Desperate

I am enjoying a rare quiet moment in our household. All three of my children are asleep in their beds and it is 1pm. I know it is a blessing, and oh wow, am I grateful! This Easter I decided to buy myself a new book I have been wanting to read since I first heard it was coming out. Written by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae, Desperate is like a big, deep breath of fresh air for a mama’s heart. I was so happy when Easter finally came and I could crack open my new book.

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I really feel like this book can help you whether you have one child or ten.

We, as moms, are all doing our very best to love our kids and give them the best start we can at life. My greatest desire is that my kids would someday grow to have a relationship with Christ. My hope is that they would know his undying love for them, his mercy and the amazing plans He has in store for them.

As their mother, I am the first Bible they are ever going to read. If Ben and I are loving, patient, kind and merciful with them then they will likely grow up believing that God is all of those things as well. If I am always cranky, nagging and grumbling through our days than how are they supposed to know that the God we serve is good and worthy of the many sacrifices we must make in motherhood.

I cannot give what I don’t have and if I don’t make time for myself, for my marriage and for my relationship with Christ then my tank is always running on empty.

That is why I am desperate. I am desperate for more of Jesus and His truth in my life. I am desperate for babysitters so I can enjoy the company of the amazing man who chose me and moved clear across the world to be with me and raise a family. I am desperate for mama’s night every month when it rolls around, to hear hilarious and wild stories of what is happening under other mama’s roofs and the antics their kids get up to. I am desperate for a latte and a good book or magazine in the quiet of Chapters all by myself every now and again.

I was supposed to go out the other night by myself to get a little head break and I just didn’t want to..which is not like me. I said to Ben, “Why don’t I want to go out tonight?” and he said, “Because at the end of the day it feels like you are just one more person YOU have to take care of. You are taking care of everyone else and you’re exhausted.” BINGO. It’s true. When I put myself last, I have no energy left to take care of anyone. When I make time for a bit of prayer, a shower, a coffee…everything looks different. Less stressful. More enjoyable. More peaceful. And don’t my husband and kids deserve that woman?

God is not a tyrant. He doesn’t want you burning yourself out and being a martyr, taking care of everyone else but yourself. God loves you! and me! Ridiculous, terrible at housekeeping, ungrateful, taking my crazy day out on my husband, bad cook, ME! and YOU! (insert all of your stuff here) YOU! He made us and He wants us to take care of ourselves because seriously? When we don’t take care of our mama selves, we are truly taking care of no one.

All of this to say…I am really enjoying my new book and I think you should read it too! oh, and I’m knitting Oliver some little mittens for next winter. I’m no longer behind on this year’s knitting. I’m on top of next years!

 

One Thousand Gifts and Lent

I am admittedly a little late in our lenten preparations this year but isn’t that what Lent is all about anyway? Preparing? Making ourselves ready, begging His grace to help us start new? start fresh? With that in mind and also with Oliver in mind we are keeping things very simple this year.

The girls helped me make a purple paper chain that they are taking turns ripping a link off each day. We also freshened up a little corner of our living room and made it into a family altar as a place to come back to throughout the day as a reminder to pray. We’ve been adding canned goods here and there to our bag to be brought to the food bank sometime before Easter. All small, easy things to do with little ones that make such an impact on their little hearts.

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As for me? Well, I was originally going to go with “isn’t nursing enough?!” as my sacrifice but I don’t mean it in the way it sounds. I love nursing my babies…there is nothing more peaceful or delicious than a sweet little one falling asleep in your arms while you nurse. The sacrificial part for me is the being tied to the couch while the other kids destroy the place! ha! It really isn’t so bad but I decided that in this season of motherhood what I need most is to stop complaining, stop looking to an easier time, stop missing out on all the good, holy things happening right in front of me.

I read One Thousand Gifts a few years ago now and had good intentions to start my very own gratitude list/journal but never got around to it. This Lent I am starting. I probably won’t list all of my gifts but today I thought I would share how I began..

1. A bowl full of colored pencil shavings

2. Crispy potato bits in the pan

3. Husband who started my coffee before he left for work

4. Counting down the days to Alleluia

5. Sleepy, nursing boy in my arms

6. Joe Zambon helping me start the day

7. Girls who “read” aloud to themselves

8. Dark chocolate and ruby red strawberries

9. Anticipation of mom’s night out

10. Sweet girl who prays for the poor

11. The lullaby of the dishwasher

12. Sweet friends who brought a meal and new cartoons

13. Homemade play dough “cookies”

14. Dough rising on a grey day

15. Middle of the night baby smiles

16. Unexpected happy mail

17. Knowing it will get easier

18. New recipe to try excitement

19. Getting ready to do our taxes

20. Health of mind and body

21. Good talks with sweet sisters

22. Gluten free chocolate goodness

23. My love coming home in a few hours

24. News of good friends being blessed

25. Knowing that I’m all he (Oliver) really wants

My First Milo

Imagine my total joy at the realization I can knit with wool in the August heat!? With Lucy’s birthday coming up in September and knowing that once this baby comes along I won’t have much time for knitting in the early days, I decided it was high time to start picking up my needles again. This is my first Milo Vest and it was such an easy knit! I have finished it now (pictures to come after Lucy’s birthday) and have knit another one for my little niece Rosie in the same color.  Everything must be purple these days for my girls and with purple being my favorite color, I don’t mind in the least.

