Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Family Life . . . Simple

Ah yes, my oldest son just turned 5 yesterday. He really wanted a friend party this year and I thought now would be the perfect time for him to have one. In a day and age when people spend more money on a child's party than my husband makes in one week, throwing a party can be daunting. What theme do you have? What games do you plan for the kids? What kind of food do you have" What favors do you give? How much will all of this cost??????

I asked Joshua what "theme" he wanted and each day I asked, he gave a different response, but the one that stuck was a "space/astronaut" theme. Online I went to Oriental Trading Company . . . they had a great space theme package with everything in it (plates, napkins, decorations, even favors) and for $35!!! Great deal! But, as fate would have it, it was sold out. Then I was left with . . . what do I do????

Off we went to the Dollar Store for decorations and favors. We got balloons, plates, napkins, signs, and favors for around $30 . . . did anyone notice that nothing matched????

When it came to the guest list, we decided to keep it simple. A few friends, allow siblings and moms to come (well, this is not so simple, the average size of the families invited was approx 5 kids per family). When all was said and done, there were about 20 kids at the house. We had pizza and cheese curls (boy, kids can eat cheese curls), cake (that I made and decorated with cars I got free out of a cereal box), and ice cream. We had no planned activities, other than eating and opening presents. And you know what, it was a great afternoon. I had fun, the guests had fun, and, most importantly, the birthday boy had fun. An essential lesson in raising children was reinforced again . . . Kids do not need or want the big parties, the fancy gifts, the amazing themes, or the expensive favors . . . all they want is to have some friends over, play and have fun (and they really like it when everyone sings happy birthday!!).

There is no need to impress your kids with throwing money into their birthday party, that is not what they want. And there is no need to impress you friends with how much money you spend on your kid's birthday, because, in the end, what does it matter anyway? We are here to teach our kids and help them grow in virtue and in love. We are here to help them strive for heaven and to teach them enjoy the simple things in life. I hope that my son's party taught him about what is most important in life . . . it taught me that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The "D" Word

That is what we use to refer to divorce in our house. My oldest son is old enough to want to know everything and I know he world ask what divorce is if we talked about it in front of him. Although it has come up a few times in conversation and we have explained to him that not all mommies and daddies stay together, this is not a conversation I want to have with him too often. Life can be harsh and I do not want him to have to worry about it too much yet. The realities of life will come soon enough . . . I want him to be happy being a kid right now.

The other day, my husband spoke to an old co-worker of ours. He asked how another one of our co-workers was doing and he said "I am going to have to call Tina and see how she and Jeff are doing." (Jeff and Tina were both co-workers of ours that got married 1 week after we did and they have 2 girls). Tim said to my husband "I would not do that. They got divorced a little while ago."

Now when Pete told me I was surprised . . . . they were not even married 7 years. And then, I was not so surprised. Tina and Jeff had dated for years and were engaged once before they got married (and they broke it off). Tina seemed afraid to get married and many people joked about the wedding. Many people went just to see if it would really happen. In our classical style, we were late for the wedding, so we missed the vows, but friends of yours at the wedding said, they thought they would see a real life Run Away Bride because the bride looked so nervous during the vows. So, then I began to wonder why they got married . . . it seemed ill fated from the beginning.

It is sad to hear these stories. I am a hopeless romantic and I want to believe that the "power of love" can overcome any obstacle, but being married for almost 7 years has taught me otherwise. Love is powerful, but it is the commitment that keeps a marriage going and growing when those "squishy love feelings" are no where to be found. When I got married, I knew that marriage was forever. God has brought us together and only God (through death) will take us apart. For me, there is a great peace in that. I know that our marriage will last forever because I am committed to it (and so is my husband).

When I have heard couples who have been married for 50+ years talk, few of them say, we just hoped it would last. No, often they say, there were times that it was tough. There were times we wondered why we got married. But we stayed together. These are the couples that are so in love. My grandparents were one of these couples. Even though my grandmother passed away many years ago, I can still see the love in my grandfather's eyes for his "Jeanie Girl".

