Lesson learned

I have so many things that I should be doing right now, things that have nothing to do with being on the computer. But…I have the house all to myself, a nice warm cup of coffee, and a thought swirling around in my head, so here I am.

Forgiveness is such a Lenten topic, you know? It is the subject of so many of the  Lenten readings. It is the subject of so many of the homilies and podcasts that I listen to. It is the subject of so many of the devotions that I read. This is not a bad thing. Forgiveness is such a gift. And it can be so, so hard.

For me, I can offer forgiveness.  It is probably the sanguine melancholic temperament that I have. I don’t like when people are stressed or upset. It really gets to me. I don’t like discord or confrontation. It unsettles me. So if someone has wronged me and offers an apology, I usually accept it, thankful that the issue is settled. However, I have a really hard time believing the reverse. It is a huge challenge for me to accept that I am forgiven. This is something that I have been working on for a LONG time. I have a difficult time remembering that my value and worth comes only from the fact that I am a child of God. I can’t do anything to make Him love me more, just as  I cannot do anything so horrible that God will not forgive me. How? How is that even possible, when we, as human beings, can just really…well… suck.

I think that I may have caught a little glimpse into this the other morning. I was running around, barking orders at the kids to hurry up and get their shoes on and eat their breakfast, brush their teeth, etc. You know, the usual morning routine of controlled chaos. I was in my room making my bed when Jonathan came in crying.  I looked at his little face and he was a mess. He was sobbing and tears were just streaming down his cheeks. This wasn’t a normal “I’m-not-getting-my-way-Noah-called-me-a-stupid-buttcheek” kind of cry. No, this was a pitiful, from the depths of his little soul, anguished cry. I am instantly thinking that something horrendous has happened, although what, I had no idea. “What is it? Jonathan, what happened?” I frantically asked him. My heart was breaking for him because he was SO UPSET. He looked at me and just kept saying, “I am sorry Mom. I am really sorry.” I just held him for a minute until I felt his ridgid little body relax against mine. I had already forgiven him. It didn’t matter what he had done, I just wanted him know that it was ok and that I loved him. How could he ever think that he could do something to change that?

Lightbulb moment… Here I am, flawed and imperfect, willing to forgive my son anything. I just want him to know how much I love him. Duh! That is just what God does for us, only so, so much better. If I, lowly human that I am, can forgive my son for I don’t even know what, how much greater is God’s ability to forgive us? His is the only truly unconditional love that there is. The heartbreak that I felt at Jonathan’s fear that he could do something, well, anything that could make me not love him, is NOTHING compared to the sorrow that God must feel when we pull away from Him. We don’t need to shy away from Him because we are embarrassed by our actions. He has already forgiven us! (And newflash, he already knows what you did. It doesn’t matter.) We need only offer to him our failings and our weaknesses and alllow Him to transform them. Allow Him to offer you forgiveness and just accept it.

You might be wondering what it actually was that had Jonathan so upset. Or maybe not, but I will tell you anyway. He was trying to be a “big boy” and made his own breakfast. He managed to get a bowl and pour the cereal and milk without any problems. But when he tried to put the, almost full, gallon of milk back onto the top shelf of the refrigerator, it slipped out of his hands. It dropped to to floor spilling everywhere and making a pretty big mess. I just chuckled as he helped me clean it up. “Are you really mad, mom?” He asked me. I smiled and said, “Nope. No sense crying over spilled milk.”

 

 

Fingerprints and Flower Petals

If you are Catholic, I am sure that you are aware of St Therese of Liseux. She is also known as the Little Flower. It is said that if you pray a novena to her, she will give you roses when she answers your prayer. I had, of course, heard stories of this happening, but it wasn’t until I was about 24 that I experienced this for myself. I am sure that many of you are aware of my family’s “story.” But I don’t know if I have ever actually written down everything. Looking back, some 17 years later, it is amazing to see, not only, God’s fingerprints all over the place, but there are also rose petals strewn about.

