Thursday, January 9, 2014

Do It All?

Hello All:

Today on Facebook, I posted my accomplishments for the morning. "Bills paid, church contacted about Gabe's baptism requirements, accountant emailed about taxes, insurance emailed about adding dependent, student loan info acquired, Gabe's check up done and trip to Texas in the planning stages... whew... productive morning. Coffee anyone?"  and within an hour of posting it, I received 3 text messages and 2 messages on Facebook with the same theme: "How do you do it all?"  I laughed when I received the first message, laughed again when I received the second and then just started to feel like a phony by the time I received the 5th message.  The truth: I don't.  And to be honest, I'm not even sure what "Doing it all" really means.  There are days when I get the top 5 things done on my to-do list.  There are days I get all 10 things done.  And there are days (more often than not) that I get nothing done on my to-do list.  And I consider all of those days successful in their own way.  But how?

On the days I get 5 things done:  Usually these are days when the kids are moderately behaved - only fighting over 1 or two toys, only messing up 1 or 2 rooms of the house for only the 9th or 10th time, only asking for fruit snacks 20-30 times,  and only needing a kiss on a fake owie 6 or 7 times.  These are the days that I prioritize what needs to be done and make sure to accomplish the top items.  If bills need to be paid, I do that.  We can't be without a home, electric or gas, so that's high on my list.  If due dates for paperwork are approaching and it needs to be turned in, that's next on the list.  If deadlines are approaching for photography clients, that's next -- after all, happy clients are repeat clients. And if the house needs to be cleaned, that's up there on the list too.  But these are also the days that I make sure to take the kids somewhere or do something fun with them.  They are absolute top priority on my list.  Happy kids = happy momma.

On the days I get 10 things done: These are the days that the kids are as close to perfect as they can get.  They are getting along well, they aren't begging for snacks, they are happily reading quietly or doing puzzles and they aren't climbing on anything that will or will not slip out from under them.  These are good days.  Often on these days, they are even interested in helping with chores!  With Mark turning 3, he is much more interested in helping around the house.  He has his own broom and mop, he has a step-up-stool to "help" cook or do dishes, and he doesn't usually mind picking up toys.  So I let him.  He may not do a great job and I may have to come right in behind him and do it again, but at least it's the beginning.  Maybe if we start allowing him to do chores when he is young, it won't seem like such a task when he gets older.  (Time will only tell.)   These are the days that I feel "on top of the world".  These are the days that I get a shower in before 9am, grocery shopping done before nap time and without the desperate bee-line to the cookie department for the infamous "please-be-good" bribe cookie.  These are the days that my house is clean before the husband gets home from work. These are the days that the dog is fed on time and he isn't nosing me in the back of the knee to remind me.  These days are rare, but they are glorious.

On the days that I get nothing accomplished: These are the days that I can't leave the kids in the same room without direct supervision at every second.  These are the days that whine-time starts the minute they wake up.  These are the days that I don't shower until AFTER the kids go to bed.  These are the days the laundry piles up, the dishes stay in the sink, dinner is take-out and my hair is up in a bun.  These are the days that the children require all of my attention.  And when I say "all", I mean all.  These are the days I sit on the floor reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the 52nd time.  These are the days that I end up stepping on wooden blocks.   These are the days the kids stay in their PJs all day and the playroom is a disaster.  These are the days that I hear my name "Momma" said 328 times.  But these are also the days that I snuggle the kids to sleep for nap.  These are also the days that I hold them while we read.  These are also the days I sit closely with them while we color together.  These are the days that are the most important.  And these are the days that I collapse in bed, next to my husband and tell him I have nothing left to give because I gave it all today.  I didn't accomplish anything on my to-do list.   But these are the days I  felt like I "did it all" and have nothing left.


So when people say "how do you do it all", I guess the best thing I can respond with is: Each day is different.  I don't do it all every day and everyone's definition of "doing it all" is different.  I try to live each day with a plan, yet be open to that plan changing.  I may do it all today, I may do nothing important tomorrow, I may only make cupcakes with the toddlers the following day.   Each day is different, but my priorities stay the same: my children - their happiness - their needs.  Everything else follows.

