31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

It’s fascinating to me how many “bad” days I’ve had since October 1st. Truly. I mean, right out of the gate things were wicked hard, and I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into??!” Or, to flagrantly (and poorly) steal from St. Catherine of Siena, I’ve definitely wondered, “Lord, if this is the sort of joy you bring to your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies!”

I hadn’t planned on letting this cat out of the bag until October 31 or even November 1 (assuming my brain still works at that point), but I must admit: the School of Joy has contained many more hard knocks than I anticipated. 

I mean, choose to write about joy, and surely God will load you up with all sorts of happy experiences and fun anecdotes to share with your blog readers, right? Right?!

Of course, it hasn’t all been bad 

And yet … it has been hard.

Praise the Lord for Pope Saint John Paul II, man, because I think he might have personally asked Almighty God to give me a break on his Feast Day today. And so I present to you, The Top Five Consolations for Thursday:

Consolation #1: NO MORNING CHAOS

I started the day with a quick trip to the lab (only a busy + exhausted Mom would consider a blood draw as a break, amIright?), thus completely bypassing the crushingly exhausting morning routine. I got home just in time to tag my husband, swap cars, and head in early (early! What a concept!) to school drop-off.

Consolation #2: HELPFUL HUSBAND

As I’m driving, I realize it’s Pope Saint JP2’s Feast, and think: “Wow! Since we’re early today, I can go to daily Mass in honor of JP2 on his feast day. How marvelous!” We arrive at school, and I don’t even have to search for shoes and coats for my little people because my husband already did that before they got in the van. He is so great.  We exit the vehicle and head in to Mass.

Consolation #3: TO MASS OR NOT TO MASS

Except … there was no Mass. Okay, so this is kind of a bittersweet joy, because there was no Mass. Honestly, I was hoping for Mass. However, because of schedules, there weren’t any priests available, so we had a Communion service instead. The joy (please don’t hate me for saying this) is that the Communion service took about 12 minutes. Twelve. My 4- and 2-year-olds didn’t even have a chance to think about doing (m)anything(s) naughty because it was over in a flash. And, yet, in that 12 minutes, we still said prayers, heard the Word of God, and received Jesus in the Eucharist … what a wonderful way to begin the day!

Consolation #4: CHILD’S PLAY

I played board games with my preschooler and toddler and I didn’t lose my ever-loving mind. There may be some of you with much more patient temperaments than mine. I have gotten so, so, sooooo much better over the years, but practicing patience is really energy-sapping for me. Because of this, I generally avoid playing games with my kids. Legos and blocks and imaginative play I can handle, but usually I  keep the board games on the tippy-top shelf  in the boys’ room (it’s almost as if they don’t exist!) so as to avoid the crying, ripping, etc. that happens when attempting to play a game in a civilized manner. For some reason, however, I decided to do forego the non-essential trip to Costco and head to Candyland with the littles instead.

Blame the loss of blood, blame the surge of energy gained by skipping morning routine or by receiving the Eucharist, but it was pretty cool. Okay, sure, the 2-year-old couldn’t wait his turn, and the 4-year-old had a crying meltdown because she wanted to wiiiinnnn, but the real joy was that I did it and was freakishly calm, even for the non-enjoyable parts. I mean, I’ve gotten much better at faking calm on the outside, saying, “Your brother’s game piece does not belong in your mouth!” while smiling through clenched teeth, for example, has become easier. But I didn’t even have to fake itI was calm on the outside AND on the inside. And that, my friends, is nothing short of a minor miracle. Truly.

Consolation #5: BABY LOVE

A friend picked me up to attend a new women’s study on – wait for it – one of JP2’s writings. And even though I didn’t get to participate in the whole meeting, it was only because I got to hold my friend’s squishy baby girl for a chunk of time. It was so great! Normally, I am ecstatic when I have a minute to be child-free, but it was really and delight and a joy to have tiny baby hands and suckling noises and coos and smiles staring me in the face. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was holding her.