It all began in January of 1998. My spunky -, mama, had passed away. She was in her 80’s and had lived a long full life filled surrounded by family. She had 3 daughters, who in turn had 12 children, who then had a slew of their own kids. Needless to say, she had a bountiful life. I remember asking my mom if a family friend, Marge, was going to sing at her funeral. Marge had not only been in choir with my dad for years, but she had also been my third grade teacher. It would only be natural for her to sing at Mama’s funeral. But when I asked my mom, she said, “Didn’t I tell you about what happened to her stepson, Brian and his family?” I shook my head no as she went on to tell me about this young family, a husband and wife with 2 year old twins and a 10 month old baby. They had recently found out that they were expecting their fourth little one. They were a beautiful example of a young, faithful, Catholic family. They lived in Michigan near her family, but I vaguely remember seeing them at church once or twice when they were visiting. They stood out because the little girl had red curly hair. You don’t forget that halo of fire around her little face. This little family was dealt a tragic blow. One night when the baby woke up, Andrea didn’t go to him. Brian got up and checked on him and got the baby settled back into bed and went back to bed. He realized that his young wife wasn’t breathing properly. He dialed 911 and started CPR, but it was too late. She was gone. This story about this little family just touched me so deeply. I couldn’t imagine what this poor man was going through. And his children?! Those poor babies had lost their mother! I couldn’t get them out of my mind. I very distinctly remember being in the church at my Mama’s funeral and seeing the light stream through the windows and I just couldn’t stop myself from thinking about them. I remember asking God to heal their hearts from an unimaginable pain. I kept thinking of my Mama who had lived such a long and full life and then thinking about this young mother with babies that needed her and she was gone. I remember asking God to allow them to someday find happiness again and help this widower to find someone to raise his family with. At the time, I was happily dating my college boyfriend and was planning to marry him eventually. I had no idea what God had planned for me, but it was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Fast forward 2 years… My college sweetheart and I were no longer together. I was living in Ohio and working for nine west shoes as a manager of one of their million dollar outlet stores. I was miserable and I felt so lost. For some reason, St Therese came to mind. I was still attending mass, but not with any consistency as I should have been. I still believed in the church’s teachings, but I had grown lazy. I found myself longing for a peace that I realized I would only find in the Faith. I started to go to mass regularly and felt some of my stress and anxiety start to leave me. It was Lent and I found myself at Stations. The comfort of the old tradition touched my heart and I longed to find my Faith again… or rather find my Faith for myself. As a cradle Catholic we always went to mass and to stations, but I went because it was what we were supposed to do. Somewhere along the line, I allowed myself to make excuses for why all of that stuff didn’t really matter. Of course I loved God and obviously I was Catholic, that should be enough, right? It wasn’t enough. I was feeling drawn back to the church and back to a life that I had lost. I just couldn’t figure out what to do next. I felt nudged to turn back to my old friend St. Therese. So I started a novena. I didn’t even know what I was praying for, I just asked her to help me to figure out what I was supposed to do. A couple of days later, my mom called me and asked me if I would like to meet a guy. This guy was my third grade teachers stepson, the one who had lost his wife a couple of years ago. I have to admit that I was a little bit gun shy after my recent break up. And the idea of going out with someone that had been married and had lost his wife was rather intimidating. Let’s be real, how can you compete with a ghost? You can’t and honestly I didn’t really want to try. But my friends were very encouraging.. “Just meet the guy! It’s not like you have to marry him!” “It’s only one date. It will do you good to get back out there!” Always one to cave under peer-pressure, I told my mom that she could pass along my number, although I was secretly hoping that he wouldn’t call. But I was trying to “be open” to where God was directing me, so I figured what the heck. I was sure that it wouldn’t actually go anywhere. So a few days later, Brian called me for the first time. I remember feeling very anxious when I answered the phone, but he sounded kind of nervous too, so that helped to put me at ease. That and the fact that he had a very nice phone voice. Who could sound that nice and be an ax murderer? I am convinced that it isn’t possible. He said, “So I guess that we are supposed to go out or something? ” I laughed and said, “Yes, I guess so.” We planned to meet up the following weekend at my parent’s house. Because I was living in Ohio, I was going to head back to PA for the weekend to meet up with him. In the process of making these arrangements, I was barely aware that I had finished my novena to St. Therese that day.

The following weekend arrived and I headed to PA for our date. He was late getting to my parent’s house because he kept getting lost. Maybe not the best way to start out our date, but I was so nervous, that I didn’t mind. He finally made it to the house and after a super awkward introduction to my family, with my dad and brother looking slightly scary, we headed to Pittsburgh for dinner. I remember talking about everything from our jobs, to his kids, to religion. I remember thinking that it was so nice to spend time with a guy whose faith was so integral in his daily life. It was so refreshing and at that point in my recently renewed journey back to my faith, I was just taken with him. We joked that we felt like we got about three months worth of dates in that first evening. We are both fast talkers and there was never a lull in the conversation. At the end of the evening, he took me back to my parent’s house. When I walked in the door my sister was waiting to hear how it had gone. I looked at her and said, “I am going to marry him.” She of course laughed and shook her head, but I meant every word.

