Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Keeping my world small...

Enjoy your birthday present, Lou-Lou!
Today is Lucy's 2nd birthday!!!! The house was filled with excitement this morning as the other kids waited for her to wake up (she sleeps the latest...which is just fine with me!).

Cecilia and Lucy enjoying Lucy's b-day presents!
I have to make this short and get baking lest not to disappoint everyone expecting pink sparkly cupcakes tonight, but I wanted to write on this special day. Lucy definitely does not grasp the birthday concept and she's unsure about the extra attention. If you ask her how old she is, she will either put her fingers in her ears as if she's not listening (much to my embarrassment, she did this to Cecilia's lovely preschool teacher today!) or answer with a huge grin, "Three!"

Not sure which I'm happier about...the fence or the flowers!
I am so very happy these days. After going over the pros and cons a hundred times, we fenced in our yard!!! It was a very expensive purchase (for us!), but it will help keep my small corner of the world safer. And, I need my world to be small these days so I can stay sane and keep all my babies safe! Now when the kids want to go out and play, I don't have to say no all the time (it wasn't always practical for me to stop everything...like making dinner...just to make sure no one took off one of several ways!). Now I say, "Have fun!!!" Ahh...fences and flowers...does it get better!?!

Justin is loving on his baby sis!
Birthdays cause me to reflect on how fast life is flying by. And, provide a special day to thank God for my tremendous gifts (not that I don't do this every day, because I do!). I gave Lucy an extra special birthday blessing with my Lourdes water (see old post!).

I am loving her emerging 2-year-old personality. But, there are things that I could live without. For example, she is a runner. After a shockingly pleasant trip to the grocery store yesterday with the three youngest, Lucy decided to sprint to the door after I told her that it was time to get back into the cart to go to the car.

While I sprinted after her (I just left the other two kids at the register!), I was filled with total panic. She did stop when I yelled, "Freeze!" But it was only to smile at me before turning to run even faster. I am eternally grateful to the stranger who picked her up right before she exited the building straight into the parking lot.

Lucy will not have freedom again for a very.long.time. She was not a fan of mine today in Target and Costco. But, she was safe. I pray daily that Guardian Angels and patron saints will always protect my children from harm. Thank you Lord for my precious daughter on her second birthday.

And for fences :).

Just FYI, we are about to lose our laptop (the one that I do all my blogging on!). Windows is no longer providing support for Windows XP, thus I have to surrender this lovely piece of technology! It's really okay as Holy Week approaches, but I wanted to let you know that I may not be able to blog for a bit until we purchase a new laptop (and it takes us a while to make decisions!).

Thanks for reading!! Have a most blessed Lent.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stupid and Fearless...

Finally some spring weather to enjoy!
I used to be stupid in college. Luckily, I still did very well academically. I graduated magna cum laude from Providence College in Rhode Island (which is a very good school...even if no one has heard of it where I currently live...ha!).

I am talking about some of the choices that I made from ages 18-21. When I think back, all I can say to myself is, "But for the grace of God go I!" I do have tons of fond memories of good times with my roommates whom I consider lifelong friends, and I would not trade these. I also wouldn't trade all the growing up that took place and the seeds that were planted. I faithfully attended the 9 p.m. weeknight Mass at Aquinas Chapel and I can see that God was busy working in my life because I tried to remain close to Him!

Because my kids might some day read this (I was reminded recently that once something is out there, it never really goes away!), I won't give details! But, I made some choices that I am not proud of. I have gone to Confession and I know that I am forgiven, and I daresay that I am a stronger person because of these choices...but that doesn't mean that what I did was right and that I didn't alter the plans that God had for me!

Gianna is SO crafty :)

I also used to be fearless. I realize this every time that I drive on the highway. When I was 23, I accepted a job that allowed me to travel all over the United States (and a few locations abroad) and teach reading and study skills in private schools. This job was the answer to a prayer that I hadn't even been saying at the time!