So, there you have it, friends – an oasis of consolation in an otherwise terribly, horribly, Jesus-take-the-wheel, living one Glory Be at a time sort of month. And I do believe I have a Saint to thank for it.

Thank you, Pope Saint John Paul II! We love you.

Pope Saint JP2 Funnin

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Survival (Day 19)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Survival (Day 19)

Sometimes, I think, it’s okay to not have anything truly meaningful to say.

Sometimes it’s okay to be done with a day that went something like this:

Toilet

The toilet overflowed not once, but twice. TWICE.

changing

The upside to the toilet overflowing is I somehow (maybe it was the shrieking??) convinced the girls to finally change their first #2 diaper EVER because I couldn’t mop up the toilet water and change a diaper at the same time (but I could capture this quick shot – bwahaha). Lucky for you, this blog post is not equipped with the dulcet sounds of, “Oh, my gosh! It’s so gross! It smellllls sooooo baaaad!”

spill

Spills. Always with the spills.

Mr. K

By the time we got home from school drop-off, it was time for some couch time with my favorite baby.

G

Somebody had a rough day. I feel ya, sister.(notice tired + cranky baby brother photobomb).

A lot of other things happened, too. Tantrums. Arguing, Inappropriate drawings. Homework squabbles. Volleyball practice. Phone calls to three doctors, trying to get in. Forgetting things. Returning emails. Finding shoes. Doling out Band-Aids. A left knee that buckled underneath me when I tried to get out of the minivan (see!! Death By Minivan, folks. I’m telling you. It’s real!). Trying to schedule and arrange a bunch of ministerial stuff and wondering what the hell I was doing it for.

Book

Interestingly, this book, about Blessed Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul, arrived today. And the St. Jude Novena started today. And a friend wrote about her battle with food today. And a support group started sugar rehab today. Funny.

Here’s a picture of the calvary that came to save me today:

photo not available

Oh, wait. There was none.

It was a loooooong day.

sunset

All day, I was just longing for an end. And here it is. Oh, joy. 

Sometimes it’s okay to have a non-awesome day. It doesn’t mean you have a non-awesome life.

I hope your day was better than mine, and I hope that tomorrow, by God’s grace, will be better than today for all of us.

Until then, may God bless y’all.

heather

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Fall (Day 14)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Fall (Day 14)

Hi, there!

In case you are just dying to know what my day looked like, here it is in a nutshell: morning routine huge juice spill whine drive drive kids drive school Mass whine drive drive pumpkin patch whine drive drive kids drive home lunch huge spill again clean like a freaking maniac in-laws arrive kids all talking at once dinnertime kids whine bedtime routine now. it was a bit much of a day.

BUT! I had a really edifying time at the pumpkin patch with my two youngest. I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it, because of all the other things I had on my plate and also because, usually, when I have done things with the two youngest in the past, I end up having to chase after the baby and the poor preschooler has to be pulled away from her fun activities while I tend to the little dude. Today, however, was gloriously beautiful, and everyone had a good time! That is, of course, until the 2-year-old biffed it and landed face-first in the dirt and the 4-year-old timed out because she needed a snack and I had nothing but old fast food napkins to offer her. But otherwise, it was a pretty successful outing!

One of the things I’m loving about having two littles again is that, the first time I had two littles, I was so terribly overwhelmed by having two littles that I rarely had a moment to breathe and enjoy having two littles. This time around, I can still get a bit anxious about certain safety-related things (Sit down on your bottom while the tractor is moving! Don’t put your hand up next to the goat’s mouth! Don’t climb on the slide!), I am actually able to take in some of what they’re seeing and just … breathe in life. It’s pretty awesome.

So! Please enjoy pictures from our glorious morning at the farm. I’m warning you – there are a lot. 🙂 Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!

heather

Are we having fun yet

baby cows

big ole slide

scenery frrom hay ride

Both kids with pump

Gianna table o pumpkins

gigi with pump

gigi with pumpkin

Tractor

going down with a friend

I think we have a winner gigi

K and G black and white

PP scenery

Kids on the hayride

tree farm part

kolbe pumpkin

Kolbe with chickens

let's pick one

Mama and Kolbe with tongue

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Love (Day 13)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Love (Day 13)

Fifteen years ago today, my life was forever changed because of … wait for it … the internet.