We continued to get to know one another over the next month or so through phone calls and trips back and forth between PA and Ohio. Several of our dates were with the kids. We would take them to the movies or to a park or just have a movie night at home. Later on he had made a comment at how I had seemed rather uninterested when he first showed me a picture of the kids and I just laughed. It wasn’t that I was uninterested, but rather I didn’t want to seem like some scary weirdo by letting on that it was pretty much love at first sight with them too. Looking back, it had been a few weeks into our relationship that I was struck by the fact that St. Therese had a hand in all of this. I had been talking to the kids and they kept mentioning their grandma in Michigan, Nana Rose. I assumed that her first name was Rose, but it is actually her last name. St. Therese had not answered my novena by giving me one rose or a bouquet. No, she gave me a whole family of Roses!

It became obvious that this relationship had God’s fingerprints all over it. Everything just fell into place perfectly. I was able to find a job back in PA so that I could move back in with my parents and be closer to Brian and the kids. When I realized that he felt the same way that I did, I started to say another novena to St. Therese. I wanted to make sure that we went forward with our relationship in the best way possible for the kids. It was really important to me that we handled everything right for them. I didn’t tell Brian about this novena, I was just quietly saying it on my own. During this time, he said, “You and I are going to go out for a night on the town this weekend, just you and I. I will see if I can get one of the grandparents to babysit, but I want to get all dressed up and take you to Pittsburgh for a fancy dinner.” I am never one to turn down a nice dinner out, so we decided that Saturday was the day. He arrived at my parent’s house on Saturday with a small miniature rosebush for me.( Once again, I wasn’t thinking that I had finished my novena to St. Therese that morning. I am clearly a little bit dense. ) We went to the Top of the Triangle , which was a very fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh, and had a delicious dinner. And then we decided to head up the incline to the top of Mount Washington to look down over the city. The view is beautiful up there. It was a rather warm evening and I tried to get Brian to leave his jacket in the car, because I could tell that he was uncomfortable. I had no idea that it had nothing to do with the temperature, but rather with the small box that he had in his coat pocket. There must have been a prom or something going on because there were groups of kids everywhere all dressed up getting their pictures taken. I just smiled at them, but Brian seemed kind of distressed that there were so many people around. There was finally a break in the crowds and we were looking out over the city. He was standing behind me and all of a sudden spun me around so that we were face to face. He pulled the box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. When he opened the box, he looked panicked for a minute because the ring was dangling precariously and I think that he had a vision of it flying over the cliff or something. Being the complete romantic that I am, I looked at him and yelled, “Shut Up!” (He has yet to let me live that down. )Here he is asking me to spend the rest of our lives together and I tell him to shut up. I was just in shock. I was so utterly surprised, that was the only thing that popped into my head. “Shut Up!” I just started laughing because I suddenly realized that I had finished my novena that morning and he had given me roses when he picked me up! How had I missed all of that?! I guess that I just didn’t think that everything would happen so quickly. We had only been dating for 77 days on the day that he proposed. It was insanely fast and crazy, but so, so right.

After the fact, he told me that when he had asked me to go out to dinner with him, he had no intention of proposing. In fact it wasn’t until that Thursday, 2 days before our date, that he was felt an overwhelming urge to get a ring. He said that he just kept hearing, “Get a ring. Get a ring.” And so he did…thankfully. We have talked about how we can just imagine Andrea and my mama sitting at a table in heaven, working out all of the details. My mama probably called out to St Therese to join them and told her that her granddaughter needed a husband and that Andrea’s husband and kids needed a wife and mother. I can just imagine her challenging St. Therese with the question, “What are you going to do about this?”

We have been married for over 16 years now and he is still managing to surprise me. We have been blessed to grow our little family of 5 to a little family of 11. Like all married couples we have been through many ups and downs, but we still manage to like one another. I think that it is because from the very beginning we have tried ( we don’t always succeed, but God has blessed our efforts) to keep Him at the center of it all. When things are rough, I think back to that first novena and I thank God that He listened to the prayers of His Little Flower and gave me exactly what I needed.

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Christmas 2017
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Our very first family portrait

Life is full of little annoyances and sometimes an angel

Have you ever had one of those times when it seems like everything is falling apart around you? I don’t mean terrible life threatening things, just a lot of annoying little things all at once. For example, our dryer is not working properly. It is making a terrible  clunking sound,which I have deduced is a bad drum roller. (Thank you youtube!) This  is a simple enough fix, however you have to run it three or four times to actually dry the clothes. I don’t know about you, but this is super annoying and our electric bill was a tiny bit outrageous last month. Add to this the fact that I can easily wash 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day and you have annoyance numero uno. We have been making bi-weekly trips to the laundromat and drying 10 loads of laundry at a time. Laundry in a house with 10 people can be overwhelming when you stay on top of it, so this has been super fun. (Note the sarcasm.)

