Friday, October 29, 2010

Boys will be Boys....

It always intrigues me that there are people out there who don't want to impose gender stereotypes onto their this guy.  There's this whole attitude in the media and secular society that people should be free to be whoever they want to be...even if that violates their actual person and their personal DNA.  I guess they are afraid of inequality among the sexes, but who ever said the strengths natural to femininity are any less/more important to the strengths of masculinity?  Ok, I guess some people have, but those people have misconstrued the roles proper to genders in a whole different direction.  Either way, my point is, I can't help notice with my children that boys naturally emulate masculine qualities and girls naturally emulate feminine ones.  And, they are comfortable with "gender stereotypes", too.  My girls genuinely prefer doing girly things, and my boy prefers doing boy things.  Even from young ages.  My little girl, who is not quite two, will carry a baby doll around all day and love on her, try to change her diaper, rock her, and sing to her....and, in the next moment, put her in the corner and command her to say "yes ma'am".  When my son gets his hands on the doll, it's not quite as pretty.  It's matter what toy you give my children, the girls will put a feminine touch on it (like using the toy dump truck for a shopping trip), and the boy will put a masculine touch on it (like putting the baby doll in prison because she set a house on fire).  You would think my son would be a little more comfortable with his softer side since he is in a house full of females for the majority of his life, but just the other day, he told me he wanted a toy axe for his birthday that he saw at Target.  I asked him what he would do with it, and he said, in the deepest voice he could muster, "chop off people's heads!"  Now, I guarantee he never heard that from the girls in this house!  Again, just today, they were all three playing at the island in the kitchen while waiting for lunch.  They built one of Natalie's My Littly Pony puzzles (alright!  I built it...I can't resist a puzzle, even if it does only have 24 pieces), and they were using a few little figurine toys to play pretend.  There was a miniature my little pony doll, a little dog, an air plane, a helicopter, and a lego building they had built earlier today.  Andrew went straight for the airplane and helicopter, Rachel opted for the pink pony, and Natalie wanted the dog with the pink collar.  I joined in the fun intermittently while fixing lunch.  It started off quite friendly....their toys pretended to talk to each other and play together...Natalie had them picking apples, flying kites, and sliding down rainbows that were pictured on her puzzle.  Everybody was getting along, at least until Andrew entered the scene.  His airplane flew in, demanded to know what was going on, and then proceeded to blow everything up and set the entire scene on fire.  I think they all ended up in prison by the time it was over, and I'm sure Natalie was disappointed because her cakes and pies burned up in Andrew's helicopter attack.  My point is, when parents try to squash gender roles in their children, all it does is cause problems.  People grow up to be confused about their identity, unsure of where they are supposed to be in life, and at a loss of how to properly interact with others - especially others of the opposite sex.  So, let your boys be boys and let your girls be girls.  I think some parents today try to make their girls too tough, and their boys too soft.  And, I'm not saying that girls should be weak and incapable of doing things for themselves, or that boys should lack compassion and sensitivity, but there's nothing wrong with knowing and accepting that men are better at somethings than women, and that women are better at somethings than men.  And, whether women are willing to admit it or not, we actually do want our husbands to be strong and masculine.  Maybe I'm only speaking for myself, but it makes me feel safe, protected, and loved.  As men and women, we should compliment each other, not constantly compete with each other.  I mean, I know my husband is better at taking out the garbage than me, so far be it from me to stand in his way for the sake of self-sufficient, feminist pride  =)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Natalie!!

Our oldest child and daughter turned six years old yesterday!  It's kind of hard to believe.  It seems like just yesterday we were coming home from the hospital, and settling into our new roles as parents.

Her first day home.  Naturally, we thought she was the prettiest little thing ever!

Proud Daddy:

Our first picture as a family, after the beating and torture beauty that is natural childbirth:

  It didn't take me us long to realize that we had absolutely no idea what we were doing!  All she did was sleep in the hospital, so I thought for sure things would be just fine when we got home....hahahahahaha.  Reality kicked in, and between figuring out how to nurse this little bundle of joy and finding time to shower, I quickly realized that mothering was so much more than the pretty pictures they put in parenting magazines (although, those moments were often included with the struggles, as well).  