I was living in a cute little apartment with my best friend from high school and working two jobs. The first job was as a Special Events Coordinator at a college (it was my third full-time job after graduating from college two years earlier. I hated the administrative assistant and research assistant jobs that came before it!). The second job was as a waitress and I had some fun (albeit not the most upstanding) friends!

On the surface, everything was fine. I was making enough money to support myself comfortably, and I had a nice social life (although not the true love that I was seeking...). On the inside, I was pretty miserable. I felt suffocated by something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I often thought of getting in my car and just driving away forever.

One Sunday afternoon, I was reading the Classifieds (I decided that special events planning was not for me either!), and I saw the traveling teacher job! I sent off my resume, and my excitement grew the following week after the interview. There was actually a job that I could get in my car and drive forever! And, I could teach children (I was actually an education major until my senior year when I had second thoughts!) which I always thought I might enjoy.

I was sold on a brand new exciting life and I went about getting my affairs in order. I had to break it to my best friend that I was moving out. I gladly quit the special events job and spent my final days picking up tons of waitressing shifts. I'll never forget a conversation with my mom. She just wanted to make sure that I very sure about my decisions. I appreciated her concern, but I had never been surer about anything in my life!

So, after three weeks of very intense training, I got in my car and headed (all by myself!) to Tulsa, OK. It was absolutely exhilarating! I've written about these experiences in this blog over the years, so I won't repeat them here. I spent an amazing month in Tulsa before heading (again, all by myself!) to San Jose, CA. The rest of the year was spent in different states until I landed in Washington D.C. the following June and met my husband!

Who gets in the car and drives across the country (multiple times) by herself (without knowing a soul when you arrive)? I guess I do! Fearless!!!!

Today was "Cap and Gown" picture day at preschool...how is that possible!?

Today, I can confidently say that I am neither stupid nor fearless!

I am keenly aware of my countless blessings. I would not do anything stupid to jeopardize all that has been entrusted to me! I live a very straight and narrow life...call it boring if you want! I want my life to be rightly ordered and peaceful (well, I can dream...!).

And, every time I get on the highway (especially because there always seem to be large semi-trucks coming up behind me VERY fast...just inches from the precious cargo in the back of my vehicle)...I can't believe that getting on the highway used to bring me a great rush of freedom.

That feeling has been replaced with plenty of fear...and tons of prayers for safety and protection. Funny that I don't remember asking for protection when it was just me driving across the country...I guess it was the infamous invincible feelings of youth!

Oh well, at least I'm wise now (ha...I wish!). Hope you're having a blessed Lent. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ah...that's so nice!

I found Cecilia "reading" this book to Justin the other day. I love it when I "catch" my kids doing some of my favorite things: being kind to each other and reading! They didn't even know that I was taking their picture. Until...

The flash ruined the moment :). Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!

This post is about kindness. On Saturday, two people (well, more than two, but this post is just about two!) were very kind to our family. Simple gestures really, but they made for some very happy kids!

The first was Saturday morning. I had to take Cecilia to the pediatrician. Nothing serious, thank God. Gianna came with us just to get out of the house for a little bit (she's my child who likes to be on the go!). After our appointment (a quick appointment after a very long wait!), the pediatrician personally walked the girls out to the front desk to pick out tattoos (used to be stickers, but I guess these are more exiting!).

As this pediatrician has gotten to know our family very well over the past 7-1/2 years, she suggested that the girls also pick out tattoos for Joseph, Justin, and Lucy. The girls carefully chose a proper tattoo for each child (superheroes for the boys and Hello Kitty for Lucy!).

Not a giant deal...but, as families with multiple kids know...it is a giant deal in their world! There are times when only one child gets something...and, I think this is actually a VERY good thing so the others keep learning quickly that the world doesn't revolve around them and that unfortunately, sometimes "It's just not fair!"