Note: As I'm typing this, Joey is wrapped around my leg asking me to read him a book, Gabe is asleep in my lap, Mark is sitting in the chair next to me eating a snack, paperwork that needs to be turned in is on my desk not completed and there are images in my camera that I really need to edit.  But I'm happy.  So happy to be surrounded by these boys.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gabe's Nursery: Calvin and Hobbes

Hello All:

When I first started working on Gabe's nursery, I was about 20 weeks pregnant with him.  We had just found out he was a boy and we decided on the theme of Calvin and Hobbes.  The comic really seems to provide lessons about life, celebrate childhood (especially boys) and is overall just cute.  On top of that, Calvin seems to have a similar personality to my husband (according to my mother-in-law.)  So it seemed like the perfect theme.

The main problem with starting on the new theme was that the nursery was painted in Super Mario Brother's theme for my 2nd son.  See this post for pics. That project was a MAJOR labor of love.  But I knew I wanted to do something special.  Something different for Gabriel. The 3rd child tends to get everything passed down, but I didn't want him to get a "hand-me-down" nursery.  So I decided to paint over Mario.  I'll admit: I cried a little when I did it.  But we enjoyed it while it lasted and now have a new theme to enjoy.  I even let the older boys help with some of the painting.

The plan: My initial plan was to buy a projector and project the scenes on the wall and "trace" them.  But then I looked at the cost of projectors and decided against it.  So I free handed everything.  And it was a blast. There was something really freeing about painting like that again.  When I painted the Mario nursery, there was so much monotonous detail in the bricks that it wasn't nearly as fun to paint.

The challenge: The challenge with painting the Calvin and Hobbes scenes was that they use blended colors.  Anyone who knows anything about interior household paints is that it is nearly impossible to blend latex paint.  So I did my research.  I tried to figure out what type of paint I should use in order to get the right effect.  But cost was a big issue.  So I went back to latex and took some tips from my mom (who was a military illustrator in the Marines) and was able to do some really interesting blending with normal household paints!  It was a huge challenge, but it was a blast.

Picking scenes and paint colors: A good friend of ours, Richard, gave me a Calvin and Hobbes comic book and I flipped through it for days trying to figure out which scenes I wanted to paint, which ones worked well for a nursery, which ones would suite the wall size and overall, which ones were cute.  Then I finally decided on the various scenes.  I then packed up the boys and headed to Home Depot with the printed out scenes.  I'm sort of a perfectionist (shocker, I know), so I wanted to get the colors to match as closely as possible.  I had the lovely people at Home Depot color match each and every color I needed for the murals.  Thank God for color matching!!

The process: I LOVED painting this room.  I spent each nap time or after bedtime painting (and if the boys didn't nap at the same time, then whoever was up would "help" me paint.)  There is something incredibly relaxing about it.  My neighbors probably thought I was crazy, because I had to take the curtains down to paint the walls around them and I'm sure they could see me at 20-26 weeks pregnant painting away.

Once the walls were done:  Since we have 2 cribs already (both of which were converted to toddler beds for the older boys), we decided that we'd move our oldest into a twin bed and convert his toddler bed back into a crib for Gabe.  Problem was, we didn't have a twin bed yet.  One of my husband's best friends, Mark (yes, our Mark is named after him), was making a custom Batmobile bed for Mark, but we didn't have it yet.  So we got all the furniture (other than the crib) in the nursery and just left a space for the crib.  (Little did we know that we'd be meeting Gabe before the Batmobile would arrive, but that's a story for a little later.)  Once the furniture was in place, I decided that I wanted to make custom curtains.  The color that we had in there previously clashed with the new theme, so off to Hobby Lobby for fabric we went!  I found some amazing orange fabric on clearance and then decided I'd make them lined curtains, because, let's be honest... I had no other projects on my plate (or did I?)  Those curtains were a chore.  The window is a weird size, so it requires a lot more work than a normal curtain, but I finally got them done about a week or so before Gabe was born.  Then I decided I wanted a rug in there (our floorboards squeak more than any wood floors you've ever heard, so it was necessary to have a rug to help with the sound.)  But again, I'm cheap.  I don't want to pay what most rug makers want to charge for rugs.  And I was VERY close to giving up on the rug idea after looking at tons of stores and online everywhere for a SIMPLE, solid colored rug (you'd think it would be easy. It's not.  I promise you.)  Then, while I was out looking for stocking stuffers at Big Lots (of all places!), I found a solid, blue rug for $16!!!  JACKPOT!  Sold.  It was the right size, the right color and just what I needed to finish up the room.  So now we have the walls painted, the furniture in place (sans crib), rug and curtains.  All we needed were finishing touches.  A couple of friends gifted us with some fantastic Calvin and Hobbes room gear (a framed comic and a light switch cover) and I made Gabe a tiger striped blanket for his crib.

