Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Signing off with gratitude...

The girls helped Daddy plant vegetables. We had a huge vegetable garden at our old house...we're hoping to have a more permanent one next year while sticking to planters this year!

...temporarily, this is! I've decided to take the month of June off from blogging. I will still be a columnist on catholicmom.com during this time if you want to check me out there!

I have a strong desire...prompting of the Holy Spirit perhaps...to spend more time reading. I have a stack of spiritual books that I know I will benefit from reading. Yet, I only get a break in the afternoon (when I blog) and at night when the kids go to bed...when I get through only a few pages before falling asleep!

That, and I am working on a larger writing project. It's still in the very beginning stages, but I have this crazy idea to write a book. Even if nothing comes of it (very likely), the process is quite fulfilling. It's really helping me to clarify my mission statement (if you will) of motherhood :).

I just want to thank God for another great prenatal appointment this morning. I was a bit nervous the last few days. I'm 18 weeks now, and besides a few random kicks, I haven't felt much movement. The nurse explained that it might just be the position of the placenta. I go in June for the "big" ultrasound (although we don't find out the gender!).

I also have undiagnosed pneumonia (the doctor didn't want to do a chest x-ray because of the pregnancy). I've had terrible cold and cough symptoms for over a month now. I went to my primary care a few weeks ago, but at that point, he thought it was still just a virus.

Over the holiday weekend, I decided to push the double stroller for a walk. I adore walking...especially on gorgeous, cool spring days. But, I barely made it around our neighborhood. I was short of breath and having ridiculous coughing attacks. Long story short, I'm on three prescriptions and hoping to feel better soon! The steroids caused me a restless night (they make you feel like cleaning your garage at 2 a.m., according to the doctor!), but it gave me a little extra time to pray. I swear that I do my best praying in the middle of the night!

Anyway, wishing you a wonderful, restful month of June. If I miss blogging too much (or if my reading/writing plans are falling through), I will be back sooner. I thank you, as always, for stopping by. May God Bless us all :).

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Here is my 1st grader at her kindergarten graduation. Seems like just yesterday that I put her on the bus for the first time! Graduation was very nice. Unfortunately, I didn't see too much of it (don't tell Gianna), because I was busy chasing our brand new walker around the back of the church! Luckily, they sang really loudly, so I heard what I could not see!

Here is Lucy walking around the church. I am so excited to put cute sundresses on her! My girls could never wear dresses between 9-13 months because they couldn't crawl in them and they would get super frustrated. Lucy was delighted with so much room to explore!

Here is my kindergartener at his preschool graduation last week. He just had his kindergarten assessment today. He said it was really fun and he knew all the answers (we'll see!). I had to fill out questionnaires when he was testing. Under concerns, I wrote that he has never been away from me for more than 2-1/2 hours at a time. He is still very attached to me. Full day kindergarten is going to be a huge adjustment for me (I mean him!).

Here is my Pre-K student at her 3-year-old spring program. She absolutely loves school, and she is by far the most motivated person in our family! I hope that her contagious zeal for life continues long past preschool!

Justin didn't do anything special this month. I really, really wish that I could announce that he is potty-trained...but, I can't :(. He is very cute these days, but he is quickly becoming three. And, three is much harder for me than sweet 2! I miss my sweet boy as he seems to be picking up all the bad habits of his older siblings (but, luckily, some of their best traits too!).

And yes, he has a pink nightgown on in this picture (it's a bribe picture for when he is older...ha!). My husband and I are exhausted at night by the time bath time rolls around. We run around like crazy people trying to get everyone bathed and ready for bed. A few weeks ago, I walked in to find my husband putting this nightgown (intended for Cecilia) on Justin. Once he realized what he was doing, we all (including the kids) had a good laugh. Nothing like comic relief...and picture opps!

Here is my baby...walking her baby!!! I absolutely love this age (13 months). Yet, I also find it to be one of the most challenging. She is quite fearless...which makes it harder to keep her safe. Although the other kids love playgrounds, I do not love chasing Lucy up the structures (with huge open gaps) intended for 5-12 year olds! She gets knocked over many times a day (we're not used to a little one walking up behind us yet!), and she loves to be held between the hours of 4-6 p.m...precisely when I'm trying to get dinner on the table. Oh well...I only need to look at her siblings to see how fast she'll grow!

