Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back for good

My children are being so very considerate of their poor tired mommy this morning. I went to a 5:30 meeting at work last night and ended up staying to help until after midnight because they were just so busy. It was crazy there, much more chaotic than I've seen it in a very long while. I was glad to help...and time and a half pay is always nice, too. :) But having had no nap yesterday, I am seriously dragging this morning. Dylan and Caitlyn were apparently up before Darren left for work at around 6:20 this morning, but Meghan and I slept in together until 8:00! During that time I was vaguely aware of the sound of our big dress-up box being dragged out of the front closet and rummaged through while PBS Kids played quietly in the background. Caitlyn finally came to me when she needed help with a too-small costume, and Dylan seized the opportunity for some snuggle time with me in the "big bed", which in turn woke Meggie, who was all smiles and laughter the moment she opened her eyes. What a nice way to ease into the day!

And I'm just feeling so much better in general. Receiving such wonderfully warm comments (as well as some really sweet phone calls!) in response to my last post was tremendously helpful. Thank you, all of you, so much! Really. You all are amazing. I feel so much better just knowing that I am not alone in my frustrations, that others are feeling or going through many of the same things as I am. I feel much more optimistic now, too, about many of the things with which I was struggling...and wow, I honestly don't mean to sound so cryptic or mysterious but seriously, they felt like such personal things that it just didn't seem right to share them here. Suffice it to say that I am much happier now, and more at peace, than I have been these past few weeks. I'm feeling much more goal oriented, too, which always helps. There are few things I hate more than feeling like I am just trudging aimlessly through my days. I do ever so much better when I have a sense of direction or purpose to work towards. And I imagine that's probably true for all of us, but sometimes I forget. With renewed optimism and focused plans for my immediate future, though, I feel as though the dark and heavy clouds have lifted and I am finally able to see clearly again. I'm nearly blinded by the brilliance of the light.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gone too long

I try, for the most part, to keep this blog happy. Fun. Upbeat. But I can't force the feelings. When I try too hard it just feels fake, and that's not what I'm about. So I guess that's why I've been away for a while. Because lately, I just don't feel any of those things. More accurately, I'd describe myself as an overwhelmed, stressed out, mildly panicked wreck, teetering on the brink of complete burn out. And exhaustion. Which is not to say that there have not been bright happy moments in this long stretch of darkness. There have...but I would dare to say that the bad days have far outnumbered the good. So I've been doing lots of soul searching and deep thinking these past several days, and praying. And trying to rest more, both in mind and spirit.

I thought maybe today would be the day I could finally return in peace to my blog.

I guess I was wrong.


I miss you all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

About finding out

Now that I've had a few days to get my mind around the idea of another little girl! in our family, I've begun to fully embrace the sweetness and beauty her presence will bring to our lives. But I have to say (because I'm all about keeping it real here) that when we first found out? I sort of felt gut punched. A girl. But we already have two of those! I'll admit now that I had been secretly (or maybe not so secretly) hoping for another little boy, a baby of the rough and tumble sort to be a playmate and companion to Dylan.

His own disappointment at the news of another sister was clearly visible on his sad, stoic face, and I remembered the bitter tears of resentment I cried when my own little brother was born when I was six. I had been so hoping for a sister! It wasn't fair! I didn't need another brother! But God, in His infinite wisdom, knew far better than me what I actually needed, and the baby boy I bewailed all those years ago grew with time into a fine young man who is now the godfather of my own sweet son. (And really, he was a much better friend to me than any sister would have been.)

Now again, God has proved His goodness in the miracle of this small, sweet girl, a baby already much loved by her sisters and brother and mommy and daddy. I can't imagine now that I ever wanted another boy! Three little girls! What a joy and a blessing! My heart smiles to imagine them all together as they grow older.

