Saturday, March 30, 2013

Finding Balance...

This picture was taken when I was 9 months pregnant with Gianna (I wish I could go into the picture and fix my hair!). And, she was my peanut at 6 lbs. 9 oz. I don't have any pictures of myself (that I can find right now) when I was 9 months pregnant with Justin (my 10 pounder). I do know that I was asked more than once if I was having twins!

This post is about balance. And, women tend to be off balance when they are very pregnant. I made the horrible mistake of doing a cartwheel when I was 6 months pregnant with Lucy. Gianna just couldn't get it, and I decided to show her. What a about no balance! I was so dizzy at first, and then the pain of all the muscles that I had pulled set in!

I find that I easily get out of balance now too. I am not physically off balance these days, but my life tends to quickly go too far to one side...and everyone suffers!

One day this past week sticks out in my mind as a perfect example. I had too much unscheduled time with the children. My husband had to work through dinner (not his fault), and by the end of the day, I was completely and totally spent.

I felt so burnt out from motherhood...and, this is not fair to my children who deserve a loving mother! Through God's grace, I made it through the day (always do!), but it is NOT a good feeling (like you don't know how you're going to get up and do it all again tomorrow!). On days like this, I wonder if I am stopping to enjoy and cherish my children (instead of focusing on all the WORK like serving meals and snacks, endless cleaning up, breaking up fights, etc.).

Luckily, the next two days brought renewal. Because...they were balanced! I spent time with treasured friends, my husband was home more and able to help me with the kids (by doing some housework and playing with the children!), and I had a few moments of down time during the day. At the end of those days, I felt good about I could get up and face another day!

I know that I cannot and should not expect balance everyday. This is my cross right now. And, it is a cross full of beautiful blessings and comforts along the way! So, this post is mere reflection and venting on my part, and praying to the Blessed Mother to help me when balance is not possible.

A friend posted this piece from a blog called Growing in a Shrinking Culture ( I know nothing about the blog or the author, but her words were so powerful to me. I love reading something and thinking it was written just for me. She really sums up my internalized feelings of guilt when I do take a minute for myself when my children are present.

I share it below so that I can occasionally look back...and remember that I did really enjoy my children when they were small...and BALANCE made this possible for me!

She is talking about the popular e-mail/facebook post about moms who are on their phones and missing their children growing up right before their eyes:

"Let’s say this hypothetical iPhone mom is a SAHM (stay at home mom). Let me tell you something about her, that I know from experience:

Know what she has a lot of? Sweet moments watching her children do things like spinning around in their dresses or watching them show off or watching as they bring you something they just discovered. Moments to play with her baby on the floor, read a book over and over again with excited inflections, moments of teaching them the sounds that animals make and about the clouds that our Creator designed. Moments of laughter and tickle fights and hugs and kisses. And for this reason, she is thankful that she has the opportunity to stay at home full time with her child(ren).

But do you know what she doesn’t have a lot of? Time to herself. Time to respond to an email. Time to read the News or thought provoking articles on culturally relevant and important topics.

So let’s just say that after a long day (or string of days) of playing “hide-and-go-seek” and dress up and Legos, and fort building and teaching shapes and sounds and singing, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” she takes her kids to the park so that they can play by themselves, exercising their imaginations, twirling in their dresses, climbing the monkey bars, and swing while she breathes in some fresh air, sits down by herself, and browses some articles and catches up on some emails. I say good for her. Because you know what? She needs a break. For the love, just give her one! Stop judging her parenting for one mili-second."

Wishing you all balanced motherhood...and an incredibly blessed Easter. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

From God's Mouth...

Yesterday afternoon was just not shaping up well. I had a cranky kindergartener, a 5-year-old who was completely stir crazy (no school on Wednesdays, and a disastrous 20-minute trip to Target was his only outing of the day!), a 3-year-old who was on the verge of no-nap tantrums, and a mommy who wasn't in the mood for any of this!

I gave everyone a snack and instructed them to go to the bathroom and then put their shoes and jackets on. Of course, there was a chorus of, "Where are we going!?" I didn't answer. I couldn't answer. I had no idea where we were going! I just knew that we had to get out of the house for everyone's mental health (mine, especially!).

