Sunday, January 22, 2017

The benefits of being wrong

It wasn't very long ago that I was one of those people saying that I "hated" going to Confession. I didn't like confessing sins and admitting weaknesses and I didn't really understand the point of it.

 These past few months, I've finally grown in this area and I'm beginning to understand what others have seen. The benefits of confessing, the benefits of being wrong and admitting it.
That every time we confess our sin, we receive a grace of understanding ourselves and others. And that understanding grows deeper the more often we go.
That God reveals our faults to the humble and those who are open to it, while the arrogant remain blind to their faults since they don't want to see it.
That, as hard as it is, understanding ourselves and why we do things, why we've been hurting, finding a root cause behind the anger or malicious thoughts or words, that usually there is a wound we never knew existed. And feeling the grace of God heal that wound.
That we receive a grace of desire to begin again. I don't usually feel like trying again until I go to confession.
That, through confession, we become stronger in our weaknesses. 
We become more like the image of God through confession.
That through confession, our understanding of God's mercy grows deeper (if we seek to understand.)
That our friendship with God grows stronger.
That it's probably the only time where we can still seek mercy from God, before being justly judged at death.

I didn't appreciate confession before; I had just thought of it as another "catholic chore" to be done in order to be on the right side of my faith. Thanks to my imperfect nature (haha), I have learned how worthy this sacrament is and how misunderstood it is.

I don't expect to teach anyone that reads this about my revelation of confession--they are the same things I have heard from others about why they go to confession throughout my life.

I just wanted to write it down, put it into words. To say that I get it too. I am grateful for confession. And I'm glad we have it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A new project: the playroom

We always knew that we need to get the playroom taken care of soon. It leaks whenever it rains, it has no carpet, and it's outdated. We haven't touched it since we moved in (although the kids do play in it.)

The area where it leaks

But now we have a reason to finally take care of it.

As I am going along in my studies for dog training, I've been thinking, contemplating, and praying about what to do with it when I'm done. Long story short, I will be doing what most trainers do: I will teach classes and do private sessions. (The two combined is called "the bread and butter of dog training.")

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to teach. I hate public speaking. I freeze up. I have some pretty traumatic memories of speeches that I have told for school. But it would be a silly reason not to pursue this just because I am afraid to speak in front of people.

Then of course, there is the dilemma of deciding where to hold the classes. The options are endless: you can train at a community center, veterinarians, pet stores, groomers and even garages. I know of a class that taught in a storage unit. It doesn't really matter to the dogs and people don't expect anything nice or fancy--as long as they have somewhere clean to sit.

But none of those options work for me--mainly because we live so far away from everything.

The second dilemma is that even though you can create your own schedule, most people are free on the weekends and that is the best time to hold classes. But Dennis works the weekend shift and as usual, I have no one to watch the kids.

And the third dilemma was overhead costs. Even if I were to team up with a pet store, groomers, vet, ect--I have no money--and I mean none--to pay rent. So many obstacles for something so simple!

Then one day, as I was watching a movie with the kids in the playroom, it hit me: why not hold the classes in the playroom? The room is certainly large enough, the carpet has already been ripped out (due to the constant leaking water) and there is a walk-out to the backyard where training could be held on nice days. (And more dog-friendly too.)

The best part is that I wouldn't have to leave the house or take time away from the family (other than the times I would be training) and of course, I would save money with no overhead!

Obviously, having a business in the home is going to be something to adjust to for everyone, but there are definitely more pros than there are cons to this solution. The kids can still play in the playroom  during the day, but will be off-limits in the evenings. No Legos or toys on the floor--everything in totes with lids on it! That hole in the wall will need to be covered up, and we would have to clear a lot of things out, like the Ping-Pong table. But it's doable! We will see!

And so, the playroom is finally going to get a make-over! I plan to keep it simple but hopefully appealing. It had to be done eventually, so it might as well be now.

The question is if the location will work. If not, the worst thing that will happen is that I will have to move to another location and come up with money for rent.

There is more in store to this plan, but as it is still in discernment and too soon to talk about, that is all I will tell you for now. I hope to be able to share my secret very soon, but at the same time, want to be prudent. (I have a bad habit of blabbing my life to everyone.)

