Finally, brethren, 
whatever is true, 
whatever is honorable, 
whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is of good repute, 
if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, 
dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Abbey graduated last week and this verse was read at the Baccalaureate Mass in the beautiful cathedral downtown.  It had been such a busy day for me-getting the kids settled for another evening where we would be gone a couple hours (the honors assembly was the night before), making sure they were all fed and assigning babysitters for Janey with instructions.

I love this verse.  Maybe because it's a weakness of mine to tend to have moods where I dwell on the negative when I get overwhelmed with parenting and my responsibilities here at home.  When I feel like I can't "catch up" or it's useless to try, or I'm being pulled in too many directions and everyone wants something from me.  I see the toys left out, the chore undone, the once clean kitchen sink with a pile of plates hours later.  And then I feel sorry for myself.  I nag, I get frustrated, I dwell on all the things that don't happen, all the things the kids and my husband do wrong, all the mistakes they make. I don't see them playing nicely together, I just hear the argument with raised voices. I don't notice when they do what I ask, I just see the shoes where they aren't supposed to be, and the bed unmade, and the garage a mess of toys.  

I am going to challenge myself these summer months to put this verse into action in my parenting every single day.  That verse ends with:"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."  I love that the verse uses the word practice-to cultivate (which takes time, which allows for mistakes and redoes) in order to grow a habit or skill. I am going to see just what happens when I cultivate the discipline to stop negative words from my mouth and concentrate on mostly compliments, praise and affirmation. I know it will be difficult some days, I know I will fail miserably some (maybe every) day.

But gosh I know this by know this by now-I know that when good things are noticed and praised, I know that when I express my gratitude for a chore done right, for a helping hand, for good behavior it grows.  No matter what the age, it grows!  

When I say, "That helps me so much when you play with Janey for awhile" or "Thanks for putting away your laundry like I asked you too" or "I appreciate that you did what I asked right away this morning" those things happen more often.  I am not only being polite and kind (the opposite of naggy and angry,which leads to guilt and heaviness on my part) I am building up, instead of breaking down. 

I feel better about myself, the kids feel better about themselves, the attitude in our home is happier and lighter and much more peaceful and prophecy is fulfilled-meaning what I want to happen, happens. 


whatever is worth of praise


Encouragement For The Week


Greatest Generation of Moms-A Late Mother's Day Post

(My mom with all five of us-I'm in the pigtails.)

I just wanted to share this article by Regina Brett my mom sent me.  I cried when I read it.

It reminds me of my Grandma B who raised nine children and never complained. (Maybe she complained about the dog? but that was it.)  And of my mom who raised five and never complained. And I'm serious-she never complained.  I can count on one hand the times we had sitters.  I think she went Christmas shopping by herself once a year, and maybe to a church meeting.  She didn't have burnout, she didn't yell at us or get impatient with us.  I remember the smelly diaper truck, I remember her putting meals together every single evening, I remember her after-school snacks always waiting at the little table in the kitchen.  My mom didn't have relatives to help, my Dad worked full-time and then some always.

It makes me wonder-what do we as mothers today have to complain about?  What "breaks" do we need from the children?  I avoid internet tidbits and "news" like the plague but when I do read something it's all so negative when it comes to parenting.  All I picture is rolling eyes and deep sighs and "Oh these kids, parenting is sooo difficult" while the buttons are pressed on washing machines, and dishwashers are loaded and a TV is turned on that has 100 channels with non-stop kids programs that can keep the kids quiet.  It seems like one of the main goals of parenting these days is to get rid of the kids as quickly as possible, as early as possible. Daycare starts at six weeks (and is now called school) and real preschool starts full day at three years old and don't forget to schedule in "me" time. When I am in the grocery store I see more grandparents with little ones (and they look tired!) than parents with little ones.  Where are the mothers? Our children need us.  They need us mothers to be home, they need to be home, they need to be with us, they need to be raised by their parents and we should be willing and ready and grateful, yes grateful, to do the work.

I know I'm preaching to the choir.  I know too I'm guilty of deep sighs and some days I feel more than a little sorry for myself as I count the hours I've had to myself in months.  I know I've complained about fixing yet another meal (as I stand in my kitchen, with a full pantry a fridge full of food and shiny appliances) and a plethora of other things for sure.

But I also know this:

I know that it is a grave mistake to mother according to the way our culture dictates we should today.

I know that we must guard our hearts (as Regina writes-"All they had was Dr. Spock and a mother's heart to guide them.") and choose something different than what is often chosen today, what we see and hear and read all around us-that children are an inconvenience in our life to raise-let's fit them in and send them out and get our breaks and find some help and then complain about how difficult it all is.