While Ben and I were away last weekend on our first night away from the kids in nearly 4 years (!!!), we had the chance to spend some time in our local Catholic bookstore and chose a few new books for the kids. They are really loving the book about Mary, which is no surprise to me since they always seem to gravitate towards her.

In other news, we had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday and are now waiting to find out the sex of our sweet baby. This will be the first time we find out before the birth and I am really excited about it! I have been thinking maybe boy up until now but after our ultrasound and what we saw (or didn’t see) I am thinking it may be a girl. We will find out soon enough and then I will be knitting my little hands off until this one comes around Christmas. Sweet thoughts when I think of being cozied up at home this winter with our new babe.

Join Ginny and the rest here for the Yarn Along..

Yarn Along

My sister had her baby girl! Little Rose Marie was born on Tuesday afternoon after a very long and difficult labour for my sister that ended in another c-section. Since I’ve finished one of my own socks but lost enthusiasm to start the second, I decided to knit up another pair of baby socks for Miss Rose. I’m using Debbie Bliss cashmerino DK and it is amazingly soft. I find knitting baby socks so rewarding because they knit up so quickly! 

Last night I started reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and so far so good. I was already very on board with his way of thinking so it makes for good, positive reading.

In other fun knitting news, I invited a bunch of ladies to come together for a night of coffee and knitting/crochet and there are about 8 of us planning to be there! I’m so excited to see what everyone else is knitting.

Head over and see what everyone else is knitting at Ginny’s.

My Little Ballerina

Today was Lucy’s last dance class for the fall session. She was really reluctant those first few weeks to go in by herself even though I was sitting out in the hall. I let her bring her puppy in with her which seemed to boost her bravery and helped her relax. Then she said puppy could stay with me while she went in. Another little step. My sweet little girl has grown so much in these last few months, expressing herself so well and asking such intelligent questions. She is always surprising me and reminding me to smile and let go.

I don’t know that we will sign her up for the winter session of dance classes yet but I am glad that we let her try it and watched as she grew to love running around with the girls in her class, waving ribbons and wearing her little tutu dress and ballet shoes. Is there anything sweeter??

There’s no way around it…I think she gets this face from me. Oh, how I love this girl.

I haven’t shared more than photos of our Advent preparations yet simply because there has been no time! We have a very busy household at the moment between both Ben and I working and the two NET team members we have staying with us until December 11th.

We have taken out all of our Advent/Christmas books as well as our Nativity set and our wreath. The little tree you see in the shot with Lucy is one my mom lent us for the year so the girls could decorate it with non-breakable ornaments. They have really enjoyed playing with it and I hope that it will all be out of their systems by the time we get our real tree next week. The likelyhood of that is small, I know, but a mama can wish.

I hope you are all having a very blessed Advent!

February

Is it just me or has this winter been feeling realllllllllllllly long? We have spent far too much time indoors cooped up and I have to say that it has been getting me down. After several days of far too many tears, som good heart to hearts with my man, I have to say that I am either actually depressed or suffering from some severe winter blahs that I need to do something about.

Around Christmas time I ordered myself a book online called, “One Thousand Gifts” written by Ann Voskamp. She is also this woman. In the beginning of the book she tells about a nightmare she had in which she was told she had terminal cancer. She wakes from the dream in a complete panic thinking to herself, “I need more time!” But then the thought comes to her..more time for what? More time to complain about my day to day life? chores? children? homeschooling? the very things she spent most of her life wanting and then being ungrateful for them on a daily basis. I may as well have written this book it’s so similar to my life. The passage that has been a knife to my heart reads,
“Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave. Isn’t that the catalyst of all my sins? Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”
The sin of ingratitude! I don’t know that I have ever even confessed ungratefulness in a confessional! Call me crazy, but this blew my mind. What I couldn’t believe was just how true this felt in my heart, how it mirrors the way I have felt in my mind and attitude towards my family and my life. God is seriously changing me one page at a time. I promise if you read this, you will not be sorry. You can get it here.
With my heart finding new courage, I am trying to be more mindful of the amazing things I have to be grateful for each day. Small things that seem trivial at times. Hot oatmeal, newly knitted socks from my mama, a very cuddly Abigail in the mornings, the sun reflecting off the snow and beaming into our living room.
Winter is not an easy time for a lot of people. I’ve wondered if perhaps I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m trying hard to fight these winter blues and so the last two days I have actually gone outside for about a half hour, done a DVD workout, and started a new knitting project. I’ve been meaning to tell you all but guess what? I can knit! I have wanted to learn for many years. I did learn how to crochet while on NET many years ago, but I couldn’t remember how to do it. My mum came over and spent some time teaching me about a month ago and slowly every night row by row, I knit my man a scarf! I am extremely happy about this newly found creative fun! So much in fact that I started a scarf for myself last night.