Ya gotta love the internet.

The year was 2000. The world was still turning after the Y2K hysteria died down. I was working a gazillion hours per week at a very high-pressure job, including most Saturdays. It was a relatively low-paying position since it was salaried, but there were occasional bonuses, other fringe (read: free food) benefits, and I loved the owner (still do), so I soldiered on.

Indeed, it was this cruh-hazy work schedule and the fact that I hadn’t been in town long that led me down a path I probably wouldn’t have trod otherwise: internet dating. My girlfriend reported meeting many “cool” guys on one particular site, and encouraged me to sign up. Since I wasn’t interested in any guys from college, and was tired of trying to keep up with the singles scene with what little free time I had, I thought, why not? An internet dating site (especially during the free introductory period) was extraordinarily cheaper and seemingly more strategic than bars, clubs, and concerts, and wouldn’t take nearly as much time.

The one stipulation I had in signing up was that I join a Catholic singles site, once I found out there was such a thing (there were several, actually). This stroke of genius was based on something my dear mother pounded into my head that actually stuck – “Whatever you do, marry a Catholic.” At the time, my faith life was less than lukewarm, at best, but it somehow made me feel safer to wade into the virtual dating waters with the word “Catholic” prominently displayed in the URL.

To spare you the boring details of my relatively brief foray into the wilds of Catholic dating sites, I met up with a couple of heretics, a future priest (still a beloved friend of my family – he baptized our first son), someone my sister was friends with, a couple of guys from California, and a very nice – but bland – suitor who wound up marrying my parents’ friends’ daughter. All this internet dating led me to an epiphany: just because a dude self-identified as quote-unquote Catholic didn’t mean he actually was a) practicing his faith or b) the right guy for me in other ways. I know what you’re thinking: “Duh, Heather.” Hey – have mercy, people! I’m a bit special!

Let’s go back to the “couple of guys from California.” I ended up having a notable crush on one and married the other.

The first guy – we’ll call him G – was pretty darn attractive (I’m pretty sure he knew he was a G, too), and owned his own business. And, he said he was “Catholic.” Well, there were some red flags, but that didn’t stop me from meeting up with him. It was the weirdest thing. G was divorced (okay, red flag) and several years older than I (perhaps another red flag), and yet I had the hardest time picturing him as a married man. He just acted like a bachelor (BIG red flag). He also ended up being one of those who liked to play head games. By that time, even I could recognize that there were too many flags on the field, so I ended it.

Not too long after, a guy we’ll call D started e-mailing me. He was funny, and interesting. I have always thought I have an, let’s say, unusual sense of humor, but I didn’t find myself having to explain what I was saying to him – D thought it was funny, too. Or, maybe he was just being nice. Whatever the case, we had many lengthy conversations on the phone (at long-distance rates, which they still had in those days – so much for internet dating being cheaper!), and more e-mails. Gosh, I wish I would have had the presence of mind to save those letters!

And, so, 15 years ago today, I met my future husband for the very first time in the local international airport. I was a few minutes early, and distinctly remember rushing to the ladies’ room and saying countless “Hail Mary’s” to calm myself down, as for some reason, I was intensely and uncharacteristically nervous.. I don’t remember EVER being so nervous as those minutes before meeting D. Out from the gate walked the tallest guy I’d seen in quite a while. He looked nice (<- what does that even mean??). And, as soon as he saw me, he was smiling at me. Gosh, I was so nervous, I hardly said a word the whole walk through the airport, while he was talking a mile a minute. D didn’t really seem, from outward appearances, anyway, to be my “type,” but I was pretty sure I didn’t like my “type” anymore anyway. I mean, where had my “type” led me in the past but to hurt, pain, and regret? D was definitely a bachelor, and had never been married, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he just seemed like a stable, solid, steady, marriage-material-type guy. Why wasn’t he married yet?!

