As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013 Snapshot

Been a slow couple of weeks in the blogosphere for me.  Jeff just finished a crazy work week, which meant a few crazy days for me.  I was very blessed however to have a full week of company, friends to visit, family to chat with, and a sleepover at my parents' house.  All of this made the week that much more bearable (but left little time for blogging).  So now that things are normal, please allow me to share what we've been up to in the last two weeks:

Hurray for photos of all the kids together!  A friend of mine very kindly took one for me when the baby was a newborn, but I hadn't had a good recent one.  St. Patrick's Day provided the perfect occasion. My second son's Godmother is the biggest St. Patrick lover on the planet, and I knew she would love to see a photo of her Godson and his siblings "wearin' the green!"  As a Catholic I love St. Patrick's Day, and the story of how this brave Saint brought the faith to Ireland, and did so much to help the Irish people.  It was a great opportunity to learn about him, and to celebrate what he has done for the Catholic faith all over the world.

My oldest son is in Cubs, and had Kub Kar races this past weekend.  Jeff was working the night shift and I had taken the kids to my parents' overnight, and the race was the next day.  My parents very kindly agreed to keep the other kids with them so I could bring him for *gasp* 10:00 am!  It wouldn't have been so bad, except that I had forgotten his Kub Kar at home, and he needed to be there bright and early to finish his car, because he hadn't been able to attend the meeting that week. And, as I often do when Jeff is working nights, I stayed up way way way too late the night before.  But my Mom was a great help in getting us up and out the next morning, and it was a great opportunity to spend time with my oldest boy almost one-on-one (the baby still had to come).  And - he finished third, and gets to go to the regional races next month.  He is one happy little boy!

This little girl loves being silly.  Sometimes too much so.  Occasionally, as was the case this past week, she catches a silly streak at the most impossible of times (say, noon mass, when I'm by myself with all six kids!)  We arrived for mass late, and I snuck in the back only to have to leave at communion because she refused to listen (and I had my hands full with the baby and a very rambunctious toddler).  I messaged the priest, a friend, to apologize for having caused such a scene, and he was very encouraging and told me to bring them back anytime.  God bless him!  He must know how much we need the grace.  Though I am resolved to do a better job of being on time...

The big news a couple of weeks ago was the white smoke from the Sistine Chapel - we have a pope!  It was so incredible to take all of it in with the kids.  We watched a great video my mother-in-law sent me the day that the conclave started, explaining how the Pope is chosen.  After that the kids were eager to find out which cardinal would become pope.  We eagerly gathered around the TV for the first burning of the ballots, and were disappointed after not even fifteen minutes to see the black smoke.  Next morning, it was the same.  That afternoon, the big boys and I rushed home from piano, turned on the TV to discover the blessed news - white smoke!  For the next hour the kids, Jeff and I sat glued to the TV, waiting to see who he was.  Friends and family called to see if we were watching.  The boys said, "go to Google and type in 'who is the Pope?' " and they had a hard time understanding that nobody knew, that this was all unfolding right now, before our eyes.  Which made it all the more beautiful for me.  When the new Holy Father finally came out, we were so excited!  We prayed with him, and received his Papal blessing, with millions of Catholics all over the world.  I was so struck with the beauty of the universal church, and what this faith really means.  And I am so excited for this man that the Lord has given to our church.  I can't wait to see what great things God will do through him.

This is a common sight these days - three excited boys hurrying across the road to meet their friend - in spring attire!  Though we got another dumping of snow last week, the sun is clearing it away fast, and the river is opening up. The days are longer and the sun shines brightly.  How I love this time of year.

This boy is exactly like his dad.  They are two peas in a pod. Last Saturday he took the opportunity to get some extra Dad snuggles in before his crazy workweek.  We sure did miss him, and are glad he's back to a normal schedule.  He is the heartbeat of our household, and we miss him like crazy when he's not here.

