Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Playing Catchup - mostly {Wordless Wednesday}

Has it really been two weeks since I posted??  Wow... time goes by fast.  Well, to be honest, the last couple of weeks kicked my behind.  I had a terrible head cold that turned into bronchitis for starters. yuck!  My sister-in-law had some medical issues and so I as helping with some of her kids off and on for a few days.  Then, for several reasons, we decided to host Thanksgiving at our house for her family and Carl's Grandma. It was a fun time, but also my first time hosting and making Thanksgiving dinner... that is a lot of work!  Finally it was visiting with my folks who were in town for the holiday weekend. 

Life is just now starting to feel like it is returning to normal and I'm trying to catch back up!  I will post a recap of my Thanksgiving (hopefully tomorrow).  In the meantime... my wordless Wednesday picture... my new do!  I got a cut and color yesterday (it had been waaaayy to long!).  Am loving the fresh look!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My little Big girl {Wordless Wednesday}

I am fighting a cold (and losing) and have had little energy to think of anything interesting to share... But considering I think my kiddos are always interesting and worth sharing, here's one for Wordless Wednesday...

Karen's school picture... She is just so stinkin' cute!!!!  And she looks so grown up!!  I'm not ready for my little girl to look like a big girl!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Treadmill running with kids

Most of my workouts lately have been happening after kids go to bed.  I'm happy to be getting them done, but it has been taking a toll on my sleep quality.  I've been getting done with my workouts, on average about 9:30 ...

One of the things holding me back from exercising earlier was that I just have not been comfortable having my little ones around while I'm on the treadmill.  Over the course of the last couple of weeks, my two older ones have seen me on the treadmill and seem to understand that they need to stay back to be safe.  So, this week I attempted my workouts earlier in the day... here's what it looked like:
Thank goodness for all the baby clothes I have... those bins came in handy creating a barrier to keep Lauren back.  Karen and Megan had fun crawling on them.
Saying hello when I hopped off to do some pushups...

She might look happy, but she's actually screeching at me.  She was ready for me to be done.  

And in case you think that Karen wasn't around... she was.  I just have a hard time getting a picture of her as she doesn't like to stop and pose for me.  I was lucky to get this cute one of her!
Overall, I like getting my workouts done earlier.  It is more challenging in the sense that there is parenting and refereeing that "interrupts" my workouts, but teose were good challenges.  I like the idea of my girls seeing me workout and be healthy.  Hopefully it encourages them and plants some seeds for when they are older!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pray and Smile...

My heart is heavy and saddened by the outcome last night.  I have struggled all day for the words to share what is in my mind and heart.  Ultimately... I still don't have it.  I have not yet found the peace to share my thoughts with grace or charity... so they will wait.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a note from my Dad this morning that made me smile.  The subject was: Pray and Smile
It is not a good day for America but it is a good day for us. We are here and we are able to give God glory and praise and enjoy each other and look forward to the glory that Jess is having.  We will be ok, so I pray that all of you keep your head up and be proud of where you are spiritually in all of this. We will survive and will do ok. I know now that prayer is more needed than ever as we always knew. So smile and enjoy the day.
Love, Dad

I love my Dad!

It reminds me of the other things in my life that make me smile...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I voted - Please Vote!!

We mailed our ballots in last week, so technically I voted last week.  I like our system of mail ballots, although I can only imagine what a mess it would be if we lived in the east.  All those affected by Hurricane Sandy have been in our prayers and I thank any who find the time and will to Vote amidst their chaos and grief!

This has been an election year of negative campaigning- it saddens me to see how divided our country has become!  The only way to really change that is likely through prayer.  Prayer and exercising our civic duty and privilege of voting. If you are interested in a great article read:  What Does it Mean to "Vote Catholic" Even if you are not Catholic, it speaks very well to voting your conscience and being a witness of love regardless of which "side" you are on.

I am not the most articulate at stating my objections or support for one candidate over another.  But I do know that there has been one clear choice.  Our country was founded on Christian principles and to be honest, those very foundations are currently under attack.  We have legislation in place today that calls into question some of the fundamental religious freedoms that our founding fathers set to establish for us.  Legislation that infringes on our rights to hold and maintain certain beliefs by claiming that access to certain services is a "right"... I argue that (right or wrong) those services are a freedom in our country but most certainly not a right!!

That issue alone would have led me to vote the way I did.  But there are so many others - pro-life issues being foremost on that list.  But, enough said.  The decision is in my hands and your hands...  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Potty-training - take 2!

As I mentioned, my Mom came up this weekend to help with my second attempt at potty-training Karen.  I originally tackled it this summer with both girls when the weather allowed us to spend most of our days outside.  It was successful with Megan, but not so much with Karen.
Our attempt this summer...

The struggle has been understanding how much of the lack of success was due to motor-planning issues - which is common with speech apraxia, or due to sensory processing problems, or plain old stubborn resistance to the status quo!!

