Saturday, October 30, 2010

long overdue!!!!

October has been quite a month. There isn't a word to describe its awkwardness, other than the fact that it has been awkward. I've also, unfortunately, put my camera down unless it is for professional events (weddings/portraits/etc.) Deacon's life is at its busiest, yet I don't have pictures to prove it. His baby book is at a standstill and I just feel crummy about it.

To sum up the good things in October I'll write in my favorite form...lists.

1) Family Reunion. Every year the Wolking family reunites in October in Tipp City, Ohio. The day is quite simple. Its an hour-ish drive up there, you sit, eat, talk, walk, and play. It is always so nice to catch up with all the Wolkings, especially the ones I don't get to see that often. One the way up, Doug's mother quizzed me on the family members, their children and other important details. Being an "in-law" is tough work! Tipp City is striking. It reminds me a lot of Falmouth, Kentucky. Small, quaint and charming. There are tiny storefronts with unique gifts, furniture and other nick-knacks. The park in Tipp City is nestled in between some of the most beautiful mature trees I've seen. The trunks of the trees twisted up high meeting their branches to the beautiful amber colored leaves that would wrap us in their sun-kissed glory, bringing some warmth to an otherwise chilly day. The younger kids played, the older kids gossiped and the adults teased, drank, laughed and remembered the "good ole' days". It was a peaceful day and a good reminder of how lucky I am to be married into such a wonderful family.

2) Cancun. Doug and I were fortunate enough to go to Cancun for 3 days/4 nights with my co-workers Jason and Vicki Crawford. This meant we had to leave Deacon. He was perfectly safe and sound with his Grandmas Wolking, but that still didn't make it any easier for me to get on a plane, fly out of the country and not see my little guy for what seemed to be an eternity. The first 2 days were fine, almost as if Deacon didn't even miss us, but by Saturday and especially Sunday, Deacon (accounted to us by Doug's mom) would cry and ask where we were. It was heartbreaking to hear that over the phone knowing there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it. The sad part is that I planned this trip to be easy for him. We had a letter for him every day we were gone with a picture to color and an activity that he could do with his grandma, but it just wasn't "us". By the time we landed in Atlanta airport on Sunday (while trying to kill 4 1/2 hrs before our flight home) Deacon refused to talk to us. tragic. I sat there in Fridays eating my overpriced burger in tears when I heard Doug sigh and say, "he is so upset that we aren't home he doesn't even want to talk to us." That 4 1/2 hour layover suddenly became 24 hours. Its endless--I never thought I would make it home, plus with a thunderstorm in the forecast I was also frightened that our flight could very well be canceled. Luckily it wasn't. We were home by midnight and it was heaven when I crawled into his room after I heard the little pitter-patter of his feet. I opened his gate only to see his huge smile--that moment is etched in my brain forever. Doug and I loved the opportunity to go to Cancun, but when it was all said and done, we were SO SO SO happy to be home.

I guess I should back track so you can hear about the trip, huh?! After a smooth 2-flight jaunt, we landed safetly in Cancun, hopped on a bus and rode 20 minutes to the RIU Palace Las Americas. It was stunning. You walk into the lobby, look out the sliding doors to see an infinity pool practically bumped up next to the ocean. Our rooms were nice, the shower was amazing (I have a thing for hotels and good showers, most of them are crappy!) and the fridge was stocked. This was an all-inclusive resort: food/drinks/non-motorized sports were all included. I looked at Doug on Friday and said, "I haven't been this bored in years...and I like it!" I read a book in three days (unheard of for me) and sat in the pool the other times I wasn't reading. The food was decent---not incredible or memorable, but definitely better than Ok. That should surprise anyone, especially if you have been to an all inclusive before. They are cooking for for THOUSANDS of people--can't expect it to be gourmet. There were certain food groups I stayed away from: Dairy being the biggest. The milk was made from powder, the cheese was different and the eggs had a really weird sheen to them! My diet consisted of Bread and fruit and pasta (aka assortment of carbs). There was a swim-up bar, lots of great music, amazing sea breeze and just enough wind to keep the heat off your skin. It was such a nice time, but again---glad to be home! We didn't bother with the excursions because of the cost, and well it is just smart to stay on the resort. We did manage to walk across the street to go to the mall (aka indoor market) which reminded me of the Gatlinburg strip! Walking out of the beautiful hotel and onto the real streets of Cancun made me realize how much they rely on tourism. Here we were in this palace, but right outside of those walls were shanties with tin roofs, locals begging for our business and a mall that is a joke (in American terms). It is a little depressing part of my trip. It must be such a hard life to stand on the streets begging to get innocent travelers to buy into time shares do fake excursions or try and sell random crap we'll never use. It's their way of life and if they don't ask or sell, they don't get to feed their family. Their just doing what they have to in order to survive--I just felt terrible, again--it did serve a reminder for me to be grateful for what I do have.