And my little man? I'm not so much worried about him anymore. He's got a heart so big that it's already recovered and embraced the reality of another little sister. And far from having the presence of other boys in his life, he is surrounded by strong, positive male influences in the forms of his daddy, his grandpa, his uncles, his priests, his CCD teacher...and playmates including his cousins, his friends from CCD, the nice home schooled boy down the street, the ever so polite and imaginative son of my friend, and, as he grows, I know there will be many more. And tell me: if this picture he drew yesterday is credible evidence, wouldn't you agree that he is definitely a boy quite secure in his status as reigning knight in this household? :)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy Days

Despite my previously mentioned post-holiday blues, I really have to say that this year has been off to an excellent start! Many little happy surprises have been surfacing in our lives, including Darren being made temporary Director of the WSMR museum following his predecessor's retirement at the end of December. (Prayers that this becomes a permanent position would be very welcome!) I've finally narrowed down my curriculum selections for this Spring but was worried about the cost of our new materials...and then remembered that my annual performance evaluation at work was due this week! Usually this would entail a small merit increase in pay, but since I'm at my max rate I will instead receive a nice little bonus check in the mail. Not a huge sum, mind you (the figure is based on the number of hours worked during the course of the previous year), but it should be enough to cover the expense of our new supplies and registration fees for another term at Gym Magic for both Dylan and Caitlyn! I'm struck by how God's timing is always perfect...and humbled by the fact that I am so not in control of His plan.

Today I really tried to implement some practices in my daily routine which I'm hoping will, with time, become more of a habit. They are things which I've tried with little success to stick to in the past, but the feeling of satisfaction I gained from today's experiences will hopefully sustain me as I continue in the days ahead. I'm not talking about big changes here, either, just simple little modifications that made a world of difference in my day: rising early (a little before six) to spend time with Darren before he left for work; coffee and prayers before computer time; morning chores completed quickly, in short bursts, as the opportunities presented themselves (making beds while the kids had breakfast, for example), rather than trying to do everything at once and feeling utterly overwhelmed by it all; dinner in the crock pot by 11, as opposed to my more typical 4 o'clock mad dash to see what's available to be thrown together; and quality time spent with my kids!

I wanted to get back on track with lessons today, but Meghan was so needy that I had to make her my first priority. It wasn't until after she was down for a nap that I was able to do any work with Dylan, but I was okay with that! We completed Lesson 1 in My Catholic Speller Level A, he practiced writing and solving simple math equations on our new dry erase board (which, for him, was much more fun than his old workbooks), and we reinstated our Tuesday Tea Time with some delicious oatmeal fruit bars and rich hot cocoa! We snuggled together on the couch and (finally!) read some more from Little House on the Prairie. I played dolls with Caitlyn and Meghan, helped Dylan make a ZOOMerang booklet, and still managed to actually serve hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (unheard of for me!), run the dishwasher twice, complete three loads of laundry, and make major headway on the mountain of paperwork and other stuff that threatens to overrun my bedroom dresser.

I have an appointment with my midwife tomorrow and we are bravely taking all three kids along with us. Because guess what? I'm scheduled to have an ultrasound and, with a change of heart that still has my head spinning, Darren announced on our way home from church on Sunday that, if possible, he would like to find out the baby's gender! Whether or not baby will cooperate remains to be seen, but at any rate, we agree that the opportunity for the kids to see their newest little sibling on screen just should not be missed! So, boy or girl...will we find out tomorrow? You'll just have to stay tuned... :)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

O come, let us adore Him!

Happy Feast of the Epiphany! Are you enjoying the Twelfth Day of Christmas as much as we are? We completed our Nativity set early this morning with the addition of the three wise men and their camel, and listened to a really rockin' rendition of "We Three Kings" while getting ready for church. Mass was beautiful, enriched for the kids by these coloring pages and this worksheet for Dylan, which he completed easily before Mass began. (I really like these worksheets. I think I'm going to start printing one out every Sunday.) We've watched "The Very First Noel" (twice), and we loved it every bit as much as we did last year! We read The Legend of Old Befana, and created some beautiful Epiphany stars to match those in the story. For dinner we'll be enjoying the last of a delicious stew I made last night, and then I'll be heading to work. Our Christmas tree will come down tomorrow. If all goes as planned, we'll be resuming lessons early in the week. Life as I know it will return to "normal". I hope I'm ready for it! :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Things I've been doing in my spare time:

  • Re-reading Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life, and Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover. I hate feeling out of control...of our finances, of our home, of my life...

  • Clearing clutter (an entire grocery sack full of junk from under the kids' bathroom sink, for example.)

  • Replenishing my supply of counter top notebook planner pages and filling them in to the greatest extent possible.

  • Compiling a master list of easily prepared meals to refer to when planning my grocery list...some familiar favorites made too infrequently out of laziness on my part, and some new ones I've yet to try, from sources such as this thread, a number of great food blogs, and this wonderful website introduced to me by my amazing sister-in-law. (Jennifer, I love you. Do I say that often enough?)

