Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Our two Jack-o-lanterns (Gianna lost four teeth recently, so she was the model for our pumpkin!)

Yesterday was a mighty display of God's power. The eye of Hurricane Sandy was right over Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the early evening. Besides losing some siding (a bummer because we just sold this house and now we have to pay a lot of money to fix it!!), we are all okay. 

God's power did not knock out our electrical power, and I am extremely grateful. I was in a bit of a panic the night before the storm (ask my husband!). Not because I was afraid of a natural disaster (although I did pray for no loss of life and for those who have already been affected, of course), but because I was afraid of being stuck in a cold, dark house with all my children for an unlimited amount of time. 

This even sounds silly to me as I type it...why would a mother be afraid to be home with her children...but, I know that even our "normal" days require "extraordinary" graces. I fear that anything abnormal (like an extended power outage) might put me right over the edge :). I do trust that God will always provide the graces that I need, but I'm grateful to be spared the test...THIS TIME!

I woke up the morning of the storm saying prayers for a safe and happy day. School was cancelled, but work was also cancelled for Daddy...a huge help! We passed a long day inside by carving our jack-o-lantern (my children were delighted to learn that Halloween has not passed, in fact....see last post!). I also baked a delicious apple caramel cake. It is killing my diet, but man, it makes me very happy. And, as we did not lose power, I could still make my beloved coffee...which always seems to cheer me! The children did remarkably well...minimal meltdowns, tantrums, and quarrels! Thank you God (and Mary and patron saints and guardian angels...my powerful intercessors!)

Today is day two of being home. The hurricane is gone, but the skies are very gray and it has turned very cold. As I do every afternoon, I just turned off the TV after break time and sent them outside. I expected them to fight me on this. However, the dreary day isn't bothering them much...I just snapped this picture of my daughters playing...all smiles. Gianna even commented that the missing siding on our house "looks cool!"

Once again I reflect on how children are often unaffected by things that can really tend to bother adults...this is a lesson and gift that children can share with us! 

Although I cannot control the weather (or many parts of my day since I have unpredictable young children), it is always in my power to turn to God and to rely on His power to get me through! That I may always be receptive to God working in my life, I pray. Amen!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why Not!?

Here's how the first Halloween picture turned out! Good thing we tried again...

That's a little better...at least Justin joined us this time!

On Thursday night, we trick-or-treated. I know this is weird. I grew up in Boston where trick-or-treat was ALWAYS on October 31st...cloudy, rainy, snowy, weekday/weekend...it didn't matter.

Here in Central Pennsylvania, however, trick-or-treat is the Thursday before Halloween. Very strange...and very confusing for young children who think Halloween is now past...although it is still four days away!!!

Regardless, the children LOVED trick-or-treating. Now that Gianna is 6 and Joseph is almost 5, they led the pack...which means that we stayed out much longer than usual and went much farther. The younger kids hung in there, and even the baby seemed to enjoy herself.

The result: I have never seen so much candy in one place! The children will soon forget to ask for it (out of sight, out of mind). Unfortunately, I will not forget about it :).

On Friday night after an early dinner, Cecilia asked if it was almost time. For what, I thought?! Bed? Why yes!!!

But, she meant trick-or-treating again. "WHY NOT?" her response...my answer about once a year obviously did not suffice.

I thought about it from her point of view. On Thursday night, she got into her costume (she loves to dress up) and went on a fascinating walk where everyone she met was smiling and giving her candy...no wonder she wanted to do it again...how magical...the very essence of childhood!

For sure, I loved seeing my children so happy. I also really enjoyed seeing my neighbors. I wave to them when I drive by and they occasionally mention how big the kids have gotten, but that's about it. On trick-or-treat night, their doors are wide open and we are warmly received. Kind of nice, even if it's only once a year. I wonder if this is what it was like in past days when people actually knew their neighbors (that's rare today...at least in my neighborhood!).

