “Following a white bronco…”, I’ll stop there. Now, I really enjoy it. Watching my kids laugh at it, again, contagious.

3. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches…okay, these I hated out of ignorance. The one time I was served one (by a friend’s mom) it had rancid honey on it. I took the bite out of my mouth immediately, even though I knew it was rude. The other girls who ate their sandwiches, they got a nasty stomach bug…anyhow, my kids have inspired a love of these as well.

4. Diego–I hated Diego out of ignorance: I thought he was like Dora. But Joey loves all the animals and he is doing great at identifying them and telling me about them.

5. Back to the subject of Christmas Songs…that Dominic the Donkey song. Hearing your three-year-old dissolve into giggles, that’ll convert you!

6. Corn dogs. I used to think they were sooo junky (and they are), but I wouldn’t even try them. Well, I actually like them.

7. Cats. Well, I’m not a cat -lover, but I have a growing tolerance for them now. Thanks to my boys. Especially Joey who has reminded me more than once, “All God’s creatures have a place in the choir mama!”