Thursday, February 25, 2010

Country Study #1

The first country we learned about for our rice bowl during Lent was Lesotho. It's a tiny country which is completely surrounded by South Africa. We learned about a 17 year old who lost his father to AIDS. Then, his mother left to work in a factory and he never heard from her again. He had to quit school so he could work to feed himself. When CRS came, they provided him with a school uniform and school supplies so he could return to school and also taught him how to grow a vegetable garden. With his garden, he was able to provide himself with three meals a day and also sell the leftover vegetables at the market for money. Yesterday for dinner, we made Papa with Chakalaka, a native meal from Lesotho.

It's corn porridge with spicy vegetables. My plan was for the children to be more thankful for our tasty American food after tasting a meal from another country. What I didn't plan on was for it to make me very thankful as well! The corn porridge was, um, a bit bland and somewhat bitter. And the spicy vegetables wasn't bad but you could only eat so much, ya'know? Oh, how spoiled we are!
As we ate, the kids talked about all the yummy foods that we can so easily go and buy at the store like frozen pizza, cheetos, boxed cereal, etc.
Little Miss Chatterbox was sad for the children in Lesotho who would never taste any of those things. Then she asked me if they get cake and ice cream on their birthdays. When I told her no, she said, "That's horrible!" (funny what's important to a child) I told her that not having birthday cake is the least of their problems and that they are blessed just to have clean water to drink. After being silent for a bit she said, "Mom, we should adopt a child from there and give them all the things they could never have in their country." I told her that was a wonderful idea but not something we could do right now. But reassured her that the money we are putting in the rice bowl will go to the families who need it most. I hope she will continue to appreciate all that we have as Americans.
Wondering if my kids ate their dinner?
The answer is no, not really.
Mr. Funny played with his corn porridge and made little balls out of it and wouldn't touch the vegetable mixture.
Mr. Tickle picked out the beans and ate those and took a few bites of his porridge.
Little Miss Chatterbox ate a few bites of her porridge as well and tried one bite of her vegetables. After dinner was all cleaned up, the kids were still lingering in the kitchen. I knew they had to be hungry so asked them if they wanted some bread. I have never seen my kids so excited about bread! They ate it happily and were glad to have full stomachs.
This morning Little Miss Chatterbox complained that I made her oatmeal too mushy. Oh, how quickly they forget. I told we had plenty of leftover Papa with Chakalaka if she would rather have that for breakfast. Her eyes got big.
"Never mind. This is just fine."
Maybe after a few weeks of this they'll remember how blessed we are to have food without having to be reminded!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lent for the Kids

Ash Wednesday is just around the corner. After being snowed in at my parent's house and then snowed in again once we got home, time has seemed to slip away and my mind has been a bit off track. Realizing that Lent starts in 6 days, I sat down at the computer and began looking for some inspiration for our family's Lenten plan. As with Advent, I like to plan special things for the kids to do. Little Miss Chatterbox has already been asking about a couple things. They're fun things that also teach them about why we participate in Lent and what we are preparing ourselves for. Lent prepares us for Christ's death and resurrection just as Advent prepared us for His birth. And while I like to do these things with them, I wanted to do something more this year. I just wasn't sure what. Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. So I didn't want all our activities to be "fun". Yes, I want them to be appealing so that the kids are willing to participate. But what else could I do? As I was reading through some great Catholic mom blogs, I came across something I was not expecting. A blog about a young girl (very young. She just turned 21 in November) who went to Uganda to help the orphans in need and over time has ended up adopting 14 kids. You can see their cute family picture with her and all her daughters here. As if a single 21 year old Mom with 14 kids who goes around helping some of the most desperate in need isn't inspiring enough, I read this post written by her. (Read it if you have time. She's an excellent writer) It made me cry. It made me imagine Little Miss Chatterbox as the little girl that she describes in that post. It made me sick to my stomach and then I cried some more. I thought about how spoiled we are. Then I thought about Lent. We can give up our pleasures. The things we don't really need. The extras in our life that make us that much more spoiled. My want my kids to know how much they have. I want them to appreciate every meal that is on the table. When we say Grace before we eat, I want them to really understand that the food truly is a blessing and something to be thankful for. I decided that would be something I wanted to work on for Lent. I left the computer not knowing how and went to fix my kids lunch. They complained that we had nothing good in the house to eat. How did we get to this point? Later, i went back on the computer to continue planning for Lent. I looked for an old blog post that I had read last year before Lent which had the idea of making a lamb calendar for the kids and you glue a cotton ball on each day and when Easter comes you have a nice fluffy lamb. While visited the blog, I read an old post of hers from a Lent of the past where she explains that her and her children do a rice bowl each year. You fill it up with money to donate to the Catholic Relief Services. 75% of the money goes to help farmers in Bolivia receive training to improve crop yields, children in Afghanistan gain more opportunities for quality education, communities in Ethiopia access reliable water sources even during times of drought, and fund many other vital projects. The other 25% supports local hunger and poverty alleviation efforts. Could this be what I was looking for? I checked out the website and was excited to see that they will mail you free literature about different countries each week of Lent. What a great learning experience for my children! They even have prayer suggestions to pray for those in need. I went ahead and placed my order and hope that this will effect us in some way and help us to truly appreciate all that we have.