Every time I look at Stephen, I can't believe how quickly he's growing.  He's getting tall and slim, and I predict he'll be taller than his brothers someday.  He came barrelling into the room where I was changing the baby, singing at the top of his lungs, and I thought "what on earth is he doing?"  Turns out he was listening to his iPod.  It was so funny!

And finally, my baby boy.  I am enjoying him so much these days!  He has so many challenging behaviours (as does any two-year-old) but he is just full of such joy.  I read what I have found to be the best parenting book I've ever read recently, and it's given me some helpful suggestions for navigating these years with grace.  Which is good, because there is so much goodness to be had!  Too often I get so wrapped up in the way that a particular behaviour is challenging to me, that I forget that I'm the one who's supposed to be teaching him. I guess we both have a lot to learn, but I couldn't ask for better partners on this parenting journey than he and his siblings.  Life with all of them is always so very good.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

All things in Love

What an exciting experience we had this week to witness the election of Pope Francis with our children!  I have been reading up as much as I can about who this man is, and delving into his homilies and writings, and already feel so touched by who he is, who the Lord has given to us as the Vicar of Christ.

Yesterday we read the Pope's lenten letter to his diocese in Buenos Aires in February, while he was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.  In it he speaks of the need to "rend our hearts" so that we are not simply going through the motions, but so that our hearts are converted to the Lord.  I find this so convicting, because it's so easy to just make your lenten laundry list and check things off, judging your progress by how well you fare at the end of lent.

In his reflection, the Cardinal quoted St. John Chrysostom:

"No act of virtue can be large if it does not also benefit another... Therefore, no matter how you spend the day fasting, no matter how you may sleep on a hard floor, and how you may eat ashes and sigh continuously, if do not do good to others, you do not accomplish anything great."

And it was like a light bulb went off.  This good that I've set out to do, to stop grinding my teeth so that I can stop losing my temper with the kids, well it doesn't do any good if it's not for their good.  Not my good, theirs.  In other words, if I make it through the day without grinding my teeth, or without yelling, but have not treated them with love - so what?  The purpose of gaining self control does not end with me, it is so that I can give to them something better, something good.

I spoke with a good friend this morning, who shared with me how she feels the Lord is using the new Pope to teach the world about the dignity of the human person.  Already we hear about this man, who as Cardinal of Buenos Aires turned down the lavish residence he was entitled to in this role to instead share an apartment with an older priest, and who regularly visited the slums of Buenos Aires, and who as a new Pope declined the limousine ordered for him to ride instead in a modest sedan, who paid his own hotel bill (in person!), who rode the bus with the cardinals back into the Vatican, and who personally called the Father General of the Jesuits in Rome to thank him for a letter sent to him following his election - he lives by example.  He cares about the human person, the individual person, and is willing to forego protocol to be personally present, to make a real connection.  And when my friend shared her thoughts with me, I was immediately reminded of the words I read in his lenten reflection last night, and I realized that the Lord was also trying to teach me of the dignity of the human person - myself, and those around me.  That the purpose of my lenten observances, all of them (not just those having to do with my temper) is to learn how to love those around me better, to treat them with dignity.  And it all came together for me - this man, this Holy Father, appointed by God, his teaching and his example taking root in my heart.

"I know your works, your labor, your service, your endurance, yet I hold this against you, for you have lost the love you had at first." (Revelation 2:2-4)

May my lenten observances serve to deepen the love I have for those around me, and for the dignity of the human person, so that through the guidance of the Church and under the leadership of our new Pope, I may love as Christ loves.

Habemus Papem - We have a pope!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day of Grace

Lately it seems, the best things for me always tend to be those that require the most amount of effort.  This morning was no different.  A friend of mine started a Catholic Moms Pray & Play group in our city.  I missed the first meeting last week due to illness in the family, and this week was so looking forward to going.  Late yesterday afternoon however, my commitment began to waiver just a little bit.  Somehow the day had gotten away from me, and I hadn't accomplished everything I wanted to.  And we have friends coming over this evening.  And 10:30 am is so early to get a family of seven (who lives 45 minutes outside the city) up and out.  And the baby was up at 4:30 am.  And what about school?

