Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This is my new favorite word:  Mucher. A few nights ago, I was putting my 4-year-old son to bed. As I was tucking him in, he said, "Mom, I know you love me, but I love you mucher." Oh...

I'm pretty sure that I love him mucher, but that small comment just made my day. And I'm obviously still thinking about it several days later. There have been many moments since when I doubt that any of my children love me at all (except for the baby who just melts my heart), but they do...mucher, even! The reminder was sweet and appreciated.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How old are you?

I recently read in a leading parent's magazine that this is NOT a good question to ask your children. I can't remember all the reasons why (I think it may unintentionally harm self-esteem or the likes). What stuck with me is simply that we shouldn't ask it.

However, I find it to be a most helpful question for me to ask my children. Although the answer doesn't change unless it's birthday time (my 3rd child switched from 2 to 3 this week!), hearing them say their age out loud often gives me instant perspective.

It's like a light goes off in my head..."Oh! She is JUST 5." I think this technique is most helpful with my oldest. A friend asked me today at church if I will miss Gianna, my 5 1/2-year-old, when she starts full-day kindergarten next month. My instant answer (not all verbalized) is, "No! I will not miss her. I will be thrilled that she will be at school learning and having fun! She will not be subjected to me constantly asking her to act older or to be my personal helper. I think I will value my time with her much more."

This answer has so much more to do with me than with her. She is a lovely, helpful child who is asked to act way more mature than 5! As the mother of so many little ones, I am often desperate for someone to act "their age". She is the only one, at the current time, who will not completely melt down upon hearing that it is time to stop playing and pick up the toys. So, to keep peace, I ask her to do way more than her fair share of cleaning. Not fair!!

Another example, she will sometimes gleefully skip in the store and accidentally trip...and I will be so annoyed with her.

Inevitably, her younger siblings will have joined in the skipping, and there will be a pile of preschoolers either tripping (and crying) or having too much fun and running too far ahead of me, etc. In my anxiety, it's easiest to blame Gianna for introducing skipping to our outing!

I will ask her angrily, "How OLD are you?" (usually because I want her to own the fact that she is acting far too young for her age). Then, she will say that she is 5, and I am instantly reminded how very young she is, and how she was not skipping to irritate mamma, but rather because she is energetic, playful, and happy in her surroundings...a natural reaction is to skip! I should skip more! I should give thanks for a healthy child who likes to skip when she shops!

So, it helps for me to ask Gianna her age. It often stops me in my tracks and helps me to remember to be kinder, more patient, more loving toward a young child who is just being...a young child! Maybe I shouldn't need to ask it, but it's often involuntary (perhaps I was asked this a lot as I was also the oldest of children spaced very closely!).

It also helps (although maybe to a lesser degree) to ask my other children. When I hear the answer...2 or 3 or 4...it helps me recognize that the behaviors (although driving me insane) are normal (much to my dismay!). I am the one not acting my age. As the adult, I am called to be the mature one in the stressful situation. I am not to overreact to spilled milk, sibling quarrels, and meltdowns...but, I do...again and again! No one asks me how old I am, but maybe it would help. I would realize how ridiculous I act toward my children when they need a calm, emotionally stable mother the most!

God, please help me to keep perspective during these long days. As the only adult with my children at most times, I am often overwhelmed. I pray for the grace to "remember my age" and to never take for granted what a blessing it is to be the mother of these children (no matter how old!).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Learning to appreciate the unpredictability!

There are times when my children play brilliantly together. They laugh at each other's jokes and create the most imaginative scenarios. It is one of my life's greatest joys to listen to my children enjoy each other.

During our daily "down time" when I allow TV, I often sneak past the couch and notice that my 4- and 5-year olds are holding hands. They have done this since they were very young, and I really don't even think they realize what they are doing. It makes my heart happy though. Even though they are just vegging out, they are connecting to another human. I will be be sad when they stop this ritual.

I wish that I could bottle up these moments. Everything feels so worthwhile and I am so deliriously happy to be a stay-at-home mom.