Thank you God for all these spring milestones. I know, with Your grace, that we will survive (I dear hope even enjoy!?!) summer (I write this because my first week with all the kids home is proving to be exactly what I thought it would be...transitions are hard!).

Monday, May 20, 2013

My "models"...

We were at the mall yesterday afternoon. It was Sunday afternoon, and I'm not used to actually seeing people at the mall (besides a few mall walkers, stay-at-home moms, and senior citizens...the only people at the mall on weekday mornings!).

As we headed toward our destination store, there was a temporary kiosk set-up for Barbizon. They were looking for models (I suppose!) and handing out bracelets to the kids. Of course, my four older kids went right up to the man offering blue bracelets!

After we said thank you, we all started to walk away. The man touched my shoulder. He said that he would really like me to talk to his supervisor about some of my children. He could sense my hesitation, so he handed me a brochure and told me to please call to set up an appointment for their upcoming model search.

The word "some" stuck with me. "Some" does not work in my family. If one child gets something, they all think they should have one. There is no such thing as giving one child anything...without all the others finding out and tears. Case in point...Cecilia and Lucy were the only ones home with me briefly the other night. I let them each have the last two Popsicles. Lucy is too young to talk, but (even though I told her not to!) Cecilia shared the news as soon as the others walked in the door. You know the rest...

So, having "some" of my children model just wouldn't work! How would I ever in a million years explain to the others that only one or two of them are beautiful enough to be in a magazine (or whatever!!)?

Mind you, I'm not saying that I think my children are model material. I think they are beautiful children (what mother doesn't think her children are beautiful!?)...most of all because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

My next thought, as I tossed the brochure in the nearest trash can, was how I would never want to expose my children to modeling. It might start off very innocent...cute photographs of children having fun in modest outfits. But, how quickly they grow up...and they would have to be good enough (thin enough, tall enough, etc.) to continue.

I never, ever want my children to confuse their worth with their appearance. Because of our toxic culture, I know that they will. I am struggling with gaining weight (again!) even though it is obviously in the best interest of this baby inside of me!!!

I want my children to take care of their bodies by eating right and exercising. And, to take great pride in their appearance (appreciating their God-given natural beauty...simply because they are alive). They are already starting to develop their own sense of fashion (well, Cecilia is!). But, I think we'll hold off on modeling. Unless it's for my crazy, candid pictures like the pajama shot above :).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Our spring accomplishments...

May is a bittersweet month for me. I love the weather (not too hot and humid yet!) and the blossoming of spring all around me, but I hate the end of school (all good things must come to an end...). It's funny how I've changed...when I was a student and a teacher, I couldn't wait for the end of school :).

Joseph graduated from preschool on Tuesday night. He has a lot of emotions about it (but probably not as many as I do!). He is asking a lot of questions about kindergarten, and he wants confirmation that most of his life will remain the same. I assured him that he can still sleep with his Pooh Bear even if he is a big kindergartener (sniff, sniff!). I was SO ready for Gianna to go to kindergarten (she was 6, confident, and just...ready!)...it will be much harder to put Joseph on that bus in August.

Gianna's accomplishment is tying her shoes...competently, that is! She's been practicing for months...and she could do it if she (and I!) had enough time and patience. But, today was the first time that she tied both of her shoes when she was getting ready for school. I am relieved. This was the hardest thing that I have taught her (so far)...and it made me 100% certain that I could never homeschool my children :).

Miss Lucy can walk! She refused to demonstrate it for the camera (so I captured this smile after she collapsed after 3 or 4 steps). Watching this milestone never gets old...I get so excited for each child as he/she (finally) masters it. I didn't say I'm ready for it (I know what comes next...), but I am proud of her (but not as proud as she is of herself...her smile says it all!).

Just something special to share...as I'm sitting here typing this, I am feeling this new baby move inside of me for the first time (the first time that I am sure that it is not gas, that is...ha!). May has truly been an amazing month.

Thank you God for allowing us to participate in and enjoy all these special moments!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dishes be quiet...