We are really blessed to have four bathrooms in our home. This is huge since we only really had one working bathroom and one creepy, spidery half-bathroom that only sometimes worked, in the basement of our old house. Nothing annoying about four bathrooms, right? Well, not normally, but when the toilets in both of the main bathrooms won’t flush, yes that is annoying! Especially when you have little ones that do whatever in the toilet and then it just sits there for who knows how long. Super Yuck!!!Annoyance number 2.

Last Monday, Brian kissed me goodbye and left to go to work. I was surprised to see him come back in a few minutes later. “My car won’t start!” (Annoyance number 3!) He took the other car which was fine, except that it meant that Coley and Jake were going to need a ride to school too. No big deal. We can definitely manage with 2 cars. But then things started to get really interesting. On Tuesday, Jake drove Brian to work early so that he would have the car. Coley and Jake both have an 8 am class and didn’t want to chance being late by riding with the other kids and me. We left the house around 7:30. I watched Coley and Jake pull away as the other kids piled into the van. I put the key in the ignition and turned it and nothing. I mean absolutely NOTHING. Not a light, not a ding, not a thing. In all honesty, the van had been acting a little bit weird for a few weeks. Twice I could feel it power down and all of the lights on the dashboard flashed and the needles were twitching. But then it was perfectly fine. I was hoping that it had just been a fluke, but now it wouldn’t even turn on. So I called my husband to come and rescue us. Thankfully we only live a few minutes from work. He came home and took the first load of kids to school and I stayed behind with the two littlest. By the time he came back and picked us up, Aiden and Jonathan were late getting to school, so I had to go in and sign them in. And then we were off to work again. This now brought our working car count from three down to one, that is one 2 door, 5 passenger car to haul 10 people around in. Annoyance number 4!

Thankfully I was able to finangle some rides (Thank you Lisa Perron!) and get everyone to and from school for the next couple of days. But it was not without some, ok a lot of, stress.

And that is when we catch a glimpse at God’s sense of humor. After one thing after another seemed to be falling apart around us, Brian and I were laying in bed stressing about how we were going to have both cars and the dryer and the toilets fixed. We held hands and said a prayer asking that God take control and take care of us, as He always does. We said amen and I sighed. “What else could possibly break ?” I said under my breath. All of a sudden my entire side of the bed collapsed. I just started to laugh, because at this point, it was laugh or cry. I couldn’t even deal with it. I just grabbed on to Brian and tried not to fall out of bed all night.( Imagine the titanic going down. I was on the under-water side. )

After a somewhat decent night’s sleep, we woke the next morning, fully surrendered to God’s plan. We had no choice but to trust that He would work things out, not just because we were not in a financial situation where we had a ton of extra cash just lying around to take care of everything, but also because we had, in faith, given it over to God. Brian said that he felt that we should have the van fixed.  I was a little bit hesitant because I was fairly certain that it was the alternator and possibly the serpentine belt, that had gone bad in the van. This could easily be over $500 to fix. But we had asked for guidance and this is what Brian felt that we should do, so I agreed. I called a local mechanic and explained the situation. He said that he would send a tow truck. The tow truck driver called to tell me that he was coming and I went out to meet him. He was more than a little bit gruff and asked me if the van would move at all. I shook my head no and explained what had happened when I had tried to turn it on. I told him that it had been completely dead. I handed him the keys so that he could see for himself. He turned the key and the van started right up! My mouth hit the ground. I was as shocked as he was amused. He popped the hood to check things out. Apparently the alternator was fine and the belt was “good to go,” the battery however, was a “piece of s@#t.” He then asked me for a cup of warm water and three TBSP of baking soda and proceeded to clean off the connector things on the battery. He also told me where to get the best battery for the best price.( Rural King, if you were wondering.) He was so helpful and, despite his slightly scary appearance, so kind. I just chuckled to myself as I paid the $45 bill for his services, rather than the $500 it could have been. Once again He came through. And, in case you were wondering, sometimes angels drive tow trucks.

 

 

 

Kind of long…but I am back!

