Monday, December 30, 2013

The Close One...

Here is my big baby giving my small baby a kiss on the head! I love how Lucy has quickly taken on the big sister role. Granted, she's usually covering the baby's face with a blanket, smothering her with an over-sized stuffed animal, or giving her a kiss on the head and leaving snot behind...but, there is true love in all her actions :).

Here's me and all the kiddos on Christmas Eve before bed. That night I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, "It's a Wonderful Life." When Clarence says, "See George, you really had a wonderful life," I instantly hear a voice in my head reminding me that I really have a wonderful life!

This Advent seemed short, but also very magical. I feel so grateful that my oldest two children are in Catholic school as they seemed to truly grasp (as much as possible for ages 7 and 5) the meaning of the season...Joseph even brought home an awesome Nativity scene in a shoe box (definitely a keeper among the kindergarten crafts!). We try to teach them at home, but a little re-enforcement never hurts!

Here's Daddy making Christmas cookies with the kids! I always dread big projects like this (sadly, the clean up and anticipated bickering prevent me from looking forward to them!), but it was a special afternoon. And, bonus for me because Daddy took the lead and organized/completed the project. These are the memories that I want for my children!

Does my little Lucy look like a thief to you?!

Today is Monday, 12/30. The kids are still off from school, but Daddy is back to work (luckily for a short week!). I went to the mall with a friend to check out a new place called Tumble Town. It was a little pricey as I had to pay for five children, but we got a discount because five children is considered a "play date"...score! The kids had a great time and got some energy out...which is good...because we're staying home for the rest of the day. Taking six kids out by myself is not easy!

Anyway, Tumble Town is at the mall so we parked outside of the closest department store. As we were leaving, Lucy apparently grabbed a pair of glasses off of a table as I weaved the double stroller through the tight aisles. The door started beeping as we were leaving. I had no idea that Lucy had the glasses in her hands, so I told the kids that it must be a mistake and to keep going. No employees were around to check our belongings.

As I was getting everyone in the car, I discovered the little robber in the front of the stroller. The big kids saw that Lucy had "stolen" something too, and they were very upset about it (again, thank you Catholic schools for helping with conscience development!). Gianna promptly told Lucy that she had sinned. Joseph asked if we were going to jail. Cecilia and Justin didn't know what to say, but they were in a panic.

What else to do? Get everyone out of the car and march back into the store, of course. We beeped as we went through the door and still...there were no employees in sight. I put the glasses on the nearest table and we left. Gianna was still concerned that they would not know that they were returned (I didn't bother explaining that no one even knew they were taken!).

We talked about it all the way home. Joseph seemed to sum it up when he announced, "WOW...that was a close one!" If that's the closest call of the day, we're in good shape! Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Sky...

Last Thursday, my husband, Teresa, and I played the role of the Holy Family at Cecilia and Justin's preschool. Lucy (seen above) was...something!? She was supposed to hold a lamb (a pint-sized shepherd?), but she was really just a toddler walking around the altar!

It was great fun...and a great honor too. My mother pretty much summed up my feelings in an e-mail that she sent me after I sent her pictures..."Trish, you have reached the sky when you get to portray Mary!"

Behind the Holy Family are the teachers at the preschool. They are beautiful women (all mothers too) who work very hard to give our children a most valuable preschool experience. I will never forget their kindness toward my growing family (these years seem to be speeding up and my children will not be young forever...but I won't forget...and neither will my kids!).

I am so grateful for this preschool at this stage in my life. When I became a mother, I prayed for friends and community (I was new to Harrisburg and had not built up a support network yet)...prayers answered the day that I walked into Linglestown Christian Nursery School when Joseph was 2-years-old (before that, I had a great group of new mom network and breastfeeding group friends!). I have met many of my closest friends in these halls :).

I must get off the computer. Before writing this, I was trying to sneak in a little prayer for the end of Advent. As I sat down by the beautiful Christmas tree with a hot cup of coffee and a little Advent reflection prayer book, my baby immediately started crying in her swing (she was fussy so I thought the motion would comfort her). A few prayers in, I realized that I was ignoring Baby Jesus (quite literally last Thursday...ha!)!!! God's will for me was quite clear for me at this moment...and I was doing my very best to ignore it!

