Heartbreak in the Education Store, And It Isn’t Who You Think.

Although Craig and I tend to crack under the pressure of materialism, we try to steer our children opposite of it, knowing how it hampers our living and wishing our children to have better self discipline in their adulthood.  Obviously, being a living example is the best way to teach our children.  We’ve matured immensely over the last few years, but there is still much more room for improvement.

When Lexington became old enough to be frustrated over a toy, I would remove the toy from sight and direct his attention elsewhere, sufficiently diffusing the tantrum. When he became old enough to understand, I told him that:

  1. Throwing fits do nothing to help him get what he wants and, in fact, result in the opposite of his wishes.
  2. Most of all, we never throw fits over toys.

This has served as a dual purpose.  In addition to helping him understand that no material object should hold power over his sense of peace, it has also helped him to be able to verbally express his emotions, as opposed to a show of “violent” temper tantrums.
Has it worked? For the most part, yes.  Do we still experience tantrums? Yes.  It is a habitual, repetitive teaching that I remind him of daily. Exhausting? Yes. Worth it? Without a doubt.

More often than not, Lexington comes to me with a toy that isn’t doing what he wants and says (on the brink of tears) “This is difficult, Mom.”  or “these pieces won’t fit together.”
Emmett, the middle child, on the other hand, has to be handled differently.  He doesn’t know how to communicate his frustrations verbally, so he expresses them the only way he can: fall-upon-the-floor-writhing-and-wailing.

So when we go out in public, Craig and I anticipate some amount of bellowing from Emmett.
But Lexington, no.

He will be 4 in June and has never had an in-store public fit over anything.
Until Saturday.
My younger sister told me about a teacher’s supply store in which she’d found some good educational materials. With Emmett’s interest in the alphabet, I’ve been looking for some fun activities- something other than what Walmart and Target offer. We stay away from the mall (it is our downfall, of course.) and refuse the cesspit of Toys R Us. So Saturday, my husband and I made a field trip out of it.

Upon entering the overwhelming store, Lexington immediately latched onto the two large train tables.

An hour later, giving Lexington a time limit (which he knows I do not extend) before we would be leaving, I watched his little hands scramble anxiously to play quickly, fumbling and knocking over pieces he was trying to make right.

My soul welled up and I wanted to sit down on the floor and play with him. Just 5 more minutes. But it was raining, and the store was closing. Actually, I wanted to buy the whole train table and its accoutrements. But I walked over, blinking back tears, helped him set the trains on the tracks just so, held his hand, and led him out. No, no crying from him. He immediately began talking of visiting the store again very soon. It broke my heart. But constant, instant gratification cannot help a toddler who needs to learn that we are not entitled to things just because we like them a lot, and that sometimes waiting makes the gift more valuable. I suggested he ask for it as a birthday present in June, and we walked away, the train table lauding no power over Lexington, nor I, the parent who wants the world for my babies.

Lexington’s “fit” occurred when my husband and I demanded that he walk with us to the back of the store, abandoning the train tables for a few minutes. He came running down an aisle, in tears, crying to me (the fast walker who’d marched ahead) that he wanted to keep playing.

I reminded him what he knows very well: that crying isn’t going to make Daddy let him play. So he gulped back some sobs, and with the most self mastery an almost 4 year old can muster, he stammered, “D-dad, can we ple-e-ase stay at the trains while -while- Mom looks back h-here? Please?” And he almost lost it again, trying to control great, heaving sobs.

My loving, compassionate husband scooped Lexington up and said, “Mister. You know you’re not behaving very well. You know we don’t throw fits over toys. Thank you for asking me the right way.”

We all walked back to the front to let him play for the last few minutes I described above. I looked down at Lexington and noticed him walking in a funny, jerky way which indicated that he wanted to run so very badly but was exercising self control. My heart welled up and I said, “let’s RUN!!”
And we did, Collin jostling against me inside his sling.

lexington trains

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Friday’s Quick Takes (#4)

Welcome, welcome to a belated Friday’s Quick Takes, hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversiondiary. It is Sunday night.  I’m happy to report that Jennifer seems to be doing well and home from the hospital after her health issue from the previous week.  She wrote about it here.
So, we’ll get to it then! My quick takes this last week encircle the further lessening of myself …kinda.

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1) I am beginning to think that my Friday’s Quick Takes will perpetually be posted on Sundays. I just can’t seem to get it done on Friday, or even Thursday night! I’m working up to it. Hoping to improve!

