Saturday, November 20, 2010

Losing with Grace: A Mother/Daughter Lesson

When you lead your sons and daughters in the good way, let your words be tender and caressing, in terms of discipline that wins the heart's assent.
           Elijah Ben Solomon Zalman

Last night was Family Bingo Night at Mary's elementary school.  Barbecue dinners were available for sale before play as a fundraiser, and our local VFW post loaned the bingo boards.

I knew from the length of the dinner line and raffle ticket sales that we were in trouble.  A mother just knows these things. 

All these patrons meant lots of bingo players and a decreased chance of winning.  Besides, winning at bingo is purely luck of the draw...strategy really doesn't work (maybe multiple board play).  Just an eagle eye view of your board and a familiarity with the vocabulary "diagonal, vertical and horizontal"!
Benjamin loved opening and closing the little windows!

For days my little one bubbled with excitement about going to Family Bunco Bingo Night.   She kept explaining to my husband and I that she knew she was going to win because she could read numbers up to 100 and learned how to play bingo in preschool.  She was ready for the game night.

Anticipating the first number to be called.

As boards were cleared and students went to the stage to claim prizes, realization began to sink in for my daughter that she was not winning.  Tears began to prick at the corner of her eyes.

And I began to get frustrated.  Frustrated with the stuffiness of the room, frustrated with a fussy baby, frustrated with a distracted preschooler, but mostly frustrated with myself for not having the patience and grace to be gentle and kind with my words while teaching my daughter to lose gracefully!

It wasn't one of my better parenting moments.  I snapped at her that we "don't cry when we lose at board games" and told her if she couldn't gain some self-control we would have to leave. 

I know.  Harsh.

Fortunately, my husband has a beautifully-gentle side to him when dealing with our little ones during these types of situations and he spoke the kind words that I could not.   Unfortunately, it was too late.  The damage was done.  Her disappointment with not winning coupled with my lack of patience and grace sent her into a tailspin.  She could not regain her composure and we did end up leaving. 

It was late.  It was past bedtime for little ones.  It had been a long day.

Trying so very hard to fake a smile.

But as I lay in bed last night replaying the evening's turn of events I came to realize that an opportunity was missed.  Instead of providing her with kind words and loving hands to soothe away the disappointment, I placed adult-like expectations on her little blond head.  I took a situation that was about her and turned it into a situation about me.  I was embarrassed by her behavior, fearing that other mothers were looking at me thinking, "she really needs to teach that child to control her emotions."  Yet, I was the very one that needed to control my emotions.

Yes, our children do need to learn that life isn't fair, that it isn't always about winning, that sometimes we do lose at a game or two, but we also need to take into consideration the circumstances of the situation.  In our case, it was a first time community game night, it was hot and stuffy in the building, little brothers were not cooperating and taking away mom's attention, anticipation and excitement had been building all week about playing and teachable moments about losing gracefully were missed earlier in the week.

And the reality is that at that moment every other mother was busy helping their own child locate I-32 or G-59 or corralling wayward little ones and not finger-pointing at me.  It is a lesson taken to heart.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Greatest Pleasure...

"Your greatest pleasure is that which rebounds from hearts that you have made glad."
         Henry Ward Beecher

This week our sweet son, Benjamin, turned four-years old.  I loved having a November baby, especially one so close to Thanksgiving.  He made our holidays so much sweeter in 2006!

With a new baby in our family and a recent Baptismal celebration, we spent a quiet evening at home with our birthday boy.  Cake and cupcake overload over the past several weeks meant something different, but just as sweet for candle-blowing and wish-making. 

The "birthday cookie" chosen by Ben.
Our little man LOVES to ride sissy's scooter, so it was an easy decision for purchase this year.


One simple gift made him so happy.

Happiness is...a Toy Story scooter!

By the way... guess who's 3-months old?!!!

No scanner means photographing your photo! 
Wishing you a wonderful start to your weekend!
Peace & Blessings,

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Little Lady Turned 90!!!

Happy Birthday, Grandma!
 A couple of weekends ago, we traveled to Oklahoma City for my cousin's wedding. While all of the family was together, we took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday!

WOW. Ninety years young!  What was happening 90 years ago, in 1920...
  • the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote.  
  • Prohibition goes into effect with the passage of the 18th Amendment.
  • Warren G. Harding is elected President in Nov. 1920 to replace President Woodrow Wilson.
  • The New York Yankees buy Babe Ruth.
  • The Ford Model T continues to sell well.
  • A pound of bacon cost $.47 and a dozen oranges cost $.55.

Grandma still lives on her own in her 2-story house, drives, and dresses/puts on her make-up, and fixes her hair each day!  I called her the other day and she told me that she had driven herself to a restaurant because she was craving some Fish & Chips.  A couple over at the next booth, overheard her telling the waitress that she had just turned 90-years old.  The couple came over to congratulate her and asked how she got to the restaurant.  She told them, "I still drive."  And then she told me, "Valerie, it's good to be 90!"  LOVE it!!!!

My grandmother with her brother, my great-uncle.
My sister and I with our grandmother.

Close Up

Look at those manicured nails...I told ya Grandma takes care of herself!
And being 100% Polish-American, no good Catholic birthday or wedding celebration is complete without a Polka band and/or accordian player.  While my hands were full, my mom, who is great at the Polka, did take Mary Catherine and Benjamin out on the dance floor.  Fun times!

