Wednesday, January 6, 2016

No more Uncle Billy moments

I guess this is the time of year I'm supposed to write a post about what I've resolved to do.  It's always about weight loss and how this will be the year I will have a complete body transformation and finally win $10,000 from and humbly accept my award.  Also, my spiritual life will grow by leaps and bounds to the point of levitating on the daily.  In that order, of course.

Not this year.  I have two resolves this year.

First:  No more Uncle Billy moments

Let me set the scene: In Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, Uncle Billy is most famously known for absentmindedly misplacing the money that was to be deposited in the bank.  Although throughout the entire movie, he is best known for his fumbles, so much so that he must tie string on his fingers to remind himself of various tasks.  He is always rummaging around the Building and Loan, sloppily dressed with hair awry.  Always fumbling.

No More Uncle Billy moments.

So, this came about as I was spending time with my mother in the hospital.  As I was preparing to leave one evening and fumbling through my purse, half panic-stricken that THIS MUST indeed be the time I've lost my keys forever and will never be able to return home to my family, my mother says to me, "Hey, Uncle Billy, where are your keys this time?" 

I know it was a small detail, but it had mountainous meaning for me.  I was fumbling through my purse, a lot like I fumble through making dinner, a lot like I fumble through cleaning, a lot like I fumble through grocery shopping, and a lot like I do many things.

Honestly, since that day I've purposely said to myself, "Slow down, Uncle Billy.  Why are you in a hurry?  Why are you hurrying right now?  Slow down and look around.  Look at people in the face.  Look at the faces of your precious children.  Look at the apples you are picking out to feed those precious children.  Examen those oranges with pleasure in God's great creation.  Look at them.  Carefully cut that kale salad up for those little mouths to eat."

Hey, Uncle Billy, look at the bottom of your precious baby's feet.  They really are unreal, all those lines unique only to her.  Hey, Uncle Billy, Have you ever turned around in the car wash to watch their faces watch the automatic machine?  It is wonderful especially when in squirts the Tri-colored foam.  Who needs Disney when your car wash squirts Tri-color foam?  Hey Uncle Billy, have you noticed how darling two-year-old hands are?  Look at them.  Look at the dirt under his fingernails.   Stop fumbling around.  Hey Uncle Billy, slow down.  Your children and their simple ways are enough entertainment for a lifetime.  Stop fumbling around.

So, I resolved to not fumble.  Just today, in fact, I was striding into Hy-Vee and felt Uncle Billy coming on.  I purposely stopped, realized the mission at hand, and slowed down.  I was on my way to buy food for our Epiphany Party.  They were so excited back home.  What a pleasure I had to be buying food for our Epiphany Party.  This one action triggered a series of following actions.  Because I slowed down, I got out our fine china and gold chargers.  I got out our stem wear and let the kids have grape bubbly in the tall stems.  They loved it.

Hey Uncle Billy, Did you know Kapaun watches you make dinner every night?  Did you know that he stands on that chair watching you no matter how long it takes you?  One hour.  No problem.  He stands there watching.  Look at him.   Look up and no more fumbling.

Secondly, I am attempting to make a holy hour everyday or at least spend some time alone with HIM in the chapel each day.  I look forward to our date everyday although it takes a considerable amount of minutes to calm my inner Uncle Billy and focus on Our Lord.

Those are my resolves.  Here's hoping to 2016 being fruitful in this endeavor. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Teaching our children about sexuality

Teaching our children about their sexuality is something we've invested a lot of time preparing for.  We wanted to do a thorough job trying to understand every angle a child experiences when learning about sex.  I have asked countless individuals and priests their recommendations for preparing our children for a sexualized culture.   This is what we've discovered so far and I wanted to share the resources we've found and what we've experienced so far.  Please add any additional resources or ideas.  We would love to hear what you have found for your family.

1.  We decided that John and I would tell our children together as a couple about God's design for sex.  It is one of the most important topics we will teach them about so why would we not approach this subject together as a united team.  I AM SO GLAD WE DID THIS.  It certainly appears to have left out any uncomfortability as we are there sitting next to each other complimenting and validating each other while presenting the topic to our children.  NOTE:  We didn't tell our children all together as in everybody in one room.  We told Dominic separate from the age-appropriate girls, but John and I are there together while we are speaking to both groups.