As all of these thoughts ran through my head, the Lord gently reminded me of the reality - these are good Catholic women, and good friends.  This is an amazing opportunity for fellowship, and a fun time out for our kids.  The life I lived in my teenaged years, the community I had that was so integral to my faith life, started out this way, with the women I look to and admire as matriarchs of good holy families sitting around as young moms, with young babies, and making the effort to get together.  I knew once I was in town, it would be worth it.

So I decided we could do school this afternoon.  I messaged my friend. I let her know I might be a little late, to take the pressure off myself (I was in fact, a lot late!)  And I was so blessed by the time we spent together.  I even got the kids to mass, which the playgroup was conveniently organized around so that we could attend.  We played, we prayed, and we were uplifted.

I find as I look back on my life these days, that nothing is easy.  But some things are worth making time for.  Maybe I don't need to move mountains to go shopping, or watch the latest episode of my favorite show.  But some good, quality Mom time with Moms who love Jesus?  I can't think of any better reason to get this little train in gear.

A few of the reasons my life is crazy in all the best ways

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


For the first time since Lent began, I gritted my teeth at the kids today.  A lot.  There was no real reason, nothing out of the ordinary.  We didn't have to be anywhere, they weren't particularly challenging.  But looking back on the day I can see how I let other things get in the way and take over.

For starters, I decided to rearrange my family room.  Which turned out awesome!  But set our whole schedule off by an hour this morning.  Why this was a big deal I don't know, because like I said, we didn't have anywhere to go.  But the kids were underfoot while I was moving things around, and that got things off to a tense start, and things just went downhill from there.

I know the Lord is doing great things in me.  And I also know He is allowing me to be tested.  Some days I do better than others.  Today I was fully conscious of my failings, and just kept trying to turn my attitude around, to refocus myself on why I'm doing what I'm doing, why I'm living the way I'm living.  What is important.

And then this evening, my husband arrived home with the older boys from cubs and beavers, and my third son was crushed because he couldn't have a snack before bed.  Dad had told the boys to get their pjs on straight away if they wanted a snack, and while the other two did Stephen found a book and started reading.  I took him down to bed and he sobbed and sobbed, and said, "but Mom, the book distracted me!"  I calmly told him that no, the book did not distract him - that he let himself be distracted by the book, and that when that happens he needs to remember that he is the one who's in charge.  That the book is not the boss of him, that he makes his own choices.  And that he always needs to keep in mind what are the things he wants, and not do anything that is going to take him away from what he knows is good.

Isn't it funny how the Lord uses our kids to teach us the way we should be?  I could have given myself the exact same talk.  But maybe the Lord knew I wouldn't listen, since I hadn't all day.  And maybe instead He allowed me to be united with my son in feeling the loss of a poor decision, so that we could both approach our distractions with renewed determination the next time around.

Praise God for the wisdom of family life, that teaches what no words could adequately convey.

March 12, 2013 Snapshot

Last week was March break.  Which is as good a time as any I suppose to have a husband on night shift, and a house full of sick kids.  The nights weren't too bad though, I had friends over one night to keep me company and my mother for a sleepover another night.  And the sickness wasn't too bad either - you always brace yourself for the worst whenever a bug hits, so it's nice when it leaves just as quickly as it arrived.  Here are some of the highlights:

I can't believe what a difference I'm seeing in this little guy.  I'm sure early potty training has played a big part in it, and I'm so thankful I came across the literature that I did - it was just the right encouragement at just the right time.  Seeing him master using the toilet helps me to stop seeing him like a baby, and treat him like the big boy he is. He's working on getting himself dressed (which can be quite a spectacle by times!) and is becoming quite competent at the most basic of tasks.  Best of all it's helped his behavior - I think because it's caused me to stop coddling him so much and treat him like a bigger kid.

