Teaching Our Kids to Live Generously

teaching generosity

teaching generosity

Today at work I hosted a group of middle school students who celebrated Catholic Schools Week by giving back to the community. They whipped through the project I had planned for them, So I took a break and told them about the non-profit that I fund raise for, the population we serve, and some of their stories.

Since my non-profits serves those with cystic fibrosis, we serve a predominantly young population. Teens are especially great champions for cystic fibrosis, because it is likely that they know someone who is affected by this genetic disease. I hope that these young people could sense just how much our association does for people with CF, and how very important our mission is. Continue reading “Teaching Our Kids to Live Generously”

Why We Don’t Have an Elf on the Shelf

Let me get this out in the open. I’m not judging you if you have adopted an elf to report your children’s behavior to Santa. I’m not. But, let’s just say, it’s not for me.

Lest you think I’m all Bah Humbug and no fun…click around here. We have a lot of fun. We laugh a lot, our kids are spoiled rotten (really), and they are mostly well-behaved.

But when we get down to it, Christmas is about gifts. And not just any gifts. One particular Gift. One we received not because of our exemplary behavior, but because we needed Him.

So, for the same reasons I try not to bribe my kids to so the regular things they should do anyway, I’m not going to bribe or cajole my children into being good family members in hopes of receiving good things for Christmas. Sometimes they are wonderful, lovely creatures, and sometimes they prove perfectly that they were born sinful human beings, in need of a Savior.

In our home our children find chocolate coins and other little trinkets in their shoes on the morning of December 6. We discuss the real St. Nicholas. We continue to focus on Advent. We repent of our sins. We pray that Christ will come again. And on December 24 and 25 we go to church and we have a grand celebration with our church family. We eat too much fabulous food, and we give our children too many presents that they don’t deserve. However, our parental love for our children overlooks their most obvious flaws and we want to give them good gifts.

Our Heavenly Father is the same. He does not need someone to report our behavior to Him. He knows our very thoughts and our hearts. And, in spite of, and because of our behavior He sent His perfect, holy, innocent Son to earth to be sin for us.

That, my dear readers, is a gift that cannot be bought. It is a free gift.

Join me throughout Advent as I share some of our traditions (fun and serious) and glorify the most  Wonderful Gift of all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)

 

Chime in! What special ways do you mark Advent? Are you incorporating new traditions this year? You know I’d love to hear from you!

 

My Life by the Numbers

Isn’t if funny how our lives stack up? I may not be where I ever pictured myself, but I’d not trade any of this for the world!

  • Married: 16.5 years
  • Pregnant: 208 weeks (just shy of 4 years)
  • 4 sons
  • 2 daughters
  • 12 years (so far) of diaper changes
  • 87 months breastfeeding (just over 7 years)
  • 5 states
  • 9 homes
  • 5 vehicles
  • 2 graduate schools
  • 3 elementary schools
  • 1 middle school
  • 1 high school
  • prayed over 4 Godchildren
Those numbers seem staggering, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. As a result of those seven years of breastfeeding, our children are very spaced out! That means we will have a student in out high school for the next 11 years straight, in the middle school for 11 years straight, and kids in our elementary school for 11 years straight. . .and then one more round in the middle school and high school!
All this is to point out, ever so gently, that motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint.
As mothers we will make errors. We will make big and small mistakes. But we have YEARS to make corrections. And sometimes, we learn that the things we stressed out about were not such a big deal after all (like decisions over crib bedding).
I also like to think that there is extra special patience granted an oldest child. We make most of our mistakes with him!
Chime in! How do your number stack up? You know I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

My Child of 9/11

Of all the things I remember about 9/11, I remember being pregnant. It was not my first pregnancy, and it would not be my last, yet it was a pregnancy marked with sorrow.

I was a young mother, with 5 and 3 year old sons. I had just flown back home (via United Airlines, no less) from a family wedding in Michigan. While I was gone, the Rev. and my then little boys had moved all of our worldly possessions into our home on a beautiful river in northern Minnesota.

Our phone and internet had been hooked up (hello, dial-up!), but I was still waiting on the cable guy. On that sunny September day 10 years ago, I looked at the pile of moving boxes in my living room and opted for coffee on my back deck instead of work.  I was just past my first trimester, and coffee was beginning to be palatable and enjoyable again. But there was one problem. I was out of creamer.

I loaded the little ones up in our little car, and headed out for the grocery store. I was not even around the bend in our road before I began to hear the horrific news on the radio. Not only had one plane crashed into the World Trade Center, it appeared that a second one had as well. I immediately turned around and returned home to call the Rev. at church. (We totally did not have cell phones yet! I only got mine 2 years ago!).