As Gianna goes to a Catholic School, she will celebrate the REAL meaning of Halloween on Wednesday. There is a saint parade in anticipation of All Saints Day on November 1st, and she will dress up as a doctor to honor her patron saint, Saint Gianna. I am so grateful that she will see in a memorable way that Halloween is more than costumes and candy! All you saints, please pray for us.

As for Cecilia, she has been pretending to trick-or-treat with her baby dolls...that and an occasional piece of candy will have to do until the next Thursday before Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh goody...

Every afternoon I escape to my bedroom for a little bit. I have found that it is in every one's best interest if I get a break! I usually put a movie on for the older kids (while the nappers nap), and I sneak away with a cup of coffee. Before I go upstairs, I make sure that there is a snack and drink available and that all needs are met for the foreseeable future (a lot of planning for a 1/2 hour break!).

Joseph (4-1/2) knows the drill: Leave Mommy alone! Gianna knows this too when she is off from school. At age 3, Cecilia ignores the drill and checks in with me at least every 10 minutes. It's usually to change her clothes (again), but she comes up with tons of creative demands and requests. Needless to say, my break is not very relaxing!

Yesterday was different, however. Cecilia did not come upstairs. I could hear her downstairs so I knew she was hard at work. On what, I did not know. And, since our house is pretty childproof, I let it go. I was afraid the sight of me would distract her and my peace would be over :).

Boy...I was in for a treat. When I heard the TV show end, I headed downstairs. I was greeted by Cecilia with a HUGE grin. "Mommy, I made GOODY BAGS."


And then I saw them.

An entire new package of Ziploc bags (the sandwich kind that I had just bought for my older daughter's lunchbox) emptied, each bag filled with "treasures" (i.e. 1-2 Legos or Little People). She had lined them up in a row and they stretched from door-to-door (through the living room into the dining room). To be exact, there were 125 bags in the box (well, she didn't fill all 125...probably only about 30 or so because she's only 3 and I wasn't gone that long...but it looked/felt like 125 to me!).

My first reaction was, "OH NO she didn't!" Heart racing, palms sweating. This is going to take me forever to put it all back!!!!!

But, I looked at her proud face, and I was able to stop myself from exploding (if only I always had this grace!!!!)...must have been my break!

After I snapped this picture, I started the cleanup. Cecilia was much less excited about putting everything away (after bag #5, I left her off the hook).

As I cleaned, I thought that Jesus must have loved watching Cecilia. After all, she had created a masterpiece with all her God-given talents. This project was creative and thoughtful, and it took an awful lot of determination and perseverance for a 3-year-old to follow this project to its completion.  Thank you God for my healthy, imaginative child.

I reminded myself that she did not do this to annoy me. Actually, she had done something to entertain herself...which was exactly what I wanted!

So...creating goody bags is now on the list of unacceptable activities during break time (along with play dough and painting...other projects that shoot my blood pressure up instantly when I see the clean-up involved!). I will also do a sneak peek if Cecilia is quiet for too long.

But, at the end of the day, 125 bags were back in the package (haven't decided if I'll use them or not!), and I was a refreshed grace-filled mama because I got an uninterrupted break...oh goody!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Right Here...

I love baby feet. Last night I couldn't get enough of Lucy's cute piggies. Gianna (6) was "helping" me get Lucy ready for bed. I was telling Gianna that her feet used to be just as cute. After assuring her that her feet are still cute, she asked just why I love baby feet so much.

I told her that they are adorable, ticklish, kissable, and...not stinky. This last reason gave Gianna a new mission. I put Lucy down on the floor and started to get the next child ready for bed (a much squirmier toddler!). Gianna started to smell each one of Lucy's toes...to prove me wrong, I guessed! Not finding any smell, she moved on to the rest of the foot.

"MOM! Come quick! Right here....Lucy's feet are stinky right here!" After laughing, I went down to take a whiff. Sure enough, there was a teeny tiny patch of odor on the world's cutest feet. They must have gotten a little bit sweaty in the pink Robeez (that are being worn by the 3rd girl!) that she sported all day.

