Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sorry Gianna...

I just denied my child. Well, that's dramatic. But, I do feel bad that I just failed to mention her existence :).

I was at the grocery store with the other four children. The grocery shopping part was just fine. Joseph and Cecilia were in the "Tree House", or the child care center which is a child's dream (it even has Wii, so Joseph is in his glory...we don't have it at home!).

Justin is generally very easygoing when we are out. He just followed me around and munched on his free bakery cookie. Lucy was perfect...she was just taking it all in while enjoying her puffs! I even got through the register in record time.

It went downhill quickly after I picked up the kids from the Tree House. I decided to get a few slices of pizza and eat them in the food court. Cecilia has afternoon preschool, and this would save me rushing home and making everyone sandwiches.

This food court is a very popular lunch spot for working professionals...not for stay-at-home moms!

We were causing quite the show. I plastered my "I know what I'm doing...really" smile on my face, and I begged/threatened the children under my breath!

When waiting in line to pay, the customers around me started up a conversation about how many children I had. It was pretty good-natured and they were being kind to the children, so it was nice. We got up to the cashier and she said, "Oh my word! Four children! I have two and that is more than enough."

This is usually the moment when I tell the person that I actually have another child in school. Or, one of the other kids immediately tells them that Gianna is at kindergarten. But, the other kids were running around the beer display, so they weren't there to correct her.

And I just smiled. She seemed shocked enough. I felt insane at the moment (the kids were ganging up against me)...I didn't want to confirm my insanity for other people...HA!

Sorry, Gianna :). We do love you! God, thank you for my priceless children...all of them. Please help me to be the kind and loving mother they deserve...especially when they are acting like monkeys :).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blessings (in Costco parking lot)...

Lucy has finally figured out how to stand up! She just loves our reaction - we clap and cheer until she plops down on her bum a few seconds later!
 Lucy is almost one. A bunch of moms casually mentioned this to me today at preschool. They can't believe that she's sitting up in a stroller munching on Cheerios while we wait for Joseph to get out of class!

I can't believe it either. I remember standing outside of the same classroom a year ago (Gianna was in that class last year) and feeling so large and uncomfortable. I think other pregnant women look beautiful and radiant...but I just tend to feel huge and awkward :).

A happy memory came rushing back to me as I drove home from preschool. It was a rainy and windy day about a year ago. I was 8 months pregnant with Lucy. I had three of my four children with me at Costco. We had just run through the aisles to do our shopping before rushing back to preschool to pick up Gianna.

Toward the end of the shopping trip, the meltdowns started. I decided that I would get some pizza slices for lunch. I would quickly feed the three kids in the food court, and bring a piece home for Gianna and I to share.

The food was in front of us. I could sense the kids calming down knowing that they would have some lunch in just a minute. And then...I went to pay with my debit card. Nope...only cash, the cashier told me. NO! Of course, I had not a dime to my name.

I headed out to the car with my flipping out/whining children. I was trying to look like I had it all together...a big pregnant lady pushing a huge cart with unhappy children all around her. I painted a big smile on my face (this is how I pretend to have it all together!). Inside, I remember saying to God under my breath, "REALLY? Can't you see I'm doing the best I can here?! A little help PLEASE!!"

This is where the story turns good/unbelievable. We were walking toward our minivan  (trying to avoid all eye contact with people), and I recognized a priest who used to be at the local parish (he had moved to a new parish). I didn't know him personally, but I had been to his Masses a number of times. I remembered that he was a late vocation (became a priest in his 50s), and that he had a great joy about him...always smiling.

As we passed him, I said, "Hello, Father! I remember you from when you were at Holy Name." I told the kids to say hello.

I never want to forget the next few minutes (though sadly, I probably will if I don't write them memory stinks these days!). He gave our family the most beautiful blessing, including a special blessing for the unborn baby. He had such words of praise for me. He thanked me for bringing all my beautiful children out into society as a witness of life. And then...the unbelievable part...he took my hand and pressed a $20 bill into my palm. He told me to treat the kids to lunch.

I was speechless. It was as if God had heard my prayer and put Father right into my path. I know you can't ever expect these moments (although we can always hope for them), but man, they instantly make you want to get down on your knees.