2) I started blogging in 2005. I began writing as an outlet, just trying to work my brain out loud. If I go back to my very first blog entry… it’s embarrassing. Really embarrassing. And kind of depressing; I wasn’t well.  I was wrapped up in selfish artist world trying to connect points in my life without fully devoting my heart to my faith.  How sloppy, grappling, and how empty!
Skip forward 8 years and one gains confidence with writing once one has conviction about something. For me, getting married & having children really sped up the reversion process of my heart. Early 2012, I connected with a beautiful group of women through the blogging realm. Their ideas, their prayers, and the faith that we share is something that encourages me daily, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a Christian striving for holiness, and as a “hey-you’re-not-the-only-20something-mom-out-there-who’s-trying-to-live-out-the-Faith!”. Because I’ll tell you what: we get to Mass and short of booking it out of there afterward, we don’t linger with a hungry infant and two super squirmy toddlers, let alone seek out and mingle with the other young parents and their squirmy babies.

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3)  Getting out of bed is something I struggle with every. single. day. I am a tired person.  One of the ladies I’ve had the pleasure to meet through intranet recently shared a blog through Pinterest. And wouldn’t you know, I read this entry last week and had a small prayer answered. I’ve always been le tired. In first grade I wrote a book titled: I am Tired. Through high school, my parents wondered if I was on drugs because of the amount of sleeping I did (I actually got Mono one summer- slowest summer of my life). Becoming a mother did not magically transform me to a wakeful, motivated, morning person. In fact, becoming a mother has made it much more difficult.

It’s been whispering to me that WAKING UP is part of the “becoming less” that I need.  By denying myself the simple pleasure of lazing in bed for a half hour more —and let’s face it, it’s really more of a frustration than a pleasure knowing that you need to be up anyway— I’ve started my day off with a YES to my vocation as a mother, as a servant of God for whatever the day brings me.  Rather than a “…zzzz…10 more minutes, Almighty Father…” And this blog entry confirmed it:

The heroic minute. It’s time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and … up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body.
That’s from St. Josemaria Escriva’s The Way #206. And then there was this quote:
Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If, with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that moment, you’ll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish! The Way #191.

So, as part of this year’s goal of becoming less, I will strive for Heroic Mornings. Laugh if you will. But that is exactly how I have to think of my mornings, or else I’ll lay there, wishing for 20 more minutes. Thank you friend, for pinning this blog.

4) …but then Saturday, I slept in with my baby until 10am… (My courageous husband heroically conquered the morning for me, bless him).  ”I shall diminish”…when I get out of bed.  …FAIL.

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5) However, Saturday evening, I became a fully grown woman. I made my mother’s spaghetti and meat balls.  I wanted to cook for my MIL, whose birthday is on Monday. So why not spaghetti, right? Pasta is easy and feeds lotsa people. I really enjoy cooking (which I didn’t know until I got married), and don’t mind detailed methods, or a little prep (I don’t mind the occasional frozen pizza, either). My mom’s spaghetti sauce, however, is unlike any sauce I’ve ever tasted. It’s not difficult, but it has a few surprise ingredients. The recipe actually belongs to my Aunt’s (ex)mother-in-law, who is 100% Italian and immigrated by boat to NY. The recipe, in my mind, is one of those that is so good, we the lowly, unseasoned, amateur cooks dare not defile the sacred deliciousness by trying to actually MAKE it.  I feel that I need be at least 40 years old before I should be allowed to cook something like this. BUT, Saturday evening, at 28 years old, I made it, and felt that I’d crossed the threshold into GROWN-A** WOMANHOOD. …ahem. Excuse me, I couldn’t help it…

6) After the evening of cooking, eating, baking, cookie-monstering, carrying sleeping children to bed and finally peeling the skinny jeans from my not quite as skinny legs (I managed to cram myself into non-maternity jeggings for the first time sans extravagant muffin top), I got to have a mo’ with the ol’ iPhone and its apps. Scrolling through Instagram I was delighted to see this! Shared from none other than one of me marvy Cathsorority ladies. It reminded me of my failings, but I strengthened my resolve to crack on with it!

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7) I am very blessed to have been able to have my hairs cut. Oh yes, all of them. My hair stylist (whom I’ve been following from salon to salon for over 4 years because she is fantastic), chopped nearly a whole foot in length from the shoulders down. I turned around in my chair to behold what looked like a pile of snakes laying, tangled upon the floor. The photo doesn’t really do the serpents justice: 

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If getting a haircut were to be a painful experience, I’d have to say it hurt so good. I wanted the long dangly, gangly strands to feel pain as they were sliced off. But they didn’t, the stupid, dead things. They didn’t even know they were gone. Irritating things. Anyway, how do you like me NOW! 

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7 (kinda)Quick Takes Friday post 2 (for me)

Here we go again! I skipped last week’s 7 Takes, so I packed both weeks together this time: 7 Quick Takes is hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at conversiondiary. After reading my takes, go check out the many other peep’s takes all linked-up on her blog. Many of the writers are downright hilarious. I just read Jennifer’s from last week, and laughed out loud the whole time. She listed 6 recipes and one Advent tip that is VITAL for those who use the storage space in their attic, if available.