The Long Winter

A great quote from a great book. Check it out here.

I know exactly what she means.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


It all started out so nicely.
I invited my niece to spend the night on Friday so that the girl's could work on their First Communion Notebooks. My niece had a basketball game on Saturday morning but we were expecting snow that night and figuring that the game would be canceled and she would be able to enjoy the snow with us. After going to the store to pick out their 3 ring binders and stickers and picking up dinner, we got home, cooked, ate, made cute T-Shirts (Little Miss Chatterbox found two shirts that said I Love my BFF, so we bought them and added their names) and got ready for bed, it was pretty late. We had gotten a movie to watch and I knew we had to pick between the movie or working on notebooks. I didn't think the girls would want to work so late so I opted for the movie, figuring that we would also have the whole next day to work on the notebooks.
Well, Saturday morning came and there was no snow. We were a bit disappointed but decided it would be fun to go to my niece's game ans watch. So Little Miss, my niece and I all headed out to her game. While we were there, it started to snow. The game didn't last too long so we stayed until the end and then both girls begged my sister-in-law and I for my niece to come home with me so they could work on their notebooks. I said it was okay and her parents agreed too. So she jumped into my car and then her brothers heart was broken. Again. You see, the day before when I picked her up to take to my house, her brother was very sad because he wanted to come and play with Mr. Funny. Apparently he even cried. I couldn't bare to see him so sad and I knew it would make Mr. Funny so happy to see him. So I asked if he could come too. It was agreed and we were on our way. Seeing the three kids in my car and thinking about the other two at home, I wondered what I would feed all these kids for lunch. I also had the Red Box movie from last night that I needed to return. The snow wasn't too bad so I decided I could make a quick run to the store. By the time we got out of the store, the roads still didn't look bad and tons of people were out and about. I figured we were safe. What I didn't think about was how these roads had been salted in preparation for the snow and that our mountain roads leading to home were not. Sure enough, getting up the mountain turned out to be a challenge. We got to one spot where two cars were stuck ahead of us. One made it to the side of the road. The other spun its tires until it finally was able to move again and kept going. We got the the same spot and got stuck. "I better park at the bottom and call Mike". I thought. I looked at my cell phone which I had just charged the day before, and it was completely dead. (These batteries have been driving us crazy! They're awful!) I couldn't believe it. So, I decided we would just keep trying. We made through that spot and continued up the mountain. But then mountain got steeper and I couldn't move anymore. the tires spuna nd spun and I could smell them burning. I let off the gas and the van started sliding backwards. I hit the brakes but to no avail. I tried to steer the car so that we would safely go in reverse down the mountain but it wouldn't. The car had a mind of it's own and we ran into the guard rail. I looked out my window and down at the hill we would have rolled down had that rail not been there. Then I wondered how long it would support my van. I told the kids to jump out as fast as they could. My niece was crying and the all were in shock. I jumped out of the car and opened the door to get the kids out. Everyone was okay, just scared. I gave my niece a hug and told her it was all okay. She continued to cry. I gave her her snow boots to put on and I grabbed the grocery bags, my purse, my camera bag and my niece's two over night bags and we started on our way up the mountain. Little Miss slipped and hurt her leg. She wasn't sure if she could walk or not. I started heading back to the car to put the bags back so I could carry her, but she assured me she could do it. So I told each one to stay where they were and I would walk them over to the grass. That's what we did and we all made it home, with snow pouring down on us. I made the kids hot chocolate and my husband and his dad (who luckily was at our house working on the bathroom) went and got the van. After making the kids lunch and trying to be as cheerful as possible so that they wouldn't realize the seriousness of what had happened (I think my niece did, which is why she had cried so much) I sent them outside to play in the snow and I threw myself on my bed and cried. I was thankful that our van made it back home with only a broken tail light and that all four children that were in the car were unharmed. Little Miss, my niece, my nephew, and little baby Shaffer #4. The next morning, I woke up with sore shoulders and arms. I was probably pretty tense