For some weird (well, not so weird because this happens to me a lot!) reason, I started to think about Gianna's actions as I went through the motions of the bedtime routine. My children are always teaching me...if I am receptive.

How often do I look for or focus on the "one stinky spot?"

For instance, I may have had a great day...but at the end of the day, I am still bothered by the few things that did not go as planned.

Or, instead of focusing on all of God's tremendous blessings, my mind will zoom in on something that I don't have.

Forgive me God, and help me to remember that you see the big picture...stinky spots and all!

Gianna looked so proud of herself. "Even though they stink a little, they are still very cute!" she said. Agreed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

All aboard...

I was cranky tonight. Daddy came home for a quick dinner and then he had to go back to work. While I appreciate the coming home for dinner part, it makes the rest of the evening seem extra hard sometimes. I had a taste of help...another adult to kiss boo-boos, break up sibling quarrels, and fill sippy cups...and then it was gone! All that was left was a tired, cranky mama!

The good thing was that the mild weather allowed the kids to play outside while I got the dinner dishes done. And then, I snuck in a cup of coffee when they came in and  played with every.single.toy...again. Cleaning up the toys is no one's favorite part of the day...and it goes extra slow without Daddy's voice of encouragement!

After clean-up and the taking of the vitamins (a real project to make sure the right child gets the right combination!), the kids got really silly. This often happens during the 7 o'clock hour. Everyone is so tired that they get "giddy". I remember being giddy with my siblings (although I had no idea how crazy I was probably driving my parents...sorry Mom and Dad!).

The giddiness can take many forms...not all good! But tonight, for whatever reason, the children organized themselves in a train that choo-chooed all around the house (see above). I waited for the tears...but they didn't come. All I saw were happy faces as Gianna led the pack round-and-round our small house. I felt great peace and happiness. I know these are the moments that I will miss the most.

I remembered my silent prayer while doing the dishes. I asked for extra graces to help me do all the things that must be done before bedtime. I asked for help to be kind and compassionate (as we all know, overtired children can be especially difficult and whiny...thus needing extra love and patience!), and to not feel so overwhelmed and abandoned.

I not only received these graces (everyone tucked safely in bed now...and I'm still sane!), but also a train to warm my heart. Thanks, God!

I know this night can never be repeated...the train will most likely not be fun tomorrow. But, I snapped this picture and will remember this night fondly. Can't ask for more than that! Choo-choo (now I'm giddy!).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This morning Joseph (4-1/2) made me laugh over breakfast. He told me that Thomas is his favorite train because of his "splendid" blue paint. I love it! Splendid. I know this adjective is common in other cultures (hence Joseph hears it often in his well-loved Thomas the Tank Engine movies). But, I rarely hear the word. It instantly made me think of wildflowers. I don't know about splendid paint, but surely, wildflowers are splendid!

Then I thought about Luke's Gospel (well, I couldn't remember what Gospel it was from, but I looked it up!):

"Notice how the flowers grow.  They do not toil or spin.  But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?" (Luke 12:27-28)

This quote comforted me. We have sold our home (as I wrote about last post), but we do not know where we are going. I know my prayers are heard, but the answer to them isn't clear yet (in this instance). The reminder that God will provide for us is a good thought that is carrying me through this day. Praise be to God.

As I was walking Gianna to the bus this morning, she pointed out the gorgeous fall foliage. "Aren't the trees beautiful, Mommy?" Splendid!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


We sold our house this week. I must go dust off St. Joseph to honor him in a more prominent place (my husband almost threw him away a couple of times when he was planting new flowers by the mailbox!). I think he'll be glad to be back in the house!

I have been perseverant in my prayers that we would get a good offer on our house...and we did! And, it happened in only three short months. Who am I kidding? It felt like it took forever! I knew my prayers were being heard, but being patient is so hard, as we all know.

Thank you so much to Jesus, Mary, and the many saints who have interceded (I thought St. Joseph might need some backup...HA!).

