It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Something

We put up our tree on November 17th this year. This is unheard of for me, and admittedly a little crazy. I had a few reasons.

10694335_10152894540904653_1220486293373605623_o1. Bribery. I had promised The Boy we could do it that night in exchange for help cleaning up the living room.

2. Taking Stock. Since I am not allowed to buy anything decorative for Christmas this year, I wanted to see what I had and was delighted to find that I need nothing, and can probably reduce the Christmas bins from 4 to 3 come January 7th.

3. Timing. I wanted time to enjoy the season once Advent started and it got super-busy, so this became one less thing on my list and truly, it makes all the other things seem more joyous.

4. Christmas is coming early to our house. (Kind of.)

My husband’s work situation will keep him away from home over Christmas, so we are gearing up to have our own family celebration on December 17th. This is the first year we have done this, although he often works on Christmas. We’re having a simple dinner and giving The Boy his gift from us. Nothing fancy, but I find myself really looking forward to it. (Spoiler: It’s Lego, so this has the added benefit of keeping him busy for a few days. I am so, so happy he is into Lego. It makes no noise and he doesn’t leave it on the floor because the dog will eat it. It’s the perfect toy.)

Since I’m not buying anything (I feel like all my sentences start that way lately), December has been mostly stress-free this year. I am unconcerned with making sure all my shopping is done and the wrapping is going to be minimal. Instead of last-minute running around, the plan is to spend Christmas Eve skating with The Boy before Mass, then we’ll have dinner and a leisurely Skype date with the family in Toronto. Finally, it’s homemade Christmas jammies (courtesy of my mother) and off to bed, because Santa is coming!

(Santa told me that this year, he’s only bringing one gift and filling stockings, so we’ll see how that plays on Christmas morning. I have high hopes.)

My family is coming over on Christmas Day to hang out and I’ll give them the few no-cost gifts I have cobbled together. I’m going to try my hand at a vegan “cheese”ball. Christmas dinner will be whatever happens to come in the CSA box that week. I’ll probably bake something. We’ll stay in jammies all day.

See how calm and zen-like my plans are? Who knows how it will all turn out? I can almost guarantee that the “cheese”ball will be a disaster.

Speaking of “cheese”balls, here’s a little ditty that always gets me in the spirit.

A Reminder

imageAdvent starts tomorrow.  I will not panic about the to do’s, to buys or to makes. I will remember that Jesus came into this world in a barn. He is pleased with me and my family and no amount of floor scrubbing is going to elevate that. I am accepted. I am loved. I can slowly put out the nativity set and take it one day at a time. So can you, friends. Let’s not lose sight of what matters to us in these busy days ahead.

Glory

Please join us in welcoming Stephanie back to Mama Might!

In July 2013, I posted an entry in which I shared my struggles with infertility. I ended my post by making sure that all of you knew of my faith in the Lord and how in His own way, He asked me to be patient. I knew He would send us another child, how and when we didn’t know, but His voice was strong in my heart; He was asking us to have trust and faith in Him.

About a year ago, I decided to thank God for the child He was preparing for us. As a reminder of the miracle that would come eventually, I attached a onesie to my ensuite blinds so that every time I would look at it, I would try my best to remind myself of the miracle our Lord was preparing and giving me the chance to thank Him for His plan.

I started praying every night using scriptures where Jesus declares His power of healing. I started thanking Him for His healing hands and the work He was doing through me. Basically, I was declaring the truth of scripture to increase my faith. On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2014, we attended mass to celebrate our mother Mary and the renewal of the vows of the religious sisters who lived in our community. After the mass, we met this lady with whom we started chatting. She shared that her boys were having a great time with our son and she then proceeded to ask if he was our only child. There it was—the grueling question! We answered that he was and that we had been trying extremely hard to give him a sibling, but we were struggling with infertility. She instantly took pity on us and asked if it would be ok for her to pray with us for the gift of another child. We happily said yes. While she was praying, a feeling of warmth invaded me. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence with us. My whole body was tingling and I knew something amazing was happening. The Lord was touching me, whispering to me. The thought “am I experiencing my own annunciation right now?” filled my mind. My husband also felt the same way and on the way back home shared with me that he thought God just told us that it was time. Our child was coming.