2.  We very much intend to not just have ONE talk. We intend to have an on-going conversation reading different bits of material together mixing encyclicals with other great resources that I will list below.

3.  Most of our talks will be in the comfort and familiarity of home.  I've asked many friends about when they first learned about intercourse.  I received a variety of answers which included some being told by their parents, some went on special trips with a parent, many learned from kids at school, and far too many learned from their encounters with pornography at a young age.

4.  While we stressed the seriousness of the sin involved with abusing our sexuality either with pre-marital sex, self-abuse or masturbation, or viewing pornography, we told them last night that our goal as a family is to stress the beauty of life and God's plan for each person.  We have a two fold goal.  YES, this is a mortal sin BUT Please know of this big, beautiful world God has created and how He has made you for a specific purpose.  It is a tricky thing in parenting because on one hand you want them to never put their soul in mortal danger so a parent can tend to pound and pound the subject out and then the child is left dulled by the repetition.  On the other hand, we don't want to neglect the seriousness by only portraying how wonderful life is.  I believe you must present both.

We've found these valuable teaching tools that I would recommend to invest in for your children.

1.  Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner

We've read this with everyone including Clairvaux (5 years old) on up.  It's a powerful 5-step plan to inoculate your children again the epidemic of pornography.

2.  Wonderfully Made!  Babies
A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies (for ages 9 and up)
By Ellen Giangiordano with Dr. Lester Ruppersberger

3.  The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Catherine Scherrer

Other resources that have been recommended to us:

1.  All Things Girl by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller and Monica Cops
2.  The Care & Keeping of You:  A Body book for younger girls
3.  The Story of Me (book 1)
4.  Before I Was Born (book 2)

I will add recommendations here that I receive from other readers.

1.  Listen, Son (Family Life Education for Boys) (Seton)
2.  Mother's Little Helper (Family Life Education for Girls)  (Seton)

I would certainly read everything before you present to your children just so you can sift what you deem appropriate for each child.  For example, while the last two books I've recommended are good, they are advanced for many children so proceed with caution.

All these books can be ordered through Gloria Deo bookstore at 888-420-1830.

I want to close with a few tiny tidbits we added and found helpful.

There certainly was an element of nervousness to begin this process for us.  We wanted to preserve their innocence while not neglecting a very important parenting duty.  We wanted to preserve the sacred while making sure they are prepared to encounter the world and all that it might throw at them.  Once we began discussing with them, all the nerves went completely away and we've had many beautiful discussions.  I know the grace will be flowing!

One night we focused on body safety rules that I'm glad we went over with them.  I wanted to add that here as a chapter of the whole picture regarding this subject matter.

I found this on pinterest and thought it was pretty thorough so we just used this.

We added to #2:  Even if an older child or adult asks you to.

We also taught them early warning signs that should trigger their brain to beware of such as sweaty palms, racing heart and a sick tummy.

We never keep secrets that are uncomfortable or bad; we only keep happy surprises!

Be strong, Be brave and Always speak!

Again, these conversations have unfolded over many nights and weeks.  We haven't presented everything at once and while the topics can be serious, we always stress God's beauty and wonder to them.

Friday, January 1, 2016

She came HOME.

My love came home. Our Christmas was wonderful because she was home.  We were told she would be in the hospital until after the beginning of the year, but here she is.  Nothing much mattered to me this Christmas but her.  She will have scans in February to check the effectiveness of her treatments.

I have always had an awareness of the swiftness of time, but my sensitivity to the sand slipping through the hourglass has heightened.  This brings about an ability to push aside all trivial matters and focus on the most important, but it also brings about sadness not knowing what the coming months will bring.

I keep telling her that we are together now.  We have today and we can do today.  I don't exactly know how to navigate through these times.

We are all so thankful for her being home.  I was able to be with her for her bone marrow transplant and last chemotherapy treatment.  I thank all who prayed for Lourdes to take a bottle while I was gone.  She actually never did, but John willingly handled her so I could be with my dear mother.

Tomorrow will be her one year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer.  Wow.  It seems like it has either been five minutes ago they told us she had cancer or that it was fifty years ago.  I'm not sure which.