Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our wild ride...

I made an annoucement to the world yesterday (well, actually to my family and my 85 or so "friends" (I know, such a small number of "friends" compared to most of my "friends") on facebook!

It felt so good to share the news! My husband told me that I didn't waste any time, but I told him that it feels like I waited forever to say that...

We are expecting again! Praise God for a wonderful OB appointment yesterday where I heard the strong heartbeat of this little one due the end of October.

I carefully worded my facebook post. I know that my close friends and family are very happy for us. In fact, most of my close friends already knew the news (it was hard to see them day after day and not say anything when I was feeling so gross!). I was so touched by the heartfelt congrats and well wishes. I am extremely blessed with wonderful people in my life!

I started off my post by saying that I know that our hands are full. And that, my husband and I have accepted the fact that there will NEVER be enough (time, money, patience, room in our house, etc.!).

BUT, despite this, God has blessed us beyond our wildest imaginations, and we are choosing to trust Him to provide for this family that He is creating. So much of everything is out of our hands...but, this wild ride is our path to heaven...and even the bumps provide tremendous gifts, consolations, and joy.

What stood out the most (and perhaps this is just my human nature) weren't the many "likes" and congrats comments on my facebook page (although I sure was grateful for the support). But rather, the "likes" and comments that did NOT appear (from family mostly...cousins that I don't see that often...and friends from the past) from people who I assume must have seen it (because they were posting and liking things at the same time that I shared my news).

It is not surprising, but it does sting a little. It reminds me of what a good friend of mine told me when his dad died. He said that he will forgot who came to the funeral (including tons of unexpected people), but he will never forget who DIDN'T come.

Just a bit of reflection! I know that expecting my 6th baby in less than 7 years is counter-cultural and maybe even crazy (I joked that I'm only sane on most days!), BUT, I meant it when I said that we are joyfully awaiting this baby...what an awesome gift! :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

The dilemma...

Cecilia, age 3, is very into her baby dolls right now. Ironically, all but one or two of her many babies are her older sisters. But, I don't ever remember Gianna playing with babies so much.

I love this stage! She is so imaginative in her play. Yesterday she came to me with her big dilemma: "I have so many babies that are all crying at once...I don't know who to take care of first."

HA! Sounds like my life :). I could so relate!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

3-2-1 apparently means...


I have had interesting encounters at checkout counters recently. Not all of them have been negative...just interesting!

I have been doing my grocery shopping on Friday mornings. We are usually just about out of milk, bread, and bananas (and other staples!), and I just detest grocery shopping on the weekends (as a stay-at-home mom, I have become quite accustomed to shopping when stores are not crowded...and I quite like it!).

On Friday mornings, I have my three youngest with me. They are ages 3, 2, and 1. They are *generally* well behaved (the longer the list, the more trouble we may have!). The free cookies at the bakery can be life saving (especially if I use it as a bribe until we're almost done shopping!).

Anyway, the past two weeks have been interesting at checkout. Two weeks ago, I got into a lively conversation with the bagger. She was commenting on how much milk I was buying! I explained that I also had two older children who were at school. And yes...at almost a gallon consumed a day...we do drink a ton of milk :).

She said, "Girl...haven't you heard of getting your tubes tied!?!" Talk about a conversation breaker :). I thought we were discussing milk.

Because she was a very pleasant lady (who was being very kind and patient with my children...who were done with shopping!), I kept the conversation going. I explained that we are very much enjoying our blessings (although maybe not at that particular moment...ha!), and I provided an extremely simplified explanation of natural family planning (only because she continued talking about birth control!).

She ended our conversation with a five-high and, "You go girl!"

Last week, the smiling cashier asked me the ages of my children. I said, "They are 3, 2, and 1." To which she replied, "That can only mean one thing."

I looked at her with a puzzled look (obviously, it did not mean anything to me...other than that I'm very busy and kinda crazy!!). She continued, "3, 2, 1...DONE." As in no more children.

I just smiled with a stupid grin. I was busy digging for my credit card and warning Justin about stealing candy (about a month ago, I discovered that he bit into a package of Rolos...and put it back on the shelf!!). I just wanted to get home and put the food away before rushing back to preschool!

So, I was one for two with my checkout counter evangelization! Can't wait to see what happens this Friday. Gotta love people...is nothing off limits anymore?! :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Things of beauty...

We just bought our first American flag! Our new house has a flag stand thing, so the Red, White, and Blue are proudly flying outside as I write this! After watching everything resolve in Boston on Friday night, I couldn't imagine a more beautiful sight than my children holding our flag on Saturday morning! God Bless America!

