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Monday, March 26, 2018

Big Family

Big families

Why do we do it? Have so many kids? What is it like? 

I can tell you it’s much like your family of 1 or 2, because kids are kids. They all need love, affection, to learn self-control ( there is a wide spectrum of allowance here!), and have antics. Much the same.. and yet entirely different.

The answer to the first question is simple, and even though it’s the most common, I’ll get to it.

What is it like? It’s mad chaos. Constantly. Unless some of the kids are absent. Imagine a scenario where you have no inhibitions, so any idea that comes to mind is a possibility! You make it happen immediately because you are a child and so, impulsive, and a fort is begun or a game of chase is started or you put underwear on your head because you need that to be a ninja. And then your best friend comes along and adds their own infinite ideas to the equation and it’s a snowball of activity, growing in size and intensity. Times 5. 

But then you fight. And you’re mad. And some take your side and then again, some don’t. And that makes you madder. And you end up in time out. Which makes you mad. 

Until someone totters over with a ridiculous face and you can’t help but laugh, or sit with you in your fury until you both start playing quietly. 

And there is someone who can’t resist your cuteness and reads you a book or teaches you to draw. And you adore them for doing so and soak in their attention. And someone who will sit with you when your blood sugar drops and you feel funny because they know instinctively that you might need help. Or someone to make make a movie with you, even if you have to bribe them, because you are their sister, after all. Or someone who will help you build your 1000s of piece LEGO set and do it all day if they have to, because that’s just how they are, and you know it. 

I write from a kids perspective, because thats what keeps me sane when I see the house that is never tidy, the laundry that’s never done, and the bed that almost never sees me for a full nights peaceful rest. I have to see it from their eyes, because otherwise, I won’t be strong enough. 

So why do I do it? It started with Faith trusting a higher intelligence than my own. And it has ended and runs on love. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Advent musings

What is our life, the commitment we've made to our partner( hopefully spouse? But I can't pretend that is the norm now) and our children the moment we decided we were grown up enough to be intimate ( THAT is a question we need to ask of ourselves- and have our children think about, but more on that another day!)supposed to do- be- for us and our families? What is the goal? After all, a goal-driven society. Not that we want to turn our kids into projects as if we were programming robots ( or do we? It's so much more comfortable to interact with something we can control, setting aside the fact that they are someone's and not something's, but I digress.. again..)But personal relationships is not our fortay- we can see it in the loneliness, the suicide rates, the lack of connections that make people capable of random murders. Thats enough mention of the doom and gloom. 

Back to the point, Katie. What is our life supposed to accomplish? I believe it is meant to turn us into more fully developed and mature persons. Persons capable of judgeing clearly and rightly given a situation. persons with enough built in self-control to ACT according to what we know is right and good. 

Is there not a little feeling of aversion between these 3 sentences? The first sounds glorious! The second, and third grow more tedious. Virtue, in short, had been misunderstood. Virtue means life is boring after all, right? 

Wrong. Oh so wrong. And we may have to do some rewriting of our brains, and we can because we can work those often lazy muscles to "work FOR us," in helping us evaluate our thoughts and feelings so that we don't act on the latter but on the former. 

Why? Why all this effort? Because being more fully developed and mature sounds fabulous, right? And having fabulous relationships and helping our kids to have fabulous relationships sounds, well, fabulous, right? 

Come Lord Jesus. 

Friday, November 24, 2017


It's a process, Kate...

Like so many of his wise sayings, I can hear the words and the tone of my father. 

Life's a process. Writing is a process. Marriage is a process. Parenting is a process. Making a home is a process. Discovering your footing on a new career path is a process. Christmas shopping is even a process.

Culturally, we live for the end product. The completed room. The child in a good school and respectable major. The house that is completely decorated. The relationship that is finally perfect. The list completed and checked twice. And we feel like we haven't accomplished much if we don't have that certificate of achievement to show for all our efforts. After all, there is a grade to be earned, a deadline to make, a holiday to celebrate. Maybe this obsession is because I grew up around the most type-A city in the world.