After I buckled everyone in, I said a quick prayer. It was basically this: "Holy Spirit, I have no idea where we are going! Please guide us and keep us safe. Amen."

I was thinking of maybe just a drive-thru run somewhere...anything to change our moods (like ice cream for them and coffee for me!).

And then, the answer from God's mouth to Justin's ear! Justin (age 2) informed me as I was backing the minivan out of the driveway that we were going to Chocolate World. The other kids were delighted, and I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of it myself!

Hershey, PA is about a 10-15 minute ride away, and the back roads have beautiful, calming farm land scenery. Chocolate World, unlike the rest of Hersheypark (which is very expensive), is FREE! And, though I try to stay far away from this tourist trap in the summer, I thought it wouldn't be too bad on a Wednesday afternoon in March. wasn't! It was just what we all needed (even Lucy bounced up and down to the singing cows..."It's all about the milk!"). I am talking about the 10-minute "ride" that leads you through the making of Hershey's Chocolate. In all honesty, I should probably have the process memorized as I have gone on this ride hundreds of times! Truth be told, I am usually watching my children smile and giggle instead of listening to anything being said.

Randomly, I had my camera in my purse, so I snapped some pictures. Gianna even took a picture of Lucy and me!

The kids ate their candy sample on the way home (this bought me time to figure out what was for dinner!), and we were all happier. It's nice to live so close to the Sweetest Place on Earth!

The rest of the evening was not as calm. The kids were still tired and cranky, and I was still not in the mood for it! But, I was grateful for an answered prayer.

Afternoons are so hard for me in my life right now. I have dinner to think about and 5 needy/whiny children. I was hoping that a bigger house would take all my afternoon blues away...but, that hasn't happened!

The house next door is for sale, and I've seen lots of families with little kids going in and out to look at it. I am so hopeful that a family with young kids will move in and my children will have playmates for the afternoon (there are certain times of day when my children pay brilliantly together...the hours between 3:30 - 5:30 are just not included!). But, I am smart enough to know that this is not a magic solution either!

In the mean time, I will just hope for more days like yesterday! Thanks God, Justin, and Hershey's :).

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mommy's Holy Week...

I am not supposed to be this tired. My baby is almost one...and all of my babies sleep through most of the night by age one. Almost all of my babies, that is! The stinker above is the hold out. She will just not stay asleep (she just slept for only a 1/2 hour nap after a VERY busy morning! I will get her once I finish typing this...fingers crossed that it's just a fluke and she'll roll over...yeah, right!).

I am hesitant to let her "cry it out" at night (I have done in the past with some of my others...and luckily, it was usually only a night or two) because she's been having trouble with her ears. If they're not infected, they are filled with fluid which I'm told can cause uncomfortable pressure when lying down.

She finished the antibiotics for her last double ear infection only a few days ago. And last night was AWFUL. I hate not knowing if it's her ears again!

My husband and I joke about buying one of those things that the doctors use to look into ears. I actually just found out that they do sell instruments that measure fluid in the eardrum to let you know the "likelihood" of infection. However, the reviews were all over the board...and most of the ones I read said save your money (so I will...).

It seems right that it is Holy Week. I'm SO ready for Easter and spring weather (it's snowing...again...and it's making me grumpy)! But, first, I want to offer my suffering up to Jesus for all He must endure this week. My little inconveniences aren't much in the grand scheme of things, but I'm grateful that He appreciates it when I lay them at the Cross :).

This is the second year in a row that Lucy is making my Holy Week very productive (and I'd rather have this cup taken away!!!). Last year, I was in a very slow labor process the entire week until she was born on Easter Sunday. This year, I'm walking around in a haze and smiling at my baby...even though I am NOT happy to see her (again. so soon.).

I'm going to go get my baby who is screaming...and call the pediatrician. She's still not the best sleeper when she has an ear infection (maybe up twice a night), but I'll take it over the 8-10 times of last night! Sleep tight everyone. Have a very holy Holy Week. I look forward to greeting the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday (and hopefully, I'll be well-rested (or just slightly rested) to do so!).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's my turn...

to make someone's day just for the heck of it!

