Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes for 7in7: LUCKY YOU!

Giving you a double dose of Jen today! 

1) Yesterday was Kyle's 40th birthday. Yes, he's nearly 8 months younger than I am, but who's counting? We celebrated with ribs, Portillo's Chocolate Cake, and an iPad Mini as my gift to him. Welcome to the world of Apple, my darling!

2) Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Will's 2nd birthday. My Leap Day baby will NOT be deprived of a birthday celebration just because he doesn't have an "official" day on which to celebrate 3/4ths of the time. In fact, my second gift to Kyle is honoring his request to take the entire family to Wisconsin Dells for Will's birthday!

3) Have you ever been to the Dells? It's like Vegas, but for families. Just once in your life you should go. We are staying at a resort which has a few indoor waterparks, so the older kids can wander off on their own while we wrangle the little ones. Rumor has it that a swim-up bar was installed, so don't feel too badly for us. ;)

4) I really need a new pair of winter boots and now is the season to get a great deal. Any suggestions for comfy, but cute , boots?

5) Have any of you caught the 90s BBC show Ballykissangel? It's on Amazon Prime right now! I'm only just beginning season 2 (after finishing Season 1) and it really like it! It's all about a little Irish town, it's Catholic priest and all the townspeople. Each episode highlights different characters and their stories, using the priest as the common thread weaving them all together. If you get a chance, check it out!

6) Upon the recommendation of some very wonderful women, I recently purchased a copy of 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley. My wise friends suggested it as a great book for Lenten reading, and I can't wait to get started!

7) Don't forget to buy your paczki on Tuesday!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Theme Thursday & 7in7: Fences

Linking up with Cari and Jen for.....

Fences at Sunset (be jealous of my photog skills)

WWRW and 7in7: The Feeling Good Handbook

Linking up with the Double J Ranch: Jessica and Jen!

Full disclosure: I read this book last summer, but I refer to it weekly and this week I have turned to it almost as often as I have turned to my Rosary.

The Feeling Good Handbook By David Burns came highly recommended to me by a mental health care professional last Spring. First, I checked out a copy from the library, but I soon found that it was one of those books. You know, the type of book you know you will want to refer back to many times. The type of book you can see becoming valuable in all sorts of new situations in the future. So, I bought my own copy and it has been so very worth it.

Overall, it's marketed as a self-help book for the average person and uses behavioral awareness and modification as the tools to help the reader improve. The author is a psychologist (he looks grooooooovy, right?) who has a very conversational writing style and uses many real examples as ways of illustrating personality types, flaws, and ways to improve. 

On it's own, it's a fascinating read.

When you apply it to your own life, it takes on a whole new meaning. Somehow, Burns gets the reader to really see himself/herself as others do, but in a very gentle, non-judgemental way. He then leads you through all different types of exercises to show where you can improve and change. His very helpful explanations show you exactly how to change without feeling overwhelmed. 

He devotes several sections of the book on how to deal with difficult personality types successfully. This was eye-opening, to say the least. Truly, I never realized that there are so many different ways of approaching a difficult person or situation and achieving a tolerable-to-good outcome. Not only do I wish I had this book as a young wife and mother, I wish I had it as a middle-schooler!

This book is laid out in such a way that jumping around from section to section isn't a problem, but I would definitely recommend reading it in it's entirety at some point. 

Whether you are female or male, married or single, childless or a parent, this book can help you in all areas of your life. It certainly has helped me!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

7 in 7: Day 2

(Alternate title: How Dying To Self Actually Killed Me)

Today, a certain eldest child who shall remain anonymous hit another car. With my new van. That we bought three weeks ago. 

He is alright. No one was injured. My van and the parked car he hit were not so fortunate. 

It's a good lesson, right? I don't know. Maybe. Too soon to tell. 

My car breaks again the day after Christmas. Keeps dying, burning through oil and shutting off abruptly while driving down the road. No one knows why. Since we purchased it --nearly brand new-- almost 4 years ago, it has cost us more than $3000 in repairs. 

The list goes on and on. The stress, too, goes on and on. When my Suburban decided to shut down while Kyle was on his way to pick up Killian, Will and I at the airport (quick trip to FL to see about Killian transferring next year! See? It's not all bad!), we decided we needed to get a new car and fast.