But is that really living? What about today and the messy living room from all the play, the bantering children who have the blessing to even have siblings to squabble with, the tired spouse who got a hug before collapsing, the children who miss you when you've been gone for 2 hours?

At this point in my life, I am in the process of everything, including growing older myself. Nothing is done, nothing finished, except maybe the dishes. Today. But if I wait for that to define me, for that one moment of a final product, I'll be waiting a long time. Each action I've done today, every word I've uttered, defines who I am to myself and to others. And that's what counts. I'm in the process, and that's all that really matters. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

EMbrace the moment

Bracing for the storm

Yes, my community was affected by hurricane Irma. Luckily and by the grace of God, we made it up to family in the D.C. area in time. It's an unexpected blessing to spend time with family and friends. Our home had relatively minor damage, I don't have the stress of having 5 children in a place where water, gas and food are questionables, I am basically unscathed.

But this morning I realized the stress still gets to you. We are all so different, have our own challenges in life, and one of mine is not bracing for the storm. Let me see if I can explain. 

The way I am wired, I don't take in my surroundings and live in the moment. Instead, I am hard-wired ( although I hate to use that term now that we have robots acting as people in our society's lonely lives) for responsibility. There are always endless amounts of things I will need to do, at any given moment in time, no matter what I have already done on any day for all of us, and in my given situation with 5 children, extended family and friends around, i feel myself bracing for the storm. For life. For the day. So that I can do it all.

But you know I can't, and I know I'm not meant to. Nor is that how I want to live my life. 

So today, I am thankful I caught myself bracing for the storm, thankful for those who taught me to pray and take time to know myself and God better over the years. 

Because I want to EMbrace the day, not brace FOR it. I am here for a reason, in this exact place today. And so are you. Let's be present to the moment, look a little longer into our children's eyes, and serve Our Lord as best we can. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Love you guys!

seriously, do you know how much gratitude I feel knowing I write to inspire and help along others in life as I learn something new, turn a corner, or even find a secret garden? And to know that I do inspire you? I am so grateful. It's one of my dreams fulfilled, and I'm sorry for the break, but I will always be writing in some shape or form.

We have been in summer full-swing and I'm recovering from a surgery that has been difficult beyond my own understanding of pain. So please, if you pray, say some for me!

Some things I've learned this summer with a fully mobile and vocal ( even if my one year old only minimally speaks but prefers changing his tones with "uh" to get his meaning across which he fully does) family with 5 children , is how important little side trips of connecting with old friends has been, taking only a couple of kids at a time. I can relax, they realize more people are in their life than they realize, that life is different in different areas (i.e. Miami)and we can draw from that and choose differently. They see mommy in a new lights, experience different freedom, and we can have more one-on-one conversations along the way, talking and listening.

My new name for dinners that fall short of the American ideal of all eating together but emphasize the value of letting the perfect go ( remember, don't let the perfectbe the enemy of the good!), is "cabana nights." Some of my favorite times of my life at my friend's cabana. Why make not turn it from a failure of not timing dinner perfectly to a treasured moment in time?? Why not.

And don't forget those prayers!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Made of clay

No family is perfect. I grew up hearing how some families would break apart, brothers not speaking to brothers, families no longer celebrating holidays together, and cousins not growing up together. The older I get, the more I realize how we are each made of clay, and how easily we can be broken. 

We are none of us as tough as we think or may seem. It's easy to hurt someone else's feelings, or to feel offended. It just takes one mean sentence that can cut to the heart because it's family, and we know them well enough to know how.

I often think of my children and how they will be as they grow older. I try to teach them each good reasoning and sound judgement, love, fairness, and forgiveness. But each must chose their path, how they will conceive of being sister or brother to the other as adults, each with their own passion in life and perhaps their own family to raise. 

I've not just heard but witnessed love growing cold as I age. We are all challenged to keep each candle lit, and only we know how to do it. Because love, family, and friendships are  life's greatest gifts. And we have to carry each vessel with care.