As soon as I picked up Teresa, she nuzzled into me and went fast asleep...she just wanted to be held. Luckily, taking care of my baby's need IS a prayer too! The tree and coffee (thank goodness for microwaves) aren't going anywhere!

Wishing all of you a most blessed Christmas. Praying that the baby Jesus will come into all of our lives and make us better people! 

Monday, December 16, 2013


I love this picture of my "twins" in brown and white! This picture was taken back in August on a hot day. The high today is around 25 and windy, so I'm loving the summer shot (although I still probably prefer the weather today to a humid 90+ day...I know, I've been told that I'm crazy!).

The world is sparkly outside my window. We got about 3 inches of snow on Saturday. It was perfect...enough to make everything look Christmas-y and beautiful, but not enough to cause any real problems (or even a school delay as it was over the weekend!). Although, I did just learn that a young 9-month-pregnant woman died on local snow-covered roads this weekend...and her baby survived. I'm praying for the woman, the family, and for the Christmas miracle baby. Stories like that really stay with me.

There is something else sparkling around here these days. That is, my children! There is magic in the air as we joyfully await the birth of Christ and, of course, Santa Claus! The twinkle of anticipation in their eyes is simply contagious.

Something extra nice that I have seen recently is Cecilia (age 4) being very kind to Lucy (age 1-1/2). They play together frequently, and I listen to Cecilia being extra patient and caring toward a toddler who is just learning to talk and so badly wants to be included. All of my children have their moments of being nice toward each other, but Cecilia's behavior is really standing out. I'll have to put in a good word for her with Santa Claus!

I'm going to get off the computer to enjoy the baby smiling at me. At almost 2-months-old, Teresa is finally able to communicate with me a little bit more. I must say that I prefer the smiles to the newborn wail! Speaking of Teresa, she is going to play baby Jesus at the preschool nativity play on Thursday. I will be Mary!

Somehow I think she will be more believable at her role :).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Remember, O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in your apparitions on Mount Tepeyac you promised to show pity and compassion to all who, loving and trusting you, seek your help and protection. Accordingly, listen now to our supplications and grant us consolation and relief. We are full of hope that, relying on your help, nothing can trouble or affect us. As you have remained with us through your admirable image, so now obtain for us the graces we need. Amen.

Getting ready to play on a cold day! Justin was being very "3" and Lucy was just delighted because she was wearing a hat!
I love December 12th. It is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! I have shared in the past on this blog about the special favors that Our Lady has obtained for me under this title. I think my devotion started when I was living in a convent in Arizona.

Yes, a convent. And, no, it's not what you think :). When I had my teaching/traveling job, I had to find a place to live at each new location. I stayed in wonderful places, less than wonderful places, and a downright scary place! 

But, two favorites stand out. One was the convent in Phoenix, Arizona (I lived there with two religious sisters and one retired priest!), and the other was a Catholic Seminary in Washington, D.C. (where I met my husband!).

Anyway, I remember a big celebration at the convent for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of the sisters was of Mexican descent, and she had lots of family and friends over on December 12th! It started with Mass at the beautiful chapel (convenient to have a priest living right there in the convent!), and then we eat, drank, and laughed for hours!

Since then, I have had a special fondness for Mary under this title. And, she hasn't failed me when I have prayed for special intentions!

Today I was blessed to have six Catholic mom friends over to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe with me! Four more friends couldn't make it (it's a very busy time of year!), but they were with us in spirit. We said a decade of the Rosary as we prayed for each other's intentions. I love bringing Catholic moms together because of the fellowship, support, and laughter (we're really just a bunch of sinners trying the best we can!)...and, because of course, Jesus is present when two or more are gathered in His name! I think Jesus was pleased that the guest of honor this morning was his mother :). 

Lucy, Teresa and I at Teresa's Baptism last month!

