Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Late Night Mothering

My children have a virus. Croup is part of this virus. Last night I had to waken a feverish toddler to force Motrin in her. After an hour that fever broke and I had a sweaty, uncomfortable toddler on my hands. We established a pallet on the floor in the living room. Eventually, the toddler woke up again. At 2 am we were having a nasty croup attack. And so into a steamy bathroom we went. Of course at this point the toddler was wide awake and Mommy was dead tired. So we gave into TV to let the toddler have some amusement and Mommy got sleep.

Late night mothering gives us the rare opportunity to be selfless in ways we don't expect. And at a time when no one can laud us for the "heroic sacrifices" of motherhood. It makes muscles ache and heads spin with exhaustion. And not so a voice can say, "Thanks Mom" but so we can see a smiling face just eating breakfast and find a child tearing apart his or her room with so much energy it just can't be possible.

I am happy to report that said toddler is fully recovered now!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shouldn't It Be Thanksgiving Every Day?

There is a song about it being Christmas in our hearts all year long. The idea of goodwill to our fellow man and Christian charity lasting everyday is a wonderful idea.

And so should be the idea of Thanksgiving. Thanking God for the gifts in our life should be an action of our everyday lives. We should be celebrating the abundance God gives at each family meal and gathering. And we should be using our talents in ways pleasing to God on all occasions.

This post is the result of my enduring much grousing by others regarding not getting to spend a traditional meal on a particular day with certain people. I understand well the emotional pull of family and cultural traditions. But I feel sadness that these people cannot see past the the disappointment to celebrate the bounty of their life's harvest.

Baby It's Cold Outside!

We live in an area where very cold temps are common in winter. But snow never comes. Occasionally we get ice (which means, black ice). So when the few flurries dance in the breeze, it's a big deal.

I love the cold weather. It makes snuggling under blankets and cups of hot cocoa and hot cider all the more cozy. Apparently I am raising babies who feel the same way. The other night, we were preparing for bed. The two-year-old was jumping on her mini-trampoline. And the baby was crawling around. He was looking for a place to crash. He crawled over to his sister's toddler bed and pulled down her pillows and made himself a small palate. Then he squealed with delight as I wrapped him up in a blanket. His sister, stopped jumping and joined in, wanting Mommy to wrap her up too! We looked like a burrito family, wrapped up tight in our warmth and love.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It Does a Mother's Heart Good....

Here is an exerpt from a letter that I received from Michael who is a recruit in basic training for the US Marine Corps at Parris Island, SC.

"I go to church on Sundays. Church here is awesome.The priest is a Navy Chaplain. He starts by greeting each company in a very enthusiastic manner and the music is Catholic hymns sung in a gospel type manner. His homilies relate the gospel to us as marine recruits. Mass is so cool that the people who are not catholic choose to go."

The first sentance alone gave me joy.
It gives my heart peace to know that his faith is a companion for him on this journey.

Forever a mother am I.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We all deal with loss differently. Oh, I know all about those stages and steps, but there are still differences.

This morning, a body was found at a local elementary school. It was an adult and the death was determined to have been from natural causes, but classes were cancelled at the school and the children were taken to a nearby middle school to have their parents pick them up. My husband text messaged me that he hoped that none of the children had seen the body. I told him I hoped so as well, but I was sure counselors would be on hand tomorrow just in case.

He then text messaged me that only liberals would want counselors and his solution was to take the kids the funeral home and the baby hospital (the mother-baby floor in a local hospital) to show death and life as natural things.

Now this really boiled my blood here are the three follow- up texts I sent to him:
1) Having counselors is not a liberal vs conservative thing. And I don't suggest that taking children to a funeral home is a good thing for kids because those people don't "look" dead.

2) Both birth and death are traumatic experiences for those who witness them. Counselors help facilitate for children that it is okay for them to have mixed emotions or happy or sad ones at such an event and how to express those emotions. (In short, we have to learn to grieve and work through our grief. Children often need the assistance of a counselor to walk them through this process.)