But, in this instance, we walked in the door with tattoos for everyone. And, these gifts that only cost a few cents, were worth much more! The thoughtful doctor made everyone feel special by remembering them. Joseph even wanted to write a thank you note!

I appreciated it probably more than the kids :).

Here's my sweet love. She didn't get a tattoo, but she just smiled anyway!
The other thoughtful mom is a friend of mine. Her son is in Joseph's Kindergarten class and her daughter is in Justin's preschool class. We have known them for years now through my mom's club.

Anyway, Saturday was her son's 6th birthday party. Joseph, Teresa, and I went and enjoyed bowling, arcade games, pizza, and cake. Well, Teresa didn't do anything of these things, but she loved the lights, noises, and smiling faces and then took a nice cat nap in my arms!

When we were getting ready to leave, my friend asked me to wait a minute. And then, she handed me a huge bag with favor bags for the rest of my children at home!!! Wow...how thoughtful! For the second time that day, I walked in the door at home and was able to greet the kids with something special. Again, they were so excited to be remembered. Joseph handed out the bags and they were thrilled with the music makers, light-up balls, gummies, and ring pops! The fun lasted at least an hour on a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon.

Again, I probably appreciated it more than my kids :).

To be remembered is priceless (even if we take it for granted). I pray for all those who are forgotten and lonely this day...especially the elderly in nursing homes. I mentioned to some friends that I would love to visit a nursing home with my children for Lent. I would love to share my little sunshines and brighten someone's day.

Problem is, I don't have the guts. I did a few errands with Justin, Lucy, and Teresa today while Cecilia was at school...that was quite stressful enough! I can only imagine me chasing Lucy through a nursing home! So, I'll offer some prayers instead :).

Here's to thoughtfulness and remembering others...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Special Hallway...

Joseph's special cards!
My oldest, Gianna, is home sick from 1st grade today with a fever and sore throat. Luckily, it's kind of a lazy day for the rest of us (no preschool on Wednesday) so she can lounge around the house to rest up and (hopefully!) be better for tomorrow.

This morning, I had to tell Joseph (Kindergarten) that Gianna was not going to school today. "You mean that I have to go all by myself", he asked!? He and Gianna ride the bus together each morning, see each other several times a day at school (their classrooms are in the same hallway at Holy Name of Jesus school), and I've been told by the principal that they couldn't be any cuter when they often (at least in the beginning of the school year...not sure if this still happens!) walk to the end-of-the-day bus holding hands...I love that :).

I reminded Joseph that he's done it before (Gianna has been out a few others times this year while Joseph...thank God...has been healthy all year!). He was brave and got on the bus with a smile (luckily, he just loves school and today he has library, gym, and art!).

The special hallway houses Grades K thru 3 at Holy Name. Every Sunday, I am able to walk this hallway when we pick up Cecilia from her preschool CCD class which takes place in Joseph's K classroom. I just love seeing all the student work neatly displayed. More than that though, I love knowing that my children are so physically close to each other all day long. It is comforting to know that they have each other...they have always been very close! God willing, next year Cecilia will join this hallway too!

The picture above is from last Wednesday, the feast of St. Joseph. During indoor recess (the coldest winter ever continues!), Gianna decided to make a "Happy Feast Day" card for her brother Joseph. Her three best friends decided to make one as well! Their kind teacher allowed the girls to walk down the hall and leave the cards on Joseph's desk (he was at lunch so he wasn't there).

Joseph was delighted when he got back to his desk. He said, "Mom! There were these cards...and they were just for ME!" I thanked Gianna for her thoughtfulness and told her to thank her friends as well. I took the picture above to capture the moment. I can only pray that they always love each other this much!!

This is the plan for the rest of the day....lounging around! Sure, there will be many stir crazy moments, but they are lucky to have so many siblings to play with :). Off to get Lucy from a very short nap (sigh!). Have a blessed day, everyone!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Get Over Yourself!

My baby and me!

