Learning to Dance in the Rain

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Recently I’ve seen a new quote popping up everywhere: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning how to dance in the rain.”   After all the growing pains of last year, I now can relate to the  concept that life shouldn’t be broken into times of struggle and difficulty versus times of happiness and peace.  There is a mixture of both in our lives.  True peace means that, even when there is difficulty and conflict in your life, you can still find the joy.

Life has been very busy the past couple months.  I LOVE the fall and all the fun activities it brings, but our full calendar has meant less time for reflection and blogging.  However, this season has also provided many opportunities to practice what I’ve learned in terms of being in the moment, accepting my feelings, and trusting Christ.

teacupsNovember ushered in a lot of wonderful family activities and events – Oktoberfest, Sienna’s First Holy Communion, and our tenth wedding anniversary.  However, the middle of the month brought a lot of stress.  I had three sources of external conflict to deal with and felt on the brink of tears several times due to these situations.  While I want to embrace my emotions and was grateful to feel them, in these particular circumstances, it was necessary for me to suppress the tears as I was a leader or authority figure in each case.  I wanted to demonstrate my ability to handle the conflict in a professional and mature way.

Throughout this challenging time, I prayed constantly for strength.  I prayed for God to guide my words and help me to be a loving servant to the people around me.  I let go of trying to control the outcome of each situation, and instead prayed that God would make everything work out for the best.  I was blessed by very positive outcomes in each situation and learned that being a leader doesn’t mean controlling and having “it all figured out”.  Being willing to deal with conflict in a loving way, that’s the type of leader I hope to be.

Thanksgiving week – how I was looking forward to a break and enjoying time with my family!  Sienna’s school was closed the entire week so I worked from home Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  My sore throat started Monday and turned into a pretty bad cold by Tuesday evening.  Isn’t it funny how your body’s defenses are up when you have to get work done and then, (wham!) you get sick as soon as you relax?

Our Thanksgiving tradition, when it’s just the four of us, is to watch the parade, play some football in the backyard, watch a bunch of football, while cooking the big feast and then end the night by watching “Home Alone” with our pumpkin pie.  This year it was hot – in the high 80s – on Thanksgiving Day.  I was sick and coughing a bunch, while cooking the entire meal myself, in a hot kitchen.  Thankfully, since I was home sick the day before, I’d gotten all the chopping and prep done for the many dishes I was preparing. Unfortunately, I burned my finger on the oven midway through prepping our meal.  Ugh.

I’ve had many Thanksgiving meal mishaps over the years.  Typically my grand visions of how perfect the day was going to be would come crashing down when these issues occurred.  This year, with my new attitude of staying in the moment and allowing for the frustrations and challenges of life to come and go, I didn’t spend any time lamenting that the day didn’t turn out the way I expected.  Instead, I took deep breaths. I prayed for peace and calm in my words and deeds toward my family.

When we sat down to eat and grasped hands to say the Lord’s Prayer, a peace came over me as I realized all the effort was worth it.  I looked around at Sienna, Mateo, and Dennis with a feeling of gratitude and joy.  Being the mom, making the sacrifice to cook this huge meal for my husband and kids while feeling so sick, so that we could give thanks to our gracious Lord for all his blessings – it felt right.

Letting go of how things “should” be and embracing what is happening – it’s one of the things I’m most thankful for this year.  It’s one simple way of acknowledging that God is taking care of everything and keeping us in his loving embrace.

That, and pumpkin pie with real whipped cream.  I’m really thankful for that annual indulgence too!

Delighting in Charlotte’s Web

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For the past few weeks, Sienna and I have been reading Charlotte’s Web together, a chapter or two a night.  She knows the story because we have the movie, but reading it was so enjoyable!  It’s the most delightful little story.

charlotte's webAs a first grader, Sienna is fully immersed in the world of early reading.  Her elementary school is part of a very good school district, which we’ve come to learn, means pretty high expectations.  She’s reading well and growing her skills daily.  The other evening she mentioned that some of the kids in her class are already reading chapter books.  They’ve been doing a Charlotte’s Web unit, studying spiders and the story.  Sienna said some of the kids were reading the book themselves.

Later that night, as we settled in to finish up the last couple chapters of Charlotte’s Web, Sienna said she wanted to read.  She read me the first full page, with little trouble.  When I told her how wonderfully she did, she replied, “I’m going to tell my teacher and then I can start picking some chapter books from the bin!”  It was awesome to see her embrace this challenge and be excited about reading.

humbleI read a couple pages and then, without comment, put my finger under the first word of the next paragraph and Sienna started reading.  She was very proud of her accomplishment and eager to keep reading.