Gabe decided to be born early:  At about 33 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with a condition that would mean that we'd deliver Gabe at 37 weeks.  But wait... we don't have a crib... the nursery isn't finished... he can't come early.  But he did.  And at 8#7oz and 3 weeks early, thank goodness he came early!  Who knows how big he would have been had he gone to 40 weeks!  He spent the first week of life in the pack n' play (gasp!).  He didn't seem to mind. ;)  And when Mark's bed arrived around Christmas, we were able to give Gabe a proper crib.  I hope when he's a teenager that he forgives us for the horrible week of pack n' play living.  (kidding, of course.)

And finally after 2 weeks of life, I was finally able to get the nursery all organized and cleaned up enough to take final pictures of the nursery!  So here you have it: Gabe's Calvin and Hobbes nursery!

And a special shout out to our awesome landlords who have humored my craziness and allowed me to paint the walls in this house some pretty crazy stuff!  :)  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How We Met: Flashback

A friend from college, Kate, wrote a flashback blog about her engagement with her husband and it motivated me warm up the ole' blog and do something similar.  Copy cat... maybe.  Nesting and recording things... maybe.  Bored of doing laundry and cleaning the house and looking for something else to do... maybe.

I'll start a little further back before the engagement, because there are times in my life that I really wish there were a camera crew following me around to capture the funny things that happen in my life (like the time I got pulled over while wearing a Sumo wrestling costume.. but that's a blog for another day).  How Jacob and I started dating is actually quite a funny story.  So without further ado...

10 years ago....

My freshman college roommate and I had to arrive on campus a couple weeks early to do 2 "hell weeks" of volleyball.  At the same time, on the opposite side of campus, Jacob had arrived early to participate in a summer science program that would allow him to get some credits out of the way before classes actually started for the semester.  You would have thought that we would have met then, but we didn't. Then freshman orientation started.  And for those that don't know... I'm not a huge fan of forced social engagements.  The cheesy ice breakers, the annoying tours, the boring lectures, the repetition of my name over and over because people haven't ever heard the name before... they just aren't my thing.  But my roommate talked me into going to one of the events where all the freshman gather in the gym, the announcer says some sort of category such as "zodiac sign" and everyone organizes themselves according their zodiac sign and introduces themselves to others with the same zodiac sign.  This is when Jacob says we met.  We are both Aquarius - or maybe it was that we both have blue eyes.....  I have no memory of this meet, but if you compare our two memories, you'll find that I have the memory of Dory from Finding Nemo and Jacob has the memory of an elephant and never forgets a single detail about anything- ever.  So he's probably right.

My first memory of meeting him was in our dorm.  Since he was doing that science course, he had already met and become friends with several girls who were in the same program.  He would hang out or be studying in the common area of our dorm with others from the program and I'd see him.  Being the kind of person I am, I would give him a hard time and say things like "This isn't your dorm.  Why are you always here?" whenever I'd come in from volleyball practice.  I never introduced myself, he never introduced himself.  It was just something that would happen and we'd both move on.  Then one evening, my roommate and I decided to go watch rugby practice.  We had several guy friends who played, so we thought it would be fun.  While watching, I saw one of the players running up and down the field.  He was cute, athletic and super fast - all of which caught my eye.  I leaned over to my roommate and told her that I thought he was cute and her response was "that's Peyton,  the guy you give a hard time to everyday."  So I finally knew his name - Peyton.  We continued to watch practice from the bleachers.  After practice, over walks "Peyton"- straight towards me.  He leans in for a hug.  I was a little confused since we had never really talked much.  But I went along with the hug - maybe he's just a southern gentleman and that's what they do?  After the hug I asked him when he was going to hang out with us instead of those other girls and that night we hung out.  The rest was history.

