Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Reflective Soul.

Listed below are my three most favorite prayer books. If they aren't on the arm of my chair, they're in my diaper bag. Maybe you've heard of these? Maybe you even have these? Either way, it's Lent, and I'm sharing my treasures with you.

Mother Love

Mother:s Manual

The Imitation of Mary

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today is our Paul's third birthday. Remember when he was born? I blogged about it! Three years ago already! *SIGH* 

This boy is wonderful. When I think about all the qualities that we tend to associate with boys, he has them all. But then, when you add the sweetness and gentleness that is this little one, it melts me. 
This is the boy who runs to me every morning with a hug and a kiss. My "Leech Monkey," I call him, because he's always stuck on mom or dad; always needing a snuggle and love. It's like he needs to breathe us in to function. 
This is the boy who, unprovoked, will tell me he loves me, climb on daddy's lap and kiss his cheek, or randomly say, "Mommy, you're beautiful." Snakes, snails, and puppy-dog tails indeed, but there is so much more. 
Paul loves books, and carries them around until someone reads to him. He loves cars, and carries his cars to bed, bath, and beyond ;-) . He loves his big brother and little brother so very much. If Luke leaves the house, Paul cries at the door for him. The baby is never without kisses or a playmate. 
 Happy Birthday Third Birthday, Paul! You are loved immensely by your family. And your mother couldn't be more happy by the joy that comes from caring for you and sharing in your sweetness everyday. I have a special feeling about you, my new little preschooler (!!). I think you will surprise us with your humor and quickness; I think you might end up as our comic relief; but reflective thinker. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that you'll be the kind of person that everyone is going to like to be around. We love you. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grocery Store Reflections.

I was in the checkout lane at the grocery store late last night, behind a family of five from a semi-agrarian religious community. In my head I was thinking of how much I admired their testament of faith--to wear their dresses and bonnets, but to also be out and about as their faith allowed.

At the end of their checkout, something wasn't quite right. Part of their purchase--the nutrient dense foods like cheese, milk, and tuna, weren't getting rung up right. There was a problem, and then a delay. The mother was getting flushed.  At the end of her purchase, six cans of tuna fish weren't able to be subsidized, and she told the cashier she wasn't going to buy them.

I am not a saint or missionary. Heck, I'm not very generous either. I mean, most of my life is spent scrubbing dirt under filthy boy fingernails, and unmentionable substances off of little boys' buns. There are times when I long to serve, to love the little orphans in Africa and Haiti, to win the lottery only to give it away to those who are hungry and cold. But, I am a mother of three young boys, and my time, treasure, and talent is wrapped up in loving and serving these souls.

But, since I was without my three amigos at the grocery store, I gathered up all my introverted courage, all of that welled-up missionary waiting to get out and shower love, and intervened. "Ma'm," I said, "I will pay for those."

The Ma'm looked confused, then quickly said, "No, no, it's okay really," and her face turned red. Then I felt really bad because I realized I had embarrassed her.

"No," I pressed on, "I would really want to buy those for you." I thought I was more serious this time.

She paused, then went on again. "Thank you, but really, no." And it was final. I did the best to hide both of our embarrassment by cooing at her little baby and talking about my own little baby.

I hesitated to share this story because I thought it made me sound a little presumptuous. I wanted to give, perhaps because in many ways I am unable. But with this one thing I could help, with this tiny purchase, I could make a difference. I wanted to love, and I wanted to share that with others outside my family.

On my sidebar is Minnesota Mom's blog. Several years ago she wrote a story about shoe shopping with her (then) five kids. At the checkout the bill was much more than she expected, and it shocked her. "I have to think about this a minute," she said to the cashier as she mentally processed the numbers. Then, a woman came up and said she was going to pay for the shoes. Maggie refused. Then, after some discussion they each paid half.

The story stuck with me. Minnesota Mom accepted the generosity of others, even though it goes against just about everything in our culture to accept someone's graciousness. I think I would have blatantly refused the same offer Minnesota Mom did, and instead been scared and skeptical.

The "pay it forward" mentality definitely has merit. People I don't even know have done very kind things for me and my family--covering whole dinners at restaurants, giving deep discounts or not charging for services, and people going out of their way to encourage us one way or another. These are not easy things to do, and I am always humbled by the gesture. Being so busy at home, when I'm out alone, when an opportunity presents itself where I can actually contribute something is rare.

And you, on the side of the road with the smoking car hood up...sorry...not pulling over. Sista doesn't do that.

In this case, at least I tried. My intentions were pure and I just wanted to do the right thing. I mean, could I have really done nothing and not felt like I was doing wrong by the omission? Until the next opportunity, I will do what Mother Theresa said to do to promote world peace, "Go home and love your family."

For now, that's all I can do. With great love.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Someday, when he's older and raised; when he's done crawling in on stormy nights and no longer needs help getting pants buttoned or shoes tied...

Someday, when all I have left is gratitude for the opportunity to raise a son, I want to remember him this way...

As the little boy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lenten Reading.

As a part of quieting the soul, here is a bit of what I've been reading this Lent. This year, since we've been so busy since the Fall, I haven't made the time for reading inspirational, spiritual, or theological writing. In fact, we've been so busy that I've hardly read anything! This is most unfortunate. I may be a busy mother, but keeping my mind sharp and my heart focused cannot be pushed to the wayside. Lent is a happy necessity for this mother.

