Friday, November 29, 2013

{Theme Thursday} Thankful {TPT}

Theme Thursday/Third Person Thursday - a day late.  

 Thanksgiving was just around the corner.  Annery set aside all day Wednesday to make pies for her family's feast.  She was up early, sorting through ingredients for the four varieties her family would enjoy; caramel apple, pumpkin, pudding pie, and cheesecake.

In addition to the pies she'd agreed to make, Annery's daughter, Little Bean, had added a special request; jello.

With water heating and pies baking, the day was running oh so smoothly.  Then, the phone rang.  It wasn't family or friends calling to say "hello".  It was a phone number that sent panic straight to the heart of her, surely something must be wrong with Sweet Baby for that number to be on her phone.

Annery answered the phone, panic setting in.  The voice on the other end quickly reassured her that Sweet Baby was fine, in fact, the voice wondered, could Sweet Baby possibly get her hair done today?  Annery pondered her plans for the day, would she have enough time to bake all the pies and spend over two hours in transporting and styling the precious Sweet Baby?  She would make it work.

A few hours later, Annery was driving 30 minutes across town to pick up Sweet Baby.  Sweet Baby now goes to a new daycare, and it took Annery a bit of time to find the actual location.  Once inside and past the ID and sign-in station, Annery took a couple wrong turns on her way to SB's classroom.

At last, the correct door in the labryinth located, Annery peered inside.  She scanned the room to find SB.  THERE, there she was, playing with two baby dolls at once and smiling.  Annery hadn't seen her in over a week.  The sight of SB so happy and at ease in a new setting both relieved her and pierced her heart in one moment.  Her baby was okay.  Then, SB spotted her.  The toddler shrieked with delight and yelled, "MAMA!".  A little crack in Annery's heart sealed.  Her baby had missed her.

SB went wild with delight, laughing and running around her preschool room.  After "hiding" behind a rocking chair, SB was delighted when Annery swooped her up.  Sweet Baby pointed to all the many items of interest around the classroom, showing them all off with pride.

Finally, the initial delight subsided enough to get a wriggling 2 year-old into her winter gear.  Then, walking hand in hand, Annery and Sweet Baby set off.

The ensuing hour covered highs and lows.  Sweet Baby, always the busy bee, had a hard time sitting still through the hour of hair braiding necessary to bring her beautiful hair into the requested style.  Yet, the worst was still to come.

After little more than an hour in her home, it was time to put on coats, shoes and hats and get her back to her new home.  SB resisted the idea at every turn.  Annery's youngest sister had spent the day helping Annery with the girls, and her heartbreaking plea as her aunt placed SB in her carseat was, "don't leave me!".

Annery stepped in to buckle SB into her carseat.  SB went wild.  She cried and clawed in the direction of the house, anxious to go back inside.  Cries of "MAMA!!! Hold me!" rang through the car and Annery tried to remain calm and buckle the devastated child into her seat.  SB continued to sob, as Annery walked around to the driver's side of the car.

Trying to calm SB, Annery reached a hand back to hold her little hand as she drove.  The crying gradually lessened.  Slowly, the sweet girl seemed to catch her breath.  Annery reminded SB that she is loved and missed, but that it wasn't Mommy's turn to have her right now.  This seemed to sink in a little, and eventually, SB was singing along with Adele.

The drive came to an end and Annery helped SB into her house.  SB seemed happy on her arrival.  Annery covered SB's face in kisses and promised to see her in a few days.  Then, she composed herself to spend the evening with her other daughters and niece.  Parting never gets easier.  Especially when there's a tiny child begging you to stay.

It's been a hard year.  Some days are better than others.  Some moments in the same day are better than others.  Really, this year, I am most thankful for my family and friends.  Not in the, "they're so nice to have around" kind of way.  While that is true, I'm thankful for them this year in a, "I don't know how I would get out of bed without all their support" kind of way.

They've been understanding of my foul moods and coaxed me out of myself when I started to slip into depression.  I don't like to ask for help, and I don't like to show my pain, but they have stepped up to walk with me through this dark time.  They've been patient with my mood swings and let many a snide comment pass as my grief manifested itself in ungraceful ways.  

As much as my faith has buoyed me through this time, my family has been the visible face of it when the darkness closes in around me and the prayers dry up.  