In recent weeks, we had several successes that Karen initiated prior to going to bed or into the bath.  She was also starting to show awareness of bowel movements by hiding behind a chair to go (something she had NEVER done before).  I was talking to my Mom last week and mentioned in passing how nice it would be to have help when I tackled it with Karen again since we would be stuck indoors and there would need to be a significant amount of vigilance watching her to help minimize the "mess" from accidents (especially since we have brand new carpet!!).  My Mom took my words to heart and made it work to come and help me for a long four day weekend!

We started the process when Karen came home from preschool on Friday.  The pullups were put away and we told her that we were all done with them.  She heartily agreed but just as heartily protested sitting on the potty.  I set my timer for 50 minutes and forced encouraged her to sit on the potty at those intervals.  To put it mildly... it was a battle.  The only way she would agree to sit there was if she got to play on the iPad... but experience has shown me that she will sit there for a half hour (or more) and not do anything.  So I always limited her time with the iPad to 5-10 minutes and then we were done.  We had no successes and accidents galore either just before my 50 minute timer or halfway between after an unsuccessful attempt.  Color me discouraged Friday night.

Saturday morning Mom and I took a short break and left Karen and Megan with Carl while we went to Mass for First Saturday and enjoyed a cup of coffee with some friends.  Potty-training with Daddy was not any more successful.  The day was filled with accident after accident, fit after fit.  The attempts to get her to sit on the potty were becoming more contentious and both Mommy and Karen were frustrated.

I got online and read an article about potty training resistance.  One of the things they recommended was transferring all responsibility to the child.  Telling them that you were no longer going to remind them or make them sit on the potty.  But also that it was not okay to be wet, so if they had an accident they had to go in and change themselves.  To also heap on the praise for successes and continue with prizes or treats if that has been what you were doing.  Not knowing what else to do, I gave this a try.

Two and a half hours went by - no accidents and suddenly Karen came running to me saying and signing "potty"... we went in and she had her first successful potty trip in two days.  This was immediately followed by two accidents over the course of the next hour.  But my attitude and reaction to it was much different from what it had been earlier in the day.  I asked if she wanted to sit on the potty to finish but did not force her.  After her bath, before bed we had another success where she (on her own without telling us) went in and had a successful trip - I suddenly heard the little potty chair say "hip-hip-hooray"... went in and she was grinning ear-to-ear!  I was much more hopeful going to bed on Saturday.
A happier girl now that she's "in charge"
Sunday started with Karen in a dry pull-up... a successful trip on the potty before church and came home with a her pull-up still dry.  Yay for progress!!  I was a little slow getting her out of the pull-up and into undies and we had a small "accident" in the pull-up, but Karen alerted me as soon as it started happening and headed for the bathroom.  We had a mix of accidents and successes - but the overall attitude of both me and Karen was SOOOO much better.  It is really hard for me not to remind her and ask if she needs to go (partially because Megan needs some of that encouragement and partially because of my type A personality...) but Karen seems to do better without it.

Bedtime has been a little bit of a circus (both last night and tonight) - I think she was getting signals that she had to go and maybe also needed to have a bowel movement... she was up four separate times saying that she needed to potty... the fourth time she came to me she had a wet pull-up... but I'm still encouraged by her enthusiasm!

Today - we only had one small accident and it was again in a pull-up.  We had to run a few errands and she was in one for that time and I had again been slow in getting her into undies when we got home.  I'm a little amazed at the difference in our progress from Saturday until today... especially considering I was so frustrated on Saturday I almost threw in the towel!! 

Yay for Karen!  I know that potty-training with apraxia is a challenge for most kids and I'm thankful we're making progress!  More importantly, I'm so thankful for the animation I see in Karen.  She seems to understand that she is accomplishing something and in control of it and her excitement about it is wonderful to see!

To be honest, back to my earlier question about her delay... our lack of success this summer I think was due to sensory processing delays.  I really don't think she had figured out how to read her body signals and understand what she was supposed to do with them.  Ironically, watching her younger sister, I think, has helped.  Now we seem to have overcome the stubborn, stuck in the habit of having her diaper changed portion... the only piece left is the motor planning and whether that is a problem or not will become more apparent as we continue to progress!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Visit with Mom

I'm a lucky girl.  Today (as most days of my life) I'm thankful for my Mom.  She drove up for a long/short four day weekend to help me with a second round of potty training with Karen.  Let's just say it's been an extremely challenging round two... details of that in another blog post.

But having my Mom here to help me keep it in perspective has been priceless.

I love you Mom!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful for All Souls

I am so thankful for the teaching of the communion of saints.  Namely, that the communion of saints is the intimate union that exists among all the disciples of Christ. This communion is known as the Mystical Body of Christ: the Family of God consisting of the faithful on earth (the Church Militant or pilgrim Church), the holy souls in purgatory undergoing spiritual cleansing (the Church Suffering), and the saints in heaven (the Church Triumphant).

It is such a beautiful vision to see the body of Christ extend not only through this world, but through eternity.  To know that the unity of Christians remains unbroken, even through the bonds of death.