Problem is, as we all know, these moments do not last. Nor, sadly, can I predict when they will happen.

I recently planned an arts and craft hour...rare for me as I try to outsource messes of this sort!! I was sure that all the children (including the toddler) would be thrilled that Mommy was giving them free reign on their creativity. I bought a "box of stuff" on sale at Michael's...hence this freedom. It was exactly that...a box of everything fun for little fingers to create masterpieces.

It was nothing like I had planned in my head. The fighting over the little poms poms started first. And then there was not enough glue to go around. And then the toddler got bored with his own and started to "fix"  the other kids'. It was awful, and I was so tempted to get a trash bag, throw everything in, and call it a day...lesson learned! I did put the toddler down for a nap and it got slightly better. But, they were still bickering and it seemed to bring out the best in no one (especially me!). I promptly threw the masterpieces in the trash as planned...but calmed down and took them out before the children missed them (this time!) :).

Then last night, I was absolutely dreading the bath and bedtime routine. My husband and I often joke that it's time for the "relief parents" to come and take over. We usually have exhausted and cranky people x 7. We've been putting them to bed even earlier these days (even though it seems most folks let their kids stay up later in the summer!) because we're just done. We don't have family around or babysitters, so it is just us. And, we're just...DONE!

Last night, however, even though all were tired as usual, the children were lovely to each other. Laughing and giggling through their shower, the older ones helping the younger ones, children actually paying attention during prayers, and no one fighting over laps during books. It was so wonderful...the kind of night that I know I will miss terribly (but I wonder if they will all turn into nights like this in my memory...my mom doesn't seem to remember many bad moments having four very small children at once!!).

As I said my night time prayers, I asked for the grace of appreciating the good moments...and just being happy when they come. Not wishing them away to be saved for a more appropriate time for me. And, I am trying to remember how much God loves me even when I am most unworthy. I need to try to feel as much love for my children when they are tired and cranky as I do when they are acting like the children that I always wanted! It's a process...God help me! And, thank you God, for never being DONE with me!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The desire is there...

A spontaneous prayer. I really feel like I should be praying rather than what I am doing (e-mail, house hunting online, glancing at what people posted on facebook, sending kids back downstairs so mom can have "a few more minutes"), etc. I feel that none of these are how God wants me to spend my time right now. So...

Oh Lord, thank you so much for all the blessings of this day. Please forgive me all my shortcomings and please give me the grace to be BETTER at all that I am called to do. Please continue to bless and protect my family. Please help me to make better use of the time that you give me.

Some blessings that I might forget/ignore if I do not reflect on them:

--My husband and all his strengths. So easy to focus on what I wanted him to do that he didn't do, and so easy to forget the many things that he does so well.

--My brother who just sent me the sweetest text to tell me that he loves me and the kids and that he thinks I'm a good mom. It would be so simple to glance at the words in passing because it was not the text that I wanted or expected instead of feeling the love behind them. Priceless.

--My son who just asked for a second lollipop. It was a very well thought out proposal for a 4-year-old!!! And, because I am feeling so lazy on this dreary day, his teeth are rotting right now as his blood sugar soars!

--My sweet baby who is taking her good afternoon nap. This morning I was at a playdate with two girlfriends. They were deep in conversation when my 3-month-old just starting cracking up. Giggles galore. My friends were oblivious, but I was in heaven. Nothing else instantly makes me feel like I could welcome 10 more babies. I recently read a survey that 95% of moms prefer a baby laughing to a baby sleeping. It's a toss up for me...both are so precious.

-- My almost 3-year-old who is painting her nails next to me. I am justifying it to myself by considering it a fine motor exercise! In reality, she's making a mess and the fumes are making us both high (even though it's a little girl's nail polish). But, she is SO happy (or maybe delirious from the fumes!).

Thank you, Lord, for the desire to pray. Please, Holy Spirit, inspire me to pray always by seeing You in all the big and little happenings in my day. Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Lord God, I have no idea where we are going...

I hate making decisions these days. I know that I am blessed to have choices, but the process is leaving me feeling totally wiped out these days.

