Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Good Deed is A Good Day

Last week, I had a terrible, no good kind of morning.  I won’t even delve into all the details of the morning, but let’s just summarize with the following 5 phrases: sick stomach, potty accident, late for appointment, forgot paperwork, cavity and crown needed.  All before 9 am.  We’ve all had those days, and we’ve all wanted to forget those days.  

Right after it all went down, I met up with my Mom to go school shopping for my kids.  Phil had five of our kids in camp that day, and so I brought the baby with me and the three of us headed to the outlets.  After getting to shop in the first store, Declan needed to eat, so I sat on a bench outside and people watched, which is one of my most favorite activities (much to my husband’s chagrin.)  I was still reeling a bit from the morning’s disasters and trying to let it all go as I sat and fed my sweet baby boy.  Mothers who passed by gave me a knowing smile as they watched Declan’s feet peeking out from under the blanket I was covering myself with.  Older couples stopped to say hello as I burped him.  A young teenage girl sat down beside me on the bench, unaware that I was nursing a baby and looked a little embarrassed when she realized she had committed to sitting next to me.  I laughed inwardly at her sweet naivety.  

Then I saw a husband and wife (I’m assuming here) coming towards me to go into the store.  The woman had her hand on the husband’s shoulder and the man was in a motorized wheelchair.  She asked him if he would be okay waiting outside while she ran into the store to pick something up, and he nodded okay.  As I was finishing up the feeding, I watched that man try to stretch out his arms and get comfortable in his chair, then looked down at my baby and was overwhelmed with gratitude for his health.  For all my kid’s health.  For my husband’s health.  For the strong loving marriage we shared.  For the beautiful witnesses to marriage we both had growing up.  For all my siblings and in-laws and their families.  We are so so so blessed.  My perspective about my terrible morning completely shifted.  I had so much to be thankful for.   

An elderly woman came over as I was trying to continue shopping and was cooing over Declan and touching his cheek (which normally makes me squirm) but I just let her, it seemed to make her so happy.  I told my mom about how I let that woman touch Declan a little too much than what I was comfortable with, and she said “a good deed is a good day”.  She’s a smart cookie, that one!  And she’s so right, because the days I go to bed feeling the best are the days that I’ve served others the most.  After receiving wonderful meals when I came home from the hospital with Declan, I joined the Meal Ministry at our church, and have been blessed with opportunities to make meals for others.  Everybody is so thankful to receive a meal, it’s humbling and amazing.  I have since decided to try to make every day a good day by doing at least one good deed, and God is giving me plenty of opportunities (be careful what you pray for!). 

A few days ago, my friend, Laura, texted that her college friend, Sarah, needed prayers right away, as she had been attacked by a swarm of bees while out with her children.  Sarah was able to make it home to tell her husband that bees had attacked her, and then she went unconscious.  She was pregnant with their fifth child, a girl named Cecilia.  You can read more about her story here.  Both Sarah and baby Cecilia ended up passing away.  As I was getting updates on her status, my heart was so heavy for her family and sleeping did not come easy that night.  I wanted to do something to help, yet had nothing to do but pray. 

  When I realized that Laura was going to fly down to her funeral, I offered to drive her to the airport, because in a selfish way, it made me feel better knowing I was doing something to help out in some way.  Laura and I talked in the car about Sarah, and I was saying that it just didn’t make sense.  She was a young, healthy woman, open to life and passionate about spreading Our Blessed Mother’s devotion to the Rosary (she made clay rosaries).  Laura said she was thinking the same thing and had told a mutual friend who replied that Our Lady was surely with her at her death, she had loved Mary so much, and Mary loved her even more.  That made us feel better, as does picturing her in Heaven holding her unborn baby girl, and knowing she had just visited her family and gone on a date with her husband.  It was as if she had been able to tie up loose ends without knowing it.  The bee stings made an aneurysm in her brain rupture, and the combination of it all had been too much.  Laura said that since she had that aneurysm, it could have ruptured at any time, so maybe this tragic event was a little bit of an act of mercy by God.  Maybe she could have been driving with all her kids in the car when it happened, and this terrible tragedy was actually the lesser evil.  

I don’t know, I can’t stop thinking about it, but I feel like I have to explain it somehow, I have to do something to help.  I can clearly see by the grace of God that the man in the wheelchair and Sarah’s death have made me appreciate all I have a little more.  It’s so easy to take our blessings and gifts for granted.  We mustn’t. We never know when God will stop giving us borrowed time.  Hug your kids, kiss your spouse and thank God for all that is good.  If you feel so inclined, please pray for the Harkins family and think about donating to help, for a good deed is a good day.