Timothy is such a funny boy.  No matter what I serve at mealtime, he always has a special request for something different (which I never fulfill). He always grumbles and groans that he doesn't like whatever I've made (even if he hasn't tasted it).  On this morning I made oatmeal chocolate pancakes with sauteed bananas and, you guessed it, he turned his nose up.  Until he tried it, and decided it was actually okay.  And by okay I mean he devoured the whole thing.  Judging by that smile, it wasn't too difficult.  It's tough being a little boy when your Mom forces you to eat chocolate for breakfast.

Joseph and Timothy are both taking off in their piano lessons.  Last year our teacher passed on a bunch of piano books from her collection that she was getting rid of, and they play them nonstop.  They flip through and pick their favorites, and are constantly tickling the ivories.  Joseph has actually composed a couple of songs, and has become quite good at putting chords and melodies together.  Now if I could just get them to practice their assigned pieces, I'd be all set...

Jeff and I have been hosting school of community meetings with friends for about two years now, and the boys are always dying to know what goes on after we put them to bed on those nights.  So we decided to do a catechism night with them once a week where we do the same thing - assign a reading at the beginning of the week for all of us to read, paying particular attention to how that reading relates to our personal experience of God during that week, and then opening in prayer, eating good food, and sharing how our week has been and what the readings have stirred within us that week.  Needless to say it's mostly just about spending time with our older boys and talking about faith, at this point it's so new and they're so young.  But I am so excited to have this become a regular part of our lives with the kids.  I look forward to all of us sharing our lives and our experiences together as they get older.

Stephen came up on Saturday to show me an e-card he made for me on his V-Tech laptop.  It said "2 mom", and he was so proud. "Mom" is the first word he's learned how to spell (besides his own name).  That makes my heart burst!  I love this little boy.

I could call this picture - trouble, and more trouble.  These two are always up to something. And it's hillarious.  They are always playing "Mom and Dad", or "Church", or some other game they invent on the fly. It's just about the cutest thing ever.

This week I took Katie with me to clean the office.  I usually take one of the three older boys, and give them a chance to help out and earn some money.  I had previously told her she was too young (because I worried I wouldn't be able to concentrate on my work with her there).  But on Saturday Jeff wanted to take the boys for some badly-needed haircuts, and asked if I would take her with me to ease his load a bit.  Her eyes lit up!  She asked me if four-years-old was old enough to come to the office, and I told her that today it was.  And she was really great, a very big help.  Which reminds me, I owe her some cash...

This baby, blessedly, is back to normal.  And I couldn't be more grateful.  After a week of watching her struggling to breathe and cough, and doing all of that while Jeff worked crazy shifts, we are both breathing a little easier now that she's on the mend.  My second oldest boy had RSV as an infant and ended up needing inhalers for the first two years of his life, but she hasn't needed one at all for at least a week now.  She's also sleeping better - she had started waking in the night to cough, but then wasn't ready to go back to bed after her feeding...I joked that she had just decided that between 3 and 5 am was a good time to get up and play. Thankfully now that she's not so congested sleep is coming much easier, and Mama and baby are both pretty happy about that.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Feast or Fast

So far since the beginning of Lent I feel as though I've been feasting while everyone else is fasting.  While I have chosen as a penance to stop grinding my teeth when I'm angry, the graces the Lord has been lavishing on me have felt like such a treasure that it really hasn't felt like a season of suffering.  But as with any good work, I think it is often the case that there is an outpouring of grace in the beginning to help you gain the confidence you need.  Once you are firmly convicted of the Lord's help, then He gradually allows you to experience more trials, lovingly walking you through them, though maybe allowing you to feel them more - to choose to be positive even when it's difficult.

Last week on a Tuesday I began the rather zealous (at least in my mind!) task of potty training my two-year-old even though he's not shown one sign of readiness yet because a book I was reading (and loved!) recommended the best age for potty training as 15-22 months old.  I am so happy that I did because this week I am reaping the fruits of that good work (in that I can officially say he is out of diapers, and has been the easiest to potty train so far!) But I had no idea that the next day he and my two daughters (one of whom is an infant) would come down with a really bad cold.  For my infant that cold turned into a serious case of RSV, resulting in a trip to the ER, inhalers, and a week of struggling-to-breathe baby while her older brother made mess after mess on the floor.  It was crazy!  