Yes, the roses are beautiful! But, the love that they signify is even more beautiful! My husband brought me these roses for our anniversary this week. It struck me how much our love has grown (with each child) when Gianna commented that Daddy must really love me if he brought me so many beautiful red roses!

Gianna, age 6-1/2, is very interested in the concept of an anniversary. She made us both beautiful cards, and she was very happy to celebrate our marriage. Thank you God for my marriage and my family, and God Bless all those with struggling marriages.

Joseph, age 5, just said "Happy Whatever-today-is!" :)

We're headed out to enjoy a chilly but beautiful Sunday at Hershey Gardens (gorgeous botanical gardens that just happen to be free to to public today!). Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect...

This is a picture of Joseph at 6 months...sporting his Red Sox onesie. It was in the very first package that arrived from Boston once I had my first boy. Papa just couldn't wait to share his love of Boston sports teams with his first grandson! :)

Today is my anniversary! Happy 9th anniversary to my amazing husband. We were married at my parent's church in the Boston suburbs. We spent a lot of time in the city that week with family who had never been in Boston before. Memories!

Obviously, my mind and heart are up in Boston this week. I have been at the Boston Marathon several times (not running it...only enjoying the festive atmosphere!), and I know Copley Square very well. My heart just breaks for all affected...especially for the family and friends of that little boy Martin (who is shown in a picture proudly holding up his First Communion banner).

Just like after Newtown, the prayer that comes to mind is this: "That the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding will guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

But, this post is about something else on my heart today!

My happy children around the table blowing out Lucy's candles. We never have to fight them to eat cake!

I was listening to a rerun of a Mother Angelica Live show in the car on Sunday. I love listening to EWTN radio...but, only when I am driving alone (or with the youngest two who don't complain!).

Mother was talking about our imperfections. She quoted St. Francis Xavier who said that, "Our imperfections die 15 minutes after we do!" This made me feel better...that even the saints strive their entire lives to be better and to overcome their imperfections!

Mother explained that we pray to overcome our imperfections...and then, we get so mad at ourselves as we immediately do the very things that we do not want to do. I can think of a hundred examples of this in my own life!

I wake up every day saying that I am not going to lose my patience with anyone during breakfast.

My kids (except Gianna who is my best eater...any time!) are painfully slow eaters in the morning...and man, do they complain about...everything. I think it's a group mentality thing...all it takes is one cranky child to start it! But, if we don't insist that they eat something (I'm not talking a lot!) shortly after they wake up, we have found that we are in for huge meltdowns when we go through the morning routine.

So, every morning, I lose my patience with someone. Today it was Justin...it took him over an hour to eat a quarter of a pop tart and a half a banana. He picked it himself and then refused to eat it because he wanted something else. Two-year-olds are among the most stubborn people on the planet :).

After breakfast, the kids are usually happier and more agreeable (because they ate!), and I'm left to feel bad that I started the day on such a sour note. I'm using this as my example...but, I could pick any number of other things!!!

I want to be better. I pray to be better. And then, I am not better and I'm frustrated with my imperfection! (I know, sounds like St. Paul!).

Mother Angelica said that God ALLOWS me to keep my imperfections as gifts. God doesn't want my imperfections to go away! Why!?! Because they force me to turn to back to Him. How true! After I am not the mother that I want to be, I instantly say a quick prayer for forgiveness and strength.

Maybe I would not do that if I was perfect (AS IF...)!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


This is Cecilia last Wednesday. We had a blast of summer...85 degrees...and she had been outside all day long playing. This picture was taken after her shower. She has such a pretty "glow" about her, and she was in the BEST mood because she got to wear her summer nightgown (since that night, it's been back to winter sleepers!).

This post is about moods. We all have them. Growing up in a family teaches us from a very young age about how little control we have over other people's moods. As an adult, I am slowly learning that I am not powerless over my moods. Feelings are just feelings...and, I do tons of things everyday that I do not feel like doing and that I'm not in the mood for :). After all, the diapers need changing and the kids have to eat (lest their moods deteriorate!)!

I'm not saying that I do not give into my feelings at times. I still get cranky at certain times of the day (think before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m., especially!) or during certain times of the month (when I have decidedly less control over what comes out of my mouth!). I will always wish for more patience...so that my mood won't change so abruptly when the kids are not obeying exactly in the time/way that I want them to!

But, I daresay that I am not the moodiest person in the house (at least this week!).

Cecilia is currently taking the prize for this. Of course, she has moments when I look at her and think she is the prettiest, most charming, smartest, loveliest 3-1/2-year-old in the entire world (I'm a little biased!). My heart is filled with such love for God's gift who arrived in July of 2009.