Next up, pics of our playroom progress!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Doorknobs and hiding in the pantry

For my birthday present, Dennis got me a new door. I had mixed feelings about this, but I decided oh well, I now have a door!

Actually, he got one for our bedroom and the boys bedroom. The gift in this was "now you don't have to buy one" (I think??)

Anyway, the door project is now done, and a finished project is always good. I waited until we got the doorknobs and everything before doing a brag post.

Henry really wanted a blue door. I couldn't reason with him on this, so as always, I compromised. We painted the inside of the door blue and left the outside white.

He is happy.

I can't explain how having finished projects make me happy. It just feels more "homey" to see doors that aren't busted in or old and falling apart. It's little things that we tend to take for granted.

And doorknobs. Yes, I took pictures of those too!

If I thought that doors were great, I can't even begin to explain the joy I have in being able to close a door and keep it closed. No more kids peering through the hole of where a doorknob should have been asking "what am I doing in there"?? No more just busting in because you can. No more dog pouncing or nudging his way in. (A cruel surprise when he tries to pounce on it and he winds up on the floor.)

And it even has a lock!

This video that I've posted down below reminds me a lot of me huddling in my room--with either my back pressed against the door or furniture pushed against it--trying to just get a few moments to myself. Admittedly, those days are getting to be fewer and fewer as the kids get older, although, as I type this, I have 12 year old pressed against the outside of my door, waiting for me to come out. (I can hear him sighing.) 

Now you see why doors and doorknobs (and locks) make this post worthy.

Thank you for those who reached out to me in my last post. I was actually really surprised, and I don't mean that as a negative comment to anyone. I just honestly thought it was spam that reads my blog, so it was a pleasant surprise to find out that it is people after all.

And now, the video that made me laugh. We need light (and honest) moments like this; we are not alone! (Literally.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Blues

Anyone got the blues? Lately, I do.

I'm not really sure what it is. Night time is the worst. I wake up often  with anxiety and then can't get back to sleep. The feelings of gloom and fear of the future can be overwhelming. During the day it's a little easier, since I'm too busy to be thinking, but irritability is what tends to overpower me at some point of the day. I get upset over little things, sometimes over literally nothing. I find myself alone in my room often.

On top of that, I find myself overly-sensitive, finding myself getting angry over emails from teachers or customers for rosaries. I end up asking myself, "What is my problem today??" I ask myself that a lot and never have an answer.

I do a lot of apologizing. Apologies to the kids, apologies to Dennis, even sometimes an apology to a teacher if I get too emotional in an email.

I find myself excited for the future of going back to work one day and terrified the next. Crying in the bathroom early in the morning for no reason. Emotional about every birthday and how the kids are growing up so fast. Depressed that I can never get pregnant anymore and yet at the same time, afraid that I will because I know I don't have the energy for a baby anymore.

Anxious about money. Thrilled with every small sale I get because that means a little less pressure to come up with money for the "extras" (clothes, haircuts, or presents for birthdays), but pressured and stressed to get those rosaries out on time (which never seems to happen anymore.)

Fatigue and tired every day. Needing a nap by two. Grumpy when I wake up.

I think guilt is the worst of it. I feel guilty for feeling this way. Guilty because I know others have it so much harder than I do. Guilty that we have so much and for some reason, it doesn't seem to be enough for me. Guilty for just being grumpy when I can't really explain why.

And then I think: menopause. I don't have it yet, but I know I'm pre-menopausal (premenopausal) and well on my way. I'm definitely at the right age for it.

I don't want to get old. And yet I feel old all the time. A tired heart does not help. A huge belly (diastasis rectis) limits my activities and makes exercising impossible. Starting a career in my 40's doesn't help either. I always feel like I'm working against time.

So I'm asking: is anyone out there? Supposedly a few people read this blog. I have no idea who they are. For all I know it could be spam.

But if it is PEOPLE that read my blog, can you please step out of the shadows and tell me if you have suffered perimenopause before? Have you taken anything for it? Did you go crazy, like I am, or just sit here and loathe yourself, like I do.