This week my husband has been on night shift. And while the RSV seems to be subsiding today a gastroenteritis reared its ugly head in another one of my boys.  And my husband needed to be to work early today, which meant that from about 1:00 on I was alone with all of the kids.  There are few things that strike as much fear in my heart as the possibility of having six children vomitting at once (seriously?  What's the big deal? Reminds me of this great post) but being alone to handle it, and especially after the week I had last week, was overwhelming.

My husband pointed out that while I was still doing well with not grinding my teeth, I haven't been quite as loving with the kids as I had been in the first of lent.  The grace is wearing off.  Time for me to stand on my own two feet.  Can I do it?

No.  But Jesus can.  I know that God is spreading me so thin so that I have no choice but to cling to Him.  He is allowing the things I fear (however small they are) to occur so that I will not despair, but hope in Him. That I will serve my children lovingly, even when it's hard, even when there is a baby crying and a toddler peeing and a kindergardener throwing up.  That I can choose not to become downtrodden and hopeless, but instead to be present to each of them, as they need me.

It's not as bad as all that.  As I write we have a movie on, my little sicko is eating his first bit of food (toast) since lunch time, and everyone is generally in good spirits.  Which is probably the most humbling part of all of this.  Because in my despair, I imagine things to be so much worse than they really are.  Maybe that's why God allows all of this to happen while my husband is not home - to show me that I can do it, with His help.  That no situation is so crazy that it merits loosing hope, and the best I can do is to respond in them moment the way that He is calling me to. By loving these little ones however they need it best.

Thank you Lord, for the small trials of family life that help me see there is a much bigger picture beyond the walls of my imagination.  May I always live in the reality of this moment, and reap whatever gifts you have given to me - be they given as feasts or fasts.

Rest for my weary boy

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 3, 2013 Snapshot

We are loving the warmer weather this week!  Not sure if it's safe to say goodbye to winter just yet, but the mild temperatures sure are a welcome change.  Here's how we've been enjoying ourselves this week (starting top left, and moving clockwise):

Joseph has been after me for a while to make pizza "his style" (translation: all meat and cheese).  I guess he's getting sick of all the tomatoes and spinach on mine.  So one evening this week when Jeff was working late, I stopped by the grocery store on our way home and picked up everything he needed.  I stepped back and let him go to work, and the result was pretty delicious.  He even got to invite a friend over, and I could tell he was proud that he made the supper.  It's so cool to see him stepping up and taking on new and bigger challenges (someone remind him when he complains about making dinner that it all started here!)

My little girl came down with RSV this week, and it hit her pretty hard.  It started on Wednesday and was at its worst on Saturday - she was so congested and wheezy. Today she is showing signs of improvement, and we are so grateful.  It's hard to see little ones so sick.

Stephen is just on the verge of reading.  This week I started him on the pre-reading levelled readers, the kind with simple words that have picture cues to help kids read them.  I can't believe how fast he's picking it up, and am certain he will be reading before the school year is finished.  It's so exciting to see the first seeds of reading take root in your child, especially when you are the one teaching him.  Such an incredible honor that I get to be doing this with him.

This little girl had her first ballet recital this weekend - and I missed it. I had to stay home with my sick little one, who was in no condition to leave the house. I'm still sad about that, but incredibly grateful that her dad, all her brothers, and her grandparents were there to cheer her on.  My husband was very impressed with the school, and said he'd like to keep her in it. It's so much fun to see her with a whole group of girls, since she is surrounded by boys here (even the neighborhood kids are all boys!)  That makes her a pretty tough little girl, I joke that she is more like a linebacker than a ballerina, but I love that.  And make no mistake about it, though she can hold her own with any boy any day, this kid is definitely a little princess.  And a very fine (if heavy-footed) ballerina.