while I was driving and it was just hitting me. Not to mention all the stuff I was carrying up the mountain! I was glad that day was over and that the crash was behind me. My in-laws picked up their kids and my family and I headed to Mass. While we were there, Mr. Tickle took off down the aisle. I took off after him and slipped right on my rear end. I got back up as quickly as possible in fear that he would make it to the altar and walked right up it. I got to him just in time and sheepishly walked back to the back of the Church. A few minutes later, I noticed that my hand hurt. I held it up to look at it and sure enough the bottom of my palm and the top of my wrist was blue and swollen. I guess I had used my hand to brake my fall and hurt it in the process. "Could this weekend get any worse?" I thought. I made it through the rest of the day without any catastrophes and then Monday came along. I was still a little emotional from Saturday and just wanted to Monday to end so that Tuesday would come. My sister was flying in on Tuesday and the kids and I were driving to my parents house to have dinner there. I couldn't wait to be in the comfort of my old home (the home I grew up in) with my Mom and my sister. It was just what I needed.
That evening my Mom called to tell me that we had somehow gotten my sisters traveling plans mixed up. She was coming until Wednesday so I didn't need to come for dinner on Tuesday and they had already made plans for Wednesday and Thursday. So I was going to have to wait until Friday to see her. I hung up the phone and went to start making dinner. I pulled out the meat I had defrosted and found out it had gone bad. I looked around for something else to cook but I couldn't think. I just sat down and cried again. Mike was out getting some parts for the bathroom sink so I called him and told him about the meat. He told me he would pick something up for dinner. I was relieved and just wanted the day to end. At least I had Mr. Funny's party to look forward to this weekend and of course my sisters visit to my house on Friday.
On Tuesday, my mom called again to let me know that we wer going to be getting a major storm this weekend and that I might have to cancel Mr. Funny's party and just cme to her house and get snowed in there. I was upset about the party, but was willing to do anything to make sure I was at my parent's house this weekend with my family. When Mike got home he told me something was wrong with our account. Somehow, we made a mistake and took out more money than we had. The bank charges us $35 for every overdrawn balance. We made ten. The bank took $350. Ouch. I felt like an idiot. How did this happen? How did we spend that much money? I was furious with myself. Mike and I went over our money and realized we spend way too much on food. That needs to be cut back. We've also put a lot into the bathroom, plus the party expenses, Mike's ER bill, my lab bill for blood work I had done and well, it all adds up. Aye, aye, aye. Today, my sister finally made it to Virginia. It would only be a few more days until I got to see her. I made plans to move the party to next weekend, and contacting our Little Flower leader to let her know I was going to be leaving Friday afternoon to my parents house because of the snow storm coming and so that was moved to next week too. Things were coming together. Until Mr. Tickle fell off his chair. He was standing on it, trying to look out our kitchen window to see the "no" (snow). His big brother decided to join him. They started fighting over room on this chair and off went Mr. Tickle. I picked him up to find his mouth bleeding. I ran and got a towel and cleaned off some of the blood. The outside of his mouth, under his lip, was bleeding. But the inside was also bleeding. I think that somehow he either bit down on the lip and it cut all the way through, or maybe his bottom teeth went through, or maybe they are completely different from each other. I couldn't tell. He calmed down pretty quickly and asked me to read him book. I read the book while trying to get a better look at his mouth. Should I take him to the ER? Could I even get off the mountain safely? What would I do with the other kids? Mr. Tickle wouldn't even let out family doctor look into his ear without me having to completely hold him down with all my strength. There was no way he would let an ER doctor stitch him up. I couldn't do this on my own. I decided I would wait until Mike got home and get his opinion. Mike said it looked bad but wasn't sure if it needed stitches. I suggested mouths heal fast. And so we are still here. Mr. Tickle seems fine and even had a nap. When he woke up, I asked him if he would show me his boo-boo and he told me his boo-boo was gone. Tough little guy. I want to cry again. But I don't think I can. I just want to get his day over with and tomorrow and then be with the all the people I love all weekend. My favorite people. They will recharge me. Because right now I am emotionally on edge and just can't deal with anymore.