I don't want to feel this way. But I can't seem to help it.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Christmas Story: an open heart sometimes means a broken heart

Advent was tough financially, and because it was tough financially, it was a huge distraction spiritually. I tried to put my focus into helping someone who had it a little harder than we do--which was a good thought, but just a singular thought. Meaning, other than thinking of how nice it would be to help someone else in need, that was the only thought I had. I didn't' think the thoughts about the money part.

So, I basically had two families to support for Christmas.

It created a lot of stress.

Somehow, we got through it. Somehow, we managed to pull it off. (This was with some help from a few other people and lots and lots of prayer for help.) I was glad to have helped the family but I also realized that someone else probably could have helped them a lot more. It actually was a selfish decision to help them; I was looking for a warm fuzzy feeling. Well, anyway, I meant well and God knew I meant well, and He knew what I was searching for. But it made things really hard and put a lot of stress between Dennis and me because Dennis was already struggling with trying to pay the bills that couldn't get paid.

Christmas Eve, I went to Mass. I sadly told Jesus that my plans had failed. I didn't have the warm fuzzy feeling I had been looking for; I didn't have any new insights about Christmas. I felt further away from God more than ever. I felt smothered with the pressures of a worldly Christmas and depressed that we hadn't brought our kids up knowing a more simpler Christmas. I had nothing in my heart , it was just a heavy emptiness. And then I knew that I could at least offer the Baby Jesus that.

"Jesus, I can give You the only thing I have. I give you my open heart."

Open heart? But yes, n open heart is good. Offering Him my heart was good but offering an open heart was better. That wasn't what I meant to pray, but I would take it.

 And then I noticed Fr.Gregory walking up and down the aisles of the church, scanning the pews. He seemed to be looking for someone. He then went to Dennis, whispered something, and then left. Dennis turned to me and said, "Come on. We've been picked to carry up the Baby Jesus."

Another family had been picked--I know this because Fr.Gregory had told me so a few days before. For some reason, they didn't show. And so it was us that got to bring up the Baby Jesus.

Well, I didn't take this as a special sign or anything--I know that God wouldn't arrange for that family to not show up. But being picked second is just as good as being first. Being picked at all is a blessing. And being picked to carry up Jesus in a special way after such a dark Advent felt like a special gift from God.

It was Lucy who carried up the Baby Jesus and I was instructed to "swaddle" the Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. Can I just tell you how special this was, though I knew this was just a statue, to swaddle the Baby Jesus (in a somewhat sloppy way, since I was trying to hurry) and give Him my all, my open heart? To make this small act of love and to be chosen to do it? Only Jesus understood what a gift it was to do this for Him. It was what I had been searching for all Advent. A closeness with Him in a special way.

Later, during Father's homily, he was preaching on love. He stopped in the middle of it to pull out of a large whiteboard with a heart drawn on it. I thought of course, that it represented love. But then he erased the top part of the heart and made a big open crack through it. What he said next made me stop cold.

"In order for God to heal us, we need an open heart to let Him in. And sometimes, in order to be let in, our hearts need to be broken" (or let Him work through an area of weakness or hurt.)

Wow! What can I say except that I felt that God couldn't be more clearer with His message to me on what I needed for this Christmas. An open heart.

I know that message was for everyone, and that we all are called to an open heart (and have been hurt in our lives as well, in some way or another). But that Christmas Eve night, I felt like He had His own message for me. Maybe for you too.

I was looking for Jesus all Advent, searching for some sort of fulfillment, some sort of peace. I didn't find it through worldly things, not even in others.  I found Him in the desire of wanting to find Him. I found Him in the brokenness of my heart.

Such a simple thing, to lift up our open hearts.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Little improvements: new curtains!

I'm not usually into New Year resolutions, mainly because I make myself a new resolution every day to complete something. I'm a goal setter. :-)

But this year--or I should say 2017--Dennis and I agreed that we will focus only on bills to get us caught up. I don't say much about our money problems--I know everybody has them--but it's been taking a toll on our lives over here. Sometimes it's so easy to get off track and put the focus on making things newer and prettier to distract you from the fact that you're struggling. Sort of a false bottom. But one day, that false bottom gives out.

Well, this Advent I haven't done much blogging mainly because I've been so busy and I've been a little down about money. I had some interesting things happen to me and learned a few things. Honestly, it's been a tough month, but let's not get into that now.