The rest of the day is a blur. I remember the Rev. going to a neighbor’s home to watch news coverage. I remember being angry, frightened and sad. I remember logging on to the computer to check with my Yahoo Baby Club (we still, 10 years later, communicate daily) to make sure everyone was OK. We were all in shock, and frightened, and angry, and most of all, unsure of what kind of world we were bringing these fresh new babies into.

Our cable was not hooked up for a few days. I actually never watched any 9/11 video footage until a year later. I’m actually glad that we had no cable on that terrible day, as I most certainly would have viewed it on the Today Show, live.

What I did not realize until yesterday was how much I had sheltered my Child of 9/11. Sure, hen has heard the term. He has written letters to members of the US Military. He is a proud Cub Scout. He knows that there are other people who hate America.

However, we had never really told him about that day. When he was alive, but not yet born, and life as we knew it changed forever.

Yesterday, as we were getting ready for church, we had left the TV on, and he watched the events unfold. He finally learned what 9/11 was.

As I was driving him to visit a friend, he asked me about it. About what happened. And so I told him. I told him about the terrorists. But mostly, I told him about the heroes. I told him of the first responders. I told him of the ordinary people who reached out and helped friends and neighbors. And then I broke down in sobs as I told him the story of Flight 93.

I told him that there are children, his very age, who have never met their fathers, because of this act of terrorism. I told him of people who lost mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. I spoke of innocence lost.

Our world changed that day.

But when I look into the eyes of my son, my child of 9/11, I can see hope, and a future. When you see a nine year old this week, remember, quite possibly, their world was changed the most.

Mommy Wars and Megyn Kelly?

So, last night I was watching TV with the Rev. We usually watch movies (usually movies that I want to watch, which may or may not be a source of marital tension), but our DVR is currently empty of anything I wanted to watch. So I sat back and read and let the Rev. channel surf (sometimes I’m nice). He landed on Fox News and I looked up and noticed that Megyn Kelly was back. (she’s been back for almost a month). I told the Rev. that I liked her new haircut (I’m shallow like that) and he told me that she got all kinds of flack for taking too long of a maternity leave.

Do you know how much maternity leave she took? 3 months. 12 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, not that long at all.

Because, folks, having a baby is kind of a big deal. It takes your body on a wild ride. And then most moms don’t get much sleep for the first few months. And things are achy and sore, and clothes never fit like they should. And that cute little baby has about 4 doctor appointments in that 12 weeks.

A 12 week maternity leave is hardly a vacation. I know that she loves what she does, but I also imagine that it was very hard to leave her sweet baby girl and return to work. But she is a smart and articulate woman, I’m pretty sure that she can deal with those who are ignorant enough to think that her leave has been all massages and pedicures.

And Megyn Kelly was one of the lucky moms. Her company paid her for her maternity leave. Paid maternity leave is not a required benefit in the US. Paid maternity leave is a blessing if you get it.

I never did. I had a work out of the home job before getting pregnant with our first son, and again before the twins were born. Neither job offered paid maternity leave (though I did get my accrued sick pay and vacation pay while on bed rest with the twins), and neither paid me enough to justify child care expenses and time lost with my newborns. The decision to not go back to work after having those babies was pretty easy.

However, not everyone has the luxury to stay home with their children, and many go back to work long before they are really ready to.

I’ve had it both ways. I’ve been a working mom, and I’ve been a stay at home mom.

I’m totally going to go out on a limb and say that it is way easier to be a stay at home mom.

I could perceive it as the easier job because I really enjoy what I do. They say if you do a job that you love, you never work a day in your life.

Or, I could think of it as the easier job because I do such a sub-par job of it that I’m beyond being stressed out about my day.

The fact remains, I may not get sick pay, or paid time off, or even get paid for what I do. However, I don’t have to wrangle time off to walk my kids to school on the first day of school. If I wanted to bake, I could bake them cookies for when they came home. I don’t do laundry at night. . .as a matter of fact, I do no housework at night. After the kids go to bed I’m pretty free. Some days I wear my pajamas all day. I can shop at Target during their less busy times. I don’t have to share my coffee if I don’t want to. I’m pretty much in control of my schedule. I almost never pack a diaper bag. I don’t have to worry about who can watch my kids on school holidays. If I forget to plug in the crock pot in the morning, I usually have time to make a back-up plan meal. I have time to play on my blog.

I’m sorry that not all stay at home moms feel as at peace with their current vocation. I feel for the working moms trying to do it all. I wish there were more clear cut, easy decisions for moms.

But life is far more complicated than that.

So for now, moms . . .let’s stop fighting, and have each others backs, OK?