I was still protecting my heart and wasn’t getting my hopes high. Seven days later, we found out that a little miracle was growing inside of me. Instantly, excitement and gratitude filled my heart. Unfortunately, while experiencing some physical signs of a possible unviable pregnancy, fear and doubt also invaded my mind. Was this baby going to be another lost child? Through the fear and doubt, our Lord was once again asking me to hold on and to have faith. “This was it,” a little voice was whispering in my head. Randomly many times and in different situations, the following scripture would come up “[…] if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”- John 11:40. I decided to cling to those words that Jesus spoke so many years ago. I also discovered the song, Glorious Unfolding, by Steven Curtis Chapman that would lift my spirits when doubt would take over. God was showing the importance of having trust in Him in order to see His glory… my baby. It is now almost time for our little glorious gift to make his grand entrance into the world. After praying, we found the name Loïc, which means Glorious Fighter. Is it a coincidence that the term glorious is mentioned again? Absolutely not. He did promise us to have faith in order to see His glory. For the second time, I’ve been carrying God’s glory and promise. It is a beautiful, breathtaking and indescribable experience. I can feel His perfect creation moving; what He has been preparing for us for so long… His promise. Once again, I am experiencing a little bit of Heaven by carrying our second son and will be living double of the divine graces by watching my miracles grow together.

Like the parable of the talents, this is a talent; a gift that the Lord gave us and I can not bury it and hide it. This miracle needs to be shared in hopes of giving faith and hope to all of you and to make you understand the divinity of God, His power of healing, and the importance of putting all of our trust in Him when we feel Him calling us to completely surrender, even if it is not easy.

What I pray for is that our story will bring many closer to His glory.

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A Bit of Sunshine

Please join us in welcoming Michele to Mama Might!

When my husband started graduate school a year and half ago, I remember standing in the door frame of our new apartment with my six month old in my arms as he left for school the first day. A feeling of dread washed over me as I realized that I was stuck in 650 square feet with a baby. I had nothing on my agenda. It was blank for not just for the day but for weeks.

After a few long days, I realized a few things. If I didn’t get out of bed, no one would care. If my house was a mess, no one would see it. If my hair didn’t get brushed or if lunch consisted of eating Cheerios out of the box, no one would ever know. There weren’t cookies brought over by neighbors. There were no lunch dates or play dates. I went to a few church activities but would come home in tears begging my husband to move. There was a little extra sting because even my sweet husband was busy with his new school. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t see what my life was like at home when he was gone (which was most of the time). I had a chronically sick, crying baby and nowhere to go.

I felt completely invisible.

Now, I’m not one to sit and mope. I’m a generally happy person and I believe that life is what you make of it. After six weeks of sitting around, I went and got a nanny job with the only requirement being that my baby could come with me. Over the next year, my daughter and I created a happy life. We worked in other people’s homes. We went to flea markets and the beach. She and I explored farmer’s markets and libraries on weekends. I set goals for myself, such as walking outside for at least thirty minutes a day and to get rid of any possession that I didn’t want to clean. Through my adventures and goals, my life turned into something that was uniquely created by me, and I was enjoying it.

The thing that I kept pushing in the back of my mind was we were not at home. It was still true that if our beds were not made and dishes had not been done, that no one would notice. If we did not go out of the house, no one would care or miss us. And while I was aware of it, decided that I was perfectly okay with that because I was happy.

Then one day this all changed. A lady advertized on Freecycle that she needed a blender. I had a blender that was only used for making milkshakes, and I thought, “Eh, why not, she can have it. I don’t like cleaning it anyway.” I emailed her back telling her that she could come pick it up the next day at 2:00 PM. I thought that would be a great time. My daughter and the baby I am currently watching in my home were both usually napping by then. It shouldn’t be a problem.