Back to our New Year's resolution: get that $7000 credit card down as far as we can. Get that monkey off our back.

That's not to say that little improvements on the house won't still be happening here or there. Not every improvement or update to the house has to cost a hundred bucks. I plan to put a little more focus on the living room to make it more cheerful and comfortable.

For instance, new curtains.

Oh, how I hated these maroon curtains. At one time, I liked them. I bought them about five years ago for the old house. I thought that plain and simple was best and I knew that maroon tends to go with wood trim pretty well, so that's why I bought them.

But that was before we moved into this house, where maroon was in pretty much every room. Maroon and brown, that was all I saw! And so, these maroon curtains just made everything look even drabbier and darker.

These curtains don't do much to give us privacy. We will have to get some lacy curtains to fill up the gap so we don't have such a "fishbowl" that everyone can peer into and watch what we're doing.

But I love them. They have brightened up the room so much already, and they add a little more personality.

And so, that is my little update for now. I have it on my list to get a chair from Wayfair since that couch is too small to sit all seven of us--and of course, nobody wants to sit on the floor.

Next: a Christmas Story.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Little Improvements: the couch

I have been wanting a new couch forever. But, as I've said before, practicality always wins and bills have to be paid.

It's always been the plan to buy a new couch. Every so often over the years, I would window shop for couches but they seemed so far out of reach. Or else too plain for the price. Or too fussy and fancy. Too white. Too impractical for kids that still draw on furniture or spill their drinks on the couch even though they're not supposed to be eating on it.

This time of year, it's hard to pay the bills with birthdays and Christmas. So you can't imagine how surprised I was when Dennis said he wanted us to get a new couch! So we started looking online for some good deals, and even though there was nice couches out there with reduced prices (especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday), they just weren't reduced enough for our price range.

And then I happened to be looking on Craigslist one day when I came across a couch for only $200 that was not only in excellent condition, but also exactly the style I was looking for! I excitedly emailed the seller and she told me (almost as I excited as I was) that the couch was still for sale. Not only that, but it was only 10 minutes away from Dennis's work! I'm telling you, I felt like this couch was from the hand of God Himself!

Does God really care about things like couches and styles and all those things we tend to get hung up on? I think He does, because He knows it's important to us. And though He doesn't want us to depend on material goods, I believe that every so often, He treats us with something that He knows that we want, just like parents like to do for their own kids. And He knows that I've been wanting a new couch for a long, long, time! (Twelve years, in fact!)

Let me explain our old couch to you. Don't let these pictures fool you. It's not quite as nice as it looks.

Our old couch was sort of a hand-off from our old house. The last owner didn't want the couch so he left it for us. My mom was ecstatic (she just thought we were the luckiest people in the world), but I looked at that old brown couch with trepidation. It was smelly, covered in dog hair, and full of stains. I didn't want to sit on it. But it did come in handy, I will admit, and it was perfect for our big family. (Though we were only a family of three at the time.) It got a lot of use, and over the years, it became even smellier, covered in new dog hair, and gathered even more stains (flipped those couch cushions over many times!)

Though our new couch is much smaller, it makes our living room bigger and a little nicer looking. Yes, it is used, but it looks brand new and we've received many compliments over it! I can now proudly tell guests to please sit down, without cringing or being worried about what smells will emit with the "poof" that tends to come when you sit down. Yes, I love our new/used couch.

But as smelly and used as our old couch may have been, ironically, none of us wanted to get rid of it. Max especially, who was very attached to the old couch, worked really hard to keep it. So we pushed and pulled it out the door, down the hill (it was easier than trying to take it down the stairs) and through the basement.

It's funny how you learn to appreciate that little things. As much as I love our new couch, I can't get rid of the old one. It may not be suitable for company anymore, but it's always good enough for us.


It's given us too many memories to be thrown aside. Birthdays, holidays, movie nights, or just a place to lay down when we're sick.

I'm not the sentimental type when it comes to things--believe me, I'm not. I moved out of our old house without looking back, I can pack up baby stuff without shedding a tear. But there are some things you just can't get rid of.

So you just have to find a new place for it.

Anyway, here is to new memories with new couches and old couches that gave us our old memories. Funny how you just can't seem to get rid of some stuff.

They just seem to grow on you.