The cutest thing happened on our drive from the airport; I stopped to get gas, and D dutifully hopped out, attempting to pump my gas; however, since we were in Oregon, he couldn’t lawfully do so. He thought it was stupid. I agreed. It was a sweet gesture. I dropped him off (still had to go back to work for the rest of the day) and couldn’t stop thinking about him. It turned out to be one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

That first night, he took me to the swank Atwaters restaurant high up in the US Bank building in downtown Portland and tried to pull a “you have something on your lips” thing before he kissed me for the first time after dessert (which, as I recall, was identified as “Looking over the edge of the chocolate abyss). Think what you like – I let him kiss me on our first date, and I kissed him back. It turns out, we were very good at kissing each other.

The next night, I cooked him dinner, which he didn’t eat much of (later I found out it was because he was too excited to eat – not that he disliked my cooking). He got some red sauce on his shirt, so we went and bought him a XLT sweater on sale at Eddie Bauer. I still love that sweater, man.

We went to meet up with friends at Paddy’s, and while he was in the other room, I (admittedly a bit tipsy from a couple of cocktails) told my friend I thought I was going to marry this guy, as crazy as that sounded.

After D left to return to California, I called my mom, crying, because I hadn’t wanted him to leave. Wouldn’t you know it? My Mom called it: “You’re in love!” She further explained that she knew I had thought I had been in love before, but that this seemed much, much different from other relationships – and she hadn’t even met the guy yet! D and I kept talking, flying to meet each other, etc., and on January 25, 2001, he proposed to me in a candlelit room strewn with red rose petals and Stevie Wonder playing in the background.

Given everything we’d been through individually until that point in our lives, and what we’ve been through together since then, it seems nothing short of unthinkable, but I can definitely say that God knew EXACTLY what He was doing when He brought the two of us together.

So, fifteen years, many more jobs, several moves (including twice cross-country), five children, three mortgages and several cars and a minivan with more miles on it than I care to mention later, I’m still thinking about him, loving him, forgiving him, and learning how to be a better Christian, Catholic, wife, and Mom because (and sometimes in spite) of him. And I feel so very, very VERY blessed that, at least for us, despite my expectations to the contrary, this internet dating thing did, indeed, catch on.

Oh! And, if you’d like to hear something about our love story in audio format, as well as how Bonnie and Rebecca met their husbands, check out Episode 8 of The Visitation Project. Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!

heather

USE THIS

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Quality Time (Day 2)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Quality Time (Day 2)

31 days of unexpected joy

Hello, there!

In case I didn’t scare you off with my first post and you’ve returned for even more unexpected joy, I must confess that, while things improved over yesterday, there was lots of residual (and some new) funk in the air today. So, in an effort to shake that funk up, my husband and decided to have a much-needed at-home date night. After the week we’ve had it was most welcome.

Here’s our recipe for an easy do-it-yourself date night at home in eight easy steps:

  1. Go to the nearest Trader Joe’s.
  2. Head to the freezer section.
  3. Select and purchase lots of food that looks good to you that your children aren’t interested in eating (i.e. spelt risotto, crispy coconut shrimp, French country potatoes, stuffed mushrooms).
  4. Make fun dinner for children (pizza, pancakes, leftovers – aka “Basque Night”) to eat a bit earlier than usual.
  5. Put children down for bed a bit early (change the clocks if you must).
  6. Begin cooking together (unless one of you is horrible at it; then just pretend to work together, but be nice).
  7. Make the table look nice (remove crayon marks, perhaps use a clean placemat, remove crusty cheerios from chairs).
  8. Sit down, breathe, enjoy.

risotto

centerpieceplate of foodGood company, delicious food, excellent conversation, no huge restaurant bill, you don’t have to pay a babysitter, and you don’t have to get out of your sweats if you don’t want to = success. Praising God for the unexpected joy of quality time today with the man I love.

Until tomorrow, God bless y’all.

heather

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