1 year old:

But, little by little, we are beginning to figure out how to work this whole parenting gig to our advantage =)  The last six years have been quite fun and interesting.  Not the easiest thing I've ever done, but most certainly the most fun and most rewarding.  

2 years old:

And, she can now even carry on a decent conversation (for hours and hours and hours...), help me with her little siblings, help me fix meals; I have someone to bake with, teach knitting and embroidering to, re-learn my Faith with;  I have a daughter to teach virtue to, to watch grow into a young lady, and she also teaches me so much about myself (like just how much I hate to be wrong and always have to have the last word....she is exactly the same way ;).  I wouldn't change a day of it for all the money in the world.

3 years old:
  I am so thankful to God for sending us such a wonderful, silly, beautiful, and spirited little girl to raise up in the Faith.  We love you Natalie!!!  Happy Birthday to a special and beautiful little lady =)

4 years old:

5 years old:
and, as of yesterday, 6 years old!! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's Your Secret?

So, I am not a morning person.  I am a night owl.  I enjoy the peace and quiet of nighttime.  Everyone else is sleeping, so there is no one there to ask me to wipe them, or feed them, or change their diaper, or be the judge in a dispute over who gets the orange slinky (even though there are enough slinkies to go around for all, they are apparently not all created equal!!), and nor is there the constant barrage of "Mom, will you help me?" (or "me-me" if it's Rachel =).  And, since it's the end of the day, and I've usually gotten all my chores done and to-do list finished, so I can just veg out and relax without feeling guilty.  You can't do that in the morning.  There's no sitting around enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee, because there's too much other stuff pressing to get done:  laundry, dishes, breakfast; kids who need to get dressed, clean their rooms, brush their teeth, and whatever other catastrophe that may unexpectedly show up; oh, and of course, I desperately need to brush my teeth!  So, no, I am most certainly NOT a morning person.  Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being a wife and stay-at-home mom.  I'd much rather the pace of being at home than the hustle and bustle of a traditional career:  the quiet that comes with folding clothes and washing dishes (assuming the kids are napping, of course), the wonder in the 1st grader's eyes when she picks up on something new in school, all the "I love you's", the funny things they say, reading book after book on the couch, and the silliness of just laying in bed with the kids in the middle of the day.  But, to get up early and take the day by the horns...not. my. style.  The problem is, I feel really guilty about not getting up really early (and, by really early, I mean at least 30 minutes before the kids get up).  It's not that I don't try...because, I do...sometimes.  I set the alarm clock, I set the alarm on my cell phone (and put it in the bathroom, so I actually have to get out of bed), I beg for the graces to get up just half and hour earlier, and I have kids who rise shortly after the sun does.  But, I just usually end up slapping the snooze button 2 or 3 times (OK 5 times!) and turning off the cell phone.  And, the kids are good about just snuggling quietly with me until I get up.  I guess they know me well enough to know that if Mom is laying down, it's in everyone's best interest to leave her alone =)  I just can't seem to make myself get up as early as I would like to, unless I know I have to for an appointment or some other commitment.  It's like one of those cartoon moments where there's a little white angel on one shoulder and a little red devil on the other, and they are laying out the pros and cons of sleeping for just 20 more minutes.  Unfortunately, the little red devil wins most of those battles O_o.  So, I know I *should* try and get up half an hour earlier, but I just don't know how.  And, really, I could try harder, but it is one of my biggest weaknesses.  I have no motivation to try harder.  So, if you have any really great tips or secrets, I would LOVE to hear them!  And none of that "the early bird gets the worm" nonsense! you seriously know anyone in their right mind who wants worms besides birds??  I didn't think so.  My goal is to be one of those mothers who is awake before the kids get out of bed, already dressed, morning prayers said, and breakfast cooking.  Is that too much to ask??  Maybe I'm just being unrealistic or overly idealistic...and, maybe the kids don't really care...maybe they like things the way they are...they do get disappointed on those rare days when I actually am up before them fixing breakfast, because they didn't get to lay in bed with me for a few minutes before the the day starts.  Maybe that is just our quiet little family time to start the day; a little gift from God that I should just leave alone.   