3) I agree that birth and death are natural processes and should be treated as such but that should not negate that they are emotional processes as well.

His response was a message saying I was right. What was that? I was right?

A recent thread I was reading on a blog was about loss, specifically miscarriage.

Having suffered a miscarriage, I knew greatly the sadness of losing a child one loved so much but had not met. The woman who started the thread had just suffered her second miscarriage in less than six months. Many women responded to her fears that she was too old (39) to have children. Many more responded to her sense of loss. I suffered a miscarriage at 24. Most women don't get a reason. I got one. I was born with a defect in my uterus which prevented the baby growing. The doctor also suspected I had had several other miscarriages that were early and for that reason not detected. The only thing I could do was undergo surgery. Surgery we couldn't afford until I switched jobs and got better insurance. I was then blessed with two children. I hope, someday, I may be blessed with more.

One woman very insightfully noted that the original woman who posted should take adequate time to grieve each of her children. It was a sentiment that struck me. After our loss, I sought out guidance from my priest. A wonderful man, he asked me how I felt about attending a "Mass of the Angels." I had never heard of this, but it is a beautiful mass the church created especially for this type of loss. I was touched by the number and range of women I saw at the mass. The church was crowded. Instead of a homily, our priest asked a woman to come forward and speak about her loss. The woman who spoke was in her early seventies and lost her first child as a twenty-year-old. She talked about how not a day in her life goes by that she doesn't think of that child. How, with each child she gave birth to, the whole in her heart became smaller, but never fully went away. She talked about teaching her children of their brother or sister in heaven who was looking out for them, and helping their guardian angels watch over them. In her voice, I could hear the strength God had given her to overcome this loss. And I also heard the sadness of a child she never knew, but would one day meet in heaven.

She also talked about how unrealistic the views of healing from this type of loss were fifty-odd some years before. How her family expected her to, "snap out of it." How friends didn't know how to react. She spoke of how, when speaking to her niece recently who had also suffered a miscarriage, her niece asked for guidance when people would say things to her such as, "Well, at least you know you can get pregnant," or "you can always have another one." Comments that were well intented, but well off the mark. Every woman seemed to nod, we had all heard them. It made me think to one of the few comments that had comforted me early on, a male co-worker, hearing of my loss, said, "I want to tell you how sorry I am, but I really believe God has something else planned for you and that baby. I know that's probably not what you want to hear and doesn't make the pain any easier, but I had to tell you and I know I wouldn't be your first choice to talk to, but I'm always here, and you'll be in my prayers." It was a clumsy attempt, but it was genuine. He wasn't searching for the "right thing to say," he was just saying it.

The woman giving the "homily" was giving the advice to pray for the person saying these things, that they were just trying in their imperfect, human way to acknowledge your loss.

In her book, A Catholic Woman's Book of Days, Amy Welborn relates a similar lesson, when after the loss of a pregnancy a friend said to her, "It's too bad, but I guess it's better than getting a broken doll, isn't it?" Welborn doesn't relate her response, but offers this prayer, Lord, forgive me for the times I have hurt others with my words, even unintentionally.

These are lessons we could all apply regardless of the type of loss.
1) Give yourself time to grieve.
2) Do not put a time table on healing. God works on His time, not yours.
3) People's human responses are just that, human, and therefore, imperfect.
4) Don't expect to never feel sadness, that whole in your heart may grow smaller, but it will never disappear.
5) Sadness is an emotion, God gave us these emotions and they are good.
6) Loss is natural, it is also emotional.
7) You cannot prepare for a loss, the finality is only real when you've experienced it.
8) Trust that God will have different plans for you although you cannot understand it.
9) We must respect the pain that others go through in their losses.
10) No loss is small to someone experiencing it. Don't roll your eyes at the neighbor whose cat has died. That cat may have been all they had.