First we had to pick a realtor to sell our house. Perhaps for most people, this does not become so personal. We had four realtors into our home to interview. Three of the four passed with flying colors. I sent several follow-up e-mails to those three asking many questions to see which would best "fit". The problem with this? I started to build a relationship with these realtors. Albeit, a working relationship based solely on the fact that they wanted my business(!), but it was still a relationship.

And, as I grow up, I realize that I am a very relational person! I really like people. I didn't realize how much I like people until I became a stay-at-home mom spending the majority of my day with little people. I love the little people dearly, but they do not fill my social needs. Nor should they! But, I thank God daily for my girlfriends, and for preschool pickup and story time where I continue to meet moms to share this journey with!

So, we picked a realtor and we are happy. But, picking one meant rejecting two. I wrote the rejection e-mails in my head over-and-over one sleepless night. How silly that this should keep me up!!! Thank goodness, my husband agreed to write the rejections and I have moved on...from that decision!

Yesterday something MOST unexpected happened. I finished a medical transcription course in December. I worked long hours for nine months to complete this course. I was SO proud. I immediately sent out over a hundred resumes convinced that it would be a matter of days. I was 6 months pregnant at the time, but I had it all planned how I would explain to the employer after I was hired that I would need to take minimal maternity leave. 

And...then I waited. And waited. Sent out many more resumes. Nothing. I started to read online how this field is quickly going away and being replaced by computers who could transcribe. A call to a local company confirmed it. The manager explained how many transcriptionists she had laid off in the past few years.

It was funny (?) how none of these forums of frustrated newbie transcriptionists seemed to pop up on google when I first looked into the field. Perhaps I didn't look very long! One thousand dollars of hard-earned money gone. No job. I really did enjoy the training as I love to learn, but I was hoping to have something to show for it.

I had my precious baby in April and forgot about it. I would have still loved to do something for a little money and intellectual fulfillment, but this was not the right time. My untapped self would need to stay untapped for now! God's will is so apparent in the immediate needs of my five angels.

Then...yesterday. Almost immediately after the "for sale" sign went out on the lawn. A phone call from a doctor offering me...a transcription job!!! During hours when my husband could be home with the kids so we would not need a sitter (I thought I wanted to work from home, but I would be the slowest transcriptionist in PA with all the interruptions!). A set schedule, good starting pay...everything that I have prayed for! The baby is only 3 months, but she's pretty much on an eating and sleeping schedule that I could tweak to work part-time (the job is close to my house too!).

Another sleepless night. I was supposed to start training today.

During my Hail Marys and my "Holy Spirit, inspire me" prayers begging for help to make the right decision about whether to take the job or not, an answer came.

Putting our house on the market has been a priority for this year. We have worked hard to get the house ready. It is now ready. We know that it will be quite a roller coaster until it is sold and we are (please God) settled into our new home. I have to get five happy (?) children out the door with an immaculate house countless times until we have a contract. This will be very stressful.

Me working out of the home will also be very stressful. It could be wonderful once we are all settled into the new routine of Daddy doing dinner, bath, and bedtime three nights a week. The older four would probably not even miss me, but the baby would miss me terribly. Her little face kept popping into my mind as I discerned. And, when would we show the house if I was working three weeknights? My husband is very good at many things, but I don't have much confidence that he could pull this off!

So, I did not take the job. I called this morning and poured my heart out to the doctor's voicemail. I said I could not accept this amazing opportunity that literally fell into my lap.

It is not the right time. The cost to my family would be much too great. It could possibly "work", and we could most certainly use the money. But, I have to trust that God will continue to provide for us. And, that another opportunity will come at the right time.

For right now (could change any minute), I only have regular decisions to make: where to take the kids on a 100 degree day with a heat advisory so we don't get too restless, and what's for dinner. I can handle these.  But, I pray that God will always be by my side as I make decisions. Thomas Merton's prayer comes to mind:

“My Lord God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Someone to snuggle with...