To celebrate no more showings, we brought Joseph's HUGE train track back into the living room (it's not the type of toy that can be put away in a moment's notice!). He is in his glory today. He actually ran off the soccer field today to tell Daddy that he wanted to go home and play with his trains! After a pep talk from his coach about how much his team needed his head in the game, he went on to score the next goal (so no harm done!). I'm so glad he still delights in his trains (that was an expensive purchase for Santa!).

My girls just requested this picture. As I took it, I thought of all the pictures that I have taken on this green couch in our living room. Our home. As excited as I am to find our new house (the next round of prayers commenced during sleepless hours last night!), leaving walls of such amazing blessings causes me to pause and reflect. When we bought this house, we were two. We are seven now...praise God! While the couch will come with us whenever we land (we can't afford a new house AND new furniture!), this chapter of our lives is coming to an end.

Please God, bless this "pending" period and guide us to our next home. I pray that God's will be my will (easier said than done when I look at all the nice homes that we can't afford!). Please help us to land safely at our next destination...two adults, five children, and a well-loved green couch!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Greener grass...

This is a picture of some of my kids with their good buddies. It was a gorgeous late summer day, and my good friends and I hit one of Harrisburg's gems for a nature walk and picnic. It's called Wildwood Sanctuary and Nature Center, and it's a great place to get away from it all. I love Harrisburg, but I don't think there are as many "pretty" places to get away compared to some places I've lived. This place fits the bill though!

I was thinking of that late summer day as I walked back from the bus stop today on this chilly, damp morning.  I've mentioned before that I love fall. The sight of  pumpkins, mums, and apples make me extremely happy. I love the nip in the air, and I'll choose sweat pants any day over shorts!

But, there is something to be said for the warm sun on your shoulders....and running outside without worrying if you're wearing enough layers (which I did not this morning!). And, the carefree days of no schedules. I truly love the routine and predictability that the school year brings, but rushing to the bus stop on a day that you really wanted to stay in bed can kind of mess with your head a little!

Of course, I realize that I might have had to go to work today, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my children. Thus starts my "gift" list for the day...

Thank you God for the memories of summer fun to warm and cheer me this day.  Thank you for friends to create these memories with. Thank you for a lazy morning with playful preschoolers, a napping baby, and a second cup of coffee (and a chance to type this post!). Thank you the seasons (hence the name of this blog!) which go round and round in this amazing journey of life.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spontaneous Fun...

I did something recently that I NEVER do. I went to a party...at bedtime!

And, all the children were with me. I am usually more than ready for all my lovelies to be tucked in at 8 p.m., so I can hurry up and relax before sleep overtakes me...often around 9:30! That 1-2 hours of no demands really keeps me sane! Of course, I could use that time more wisely, but that's a story for a different day.

Here's the reason for the party: my parents were visiting Philadelphia. And, this is about 6 hours closer to us than Boston! So, in a mere two hours, we were with my family. This is a very special opportunity as both sets of grandparents are about 8 hours (conservative estimate with the kids!) away by car. The picture above is from the last time my parents visited months ago.

We arrived in our hotel in Philly on Saturday afternoon. We very quickly discovered why it was priced so nicely (think SKETCHY and old). It was okay for one night (only because we found out the nicer hotel next door had no vacancies!), but we would spend minimal time there!

With this in mind, I quickly accepted an invitation to my cousin's party at his new house starting around 7ish. My husband shot me a very quizzical look. Was I sure that I wanted to have all of our children out until whatever hour? "YES! Why not?!?" One night wouldn't hurt us...I didn't think!?! Besides, isn't life all about spending time with loved ones?

A month later, I am still thinking about that party. It is weird to be around people who knew you very well as a child, but whom you very seldom see as an adult (I last saw most of these people at my wedding 8 years ago). You realize how far you've come as a person...yet, those insecurities that you had as a child can seem to sneak right back up on you!