Here go my 7 (We’ll go backwards this time, like conversiondiary):

7) After 3.5 years, I have achieved the status of NINJA MOM.

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I received my black belt on (last) Monday night at about 1am. I’d watched a late movie because I unwisely drank a late coffee as an effort to open up my nasal passages from this madness they call “a cold”. Boy #2 was heard from his crib throughout the duration of the movie, being a little turd, flopping around on his bed and jabbering away.

Movie finished, #2 finally sleeping, I entered the room to cover him up with his blanket and was immediately confronted by a fragrant odor.
My poor boy was not BEING a little turd, he simply HAD a little turd.
So, with my highly refined mom-skills, I was able to change his diaper without waking him up. I walked out of the room wearing my imaginary Mommy Ninja Black Belt (given to me by a mom-trainer who looks like Pai Mei), and noted that I can check-off “Change poopy diaper in the middle of the night without waking child” from my bucket list.

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PAI MEI APPROVES.
(http://killbill.wikia.com/wiki/Pai_Mei)

6) I am not one for pomp and circumstance

I may be artsy fartsy, but I’m not really crafty …schmafty(?). And by crafty schmafty, I mean I don’t do a bunch of refrigerator “art”, or save toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks or keep a stash of cotton balls and glitter: cute little crafts for every season, reason, or holiday.  I don’t even do Christmas cards, for goodness sakes.  I get as far as taking a few photos of my children, and if I upload the photo from my camera onto the computer, I count that as an accomplishment.

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^This is as crafty as it gets. And I wouldn’t even qualify it as crafty. It’s artsy fartsy. My oldest boy loves watercolor, and I think this is beautiful.

Nearly every time I find myself trying to micromanage, I end up stressed out and frustrated.
Thursday afternoon, it was rainy and windy and yucky out. So I connected our TV to YouTube and thought we’d listen and dance to Christmas music! Note that this is me REALLY stretching on the pomp&circumstance here.
So I turn on Frosty the Snowman and my oldest two seemed to enjoy the music—- and the power goes out.

FOR FOUR HOURS.

Enter screams of terror mixed with blind running and jumping of excitement about candles being lit, blended with tripping and falling over each other, doused with me in agony over stepping on legos, blocks, and die-cast cars and airplanes. I felt like the bad buy from Home Alone as he broke-in through the window:

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Only with two toddlers by my side and an infant in my arms.

We packed up, by candle light, and drove to my parent’s house for the rest of the evening. That’s an extreme example, but a vibrant one, nonetheless.

5) Instead, we went on “The Polar Bear Express”

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We packed up the boys in their pajamas, I threw on my bathrobe (thanks Grandma Cook!), made coffees, warm milks (which I forgot in the microwave), bagged some cookies, and we drove around town in our car, momentarily renamed “The Polar Bear Express”, listening to the Christmas music we were cut off from a few days previously, and enjoying the beautifully decorated & lit houses.
And that, folks, is the most pomp&circumstance this mom’s ever been. It was lovely -anything involving coffee and cookies always is, right?- cozy, and my boys loved it. Baby C slept the entire time. Easy. This was also on our second boy’s birthday. I would love this to become a tradition we do for his birthday every year.

4) We began praying the Rosary daily.

I get anxiety about how I believe my children will react to my plans. 9 times out of 10, my belief is incorrect.

I had desired to teach my boys the Rosary. My oldest is 3.5 years and definitely old enough to know the prayers. He knows his ABC’s and all the other toddler learning songs, the complete lyrics to Justin Bieber’s song, “Baby” (“it’s cool on the playground, butIREALLYWANNASEEHERONDAWEEKEND”), and play him any one of his favorite Disney movies and he’ll watch the movie while reciting the lines and singing along exactly. For me, all of that’s sweet and funny, but it ain’t doing nothin’ for his eternal soul. It’s like feeding him a bunch of candy.

Where’s the wholesome stuff?
Where’s the REAL stuff?
Santa, Lightning McQueen, and the “Guardians” don’t exist.
The Father, Son & Holy Spirit, and all His Angels and Saints do.
My job, as a Christian parent, is to get my children to heaven. Why would I delay teaching my babies about Jesus? I feel like instilling Christian values, morals, prayer, and of course the Sacraments first and foremost is imperative for how they grow into adults in this society. I don’t want my children growing up, and thinking it’s okay to set-aside their Christianity for a later time, for when “they’re ready”. If I parent them that way, they will live their adult life that way… and they may never “feel ready”.  

Ready or not, for the sake of their eternal souls, I’m stamping this knowledge into their hearts, so they will always have it. Just like teaching our kids to read, or to eat healthy foods, we know it’s good for their mind and body. We don’t let them choose to learn to read or eat their veggies “when they’re ready”. I know this is good for each one’s soul. 
“let the children come to me, do not prevent them”

One Sunday, many months ago during Mass, I noticed my oldest boy speaking along to priest’s words  during the Consecration, and I realized, “He should know the Rosary”.  November came and I finally let go of my anxiety of outbursts of temper tantrums over doing something other than watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the morning.