Until a year later... There we were... dating for over a year and I'm telling the magical story of how we met to some friends when Jacob chimes in with "I was actually just reaching for my gym bag behind you, when you went in for the hug."  Oops. ((blush)).
(A flashback blog wouldn't be complete without a flashback picture too.)

When I get a chance to write again, I'll write the story of how we officially became boyfriend/girlfriend-- another good story for the books.

- J

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Little Parenting Advice

Hello All:

I have been out of the blogging game for WAAAAY too long, but alas, I make a brief return.  I'm not going to promise to update frequently, because I'm done kidding myself.  I have 2 toddlers, I'm in my 3rd trimester with my 3rd son, I run a photography business, I run a household while my husband slaves away at the hospital, I'm a party planner, a graphic designer, a website designer, an author and the list goes on.  So no, I'm not going to promise an entry every week or even every month.  But what I will promise is that when I get inspiration, I will write.

Over the past couple of months, I've started to write a blog entry about parenting.  But I always deleted it.  I have read so many articles (both good and bad) about parenting and so often it inspires me (or angers me) into wanting to write my own.  But I never sit down and actually do it.  Well today... I will, because it's as if the Holy Spirit was saying "WRITE THE BLOG ALREADY!"

Yesterday, a friend from college asked me for some books, websites or anything that would help guide her and her husband on their journey to starting their family.  I was shocked.  Why would someone ask me?  I'm not a perfect wife.  I'm not a perfect mother.  And let's be honest... I'm just not perfect in any way.  But I'm humbled by the notion that someone thinks of me as a source for this type of information.  So, if you aren't ready for some advice... don't read on.  If you want to read my bullet points... voila, they appear below.

Based on my experiences thus far in parenting, to new parents or those preparing for a family, know the following:

In no particular order:

1. You will fail.  (Starting on a high note, eh?) But you can succeed. You will have good days as a wife/husband and you will have good days as a mother/father.  But you will have bad days.  And they actually come frequently.  If you go into parenting thinking you will conquer all everyday, you will be sadly surprised.

I'm a perfectionist;  I'm very competitive;  And I'm very ambitious, so I went into parenting thinking I would rock it.  Well, after the 25th dirty diaper, the 3rd change of clothes for me and the kids, the 7th time I've cleaned up the same toys and the 100th time I've said "turn on your listening ears," I'm done.  I'm ready to check out.  But it's only 10am.  Husband won't be home for another 8 hrs or more, and I'm there with the kids, failing.  I have no patience left.  So what do I do?  Get out of the house.  I'm failing at home, so let's change the environment and see if I can succeed there.  So when you feel like you are failing, try something else.  Try something new.  You can succeed even on a bad day.

2. Parenting is a team sport.  Thank God for your spouse.  When I have nothing left at the end of a day and Jacob comes home and takes over even to just give me a second to go to the bathroom without an audience or to cook dinner without a toddler wrapped around my leg, I think "God gave me one heck of a teammate."  And I make sure to tell Jacob that.  Your spouse needs to hear it.  Tell them you appreciate them.

3. Stay pretty.  Parenting can suck out the beauty of you if you let it.  You may not be able to shower because the kids are too demanding of your time from the minute you wake up.  You may not get a chance to brush your teeth until after lunch time because the baby wanted to eat every 5 minutes.  You may not be able to wear the cutest clothes because they aren't toddler friendly (say goodbye to white clothing forever.)  But at the end of the day, find something that makes you feel pretty.  For me, it's painting my toe nails.  It seems silly, but if I can find the 5 minutes every couple of weeks to paint my toe nails, I feel like I can conquer the day better.  Keep in mind that although you are a parent, you are still a spouse too (a subject for full blog for another day).  Doing things to make yourself feel pretty will help keep the fire alive in your marriage as well as give you confidence to conquer the day as a parent.