3) Mass. I've been trying to get back in the habit of going to daily Mass. I forgot how peaceful it was and how it fueled me for the day. I hope to carry my October "good habits" into November, because I like the way Mass makes me feel, and I want to continue to feel that way!

4) Deacon. He is a character. He is holding "real" conversations. He uses hand gestures and hysterical facial expressions. He is using bigger words and best of all, he is singing---all.the.time! My little boy has a sweet little voice on him and it is our favorite thing to sing on the way home from school. Sometimes he even tells me to turn off the music so we can see it by ourselves--precious. Having my own personal concert from my little rock star makes my heart so happy.

5) Work. It challenging, scary, questionable and rewarding all at once. I am not going to get into much here, but professionally I am being challenged more than I ever thought could be possible. I am happy that I am growing professionally (new department, new job role) but also have to admit to myself that it is an uncomfortable transition as well. I went from knowing what to do, to praying that I don't skrew something up! Not really that extreme but to say that my confidence has been stirred is an understatement. I am so lucky, however to have a boss that understands my situation, supports me immensely and motivates me to continue to do what I am doing. She is the difference and I'll be forever grateful!

So there you have it. That's the good that came from October. More good than bad, but plenty of awkward moments in between. But, I've come to the conclusion that if I didn't have any awkward moments, I'd not have any good moments--You have to have some awkward phases in you life in order to get great outcomes.

Hopefully I'll be a better blogger for November--I can already tell you I'll have lots to blog about!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

special day!

My sister went to Gatlinburg, TN today with some of her friends for a quick over night. Tre was working today, so I jumped on the chance to watch the kids! My other sister Kathy stole Darleen from me so I was only left with Louis. As much as I love Darleen, part of me is so happy that I was only responsible for Lou-bear. Darleen was in good hands with Kath, Bryn and little mother (Tegan) which allowed me to really have an interactive day with the grown boys!

First we got some pumpkins...and paint...and brushes. We took a pit stop at The doctors for Deacon's flu shot.

Tangent--As we walked in there was a swarm of parents and anxious little kiddos waiting for their shots. Parents filling out forms and being ushered back with their kids for "the shot". Deacon and I were in line with Louis of course and we were witness to kids slithering down the hallway in tears, grabbing their arms and parents walking in distress behind them. I got nervous--they called us back. Deacon asked, "Mom, why those kids crying" I said, "I don't know honey." UGH...I my distress came early, knowing that I just completely lied to him. Not a lie--it was a form of protection for my sanity. Anyway We hop up on the stool, the nurse rubs his arm, instructs me to hold his elbow to his side and viola---in goes the shot. Deacon turns and looks at me with utter disgust, then to the nurse with a puzzled look. THEN tiny tears of, "ok, ok, my arms feels funny". Those who have had the flu shot, know the medicine tingles a bit going in. I told him, "DEACON, YOU did it, you got your muscle shot--look at your big, strong muscles!" And with that the tears stopped. Nurse nodded her head in a congratulatory fashion and said, "good job, mom!" Deacon got a sticker as did Lou and he practically skipped down the hallway and out the door! I was so proud of my little man!

