When the flu hits, the shit hits the fan.

I’m sad to say that it almost literally hit the fan.

We are on day 5 of the kids recovering from what I’m pretty sure was the real influenza. Unfortunately it has taken me till this evening to realize that the reason I’m failing miserably in coping or helping them get better is because I’m trying to do everything myself. Here’s what I mean. I’ll give a little recap of the last few days.

Sunday we celebrated Charles 1st birthday with all the cousins on my side of the family. (9 were present.) Andrew was playing so well with his cousin of the same age it was somewhat bizarre. When everyone went home and Andrew got up from his nap we realized why he had been so quiet and non-confrontational – he was sick. He woke up with a fever and was not going to eat supper. It sat listlessly in the recliner while the rest of the family ate and had dessert. While sitting and doing absolutely nothing, he threw up. Great. Later that evening while the kidlets were in bed and us bigs were watching Les Miserables (yes it was pretty ironic in hindsight) we heard Andrew start bawling at about midnight. We went down and he had thrown up again due to having the highest fever he has ever had in his short life. He was so hot that even in the dark I could tell he was beet-red. He is still getting rid of the freckle-like spots on his cheeks from blood vessels breaking. Needless to say, he spent the rest of the night in our room on the love-seat. Next was Charles turn to get a fever and throw up twice. (At 430 and 8 am.)

Monday was spent caring for the sickies (which included regular doses of Tylenol since the fevers would never quite break), doing the three loads of laundry that accumulated over the course of the night plus one regular load from the weekend, and cleaning/prepping the house for our departure the next day.

Tuesday was the most depressing drive back up north to date. The roads were good. Traffic was decent minus the many huge mods we had to pass. The weather was beautiful and we were stuck in the car for 5 hours. The cold-like symptoms were now hitting Andrew so sitting in the car with the sun glaring was brutal for him. He could hardly keep his eyes open so thankfully he did sleep on and off. However, we heard many feeble pleas to “get out of my seat/car”, and lots of sad whimpers and cries throughout the drive. Charles was good until we accidentally induced his fever again. He was wailing and wailing and would not stay asleep till finally I ordered the car to be pulled over and his sweater, socks and shoes taken off. With a dose of Tylenol, he finally cooled down enough to sleep and then was mostly peaceful the rest of the way.

Wednesday was sort of a blur. I remember it involved lots of whining and crying for no reason thanks to foggy brains and runny noses. Everyone was out of sorts. Charles was totally fine externally. You wouldn’t have known he was under the weather looking at him but he was clingy and a bit more whiny all day. And whatever was in his little body, it was doing nasty things to his gut. I don’t know if it’s the bug or the Tylenol, but he went through three outfits. And I mean EXPLODED out of these outfits. It was awful. Andrew was upset most of the day and very sadly said he no longer liked his nose. I felt awful for them both but I was getting to the end of my rope so my mood certainly didn’t help much. Hearing whines can really grate on my nerves. Add on top of that the fact that I had everything from our weekend to put away and supper to get ready for two guests, I was a bit busy.

This brings us to today. I thought it was all going to be better. Everyone would have better appetites, more energy, less whines… but no. I was wrong. First thing I hear in the morning was a very sleepy boy come crawl into bed. It was great. He fell back asleep and I got up by myself and had coffee. Great start to the day right? Wrong. The next thing I heard that morning, was the same sleepy boy start bawling since I wasn’t in bed next to him ready to say good morning. (Even though ‘good morning’ was the first thing I said. Apparently my location when saying this makes all the difference.) From then on it was down hill. There were cries because I had a secret ingredient in the milk shakes (peanut butter for protein… not alcohol which I had contemplated). There were cries because the show ended. There were cries because I brought the little buddy out of his room. On and on it went. (Oh and don’t forget three MORE poop explosions…) By the afternoon I had enough. Patience lost.

When Andrew was down for his nap, Charles woke from his. I sat with him on the couch and he snuggled in close. He squeezed me and looked up into my eyes and smiled. I never felt so good and so awful at the same time. I felt so good that my children love me and I felt so awful that I treated them so terribly today when they needed me the most. I thought I had tried to cut everyone some slack since I know how sucky it is to be sick but clearly I was doing a lousy job. I realized that I had tried to do everything on my own. Not once had I asked God or anyone for help. Not once had I prayed (other than for my kids to not be sick the next day, although as I look back, it was more of a selfish prayer than a selfless prayer. I was praying more that they wouldn’t be sick the next day so that the whininess and the extra work was over.) I sat there on the couch feeling so empty because I was so completely drained. Finally, with that smile and the little snuggle that thankfully lasted a long long time, I got a little more fuel in the tank. I said a few quick prayers for strength, for patience, for grace and for my children’s well-being. I also managed to get an “I’m sorry” in there. These prayers were answered quietly. When Andrew woke up he was still as miserable as ever and Charles still wanted to be with me just as much and I still had lots to do but I have managed to do it all a little more peacefully. Yes, I am tired. Yes, I did somewhat cringe when Andrew cried for about half an hour because it was too bright in the house and he couldn’t see. But I managed to chuckle when I gave him his sunglasses and he wore them in the house for supper. Yes, I was frustrated when Charles didn’t seem to want to eat anything I gave him but I kept offering graciously and patiently. Yes, I hesitated slightly when Andrew remembered I had earlier suggested baking banana muffins after supper but we went ahead with the plan and he was a great little helper and we had lots of fun.