Teresa is almost 2-months-old! She is so tiny and precious. As long as she's held, she's a delightful baby. Of course, there are times when I have to put her down!

I am ready to begin blogging again. But...a big will often be on-the-fly (which means it'll be like turning in the first draft of a paper...something I never did in, forgive the errors and rambling! If I wait until later to proofread/improve it, it'll never get published!).

I just received my 2014 schedule for the website. I am honored to be a part of their team again. I will be writing Gospel reflections as well as monthly personal reflections. I feel a strong calling to write (though I acknowledge that it may be more for myself than for what it brings to others...ha!!!).

In conclusion (trying to tie together my random I said, my blog posts are like rough drafts!)... today I am celebrating three of my favorite things: Our Lady of Guadalupe, my Catholic Mom friends who are a tremendous joy and help, and my return to writing (I dedicate this blog and all my writings to Our Lady of Guadalupe...praying that she will make it MUCH better and productive!).

Happy 2nd week of Advent, friends!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Long Days, Sweet Memories!

I'm not really returning to blogging already, but I just wanted to safe keep some special memories (that I will mean to document later, but it just won't happen...this forum is as easy as any to record them while they're on my mind!).

Today was Grandparent's Day at preschool. Although none of the grandparents were able to travel to be here, it didn't dampen any spirits here! Cecilia and Justin were both so excited and loved singing for the captive audience! Cecilia, the pilgrim, is above! Justin, below, had a "squishy gray tail" on his behind (but not visible in the picture!).

My precious tiny baby is still tiny!! She weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz. at her one-month well visit yesterday. She has a bad cold and an *almost* ear infection (that's frustrating because I don't know whether she's crying because she's a month old or because her ear hurts!), but thank God, is otherwise doing great! Below she is snoozing on the couch!

A few weeks ago, Joseph lost one of his front teeth! He wasn't totally cooperative for this picture (hence the goofy face!), but I just love how he looks! He's getting so big, yet he's still my little boy. I am so proud that he's doing so well in kindergarten!

It gets dark early so the days are shorter...but, man they are seeming long to me as Daddy is working a lot (to make up for all the time he had to take off during the end of my pregnancy and when Teresa was born). There are so many precious moments each and every day with each of my children (if only the moments weren't so distracted by the less-than-precious moments of the other children...ha!). Thank you God for your many blessings...please protect us and help us all!!! Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone! :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Good night!

I captured Teresa's first smile ever (3 weeks old) was a miracle to have my camera in hand!

I just said Good Night to my children...the ones that actually go to bed, that is! Teresa is lying on the floor next to me looking around. For the moment, she is incredibly calm and happy just taking in the view from the dining room floor!

My husband is teaching a class tonight. So for the second time this week, I had the task of getting the children fed, bathed, and to bed by myself. This was quite hard enough a month ago, but it is even harder with a newborn crying (you know the cry!) in the background!

We usually end the night with prayers and a book. But, after Lucy fell off my bed and then tripped on the baby's bouncy seat and gave herself a bloody nose (in addition to the baby screaming in the background!), I called it a night and ordered all the children to bed immediately (Lucy wasn't seriously injured...just overtired...I didn't want to see what would happen next)!! I told them to say prayers with each other (we've been saying the same night time prayers for years, so hopefully someone was able to lead!) and not to come out of their rooms unless it was an emergency! I hadn't heard a sound so I think they got the message! Good Night :).

These love bugs are keeping me extremely busy!

I am also saying Good Night to this blog for a bit. I just can't find the time to write. I let Justin, age 3, experiment with giving up his nap (he wasn't going to sleep at 1 p.m. anymore...but rather, emptying out his drawers or dumping out my laundry, etc...TROUBLE!). This experiment was a complete disaster. By dinner time, he was absolutely unbearable and our nights were horrible (no one is happy when a cranky toddler is dominating Mommy and Daddy's time and attention!). So, now he naps around 2:30 or 3...only for a 1/2 hour or so. Problem is, this is the time that Lucy gets up. Because I'm also spending time with Cecilia and nursing Teresa (a lot!), I'm not getting a break during the afternoons like I used to.