My daughter was begging me to let her take this picture with a real camera (I guess her toy one isn't cutting it anymore!). We tried to get one with the baby looking and giggling, but we couldn't coordinate the timing!

This year, I'm doing very well in some areas of my Lenten observation (I have successfully given up Facebook!) and not so much in other areas (I should really be getting off the computer right now and saying the Rosary rather than writing!).

I did watch a segment by Fr. Robert Barron a few weeks ago on Vice and Virtues. I have yet to watch the rest of the series (again, a Lenten failure!), but I have spent a lot of time contemplating the little that I did see! In particular, the virtue of humility.  Fr. Barron stressed that it is necessary to let go of the ego and realize that everything we have and are is a gift from God.

This includes not putting too much thought and attention on yourself. For example, getting lost in your own thoughts too much or worrying too much about what other people think of you.

I suppose I am writing about this at all because of hormones! Before I had Teresa, I posted that there is one thing that I especially love about pregnancy (besides the baby's movement). That is, my hormone levels are very steady, and I feel very emotionally stable. That's not to say that I don't still feel all the emotions, but they are more tempered (for example, I will not cry over a sappy commercial like I may when I have PMS!).

Anyway, with the return of fertility comes all the rise and fall of hormones. I know this is good, natural, beautiful, feminine...but it is also hard and a tad annoying :). I find myself being more sensitive and dwelling on things that I know should not phase me. For example, I will wonder why I wasn't invited to an outing that the other moms are talking about (um...duh...I can think of a hundred reasons!). Or, if a certain friend hasn't e-mailed me back then I wonder if they are mad at me (um...we are all super duper busy especially with the start of spring sports!). Or, I will spend ample time worrying or contemplating things that are out of my control.

Ah...hormones! I guess they mess with my emotions which cause me to turn inward. And, I don't want to turn inward. I want to live a humble life with the focus off of myself! I wrote a while back that I was refusing to be in pictures when I was very pregnant and feeling extremely frumpy. Well, I am not pregnant anymore and I want to capture moments with my precious baby...whether I feel photo worthy or not :). Thus the picture above...

Here's my pretty smile!

I recently realized my least favorite thing that strangers say to me when I am out with my kids. It's not: "Are you done yet?" But rather, when my baby is crying (she is usually a happy baby when she is held!) and a stranger says, "Somebody's not happy!" Um...no kidding!

Last week we were at the mall and a stranger actually went up to the baby carrier, pulled back the hood and said, "Cheer up kid...it only gets worse because you have to pay taxes when you get older!" Um...get away from my baby please!

Of course, most people mean absolutely no harm, and I'm sure that I said that very thing to many people back in the days when I worked in retail and a crying baby would come through my checkout lane! It's just conversation!

So, why would it bother me? Upon reflection, I think it bothers me so much because I feel like they are pointing out a place where I am failing as a mother at that moment. While rationally, I know this is absurd (sometimes a mom just needs two hands and can't hold her baby...no harm done!), I've written before that I like to portray (even if it's the opposite of my feelings) that I've got it all together! And, if a baby is screaming, then clearly I don't have it all together!

How silly for me to make this about me. That is an area in my life where I can use a huge dose of humility! These people are not judging me! I can think of other instances too...but that's all I'm going to share because you're probably sick of reading :)!

There were a few humorous moments recently where I did not feel bad about myself...and it was good to take myself so lightly! First of all, my son Joseph was giving me a huge hug when he called me "his big fat mommy!" HA!!! For those of you that don't know me, I am not as small and fit as I used to be, but I'm not big and fat either. Gotta just laugh and hug back!! The second came this morning during a lovely playdate with friends. A good friend went into my silverware drawer to find a spoon for her coffee...and all she could find was a baby spoon (which she asked me if she could use!). HA!!! Gotta just laugh...and empty my dishwasher!

So, in addition to giving up Facebook (going well!) and praying the Rosary more frequently (currently not going well), I'm also praying for the grace to be humble (hormones and all!).