Yesterday morning a realtor came at 9:15 a.m. to look at our house. I set this appointment at a time when I felt calm and in control of life...obviously! Otherwise, even the thought of having 2 adults and 5 children up, dressed, fed, in a good mood and ready for a visitor at 9:15 causes panic! Of course, I realize that this will become the norm (at least the up, dressed, fed part) when my oldest starts kindergarten at 8 a.m. every day this fall. We're not there yet :).

In addition to the above, there was the matter of the house. One of the reasons we plan to move is that this is a small house. But, that also means that I can clean it quickly when needed. Phew!

It was when I making my son's bed when I noticed that the baby had stopped crying. I absolutely hated to put her down crying, but I only have two hands. She was fed, changed, loved, and very tired, so putting her down in her safe bouncy seat was the option.

I was in the other bedroom debating the position of Pooh Bear, Froggy, and Buzz Lightyear on the freshly made bed. Yes, I realize that this is of no importance to anyone but me (and maybe my son!), but I was trying to make the room feel as "put together" as possible. I perfected the order of stuffed friends and realized it was quiet. Ahh...the baby needed sleep and I could now run around to clean in peace.

I ran into to check on her quick (always a little fear when they get quiet quickly). As I approached, I saw a beautiful sight. My first instinct was to be angry, but it was replaced with gratitude in an instant. My 5 1/2-year-old had picked up the baby (which she knows is strictly against the rules...hence, the rush of anger) and had gently rocked her to sleep in her arms while singing the tune that I have always sung at bedtime.

My older daughter, Gianna, spoke before I could. "I'm sorry, Mom, but Lucy needed someone to snuggle with." I just smiled. She was absolutely right. And, I was so grateful that Lucy's older sister was there to fill in for me. I had to check my emotions and reaction.

I do not want Gianna to think she can pick up a 3-month-old whenever she wants, but I do want to encourage her to "snuggle" with her siblings whenever they need someone. It will not always be as easy to calm them, but they will feel her love for them. For better or worse, I know I always had a powerful impact on my younger siblings (in ways that we recognize and many in which we'll never fully appreciate), and I now see how Gianna is just beginning to assume this leader role (spontaneously) for her younger siblings.

The house got clean (sort of), the realtor came and told us that our house is worth less than we'd like (ha!), and everyone was in a fine (?) mood. I will soon forget the chaos of this day. But, the image of my oldest snuggling with my youngest in her time of need...that is an image that will be burned in my heart forever.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Simple thoughts about our amazing surprise...

My thoughts about the HHS Mandate are very simple. Not because I'm disinterested or because I don't care what happens. I do! I am not a very political person, but I do hope and pray that all of our politicians will follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit for the good of our nation and all people.

I was taken offguard at a recent visit to the pediatricians. One of the female doctors in the practice asked me if we would have health insurance next year. She knows that we are a Catholic family and that my husband works for the Catholic Diocese. I told her that we are praying for a resolution. She said, in a very kind tone, that we could always just purchase Obama's insurance because it would be in the best interest of our family.

I didn't answer her. I just smiled and put my lips tightly together. She is a kind woman and an excellent doctor. My son Joseph was in the hospital for 5 days when he was 3-weeks-old. This doctor was exceptional. She made sure that not only my son, but that I (as a postpartum, stressed-out, sleep-deprived mom) was treated with great compassion and dignity. We still talk about this in detail every time that I see her. Her memory blows me away...this was four years ago and she has hundreds of patients.

So, I just smiled. I really like her, and I didn't want to offend her. Yes...she had just offended me...but, I was afraid to speak up.

A huge fault of mine...I am horrible at apologetics. I try to spread the Gospel without words, and the Miraculous Medal around my neck and my 5 young children in tow tend to speak loudly, I've found! One answer did immediately pop into my mind though, when she suggested that we could just purchase Obama's insurance. It was this (besides the fact that we never would because we believe in the church and all her teachings): because of Justin.