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The refreshing snuggle

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That precious smile.

They are now in bed and I can hear Andrew playing with his Scout puppy. Night has come and so has some peace. I’m ready to say a few prayers of thanksgiving and another to reiterate my sorrow for failing miserably before. I’m ready to watch a little Downton Abbey before my hubby comes home with hopefully some good news after his late meeting with his boss. I’m ready to start tomorrow off better. With some prayers for help as I can absolutely not do this whole parenting thing on my own.

On Saturday, before everything went down, I attended a wonderful conference centred on the feminine genius. In the last talk, the speaker stated 4 things that women need to be.

1. We need to be joyful. So tomorrow, that is what I will be. I will be joyful that my children are getting better. I will be joyful that it is Friday. I will be joyful that we are simply alive.

2. We need to be fearless. When I hear the first signs of whining tomorrow I will stand tall and rooted in patience instead of crumble and lose it as if I were the three-year old.

3. We need to be prepared to suffer. That is why I am typing this now. I needed to make sure I was aware of how much God can take care of us if only we ask. My suffering is really nothing compared to what others go through. I am not very strong and so whiny toddlers and being mostly alone all day are enough to throw me into deep waters. It is my “suffering” at the moment and I will take it head on tomorrow. And…

4. We need to be women of prayer. As the last few days have shown, this is probably the point I struggle with the most and therefore should be what I work on the hardest. I know growing a prayer life usually happens slowly and so I need to be patient with that as well. Little bit by little bit, I will try and turn my daily activities into small prayers and try to take those quick moments to throw a few thoughts and prayers up to heaven. Our Speaker (Colleen Carroll Campbell) also talked lots about how the saints have influenced her life. Over the next little bit I think I need to spend some time finding some saints who touch and inspire me. I think I need to find some new friends.

God Bless.

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7 quick take Friday

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We have finally established ourselves at our new place. The boys love it here. Andrew especially loves his new room with all the Thomas and Friends wall decals and a bunch of cool car posters. Plus the fact that we have a yard to play in makes this place great. Andrew will pile together our boots, coats, hats and mittens at the front door and announce, “We are ready to go throw snowballs and make snow angels together!”

Finally a nice day to get outside.

Finally a nice day to get outside.

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We had a crazy time at the beginning of the week. Everything seemed to go wrong and then to top it off our car got towed from out in front of our place. Thank you street maintenance crew who didn’t put any signs on our street. We will be fighting that ticket.

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I finally joined the real world and got my licence. Yeah. I know. Two kids and not able to drive was tough. I had to get over my fear so that I could stop going crazy around the house and feeling like my husband was my chaperone to go grocery shopping… Ten years late, but better late than never right?

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Our place is dance party central now that we have our internet connection up and running. Andrew loves it and Charles thinks we are crazy. Our favourite stations? ABC Beatles (Andrew thinks it’s hilarious) and addicted to radio (as they say – Everything from AC/DC to ZZtop so we really are covered.)

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St. Valentine’s Day was fun. Andrew got a kinder-surprise. It had a stamp as the prize. Just what we needed around here… Everything including my forehead has been stamped with “Hola.” Plus, they got a “Go, train, Go!” Book to share. The boys also go super cute Valentines in the mail from Grandmaman and Opa. Andrew was pumped.

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And speaking of books, I am patiently waiting our first arrival of the Imagination Library books for both of them. It was the first thing I set up when we moved it. (Can you tell I was excited?) Now that we finally have a mailbox we can receive our books!

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So the Pope is retiring. Crazy. When I think back to John Paul II and seeing as his death was pretty eminent, I remember thinking, “too bad he won’t be around much longer. I can’t imagine having anyone as well spoken and inspired as he was.” Then Cardinal Ratzinger succeeded him and I was so wrong. His wisdom was truly awe-inspiring. His teachings and writings were beautiful. I hope it continues with the new Pope who should be here at Easter. It is also pretty interesting to think that we are going through Lent (a time of prayer, fasting, solitude) without a Pope and it all seems so fitting.