We've started reading Little House on the Prairie during our school day, and I am absolutely loving it.  The kids are so into Laura's accounts of pioneer life, and I love the detail in the way they explain every little thing they do (how the house was made, how Pa goes hunting to catch their food, how Ma cooks over a wood fire and does laundry).  Makes me pine for a little bit of the simple life.  Timothy announced one day, "If I was in Little House on the Prairie, I'd be Pa." And I know it's not because Pa's the only boy of the family, but because he is so strong and industrious, and protective.  And I have no doubt that when this kid gets older, he will be very much the same.  Stay tuned for the Little House in Summerville series, coming to a bookstore near you.

Mary, sticking her tongue out.  I just love this little girl! When she started to feel better at the end of the weekend, that was the best gift ever.  It's so sad to see a happy baby down and out.  I'm grateful she's on the mend.

I took this picture on Saturday, when Jeff sat down to play Wii with the kids.  At one time they played it every day, but last year we cracked down and put some serious limits on it (they hardly play it at all through the week).  So it's become a real family event, something to look forward to on a lazy Saturday after a long week.  I'm not against video games, but I think there is a proper order for them. And I'm happy we've managed to find a way that works them into our family life, without taking over.  They sure do love a good game of Mario with their Dad.

This afternoon my nephew came over, and our neighbor wandered up, and all the kids were outside playing because it was so nice out.  It was glorious!  Now that we've had a taste of spring, I can't wait for it to arrive.  I love having a yard full of kids playing, it makes life so happy.

And ending off, we're potty training this little guy.  I posted this picture to facebook with the caption, "at least he's doing something on the potty" because at that point, we had probably cleaned sixty puddles off the floor and he had not done anything on his potty.  I read a book recently that suggested kids should be trained between 15 and 22 months (regardless of whether they were showing signs of readiness) because that's how it had mostly been done prior to our generation.  And since this guy is 26 months I thought, why not give it a whirl?  I had no idea our little one would take sick, and it did make things hairy for a few days (though truthfully I think it was a blessing in disguise, because it kept me from obsessing too much over my little girl). And the happy news?  After six days of nothing, today he used the potty on his own. For the last half of the day he used the potty exclusively, and all without any reprimands or gimmicks from me (the book stressed not making a big deal over messes or over using the potty, similar to when you teach your child to use a spoon - you don't get angry over messes, you expect them.  But you don't lavish praise on a child who uses a spoon either, you just expect that it's part of getting older).  This will be the first child I've potty trained that it has not been a big ordeal.  I'm sure there are still plenty of accidents ahead, but I'll try to take them in stride.  It was so encouraging to see him finally getting the hang of it!

Enjoy the springy weather.  Cheers!

Rock Clinging

I am a singer.  Not a professional one, or a good one.  But I always have a song on my heart.  And when I'm going about my day with the kids, I often work what I want to say into a goofy little diddy for them.  The little ones giggle, the big ones roll their eyes.  It's fun.

I have been basking in the fruits of a work the Lord has begun in my heart this lent to help me focus on those things that lead me to loose my temper quickly, and to instead offer those times to him and not give into it.  And as a result I am a much happier Mom.  There is much more joy around my house.  And therefore, much more singing.

I was changing my four-month-old baby girl the other day and singing a little tune to her.  I don't remember the words, but the jist of it was something along the lines of, "oh you're the sweetest, cutest, happiest, brightest little baby to ever grace the planet, and I'm going to change your bum now!"  She lit up and I said, "Mary, you make my heart sing."  Immediately I was reminded of the words of an old hymn we used to sing at Mass when I was in the choir at my church, what seems like forever ago:

        No storm can shake my inmost calm
       While to that rock I'm clinging 
       Since love is Lord of Heaven and Earth
       How can I keep from singing?