It has been such a long time since I have blogged that I don’t even know how to catch you all up on the last four months, so I am not even going to try. Long story short, I have been finding my new normal since going back to work. I love my job because it is wonderful to get up 2 1/2 days a week and put on nice clothes and makeup and do my hair. It is also equally wonderful to get up the other 2 1/2 days a week and put on yoga pants and a bra…maybe. I love being a mom but that is not my job. It is my vocation (which is way more important than a job, btdubs). My husband and kids come first, always. Period. the end. But it is also really nice to have meaning and a purpose outside of my house. My boss is awesome. (And I don’t even have to say that because I am 99% sure that she doesn’t read my blog. ) I like to use my brain for things besides budgeting and meal planning and 6th grade math. (sidenote: The other night it took my very intelligent husband and my very intelligent 19 year old son, who is a mathematical sciences major, about 30 minutes to help my 6th grader with her math homework because we don’t get common core math. We had the answer after about 15 seconds, but couldn’t figure out the insanely convoluted way that they wanted it solved…ridiculous, but that is another post.) I also like to complete a project and set it down and be able to come back to it 30 minutes later and have it still be completed. (That doesn’t happen at home very often…like never.)

But let me clear, even though I really enjoy my job, this working thing is crazy hard and I only do it 17 hours a week. I have absolutely no idea how you full-time working mommas do it. Seriously…no freaking clue. In addition to my regular job, I work seasonally in the bookstore on campus at the beginning of the semester to help with the textbook rush. I am only working there on my normal days off, and it is only for about a week and a half. So yes, I am working 5 days a week for two weeks twice a year. You can laugh, but let me just say, I am dead tired. My house looks like a family of trolls have taken up residence and they are morally opposed to doing dishes and laundry. The dust bunnies are now bigger than my dog and we have no food, because I don’t have time to go to the store. And honestly, even if I had the time, I am too freaking tired to get groceries! Wowza. Throw in an excessive amount of basketball games these last two weeks and you get the picture. But thankfully I only have a few more days of the bookstore and then I will be back to my normal schedule. I am not sure how long it will take to find my house underneath the chaos that reigns now, but I am fairly certain that it is still under there somewhere, so maybe by March???

So that explains why I have been such a slackadaisical blogger. Here is a quick review of the last 6 months or so, in case you are interested…

We were invaded by cicadas:

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The kids went back to school…ALL of them!

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We played soccer and volleyball. We went trick or treating :

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The kids were in  some concerts and musicals, including Hannah performing in Godspell:

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One of us had a trip to the ER for swallowing part of a whistle…

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We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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And we suffered the loss of some old friends. Rest in Peace Joey and Big Steelers Guy…

 

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We are wrapping up basketball season and moving on to volleyball (again) and track.

We managed to celebrate a few birthdays in there too. The twins turned 21…yep 21. I am still not sure how I feel about that. Ever since this past summer Coley has had a countdown going on until when the two of us could have a glass of wine together. Honestly I was looking forward to it to. I imagined us chilling out in our rocking chairs on the porch sipping our wine as we laughed about something witty that I had said. Wellllll, i am not nearly as cool as I thought that I was. The evening of her birthday, I poured us each a glass of wine, but I couldn’t physically hand it to her. All of the years of “Don’t drink!” had caused a paralysis and I simply couldn’t do it. But the funny thing is that she was just as uncomfortable. She kept covering her face and saying, “Stop looking at me!” So basically, we are dorks. We are not cool, or at least I am not. But I am ok with that. It wasn’t any better with DJ. I sent him a happy birthday text to which he responded, “Heading out for wings and a beer with Luke!” My response to that was to throw up in my mouth a little bit. Yep, I am decidedly uncool. Don’t get me wrong, I never wanted to get drunk with my kids, ever. I am far too old for such silliness, and I really don’t want to see them like that either. I just thought sharing a glass of wine would be a nice rite of passage to share with my adult kids. Not quite there yet…although we are making progress…

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Speaking of this lovely adultish type person,  Coley has settled on a major that she likes and is excelling at. And she seems to have found peace with herself. She is devoted to being fit and strong, both physically and spiritually. This gives my momma heart peace.

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DJ is doing amazingly at St. Vincent’s. He has officially started to date a lovely young lady named Hannah that we all really like. He is involved in a ton of campus activities.   He has belonged to the Benedictine Leadership Society since his freshman year. They always take the seniors on a trip, but he will be student teaching next year, so they have invited him to go this year instead. The trip is to …ROME! Holy Moly! So, so proud of him. Now if he would just call home every once in a while, that would be great.