Famous last words, right? I think it’s needless to say, but the next day did not go according to plan. The little guy I was watching got his first teeth in that day and would not stop crying. My daughter took advantage of this and decided to do all the things that her toddler mind wanted to do that I never would let her. When I put her down for her nap, she put her feet up against the wall and kicked it repeatedly. At one point, I realized one of the thumps was a bit off rhythm, and I realized, “Oh! There is someone at the door.” It was the lady from Freecycle, and I had completely forgotten. I opened the door frazzled and ran to the kitchen, grabbed the blender, and shoved it in her arms. She was trying to thank me and explain that she needed it to can peaches. I forced a smile and told her that it was nap time and sent her on her way.

A few hours later when I regained a bit more control, I felt so embarrassed that I treated her that way! I was so rude. I set her a quick email apologizing and then forgot about the incident (probably as my toddler shoved a roll of toilet paper down the toilet).

Exactly two weeks later, there was a knock on the door. I was surprised to see the lady from Freecycle standing at the door again. She was standing at the door looking nervous. She said to me, “Michele, I brought this for you. Thanks so much for giving me your blender. I really needed it to can all the salsa from my garden.” She then gave me a bag telling me it was for my baby and then left.

I opened the bag and inside was a beautiful yellow blanket with a card. The card said, “Here’s a blanket I made for your daughter. I hope it brings a little sunshine to your day. I know how hard it is to be a mom, but what you are doing is important. Best regards.”

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I put down the card and sobbed. The feeling of validation and love I felt in that moment was overwhelming. Even now as I type this tears are falling from eyes when I think of the tenderness of that moment. This random stranger came to my home and for the few minutes she was there she got a glimpse of my lonelier part of motherhood. She saw the mess. She saw my wrinkled and stained shirt. She saw me trying to comfort an upset baby on my hip with my toddler in another room needing my attention. She saw me trying, and she decided to acknowledge me as a person. She even remembered my name.

I don’t know much about her, other than her name and email, but I often wonder if she’s a mother. I would love to know how she learned to be so perceptive and to reach out. I learned from her how much one gesture can feed another person’s soul. I made a new resolution that day to be more like her- to keep both eyes open and to not let fear get in the way of reaching out to people. After all, you never know who is feeling invisible and needs a little reassurance that they exist and are important.

MicheleMichele is a stay-at-home mom of an almost two year old in Princeton, NJ. She spends her time figuring out how to live a fulfilling life while her husband goes to graduate school. Some of her current interests are trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle, Futurama, RIE parenting, and Waldorf schooling. She is on a first name basis with her local librarians and cupcake bakers and can be found reading some random non-fiction on the children’s floor on Thursdays afternoons. You can read more of her life at her own blog, Aisle 11.

 

All These Things Are Decisions

My father would have been 55 years old today. It has been six years since he passed away. The month of November is always difficult. Celebrating the month of All Souls, the anniversary of his death, Remembrance Day and then his birthday. The end of Autumn. The darkness of winter creeping in. Without fail every year this is the time I find it most difficult to hold on to my hope.

This morning I woke up remembering as if for the first time that I would never hear him laugh again. Hot tears rolling down my face and into my hot coffee. My heart in my throat.

Then my three children woke up and the day began. Hot eggs to make, cups to be filled, a diaper to change. It felt like a carousel that I couldn’t get off. Helping little bodies dress, make beds, dishes to be washed and a dishwasher to be emptied. What is for supper tonight? Oh yeah, we need to do reading lessons and you know, *school*. As a mother there is often very little time to just feel how you feel. There is always something to do, someone to hug and read to. I am so grateful for this. Holding my six week old daughter when my father died is possibly the only thing that kept me from being swallowed whole by grief. She needed to eat. I had to stop. Slow down. Remember my body. Drink water. Take a nap. Change a diaper.