And then, there are other moments. Lots of them. Yesterday morning stands out.

Joseph had an early soccer game at 9:30 a.m. I had to miss his first one of the season last week because I took Gianna to a birthday party. I did not want to miss his second one.

So, I bundled everyone up (it was a chilly morning) and drove over to the field (my husband is helping the coach, so he and Joseph were already there). Getting everyone ready was ridiculous. I thought a hundred times that it would be so much easier to just stay home and turn on cartoons for a bit...because, just maybe, Cecilia would snap out of her mood!

Everything was wrong from the second she woke up...screaming (and waking up the whole house in the process) that she had to go to the bathroom (although she has been potty-trained for a year, and she can most certainly get up and take care of this by herself!).

Breakfast was just plain awful (even though it was what she asked for), and her outfit was wrong (even though she picked it out). She was extremely angry that I wouldn't let her wear her flip-flops and that she had to wear her jacket (she had a taste of summer only days before!). There were lots of tears and even more loud drama. And, her mood was rubbing off on everyone else...especially me!

I'm so glad that I persevered! Because, as has happened a thousand times before, life was simply grand once we left the house!

It turned out to be a gorgeous morning. It was chilly, but the sun was quickly warming us up. Instead of watching the game, Gianna, Cecilia, and Justin started running around and playing with some other kids. This was perfect as it left Lucy and I to watch the game in peace.

As I was driving to the game, I was thinking about what Cecilia can be like at age 3. And, it scares me to death to think what she might be like as a teenager!!! I didn't have any flashes of inspiration or heavenly wisdom, but I did reflect on my job as her mother. And, I realized that I can only carefully guard my own moods (this is most definitely a work in progress!), help her to recognize the triggers of her moods (obviously, she's a little young for this...but, maybe she learn to tell me that she's hungry immediately rather than waiting until she's a bear...or rest if she's tired), and PRAY.

I need to pray to keep the big picture always in my heart and head (words said in a flash of anger will live on forever). Moods come and go. A change of scenery can do wonders to change our moods...as can exercise.

The soccer game was just the thing to "snap" Cecilia out of it. She was transformed back into my fun-loving little girl for the rest of the day! By the end of the game, 4 of my 5 children were pretty happy. Joseph was tired, hungry, and sore after an end-of-game injury, so he was in a very bad mood. And, so goes the circle of life :).

This piece is just a reflection on how to raise a family full of moody children :). It can be so overwhelming to have five moods (plus my own and my husband's)...happy, sad, and everything in between...coming at me all day. Learning to patiently and lovingly deal with it all is too much for me...so, I must PRAY and trust that God's grace will carry me (and it does). And write...I have so much on my mind and heart, and it feels good to put in into words. Thanks for reading!!!

I'm in a pretty good mood right now...I better hide :o).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Because I cheated...

Remember, O most gracious Virgin, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.THE MEMORARE
Remember, O most gracious Virgin, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in 
thy mercy hear and answer me.

I borrowed this beautiful picture from the St. Gerard Society's facebook page today...because, they posted my all-time favorite prayer: The Memorare.

I learned this most powerful prayer in the 5th grade. And, I CHEATED on the test! I still can't believe it to this day. I had simply forgotten that we were to memorize The Memorare and write it word-for-word for a grade. I remember being horrified and panic-stricken when Mrs. Sullivan handed out the blank white-lined paper (I was a good student and these things simply didn't happen to me!)...until I looked over and saw one of the "bad" kids (still remember his name!) hiding his religion book in his lap and copying the prayer (it was on the inside cover of our religion book).

Did I dare!? Although it was totally out of character for me to cheat, I think I was more scared of failure...so I did the same thing. And, I did not get caught (Thank goodness...I probably never would've felt the same about myself again I had let my parents and teacher down that much!).

But, I DID repent (I had a nicely developed guilty conscience even at age 10!). I promised Mary that I would not only learn the prayer for real, but that I would faithfully say it. Hmm...I didn't tell my teacher what I had done (so why am I surprised when my children do not confess!?).

And, for most of my life, I have kept my promise. And, this is a most powerful prayer. The words that stick out for me are these: ..Never was it known that anyone...was left unaided. Meaning, Mary will ALWAYS hear and answer my prayer. She will never leave me unaided. How's that for a promise?!

These days, I most often say this prayer in the middle of the night. And, though I most certainly do pray it for important intentions, I most often pray it to go back to sleep! As I'm sure most of us know, it can be a terrible feeling to be lying there wide awake and knowing that in a few short hours, a new day will begin...whether you are rested and ready or not! Not to mention, my fears and anxieties are very heightened at night. So, I pray the Memorare...