Yesterday we celebrated the "Church Triumphant" ... all those peoples known (Saints with big "S") and unknown (saints with little "s") who are already in union with Christ in Heaven.  Today, we celebrate the Feast of All Souls.  This includes the "Church Suffering" - those that have died that may not yet be in heaven and those that are likely part of the "Church Triumphant".

I wanted to name a few that have gone before me that were significant in the example of their life.

My Uncle Leroy - he was my Dad's best friend and probably the only man I've ever known that could quite possibly out work my Dad.  He had an infectious laugh and an insatiable love for popcorn... lent was always eternally long for him because he always gave up his nightly popcorn!  He lived his life simply - worked hard and prayed harder.  His biggest concern was that his boys wouldn't gain heaven and he prayed for them daily.  He and I were Jessica's Godparents, a role I cherish having shared with him.  His funeral was on New Years eve 1999 - I remember all the hoopla of Y2K and how insignificant it seemed after he died.

My Grandparents - Al and Caroline - I miss them nearly every day.  Some of my fondest memories from growing up are visiting them on the "ranch" as Dad called it.  My Grandpa farmed almost until his death at 92.  My Grandma prayed a daily rosary for all of her granddaughters that God would lead them to the spouse He chose for them.  After I met Carl, I knew that her prayers had been heard and am so thankful! Carl was actually introduced to most of my extended family at my Grandma's 90th birthday party.  There was karaoke, and my cousins trying to embarrass him, signed him up to sing "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy".  They made me sit in the middle of the room and he serenaded me.  The laugh was on them, because they didn't realize how good he could sing.  I remember my Grandma just laughing!!!  She thought the whole thing was hysterical.

Jessica... I don't know what more to say that I haven't said.  Her little soul was so incredibly beautiful, pure, simple, joyful.  She will forever be my Goddaughter but now it is she that will be praying for me and my journey to Heaven.

Remembering how much of a blessing they were helps make the sorrow at their absence easier.  I would rather have loved them and shared what time I did than to have never had the joy of their presence in my life.  What souls are you remember or missing today?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A month to give thanks

While I've been trying really hard this last year to be aware more constantly of how blessed I am and to give thanks for it, November is a good time to kick this up a notch. What better way for this to start than by remembering those great souls that have come before us to provide us with their example of Christ-filled living, their wisdom through their written words and thoughts, and their help through their intercessions for us from their heavenly home...

Today is the Feast of All Saints... As my priest reminded us at church tonight - Saints with both a capital "S" and a small "s".   Speaking of church... It just about did me in tonight. I was by myself at 5pm Mass with all three girls. They were b.u.s.y.!!!!!!  But ... We made it through, there were no tears, no screams (except a couple of protesting screeches from Lauren which is ok), and hopefully not too much distraction for those around us!!

Back to All Saints... I thought I'd share a few of the ones that hold special places in my life and why.

St. Joseph - I'm not sure where my devotion to St. Joseph stems from, it is something that has been present since I was in high school.  It could be that so little is spoken of him in scripture, but you know he had to be a holy and devout man as the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.  His feast day is March 19th.

St. Elizabeth - when I was pregnant with Karen, I felt a strong devotion to St. Elizabeth.  She had spent so many years carrying the burden and stigma of being barren to joyfully conceive and raise John the Baptist.  She was the first person outside of Mary and Joseph to recognize the divinity of Christ, even while He was within Mary's womb: "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord* should come to me? " Luke 1: 41-43 I spent many walks during my last months of pregnancy thinking about her life and the sorrows she experienced early on and the depth of her joy in later years.

St. Gianna - A modern day saint.  In a world that so devalues the life of the unborn child, St. Gianna is a shining example of a mother's love.  She died giving life to her fourth child, having known full well throughout her pregnancy that this outcome was a possibility.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux -A man who was passionately in love with Christ and found a way to infect those closest to him with the same love. We read a book on his life in my book club this last year and it is by far one of the best books I've read.  He has an amazing way with words and with conveying his love of Christ.  An example of loving Christ with your whole heart that I can only hope to try and emulate.

St. Catherine of Siena -One of my new favorite saints.  I read a story on her life written by Louis de Wohl.  Technically an historical fiction novel, but extensively researched so pretty factual in the actual events.  The title is "Lay Siege to Heaven"... and that St.Catherine did.  I sometimes tend to think that the trials that the Church is undergoing in present times are unique and unparalleled... but I only need to read back in history to see that is not true.  I also need only to read about some of the great souls like St. Catherine, or St. Bernard to realize that while we think one person can't change anything... with the grace of God, they can.  It helps me find hope.

Fr. Solanus Casey, Servant of God -A man on his way to sainthood.  He is the first U.S. born person elevated to Servant of God.  I do not know much yet about his life, but he has already played a significant role for my family.  A relic of his was pinned to my niece's blanket last year in the hospital.  As she died, her hand came slowly to rest on this relic - on which was printed the last words of Fr. Casey: "I give my soul to Christ." ... this simple action, a miracle really - brought my sister and her husband so much peace.  They felt it was a final statement from their daughter.  I will be forever grateful for Fr. Casey's intercession for my family.

What Saints (or saints) inspire you at times?