So after that almost-crisis...we headed back to the house and donned our fake artist aprons that Deacon and Louis were so proud to wear! We set up the colors, the pumpkins the brushes and the water. The pictures speak for themselves:












I was proud of myself. I am such a control freak---no mixing of colors, no smearing, no fun (I mean because when you are three, those things ARE FUN!)

I all of a sudden didn't care. Their smiles, their laughter and the amount of pride they had with painting their very own pumpkins, their very own way made me not worry about the way I would be painting pumpkins. (does that make sense?) Deacon kept looking at me like he knew I was wanting to give instructions or tell him how to do something...but I wouldn't and he would just smile and on the inside I know he was saying, "Thanks, mom, I told you I knew what I was doing!)

It seems so small and insignificant---but it this pumpkin painting madness was a big step for me. Doug and I had a conversation a couple days ago---he wasn't pointing fingers or blaming me, he was just observing and I appreciate the feedback. He told me that I try to control too much...and that I need to let go, I need to see what others do, their way, not mine. He also said that I need to involve Deacon more. I didn't believe what I was hearing. But as I replayed our conversation in my head today, I realized how much work I actually needed to do.

I need to let Deacon be his own person, his own way, and I need to involve him in the process. He is 3 now...capable of making decisions, choices (not like huge ones to you and me, but big ones to a 3-year-old!) I patted myself on the back today...I took a big step in motherhood and I know Deacon grew as a person today too!

After painting, I plunked the two in the bath, we ate lunch (not in the bath!) and then took a nap. Yes, I successfully got two kids down for a nap--I'd rather not talk about it because I'd rather not jinx it for the next time!

We did a nature walk. We were on the hunt for all sorts of things that were "Fall". As we were taking our walk and finding acorns, leavings and twigs we were stomping our way through leave piles and the crunch of each step we took was the Earth laying out a welcome mat and greeting us with such hospitality that we didn't want to go inside. We did end up going inside and took our beautiful crimson colored leaves and made leaf rubbings. Again the amazement Louis and Deacon had as they were rolling their crayons across the paper and seeing the result was breathtaking for me to watch. I just saw their brains flutter with excitement and their eyes lit up with joy and wonder. We proudly hung them on the fridge and each time we'd walk into the kitchen they'd say, "LOOK, we made dat!"

To cap of perfect day, I made one of my favorite fall/winter meals: Sauerkraut and Kielbasa, New potatoes (with parsley and butter!) and fresh steamed carrots. The kids loved the kraut (thumbs up!!) and ate the 'basa only because I called them hotdogs! It is true comfort food. The tang of the kraut with the juicy flavor of the Kielbasa--YUM. Heaven I'd say!

Tre came by picked up the kiddos (by this time I had Darleen, for Tre's ease of only going to one home to pick up). Although I am exhausted, I wouldn't trade the day in for the world. I survived the day, with two preschoolers--who were so incredibly well behaved it was semi-ridiculous! A simple day of babysitting turned into life lessons, happy kids and beautiful art. Thank you, God for giving me this opportunity to grow as a person, a mother, an aunt and a wife. Thank you for the smell, the crunch and the beauty of fall--it delivers joy in my life on so many levels!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Precious Life

Life is not that complicated. I tend to forget the simplicities of life. I over analyze and pick apart each of life's details to create a solution or scenario perfect for me...or what I think perfect is.

I forget to just let life take me by the hand and spin me around like merry-go-round. I forget to realize that life, is a gift, given to me by God. I forget that life isn't about the plans I make, rather, living out the plan that God created for me.

Lately, I've been busy trying to discover "life" and what I want to make of it, that I've completely ignored the "take up your cross and follow me" aspect of life. centered on myself I have turned away from why I am really here. Wait. I'll rephrase. I am so centered on myself and "my way" that I have lost the ability to see where God wants me to go. I am so lost that I don't exactly remember why God put me on this earth.

Tangent--this isn't meant to be a depressing post, nor do I intend it to be, just trying to be honest with where my head is at currently.