My Mother's Day didn't really start well. Justin woke up at 6:30 a.m. He was hungry, wet, very cranky, and apparently lonely (because he woke up everyone within minutes!). ER!

As I forced myself out of bed, my thoughts were not very "motherly." The first one was, "Is it bad that all I want for Mother's Day is a day away from my children!?"

The second one came as my husband wished me a Happy Mother's Day as he reluctantly crawled out of bed too. It was this: "I'm constantly told that I'm going to miss these days...but, honestly...I'm not so sure that I will!"

My attitude stayed for a bit...until my coffee kicked in and I opened my adorable Mother's Day gifts from my three oldest children. My husband also offered some free time later that day (although not too much free time because there was a soccer game at 3:30!).

My thoughts quickly turned to what I could do with an hour of free time! Not too many possibilities as I couldn't go very far, but just the idea of having my husband take over for some of the afternoon was a wonderful feeling! Maybe a hike, or a browse through a bookstore with some coffee, or Adoration...or...

That is...until I remembered that Joseph is going to "graduate" from preschool on Tuesday night, and he is growing so very fast that he has no dress pants that fit. I refuse to have him go on stage in "floods!" Oh well...

So, I spent my free time at Children's Place (at least I had a good coupon!). And, I did stop for some ice cream on the way home.

As I drove, I reflected on the homily from Mass. Father shared some beautiful stories about mothers. And, he stressed that EVERY sacrifice matters. This made me feel good about spending my free time shopping for my children (I ended up buying a ton of summer stuff for Gianna too...again, good coupon!).

After bedtime, I wanted to take a shower and curl up on the couch. But, Lucy was having trouble sleeping. I knew she was exhausted, so I made my room dark and crawled into my bed with her. She curled up on top of me and peacefully fell asleep within minutes. I could've put her down much sooner than I did. But, I thought this was the perfect way to end my Mother's Day.

In my head, I kept hearing an expression that I read on a bib at a yard sale years ago:

"Dishes be quiet. Dust go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby,
cause baby's don't keep."

Now that I have five kids to take care of, I don't often "rock" Lucy. I'm usually anxious for her to go to bed so that I can finally sit down! But, on Mother's Day, it seemed perfect. And, my thoughts from earlier were long gone. I was glad that I had spent (most) of Mother's Day with my kids; and in fact, I do think that I will miss these days when they are gone!

Hope you had a blessed Mother's Day too!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Our senior citizen "playdate"...

It rained on Tuesday morning. This meant that we couldn't go to our playground playdate. I was more bummed than the kids. The kids would've have fun...no doubt...but, the playdate was really for me!

I find that time with my girlfriends each day really energizes me and helps me to feel less lonely in the afternoon (until my husband gets home...then I'm fine again). On days when it is just the kids and I...all day...I often start to feel very isolated and overwhelmed. I know from conversations with others that I am not alone! Connecting with others (even if I just meet a new acquaintance briefly at the playground or elsewhere) really makes a huge difference in my day.

Anyway, since our playdate was cancelled, my husband suggested that I go to the mall and look at some curtains that were on sale. Now that summer is approaching, and the sun gets up around 5:45 a.m., we really need some room-darkening curtains to get a *little* extra sleep!

I didn't have anything better to do, so off we went to the mall. I don't go to the mall often anymore. I used to...especially as a new stay-at-home mom without a lot of activities planned...but, not so much anymore (it helps that there are not really many good stores for me to shop at!).

It turned out to be a really nice little morning! Cecilia and Justin entertained themselves by playing hide-and-seek (in every store!), and Lucy was exceptionally happy in her stroller. I treated the kids to an Auntie Anne's pretzel, and we set off to the food court to get Mommy a coffee.

It was at the food court that I "filled up my companionship quota" for the day. It wasn't my girlfriends who provided the fellowship, but rather a lovely group of senior citizens who had gathered for their weekly coffee date.

Three tables strong, they saw us approaching (there weren't many other people at the mall that morning). I guess we kind of stood out...the 2-year-old chasing the 3-year-old and the Mommy running behind them with the stroller!!! And, all of us (well, the children that is!) very blond (I like to pretend I'm a blond when I get my hair highlighted...very infrequently these days!).