4. Don't read most parenting blogs/websites.  I laugh as I type this, because of course, that is what you are doing now.  What I mean is, for some odd reason, a lot parenting sites are set up to scare you, provide a forum for people to complain about their children or spouse, discourage your from growing your family and more.  I can't figure out how this is supposed to be helpful, but thousands upon thousands of people view these sites every day.  (There are some good ones out there, but they are far and few between!  I tend to share some of my favorites on Facebook if you are ever looking for a good, quality one.)  Instead, look to the advice of family and friends that you trust.  They are the ones who love you and your children and can provide help and advice that will line up with your belief system better.

5. Evaluate yourself.  After a rough day with the kids, I sit down and think "What did I do today to exasperate the issue?"  "Was there something I could have done differently?"  "Were my actions today based in Love?"  You'd be shocked how much that can help the next day.  Whether you are a stay at home parent or a working parent, you have to be a parent everyday.  It's not a job you quit, it's not a job that someone fires you from, it's one you have every day when that little person wakes up.  So improving yourself to keep your sanity will help you through each day.

6. Have friends in the same situation.  Having a group or even just one good friend who has children approximately the same age as yours will make life more enjoyable.  It gives you some support and allows a support system to start to build for your children.  If you don't have the opportunity to have friends in a similar situation, you'll still survive.  Don't worry.  But try to find someone: lots of churches have Young Family groups, community centers have play groups, library reading times allow you to meet other people with kids the same age, etc.  There are people out there.  Sometimes you just need to branch out.  Before I made some good friends with kids the same age, I felt like something was missing.  I had moved to a new state, I was working from home - so I didn't have any co-workers, but I had a baby (almost toddler at the time.)  I was bored.  By noon each day, I was out of ideas.  I could only make so many trips to the grocery store in a week before they knew me by name, so I really needed to branch out.  I ended up creating a spouse network through my husband's work so that the spouses could set up play dates and start to get to know each other.  From there, I made some really strong friendships and so have my children.  There are people out there for you.

7. You will be exhausted.  This one is kind of a "duh" statement.  But you don't know exhaustion until you've been a parent.  In college, I went to school full time, worked full time and played collegiate sports.  I was up from 4:30am until after 2:30am depending on what assignments I had due.  I was only getting a couple of hours of sleep a night.  I thought I was tired then.  But nothing compares to being a parent.  The difference between being a college kid sleeping two hours a night and being a parent sleeping 2 hrs a night is this: in college, you have only you to take care of.  As a parent, you have another life (or 2 or 3 or 4+ lives) that you are taking care of.  So whatever exhaustion you have, you have to set it aside, throw some water in your face, drink some coffee and wake yourself up.  Tired or not, the kids need to be fed, changed, driven to school/practice, fed and changed again, entertained, etc.  Learn to find ways to rest.  I'd love to say that I take a nap everyday at noon when the kids nap, but I'd be lying.  I rarely nap.  I very rarely nap.  But I find that while the kids are eating their breakfast, if I take those 10 minutes to say my morning prayers, eat my breakfast, check my email, read something funny online, I can take on the day a little better.  Find a way to take a break-- seek out the opportunity.  Your body needs rest to keep your mind clear.

8. Keep the faith.  There will be days that you feel empty.  You have nothing left, you are drained.  But remember that God is always with you.  God is always there, watching, supporting, probably even laughing at your experiences.  When you feel empty, pray.  It doesn't have to be extravagant, it doesn't have to be long, just talk to Him.  You'll feel Him fill your soul where you felt like you had nothing left.  He'll give you that energy boost that a Red Bull or cup of coffee can't.  I can remember a day when Joey was still a baby when I was sitting in his room nursing him for the millionth time and finding that I was running out of milk, Mark was in a bad mood, I hadn't had a chance to shower yet, I hadn't had a chance to eat yet and I had no positive thoughts in my head.  All I could think was "I've got nothing left to give."  I handed Mark a book and closed my eyes.  I said the following thing "God, when I am empty, please fill me up.  You gave me these blessings to care for, but I feel like I have nothing left to give them.  I need you."  It may sound crazy, but I really did feel like I received some sort of energy shot in my soul.  I didn't magically start to produce more milk for Joey, nor did I jump up and start dancing, but I did feel like I had more to give.  I felt like God opened my eyes and reminded me that it isn't the materialistic things I have to give to my children, it's just love and attention.  I finished nursing Joey, picked up Mark in my lap and just held them both.  They needed love and attention and that's what God reminded me.