I'm not complaining...I know how incredibly blessed I am. I try to roll with the punches (much easier said than done!) and to find time for myself in other ways (I've been trying to exercise after dinner which feels awesome after a very long pregnancy!).

So, Good Night! Thanks so much for reading and for all your thoughts and prayers over the past year or so. I will definitely come back to this blog (probably sooner rather than later!). But for this season of my life, my mission is clear. I pray that God will richly bless all of us until we meet again :).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Didn't mean it...

Gianna adores Teresa...she wants to hold her all the time!

I am sitting here at the computer on a lovely, cool fall afternoon. The view from my window is brilliant...a bright yellow tree with leaves actively falling to the ground. As I sit here in sweatpants with a yummy pumpkin coffee, I am reminded of why fall is my favorite season!

The view on my lap is even more beautiful than the tree. I am holding my tiny (not yet 7 pounds!) newborn daughter. She's alert, quiet, and content (my favorite!).  Two kids are at school, one kid is at a lunch playdate, two are napping, and Teresa and I are hanging out. Everything seems...perfect! It is my first day on my own (Daddy went back to work today). So, although I know that this moment is very brief, I am enjoying it...and hoping that refreshment leaves me ready for an afternoon of total craziness!

Looking at Teresa's tiny head, tiny fingers, and tiny everything, I am reminded of what I said to my husband soon after she was born (granted, I wasn't really thinking very clearly yet). I said to him, "I wish she wasn't so small." It wasn't that I didn't think she was beautiful or perfect (or that I wanted to push out a larger baby...ha!). Rather, it was because it's been a long time (5 babies/7 years ago) since I was responsible for a 6-pound human being. The 8-pounders and 10-pounder seemed so much less fragile!!!

Of course, as I look at her now, I tell her that I didn't mean it!! Thank you God for this amazing gift in a tiny package! I'm loving every tiny inch of her :).

The rest of this post is just random pictures from our first few weeks as a family.

Cecilia is a natural at holding the baby! She loves being a big sister again!

Justin moves in for a kiss from Lucy. Lucy is now known as my "Big Baby" and Teresa is "Little Baby." I am amazed by how adorably pudgy Lucy's hands and feet are (although at only 22 pounds, she is pretty light for 19 months old!). She is doing awesome with our addition. She loves the to burp the baby and point out her body parts!

We had a great Halloween night. All 8 of us hit the streets for Trick-or-Treating. Lucy (who refused to keep her puppy costume zipped) had the time of her life! Can't think of many better things than seeing my kids so happy...
Here is my Sunshine! Cecilia was Sleeping Beauty for the preschool costume parade and Snow White (because she wanted to be the same as her big sister) for trick-or-treating. She's such a light in my life...I just love age 4.

Here's our St. Joseph! Joseph was Woody from Toy Story for Trick-or-Treating, but for the All Saints parade at school, he was his patron saint, St. Joseph the carpenter! Pray for him, St. Joseph :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In thanksgiving...

to God for our beautiful new daughter!!!

Teresa Elizabeth was named by her father after her birth...we still hadn't decided on a girl name, so I decided to let my husband choose once we knew the gender!

I'm glad that he picked Teresa because I was reading two books when I was in hospital waiting for them to start pitocin. One book was on Mother Teresa and the other extensively quoted St. Teresa of Avila! The name Teresa was on our short list, but we were considering the other names more. Now, it feels like the right choice...and I pray that all the special St. Teresa's (and St. Elizabeth) will watch over this little angel!

We are glad to be home...but, the reality of having SIX young children is upon me!! I'm so glad that my parents were here to help when I was away and that my husband is off for ten more days...hopefully by then I'll have my stamina back :).

Teresa was only 6lbs. 9 oz. when she was born...although she felt much bigger when she was inside :). I am very proud of my decision to have a natural childbirth without an epidural. This is easy for me to write now...not so much in the moment!!!

