Wednesday, May 10, 2017

#2 Turns 7

Most days it feels like you are 12, not 7. Yet, when I look back through the years, they have gone by so quickly that I wonder how you are 7 already. This year you have matured beyond belief. Like when you were two, you still prefer me to anyone in the world, but you have grown in confidence and self-knowledge this year and it is amazing to watch. You are still a quiet child. When I take you somewhere by myself, you prefer to sit with your own thoughts rather than carry on a conversation. The things you do talk about are questions you have already mulled over in your mind for quite sometime.

You are a constant help with your two younger sisters. Helping them and teaching them comes so naturally to you. You have made great friends this year and like nothing more than to go play with the neighborhood kids. You actually get frustrated with the few extracurricular activities we do, because you would rather be home playing. You have been working with a friend next door on some gymnastics. What took me three years to accomplish in classes, you have perfected in about five months. You have also started to play the piano and are still enjoying horse back riding. You thrive on positive reinforcement and completely shut down when people get angry or insulting towards you. You love to make people laugh and it has been awesome to watch you learn the best ways to do that (without making potty jokes). You are strong in who you are, but have a sensitive spirit when you feel that someone isn't treating you well. The people you choose to give your heart to, you love with every ounce of your being. 

Every year that goes by I am more impressed by the young lady you are becoming. I am beyond proud of you and feel so blessed to be your mother. I hope that as the years pass, you grow deeper and deeper in love with Christ and that I can help form you into the woman He created you to be. I love you my sweet daughter. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jules Bug Turns 4

A few weeks ago you turned 4. I am amazed every day at the little sweetness of your soul. You no longer fit in with the babies; you are definitely a "big girl" now. You follow #1 and #2 down to the woods all the time and try and do everything they are doing. When we homeschool, you sit there with a little book and "write" and complain that "this is sooo hard!" When I sit and read with you (which you would do ALL day if I could) your little mind and imagination open up and you are so quick to observe things and learn all you can. Even at this young age I can see that you will have a tendency towards perfectionism. Sometimes you will draw a beautiful picture, but when I tell you how beautiful it is, you will point out a mistake you made that really bothers you. While perfectionism may be a hardship in things like drawing and school, I'm sure it will help you, in some way, become the woman God has created you to be.

You love St. Therese and Mary are constantly offering "little sacrifices". You shock your father and I with your natural tendencies towards God and the greater good. If there is a toy you want that Sarah wants also, you will say, "I guess I'll make a little sacrifice" and let Sarah play with the toy. You often make little sacrifices for your older siblings too. When we pass graveyards you always say we need to pray and sometimes you randomly want to pray for things that "pop" into your head. The random things you tell me sometimes about God and the things you think about are humbling and amazing. One day in mass you leaned over and said, "Mommy, God is everything and we are nothing. That is what I always think about." Another time you told me, "Mommy, all God wants is for us to love him a lot, pray and make little sacrifices. I know that because He taught me that." Saying things like this and thinking about these things comes so naturally for you and I hope that never stops.

You are still the sweet and quiet calmness of this family. While you don't just sit back and take being bullied by the older children, you are much calmer and less easily upset than anyone in the family. We could all learn a lot from you. You are extremely sensitive and can easily cry if I even speak a harsh word to you. You still love to climb up on my lap and cuddle. I hope that doesn't stop anytime soon.

Jules, you bring so much joy to this family it is hard to put into words. I thank God everyday that you are here. I am so blessed and unworthy to be your mother and I'm sorry for all the times I have failed you. My prayer for you is that you always stay as close to Jesus as you are now. I pray that the world doesn't steel your sweet, sensitive spirit and that you grow to be a Godly woman. Thank you for teaching ME how to love Jesus each and everyday. I love you sweet daughter.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Youngest Turns 2

So much changes from year 1 to 2. Over the course of a year you have transformed from a little baby, to a vibrant and strong willed toddler. So much about you reminds me of #2 when she was your age, although you are definitely uniquely your own person. These days you still stay close to Mama. In that way you are still little. You constantly want to sit on my lap, stand next to me and hold my hand. Although at times I act like I want you to go play on your own, I know these times will not last forever and I try to cherish them.

You are talking more and more every day. We are at a stage where I understand most of what you say, but to the outside world it is gibberish. It's like our own secret language. You enjoy playing with your brother and sisters and never let them run you over. You are quick to stand up for yourself and shout if things don't go your way. You do not have a docile spirit, but you are as sweet as they come. You love your daddy almost as much as you love me. When he comes home from work, you shout
for joy and run to hug him. He still considers you a tiny baby and holds you whenever he has the chance. Neither of us are ready for you to grow up.

You are often in the spotlight of our family with your cute dances and silliness. You can make us all laugh, and the more we laugh, the more you act silly. Your siblings enjoy getting you to do things that they find funny for their own entertainment. You love to sing and will often pick up my prayer books and sing to yourself for a good amount of time. Anytime music comes on anywhere you automatically start shaking your hips and dancing around. It's the cutest thing!