9. Quit complaining.  I wouldn't classify myself as an avid complainer, but I can get on a good run of complaining if I don't keep myself in check.  When Jacob gets home after a rough day or even via text during the day, I can complain.  I complain about the kids pushing my buttons, how tired I am, how much housework I have to do, how many diapers I've changed, how many messes I've cleaned, etc.  But I try to keep those complaints to a minimum.  Why?  Because, if you are a stay at home parent, you get to experience things that working-parents don't.  Yes, you have to deal with the negatives too, but you get to see a lot of the positives that they don't.  Complaining about your children doesn't achieve anything and can actually lead to ineffective parenting, a struggling marriage, mental instability, etc.  Try to see the positives and as our mothers told us "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

10. Enjoy it.  Some days (especially as a photographer), I forget to enjoy my kid's childhood.  I spend so much time scheduling, planning, photographing, transporting, etc that I forget to just sit there and enjoy the experiences of parenthood.  Remind yourself that they are only this age for a second.  The next second they are older.  You can't stop it, you can't go back and live it again, all you can do is take advantage of the situation now and enjoy it.  Soak up the happy times, laugh at the rough and messy times.  (Take pictures, but also remember that pictures only remind you of the experience- they don't let you experience it again, so enjoy it now.)

11. You can do it.  This is simple.  You can do this.  You can be a great parent.  Focus on what is important - raising a strong, faithful, respectful, loving child and you will succeed.  Teach them well, but also remember to listen to them.  You'll be surprised how often they can guide you to succeed.  You can do this.

Do everything with love and you will raise some super children.

Love always,

Friday, February 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Hello All:

Joining Jen and crew for this week's edition of 7 Quick Takes.

1.   The biggest news this week is that my in-laws came in town for a visit.  Joey was sick the whole time, so he was pretty crabby, but Mark was fully entertained and Joey was fully loved on.  Oh and Abel played fetch so much with his Go-Pa that he got a sore shoulder.  It was fun to have them in town.  Here as a couple of images from their visit.

2. Guess who has 2 teeth finally!?!?!  This little guy!  He's had them for about 2 weeks now, but I didn't want to post anything so that Grammy and Go-Pa could be surprised when they came in town!

3. While my in-laws were in town, the husband and I went out on the town for my birthday/valentine's day.  It was great!  He took me to the mall to buy new jeans (that I desperately needed since none of my jeans seem to fit anymore- in a good way and some new bright pink flats (because, doesn't every woman need bright pink shoes?) and then we went to dinner at a wonderful italian restaurant!  A big thanks to Grammy and Go-Pa for babysitting the cubs while we went out!  

4. Speaking of my birthday and bright pink... my mom bought me the most amazing camera bag!  I'm completely in love with it!  Thank you, Mom!!!!!  Here's the un-edited version of the pic since I haven't had time to edit it yet.  The brand is Cheeky Lime.  It seems to hold EVERYTHING!  If you are a photographer, go check out this company.  It's awesome! 

5. It snowed here this week and we ventured out in it.  Mark loved it (and spent Joey's entire nap time out in it). Abel loved it (he wanted to stay out in the snow all day).  Joey wasn't a fan (after his nap, we bundled him and took him out.  He was skeptical.)



6. I forgot to post this last week, but the theme for my photography link-up last week was "negative space."  If you aren't familiar with this term, it basically means having white space (not actually 'white' but empty space) that helps to emphasize the subject of the image in some way.  Here is the image I submitted.  I got TONS of comments and lots of very talented photographers added my picture to their favorites, so I take that as a HUGE compliment!   I took Mark and Joey out to the park and let Mark play with his umbrella.  No, it wasn't actually raining, but he's been begging to wear his new raincoat, so I let him. 

7. This week's theme was "wild card."  So we got to choose anything for it.  This is the image I submitted this week.  A picture of Joey with his Go-Pa.

8. Because I can't count this week.... a conversation with Mark (and Joey) at breakfast this morning:
Joey: "dadadadadadada yayayayayaya."
Mark: "Bubba tell me I should drop my yogurt on da floor!"
Momma: "Ummm. No.  No he didn't."
Mark: "Oh, sorry Bubba.  I misunderstanded."