 

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Jake has also started to see a sweet girl, Christiana. She fits right into the craziness that is our family and the little kids adore her. Jake’s big news is that he has changed his major and has transferred to Franciscan. He is now a mathematical sciences major with a minor in computer programming. He really seems to like his classes and is really excited to be at FUS. I am really happy that he isn’t driving into Pittsburgh everyday. And it is nice to see him content and at peace.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the opposite of peace and contentment,  you have the middle three…2 words…HOLY HORMONES! Isaac is 14 and pretty much knows everything that there is to know about everything. Sometimes he can get a little bit too big for his britches, if you know what I mean. but he is doing great in school and is as sports obsessed as usual. Hannah has become very into her music. She got a ukulele for Christmas and has already written a few songs with it. At 13,  Hannah is our weepy hormonal kid. Everything is devastating and nobody understands her and nobody cares about her…you get the idea. I get her, because I had my weepy moments as a teenager, but I was more like Gianna….the angry hormonal preteen. Watch out world. If Miss Sassypants gets her panties in a twist…my best advice is to just duck and cover. These two share a bedroom, so you can only imagine the interesting things that go on there. Most of the time they are ok…but there are days when I very seriously consider locking them in their room together just to see who makes it out alive. Gia is mouthier, but I wouldn’t underestimate Hannah. She has been known to pinch and scratch so hard that she has left scars.  On a positive note, Gianna is also excelling in school. She loved playing soccer in the fall and she is really looking forward to volleyball this spring. But don’t let her sportsy nature fool you. She is 10000% all girl. Makeup, nail polish, clothes…she loves it all.

Noah might be 17 months younger than Gia, but he is already quite a few inches taller than her. He played soccer as well and is in the middle of his basketball season. But his big interest right now is archery. He bought a bow and arrow with his birthday money and has really gotten into that. He has been working on woodworking a walking stick with Jake. Which is great…as long as he doesn’t whack anybody with it….which I am sure is coming.

Aiden is preparing for his First Communion this spring. I cannot believe that. In fact I keep allowing myself to forget that. He also played soccer and absolutely loved it. He has really been working on his reading and it definitely shows. He has expressed his desire to be a priest and has informed me that he doesn’t really need to worry about any of his classes in school other than religion, because that’s all he will need to know when he is ordained. I have been trying to convince him otherwise…we shall see.

And finally, it has been a huge few months for the littlest of our men, Jonathan. Not only did he start kindergarten this year, he also played soccer for the first time (which he dominated in!). Having all of those big brothers that refuse to take it easy on you just because you are little, is finally paying off! He absolutely loves school and has made several new friends. It has been hard to see his world explode. Just last year, it was all about us, and now we are just a piece of what he has going on. He manages to crack us up daily and he is the “oldest” five year old ever.

There you go folks, you are all caught up now. lol Hopefully I can keep my resolution to blog more regularly, now that things are slowing down (?!? not really) a bit. If not, see you in 4 more months!

 

 

 

So, do you remember when I had applied for a job and I didn’t get it. As usual, I am thanking God for His wisdom and I am once again shown how He knows what is the best for me. You would think that after 40 years, I would get it, but well…whatever. As I said in a previous post, I felt as if I was being called to expand my focus and look for a job. This was a big deal since I had been a stay at home mom for the last 16 years. While I didn’t get the first job that I had applied for, I received a call to work on campus in the bookstore. It was a seasonal position for 3 weeks to help with the textbook rush. I accepted it. I figured that it would be a great way to get a current job reference and earn a little bit of extra money and get out of the house. It was 40 hours a week, but the first week and a half was before school started and I figured that we would be able to make it work for a few days.

Well, we did make it work, but it was not easy. Holy Crap! Like not easy at all! I have absolutely no idea how women work and have a family and clean laundry. I mean seriously, No freaking clue!!! But before I go on, about 4 days after I started my job at the bookstore, I received a phone call with an offer for a different position. I was offered the position for the secretary of the Masters program for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling department. It is a great job! I work with 4 full-time and 2 adjunct professors. There are around 50 or so students in the graduate program. My main job is to maintain the students’ files and track their practicum and internship experiences. It is 2 1/2 days a week, which allows for a good balance at home. I have plenty of time to get laundry done and go grocery shopping and clean the house. I am around to run the kids all over creation for soccer and volleyball.

But the best thing about my new job, is that I have a purpose outside of myself and my family. It is a great feeling to get up and put nice clothes on and be around people. I love my little office and my computer and my filing cabinets. I even love the massive ancient typewriter. (Which I have no idea how to use!) I enjoy feeling a sense of accomplishment. I love having a connection to the university that is my own. It is not because I am married to the Director of Conference operations or the mother of a student. These are both things that I am very proud of and very happy to be. But I also like that my job is just my own. It is my place in Steubenville. It might not be anything fancy and important, but it is just right for me. And as usual , the Big Guy, knew that this was where I needed to be.