I felt like a brand new person as we turned around and marched right back into Costco (smiling children this time) to get our pizza. I couldn't wait to tell my husband and close friends. I shared it with others for months. We all need reminders that God does hear us and He does care. He doesn't always send a priest to give you $20, but He does hear you :).

As for Lucy, she's not one yet...I'm going to savor these last few weeks of babyhood!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Follow the leader...

There are very few things that excite my children as much as their preschool leader days! On leader day, they get to bring the snack as well as a book and show-and-tell. They get special jobs like ringing the bell when it's time to clean up. Today is Cecilia's leader day...she had to wait all the way until Friday...which was torture :).

I was never much of a leader in school. I didn't go to preschool. I had three younger siblings at home, so my parents figured I had enough socialization!

Of course, I don't fault my parents (I understand now more than ever than they were doing the best they could!), but I really think I would've benefited from a year or two of preschool. I remember kindergarten...and I was afraid of my own shadow! I was very shy (and very young...I had only just turned 5 in August), and everything was so overwhelming.

My daughter Gianna was a whole year older than I was when she started kindergarten. Since she has a September birthday, she had to wait a whole extra year! I think she was probably ready last year, but she is doing SO well in kindergarten. The work seems to come (fairly!) easy, and she seems to have lots of friends. I am so thrilled that she is having such a wonderful year. Maybe the extra year was just what she needed to blossom (and, God gave her a September b-day...He knows what he's doing!).

Cecilia has a July birthday, so she will go to kindergarten at 5. And, I think she will be ready. In fact, I think she would really enjoy kindergarten now! She loves to learn, and she can't get to school fast enough (especially on leader day!).

I guess everyday is my leader day :). I make almost all the decisions, and I am responsible for...just about everything. Somehow, my leader days seem a bit more stressful than Cecilia's!

God, please help me to lead my family with wisdom, kindness (see last post!), and a selfless heart. Please help me to value each of my children individually...and to help them to develop their talents and their time (and Your time), not my time.

Tomorrow is the weekend...maybe Daddy can be the leader and Mommy can take a break :).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kindness Captured...

I make sure that my kids have most of their needs met. Sad to say, not all of them. I recognize this when Gianna stomps off because she really wanted to tell me something about her day or snuggle with me...and I have a baby that needs immediate attention. Or, selfishly, I am sometimes just too tired to sit down and read a book with a child. I will sit down for a second and it's like an alarm goes off that Mom has an empty lap!

I love to be needed. I am so incredibly blessed to be serving my family. But, I'm not always as kind as I think I should be. For example, Joseph requested a certain drink in a certain cup for lunch (the request was acceptable and not too hard for me). Well, he got a drink... a different drink in a different cup, but a drink! I tell myself that kids need to learn "you get what you get and you don't get upset." It's sometimes necessary with this many kids, but I can choose to be kinder sometimes!

Justin was screaming for water last night from his crib. I personally witnessed him drink an entire cup after brushing his teeth. So, I didn't go into him. But, I was sitting there thinking...what mother denies her child a drink!? Didn't Jesus ask for water on the Cross!? :)

Now, I'm definitely not a pushover and not (too) naive, but sometimes I know I could be kinder!

I captured this perfect moment of kindness yesterday. Everyone was getting a little restless around 4 p.m., so I suggested going outside to play. It wasn't terribly cold. The children reluctantly agreed and I started the process of getting everyone ready.

Cecilia and Justin went outside first. As I helped the others, I heard Justin telling Cecilia that he was afraid to walk down these snowy stairs (see above...there's no banister).

I was about to go out and lift him down the stairs when I saw this...Cecilia was cleaning the snow off of the three stairs...with her bare hands (I hadn't gotten around to mittens yet!). She was telling him to hold on just a second and she would help him down the clean stairs.

They say that 3-year-olds are very self-centered (and of course, she has her moments), but here was a 3-year-old putting her 2-year-old brother first while not even caring about her own hands (which must have been freezing!).

Wow! It inspired me to be kinder. It's the little things that make the biggest difference in life (I think of that whenever I look at Lucy's little fingers and toes!). Let's see how long this kinder Mommy lasts :)...God help me!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's wicked out there...

wicked stawn comin
I love this sign. It was up somewhere in New England before they got the first blizzard recently (a friend in Massachusetts posted it on facebook). Those words could've come straight from my mother's mouth...she has a "wicked" Boston accent :).