Don’t forget to check out Jen and the others linked up.

St. Valentine’s Day

Amanda sent this one to me. I had a pretty good laugh. 

Good ole St. Valentine.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day! Hopefully as we celebrate love, family and friendship we can also remember (especially since today falls in Lent…) the love that Christ has for us and the love we should have for Him. (You know, that love that sent St. Valentine to his death.)

A Walk Through the Wilderness – Ash Wednesday

I always feel so humbled on Ash Wednesday. This day, its service and its message are so counter-culture. After a whole year of being told through the media and society that we must succeed, be important and perfect, this day always shocks me back to the truth.

In today’s world we need to be someone. We value success, position and possessions  above pretty much everything else. We have to climb ladders even if fingers get stepped on in the process. Yet today we are reminded of a simpler truth.

We are dust and to dust we shall return.

We are sinful – not perfect. We are mortal – not a god. Our material worth and possessions exist not in our eternal future. We are dust. We are nothing… without God.

These ashes are a humble reminder that I need forgiveness. I need to work harder to be in the world but not of it. I need to humble myself and live and work for God.

I think of the saints and the great works that they did and realize it is not their works. They are dust as well. (Quite literally now…) Yet they opened their lives to God so that He could work and teach through them. What was great in their lives was their faith. Let us be like them this Lent. Let us let go of our sinfulness and humble ourselves as the dust that we are so that God can make us great through Him.

Don’t forget to check out Amanda. I told you we are perfect for each other. She also was reminded of St. Therese of Lisieux. (Plus, she has two posts today! Here is her second one.)

Also, my mom reminded me of a little prayer that her mother taught her. It is a great prayer to pray at the top of the hour. I also find it especially fitting to pray during Lent.

“During this hour and every hour of the day and of the night may Jesus dwell in our hearts. Blessed be the hour and the moment when Jesus Christ our Savior became man died and rose again for our salvation. Blessed be the hour and the moment when Jesus Christ will come again in Glory.”

And seeing as today was Pope Benedict XVI’s last public homily I will share this.

And just for some comic relief on this somber day...

And just for some comic relief on this somber day…

Lenten reflections

(What? Two posts in one day? High five!)

I figure I should give a little intro into Lent, seeing as today is Shrove Tuesday (or Mardi Gras, or Carnival, or whatever you want to call it. The day before Lent.)

What is Lent?

Lent used to be the season between winter and summer. (Apparently in Dutch, “lente” is still used as their word for spring.) In the Church, Lent is like our own spiritual spring. It is a season of soul-searching and repentance as we prepare ourselves for Easter, and our Redemption. Lent is a time for refinement, sacrifice, repentance and growth. It is also symbolic to the 40 days that Jesus spend in the desert fasting, facing temptations and preparing for his public ministry.

If I’m going to use the cheesy analogy of the seed, (and I will), lent is like our germination stage. We are waiting in the wilderness for 40 days, in the dark of our sin, until the day we can break through to the surface and see the light of day. Just as fire that passes over a seed and opens it up to new life; through sacrificing, fasting, acknowledgement of our sinfulness and repentance, we can open up to become something (or rather someone) better.

Christ is our New Life. He is our Spring.

What can you do during Lent?

There is an abundance of things you can do to prepare for Easter. Everything from praying more regularly, to giving something up (by it something like television or a food,) to volunteering for the poor, to going to confession once a week, are great options. Here is a list of other ideas with some great reflections to make before choosing one or some ideas. Depending on where you are in your faith and what aspects of your life/spiritual life needs work there are a ton of different things to do.

A few things I’m going to work on are

  1. Really working on more strict Friday fasting
  2. Daily prayer
  3. Read some Classics (ones with some Catholic undertones)
  4. Exercise more
  5. Attend one weekday mass (apart from Sunday liturgies)
  6. More family time. (ie: less TV, computer, phone distractions)
  7. Be more thankful
  8. Declutter (loosely following this)
  9. Do the little things with love

(Yeah not a terrible list hey? Reading? Exercise? All pretty fun.)

I am also going to be using these 40 days of Lent to help teach Andrew about Kindness although random acts of kindness is sort of out of the question. Even though kids are definitely random, kindness is not really part of that. We will be encouraging to share with his little brother the first time we ask. Also, we will be acknowledging all the times he does something kind like tell someone he loves them, gives a hug, helps out etc. Then at the end of the day, we will add his kindness to our thank-you prayers. (Something along the lines of “We are thankful for all the times Andrew was kind for Jesus.”)

I think the hardest part is remembering to do all things with Love. Good thing my patron saint for 2013 is Therese of Lisieux. I need all the help I can get doing “the little things with great love.”