My father made a toast this year at Thanksgiving, thanking my mother for her faith in God.  He said looking around the table, he could see the fruition of that faith.  My parents didn't have us because they were wealthy and it was easy, they trusted in God for His providence, patience, and love, and this Thanksgiving, many of us gathered around that table and my father could see the fruits of that trust.

So, if you do nothing else, put faith in God for your family.  If there is no time of sowing, there is no time of reaping.  God is faithful.  I say that to you, having seen my parents' sacrifices for us, and in the midst of offering up the loss of my child.  God is faithful, and there will be much fruit.  If you don't accept the burden, you'll miss the blessing.

My father thanking my mother for her faith in growing our family

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{Theme Thursday} {TPT} Shaming

It's Third Person Theme Thursday!  Two link-ups, twice the fun.  Follow along on Third Person Thursday with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum and Theme Thursday with Cari at Clan Donaldson.

When Annery was in her 20's, she had a lot of answers.  Answers for everything.  Potty training her oldest as soon as possible was of the utmost importance.  It was a rush to pull-ups, then on to the thick little training underwear that doesn't really stop the pee, but at least soaks up enough to keep little shoes mostly dry.  Potty training was a stressful time of rushing to bathrooms and learning the location of all bathrooms in a four-city region.

Now Annery is in her 30's.  She wonders if this has made her wise or lazy.  Maybe both.  Annery no longer feels the rush to potty train that haunted her with Little Bean, now a perfectly continent 8 year old.  Little Bean learned in her own way, in her own time.  It wasn't really until she made up her little mind that diapers were for babies that potty training took root.

In short, it wasn't anything Annery did.  Annery was just the accessory.  She helped pull pants back up and rinse out the gross little potty chair.  She washed hands and dispensed candy and stickers.  Annery was really more the door greeter than the director.

Six years later, Sweet Pea is showing some interest in the potty chair.  She asks about it and wants to sit on it, even though nothing happens when she does.  She likes the potty and wants to be a "big girl".  Inwardly, Annery cringes, thinking about the extra set of clothes and accidents that are the hallmarks of a potty training toddler.  "Can't she just wear a diaper until she's so old she just starts doing it all on her own?" Annery wonders.

Finally though, Sweet Pea's cries of, "potty!" are answered.  Daddy takes pity on his tiny 17 month old and hoists her onto the toilet.  Sweet Pea is so proud of herself!  She does nothing more than sit in the strange open bottom chair, but she knows it's a big deal.

As Annery answers the cries of, "Mommy, come look!", she wonders if perhaps her husband is trying to shame her into potty training the desperate toddler.

With entreating eyes, Sweet Pea wonders why Mommy won't help her during the day.

As sweet as the scene was, Annery is still fairly confident that she's going to drag her feet on potty training.  "What's the rush?" she wonders.  It's not as if there won't be more diapers, God willing, in the future.  Why should Annery start having to worry about car seats full of pee every time she leaves the house?  No, she's confident this will remain a game for many months...let the shaming continue.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{WWRW} Small Steps

Linking up with Housewife Spice this week for an evening installment of What We're Reading Wednesday.

First up, hooray for Madeline at Dash of Snark - she won the book I put up for giveaway last week!

We're as scientific as second grade over here, and I was rooting for everyone, so I had my impartial 8 y/o pull a name from the ski hat....we're from the Midwest :)

I crumpled everyone's for good luck - because isn't that how you win a raffle?

Little Bean finds it a little challenging to read my handwriting

Maybe you do too...but it says Madeline!

Let's all be friends are pretend you didn't notice how dirty my living room or computer are.  Thanks friend.

Next order of business will be getting that sent out this week.  Hope you love it Madeline!

Now, on to what I've been reading this week - or trying to read.

About a month ago, I won a giveaway at Revolution of Love.  I got a copy of Small Steps for Catholic Moms.  The first couple weeks, I was very good about reading it, but last week, I wasn't so great.  So, I made a commitment to be more diligent this week.  I've done it nearly every day.  Since we had construction on the house this week, I'm going to call that a win.

To be fair, I haven't actually finished the book.  Since there's a page for every day of the year, it's going to be a while before that report.