In fact, my whole family does. It makes perfect sense, really. We're from Boston! My whole family is still there...born and raised! My parents even lived in the city growing up.

I do not have a Boston accent. Everyone mentions it when they hear where I am from. But, I used to! And, a few beers later, I still do :). I don't say wicked anymore though (although I remember saying 'wicked awesome' regularly as a child!).

I absolutely love to tease my parents and siblings about their accents when they come here. When I am there, they claim I have no right...since I am the one talking weird (imagine...saying the letter 'r'!?).

I did a lot of traveling for one of my jobs after college. I was on the road for months at a time. I lived in places like Tulsa, OK, San Jose, CA, Phoenix, AZ, Franklin, TN, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Washington DC (where I settled), and I spent a month in Barbados and a month in Switzerland. Somewhere on my journeys, I lost my accent! That's okay with me :).

I had a major case of cabin fever this weekend. Although we did bundle the kids up and get them out yesterday afternoon (Saturday), today was just ridiculously cold and windy. According to the news, it felt like 9 degrees in Harrisburg most of the day because of the wind chill! After Mass, we pretty much stayed in. It was a very.long.afternoon.

I felt a little better about Harrisburg, PA after talking to my parents in Walpole, MA (a suburb of Boston). They experienced their second blizzard (although not nearly as big as the first one) today. My mother sounded even more ready for spring than I feel!

There are no wicked stawms predicted down here...I am grateful for that, at least! Stay warm everyone. I'm glad that all my children are safely tucked into their warm beds right now...I plan to crawl into my own bed soon :). God Bless!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

As I can...

Here's my littlest sweet today.

My other Valentines are making it a special day too. Gianna and Cecilia were up early (shocking...happened twice in one week!) to give me my card. Gianna had traced all the kids' hands and labeled their names. She even tried to trace Lucy's...what a special keepsake!

Joseph couldn't wait to get out of the school building today to give me his card that he had made at school. He was so proud of it. I'm going to need a bigger keepsake box's a huge box, but it's filling right up!

No big plans the rest of the day...only three kids to the dentist and then using our Olive Garden gift cards so I don't have to cook tonight (woo hoo!). But, it still feels like a very special day. The sun is bright in the sky, the temperature is pretty mild, and the kids are all healthy and in great moods. I really can't ask for more than this!!!

As it is Lent now, I have set goals to pray more (in addition to giving up all sweets after dinner...I quickly decided that popcorn didn't count as a treat last night as I was about to gnaw off my arm!). I really wanted to pray the Rosary. I love this prayer, and it has been incredibly powerful in my life.

One problem...I can't seem to get through it! Yesterday I really tried. I got through five Hail Mary's before a child called me. Three another time before I heard the timer go off in the distance. Two more before Justin woke up his nap. I tried while driving...and I think I started the same Hail Mary at least six times before losing count and giving up.

I know I should get up early...or say it after the kids go to bed. But, my brain just seems to shut off after 8 p.m. every night. Or, I should stop blogging and pray. Excuses!!!

I was reading an article in a Catholic magazine while eating lunch. The line that jumped off the page at me is this:


I love that. I often feel so guilty when I can't devote time to prayer (although I know that taking care of my family is a prayer)...but, maybe I don't have to.

So, I'm going to look up some shorter devotions (I found one called Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus that I'd like to say) and other less known prayers. I still want to say the Rosary...but I'm thinking maybe 1-2 times a week instead of every day.

I will just do what I can (sounds obvious...but, I'm often the last to know!).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Divine Intervention...

My husband had a very early appointment this morning. This meant that I had to get Gianna out to the bus at 7:45 all by myself. And, she had to be dressed, fed, hair brushed, etc...imagine :).

It wouldn't be such a huge deal, except for the fact that Gianna hates to get out bed in the morning! And, the fact that she has four younger siblings who also need lots of care.

Most of the time, she is a happy-go-lucky, affectionate, generous little girl. She loves kindergarten, Daisies, and spending time with friends. Before 8 a.m., however, it is a different story! Everything is a struggle, and I often hear things like, "You don't love me!" (because I made her get out of bed!). We have thought about putting her to bed earlier, but she goes to bed at 8 p.m. as it is, and she simply doesn't even seem tired at 7 p.m.