"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord..."
~Jeremiah 29:11a

Monday, November 10, 2008

There Are Some Days

When I feel sublime.

Today is not one of those days. This is one of those days that I wish God did not trust me so much.

Right now God is trusting me to not lose my cool when customers cuss me out. He's trusting me not to quit my job because of a hostile work environment (see the customers cussing me out above), fatigue, and missing my kids.

I am praying for strength. I am praying for sanity. I am praying that at least one of my customers will realize I am a human being and that I deserve to be treated like one. (I'm not counting on God answering that last one the way I would like.)

The day will be over soon and I hope I will get a good nights sleep. After all tomorrow will be its own gift.


Shelby Clare made a major breakthrough. She peed on the potty last night! Now for various reasons we are taking a fairly laissez-faire approach to potty training with her. So far, we have placed her potty in her room and allowed both her and Joey to play with it and be comfortable with it. At the advice of her therapists we are not having a "big potty training talk," and we have an Elmo video about potty training which it turns out Shelby, despite loving Elmo, loathes. So, after her bath, I dried Shelby off, and walked her to her room. I decided to wait a minute on her diaper, and sat her on the potty. I sang her some songs and had no expectations other than to make Shelby happy and have her sit on the potty for a few minutes. When she was ready to get up something caught my eye. Whether she realized it, Shelby used the potty the way it was meant to be used! Her Daddy and I praised her and I cleaned the potty. We realize this doesn't mean Shelby will be trained any time in the near future and that this early victory may be accompanied by setbacks and possibly no further developments for sometime, but, for the moment, we are basking in the proud parental glow!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What are Little Boys Made Of....

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.
~Robert Southey

I've come to realize over the last couple of months that boys are very different than girls.

Well, duh. And you think I would know that being the only girl with three brothers growing up, but I guess, I forgot. And I hadn't seen this from a mother's perspective before.

Joseph Patrick, my wonderful son who I named after the father of our Lord and the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland, some days has horns growing out of his halo. He is angelic in appearance with blond hair, and big, innocent looking blue eyes. He smiles and is sooo cute. Then he pulls his sister's hair.

There are some things that Shelby did not do, that her brother is teaching us all about. First there is the hitting. Joey can't give a kiss without following up by hitting you in the face. I'm not kidding. Last weekend, at my parents' home, my mother came over to me holding Joey and exclaimed happily, "He gave me a kiss!"

"Did he hit you in the face right after?" I asked.

"Yeah, pretty much." This woman gave birth to three boys. Some days I wonder how she has any semblance of sanity.

Shelby did bite for a very short period of time (and this was restricted to me, with the exception of my mother one time). Joseph has been biting for 3 months. Everyone. Luckily, at daycare, they have been able to stop him before another child was the victim.

And here we come to something that Shelby could not have done if she wanted. On my birthday, while he was supposed to be napping, I heard a squeal of delight come from Joseph's room. This, I knew, could not be good. Previous squeals of this sort revealed a dog having his ears pulled or a newspaper being shredded and eaten. He was in his crib though, what could he be doing? I opened the door. He had removed his diaper and was standing up peeing through the slats on the crib onto the floor. On, the upside, a friend with two boys said, he might potty train more easily since he has the standing thing down. On the downside, he knows how to take his diaper off and peed on my floor! He was ever so proud of himself and continued to squeal even when I told him, "It's not very nice to make Mommy clean up pee-pee on her birthday!"

My brother Michael (Joseph's uncle and Godfather) informed me that, of course Joey had to be delighted. Being able to stand up and pee was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I didn't know what I had been missing.

Now for those who think I must capitalize on this development...we have encountered another problem. The potty we were given for Shelby to start training is being used by Joseph, to put in whatever he wants to discard. His socks, an empty sippy cup, a toy he is done with, have all be retrieved.

Now, I did learn something important from that...our bathroom door remains closed. If there is one thing I know about children in general and boys in particular is that if you hear a toilet flush and then hear "uh-oh" it's already too late.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Michael Has Gone for a Soldier.