My parents were also a great example of this. Growing up, I remember my parents fighting often. Many times, I would ask if they were getting a divorce. As a child I worried what would happen to our family if they did get a divorce. One day, I was in the car with my Dad. And I remember him saying, "I know your mom and I fight a lot. Sometimes that is what people who are married do. But, we love each other very much would never get divorced." Today, they are still happily married.

So, I am not afraid of the "D" word . . . we have got the perfect thing to fight against it . . . we love each other, we are committed to marriage and we have the grace of God and the sacrament of marriage to get us through the tough times that will come.

Wondering why . . .

I am going to try to remain faithful to why I started this blog . . . to talk about marriage and family life, but it is hard. I am one of those types of people that gets fairly passionate about something for about a week and then I forget about it the next. But, when God calls me to something, He whispers first, talks a little louder next and finally gets to the point that He needs to hit me over the head!!! I wish he could just put a billboard outside my house to remind me what He wants me to do and focus on.

My newer passion of the week is homeschooling. We are going to home school our son next year and I am excited. There is so much info. out there, that I could spend hours a day looking through it and dreaming about how I would love our days to go of learning and exploring. But, I am also a realist. I know my limitations and for now, I am going to work on the basics and then jump into it all slowly. God give em the grace to be perfectly imperfect and accept the imperfections in myself and my children.

So, although this blog could turn into me talking about what I want to do for homeschooling, I will not let it. If you are interested in that, I will put links to other sites of women who have got it together and have developed amazing programs.

But, I will do what I am called to do and talk about a topic that has a long standing passion for me. And that is marriage.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blessed with full hands

I am new to the world of blogging and, really, there is a part of me that is surprised I am doing this. But, here it goes anyways . . .

The reason for "Blessed with Full Hands" . . .

7 weeks ago I had my third child, my third boy. As the weeks have passed, I have gotten up enough courage to take the boys to the library, store and even the pool. Many times it is quite a chaotic adventure, but most of the time it is just another trip out to run errands with the boys. Depending on where we go, the boys end up in different configurations.

Scenario 1: Joshua, my 5 yr old, walks, Caleb, my 2 year old, is in the main area of the cart and Andrew, is in his car seat in the top part of the cart. This arrangement usually causes the least amount problems unless Joshua decides he is tired of walking and either sits down in the middle of the store aisle, or lays down on the lower rack of the cart. Where others put bags of dog food, large packages of paper towels, I put my oldest son!

Scenario 2: Caleb and Joshua in the bottom part of the cart, baby in car seat in top. This works well until Joshua and Caleb decide they need more personal space and they start pushing each other. This usually ends in Caleb hitting Joshua and Joshua yelling.

Scenario 3: No shopping cart. Joshua walks, Caleb in the stroller and baby in a sling. This works, but makes it hard for me to actually shop or gets books off the library shelf.

In any of these different scenarios, wherever I am, I get many looks from others. For those of you with three or more children, you know the look .. . "Look at her, she has her hands full." Many people are bold enough to say it "Wow, three young boys. You have your hands full." Some days I just smile (. . . and think "I know!"). Other days, I get upset. I do not respond, not even a look. Those are the days that I want to ask, "What is wrong with having my hands full?" , "What is wrong with having three beautiful (did I mention active) boys?" Then I remembered . . . we have officially crossed over . . . we are no longer the average American family with 2.2 children. We do not fit what people typically think of when they think of "married with children." And that is why we get the looks and the people saying "You have your hands full."

Well, to make a long story a bit longer . . . I was walking into a store the other day with the boys. The baby was asleep in the Baby Bjorn Carrier, Caleb had one hand of mine and Joshua had the other. As I took a moment to think about the situation . . . Yes, I did have my hands full, but I felt so blessed. A sense of thankfulness came over me. I have three wonderful children that fill my life, and my hands, with many blessings.

Monday, June 9, 2008

About Me

I am a mom to three amazing boys and wife to one great man. I love Jesus and the Catholic Church. I home school, use cloth diapers, try to be as thrifty as possible, and recently started my own garden. I love all things natural and want to become a supporter of the Slow Food Movement.  I am an ACE certified personal trainer and an avid runner.  In my spare time I work as a Personal Trainer and Life Coach.

I pray that I can make a difference, even if in small ways, so that my kids can have a future full of hope.

I can be contacted at katiepetko {at} yahoo {dot} com.