Anticipating the struggle without my husband's help (it's manageable for two...especially if one of us can give Gianna undivided attention), I told Gianna last night that I was going to be on my own this morning. I asked her if she would please be in a good mood in the morning to help Mommy out. She responded that she was going to get up early and pray to Mary (there's a picture of Mary in the hallway outside my bedroom).

"REALLY!?!" I replied. I told her that this was a wonderful idea...all the while in my head thinking, "Yeah right...that will never happen!"

I got with my husband at 6 a.m. This allowed me time to get dressed, have some coffee and cereal, and make Gianna's lunch for school. At 7 a.m., I started up the stairs to wake her up.

I couldn't believe my eyes as I headed up the stairs...this is what I saw (see above). Two sleeper-clad little girls standing below the picture of the Blessed Mother. Cecilia is looking at Gianna (probably looking for guidance?!), but Gianna was definitely talking to Mary.

I ran back into the kitchen to grab my camera!

There must have been some powerful prayers going on because the morning went 100% better than I could have ever anticipated. Gianna was pleasant and obedient...and early to the bus stop. The boys slept until 8 a.m. (unheard of!) which allowed me time to take care of the baby before I needed to turn my attention to them.

It hit me how my prayers are answered...a lot. I had passed the same picture of Mary at 6 a.m. and asked for her help this morning. In fact, I do that all the time...usually a random prayer on the fly as I run up and down the stairs all day! Mary never lets me down...her intercession is so powerful, if only I remember to ask.

I know better to think that Gianna will do this every morning, or to think that Mary will grant me everything I ask (some of these struggles are GOOD for me, and God's will...which I can't possibly begin to predict or done), but what a nice surprise this morning...and now I have a picture (two of my daughters standing before their mother in prayer) that will stay in my heart forever.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Well, Sometimes...

This saying is on my bedroom wall. I did not put it there...the previous owner left it there (she didn't want to ruin the paint). I usually just walk by's funny how you stop noticing things, huh!? (like the box of my clothes that has been sitting next to my bureau for a month now!).

For whatever reason, the sign caught my eye anew tonight when I was ironing. Honestly, I kind of like it. It is a great reminder to keep our marriage a top priority.

The answer (do we always kiss goodnight?) --

We had five kids in six years, so there must have been a few kisses goodnight :).

We now have five kids ages six and we tend to fall asleep the instant that our heads hit the pillow (often at different times). :)

So, sometimes! It's a good thought...

Happy Valentine's Day...can't believe it's this week already. Good night!

Friday, February 8, 2013

All for me...

I would feel guilty writing this next Lent will have begun! But, for today...that cup of coffee and brownie are all for me! It's all I have this make me feel happy. Okay, that's incredibly dramatic and not true, but my children are full of drama it must be spilling over!

You can't even tell in this picture, but Cecilia has a goose egg under her hair clip and a cut under her eye. One was an accident...she crashed into her big brother in the hallway of preschool (causing quite a scene!). The other injury was the result of a toy thrown at her face by her frustrated little brother. I think she should steer clear of brothers for the rest of the day :).

The rest of the morning hasn't been much better. I'll spare you the details. In the grand scheme of things, it has been a pretty normal morning. And, I like normal. I am very blessed with my normal. But, thank God for coffee and chocolate to escape for a few moments...

And, in case you were wondering, I am not strong enough to give up one or both of these vices for Lent. I fear that everyone else around me would pay...and that would be their sacrifice (putting up with me), not mine! I did manage to give up coffee one recent Lent...but that was three kids ago :). I am still preparing my mind and heart for the start of Lent...obviously.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Figured out...

Joseph doesn't have preschool on Wednesdays. I will miss him when he goes to full-day kindergarten next year, but sometimes Wednesday seems like the longest day of the week!

I think the 2-1/2 hours of preschool on the other days is really good for him...he really enjoys it (although he's not always motivated to get there!), and it allows me some time with the younger ones (who seem a whole lot more content doing "nothing" than Joseph does!).

Today is Wednesday. It didn't start off well. Joseph, Cecilia, and Justin were playing in the basement this morning when Lucy napped. Every 5 minutes, either Cecilia or Justin was crying...and claiming that big brother had done something to them. I was more than ready to head out the door to a play date by 9:30! Luckily, it was just the change of scenery we needed...we all enjoyed the time with our friends!