Until next time, 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

During Lent...

Hello All:

A little sidebar from the "mommy blog" to reflect on Lent for a few minutes....

During Lent, we tend to "give something up" as a Lenten sacrifice, but have you ever considered doing something extra too?  The Holy Spirit has been leading me toward the concept "Stewardship" for a while now and I'm finally trying to focus on the call.  

At first I wasn't sure what this meant in my life.  But then I came across a wonderful definition.  In the  1992 U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Letter, Stewardship . . . A Disciple's Response, a steward is defined as a disciple of Jesus who "receives God's gifts gratefully, cultivates them responsibly, shares them lovingly in justice with others and returns them with increase to the Lord." Stewardship is a way of life that comes from seeing everything as a gift from God, changing the way we see things.  The disciple is motivated by faith and a deep sense of gratitude, flowing from their faith, to a greater sharing of his/her time, talent and treasure with the Church and other worthy causes.  Time, talent, and treasure are all shared as a gift, in a planned, proportionate, thankful, and sacrificial manner.

So what is it in your life that you can share with others?  Is it your time?  Is it your talents? Is it your treasures?  Or is it a combination of all three?  I feel like it's important for us to firstly, realize what God has blessed us with and secondly, share that with others.  Is there a way for you to focus on "other other" rather than "the self" for these 40 days?  We are blessed in some way, so it's just a matter of taking the time to figure out what it is that God is calling us to share and then doing it.   

Lent started on my birthday this year; A day that is set aside for me and me only, right?  Wrong.  Lent started on the day that I began to follow the Holy Spirit's calling to Stewardship.   I spent the day praying for others, figuring out what I could do for others and honestly, forgot it was my birthday for most of the day (except for the flood of well wishes and until the husband brought home an AMAZING chocolate cupcake that was the size of  Texas.)    So I hope you join me in this call to Stewardship, I'd love the company.

"The promotion of the practice of stewardship is important for the mission of the Church and for the spiritual well-being of each individual Christian. Everyone benefits from the sacrificial gift one makes of his time, talent, and treasure." -Pope Benedict XVI


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Hello All:

1. At mass last weekend, during the Great Amen, Mark was singing along by singing "Ironman" instead of "Amen."   I think he's got it.

2. This past weekend, Mark, Joey and I were headed out the door to the grocery store when Mark asked to wear his Batman muscles and mask (encouraged by Daddy).  I thought, what the heck... let's do it.  So we put on his costume and off we went to the grocery store.  You will be amazed at the double-takes you will get when you have a child in a mask, cape and muscles.  Here's a sample of how it went.  We had several people stop us and say how cute Mark was to which Mark responded "I BatMark.  I cute, I tough, I have muscles!"  Yes... yes you are, Marko.

3. Joey's newest trick is that he can climb up in the window seat.  He loves to watch the squirrels run around in the front yard.   I always wonder what my neighbors think...

4. Seriously... is there anything better than baby kisses?  Joey is very modest when it comes to who he will give kisses to.  So far, it's just Momma and on occasion Daddy and Big Brother (and sometimes even Abeldog's tail or foot), but when he gives them... they are passionate.  Slobbery, sweet, giggily and passionate.  

5. While making Mark's lunch the other day (I was making him a pepperoni and mushroom mini-pizza), Mark looked at a mushroom and asked what it was.  When I told him it was a mushroom, he immediately put it above his lip and said "Mustache.  Ok!" While nodding his head.  It was as if he was sure it was a mustache before he asked me, but then confirmed it when he thought that is what I said.  He is a hilarious child.

6. I'm sure none of you have heard, but Pope Benedict XVI is resigning this month due to health issues.  It is so crazy to think that at (almost) 28 years old, I will have already lived to see three Popes!  I'm trying to dig out some old pictures from when we were in Rome during the last change of Popes.  I wish we could be there again.  That was such an amazing experience!  For the official statement from Pope Benedict XVI, click here.  

7. The theme for this week's "This Is Our Life" photography link up was "Good Morning".  Here are the images I submitted for it: Joey in the morning and Abeldog anxiously (not patiently) begging for breakfast.