What else it there to give our all to but mothering?  Nothing. Nothing!  Our children, even our infants, they have an innate sense of knowing where they fit into our lives and how we feel about them.  We don't owe them a beautiful house and a bunch of toys and the best schools-but we do owe them a mother's love spelled out in hard work and time and patience and respect.

It is an honor and a gift and I am so so grateful to my mothers and my grandmothers, "The Greatest Generation of Moms" for setting an example and being an inspiration to me.  I choose them-I choose them to show me the way, I choose them to inspire me, I choose their example, their red wrinkly worn hands, their attitudes, their spirit, their mother's hearts.


Good Books and Good Dishes

My brother Andrew, designed these, and I just love them. They are sold at Crate and Barrel, who contacted him after they saw some of his work on Facebook.  He is an artist and lives in Ireland with his wife and two little children.  I couldn't wait to buy them-it's just so neat.  I am a proponent of "do what you love".  My Abbey is planning on majoring in Fine Arts in college and has and will field the question, "But what you are going to DO with that degree?"  She will do what she loves passionately, and find a way to make a living from it-hard work, and financial sacrifice involved of course.  I am grateful to point out several examples of "do what you love" in my own family and Andy and Rose certainly fit that bill.

When it comes to good books, boy, I was on such a good roll.  And then I hit two bumps in the road with really really lame (best seller's list?  PLEASE, no way!) books that I finished (why?) but just rolled my eyes at and skimmed paragraphs towards the end, and thought, "Oh heck if this being on the best seller's list is a reflection of literary aptitude in our country, we are in trouble!" I will confess that as soon as I was finished with the last bad one, I threw it away in the garbage.  I felt it was my duty to not allow anyone else to kill their brain cells and fill their mind with ridiculousness by passing it on.

On to the good stuff...

My favorite ever, I read and reread, and every time, I cry at the stories and think how grateful I am that I live in this country.  I've turned down many corners of the stories that really strike a chord with me.  Some stories are just a long paragraph, others are a few pages long,they are divided by country.  I think this book should be a required read in every high school.  What generations before us went through to get to this country, the reasons they wanted to come, how they made it-hard hard work, close supportive family life, and a deep love and appreciation for the freedoms in this country-it is just a beautiful book that reminds of all of this, every time I read it.

"My parents were very happy. They never wanted to go back. They didn't always have a lot of money, they struggled. But everything here was paradise.  I lost a son two years ago, and my son always said that he worships his grandfather, my father. He was the most wonderful thing, to think that he had the foresight to come to America and that's how all of us felt. All us children, we always felt that way. No matter what hardships we go through here, you can complain about your presidents, it's still the best place in the world.-Esther Gidiwicz,emigrated in 1905 at age 5.

A friend whose son read this for a home school course, recommended it to me, and I loved it.  So much intelligence about mankind, and about education, and overcoming hardship.

"No, it was not luck.  Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

"I early learned that it is a hard matter to convert an individual by abusing him, and that this is more often accomplished by giving credit for all the praiseworthy actions performed than by calling attention alone to all the evil done." 

(So easy as a parent to fall into a constant corrective habit, instead of acknowledgement and appreciation of all the good little things our children do every day-and when I remember to do that, those good things grow and grow.)

"I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others, and most miserable are those who do the least."  

Maybe I talked about this book already?  Beautiful, beautiful, piece of art.  Anthony Doerr is not just an author-he is an artist and words are his medium.  This will always be one of my favorite books.

I don't know how I came to buy this book, but I'm glad I did.  Miriam Grossman is not anonymous anymore-this is an old copy of her book.  It's eye-opening-she exposes the lies our teens and young adults-mostly women- are told about sexually transmitted diseases, "safe" sex, pregnancy, abortion, etc.-basically how our bodies and mind work as females. This book is not told from a political or religious bias, but straight up medical facts and her observations as a psychiatrist on a college campus led her to write this book.

Last but not least:

I describe this book as the Chinese version of "Unbroken"-just an incredible against-all-odds survival story where, just like in Unbroken, I thought, "How much more horror could one person live through?"  So so good and very intelligently written.  It makes me think of how much more I'd have learned about world history if I could have had the class taught, not from a boring textbook, but from reading memoirs and auto-biographies and even historical fiction.  This is another book I read that makes me feel so very patriotic and appreciative of our freedoms here.  I gleaned SO much from this book.

That's all folks.  If you have any good suggestions for me send them on!