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why I just LOVE St. Anthony

I remember the first time I asked St. Anthony for intercession.  I was around 5 or 6 years old.  I can't remember what I lost, but I remember EXACTLY where I found it in my backyard.  He has been faithful to my desperate please ever since that moment, including the 3 times I've lost my engagement ring (sorry, Phil!).  But, this story really exceeds them all!  About 2 weeks ago, the kids and I went to the library for story time.  (I should give a disclaimer here...if you're not into details, this story will probably bore you to tears, but it's one I want to remember, so it's going on the blog =).  I unloaded the van of children, library books, and DVD rentals.  I put my keys in their proper side pouch of the diaper bag, and we headed inside.  About halfway through story time, Rachel takes my keys out of the bag and starts eating them, so I take them away from her, and put them in the larger, zippered portion of the bag, where most things get lost in the abyss.  At the end of our visit, we go up to the counter to wait in line to check out our books.  I placed my books on the counter, with my keys right next to them (I have one of of those little rectangular library cards that go on your key chain, which is why I took my keys out in the first place).  Now, this is a small town library, and I knew everyone in the library, so I wasn't paying that close attention at this point...Natalie had to go to the bathroom, Rachel kept trying to climb out my arms so she could un-shelve each and every book in the library, and Andrew was trying to scale the counter so he could stamp our books with the due date (sometimes the librarians let the kids do this when no one else is of the very nice things about small town libraries =).  So, needless to say, I was starting to sweat, and I'm sure my hair looked pretty disheveled at this point.  By the time my turn was over (I was third in line), and the librarian had checked out and packed all my books in a bag for us, my keys had disappeared.  They were NO WHERE.  We looked everywhere.  I emptied my diaper bags no less than 10 times, and we checked every nook and cranny of the desk area.  The librarians even called the two people who were in line in front to me to see if they had accidentally picked up my keys (again, I can't say enough about small town libraries!).  At this point, I'm pretty sure they thought I was crazy, and that I had locked my keys in my van, but I was 100% positive that I had brought them in the library...Rachel tried to eat them earlier, remember?!  I immediately sent up a quick prayer to St. Anthony, and continued to do so throughout the rest of this saga.  So, anyway, at this point, it's almost lunch time, our blood sugar is starting to drop dangerously low (like 'yelling at the kids for every little thing' low), and I'm close to tears.  I call Phil, and he lets me know that he has no idea where my keys are, either...thanks, a lot!  So, I call my neighbor and have her pillage my home in search of our spare key...naturally, it is no where in my house.  Now, I'm really close to breaking down.  She asks me when the last time I had the spare was...I tell her that the last time I had the key, I had loaned it to our cousin (whose shall remain nameless for charity's sake) who had ran out of gas a mile from our house.  I was "positive" he gave me the key back when he was done borrowing our van to go get gas for his car.  So, I'm stuck at the library, with no keys, no spare keys, three starving children, and no car seats...excellent.  I ended up just having my neighbor come pick us up, and prayed the whole way home that we would not get pulled over or in an accident with all three kids not in their car seats.  After I turned the house upside down for the spare key, and didn't find it, I finally swallowed my pride and called my cousin:  "Hey, you remember that time you ran out of gas, and I loaned you the van with the spare key?"  Cousin:  "Oh yeah, the spare is sitting right here in my console...been meaning to get that back to you."  Me:  "....fantastic..."  Long story short, he brings me the spare, gives me a ride to the library to get the van while the neighbor babysits, and we've managed to eat something and calm down a bit, so things are starting to get better. forward a week and a half.  We go back to the library, and the librarians ask if I've found my, I have not....they still haven't found them either.  We conclude that the keys are probably in the same place that missing socks are.  So, after we are done reading books and building puzzles, we go checkout our stuff...low and behold, there is a note on my account:  "patron has keys being held for her at another branch that is about an hour away from branch that we are currently at".  WHAT?!?!  Turns out, my keys managed to end up in the parking lot of ANOTHER branch of the parish library...about an hour away from our local branch (oh, and for you non-Louisiana people, a parish is pretty much the same thing as a county...whatever that is).  I have NO IDEA how they ended up in that parking lot, but that is why I just LOVE St. Anthony!  Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer!

Sancte Antoni, Ora Pro Nobis!!!

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