Just some stuff…

It has been a super weird (not in a bad way) week. First of all, the three big kids went to Michigan to visit family. This in and of itself is not a big deal, but the fact that they drove themselves for the first time…big deal. The absence of the three of them is weird and empty. I hate it very much. It is just another reminder to me that school is right around the corner and they will be gone again. Stupid kid stealing schools…

Secondly, after a summer of the husband working really hard at the youth conferences at Franciscan and basically living on campus, he is off for 18 days straight! This is something that he has stated (several times), hasn’t happened since he graduated college like a zillion years ago. So basically, it is also a big deal. Now, I must say, his idea of not working for 18 days straight and mine differ slightly. I guess that if I was taking off, I wouldn’t go to work…but that is just me. But seriously, aside from a few quick trips to the office to sign this or that, he is off. I haven’t seen a lot of relaxation going on, but there has been a good deal of fun. We have had people over for dinner. We have hit the pool and the lake. We had an impromptu visit from one of B’s very best friends and godfather to 3 of our boys. We went out for Chinese (in a restaurant…very big deal here. We don’t normally eat in public. Too many rowdy kids and all.). We managed to squeeze in a little bit of school shopping along with not 1, not 2 but 6 well-child doctor’s appointments. Do we know how to have fun or what?!

**On a side note, Jonathan was super entertaining at his appointment this morning. The nurse was chit-chatting with him and asking him if he was excited to go to kindergarten. He said that he was and then  he looked at her and said, “I want my name to be Gary instead of Jonathan.” What the what?? I have no idea where that came from but he wasn’t finished. He then continued on to say that “Well, maybe not Gary. Maybe Freddy. Yes, Freddy. It will be great. ” She chuckled and said that he was one funny boy. He looked her right in the eye and said, “Yes. Yes I am.”  I am still not entirely sure where he came from.

Thirdly, I am 100% over this ridiculous Pokemon Go game. We live on a relatively quiet street. Thankfully there is normally not a whole lot going on, aside from the guy gutting the building across the street from us. ( He is getting it ready for renovations to change the former elementary school into a house for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception!! We will have an order of Marians living right across the street from us!) I love the quietness of the street. And then came Pokemon. Hate it. There have been all of these random cars driving down our street. They drive very slowly, and suspiciously. I had my phone in my hand to call the police the other night because I was sure that they were looking for a drug deal. They weren’t. Apparently there is some stupid egg thing or ball thingy on my porch. I don’t get it.  I understand that people like that it gives their kids incentive to walk and get some exercise. Excercise is great! I am 100% supportive of exercise and getting kids outside. But here is a crazy idea…you could always just go for a walk. Look for birds or flowers or, heck, stray cats if you want. Just a thought… But to each his own, blah, blah, blah. If you want to play Pokemon. Go for it. Just don’t do it in front of my house, please.

Ok. That is enough random thoughts and ramblings for the day.

 

A big step

This summer of nothingness that I was hoping for, is slipping away! We have spent days at the pool. We have spent evenings around the firepit. We have grilled various and sundry meats. We have consumed 50 watermelons. (give or take a few) The littles, middles and I have made several trips back to PA to visit with family and friends. The conference season is rapidly coming to an end (which means that I will get my husband and big kids back fulltime at least until college starts up again). All in all, it has been a beautifully, wonderful summer.

But as I have said, summer is coming to a close. School will be upon us before we know it.  The girls and I have already knocked several things off of the back to school list. Normally, I am not one of those parents that sobs on the first day of school. I am usually fine with the big yellow bus coming and taking a few of my kids away for a few hours. This year, however, will be different. My baby, Jonathan, is starting kindergarten in the fall. When the kids all line up in their crisp new uniforms with their super white (not for long) shoes, brand-spanking new backpacks slung over their shoulder, he won’t be standing beside me as I snap the traditional first day of school pictures. Nope. He will be in his very own crisp uniform, with his very own super white (not for long) shoes, with his very own brand- spanking new backpack slung over his tiny little shoulder.  The littlest of our men will join his siblings and begin his very own adventures at school. His little family-focused life is about to broaden to include his teachers and classmates. He will make his very own friends. He will  expand his world.

The knowledge of this has been weighing on my heart for a while. All of my babies will be in school fulltime. This has never happened. Not once in the 16 years that I have been a mom, have I been at home alone. I have been a stay at home mom for as long as I have been a mom. My family has been my world. I have been dedicated to taking care of them. My roles as a wife and mother have been my vocation. My husband and my kids have been the center of this vocation. This has been a blessing. This has been my calling. This has been my joy (most of the time).