You have a naturally sympathetic spirit. If you ever see me cry, you run up to me, say you are sorry and give me a hug. Even though you are strong willed, you are also very sensitive. It's like a combination of #2 and #3. When you do something wrong, all it takes is a strong "No" and you are broken into tears. Your feelings can get hurt very easily by mommy and daddy. You love to take care of baby dolls more than anything and can almost always be seen with one in your arms. They are always getting milk or being strolled and you love them as if they were real.

I have enjoyed beyond belief watching you grow this year. It has been amazing to see your bold and sweet personality come to life. Thank you for always loving me and for all the hugs, kisses and snuggles. You are a great light to this family and I can't wait to see you mature into the young lady God created you to be. I love you my sweet Sarah!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Things They Say (13)

I made my children a very special chocolate waffle breakfast one morning and #1 was staring at how #3 was only eating the whipped cream and strawberries off the top and not the entire waffle. Very firmly he says to her:

"#3, you love those waffles with the wrong kind of love. You only love them for their whipped cream and not for the entire waffle as a whole!"

I didn't know all the stuff we have been telling him about love, purity and the world was actually sinking in, but if you can relate spiritual teachings to your breakfast, I guess that means it is...

My older two forgot to brush their teeth before leaving for co-op while my 3 year old remembered to brush hers. I was teasing the older two about this and said, "Everyone is going to run away from you guys when they smell your dinosaur breath!" Without a second passing #1 says, "Well, at least we still have our good looks!" This kid's humor is the best!
#2 running in from outside: "Mom, I know how to play volleyball! I'm really good!"
Me: "Yay! Now I have someone to play with!"

#2: "Ok! I'm going to go back outside and keep practicing my kick!"

Today I was telling #1 how the real tale of Little Red Riding Hood Ends, "In the real tale, Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten and nobody saves her. It was a tale to teach children not to talk to strangers." 
#1: "Moral of the story is, 'Don't talk to strangers. They may be cannibals!'" 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Happy Birthday #1!

Waiting for you to come out of your co-op class on the Tuesday before your birthday I hear a little boy telling your sternly, "Remember James, my mom's phone number is 555-5555" As we walked to the car I asked, "James, why was that little boy giving you his mom's number?"

"Oh! Because I invited him to my birthday party!"

"Who else did you invite?"

"Everyone in my class!"

Too bad for you, on your 8th birthday your dad had to be in Ohio and the "party" was kept to a very few people including Mimi and Papa. But if you had your way, you would have had every person you ever met there, and enjoyed each of them. You are so social and love to be around people. You are always up for play dates, shindigs and dinners with friends. I think you get that from your Grandma's side.

This year you have matured beyond measure in every way: spiritually, academically and emotionally. Sometimes I sit in awe of you and the young man you are. The curiosity you had as a very small child has not left you, and you know more about world history than I do, just from your own reading. Your attention span in homeschooling has gotten greater and made this the best year of homeschooling yet. I wish I could sum all of you up in this simple blog post, but you are too special and complex to do so.

This year you have taken a great liking to St. John Paul II and this seems to have lit a fire in you like never before. One day after listening to a talk about your beloved saint, you told me you were going to do a 40 day fast from sweets since JPII prayed a lot and Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. I honestly thought it would last a few days, but a week in and you were still going strong. On Sunday I told you you could eat sweets because we don't fast on Sundays. While biting into your cookie, you asked simply, "Mommy, did Jesus come out of the desert on Sundays?" You didn't waver from that fast the entire 40 days. You fasted better than I have in my entire life, offering your sweets up for the intentions you set out before you. This is only one example of the way you humble me and make me want to be a better person everyday.

A few weeks ago, we had company and a 13 year old boy (who we have known many years) was at our home. In the course of a year, this boy went from my shoulder, to towering over me. From a sweet high pitched voice, to a low man's voice. As you walk by my side these days, still hovering at armpit level, I know the days are coming fast where you will tower over me. As you reach out to hold my hand in mass, I know the days are coming quickly where you will no longer want to. I know the days are coming where our conversations can be more complex and I pray they are as open as they are now. I pray you never stop thinking everyone is your friend. and I pray you never ever lose the great love for learning you have.

Through this year of moving and transition, of having to say goodbye to old friends and making new ones, of experiencing the death of your BooBoo, of getting used to family being hours and hours away, you have handled everything better than I could have ever imagined and I am so proud of you. It's something you have done since you were little; if there is a problem, you seek to fix it. If there is a cloudy day, you will find the sunshine in everything. You always try to look on the bright side of things. You feel immense compassion for those that are suffering, and I have seen you cry FOR other people more times in your little life than most adults do in a lifetime. May you always find the light in the darkness, and may you continue to be a shining star in this world. I love you my son!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Life in a Small Town

The other night I spent a good amount of time reading some older posts on this blog. While it lifted my spirits to read about so many happy memories, the tone of my writing was striking to me. I can read between the lines that there was a simplicity to my life when I first started my blog that no longer exists. My writings seem the be light and cheerful. Life feels heavier now than it did back then. Maybe it's the increase of work with four children as opposed to two, or maybe it's the crosses I have been called to carry, but life is definitely heavier now than it was four years ago.