We spent the following day discussing our options for a new family car. While we LOVED our first Suburban, it's replacement had been riddled with issues from Day 1 and we didn't want to go that route. Also, since Will was born 2 years ago, we didn't have enough seats for all 9 of us, so any time we all had to go somewhere together, we drove 2 cars. The very last thing we wanted to do was get "one of those awful church vans" and make all those stereotypes of big families a reality! Gasp!

You see where I'm going with this, right?

We ended up going to look at a 12-passenger van that was only a few months old and had very little miles. You never saw two grumpier people.

I had truly not ever thought of myself as defined by my possessions, but, holy cow.... I did not want to be the lady with all those kids driving the big white van. Kyle didn't want to be married to her, either. 

I started to feel dizzy and sad. I ran to the dealership bathroom and began texting friends for moral support. I had to do some real soul-searching, real fast.

Quick prayers. Quick conversation with Kyle. Deep breaths. 

We ran all the numbers, negotiated a killer deal on the Suburban's trade-in value (in fact, it was worth more than the newer van!) and found out we would be saving $200 a month on our car payment. That was too much for both of us. The promise of financial relief suddenly made that big old van look very nice.

And it is nice. 

Kyle had them install DVD players and a remote start. The kids enjoy all the extra room. The older kids, who are now adult-size, really like that they can sit in any seat and have comfortable leg room. And, we have promised them a fun road trip in the near future. 

All of this to say that I needed to take serious stock of who I was and where I was in my life. I never would have done it unless I was really forced into it. It was necessary. I also had to make a choice. One that I make every day, only not so consciously. I had to choose what was best for my family over what I wanted. Normally, that's not a problem. But, when it came in the form of the place I spend a lot of time in and in which "the world" sees me, I balked. Big time. 

I am really hoping that God sees what I've learned here and stops sending me these lessons wrapped in such dramatic packaging, though. (You hear that, Lord?)

Also, the new van needs a new door now; maybe you could make that happen as painlessly as possible, dear Jesus?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Musings: Downton Edition

Linking up with Jen for her 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge! (I'm so brave!)

Whew! The season is OVER?! Already?!

Though, what started off as a less-than-exciting season certainly ended very well, in my opinion. 

Well, on to the musings part of our program:

- Edith: what beautiful, sacrificial love!      
  Not only did she decide against the 
  abortion, but she carried her baby to 
  term, breastfed her for a couple of
  months (cannot imagine doing this 
  knowing I was giving the baby away!), 
  and then handed her over to the 
  adoptive parents. And, all without the 
  knowledge or support of her parents
  and sister. Which brings me to...

- How can they not know?? I realize 
  times were different, but your adult 
  daughter -- who is already dealing with 
  the tragic disappearance of her   
  potential fiancĂ© -- travels to Switzerland 
  for eight months and returns 
  obviously physically and emotionally 
  drained, and you barely do more than 
  ask "are you alright?"?? (Do I win an 
  award for longest run-on sentence?)
  The Mama Bear in me was grinning 
  like a fool when Edith and the tenant
  farmer came to such a wonderful 
  agreement about her "secret" and...
  the baby is coming home!!!!!

- Speaking of which, where the   
  heck were the babies?? I want
  to see way more of Sybbie and Baby 

- Rose, don't go away mad...just 

- Thomas, I don't even love to
  hate you anymore. "Naner-naner-
  boo-boo! I tattled again!". Dude, if you
  had blond, curly ponytails and lisp, you
  would be the youngest daughter of a
  lovely lady.

- Bates, Bates, Bates.... I'm not even 
  falling for the "did he/didn't he?" plot 
  here (he did. Duh.). More interesting is
  the surrounding moral issues faced by 
  Mrs. Hughes and Lady Mary. While I 
  can understand both points of view, 
  I think Mary had it right when she 
  states that it doesn't matter if the bad
  guy was eliminated, a life was still
  purposely taken and that is wrong. 
  And, then, she goes and stays true 
  to her first love (family pride) and burns
  the evidence all because Batesy is 
  loyal to the family. Hmmmmm.

- DOWAGER! 1) I despise Shirley  
   MacClaine and she's a crappy 
   actor, so, 2) it's so satisfying to 
   see her trounced by the Dowager's
   classy one-liners and Dame Maggie
   Smith's superb acting skills. Suck 
   it, Triangle Head!

- The finale. How sweet was that? 
  I loved seeing the staff relaxing at the
  beach and enjoying their break. Even 
  more, I was tickled pink to see Carson
  and Mrs. Hughes wade hand in hand 
  into the ocean. So sweet!

So, what are your thoughts??