But I am now feeling another calling. My vocation as a wife and mother is a life-long thing. But for the last 16 years all of my energy and my focus have been on Brian and the kids. The last year, in particular, was a big one. I have put all of my energy into getting my family settled. Settled into our new home, into our new community, into new schools. But they are all settled now. They have their place here in Steubenville. I can see why God has called each one of them to Steubenville. But I have struggled to find my own reason to be here. Up to now, I have been here because I am Brian’s wife. I have been here because I am DJ, Coley, Jacob, Isaac, Hannah, Gia, Noah, Aiden and Jonathan’s mom. I have been here because this is where my people are. But it doesn’t feel like enough anymore. I feel that God is preparing to reveal to me what am doing here. I feel that I am being called to broaden my focus of my vocation. I am have decided to get a job. When I first talked to Brian about this, he thought that I was nuts. I kind of thought that he might be right. But I just kept feeling this nudge in my heart to look. I know that my family is always #1, period. So whatever this job is, it would have to work for our family. And then I saw it. The “perfect”job. It was as a secretary at Franciscan in one of the classroom buildings. The hours were a little more than I had originally been looking for, but definitely doable. After some thought and a lot of prayer, I decided to give it a shot.

I tried to find a copy of my old resume. But after looking for a while, I decided that it probably wouldn’t have really been much help. I have been out of the workforce for 16 years. I jokingly (sort of) said to my mom that I was just going to glue a picture of the kids to the page and say, “This is what I have been doing for the last 16 years.” Instead, I opted to list my job as a stay at home mom along with the other jobs that I had worked. I managed to convince a few people that I had worked with at our old parish to allow me to use them as references. I drafted a cover letter and sent it all in. And then I had to wait. And wait. And wait. And then I received a phone call asking me to schedule a phone interview. I managed to make it through that, second guessing myself the whole time. It is very unnerving to try to reenter the workforce after having been away for 16 years. But I just kept telling God that if it was His will, I knew that it would all work out. The next day I recieved another call to set up a face to face interview! What?!?!  The first thought in my mind was that I needed to go shopping. I needed interview appropriate attire. It’s been a while since I have had a job, but I was pretty sure that yoga pants and a tank top weren’t going to cut it.

With my stomach churning and my hands shaking, I walked into the interview room to face three women. It was a pretty intense interview, but I felt like it went pretty well. I then had a second phase of the interview by sitting down with four of the professors. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn’t your typical interview, but more of a sit down so that they could see if they could stand to work with me. I left feeling fairly confident and then absolutely sure that I was a complete idiot for even trying and then back to feeling ok about it all. I decided that I had done everything that I could possibly do. I had left it all out there. I was feeling incredibly vulnerable. I was also feeling worried that I wouldn’t get it and equally terrified that I would. When the crazy started to fly around in my head, I would just remind myself that if it was meant to be it would all fall into place.  As the next week passed I allowed myself to think that maybe, just maybe I would get the call offering me the position. I allowed myself to rest in the maybe.

Tuesday came and I was out and about getting groceries. I was in the check out line at Walmart when my cell rang. It was Gia calling to tell me that someone from Franciscan had called and I was to call them back. My hands started to shake as I wrote the number down with eyeliner (I couldn’t find a pen.). I rushed out to the van to put the groceries in the trunk so that I could return the call. I called her back and she started out by saying how professional my resume and cover letter had been and that I had performed exceptionally well in the online skills assessment. But that they had in fact, offered the job to another person with more experience. I didn’t get it. I thanked her as she encouraged me to apply for a few other positions that were available on campus. I just wanted to get off of the phone because I was afraid that I would start to cry. Which I did. I cried a lot. So much so that I was actually surprised at how upset I was. I don’t think that it was necessarily about that particular job, although I would have loved it. But I think that it was more that I had put myself out there. I had taken a step, a big step for me, and I had failed. After wallowing and pouting for the afternoon, I put my big girl panties back on and snapped out of it. I tweaked my resume for the other positions and applied to them as well.

I had said all along that I was putting it all in God’s hands and when it didn’t turn out the way that I was hoping for, I crumbled. I can’t even tell you how many times I have uttered the words, “It will all work out the way that it is supposed to, in His time. It will be better than anything that you could have imagined. Just give it to God and let him work it out.” So many times…It is really easy to say, much harder to hear. But true nonetheless. So I am 100% sure that there is something out there for me. Maybe it won’t be a job, per se, but rather volunteering. Maybe the hours for the first job would have been more than would have worked my family.  Maybe I will get a call tomorrow, maybe it won’t be for 6 months. I just need to take a deep breath and keep looking and, more importantly, keep praying. I have taken the first step. Now I just need to sit back let God work out the details.