What are you working on this Lent?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What a day!

My fun-loving, creative, sweet Joseph

However many saints you have as your intercessors, be especially devoted to St. Joseph, 
who can obtain a great deal from God.
St. Teresa of Avila
Doctor of the Church

Some saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, 
in every necessity, in every undertaking.
St. Thomas Aquinas
Doctor of the Church

Happy Feast of St. Joseph! 

Our Joseph knows that it's his special feast day. It's also my husband's feast day (middle name Joseph), and the day that our Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, PA is installing a new Bishop (thanks be to God!). My husband has an exciting day of welcoming and assisting the 30+ Bishops from around the country (and beyond) who are descending on St. Patrick Cathedral at 2 p.m. for the Installation Mass followed by a special reception. My day isn't quite as exciting! :)

I love the two quotes above about St. Joseph. How powerful is his intercession! I shared this story last year, but it's on my mind today so I'll share it again! When Gianna was 7-months-old, we accompanied my husband to a conference in Columbus, OH (we can hardly make it the 2 miles to church with our whole family right now...never mind Columbus...ha!). On a beautiful spring day almost 7 years ago, I was taking a walk with Gianna when I came across a beautiful Catholic church which happened to be open.

I saw a small shrine to St. Joseph and I was instantly drawn to it. As it had taken us two years to conceive Gianna, I was already hoping and praying that we would conceive again (after infertility, you never take the precious gift of fertility for granted again). I asked through St. Joseph's powerful intercession for the gift of a new baby. And, I promised if it was a boy that we would name him Joseph. A few weeks after we were back in Harrisburg, I got a positive pregnancy test. Thank you, St. Joseph! 

Please be the constant guide and protector of my husband and son!



Monday, March 17, 2014

The Least Helpful Leprechaun!

Impossible to get a good picture of Lucy these days...she's on the move!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We all have various shades of green on today (except Gianna who still had to wear her navy blue and gray plaid jumper!).

This morning I went to a fun play date where Irish music was playing in the background, and we snacked on Irish soda bread and drank Irish coffee (minus the Baileys...darn!). My daughter Cecilia is so excited that a leprechaun is coming to school tomorrow (March 18???) because there are too many classes for all of them to hunt for the leprechaun today. Um, okay! I'm actually fine with it because March 17th is about St. Patrick (leprechauns optional!). Some of the other parents were upset though!

This post is about Lucy the leprechaun. She'll be 2 in about three weeks. I really can't believe it. I was at a birthday party yesterday and someone who hasn't seen our family in a bit kept calling the baby Lucy. I told her it's okay...I feel like Lucy was in the baby carrier just yesterday!

Anyway, 2 is definitely one of my favorite ages (I only go as high as 7 though...ha!). I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my children at this age (personality becomes evident, language is exploding with all the adorable mispronunciations, super cute and cuddly, potential for good naps, easily distracted/re-directed, little need for discipline, etc., etc.!). I try to hurry up and enjoy it because 3 comes fast (enough said!)...

Lucy's favorite chore is laundry. This is because I am constantly doing laundry (ha!) and she is my sidekick. This is how Lucy does laundry: Take a piece of clothing out of the basket and run to put it away in a drawer. Sounds good, no? Well trained for age 2!

One problem...she NEVER puts the clothing in the right drawers! Ironically, if I hold up a piece of clothing, 99% of the time, she can tell me who it belongs to.

Just today I found Joseph's underwear in Gianna's pants drawer, my socks in with Justin's socks (socks are socks, I guess!), Cecilia's pajamas in with Daddy's stuff. You get it! The thing is that she's SO proud of herself that I don't have the heart to stop her (I just make her pile very small and I do the rest)!

If she could only get it right, my load would be so much lighter :).

Here's my cutest leprechaun! She's still tiny, but look at those chins!

St. Patrick, pray for us!