The book is divided by month.  Each month is given a theme.  The month of November is Gratitude.  Next month, I'll be reflecting on Peace, and couldn't we all use a little more of that!

Each day is broken down into three segments; Think, Pray, and Act.

The "Think" section is a quote from a thoughtful person like Chesterton or Mother Teresa.  The "Pray" section is a prayer directed to God by the reader, bringing the "Think" section before God as a petition.  The "Act" section is really where I become a C student.  I'm good at acting on the "Act" days where the action is reaching out in community to share gifts....I'm really bad at acting when it's something like journaling or making a photo collage.  Still, going through those three things every morning...or sometimes at lunch when I'm sitting for the first time that day, helps to really give that day some concrete intention.

This book also ties so well into the Matthew Kelly talk I attended at the beginning of the month.  He really emphasized working on becoming the best versions of ourselves by taking away one thing the Holy Spirit was calling us to do to be better that week.  This is like taking that and breaking it into even smaller bite-sized pieces.

I'd recommend this read to a Catholic mom (I'm just going with the title here) who feels like she has NO TIME in her day for prayer.  I feel like that a lot, and this book is really helping me find those places of opportunity to make my day more intentional and prayer-filled, just by acknowledging that the playdate with another mom can be a part of my day's prayer.

This book came in the mail during a particularly bad week for me, and it's been helping me get through a time when prayer is hard to come by.

Thanks to Bobbi, I scored another free read for next week.  It's billed as a Catholic thriller, so we'll see how my nerves are next week.  Free on Amazon for Kindle download until November 21, I'll be having weird dreams and staying up late thanks to Don't You Forget About Me this week.

See what everyone else is reading at Housewife Spice!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

{Theme Thursday} Cold {Third Person Thursday}

Joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for a little Third Person Thursday and Mary Kate at Why, yes, I AM crazy who's filling in for Cari at Clan Donaldson  on this Theme Thursday.

"These people are crazy", she thought.  Annery sat at her computer, finally taking the time to post an entry on what was quickly becoming her favorite blogging day.  Talking in the third person and sharing pictures?  That ranked as two fun challenges and Annery was FINALLY taking a break to join the fun.  Well, right after she figures out what' going on in the kitchen with the 8 y/o using the soap grater to grate cheese on her taco....or maybe she doesn't want to know.  Ignorance is bliss, after all.

It's been a long week.  Annery can feel an ache radiating from each joint.  Days of moving boxes, patching cracks, waterproofing and painting has begun to take its toll on Annery's energy, as well as her patience.

The basement crew comes on Monday to reinforce all four basement walls.  In the time before they arrive, Annery has become determined to patch and waterproof while there's still access to the entire wall.  This would have been a great plan if she'd thought of it four months ago when the crew was scheduled.  Maybe even three months ago when she started moving stuff around the basement to make room for the crew's work.  Even two weeks ago would've been genius compared to the self-imposed madness of this week.

It all started with the playroom.  Annery surveyed the space and decided it would be fun to have a bright wall color.  Then she realized the large plates to stabilize the wall would be hard to paint around, then she thought about how those plates would have space behind them that wasn't waterproofed.  Her house is truly the "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" of projects.  There's always something that needs to be done just so she can get to the project at hand.

And that's how she found herself in her paint clothes Monday morning.

 Annery filled in all the multitude of cracks she just seemed to be noticing.  The walls began to take on a strange pattern all their own.

 Convinced the house was moments away from falling in around her, Annery let the wall set overnight.

Tuesday morning, the wall was still there.  Chagrined and relived in near-equal measures, Annery began painting on the gritty, hard to work with, waterproofing paint.  "No wonder it waterproofs", she thought, "it's cement - I'm painting on a NEW WALL!"

Wednesday morning brought a trip to the hardware store.  Well, more accurately, two trips to the hardware store.  The second trip resulted in Little Bean choosing a color for the basement walls.  Well, Annery told her a shade of orange or yellow were her choices.

Satisfied with her work in one corner, Annery decided the rest of the basement needed at least patching and waterproofing before the basement crew arrives, so she knows the craziness will be continuing until Monday morning when the crew arrives.  Not to worry, at least her husband is gone all weekend at a gaming convention.  *sigh*  Little Bean is going to earn her keep as big sister entertainment for Sweet Pea this weekend.