As I'm still thinking about the party, I thought I'd write a few reflections:

1. I don't have to look perfect for people to be happy to see me. As most people, I prefer to look (or at least think I look...ha!) a certain way before I go out in public. That night, I met NONE of my expectations...no time to freshen up and in my travel clothes. Yet, I was received so warmly and no one seemed to care. After my wine, I didn't care either! Something to remember...

2. I am blessed with a functional family. Nutty: Absolutely. Perfect: Not by any means. But, there I was with my parents, husband, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins...A LOT of people...and everyone was being so kind and having so much fun. We are blessings to each other. I think of the wacky families on TV (you know, "reality," or the families that my friends speak of!), and I feel so lucky.

3. That night did me a lot of good. I left my comfort zone...I am an absolute stickler for routine...and good things happened.

BUT...then again, I entered Target today, and bad things happened, so I never really know :).

Thank you God for safe travels, special memories, and growth as a person. And...to be sure...despite the unexpected blessings of this trip...I will be very picky about hotels from now on! :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ah, simplicity...

Today we had a really fun play date. It was with two of my girlfriends who both happen to have 4-year-old sons also. These boys are in preschool with my 4-year-old, Joseph.

My friend's house is a boy's paradise (rightly so as 3 boys live there!). The other boys floated from cars to trucks to drums to swords to Wii to chasing each other around the house and back again for round two. Joseph, however, sat happily building a train track to create scenarios for the trains. This is exactly what he does at home (he'll often watch a short episode of Thomas and spend twice as long reenacting it), but there were even more trains to choose from at our friend's house.

"Joseph, would you like some hot chocolate (complete with whipped cream, chocolate chips, marshmellows, etc.)?" The answer: "No thanks." The gracious host continued to offer things that would entice almost any child (think sugary deliciousness), and my other children were taking full advantage! Joseph just happily sat and played with his trains until I forced him to eat some lunch a few hours later.

Joseph is a very social child. He makes friends very easily (please God this trait will grow with him), and he is very caring and thoughtful. He easily entertains himself (obviously!), and as long as nothing upsets his routine, all is well in his world.

Today, I am feeling so grateful for simple things...like a little boy using his imagination to play with his trains.

I know that his world will change day-by-day right before my eyes. I love watching him grow, but I would like to freeze today. Today his vehicle of choice: A toy train. His woman of choice: Mommy. Ah...simplicity!

Please God bless Joseph as he moves onto real vehicles and (gulp!) other women, and every step in between. I feel so blessed to have today with him (and all my other cherubs!). St. Joseph, pray for us.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Can't decide...

Gianna lost her two front teeth a few days after turning 6. The tooth fairy had to come twice in one week ($1 for the first one and 0.50 for the second...the tooth fairy ran out of one dollar bills! Luckily, she's still young enough to be delighted by coins!).

Somehow, being toothless has upped her "cute" factor by at least 50%! Her personality is generally very sweet and likeable, but I'm just loving her goofy grin with the huge gap these days! She had seemed so old for a little bit (especially in comparison with my younger crew), but she very much looks like my little girl again now. Her baby sister seems quite miserable getting her first teeth, so there's a big focus on teeth (or lack thereof) at our house these days :).

An unrelated but cute Gianna story. When I picked her up from Kindergarten today, I asked how her day was and if she had any homework. She paused and said,"I can't decide."

I thought she was talking about the homework. I inquired further. "I can't decide if I should take a husband or love God like Sister Rita," she said. HA! And here I thought we were talking about an alphabet worksheet...nope, she was trying to figure out her whole life! And I loved the phrase "take a husband!"

I actually love that they are addressing vocations (I assume...can't get the whole story) in the first month of Kindergarten. Because of her innocence and uncluttered heart and mind, I think there might be a good chance that she might just hear God if she asks Him (which I told her to do...after telling her that she need not worry about this choice for a long time!).

Thank you God for Gianna. I love all my children all day every day, but it seems that they take turns capturing my heart in a special way...Gianna's turn today, even if she is so indecisive! :)