About a month ago, I gave my boys their breakfast, opened Youtube, and found a link for Children’s Rosary (lots of photos). They were excited, interested, and quiet. I let them wander about the room and quietly play with toys as the video played and I prayed along, out loud. To my surprise, my younger boy sat through the whole 20 minutes, and I noticed my oldest crouching over a tower of legos mumbling along to the Hail Mary.
I chalked it up as a success in my eyes!
We try to do this every morning. No pomp, no circumstance. Just relaxed, prayer.  Sometimes my oldest asks to pray it, and my heart swoons.  Other days, he says, “I VERY DON’T LIKE THE ROSARYYYYY!” and I bribe him with chocolate milk. Either way, the Rosary, gets prayed.
 

3) I drew a “Rosary Board”.

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I found myself getting frustrated trying to show my oldest how to hold his Rosary. Nearly every time he gets ahold of his little, blue, hand-knotted Rosary, it becomes the propeller of a helicopter. So I drew the Rosary on a large sheet of paper, utilizing my drawing board from college, for the boys to be able to follow along with their fingers.

I numbered the decades so that at minimum, they’d know generally where we were.

2) This year, we only did stockings on Christmas Day.


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Commence gasps and feelings of sorrow for my little boys.
Guess what?
They didn’t notice a difference.

We woke up, emptied their stockings (I filled them with a few small toys, a movie, crayons, fruit snacks, new toothbrushes, a couple “squeezy yogurts”, and a sketch pad for Lexington), got ready for Mass, and celebrated the birth of Jesus. 

My children were as joyful, and perhaps even more so, as the rest of the little boys and girls throughout the world who have full bellies, a roof over their head, and both Mommy & Daddy present on Christmas day.

My boys received presents from their grandparents, great grandmas and aunts and uncles. They experienced the excitement of opening a present. This obviously is not what my husband and I originally planned to do as far as presents this year, but we had to be flexible.  I am so, so, so thankful that I’ve given the whole “presents vs. Presence” extra thought, because this year I was truly put to the test.  And my reaction was that of peace and happiness.  This, so far, has been a most beautiful Christmas.

1) Enough with my words! Gobble gobble gobble! Here’s one more (fuzzy) photo of our youngest boy and I on Christmas day.

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Merry Christmas!

A Comeback? Maybe?

I was hoping to snap back to blogging as soon as I pushed out Mister Collin.
It’s just not working that way.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spend all day. All. Day. Feeding three boys. Feeding them and then wiping rear ends.

Totally unglamorous but then again glamour is not known to lead a human being to a life of love and fulfillment, so I have hope.

When I do have a few free moments and two free hands, I use them to feed myself, shower or take great leisure in simply reading and catching up on news, social media, and writing grocery lists while finding new dinner recipes.

I ignore phone calls.

I have a handful of people to whom I owe email replies.

Even I, in my laziness, know that this is beyond laziness; it’s just trying to find a normalcy that includes space for me too.
I’m not whining, just stating what it is.

For almost three years before getting married, I was a waiter and bartender at Bonefish grill. I absolutely loved the job. It’s odd because I never thought I would. I looked at serving as a trashy kind if occupation that I wouldn’t sink to doing.

I got over my pride years earlier and served at various restaurants until I was hired at BFG. Love the employees, love the company, LOVE the food, love the people who come in to eat there. Most of all, I love serving.
I enjoyed dinner rush. I thrived off of it! Many times, I found myself multitasking with so many tables, I felt right at the threshold of completely losing it if I allowed the pressure to overcome me. But for the three(ish) years I worked there I never did.

What allowed me to succeed (and make lotsa moula) was the conscious foresight that dinner rush is just a short period.
It always ended.
I always felt a great sense of accomplishment sending every table home, happy and satisfied with their dining experience, knowing they’d come back to request my tables again. (Though I got a few creepers along the way, which my now husband had to scare off, but that’s another story) Just a short period.

Flash forward to today and that’s what gets me through this time.

And the Incubus song periodically pops into my head too…

“Yeah it’s just a phase,
It will be over soon…
Yeah it’s just a —”

Imagine that going through Momma’s head as she’s changing an epically poopy diaper. 

I used to be a big fan.

Anyway there you go.

So I have ambitions of starting a short series relating to eugenics and how our generation and younger can better relate to exactly what it is and acknowledging how it’s woven into the very fabric of our culture without us even realizing it.  We’re stitching with it! It’s there but we are blinded by the propaganda that covers it. 

I intend to do this by utilizing my favorite medium: Harry Potter. BOOM.