We are living in a very small town for eight months. Actually we are almost to the end of those eight months and I have written very little about them. When we moved to a small town, I expected something like in the movies where everyone is  kind and warm and inviting.  I was worried that at the end of the eight months there would be another round of painful goodbyes, but I was determined not to let that keep us from making friends. Now that we are almost to the end, I can honestly say there is not one person to say goodbye to. The small town has let me down. People were very friendly when we first moved here, but it was almost like no one needed anyone else. Like because everyone has been here forever, they have their little communities in place and have no need for one more person. I was all but shunned from the homeschooling co-op, and not once were we invited anywhere but to a protestant church. The silver lining in it all is that I have definitely learned that I prefer to live near a bigger city. It's a good thing to know about oneself.

We bought a house last month. It's out in the country and on five acres. We moved away from family and friends back to Oklahoma to pursue this "land and farm" lifestyle that we know very little about. I can feel that God's hand has been in every part of getting us here, and I know that owning land and having animals has been on both Max and my heart for a very long time. On the normal day where I'm stuck in this 1200 square foot home with none of my own things while the kids go crazy (literally) and I don't have a friend in sight, the faith that we are in the heart of God's will is the only thing that keeps me going. It's strange how we can be hurting and lonely and not necessarily the happiest we have ever been and still know that we are doing His will. What a grace and comfort this is.

These past months have stretched me in ways I haven't been stretched before and I thank God for that. In all the things I have experienced in life (which isn't a ton), I have never really been lonely. But here I am lonely. The few friends I do have live an hour and a half away and my kids aren't in any activities that would foster new friendships. Christ was lonely. All His friends left him in His time of greatest need. And if He was lonely, I can be lonely. This small town cross I have been asked to carry is really small in the grand scheme of things. But even the smallest crosses can be carried with great love if we let Him lead us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I'm laying on the living room floor checking the news on my phone and my littlest daughter is walking all around me. I don't see her, I'm too into the news. Then I lay my phone down and watch her dancing around the floor, wondering how many of these moments I have missed. How many more moments I will miss because of the phone in my hand.

It took me a long time to get a smartphone. I waited as long as I could, but when we moved, and I knew no one and was trying to navigate around a new place without any direction, facetime and google maps seemed more important than my prior convictions. I don't hate the phone. I actually really like it in a lot of ways. I used to look at people with smartphones in their hands in public places and get mad and angry that they weren't present to those around them. While I do my best to keep my phone away while others are present, I now understand how easy it is to quickly "check something".

The thing is, I'm sure that this "checking" stuff, is never more important than the people right in front of us. How can a news article, facebook, the weather or a text possibly compare to the person right in front of us? Especially when that person is my own child, wanting nothing more than my attention.

Life is really nothing more than thousands upon thousands of tiny moments strung together in a web of memories. My fear is that, in the very short time I have had a smartphone, I have already given too many of these moments away. I have looked at a screen instead of into a child's eyes. I have mindlessly wandered around my phone instead of reading a story or talking to my kids.

I have thought about this so much: why do I want to be on the phone? The simple answer is, mental laziness. It's so much easier to read an article or scroll through Facebook instead of sit with my own thoughts. I used to think and pray as I nursed the baby to bed every night. Now, most of that time is spent looking at my phone. We used to have these moments all the time before smartphones took over the world. A quick trip up an elevator. waiting in the grocery line, sitting in the car waiting for kids, waiting in the doctors office, going to the bathroom. All of these were short spurts of time where our mind could go blank and just think for two seconds without being bombarded with a million other things. What if these small moments are actually really important and we're just throwing them away on a screen? There is something I am learning quickly about having a smartphone: If you aren't intentional about the way you use it, it can steel a lifetime of moments from you. It can make those people right  in front of your eyes feel unimportant and ignored.

So why do I keep my smartphone after this rant? I've thought long and hard about this one, and here is the truth (at least for now). I believe when my kids are older, there will be no simple phones left. I believe I have somewhat of a moral obligation to teach my kids that this tool of their generation can be used responsibly and well. For me that means putting the phone away during homeschooling, and other one on one time with the kids. It means leaving it in the car when we go on picnics. Turning it off when I know I can't ignore a text. It means leaving it in the living room when I put the baby to bed at night. It means always being present and aware of those around me. It means getting rid of it if I can't do these things.  I refuse to have my kids memories consist of fighting for my attention over a phone. I refuse to let it steal these precious and fleeting moments.