Someone made my day on Sunday. My son Joseph was invited to a birthday party for a classmate at a local gymnastics center that day. I have known the mother of the birthday boy for a few years now, and she is a lovely woman. She made a point to invite not only Joseph, but my two daughters as well. My kids are getting to the age now where usually only one child is invited to the party (and I totally get it...parties are super expensive!!!), so this was a very nice gesture to invite siblings!

I asked my girls if they would like to go to the party as I explained that they might not know that many people and/or there might not be many girls. They both said, "YES!," instantly. I love that my children are still young enough to not have social worries that afflict us as we get older! They heard 'party,' and they were in!

So, off we went. And, they had a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed it as well. My husband had the two younger kids, so I had a nice chat with my girlfriends before devouring delicious pizza for lunch! Overall, it was a big success.

The rest of Sunday was typical craziness. After the children were all safely tucked into their beds, I finally plopped down on the couch to relax around 8:30 p.m. And then I got a text. It was from the mother of the birthday boy, and it said this: "I just love your kids! You are an amazing mother. Will you give me lessons!?" (attached were the above pictures)

Now, I surely shouldn't be giving anyone lessons about anything (this is what rushed into my head as I thought about all the times that I lost my patience with my children that day)!!! But, my next thought was, "Wow...that is so kind!" This unanticipated pat on the back felt awesome!

I haven't paid it forward...yet. But, I hope to start now. I am around amazing mothers everyday who listen to me, encourage me, support me, build me up, laugh with me, and help make me the person and mother that I am. Being around them inspires me to be a better mother. I know that they are there for me and my family, and this makes all the difference in the world when you do have not your family close by. I'm not naming names, but they know who they are! Thank you, amazing mother friends!

I hope at the end of my life that God will say to me, "This is my daughter in whom I am well pleased." MAN...I have such a!!! Blessed Mother, PLEASE help me...and all my awesome mother friends! I know my chances of getting to heaven are better with them in my life.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Feast Day, Son!

Though you have recourse to many saints as your intercessors, go especially to St. Joseph, for he has great power with God.
St. Teresa of Avila

All of my children are named for saints (first and middle names). For Lucy's name, I actually went searching online for lists of Catholic saints. It was a fun process! As a result, all of my children have feast days...and they are special to us. Joseph knows that today is his special day! If I get my act together, perhaps I'll bake a special dessert for tonight!

I remember a special time that I spent with St. Joseph. It was April of 2007, and Gianna was 7-months-old. She and I had accompanied my husband to Columbus, OH where he had a conference (it was fun, but it hasn't happened since!).  As he was in meetings during the day, I would put Gianna in the baby carrier, and we would go for long walks (we had nice spring weather).

I came upon a gorgeous old Catholic church. I love walking through empty churches...there is something so holy and peaceful about it! In this church, there was a beautiful shrine devoted to St. Joseph. I paid my money and lit a candle for a very special intention. Namely, I asked for St. Joseph's prayers that we may conceive another child.

We were so in love with Gianna that we hoped for our family to grow. As it had taken us almost two years to conceive Gianna, we did not want to wait. I wondered if Gianna was a miracle (which every life is, of course!), and if perhaps we would not have any more children. I promised St. Joseph to name a boy after him.

Joseph Robert was conceived in May and born in January. Thank you, St. Joseph! Please continue to watch over my boy, and his brother, and his father (I like to entrust the men in my family to such a powerful saint). Amen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

All Together!?

My husband and I are learning how to navigate our "big" family in the world. I grew up in a big-ish family, so nothing seems too weird! It just requires all kinds of special planning to keep everyone sane and safe when we venture out :).

Today was the first Saturday in two months that we did not have swimming lessons. Saturday morning soccer games start in a few weeks, so we took advantage of our free day and headed to Lancaster, PA to enjoy a children's museum that the children adore. It turned out to be a great way to spend a snowy/sleety/freezing day in March!

When we were finally getting into the minivan to leave this morning, Joseph asked a question. He said, "We're ALL going!? All together!?" He sounded excited.

