Friday, June 28, 2013

Grant me the grace...

Oh give me patience when wee hands
tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes.
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion or noise
obscure my vision of life’s fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come, my house is still,
no bitter memories its rooms may fill.
- Author Unknown

I can't take credit for this beautiful prayer (it was posted on the St. Gerard's Mother's facebook page today), but I sure do love it...and it sure is appropriate for me!

Lucy (14 months) sure is keeping me busy. Last night, I had dream after dream about one of my children being in the hospital for a concussion or head injury. They were awful dreams!

The reason: Lucy is climbing on top of everything. I found her hanging onto the chandelier above the dining room table a few days ago. Every time I turn my back, she is standing on something she shouldn't (most often, the kitchen table)! I have never had a toddler like this (my husband thinks I have blocked it out, but I'm pretty sure she is the first!).

Lucy is keeping me busy physically, but the other children seem to be giving me more of a mental workout. Because it's summer and we are all up early (and very active for hours on end), they seem to be more tired, hungry, and whiny than usual (or perhaps I'm just more tired, hungry, and whiny too!).

Snack and meal times are especially hard ("he's looking at me, she's kicking me under the table, that's my plate/fork/cup, I wanted milk instead of juice, this food is not good, etc., etc., etc.), and I end up chewing on my tongue so I don't say something I regret (if only I was better at it...).

A line that I heard recently keeps jumping into my mind at these moments: "God grant me the grace to endure my blessings!"

I ran into a lovely woman after Mass a few weeks ago. I've written about her before...she teaches a breastfeeding class at a local hospital that I attended when Gianna was an infant. She is so gentle, so inspiring, so holy...she blesses all mothers who she encounters!

Anyway, we walked out to the car with her and her husband. She watched us as we struggled to get everyone buckled into their car seats. After I put the stroller into the trunk, she hugged me and told me the above-mentioned prayer that her mother (mom to 16 children!) had hanging in her kitchen. "God grant me the grace to endure my blessings!"

I loved sums up so perfectly how I feel so often. I love my children (and their father) more than anything in the greatest treasures...yet, I so often feel out-numbered and overwhelmed...I need that constant grace to endure (and ENJOY!) my blessings!

Praying that all of us receive the graces that we need this and every day! Thanks for reading. I'm signing off until at least July 7th! Happy summer :).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot...

I could be talking about this weather. Central Pennsylvania (along with a good portion of the rest of the country is *enjoying* 90+ degree heat and humidity). I say "enjoying" because I'm trying to have a better attitude about the weather! I snuck off to Adoration for a bit last week, and I read a great reflection about not complaining about little things out of your control (the list included the weather...extreme cold and heat!). I need to work on this...

Anyway, "hot, hot, hot" is actually about Justin (age 2-1/2) last Friday afternoon. He went down for his nap as usual around 1 p.m. (this kid is a rockstar sleeper...he loves his nap and starts to ask for it right around lunch...hope this lasts...forever!).

He came downstairs around 2:30 (early for him). I knew something was wrong because he didn't look right. And then when I hugged him, he felt like a frying pan...temperature of 104 to be exact. Then he was doubled over in pain grabbing his stomach. Scary for me!

I cancelled the fun playdate that we had planned (my kids aren't very happy with me lately...we've been cancelling too many playdates!); and, after my husband rushed home to watch the other kids, Justin and I headed to the doctor. After determining it was not an ear infection or strep throat, they sent us for some bloodwork to figure out what might be going on.

The bloodwork was to be done in downtown Harrisburg. And, it was Friday afternoon. I have worked in both Boston and the Washington, D.C. area, and there is NO comparing the traffic to Harrisburg...but, I was heading downtown on a Friday afternoon...yucko!

Thank God, it turned out to be an afternoon of great blessings.

Justin's ibuprofen had kicked in and he was acting...completely normal! There wasn't much traffic. And, after a short wait in the waiting room (I've waited forever in this lab before), Justin didn't even cry when the kind nurses drew his blood. He just sat calmly in my lap and watched (I can't even watch when someone is drawing my blood!). They gave him a cute teddy bear for his troubles, and we headed home...somehow avoiding traffic again.

We arrived home to his four siblings having a dance party (thanks to Daddy for keeping kids happy and entertained on a Friday afternoon...I often have disastrous afternoons at home myself!). They were SO happy to see Justin, and it was so nice to see that my children actually care about each other (I often wonder when they are bopping each other on the head!).

The best part was the doctor calling a bit later saying that it looked like just a virus...that he should be better soon (and he was).

What a crazy afternoon! But, I was so grateful for a glimpse...of the loving, happy, caring family that I want us to be (we do have lots of wonderful times, but it's hard to keep 5 young children and 2 parents all happy at the exact same time!). And, I fear I often miss precious moments because I'm just too tired to see them!