Baby's Gettin' Bigger

Just look at my little "baby" on the sidebar. He or she is starting to look a bit scrunched. I can definitely tell that the real baby is growing too because I'm starting to actually feel pregnant. There's been aches and pains and I have noticed I can't quite move in ways I used to. Just picking Mr. Tickles up and then bending over to put him on his bed made my side hurt. Some kind of muscle pain. That means it's going to start getting harder to bend over to pick up toys, carry the laundry basket downstairs, mop the kitchen floor, shave my legs, sleep comfortably, etc. But, on a side note, it also means that this journey is getting further to the end and that's something I'll be glad about!
I love babies. Particularly my babies. ;) And I want lots of babies to fill my house. After one baby has grown into a toddler I like to replace him with another baby. Babies are so wonderful. They bring so much joy. They bring many inspirations and hope. They make you ponder the miracle of life and also how fragile life can be. They're so cuddly and warm and smell good. They're skin and hair are so soft. Best of all, they turn into bigger kids. And one day those kids will turn into adults. And hopefully I'll do a good enough job that they will be great adults and do something great in this world. Just with the three so far, it's been amazing to see how different they are. Sometimes I'll just sit back and watch them. Their different features, their different personalities, and yet they all came from me and Mike. But no matter how many children we have, they will all be different. That just blows my mind and I find myself pondering it often. It's so exciting to think about what this little baby will be like. The whole aspect of giving life is just something I can't seem to put into words. Nothing comes close to it. It makes me proud and thankful to be a woman. I love being a mother and can't think of anything else I'd rather do.
BUT-that being said,
I hate being pregnant.
Okay, hate is a pretty harsh word. Maybe I don't hate it, but I definitely don't care for it. I would much prefer having a stork drop the baby off on the front porch. Yes, it's amazing to feel the baby move and kick inside me. And it's amazing to give birth. It's also amazing to take care and nourish a baby for nine months and to actually fall in love with this person before even laying your eyes on him/her. But the morning sickness, the doctors visits, the big belly, the overall weight gain, the heartburn, the annoying pains here and there, the PAIN of giving birth, the recovery (which for me always involves an episiotomy)-Oh yes, I would much rather not have to go through these things ever again.
But like I said, I love babies. Particularly mine. And as soon as that newborn is placed in my arms for the first time, I forget everything that I went through. (Until the next pregnancy and then it all comes back to me) None of it matters. All that matters is that there is a baby in my arms. A baby that didn't exist until just nine months ago. A brand new person. It makes my little nine months of sacrifice seem like not even enough to be given this beautiful baby. How can you love someone so much already? Love at first sight maybe? But I think it's because of the sacrifices. The giving of yourself so that this person can live. Sacrifice is true love. Sacrifice is what motherhood is all about. But of course, with it comes love.