I was immediately grateful for the ways in which the Lord was helping me to keep my calm amidst the little storms of life, to not sweat the small stuff, so that this joy, this song on my heart, could be audible to me.  I am immensely more grateful for the little ones who reveal the Lord to me, and cause that song to burst forth. How can I keep from singing?

Not long after that, this little one got sick.  She came down with RSV, which is nothing more than a cold for older kids (two of my other kids had it as well) but can be very dangerous for small babies. It is characterized by wheezing and trouble breathing, and having had an infant (my second boy) hospitalized at five weeks with the same thing, I was worried.  When she began puckering in at her ribs with every breath, all the kids and I made an impromptu trip to the doctor to have her checked out.  That little trip resulted in a subsequent trip to the hospital and three hours in the ER to be monitored.  I was so scared when I saw everything around me.  They brought us into the Trauma unit of the ER, and immediately I recalled being wheeled into the very same spot with my second boy, his little body hooked up to all the monitors, surrounded by doctors who were administering this and testing that.  Thankfully in her case, it just happened to be a spot for us to sit.  They did little more than give her inhalers every half hour and monitor her breathing, and as she responded so well (thank God!) they sent me home with instructions for how to treat her there. The doctors warned me that she would probably get worse before she got better though.

The next day her symptoms became more uncomfortable. I am so thankful my husband is so level-headed, because I would have had her back to the hospital in a minute.  But he knew that the inhalers were working, we could both tell her breathing was helped by them.  She struggled and gagged and coughed for hours at a time on the phlegm that is produced with this virus, something they couldn't do anything about at the hospital anyway.  If I try hard I can remember being in the hospital on nights just like yesterday with my second little one, pacing the room and calling nurses in and saying, "he's having such a hard time, can't you help him?"  And being so angry that they left me alone with him, not doing anything.  It's because Jeff is right - it just has to run it's course.  It's not pleasant for her, but it's not dangerous.

I spent so much of yesterday pacing, longing to see that beautiful perpetual smile that she couldn't seem to muster in all her discomfort.  Isn't it hard to see a normally happy baby in so much distress?  I was desperate - I prayed fervently for the Lord to take the pain away.

I stayed home by myself with the baby while everyone else attended a ballet recital for my oldest daughter (I was so sad to miss it, but probably not the first Mom torn between a first for one child and the needs of another sick little one).  I hoped that maybe, when I got the baby up from her nap, she would be all better and we could all go.  But my husband was very quick to remind me that I may as well live in reality.  And the reality was, my baby needed me more.

And as I sat with my very miserable little baby, I remembered my experience of her labor and delivery, and I began to share it with her.  "You know Mary," I began, "when you were born, it was my most difficult labor and delivery.  It hurt so much more than the others, and I was so scared.  But I knew Jesus was with me, and that I needed to be calm.  It was everything I could do to breath deep through the pain, and I couldn't even muster the words of a prayer, not even in my head.  All I could say was 'Jesus, Jesus'.  And He was there.  And He got me through it."  Of course I know that this meant nothing to a four-month-old - it was meant for me.  My job as her mother is not to take away her pain, it is to walk with her through it, to help her to be calm and focused on Jesus.  Sometimes the Lord allows pain and suffering, even for the littlest ones. This is my reality for now.  And I walked with her, and sang her through the roughest patches.

        No storm can shake my inmost calm
       While to that rock I'm clinging 
       Since love is Lord of Heaven and Earth
       How can I keep from singing?

She is doing a little better today, mercifully.  She continues to be up and down, as I suppose is to be expected while this thing runs its course.  And in her struggling to remain comfortable in what I'm sure is a scary situation for a little one, I know that the best thing I can do for her is to just be with her, and be calm.  To reassure her that everything is okay, that Jesus is here - allowing this and walking her through it.  Of course, I can't communicate that verbally to her.  But I can sing, and sing I shall.

Even in our most trying times, the Lord is there.  May we always cling to the Rock, so that in times of trial as in joy, we may be filled with his resounding peace.

A reassuring smile for her worried Mama