After a long week, Annery reached Thursday morning.  It hit her too early with a pre-dawn trip to the gym.

She was less than enthusiastic about leaving the house so early, especially since it was COLD, and especially when there are words like "wind chill" being thrown about, making the air that much more artic.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

{Theme Thursday} Thumb {Third Person Thursday}

Joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum (because, really, how could you not follow along with a name like that!?) for a little Third Person Thursday and Cari at Clan Donaldson (who has a book that will be on my doorstep no later than 8pm Saturday, Amazon promises!) for Theme Thursday.

3:06, she has a little longer to sleep.  4:54, nearly time, but not quite.  Annery rolls over again and looks through sleep-blurred eyes, 5:05.  Close enough.  She creeps from her bed, anxious not to wake her husband.  His alarm won't go off until 6:00.  By then, she'll be a sweaty mess.

Slowly, slowly, she turns the handle of their bedroom door.  The ancient door groans a little as she pulls it closed behind her.  It has to be shut tight, or the light might creep in.  Across the hall, the girls are still asleep.  To ensure they stay that way, Annery closes the bathroom door behind her before switching on the light.

Gym clothes lay in a pile next to the potty chair, ready for a brutal start to the day.  Peeling off pajamas and preparing to face the day, Annery glances the strange arrangement of hair staring back at her in the mirror.  "It's too early for this", she thinks.

Still, the goals and plans she's made force her into workout gear.  A quick step on the scale reveals that she's still not losing weight.  She gives herself a pep-talk about the 15 inches she's lost and the muscle she's gained.  Time to lace up the gym shoes. 

5:35, bracing against the cold Midwestern morning, she silently thanks God that her windows aren't frosted over.  There's no time for that.  The streets are dark.  Few cars on the roads and fewer people running.  That one lone runner seems crazy.  At least she'll be inside.  If only her car would warm up faster.

5:45, Annery steps out of her car, mostly dreading the grueling hour she's about to face.  Still, she feels so accomplished when it's over.  It's a new circuit, full of exercises that seem to have been designed by Jillian Michaels on a crabby day.  Jacob's Ladder, sled pushes, lunges, jumping....Annery isn't sure where to start.  Everything seems equal amounts of awful. 

6:50, she's a pool of sweat as she crawls into her car.  It doesn't matter if the car is cold.  It doesn't matter if the air blowing out isn't hot.  She can barely make her muscles depress the pedals as she heads home.  The sun is creeping up the horizon.  "At least that's something", she thinks.

7:00, home again.  Each stair to the door tests her ability to walk.  In the door and she's greeted by a husband nearly ready to head off to work and a 1 y/o determined to climb her legs before her gyms shoes come off.  Annery manages to break away from the little leg-climber long enough to toss jacket and shoes in her bedroom.  Then she's on the couch, sweaty and red-faced, holding Sweet Pea. 

Holding her phone in one hand and Sweet Pea in the other, Annery checks her email, relieved no new work messages have come across in the two hours since she last checked it.  A quick check of Facebook shows a few good blog posts to read.  As Annery checks out the latest news from This Ain't the Lyceum, Clan Donaldson and Call Her Happy, she decides on her post for the day.  She even finds a picture to go along with the theme.

Then Annery opens her copy of Small Steps for Catholic Moms that she won at Revolution of Love.  The day's passage seems especially poignant, and she snaps a quick shot on her phone to share.  As she reviews the shot, she notices her thumb poking out in the bottom of the frame.  Not the picture she had planned, but perhaps an even better shot.

Thank God from whom all blessings flow

7:30, a sneeze announces that Little Bean is awake.  Couch snuggles with the baby are over.  Time to start the day.  Breakfast, shower, dishes, laundry, work, schooling, they all await.  A blog post will sneak into the mix.  After all, Annery likes writing far more than dishes and laundry, but slightly less than eating or a really hot shower.  Maybe Little Bean will do the dishes while Annery folds laundry.  Maybe Annery will find a burst of productivity and it will all get done.

9:15, only the pleasant things like eating and hot showers are crossed off the list.  Annery finishes up a third-person post and sighs.  No more putting it off; she has to start the laundry and get to work.  Well, right after she changes that horrible smell coming from Sweet Pea.