I took her to the doctor today and she is already back up to her birth weight at 3-1/2 days old. The pediatrician said this is almost unheard of for breastfed babies. She said that my milk must have come in immediately or that I still had reserves from Lucy...I think both are true...she started eating one minute after birth :). I am grateful that it's going well.

I'm going to stop blogging until my husband goes back to work. He's cutting the lawn now, so I had to get on and let my readers know the wonderful news :). But, I want to rest up and snuggle with Teresa as much as possible before life returns to "normal."

Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers. Mary's Magnificat kind of sums up how I feel..." The Almighty has done great things for me, And holy is His Name."

Teresa is welcomed home by her siblings!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Still learning...

So, I didn't sleep again last night. Well, I did get about an hour nap. It wasn't the kids, the contractions/cramps, or the bad cold...although, they are all excellent guesses!

Rather, it was (or so I thought...learning so much about my body lately!), a horrible toothache. The whole left side of my face was throbbing (still is), and I could barely chew any food last night or this morning. The pain was unbearable and tylenol did absolutely nothing! I heated up face cloths in the microwave as a warm compress and this helped very temporarily.

My dentist is a very kind soul and he made time for me this morning. I had checked with the OB/GYN ahead of time to make sure that x-rays, novacaine, antibiotics for infected tooth, etc. were okay. I was told that since baby is full-term, there were no limitations to my treatment. So, I left for the dentist feeling confident that he could help!

As I'm not even in labor yet (God help me!), all I can think is that I need drugs...some kind of pain relief. I never realized that my sinuses could compress the roots of my teeth (as is happening) due to the inflammation of pregnancy. I've had pregnancy rhinitis (major nasal congestion) since early pregnancy, but I've never had anything like this before.

This is not my dentist, this is St. Gerard as today is his feast day!
God, help me to lovingly and patiently deal with new ailments. I am going to the doctor in a little bit and hoping for some pain management. I appreciate my good health more than ever before in my life!!! I am weak (and whiny!), but I really do want to offer up this discomfort. Writing about it helps my resolution (and a little public accountability never hurt anyone!).

Here's to my baby's arrival...please baby, come out that my sinuses will go down with the rest of me...ha!!!

St. Gerard, on your feast day, please watch over me, my baby, and ALL mothers (and those longing for the gift of motherhood!).  And, God Bless and comfort all those who live with chronic pain of any kind.

By the way, although my face hurts, I'm really not that tired today despite the lack of sleep. I equate this to my prayers to the Blessed Mother in the middle of the night. She never fails me after sleepless nights. I wrote about this on recently if you'd like to read it! Under columns, go down to my name and my posts should show up! Thanks for reading :).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Horrifying Behavior...

I am 38-years-old and 38 weeks pregnant. Today, this means that I am feeling old, unattractive, and tired :).

Now, I don't really think that I'm old, I'm hoping that some feelings of attractiveness (or at least looking/feeling my best...I'm really not vain anymore!) will return when the scale starts to go the other way and I'm able to schedule a hair appointment (can't really imagine sitting in a chair for an hour or more right now!), and...I guess that I AM just plain tired!

Today is Columbus Day. This means that my husband is working and I have all the kids home. It's kind of just like a summer day...but, I wasn't 38 weeks pregnant this summer (thank goodness...fall weather is much friendlier for preggos!).

I knew very early this morning that we had to go somewhere. I had invited a number of friends over (easier to just stay put!), but most dads are off today, so it's a good family day.

At 9 a.m., I packed the van with the kids and lots of snacks/water, and we headed to a great local farm with a fall fun fort (think stacks of hay for climbing, slides everywhere, barn animals to feed, etc.). It's a kid's paradise on a beautiful fall day.

The title of this post is, "Horrifying Behavior." You'd probably think that my kids' behavior horrified me at this fall fun fort. Well, you'd be wrong.