As a parent, this stage of life is so rich with little moments of growth and discovery.  It’s so precious and rewarding to witness our children delighting in the new things they can do or facts they’ve learned.  Reading to Sienna, and now reading with her, is one of the best parts of my day.  When we cuddle up to read, it feels like the very best way I could be spending my time.

A Week of Family Fun and Milestones

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The first week of November was packed full of events for our little family!  Leading up to Halloween, I felt overwhelmed and a little stressed by all that needed to be done and organized for the coming week.  Thankfully, my mom (aka Gaga) was visiting and coordinated much of the cooking and errand running while I went to work and the kids were at school.  Here’s the recap of all the fun events and milestones we celebrated recently:

Halloween

We had friends over for dinner and trick-or-treating.  Sienna was Cinderella and wore a beautiful dress that her Gaga made her.  She had a few momentary internal struggles with her desire to be Elsa.  Seeing all the Elsa’s running around was an odd type of peer pressure.  We told her that it was so much cooler to be unique.  Her dress was gorgeous and she had fun.

044Teo was Ironman.  His mask kept falling over his eyes so I’m fairly certain her couldn’t see while walking through the neighborhood.  His best buddy, Brady, was the Hulk and they held hands a bit while trick-or-treating.  It was adorable!  Dennis and I borrowed costumes from our dear friends, he was Buddy the Elf and I was an Elf/Santa’s Helper.  It was really fun dressing up!  I laughed so hard when I first saw Dennis try on his costume!!  I’d share the pictures but marital harmony would be at jeopardy. 🙂

Oktoberfest

080Our church’s annual Oktoberfest was on Saturday, November 1st.  I helped plan the kids activities, which was fun!  Gaga and I also took a turn serving food.  If you’re not aware, Martin Luther was German, so Oktoberfest is huge with Lutherans.  We had all the traditional food – bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad, pretzels, and lots of beer.

124One of our kids’ activities was a mummy wrap.  It was a fun and unlikely hit!  The kids got a kick out of wrapping people in toilet paper and then had even more fun tearing it up and throwing it everywhere.  It was chaos!

Sienna’s First Holy Communion

157The highlight of the weekend, for me, was watching Sienna’s First Holy Communion.  After eight weeks of catechesis, weekly studying at home, weekly Bible memory verses, and her first private Confession and Absolution, Sienna was ready to partake in Holy Communion for the very first time.  She came to understand the importance of Christ’s presence in the eucharist and appreciate the great gift he has given us in his Holy body and blood.  She wore a beautiful white dress that Gaga made just for the occasion.  As many folks congratulated her and gave her sweet gifts after the service, you could see her recognizing the milestone she’d just experienced.  As a mom, knowing I’m giving my children the opportunity to know Christ, through his sacraments, brings me such peace and joy!

Sienna’s First Dance Recital

007On Tuesday, Sienna had her first dance recital!  She’s been in a beginning ballet class this fall.  It meets just once a week.  Two of her friends were also in the class.  They worked on two dances to songs from Tangled.  We love Tangled!  She enjoyed the classes very much.  However, starting at the second session, she claimed that she didn’t want to do the recital.  This went on for about a month.  She told the teacher that she wouldn’t do the recital.  We just said, “Why don’t you wait and see how you feel when the time comes?”

As the recital neared, she got more comfortable, especially when she learned that the “recital” was in the same studio where they practiced.  In the end, she participated and did wonderfully in the recital!  She was very proud of herself for conquering the fear!

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This busy week was fun and memorable.  However, during the few workdays prior to Halloween, I felt stressed.  There was so much to do!  Between food for our Halloween party, activities for Oktoberfest, getting Sienna to her final class and practice for First Holy Communion, and remembering all the little things that had to get done, life felt very hectic.  I used to thrive on this type of planning and activity.  But, now that I’m connecting to the moment and focusing on quality time with my family and friends, instead of rushing and planning, this type of schedule felt stressful.  It was cool that I could feel this difference and appreciate that I don’t want to crave my life with activity anymore.  Sometimes these  busy weeks will happen and being organized helps keep the stress level down.  All in all, once the fun activities started, I was able to enjoy and be present.