I realized that it's been a very long time since ALL of us went anywhere together! We used to go to Mass together as a family. This was stressful, but manageable because Joseph and Cecilia have CCD during Mass. However, Lucy REALLY needs to nap at 10:15...not go to Mass, so we've been going separately. I love the idea of going to Mass as a family, but I must admit that I absolutely love going alone and actually....praying! This will change in a few months when she no longer needs that morning nap.

Because our children are so young, we are just beginning to understand what our lives will be like as a "big" family! We'll get a good taste of it when soccer starts in a couple of weeks. There will be two practices and two games every week (in addition to swimming lessons and Daisies)...and, it is not practical to take the whole family to these events, so we will be splitting up the family...a lot!

And...this is for only two kids...I can't really even begin to think about what it will be like when the younger ones are ready to play :).

What I do know is that it can work. And, kids can thrive! I have a wonderful example in my husband's brother's family. They have 8 kids, ranging in age from 15 to 1. The oldest 6 kids are very involved in sports, music, dance, etc. They are very well-rounded, friendly, smart children growing up in a very loving Catholic home. Right now, they are my role models :).

So, one day at a time! Just like I said in my last post, God will help us and show us the way when the time comes. For today, I'm just grateful that I had a wonderful day with my whole family...All Together!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Love, The O'Bolster (see Joseph's hat from preschool above!) Family

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

All is not lost...

Joseph lost his first tooth this week! Of course, it was exciting to put the tooth under his pillow for the tooth fairy. I had no idea what a night we would have!

Joseph, who usually sleeps without a sound from 8 p.m. - 7 a.m., woke up at least four times...each time calling me loudly. The first time to tell me that the tooth was gone, but the tooth fairy had not come! He was incorrect...the tooth was safe and sound right where he left it. The second time an hour later was the same. The third time was to inform me that the tooth fairy did come, and he was thrilled. At 2 a.m., I wasn't so excited. The fourth time was to check on his treasure.

It would not have been such a big deal, except for the fact that Lucy was up even more times. I took her to the doctor the next morning...her ears are infected again :(.

Glad to report (for my sanity) that the next night, they both slept peacefully! I don't think I'm ready for Joseph to lose his other loose tooth just yet!

So, we've lost sleep and teeth in our house this week, but I'd like to reflect on something that is not lost. That is: INNOCENCE.

There is just so much that I don't have to worry about or deal with yet (negative peer influences, exposure to all the trash on the internet and TV, asking for material goods that others have, worrying about body image, etc., etc. etc.) because my children are so small...and so precious and innocent. And, I'm loving it! For example, Joseph told me that he would like to marry me and stay with me forever. Ahhh...melts my heart!

I remember when Gianna was a small infant and I was at a new mom network meeting. One of the mothers brought...a toddler.

I remember looking at the 1-year-old girl and thinking that she looked so big, so mysterious, so germy, so uncoordinated. I couldn't even imagine Gianna being that big...I was SO not ready to be the mother of a toddler!

Then I volunteered in the babysitting room at Gymboree Play and Music when Gianna was 1-1/2 and Joseph was a newborn. I had to watch several 4-year-old boys. I did not care for them...I thought they were too loud, too rambunctious, too impulsive. I was SO not ready to be the mother of a 4-year-old boy!

But, now I have both toddlers and preschool boys...and I love these stages! I am confident in my ability to mother them (most of the time!). SO, I can only trust that God will prepare me as I go. I don't need those extra graces to deal with preteens and teenagers...yet. I need only to gratefully live my current state in life...trusting that I will grow with my children (with God's help).

No worries (yeah, right!).

Sunday, March 10, 2013


The warmer weather is making us all happy....except for Justin (at least this week). The kids were outside playing on Thursday afternoon. I love that I am able to see them from the kitchen and family room windows so that I do not actually have to be outside with them at all times.

All of a sudden, Justin was at the door in tears. He look terrified. I asked him what was wrong, and he pointed outside and told me that he saw Mary (as in the Blessed Mother, the only Mary he knows!). What!? Of course, I didn't see Mary or anything else that didn't look normal. I kept telling him to point and to tell me about it (at just 2-1/2, he's not the most articulate!). He refused to go back outside.