My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom, by Danielle Bean. This is old hat among Catholic mothers. I've been told to read this book since I was a new mother of one. It is simple, anecdotal, and sweetly encouraging. Every once in a while it's good to have some solidarity in the mothering department. Danielle Bean is good at that. I like knowing after love, the rest is really just details. 

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci. Again, more encouragement, this time from a mother of FIVE boys! Balducci's blog is on my sidebar. I like reading about boys and all that lies ahead. 

A Love that Multiples, by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I love the Duggars, I won't lie. In this book, they really open up about being parents. I especially love a chapter that Michelle writes to mothers. In it she writes things like "I don't yell," and "I speak calmly and gently," and "I expect very little from young children, so we applaud their small accomplishments." I took a lot in this book to heart. As someone who tries hard everyday to be better mother than I was the day before, I felt challenged, but uplifted, after reading this book.

Nothing in this list is "heavy." After a big move and more projects on the horizon, not to mention three busy boys (two still in diapers, one learning to walk), I need all the mommy-encouragement I can get! I will save Augustine and Therese for the Fall. They will be waiting for me after all the sandcastles have been built and the bicycles tucked away. 

Friday, March 9, 2012


I hope by now you have no doubt that I love my sons. Really, I do. There is fine line though, here in Minnesota, when it is really time for winter to be over, and in theory it should be spring. We should be out riding bikes and enjoying the white turning to green. But it doesn't come. There is still snow, the boys get rambunctious, I get bored, and brain cells disintegrate.

My boys, while young, are smart kids. And I love these guys. Still, I am left to wonder, on these days while the seasons transition, if their brains got lost during on the axis tilt.

I have the occasional scenario where I walk into a room, see something mildly dangerous occurring, and proceed to sneak out and wait for the disaster to transpire instead of stopping it dead on. Don't judge, but sometimes explaining why something is dangerous isn't nearly as effective as a boy actually experiencing physical pain from his poor judgment.

Lately, we've had a lot of these scenarios. I blame it on the snow, and the icy driveway, and let's be disdain for this white March. Come on, boys, it's time to start hurting yourselves outside!

I've been on a search for the missing boy brains in the house after witnessing such events as my five year old standing on the coffee table with my size 8 women's rollerblades. He intended to rollerblade off the coffee table onto the couch. Said rollerblades were another problem when I had to explain why walking up a 17-step flight of stairs with enormous rollerblades on was a poor decision.

Speaking of uncarpeted staircases, have you ever zipped yourself up with your brother in a sleeping bag and rolled down a wood staircase? If there isn't blood, it can't hurt that bad, right?

We have a plumber in the house today, and bicycle in the basement. That covers the adventures for the morning. In the meantime, we are feasting our eyes on the blinding snow, hoping that what goes for a watched pot that never boils doesn't apply to the grass underneath the snow.
If we're lucky, when Spring has Sprung, so will a remedy of common sense for the cooped-up boys suffering from Cabin Fever.

We can hope. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Following the Leader.

Maybe my children will be leaders. I hope so, at least. For the moment though, they are "followers." Followers of their mother.

I give the boys a lot of attention. A LOT. I mean, I'm there for everything, and then nod my head enthusiastically when they tell me about Lego Helicopters, their dreams about polar bears, and which Hot Wheels car is the fastest. But then, when I excuse myself to use the bathroom, change a dirty diaper, or to change a load of laundry, the pitter-patter of little feet follow me.

They follow me everywhere. It gets really tricky sometimes, because if I haven't thrown myself together before they are up and at 'em, I'm really at a loss for the day. There I am, trying to maneuver deodorant and toothbrushing, while the boys are digging through the bathroom drawers, making stacks of the toilet paper rolls, asking me to cut the crust off their toast, button their pants, and load their Nerf gun with arrows.

It gets crazy. Sometimes I get frustrated. They don't seem to follow anyone else around, but apparently changing the sheets on my bed warrants a pow-wow in the middle of the mattress, and a trip to the basement to retrieve decorations for spring must be a united effort.

Getting frustrated doesn't help, so I try really, really, REALLY hard to be patient. I pray for patience every day, to enjoy these little guys, and especially to love their littleness and curiosity. I also try to wake up as early as I can to get as much done before the morning routine of absolute chaos begins.

The oldest one doesn't seem to want the kisses and hugs he used to. One day he won't ask me questions continuously while I wrestle with my contacts in the morning. My middle babe won't always need me to hold him close for several minutes in the morning and after nap, so I try to enjoy these moments, even though those first minutes in the morning and after nap times are the busiest of the day. And the baby has a special radar that no matter how early I wake up, he just knows and has to join me on my hip while I swiftly prepare the coffee and attempt to be a step ahead of the game before kids come trampling down the stairs.

For an introvert, I've basically given up on being alone in the house. It used to bother me, and it might have even depressed me at an earlier time--really needing that quiet time. I still need quiet time--time for reading, prayer, and reflection, but it just comes differently. Maybe now 6am isn't too early? Maybe nursing a baby with a prayer book in hand will do? Maybe the morning dishes can wait and we can all take advantage of baby's morning nap?

For now, the kids are at my side--sitting on my lap as I type, asking questions as I chop vegetables, and making a royal mess as they go from room to room along with me. It still bothers me sometimes, especially when I'm short on sleep or help, but it's for now it's life. 

I have three little gentlemen following me around wherever I go.

What an honor. :-) .

EDIT* I love it when a seasoned mother writes authoritatively on something I'm newly discovering. Elizabeth Foss does it again!