Therese, the little flower

Therese, the little flower

Don’t forget to check out any reflections made by Amanda. She wrote today about how Lent begins with decluttering.

And, we’re back.

Ok. So Maybe this blogging business isn’t really my thing. I’m going to try one more time before I call it quits. I’ll be teaming up with my dear friend Amanda as we share our Lenten reflections, inspirations, successes and failures.  We will be using this opportunity to actually try to stay on target and hopefully grow our faith for once. It will be our walk through the wilderness. (And as you will see, Amanda and I are perfect for each other. We are both very active bloggers. Oh wait… right.)

As an update, we have moved again. (That’s right, I said it.) This makes move number 11 (I think) in less than 3.5 years. Yah. It was easy, stress-free and smooth.

Or not.

I may only have two children, but packing, cleaning, moving and unpacking with two is infinitely more work than with one. The three-year old wants to help. That goes a little something like this.

“What’s this?”

“A whisk. Can you put it in that box over there?”

“What does it do?”

“You use it to mix things when baking. Can you put it in the box?”

“Does it mix like this?”

“Yes. The box… over there.”

“Can you use it as a sword?”

“I guess so. BOX! PACK!”

“So I could do this?” (Proceeds to hit me in the legs.)

“Ok, give that to me. It’s going in the box.” (Puts it in the box.)

“Hey! I want to play with it?” (Goes and gets it as well as three other cooking utensils so he can have lots of swords.)

Yeah.

Then with the other one, my little floor dweller, it goes a little something like this.

He crawls through my legs.

I move to pack another box.

He cries a little and follows.

I start putting things in the new box.

He climbs in.

I pull him out.

He cries.

I strap him in his booster chair with some bread.

He eats, then he shrieks for his hands to get wiped.

I wipe his hands and smell a dirty deed.

I clean this dirty deed and realize he really, really needs a bath.

I run a bath. (Three year old enters.)

Get them both dressed again.

What was I going?

Where was I with packing?

Might as well start somewhere else.

And rinse and repeat.

Thankfully with unpacking I had a wonderful friend come by with her kids to keep mine occupied. We are now back to normal and enjoying the new place, the yard and the space.

Finally a nice day to get outside.

Finally a nice day to get outside.

Debating whether to jump down into the hole.

Yup. That’s our mould of snow.

7 Quick Take Friday

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Snow. Ah, already. I’m sure every year this happens but I am never ready. Ever. No more heading to the park. No more nonchalant walks just because. No more escape to the outside when cabin fever sets in. That is, without having to take half an hour to bundle everyone up, and listening to a couple shrieks from whoever got dressed first and is now over-heating while waiting to get outside.

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And speaking of snow, I may or may not have started my Christmas shopping. Not admitting to anything, but I may be trying to not do last minute stuff and actually have gifts ordered and delivered in time like the cutest little chef uniform for a certain godson. Just saying…

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And again, speaking of snow, maybe now that we won’t be going outside I’ll actually get some reading done. I have been on the same book since the summer. Horrible. I got the whole Horatio Hornblower series and I am only on book one. STILL. These books should be able to be read in a day or two. Easy reading, and yet, I haven’t finish one.

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Other books that I recently bought are real gems for any parent or teacher. How To Get Your Child To Love Reading by Esme Codell is a fantastic resource for anyone looking for good quality books to own or borrow. There are probably 3000 titles on pretty much any topic. On top of that, there are some good suggestions for activities to pair with these books. The other books are from a collection called BUSY BOOK by Trish Kuffner. Each has 365 activities, crafts and games to keep little ones entertained. Trust me, in the next months those will be well used.

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Ok, I’m slightly ashamed to admit it but I have quitter envy. A friend of ours is quitting his job with Chuck’s company so he can move back home and get off the road. His wife is expecting their first child and does not want to live on the road. I’m beginning to get a little tired of the uncertainty surrounding our living circumstance and knowing that they will permanent be home makes me a little jealous. I am enjoying where we are and by no means regret my decision to stick together, but until I know what and where we are going to be in a few months, I will long for home.

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This week a beautiful lady passed away. Chuck’s grandma went to meet her maker. It is bittersweet but thankfully more sweet than bitter. She was so ready. She was an exceptional woman with a strong will and an even stronger faith. We love you Grandma. Keep praying for us.

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Welcome to the Year of Faith. I decided I would be proactive and signed up to receive snippets of the Catechism once a day for the year. The goal is to read it all and hopefully gain a better understanding of the faith. I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe. So far though, I have had to explain to a friend that this ‘new year’ is not Catholic New Years. My favourite part was explaining that Christmas is still on December 25th.

Thanks for reading my quick takes, now go and read the original here.  (I also hope to add a few pictures but for that I’m going to wait till I have more than an iPad.)