Or in this case, a marine.
He is my son.
He is a grown, educated man who wants to serve his country.
He attended college and earned a Bachelor of Science degree.
He spent a few years in the workforce.
When his most recent job came to an end due to cutbacks,
he saw it as an opportunity to pursue what he had always wanted to do.
Become a United States Marine.
In another year, it would be too late.
He told his father and I that he did not wish to look back with regret.
Today he is a recruit in training at Parris Island,SC.
After weeks of anxiousness and concern,
and with several weeks of basic training still ahead,
I am left feeling...
Lord, be with Michael on this journey.
St. Michael , Pray for us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welcome Mr. President

Tom Hoopes of the National Catholic Register posted this today on their blog. It bears reading and contemplating. There is one major part of this that I have a major problem with. I will note that at the end:
Whether the election turned out the way we wanted or not, one thing is clear: Barack Obama will be the president of the United States of America. Our president. We at the Register were very focused on the life issue, and will remain so. But we we always knew John McCain was no pro-life hero (he supports using taxpayer money to fund fatal experiments on embryos) and though we disagree on much, we always liked Obama.
He is a civil, decent man. His historic election is exciting in that it hails, we hope, the end of an era when race was factored into decisions it had nothing to do with.
There used to be ground rules for the way a president is treated. We wish to review them here and renew them.

1. Be not afraid. In America, there’s no reason to fear the president. We still live, by the grace of God, in a democracy. We still can convince people of the truth and provide opportunities for them to vote the truth into law. Under Bush, many Americans turned their opposition to the president into exaggerated fears and premature anger. We needn’t do that. Oppose what he proposes that must be opposed, but don’t believe the voices that say “America has changed forever.” Mr. President: We will be here applauding all that you do that is good, and reminding people just how heinous it is to kill America’s future in the womb, if you dare attack the voiceless, defenseless unborn.

2. Respect. In America, we respect and teach our children to respect the president. Many children were taught to dislike President Bush and belittle him. They got that from their parents’ poor example. That undermines civic responsibility and social cohesion. Barack Obama is an impressive man who will be celebrated by many people who in their hearts are pro-life but who haven’t translated their pro-life principles into their voting decisions. We needn’t ostracize ourselves; we can respect the man and honor his exciting achievement, and keep lines of communication open with our neighbors about the right to life.

3. Reach out. In America, people aren’t swayed by intellectual argument but by stories. Painful stories of difficult circumstances make people pro-abortion; hopeful stories of children who were spared make people pro-life. Sad stories of homosexual couples make people favor same-sex marriage; stories of the despair homosexuals feel disproportionately and the abuse faced by so many children in their circles reminds people that this is a disorder in the human soul. Tell your stories. Subscribe to the Register to hear more stories you can pass on.

Find out more in the next issue, but we intend to begin a campaign of compassionate truth in the paper to build on the majorities that even now are on the side of life and morality.

Today isn’t the end of an era. It’s a bump on a road. And it’s more than that. It’s a day to say to Obama and his supporters: Congratulations. You have done something great. Let’s work together in support of the founding principles of America — all of them.
-- Tom Hoopes

Please pray for President Obama that his heart may be guided to life. Please pray, as I am, and ask the intercession of St. Augustine for a conversion. We are armed with prayer. Allow it to use its ammunition. And may God Bless us all.

(The item I disagree with is that sexual abuse occurs more in homosexual circles. Please, do your own research on this. This is akin to thinking that priests are more likely to abuse because they are celibate)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations Jen, Marty and Miles!

On new baby girl!
The announcement hidden in comments on Jen's page
Brigid Maureen Callihan born 1:37 PM HK local time. No complications. That is all I have right now.

That was for today November 4, 2008. HK local time is for Hong Kong.

We hold the Ambrose/Callihan family close in prayer at such a special time in their lives!