After dropping Cecilia off at preschool this afternoon, we came home so that the younger two can nap. Joseph was most helpful...he wanted to tuck Justin in (Justin is starting to protest his crib, so he's napping in Joseph's bed...UH OH...2-1/2 is when most of my kids have given up their nap!). Joseph made sure Justin was very comfortable in his bed.

Then Joseph hung out as I nursed Lucy. I could tell he was thinking about something. Then he told me.

"Mom, I figured it out!" I waited for an explanation. Here it is:

Girls like white milk (it just so happens that my older girls do prefer white milk to chocolate milk. And, clearly Lucy does too! I'm not sure if Joseph thought I made him chocolate milk when he was nursed!).

Boys like chocolate milk.

Moms like coffee (definitely true for this mom, and he does witness lots of moms drinking coffee at play dates, the preschool cafe, etc.). Yeah for caffeine to help moms get through the day :).

Dads like soda (definitely true for his dad!).

That was it. I could tell he was proud.

Gianna was trying to figure out something last night. "Mom, how did Baby Jesus come out of Mary if there was no doctor there to take the baby out?" Luckily, we had to hurry out the door to Daisies. I'm glad Joseph is just figuring out beverages :)!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Slowing Down...

We are enjoying our new home. As Joseph was getting in the car after preschool today, he told me that he likes our new house better than our old house. Phew...because we can't go back (even though I have inadvertently driven to our old house twice now!).

There are lots of benefits to our new house (more room to play being a key one...for Joseph, especially!). But, one that sticks out to me is that we are able to slow down.

Yesterday afternoon we had no plans after church and a few errands. In our old house, this lack of plans would send me into a panic. If we stayed home all afternoon, I reasoned, the kids would be bouncing off the walls...and there just weren't that many walls to bounce off of :). I knew that we were very blessed to have a nice home, but I wasn't very patient with my children when we were all confined in a small space for hours on end.

Now, however, we can spend our afternoons at home...with me at peace (for the most part!). The kids still bounce off the walls...but they can mix it up a bit more! And, they can run. All five of them (Lucy was in last fair when you're on all fours!) were going in circles...the living room into the dining room, dining room into the kitchen, kitchen into the hallway...and back again! I was going to stop them, but my husband reminded me that it was so nice to have a house where they could do this when it is too cold to run around outside!

I have also discovered that staying home more saves on gas (bonus!), and there is more time to just enjoy each other's company. Last night after dinner, the kids put on a "show" for us. I had to hide my hysterical laughter (and not very well!) many times. But, it was fun...and silly...and together. The old tenant of this house left a saying on the basement wall: Together is the best place to be. Indeed (I just need to remind myself sometimes!).

I just saw a Mother Teresa quote (love those!) that affirms my feelings.

She is speaking of our culture...

"....we have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home, begins the disruption of the peace of the world."

I have to go pick up my girls from school in a little while. After that, we have no plans. This is okay...but, I still dread the 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. least favorite hour in the day! Many of my friends agree. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a house big enough to help me during that hour. Maybe Mother Teresa will pray for me!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I don't remember Groundhog Day being so important in past years. But, it is this least in this house!

My three children who go to school all came home with groundhogs yesterday, and Joseph even had homework (which he took very seriously!) to see if the groundhog saw his shadow. Thus, we all anxiously sat around the TV at 7:30 a.m. this morning. He didn't (see his shadow, that is). Early spring sounds good to me (although I did just go for a beautiful, peaceful walk in the sparkly snow after dinner!).

I was just reading that Groundhog Day used to be no big deal (perhaps that's why I don't really remember it growing up). No big deal until the movie Groundhog Day became popular, that is! This morning there were 40,000 people in Punxsutawney, PA awaiting Phil's arrival!

It took me years to see the movie. The first time that I saw it, it didn't really leave an impression. The second or third time (I used to have cable and I would catch bits of it now and then), I really liked it. Or, I really liked the overall message: That we will never find true, lasting happiness in this life until we learn to live for others.

So, I will try to prepare myself for six more weeks of winter (regardless of what Phil thinks!). And, more importantly, I will consider it a privilege that God has blessed me with so many others to live for :).

Happy Groundhog's Day, everyone!