Since then, he has looked out the window several times (like above) and told me that she's still there.

I really don't think that my son is seeing the Blessed Mother (I'm anxious to get him out there and walk over there with him to see what he's talking about...maybe after his nap today!), but part of me thinks that it would be so cool if he was!

This whole experience reminds me of a beautiful story that I heard when Gianna was a month old. I was attending a breastfeeding class in Hershey, PA. My neighbor, who also had a newborn named Jackson (who is still Gianna's best friend to this day!), recommended it. It was an invaluable class to me as a new mother.

The lady who ran the class (and still runs the class) is a lovely devout Catholic woman named Mary. I didn't know this at first, but I could tell that I was in the presence of someone peaceful and holy. I later got to know her much better.

Anyway, back to her story. As she taught us about breastfeeding, infant massage, attachment parenting, baby wearing (and any other number of useful things!), she used to tell us stories about her life. She is the mother of 3...her daughter is a cloistered nun, one son is a priest, and the other son has small children.

She said that one day she was praying for her 3-year-old twin grandsons. In particular, that a "legion of angels" would watch over them and keep them safe. She said right after she finished praying, she got a phone call from her son. He told her that he had just been taking a walk with his sons when one of the 3-year-olds pointed and said, "Daddy! Look at all the angels! There are so many of them!"

The story gave us all chills. The very moment that Mary had been praying that angels protect her grandchildren, one of them actually saw a legion of angels!!!

Could it be a coincidence? Sure. Could it be a 3-year-old's active imagination? Sure. Could it be that Justin is seeing something that is reminding him of our statue of Mary? Probably.

But, could it be a vision from heaven? I have a slight hope in my heart that Mary is in my backyard! And, to this day, I pray that a "legion of angels" surround my children every moment of their lives.

I hear Justin waking up from his nap now....

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I look at my awesome children, and I like to think that I am indispensable...that my family couldn't possibly work without me. It is actually easy to fall into this thinking. My husband and I just exchanged five phone calls trying to make an orthodontist appointment and an oil change appointment. Someone needs to be here with the children. I need to be here at certain times of the day to nurse the baby. So, I feel indispensable.

It can be a wonderful be so needed, so loved, so wanted. It can also be overwhelming at out of town trip or unexpected absence would be extremely hard on the rest of the family.

But then, I hear news that shakes me to my core and makes me rethink my life's worth. There was a story this week on Catholic Mom's facebook page about a young mother of 5 small children named Kiley Hackl from Wisconsin, age 32, who died on Sunday after having a stroke. She was a devout Catholic who delighted in her vocation. I think I would've like her!

That story brought to mind other young mothers who died suddenly and unexpectedly. For example, last summer, a young mother of 7 named Serafina Kinnare from Florida was on vacation with her family in Pennsylvania (not far from here). She didn't have her seat belt on when her husband was in a car accident. She died right away, although her entire family was fine. It makes me think perhaps she took her seat belt off for a minute to reach back to help one of her children with often have I done that!?

Of course, every person reading this can think of someone else.

After extreme sadness for the husband and children, the thought that sticks out in my head is this: What is God thinking!?!?!?!?!

I can only hypothesize. It just doesn't make sense to me. Of course, it's not supposed to. God's thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. And, of course, this is for the best (I write these words to convince myself, too!). Perhaps these mothers can best serve their families in heaven...watching their every move and speaking directly to Jesus and Mary for their protection, guidance, and salvation.

As for me, I guess it makes me want to pray for myself more! I pray for graces to be a better wife and mother constantly, but I very rarely pray for MY health and safety (unless I am driving my children because I do pray every time I get into the car). I pray for my husband and children many times a day.

I know God has a plan for all of us...but, I look at my family and I just hope and pray that we all stay together on earth for a very.long.time...and then for eternity.

St. Gianna (who left four young children on earth), please pray for the repose of the souls of Kiley and Serafina...and for their husbands and children. And, for all mothers on earth and in purgatory. Amen!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Never a dull moment...

My children always manage to make me laugh. I can miss these moments if I'm not careful. Often times, another child is louder, needier, or more demanding (or I'm just not in a perceptive mood), so I unintentionally tune out some potentially very sweet memories! 