I am sure that right before I was born God said, "my precious child, here is your purpose..." I seem to have misplaced my instructions. I've been questioning many aspects of my life. Why AM I here? what am I called to do? What treasure and talents is God wanting me to give? How can I spread love, peace, hope and salvation to others. Am I REALLY as good of a Christian as I think I am? Do I even know why we do half the things we do during Mass? Am I a good parent? Am I being a Figure of Christ to my child? Am I helping with Doug's journey to Heaven with my actions? Do I know how to pray? Do I have faith? Do I cultivate my faith.

The answers are more complicated than a simple yes or no, but to save time and explanation, I'd say that there is definitely both in there.

This started entering my brain a few weeks ago. I read an article in the paper about the dwindling attendance at Catholic Masses. That Sunday the Priest of my Parish mentioned the article and the importance of Mass and the difference between a Catholic Mass vs. a larger, non-denominational church service. He talked about ritual, concentrated prayer and the most important aspect of my faith, receiving the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. This is still such a hard concept for me to grasp onto---hence where my faith comes in.

After the homily, I decided to pay special attention to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This was difficult with a 3-year-old, but I savored on each prayer like it was the last time I'd ever hear it again. Guess what? I cried. I didn't let my tears show on the outside, but my heart was melting on the inside. What was I missing all these years. Mass became a chore, prayers became monotonous and I was a talking head. Now, with a child--it was even more difficult--trying to listen to the priest AND control your child is tough. That day in particular, Deacon sat still, remained quiet and for the first time in a while I wasn't just listening to pretty words and a nice homily; I was listening to God. God was talking to me. I know he was because I had no distractions. He paused the world, slapped me in the face and said, LISTEN.

I hear him now, "Anne, I love you. I made you in my image and likeness. You did not lose your instructions for your life. They are here. They are spoken to you each week. Reminders are sent by way of complete strangers, a song on the radio, you husband and son, your family--your purpose is laid out before you--take out the speck in your eye and LOOK."

I've been looking ever since. This past Sunday I made a point to look and listen during the Mass. Again, Fr Sterling gave an amazing homily centered around faith. It was a children Mass so he gathered the children to the Alter and asked them to stand on one foot, and sitting down once they lost balance. While trying to complete the task, they were answering questions Fr. Sterling was asking. These were tough even for me to answer. What is faith? I don't know Father! That's why I am here. I can't see it, smell it, taste it---what the heck is it?! Father said that a person who doesn't have faith is like that person is standing on one leg---they wobble, shake and fall...there is nothing to support them.

He mentioned the Gospel, that all we needed was faith the size of a mustard seed. tiny. Sometimes I feel like that is all the faith I have--it is doesn't seem enough. As soon as I sarcastically said that in my head, God slapped me again. He slapped me through Father's words. Fr. Sterling said that we need to grow our faith. It can't remain small--it needs to be cultivated. Faith needs to be watered, sowed and spread. All this time I was holding onto my mustard seed of faith and hoping that a miracle happens. The fact is that the miracle happens when I choose to let it happen. I need to work at my faith. I need to pray, attend Mass, be kind to others, display patience to my family. Then, and only then will my faith grow. So my action plan-or the next chapter in my life's purpose? I need to grow my faith. This week I am going to read over the parts of Mass and really understand why the Mass is the way it is. I am going to focus on prayer. I am going to shut out the world and talk to God. All this time I feel like I have been, but I am pretty sure I was speaking to his reflection and not him! I am going to practice patience and humility and I am going to bite my tongue.

I am going to remind myself that God is all around me. He is in my son. I don't need to rush bedtime or get impatient. I need to enjoy the moment, and realize that God is teaching me something, giving me a life lesson through Deacon. God is in my husband. If I actually remembered this I'd certainly not loose my temper or treat him the way I do sometimes. I'd show my gratefulness for the selfless love he gives Deacon and me, and what he sacrifices in order to provide for his family. God is in my co-workers, my friends, complete strangers. God is in every experience in my life--serving little reminders--page by page of my purpose driven life.