Sarah and her family.

Monday, July 28, 2014

3rd Birthday in Photos

(Sorry in advance for all the photos, but 3rd birthdays need to be documented.)

We loaded all the kids up in the car on the morning of Xander's birthday to go to the Patriots Training Camp.

"Xander, how old are you now?"

"How about a nice one?"

I'll take it.

Declan is teething, but still so sweet and easy.

Our biggest football fan was very excited for this day!

I can see why people think Eamon and Maggie are twins.

At the practice, they have a big area filled with jumpy things and football games for the kids.  It was a gorgeous day, and the lines were long, but the kids (with some of their cousins) still had a blast:

I was hoping this would make a cute Christmas Card photo, but the birthday boy was not cooperating.

We got to meet Pat Patriot!  I was a little excited!!  He signed our kids jerseys and hats too, what a guy :)

Maybe one of these will make it on the Christmas card?

We sat on the grass to eat lunch, and his was our view of the Patriots practicing:

Always with the tongue.
Then Phil and my sister took the kids to the stands for a loser view while I nursed Declan.  Xander was ready for a nap at this point, and was not very thrilled with watching the practice:

There's Gronk (#87) in the middle - finally healthy enough to play:

Wilfork (#75) was there too - my Mom's favorite:

And my favorite, Tom Brady (#12) smiled and stretched for the fans:
Maggie said "Why is he doing a split?"
After we went home and took some much needed naps (Xander, me and Declan) we celebrated with the birthday boy's meal of his choice - pancakes, sausage, bacon, and fruit.  Then of course a cake and ice cream.

Trying to blow it out with his mouth...

Getting smart and using the fan he had in his hand instead!
Present time!

Lunchbox for preschool!

Hand-me-down Hess trucks from Miss Haley!

A guitar from Gammy and Grandpa.  My musical boy was so happy and said "I just can't believe it!"

Hugs all around!

After reading Britt's post, we bought him a toy chainsaw:

And then Declan was like "What were you thinking?"
Grandpa's huge hand.
It was such a fun day, and Xander was happy to be the center of attention.  He kept thinking his birthday was a place, and asking "When are we going to my birthday?" So funny.  I'm hoping the 3's will be a little less terrible than the 2's were, but we'll keep him either way ;)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Happy Wife Project: Parenting is Not a Job

The Happy Wife Project is a year-long effort to alter life for the better. Throughout the next 12 months, it will explore beauty, a woman's heart and soul, the domestic routine, and making the house a home. Every month, there will be a challenge oriented toward making your life better. You'll have the opportunity to make the challenge your own and link up a blog post discussing how it went. 

To kick off this project, I'm part of a great blog hop of moms! We're talking about our expectations of what we thought parenting would be like - and what it turned out to actually be. Be sure to read all the stops along the way! You can check out more about The Happy Wife Project here.

Parenting is Not a Job

Growing up in a big family meant there were always people around.  Growing up on the tail end of a big family meant that most of these people were older.  But ever since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to be a mom and have lots of babies.  12 to be exact, and I would doodle their future names in notebooks and be around little kids as often as I could.  I took on jobs babysitting and worked in a daycare.  These jobs changed me a little because I would come home exhausted, wondering if having babies was a little more work than I had bargained for.  But I still longed to be a mom and have a sweet bambino to hold.

Luckily for me, it was in God's plans that I married young and had my first child on my 24th birthday.  What a gift! After having my own baby, I realized two important differences between having your own child versus watching someone else's child:

Raising a child is a lot of physically demanding, emotionally draining, mentally tiring hard work. You are responsible for their well-being, you are their example, and you are with them 24/7.   My dream number of kids went quickly from 12 down to 6 :)


2) You'll never love a child more than the child you mother.

I never wondered again if raising kids was too much work, like I used to have after watching other people's kids.  I knew this motherhood thing was my gig.  Yes, it can be so hard and isolating in the beginning, but things get easier and days go smoother and before you know it, you're pining away for another baby to hold.  Children give your life a new purpose, it's so hard to even remember what my husband and I used to do with our time before kids!  

When I see young couples now who look at our large family and let me in on a little secret that they're not sure if they want to be parents because just watching their {insert difficult child relative} is really hard...I tell them, yes it is, but it's the most rewarding thing you can do.  The unconditional love you have raising your children is work, but it's not a job.  It's a vocation, and God will give you the grace you need when you need it.