This morning I was tempted like I haven’t been in previous years to just turn on the TV for the kids and go crawl into my bed and hide. That isn’t like me. I can usually offer my pain at the feet of the One who knows me. Who made my heart to feel the good and the ugly. Not today though. I went searching in my closet for an old letter from my dad. Searching for some wisdom or validation that I am okay. I will be okay. But before I could find one, I came upon an old typed up letter from his mother, my grandmother, who died just a few short months before my father.

What my eyes fell upon shook me to my core. The irony. The incredible strength. The wisdom. I had to share it with you here, friends, because I know with certainty that there are those of you who struggle from day to day as I do, to choose JOY. Not happiness as that seems to come and go with circumstances but I mean an overriding joy that comes from knowing who made me and who loves me.

Letter to my grand-daughter Katie

Now that she is Sixteen

 

Dear Katie:

When I was a little girl of six years old, I was being prepared for my first Communion, which was a lovely May day. My mom had made me a white dress of tulle, new shoes and also Mum had made a little coat, it was beige. At some time during the day the thought came to me that I promised myself I would always be happy, at least try to be always happy!
“Is that all?” you might say.

However that was quite a promise for a little six year old. I learned much later as a woman of 40 or so that love, hate, unhappiness, happiness, all the emotions we have- all these things are decisions. I didn’t know it then as a little girl, that I had made a decision. I just knew that I was determined that life would be happy for me and that I was going to work very hard to make it so. I knew God was going to help me. I even knew the big blue sky that was all around me was bigger than me and yes, even bigger than my parent. My father had passed away when I was three years old. I knew he loved me. My brothers and sisters told me so. Even the Holy Spirit within me (whom I did not know of as yet) filled me with wonder of creation.

How fortunate for that little girl to be able to think and have the kind of wisdom that much older people search for all of their lives. And where did this wisdom come from, you might wonder. Well, you have the answer within you. It came from a loving God who gives it to you as well.

I can say now at my age, and I am 75 years old, it worked. My decision to try to be happy was a firm one. Has my life been easy? Not always. I’ve had my shares of sorrow, pain (emotionally and physically) but through it all I remembered my decision to be happy in spite of the circumstances, because I knew my God was watching over me and that He had a plan for my life. The bad things would pass, I knew, I only had to believe in His plan for me.

It is not too late for you, my dear, to make such a decision on your own. I urge you to do it, even if it sounds silly  to you. Trust your Memere that it will work for you too.

My wish for you is that you will make the decision to be happy and that you will think carefully on the things that will make you truly happy. By truly happy, I mean to think carefully before you make choices that come your way so that when you are an old woman (and old age will come to you too, my dear, as it has to me), you can look back on your life with no regrets.

This is the way I can look back now on life. There are no regrets. I have done what was honorable. Did I make mistakes? Oh, yes, lots, but I like to think I never repeated the same mistake twice. With each mistake I learned; sometimes the learning was most painful. But, every human being makes mistakes-none is perfect, only God is perfect.

I asked God for patience in my life so that I could wait for opportunities I knew he would send me. All the while I continued to improve myself through reading, taking courses of different kinds, listening to those wiser than myself, choosing what seemed best for me. I would talk it over with God before making the choice. Talking things over with God is called Prayer. That’s all prayer is, just talking to God as I am talking to you now.

The opportunities came and when they did, I recognized them immediately. How did I recognize the right ones you ask? There seemed to be a certainty about the opportunity. It seemed to come at exactly the right time. I had a feeling inside that told me “this is it!” You too will know when an opportunity comes and it is right for you. You can simply say inside of you: “is this the one, Lord?” and He will answer. He will give you a confident feeling about it, whatever the opportunity will be. Whatever the opportunity might be, however God has given you a free will to handle it whatever way you want to. You can choose how to live out that opportunity. Will you decide to be kind to the people involved in the opportunity? Will you decide to treat them as you would want to be treated? When angry, will you take your anger out on them? Will you let jealousy rule your life? I’ve been there on occasions when you were not very nice to your siblings. Perhaps you should really give some thought to how you are around your family. These are all decisions you must make as you live out your life.