Justin was our surprise baby. Cecilia was only 4-months-old, exclusively nursing, no bottles or pacifiers, not sleeping through the night, when I discovered that I was pregnant. I was shocked as I didn't realize that I could conceive without a cycle return. But, here he is...almost 2-years-old. And, what a blessing! That sweet smile and those affectionate hugs melt my heart. He is a blessing to me, his father, and to his siblings. He is a blessing to his grandparents, cousins, and who knows who else in this world. God created him because we were open to life and God's timing. What an amazing unexpected gift.

Although we do not contracept and will not, I think Justin came to mind because of all the Justin's who are not here. All the Justin's who God wanted to send. All the people who are missing someone...and do not even realize who or what they are missing. They are trying to fill that spot in their heart without success.

I'm not judging. My good friends who have chosen to only have 2 children have explained their reasons and I can only pray that they are following God's will for their lives. They very possibly are, and it is as it should be. My good friends and family who have not been able to conceive have taught me to never, ever judge the size of one's family as, again, I do not know God's perfect plan for them.

But, I cannot help but feel that our government allowing people insurance-covered birth control and procedures will hurt us all.

I am not meaning to oversimplify a very challenging matter. Nor am I meaning to dismiss the seriousness. I am just sharing something that pops into my mind whenever someone brings this subject up (which is a lot these days!). An adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed toddler who makes me so happy (and keeps me on my toes!). I thank God for this amazing surprise!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Things that go...

I chose this picture of our house (in the biggest snowstorm we had in the years that we lived here) because I am sitting here melting in the July heat. The snow looks so welcoming :).

We're getting ready to put our house on the market. This statement both excites me and terrifies me! We have been so blessed in this house. We moved in just 6 short years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest child.

I painted her nursery when I was 9 months pregnant (had to pass the time somehow!). I'll never forget the mail lady's look when she glanced up and saw me in the window...very pregnant, standing on a ladder, sweat dripping, covered in a limish-green paint...yet glowing with a big smile (and belly!). Such an accomplishment for me!

Today that paint is not so pretty. Our realtor said it's time to go. "Would you be open to painting this room white?," she asked, as soon as she walked in. "White?" Deep breath! So many babies have slept in this room. So many toddlers. Currently, a few preschoolers. SO many colorful memories in 6 years.

"Yes," I said, "White, it is." We soon discovered that both Home Depot and Lowes sell at least 20 varieties of "white". We chose a color called Delicate White (sounds better to me than just "white"!).

It is time to go. I'm praying that the good Lord will lead us painlessly to our next home (we haven't found it yet). The mixed emotions can be overwhelming at times, but I look around at our one and only living room/play room/family room/place to be together as a family, and (as I trip over the toys), I know it's time to go.

A quote by Sara Teasdale that I read this morning confirmed it..."I make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes." So, the green goes. I will make the most of all the exciting changes coming our way. And, I pray that the Blessed Mother will help me to be who I am called to be every single step of the way.

Happy Halloween, America!

My almost 3-year-old daughter was convinced that "America needs a birthday cake" (see previous post). So, yesterday, on a 95 degree 4th of July, I heated my oven (and my kitchen!) to 350 and proceeded to make the only cake in the pantry...a Halloween cake complete with bat shaped sprinkles :). I knew there was something that I forgot to do last October (honestly, I probably didn't want the kids to have any more sugar!). Everyone was delighted with this orange cake (as you see by the generous pieces missing). Happy Halloween, America!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The importance of magnets...

My 5 1/2-year-old daughter informed me today that she knows why we chose the name Lucy for our baby girl. She was very excited to tell me why. I was anticipating an answer about the saints...she knows very well that all of the children in our family are named after saints that are special to Mommy and Daddy.

Nope...she informed that it is because it is the one name in the family that she can spell out with the alphabet magnets (we are missing a few essential letters...perhaps if we moved the fridge to find the rest, she could spell more!). Although, I have been told, she can never spell Gianna because it has two A's! She was SO proud of the LUCY discovery! She rushed to put the magnets on Lucy herself. Lucy was delighted with the attention!

"Is that why, Mommy?!" I couldn't ruin the moment..."Exactly!"