I'm trying to be more cognizant of capturing some of these precious moments (in my heart and on this blog) in their fleeting childhoods.

Cecilia plays with her baby dolls a lot. It is very entertaining to listen to her. She is constantly changing her name and the baby's name and creating fun scenarios for them: I'm Kayla, this is my baby Olivia, and we're off to the hospital so I can have another baby! Or, I'm Trish and this is my baby Lucy, and we're off to hike in the woods (gee, I love hiking...I don't know that I'd bring Lucy though!).

My favorite Cecilia moment this weekend was when I asked her about her field trip to the grocery store on Friday. I asked her favorite part, and she said, "Petting the monsters in the tank." Huh?! "You know...the monsters...they crawl around and you eat them." OH...LOBSTERS!

Gianna told me this morning over breakfast that she thinks that she would like to try being Italian :).

I told her that the only Italian thing about her is her first name! She sits next to a little girl on the bus to and from school who is Italian (as in her parents speak Italian at home and she used to live in Italy!). I told Gianna that I would love to visit Italy. God willing, we can make a pilgrimage there together when she grows up! This made her happy...she was a little upset at first at the news that we cannot switch nationalities!

This picture of Lucy was taken right before she got a giant egg on her forehead. She was practicing her standing under the kitchen table and she lost her footing. I wasn't home at the time. The first thing my husband said when I got home was: "I hope you don't have any pictures scheduled for Lucy this week!" 

Justin was sleeping when Lucy fell. Upon seeing her forehead for the first time, he looked VERY concerned. He ran out of the room and came back with Lucy's jacket. "Mommy, take Lucy to the doctor!!!" 

This is an old Joseph story, but I reminded him about it today and we had a good laugh. When Joseph was 3, he learned the song, The Itsy Bitsy Spider. He innocently thought that the spider was named Elizabeth, like his cousin. So he sang to everyone, "E-liz-a-beth the spider went up the water spout!" It actually fits the tune quite nicely!

I needed to laugh with my children today. My husband is teaching tonight, and it was bitter cold and windy out today. We did have a nice play date to break up our afternoon, but I am quite happy that they are all tucked safely into their warm beds! I'm soon to follow.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Minding my own business...

Most of the time, I go about my own life. Thank God, I have quite enough to keep my mind, heart, and body occupied right here at home! I also spend quite a bit of time thinking about my family in Boston and my close friends. I try to turn all my worries into prayer and positive actions (much easier said than done!).

Every once in a while though, something random gets to me. And then it stays with me. And stays some more. Society would tell me to mind my own business...and I guess I do, because I don't actually say anything. I will write about it on my blog instead...I love having an outlet :).

This week I had a routine blood test at the OB/GYN. I have been going to this office for years now (and quite frequently when I'm pregnant!), so I know most of the medical assistants. The girl who drew my blood this time was no exception. I remember when she first started. Since then, she has gotten married and had a son. She is no more than 25-years-old (I remember she told me her age when we were chatting a few years ago).

When she called me back, I noticed that she was expecting again. I told her Congratulations! I asked about her son and if she knew what gender she was having this time. She told me, "A girl! Then we'll have a boy and a girl...and we will be done."

What should I say to that?! I just smiled at her. Inside I had a million thoughts going through my head. I told myself that it's not my job to change her mind. It's none of my business. She probably already knows what I feel about this as my 5th baby looks at us from her stroller.

I feel sad for her. I just wonder if she thought about God's plan for her family? It may very well be that God's plan is these two children...and she will be incredibly blessed. But, what if God has another soul in mind? At 25, she has a lot of years of fertility left. And, at the ripe old age of 37, I know I have become quite a different person than I was at 25. Hopefully, she and her husband will leave their healthy bodies alone in case their hearts change in the future (I say hopefully because another friend just joked about her husband's vasectomy this month...because he can rest up while watching March Madness basketball. Again, I didn't say anything).

In God's plan lies our happiness and true, lasting peace. And, though things may not be my business, we are all the body of Christ, and I do wish my sisters and brothers true and lasting peace. Ok, I'll take my nose back now :).