As to decisions, if you are not aware that all these things are decisions that you must make yourself, you will live a life of drifting from one thing to another, never satisfied. You will feel that you have no control in your life, which is not true. You alone have control of your life as an adult, for you are, now that you are sixteen.

Memere prays that you will use all the wisdom that God the Father gives you to live a good life, one that you can look back on with pride of accomplishment, but all the time remembering to thank God, who helped you through it all. Maybe some day, you’ll have a granddaughter yourself and maybe when she’s 16, you might want to write her as I’ve done for you.

You are very dear to my heart and I pray constantly that God will watch out for you, if you let Him and trust in Him. I love you, Katie

Memere Toner

xxxooo

 

I am thankful for the heritage of faith my grandmother has left for me. I pray that I can be as discerning and wise as she became in her lifetime. I hope that I can look with kindness on my husband and children when I am feeling unkind. I hope to be the grandmother she was to me.

Take these words as I did, friends and let them remind you that no matter how life is treating you right now, you get to decide what you do with that. We get to stop navel gazing and call a friend or put on a pot of coffee and invite the neighbors over. Maybe we can’t choose our feelings but we can make a choice what to do with them and how to express them.

 

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Five For Fun

1. Holy moley!!! As you may have noticed, things have been a little bit quiet around here lately. Despite the cyber-silence things on the other side of the screen have been abuzz with busyness, let me tell you!  Craft fairs, family trips, parent-teacher interviews, work conferences, small people losing their first teeth, baptisms, Christmas-planning…all on top of this thing we call Life.  We Mamas have been up to our armpits lately, but we’ve missed you!

2. Back in August I made 12 complete freezer meals for my family and 8 partial or “short-cut” freezer meals. Additionally, I had some breakfast items, baked goods and other freezer staples stockpiled in hopes that this would make things a lot easier to manage when I returned to work in September.  The good news is that this has been working extremely well, as I have mentioned previously.  We’ve been eating hot, homemade meals on a regular basis, and breakfasts, while quick, have been easy and balanced.  The very, very, very bad news is that when I went to my freezer this evening to consider what I might use later this week I discovered that I have only three meals, 8 muffins, and 12 waffles remaining.  I have a feeling yogurt tubes and KD will be making a comeback in our house leading up to Christmas Break.

3. Our oldest turned six (!!) last weekend.  Not only is he the only child willing to take silly selfies with me, he’s also sweet, smart, funny, fun-loving, and a fantastic big brother.  We are so proud of him and can’t wait to see what the next six years will hold.  To celebrate we had our second “out of the house” party ever, at Rebel Space Indoor Playground & Cafe and it was worth every penny.  15 little boys had an absolute blast and there were plenty of sweaty heads to prove it.

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4. I’m starting to believe that if I hear Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” even ONE MORE BLESSED TIME I may impale myself with the nearest available stabby thing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some Tay-Tay.  For real.  But, I can only do this so many times.  So just stop it.  Please.

5. Last time I posted a Five for Fun I mentioned that I needed to see my family doctor, my dentist, and find the time to mop my floors. I am pleased to announce that since then I have managed to do all of these things.  Of course the floors now need to be mopped again.  But here’s a question: Is it really possible for a working mama to have clean teeth, a clean bill of health, AND clean floors all at the same time?  Exactly.  So, I’m taking my 2/3 to the bank and calling it a win because teeth and health trump tile every time!

**Sneaky bonus number 6**  I’m feeling challenged in all my busyness to make the upcoming season of Advent all about slowing down, being present, practicing patience, and finding the joy in just being still.  I’m hoping to write more about this in the weeks to come.  Stay tuned!

Love, Amanda