I was grateful for my husband's job...close to home with the flexibility to help with sick children, and for the one-on-one time with Justin. He's my most easygoing child (for now!), and I rarely stop to appreciate the sweet little boy that he has become.

Of course, that all said, I hope he wakes up healthy today (it's nap time). I'd *like* the weather to be the only hot, hot, hot in our lives for now! *Happy* summer everyone :).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A night of refreshment...

St. Ann Church

This is St. Ann's Byzantine Catholic Church in Harrisburg, PA. It is only about two miles from my house. I drive it probably once a week, and I have always wanted to go in!

I don't know much about the Byzantine Catholic Church (although now I have a great desire to learn more!), but my husband (who knows a lot more than I do!) shared that they are in full communion with the Pope. Roman Catholics can attend a Divine Liturgy (Mass in the Roman Catholic Church), and it will count as our Sunday obligation.

Anyway, I've never had a reason to go into this beautiful church. They have advertised church festivals over the years, but we haven't fit them into our schedule. Until...I had the perfect chance this week!

There is a beautiful icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe (just love her!) traveling around Harrisburg. Last week, it was at our parish. They had several nights of reciting the Rosary, prayer services, and various devotions. I really wanted to go! But, between my husband working nights (June is a very busy month for him!) and my after-dinner exhaustion (it never really left me this pregnancy...I feel like I could go to bed at 7 p.m. most nights!), I never made it. I was bummed.

And then...we found out through our church bulletin that the icon was traveling to the Byzantine Church with prayer services this week. OH of the nights would work with my husband's work schedule...and I could have an after-dinner cup of coffee to stay up :).

It was honestly one of the most moving services that I have ever been to in my whole life. I arrived a little late (I had to get Lucy down first!), and I heard heavenly music as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. I walked into the church and was blown away by the gorgeous icons that decorated the walls and ceiling. I saw the Our Lady of Guadalupe icon and I felt like I had arrived know the fleeting peaceful moments when everything feels exactly right!?

I snuck into a pew in the back. I quickly realized that I didn't have the booklet to follow. A kind gentlemen a few rows over came over and gave me his! The music and lyrics were so haunting (I mean in a sacred, good way!). I tried my best to follow even though I didn't know most of the melodies, and no one has ever called me a good singer :). There were only about 30 people there, but it sounded like many more. We sang for a good half hour more.

Then I stayed for private prayer. I showed Our Lady of Guadalupe the picture that my daughter Gianna had made for her. Well, I didn't actually take it out of my purse...but, I kept my promise to Gianna and told Mary about it! Then I prayed...while daydreaming and enjoying the decor...for as long as my body would allow (this 6th pregnancy is causing problems with my bladder and my nose...I have had bad cold symptoms for about two months now!!!).

I didn't want to leave. But, the memory is stored in my heart...and the graces that I received are really working (I've had more loving patience for the far, that is!). My prayers were heard (I know they always are), but I felt great reassurance from Our Lady of Guadalupe that night. Can't ask for more than that!

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. St. Ann, pray for us. And, please provide more needed nights of refreshment for us moms :). Some women go to a bar for a fun night out (and believe me, I would still enjoy that too!)...I go to the local Byzantine Catholic Church! How my life has changed...

Thursday, June 13, 2013


My mischievous joy...
I know my childrens' limits. I have a constant running tally in my head of who needs to eat, who needs to sleep, who needs comforting, who needs disciplining, etc. I'm sure most of us moms do!

Problem is, I rarely include myself in the list!

I've gotten good at predicting who needs what to keep order. I'm not saying that our days are always smooth...they are anything but! But, I've learned that anticipating my children's individual needs and limits helps me (and them!) stay sane.

If only I was as good at recognizing my own limits! I will often let myself get too hungry, too tired (well, not much I can do about this!), too overwhelmed...and then I take it out on those around me. How fun for everyone (not!).

For example, I am very good at packing snacks for the children. I always have a freezer pack and four cheese sticks in the van. I have found that a protein-packed snack on-the-go does wonders to stop/prevent blood sugar related meltdowns! I rarely remember to pack a healthy snack for myself. If only I liked cheese...

I have learned my limit about outings. I have found that taking all five kids out (almost) anywhere is just too much for me alone! I still try it a recent trip to Lowes to pick up one thing...but, I feel like a time bomb until everyone is safely buckled into their car seats again! So, I do my errands when my husband can stay home with some or all of the kids.

I do take all the kids to playdates at friend's houses often. I am blessed with wonderful friends who have us over regularly. These outings make all of us very happy!

However, I am learning that I now have limits for playdates too.

For example, yesterday afternoon we were supposed to go to a playdate at a friend's house. The kids knew about it, and they were very excited. I was looking forward to it all day.