With big smiles, the seniors spoke to us. The ladies grabbed my hand to tell me how blessed I was, and the children were enjoying a chorus of, "You're so beautiful!" Cecilia looked like she was on a runway. She was loving all the attention as she walked up and down the aisle between the tables. She asked me if they were all having a playdate.

Justin showed them all his "Big Brother" shirt, and Lucy did her part by waving at them (from the safety of her stroller).

It was a nice couple of minutes. We don't have any local grandparents, so my children don't have doting senior citizens in their lives. And, because we are most often out with groups of adorable children, I don't see mine getting any special treatment or attention (not that they should, mind you). So, it was nice to hear my children admired...and for an unexpected reminder of how incredibly blessed I am (even to just go to the mall with my healthy children on a random Tuesday!).

It turned out to be a great day. We had a playdate that afternoon, and there were 18 children (including my 5) playing at our house. It was a bit crazy, but they were all having a great time...and the rain even held out for them to play in the backyard (it started pouring again as the last car pulled away!).

Another plus...I bought curtains! They are not hung yet, mind you, but I have them!

I hope you find unexpected blessings in your day...thanks for reading.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Switching it up...

I am trying to remain calm about the quickly approaching summer. When I was getting Gianna ready for kindergarten this morning, I told her that there are only two weeks of school left. She said, "Wow...that's a lot." I told her that, in fact, NO...that is a very short time!!! And then, she will be home with me...all.summer.long.

I do love this child (and all the others!). But, Gianna started preschool on her 3rd birthday, and we are all used to (and quite like!) the school year routine. I think we are all at our best when there is not "too much togetherness," and Mommy doesn't feel pressure to entertain/meet everyone's needs...all day/every day.

At 6-1/2, Gianna likes to be busy with structured activities (much to my dismay, she's not very good at down time on her own). I do my best to get her (and everyone) out and stimulated everyday, but I cannot provide the variety of activities that kindergarten offers :).

So, I'm trying to be at peace about the summer...and all the unplanned hours! I just read something helpful in a magazine. It said that, "Uncertainty is often much worse than real life."

I do know that this is true. I always dread the uncertainty of summer, and then...it happens. And, I rather enjoy it! I just need to keep a grateful and peaceful attitude remembering that I am so blessed to be a stay-at-home mom and to have my beautiful, healthy treasures with me all day long...because, this too shall pass quickly!

I am very strict when it comes to my daily routine (another reason why I dread summer...everything that has worked for nine months must go out the window!). It is a survival tool for me raising five young children.

But, I was reminded recently how good it is to switch-it-up! Even something as simple as driving a new route home (I'm constantly driving back and forth to preschool...this will happen when you have one child in the morning and one child in the afternoon!) can put a little bit more spring in my step.

We read bedtime stories in the baby's room/office last night instead of the usual place...just because we were in there. It was different...and nice...I even let Daddy read an extra book (but not a long one!). I'll have to remember that even little switch-ups can make such a difference. Gotta love the little things in life :).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rest in Peace...

It's been a sad couple of days for the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, PA. Our Bishop, Joseph McFadden, died suddenly yesterday morning. He was only 65 and in relatively good health. It was totally unexpected and shocking. He was a holy man and a respected, well-liked leader.

I had just been looking at his schedule yesterday morning over breakfast (they post the Bishop's schedule in the diocesan newspaper). I was remembering my own Confirmation a hundred years ago as I looked at all the upcoming Confirmation's that the Bishop was to celebrate this week and next.

Then, a few hours later after dropping my son off at preschool, my husband called me on my cell phone to say that the Bishop died. What!?!

I didn't know him personally (although my husband had many occasions to be with him over the last few years as he (my husband) works at the Diocese). Still, I feel a great sense of loss and sadness.

The calming thought is that, please God, he is now in heaven. He has earned his great reward. He (Bishop) is not sad that he has died! Rest in peace, Bishop McFadden. Thank you for serving us so well.

On a happier note, we are just having glorious weather...the kind of weather that just makes you so happy to be alive! Here is Cecilia outside walking her baby doll...it just screams happy childhood moment to me :). And, then there's Lucy's baby piggy toes (the cutest darn things!) flying in the gentle breeze. Bliss!