And...I always fall back to sleep. Coincidence? Perhaps (chances are good that I would eventually drift back to sleep, I guess). But, I always wake up feeling refreshed and renewed. Unless I'm pregnant (when not even heavenly intervention can help me shake the drowsiness!), I can function well the next day even on just a few hours of sleep. If Mary cares about something as trivial as my rest, imagine her power for more important matters!!!!!!

I don't think kids in Catholic school have to write prayers from rote memory anymore. At least, I hope not...my years as an education major taught me that there are much better methods! But, I will be making sure that my children all know this prayer by heart. And, I guess I should forgive myself (27 years later) for cheating...the outcomes have been heavenly :).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wonderful One

Happy 1st Birthday, Lucy!

It's actually tomorrow (4/08), but I'll be busy making cupcakes (lest I disappoint her siblings!) during my "break" when I usually blog!

Before each new baby is born, I start to panic (well, it's kind of like 9 months of panic attacks...usually only about one a month or so!). There are just so many questions about how a new baby will change our family dynamics. And, I begin to doubt my ability to handle another child (and people who mean well (hopefully) but tell me that I already have my hands full don't really help my state of mind!).

But then, each time, the miracle of child birth has happened. And, the new baby isn't scary at all; rather, lovely and so sweet and so vulnerable and so wanted. Sure, it's a stressful couple of months figuring out the new normal (especially when mom doesn't look or feel like herself), but it goes by so fast...and, there so many great moments to offset the stress.

These days, Lucy just makes me happy (sometimes tired too, although she is sleeping much better!). The other kids will be arguing, complaining, whining, etc., and Lucy will just be content. She will smile back at me 100% of the time, and I enjoy being someone's favorite person in the whole world! I feel JOY at the sight of my baby (I mean my toddler!!!). Not to mention, she keeps me sane...

What a gift she is to me and to our family...thank you God!

Happy Wonderful One, Lucy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Welcome home!

Here are my children in their Sunday best on Easter. We haven't been going to Mass as a family because it's just too stressful with a toddler and tired baby (Gianna is fine and the two preschoolers have CCD during Mass). But, it was very important to us to go as a family on Easter Sunday.

We did not go to our parish...because there is no cry room. People either love them or hate them (cry rooms...or "the children's chapel" as it's called in our old parish, that is)...but I just plain NEED one when we go to Mass with all my children. Otherwise, my blood pressure goes through the roof and I don't hear a word being said because I am so scared my children are going to ruin Mass for other people (never mind me!).

So, off we went to our old parish on Easter morning. We belonged there for 6 years (it was close to our first apartment in the Harrisburg area) and all of my children were baptized there. The only reason we switched is because there is another great parish much closer to our house (where Gianna now attends kindergarten). It was like going home...we saw our favorite usher and many friendly faces.

We also saw many unfamiliar faces. So many unfamiliar faces! We got there early enough to get seats in the cry room. But, people didn't stop coming when all the seats were taken. We were packed in SO tight, and it was very hot in there. The big church was even more crowded. Standing room only down both sides of the church. I know churches around the world looked the same.

About 15 minutes into Mass, people just started leaving the cry room. My guess is that it was just too uncomfortable in there. I would like to think that they went to find another more comfortable spot. But, I have a feeling that some of them walked right back out into the fresh air saying, "What were we thinking!?! We'll try again at Christmas."

It is very frustrating for all of us...regular Mass-goers and the Christmas/Easter Catholics alike. We were at church for the most beautiful of all feasts...to celebrate the Resurrected Christ (the priest said if we didn't think that this was important, we should ask someone on their death bed what they think of the Resurrection!), and all that some of us could think about (me included!) was that, "This is not working for me!" (much to my dismay, they had removed the basket of toys to make room for more people!).

I'm sorry, Jesus! Another thing to apologize to Jesus for...my list is endless :).

But, then I consider my siblings who are not practicing Catholics right now (or who practice sporadically). Even though it was so crowded, I would be estatic if my siblings ever walked into Mass (it wouldn't happen because they live in Boston, but you know what I mean!). I would move over in a heartbeat and I wouldn't care (well, not as much) that I was uncomfortable.

It is my job to get my spouse and children to heaven. And, I'm not doing a very good job. But, I'm aware of that, and I'm praying and striving to improve every day (so, hopefully that counts for something in God's eyes!). I also care about having my  family (parents and siblings) in heaven with me for eternity. I don't feel it's my place to nag them or pry into their lives, so I can only live by example and pray.

And, in the mean time, I can celebrate when other people's loved ones come home. Even if it means three sweaty, cranky kids on my lap in the cry room on Easter Sunday! Alleluia!