(Ben’s scarf)
People have always told me that they find knitting relaxing. I always thought they were lying, especially the first few rows that I knit. But, now that my hands are becoming comfortable with the movements, I’m finding it to be true! I really, really enjoy knitting and I hope that I can be patient with myself long enough to really get into it and try a few patterns.
With Abigail being almost one and me being so down lately, I have decided that it is time to wean her. My lovely girl would nurse happily until she is five i’m sure of it, but this body of mine is feeling very worn from being pregnant and nursing for some much of these past three years. I know many people think that nursing for nearly an entire year is something to be proud of, but I can’t help but feel guilty since I am the one who is so in need of stopping. I just need to convince Abigail that cuddling with mama is just as good as nursing. We are trying to keep busy this week as I know it will help her to get past it and also helps me believe that Spring will be here soon enough and just as the Winter snow will melt away, so will my blues. Here’s to February, friends! How are you staying warm and cheerful?

Seeking Joy

Several months ago, I made a recommitment to taking a daily time of prayer. It started out beautifully. I would wake up before the kids, get myself dressed and make my way to my favorite sitting spot in our living room, the rocking chair. I would usually get in about 20-30 minutes of prayer, and a quick facebook check before Abigail (my almost 11 month old) would wake up. Then, Abigail started sleeping through the night. I was happy about it, but suddenly she was waking up at 5:30am or sometimes even 5:00am looking to nurse and start her day. After a few weeks of this going on, I was wiped. I felt discouraged and felt like I may as well not even bother to pray since my daughter obviously had other things in mind for my morning time. I really let it get the better of me and when Abigail would wake up, I would wake up feeling bitter and irritated…not the greatest start to a day. I was very nearly ready to throw the towel in when it finally hit me, probably for the millionth time since I became a mother; God called me not only to be His, but to be a mother as well. If He has called me to this vocation, then surely He will give me grace to live it. 
My prayer time will never look like that of a Carmelite nun, nor should it. It would be selfish of me to spend hours in prayer, when my children are in need of my attention and affection. After talking it over with my husband, he declared that the day should start with, “Good morning God!” and not “Good god it’s morning”. He was so very right. It pretty much summed up the whole experience for me, smart man he is. If I could manage nothing else, I would at least start my mornings off by acknowledging the One who had called me to this very life. I am still getting up pretty early these days, lately it’s been between 5:30-6:00am, but I am doing it knowing that as I sit and nurse this baby-almost-toddler of mine, God is near and He isn’t afraid of early mornings.
With the start of the new year, I decided that I could at the very least take a few minutes to sit with my Small Steps for Catholic Moms book, before, after or even while nursing Abigail. Each daily reflection is made up of Think, Pray, Act. There is a quote from a Saint or scripture, then a short reflection (about a paragraph long) and then an act..something simple to feel like you are putting your prayer to action. It has really helped me to get back on track with my prayer. The beauty of it is that each day is a new page, a new Think, Act, Pray. I never feel like I have fallen behind if I miss a day, I just start fresh each new day. Each month has a theme and the theme of January is Joy. Boy, oh boy do I need me some Joy in these dark winter months ahead. I am inspired to continue striving for daily prayer. It is so worth it…He is so very worth it, and I need Him. This book would make a wonderful gift to a new mother, a dear friend or to yourself, to be honest. I am so thankful that I have stumbled upon it, because it has given me hope that no matter how short my prayer time, it can still have depth, give me something to spiritually chew on and also give me one simple act to put into practice.

With Joy being the theme of the month, it has got me thinking about the difference between joy and happiness. I always thought that if I didn’t feel happy, then surely I could never be joyful. I am slowly learning that joy has in fact very little to do with feeling. As Elizabeth put so beautifully, “We are children who know we are loved. We can look for joy and expect to find it. We are children of a loving Father. A child loved by God has faith in joy. I am a child loved by God. Joy is mine.” It doesn’t matter how difficult yesterday was, what argument I had with someone, how quickly and easily I lost my temper with the girls, or how tidy or untidy my house was at the end of the day…today is a new day, God still loves me, His Joy is mine for the taking.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11
What more proof could I ask for that God loves me and wants me to have His joy? Not the joy of the world, that is fleeting and empty, but eternal joy, joy that lasts forever because it is all of His goodness and love in my life. As these days slowly get lighter, I will be here, smiling everyday at my little ones and making sure they know their mama is joyful, and also that they know the cause of that joy.