  • Completely re-evaluating my plans for this next term of homeschooling, deciding I really like the sound of Mater Amabilis, and determining how to best combine aspects of the Prep and 1B levels.

  • Brainstorming possible baby names with an increasing sense of urgency. One would think this process would become easier with each consecutive pregnancy, right? I mean, we've had a list of top contenders every why am I never happy with them the next time around?

  • Laundry, laundry...and more laundry. Doesn't it ever end? :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Every year I do this same crazy thing. I spend all of Advent happily preparing for Christmas, eagerly awaiting the big day. And Christmas this year could not have been more perfect! My mom was home, we attended Mass on Christmas Eve for the first time ever so there was no big rush on Christmas morning, I wasn't scheduled to work that night, and we enjoyed visiting with my family at my uncle's house later that afternoon. It was everything I could have hoped for. But still, on December 26th, I woke up feeling weepy and forlorn. Reflective and nostalgic, I longed for the cozy comforts of family surrounding me, and compounding my sadness was the fact that, for the first time in eight years, Darren returned to work that morning and I was left with the lingering chaos and clutter of the day before, with the overwhelming desire to simply hold him and my kids close to me, to bask in the joy of it all. Even my mom, whose visit here had been all too brief, flew back home to Florida that morning. I felt robbed of a season meant to last, in my mind, at least until New Year's Day, as it had always seemed to when I was small. I am ever thankful for the full twelve days of Christmas, and have no plans to put away any of the decorations or even the toys until then. We're looking forward to the Feast of the Epiphany. We had a really great time celebrating last year, and while I have no absolute plans for this year, I'm sure we'll have just as much fun.

In the meantime, I've been gripped by a second manifestation of my typical holiday madness. As is usual for me, I've been feeling over the past few days that we have finally outgrown this house. There is "stuff" everywhere...on the floor, on the counters, on top of dressers, filling the closets...and while I know it is merely a transitional thing that occurs after every Christmas, it makes me crazy and I start searching desperately through real estate listings for something less crowded. Finally resigning myself to the fact that we just can't afford anything bigger at this time (and that it's probably actually unnecessary, anyway), I start looking for ways to make this house, the home I love, feel more accommodating. (One year, when Meghan was a newborn, this resulted in repainting, recarpeting, and retiling the entire house. Poor Darren!) This year I'm starting by reassessing our use of space. When we purchased the bunk beds for the kids' room last summer, for instance, it was with the intention of moving Meghan into the bottom bunk with Caitlyn once she turned two. So yesterday, knowing that I might never actually take the plunge unless I was forced into action, we dismantled Meghan's crib! I don't remember ever not having the crib out in the six years since Dylan was born, but since the baby isn't due until May, and since he or she will spend the first few months in our room, anyway, we figured that for now, it made more sense to free up the space in the kids' room. And they were so excited to try out their new sleeping accommodations last night--it was the first time Dylan had slept up on the top bunk (he did great!) and Caitlyn was so happy to share her bed with Meghan. (Meghan, on the other hand, thought it was all just one big game...this transition might be a lot more work than I thought!)

I'm also working on reorganizing the school room to make it more "user friendly". I'm removing all extraneous items (including the old school desk, and the just doesn't get used often enough to justify it's presence) and I'm adding things that I think (or hope) will benefit our day to day learning. Yesterday I purchased a large dry erase board and a matching bulletin board to mount on one of the walls I had vacated by moving furniture out of the room. I'm a little stressed that I've yet to purchase the new curriculum items I'm planning to use this Spring, but I think I still have plenty to work with in the mean time.

Today I'm working with the kids to sort, organize, and eliminate some of their old toys to make room for the new. I've got a mountain of laundry to catch up on now that Darren fixed my dryer. (Darren, you rock!) My dad has promised to come by at some point to see everything the kids got for Christmas. I know it will be full, busy day, but I'm happy now. I feel at peace, and content again with my life. Those melancholy blues have thankfully passed! And in parting, I'll leave you with some scenes of our most joyous Christmas:

At my mom's on Christmas Eve.

Welcome, Baby Jesus!

Santa was here!

...And it looks like he forgot his hat!

Stockings are so much fun...

...Santa even remembered the kitty!

"But whose idea was it to wrap these things in plastic?!"

It would appear that all of the excitement (or sugar!)
went straight to Miss Meggie's little head. :)