That is...until I started to be filled with a dread-like feeling. It wasn't that I didn't want to see my friends and their kids...

Rather, it was the knowledge that around 20 children were going to be there. And, there was going to be water (baby pools, sprinklers, etc.).
And a trampoline (and I have children who are not used to trampolines or the correct/safe way to use them).

And, I have a young toddler who wants to be outside. And, she's short and not very steady on her she gets knocked down...a lot (especially by older kids who aren't looking for her).

And, there is a basement door that would be left open (because that's what kids do when they're having fun and running up and down the stairs having a blast!)...but, my toddler does not know how to go down stairs yet.

And then I would have 5 tired, wet children who would insist on putting dry clothes on again (and even my oldest tends to get tangled up in her wet bathing suit).

I was getting the children ready...and I started hyperventilating (well, not really!). As I was getting more overwhelmed and tired at the thought of going, I started being just awful to my children...snapping at them about the littlest things. It wasn't fair...

So, I called my husband to vent. And, as he has MANY times before, he brought me back to my senses. He reminded me of knowing my limits...and said that I was crazy to bring that much stress upon myself (the two of us had gone to a soccer party last weekend and it was stressful with BOTH of us chasing the kids!).

I felt great relief, and I knew that I would not go. But, I instantly felt sad too...for my kids (because they were super excited to go) and for myself (because I desperately crave  time with my girlfriends!). I quickly created Plan B in my head (put on the sprinkler at home and let them have some ice cream!).

This will not always be my life. The kids are growing so fast...and, some day soon it will only be my hunger, tiredness, and sanity that I have to manage :).

But, for now, I am working on remembering that my family will greatly benefit from a mother who knows her own limits! Please God, help me to be the mother that these children deserve. They may not be able to have everything they want (like such playdates), but I can strive to give them a happy childhood filled with Plan B's...and a sane, happy, and grace-filled mother!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Once a week?

Lucy is 14-months-old tomorrow. She is super cute, but man, I'm tired! I took the kids to a bouncy house place this morning...she is fearless!
A couple of local friends have told me that they miss my blog! That was so nice to hear. I'm still planning on taking most of June off from blogging, but today I had a desire to, here I am. Maybe I'll try to post something just once a week (that will still leave me time to devote to other projects...or so I tell myself!). :)

Last night Daddy brought home new books from the library. This is always a good day in our house. The kids love sitting and just looking at the pictures. Gianna is very motivated to learn to read...I wish I was as motivated to teach her (it's not that I don't want's just hard to find one-on-one time with her)!

Daddy picked out a book (I have found it's much easier for Daddy to do this on his lunch hour than me trying to watch kids and pick out decent books!) called "The Book That Eats People" by John Perry. He thought it sounded funny.

I was running around putting away laundry as Daddy sat down to read the bedtime stories. He picked the above-mentioned book first. He was announcing the title as I walked into the room.

I immediately had my doubts. I thought it sounded too scary for our young crew. Sure enough, Joseph jumped up to get behind Daddy at the sound of the title.

My fear was confirmed as soon as we started the tuck-in routine. Gianna announced that she was too scared to go to sleep. Joseph was acting a little funny too. We went through all the reassurances (your Guardian Angel and Jesus and Mary are with you, here's some holy water, Mommy will be right downstairs, etc.). I didn't have a good feeling as I took a shower and retired to the couch (Daddy had to go back to work).

So began my relaxing (sarcastic) hour of free time before I went to sleep. Gianna came down first. She went back upstairs with Rosary beads in each hand...only to reappear 10 minutes later. I told her that she could sit with me for 5 minutes (as I quickly changed the channel from the episode of Criminal Minds that would scare her even more!).

After five minutes, I told her that it was time to go back to bed. She then presented me with two things that she knew that I could not resist (I could tell she had been thinking about something as she had been quiet for 5 minutes...this child loves to talk!).

The first thing: "Mommy, how about if I give you a back rub first?"

Ha! It had been a very long day and this was definitely not the night that I had planned. A back rub sounded heavenly (even if it was just 6-year-old fingers doing the job).  "You win," I thought! 5 more minutes.

I thanked her and told her that it was time to go to bed. She pulled the Rosary beads out of her pocket. How about if we just pray to Mary first?

ER!  She had me. I had actually been feeling a little guilty that I turned on the TV instead of praying (I often try to say my bedtime prayers before TV because I fall asleep the second that my head hits the pillow!).

"You win again," I thought. One decade of the Rosary.

She tried for another decade...or scratching my legs...but I won this time. I sent her to bed. Just in time for Joseph to wake up...

I think I will be previewing all books from now on! Although, a back rub and a decade of the Rosary just *might* have been worth it...