The horrifying behavior was my OWN!!! As a Catholic, I would like to take these behaviors straight to a Confessional to get them off my mind and soul!!! But, it's Monday afternoon, my husband's working, and there is no Confession until Saturday afternoon (unless I make a point to get the times/days from another parish or set up a personal appointment...and, with the way I'm feeling, I really don't see that happening!).

Anyway, my first horrifying behavior was on the way to the farm. The kids were pretty happy, and we were chatting about Nana and Papa's upcoming visit (my parents are going to watch the kids when I have this baby). Gianna asked what day they were coming. I said, "Friday." She said, "Ok, so many days is that?" I told her to say the rest of the days of the week and count them on her fingers...and then she would know.

Well, to my horror, she said that she did not know the days of the week in order. "WHAT!?" I asked. How is this possible? She is 7-years-old and doing very well in 1st grade (I just got her progress report). She went to 3 years of preschool (good preschools!), a year of full-day kindergarten, and now she is in 1st grade...and she doesn't know the days of the week in order!?!?

My blood pressure starting rising (easy to do these days!), and I started asking myself who failed. Surely it wasn't me...I have vivid memories of singing, "There are 7 Days in a Week," when she was 2-years-old and I was trying to keep her up in the car. Surely it wasn't many circle times with calendar/weather can one child sit through!? I can't imagine that the K and 1st grade teachers weren't at least acknowledging what day it is (for example, Spanish is Monday, gym is Thursday, etc.).

So, I pulled over the car (safely!). I asked Gianna to please recite the days of the week. She couldn't...or wouldn't. I was getting very angry. To feel better, I asked Joseph (the kindergartener). He quickly rattled them off...correctly (ok, maybe the whole family was not doomed!). I had Joseph tell them to Gianna...slowly...and asked Gianna to repeat them.

At this point, almost everyone starts to cry. They are thinking that Mommy has lost her mind (probably). And, I know that this is not a productive way to teach...any child...anything! This much pressure is only going to make kids nervous...and to mess up...which she kept doing (it was like Thursday didn't exist!).

After several attempts (with me getting more disgusted every time she got it wrong), she did it. I slowly started driving toward our destination. I made the whole car sing the days of the week song over and over. Since we've been home, Gianna has practiced the days of the week by writing them down (her initiative...not mine!).

But, I am left feeling horrified. Who does this to a child!? I can think of at least 50 ways that I could've handled this better! And, since we've gotten home, she seems to remembering quite it probably was my pressure that made her forget it in the first place!!!!!! Horrified!

The second behavior came after the farm. We had gone through every single snack (and there were many!), and the kids were asking for lunch. I passed by a Burger King and thought that chicken nuggets and french fries would keep everyone sane and happy on the 1/2 hour ride home (plus, I reasoned, I had packed mostly fruit and other healthy snacks for the morning).

I ordered the food (speaking over the drama in the backseat) and proceeded to the pay window.  I got out $7 as it had come to $6.85. As I was waiting for the food, I was lecturing the kids that they should not be trying to order ice cream over my voice when I ordered because it is very confusing for me and the poor employee trying to hear me. I was also trying to stop Justin from unbuckling his car seat and calm Lucy who thought we should be moving again already!

I was handed my food and my change. "Here you go," said the lady, "$15.85." I said thank you, shoved the money into my purse, quickly checked my order, and pulled off as there were quite a few cars behind us.

As I pulled off, it registered that she had said that my change was $15.85...and I had definitely given her a five and two ones. Crap! I looked to see if backing up was an option (no). I saw that the line was much too long to go through again, and the option of bringing five kids into the store to explain the, NO.

So, I am up $8 for the day...and feeling rotten about it (but, driving back to deliver the money isn't happening...). I think I will $8 in the church basket on Sunday...does that make it better!?

As you can see by the pictures, the kids had a blast! So, all isn't lost. I'm going to get off the computer (thanks for listening to me vent...I thought I would feel better!) and say my Act of Contrition.

Luckily, I will have thousands of more chances to practice better behavior today...

And, hopefully tomorrow I will feel more moral, younger, more attractive, and less tired (one can hope....)!