The polka master!
Happy Birthday, Grandma!  May you at least have another 10 more!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wedding Reception Fun

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we traveled to Oklahoma City for my cousin's wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding ceremony (the most important part of a wedding, for sure!) and we had lots of fun at the reception. Theirs was a very intimate and private affair which allowed for lots of mingling!  With a limited guest list, the bride, groom and their families were able to spend lots of time with out-of-town guests.  Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, and dancing to a band made for a lovely evening.

My two little men.

Horse drawn carriage ride from church to reception!

Mary Catherine, Daddy, and cousins checking out the horse.

First Dance

A captured giggle!

Digging in to his "kid" plate!  My two oldest were so well-behaved! 

For the love of velvet and chocolate with cream cheese frosting.

I can almost taste this!  I caught Mary & Benjamin visiting the cupcake table more than once!
The Happy Couple!

My cousin and her new husband are off to Europe.  Two marvelous weeks spent in Italy and France.  Wishing them a lifetime of happiness!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Found the One My Heart Loves

"I found the one my heart loves." ~ Song of Solomon 3:4

My uncle escorting his beautiful daughter down the aisle.

Exchanging vows at St. Joseph's Old Cathedral in OKC, OK
The "new" Mr. & Mrs.!

At the reception which was held at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum.

We had such a fun time at my cousin's wedding the weekend of October 22 in Oklahoma City.  And while the weather wasn't the most cooperative, love managed to brighten the damp and dreary days!  Wishing the young newlyweds all the best that the future holds for them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting with Grace

Did you vote today? I sure hope so. Voting is a great privilege afforded to us by our Constitution.

 My Momma Voted Today!

That being said, did you vote with grace?

What do I mean?

I mean, did you graciously disagree with your candidate's opponent, by casting a ballot against them?

It is so simple, really, to handle disagreements graciously, yet one wouldn't know it from the distasteful political ads being run throughout the country. In my opinion, it the negative ads that keep so many people away from the polls.

And, if I must be honest, even my own candidates were guilty of slinging a handful of mud or two.

But why? The pollsters and researchers say that negative ads are effective, but want to know what is even more effective?


"One of the marks of maturity is the ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable. It takes grace. In fact, handling disagreements with tact is one of the crowning achievements of grace." Charles R. Swindoll, The Grace Awakening, pg. 159.

I learned this lesson early on. And while I am definitely not perfect at handling disagreements with grace, I did get a lot of practice from working in the service industries.

My first job, while still in high school, was at Burger King. I then moved "up" to waitressing, but the commonality between those two jobs was always customer satisfaction. As employees, we were taught the motto, and expected to serve it up with a smile that, the customer is always right (even if they were wrong!).

But my greatest teacher of grace, ironically, was a United States Senator. Upon graduation from college (poli sci major), I accepted a job working for U.S. Senator Kit Bond. It was during those four years as a Senate Staffer that I learned the meaning of grace under fire. And oh, my, several of Kit's votes threw fuel on the fire! I was taught to answer the phones, accept the messages from the constituents, not argue back, and graciously thank them for their call. Gulp.

It was a wonderful education on the lesson of "graciously disagreeing and pressing on" and I was only able to do so through the gift of God's grace.

Speaking of which, last week I read The Grace Awakening by Charles R. Swindoll. Originally published in 1990, it has recently been rereleased. I found it to be a captivating read and am excited about the thirty-day devotional that is included in the back of the book. Swindoll talks about "grace killers" in the church and our daily lives, and with the election looming, couldn't help but to think of our own politicians. Don't their negative ads kill any zest or drive to serve in public office?

And just a word about bloggers...have you ever happened upon a blog that is (or isn't) political in nature, but oozes negativity? I think that these bloggers have the best of intentions...wanting to urge readers to take up a certain cause, vote a particular way, in essence see their point of view and vote accordingly, but often they let their sharp tongue and harsh words get the best of them. As Swindoll states, "It costs no more, and it takes only a little more time to express your disagreements in tactful and gracious ways..." (Swindoll, pg. 161)

It is my prayer that, tonight, as election returns pour in... that losers may accept defeat graciously, winners accept success even MORE graciously, and that those sent to Washington, our statehouses, benches (judges), etc. set to work studying, writing, and voting on legislation/rulings that are for the good of our country and its people.

Blessings to you all,

Monday, November 1, 2010

In the Navy...

Happy November 1st!  I hope that everyone had a safe and Happy Halloween.  Every year I try to get coordinating costumes for my little ones and so far I've been successful.  Although, I think that those days are numbered!  This year my cuties were a Sailor Sweetie (think USO girl) and Naval Captain.

We want you, we want you, we want you as a new recruit!

Sibling love!

Aye, Aye, Captain!
I love his smiling eyes!  Notice the chocolate mouth...before we even started trick-or-treating!
Our little pumpkin's First Halloween (2010)
Me with my sailor sweeties...and little pumpkin!
And after I posted some similar pictures on my facebook account, one of my girlfriends came up with the adorable suggestion that Luke should have been a "Navy Seal"...Awwww, how cute is that?  Oh well!  Next year, I'll hit her up for ideas BEFORE I buy or make costumes!

And for a walk down memory lane...

Halloween 2009
Halloween 2008

Halloween 2007

And while I am a bit late in posting tonight, I would like to wish all of my Catholic blogging friends, a blessed All Saints Day.  ( For those of you who are not Catholic, we celebrate the feast of all of the saints, both known and unknown on this day, the day AFTER all Hallow's eve.)