Thursday, August 29, 2013

The hugest...

Cecilia is the happiest child in the house today. Because, she informed me: "She is the hugest child here!"

Meaning that, Gianna and Joseph are at school ALL DAY!!! Cecilia is quite pleased with this arrangement! She can choose a princess movie every day during rest time (until Justin gives up his nap, that is!)...and no one will object! Happiness is...

Joseph was off to kindergarten this morning. He was so excited and happy about it that I couldn't even feel sad! I've been praying for him all day. Fortunately, the other three are keeping me plenty busy (we had a ridiculous trip to Walmart!), so I haven't really had a chance to miss him...and their bus is due back in 35 minutes or so!!!

The smallest child in the house (for another month or so!) just woke up from her nap (very unhappy!) so I must run. Have a blessed day everyone!

Monday, August 26, 2013

It just feels right (to me)...

First day of first grade today for Gianna! She was so excited to have Nana and Uncle Mike stay to put her on the bus (they left for their trip home to Boston soon afterward). 

It *almost* makes me feel like a bad mom to say this, but I'm SO glad that she's at school! Also, it *almost* makes me feel like a bad daughter to say this, but I'm so glad that my mom's on her way back home!

The other four kids and I had a nice playground play date (mainly because it is a little kid friendly playground so I was not worried about my 8-month pregnant body chasing Lucy up structures...ha!), and then we headed to the library. When we got home, the kids all played very nicely before lunch while I did tons of laundry. I was feeling a little giddy that our 9-month school routine and "normal"  is returning.

I was reflecting (over laundry...a brief chance to be alone with my thoughts!) on why I feel so happy that one of my children is gone for the day and that my mom is gone after a great 5-day visit. It's most definitely NOT that I don't love my daughter dearly and that I didn't have an awesome time with family making precious, priceless memories. 

I think it's more that this is just right. Kids grow up and leave (I know some people home school and I admire and respect this...but I do NOT feel called to do this!). Gianna is leaving me and I left my mom (and dad).

Gianna is almost 7, and she is attending a wonderful 1st grade class (I was thoroughly impressed) where she will continue to blossom into the young woman that God is calling her to be. This is a blessing, and I think it is right. I grew up and left my parents...and it brings me comfort and joy that they are still happily married and growing older gracefully...together (my mom was actually here over their 39th anniversary...the first one that they've ever been apart!). I know she missed him (and she is excited to go back to work tomorrow...she works in a school). This is also a blessing, and I think it is right.

Not to mention that Gianna and I tend to get on each other's nerves (a little honesty!), and same goes for my mom and me (a little more honesty!). At least for me, a little absence makes the heart grow fonder in appreciation.

I think I am writing this because I'm justifying my feelings to myself :). I just read TONS of facebook posts with VERY sad mommies. There was a occasional happy mommy and a few funny posts about regaining sanity, but for the most part, moms are not happy about kids growing up and starting school again. 

Perhaps I will write a very different post on Thursday when I put Joseph on the bus for the first time!!! My mind and thoughts do change of the *blessings* of being a woman!?

Happy back to school everyone. Thank you God for all your many blessings! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Goodbye summer!

Happy that my children are enjoying their early years so much!
My mother and brother are in town from Boston for a few days. We are having so much fun on these last days of summer vacation! I don't really have any deep thoughts to write about, but I just wanted to post some kind of update...

I had my ultrasound and baby (31 weeks) looks great! It's crazy that the baby is only estimated at 3.5-4 pounds when I have gained so much weight :). She asked if I wanted to know the gender. So darn tempting!!! But, then I wouldn't have my "moment" of the big reveal...I consider it my prize after labor (especially since I truly don't have strong feelings about wanting one gender over the other...I know that I, God willing, will be so happy!).

Hubby and I had a date the other night (that's what happens when babysitters come to town!). It was nice to reconnect...even though I was very jealous of his cold beer (I had a cup of lukewarm decaf coffee!).

Last night my husband, brother, and local brother-in-law went to the Harrisburg Senators (minor league baseball team) game. I love that my brother and husband got to spend time together...I wish we were closer and it could happen more often! My mom and I stayed back at the house and had a nice face-to-face talk (something else that I wish could happen more often!). 

Tonight my mom is staying home to babysit so that me, my husband, and brother can go out (we're trying to hit all the combinations!). I am really looking forward to this. I don't get out often enough. It's just hard to leave five small children with a babysitter...and honestly, I lack the energy most nights anyway!

Gianna starts 1st grade on Monday. I went to orientation and met her teacher. I was very impressed and I'm excited for this next stage in her life. She's SO ready!

Joseph and I have kindergarten orientation on Wednesday. Ready or not...I'm going to put my second baby on the bus. He's so NOT ready!

Lucy is having ear tube surgery on September 3rd. I am hopeful that this will improve her health (chronic ear infections take a toll on everyone...especially her!). 

Cecilia had her 4-year well visit this week and she actually LIKED getting her shots (weird child!) because she was happy that she would get a band aid and a sticker!!! Poor thing didn't like the shots much the next day when she had a fever and a very sore arm :( ! She's very excited for Pre-K! She is so ready also.

Justin is just about 3. I've written about this age so many times before. This is such a hard age for me. He is so physically cute that I want to hug him all day, but he will scream at the top of his lungs for any offense...I often cannot determine if he has gotten hurt...or if someone just looked at him wrong! And, talk about stubborn. Oh well...this too shall pass. He's excited to start school  for the first time in his life!

God Bless and keep us all as we enter this new season of our life's journey. Fall is by far my favorite season, so I am happy that it's (almost) here...

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Chronic Problem...

We are back! I disappeared from blogging for a week because we were enjoying some end-of-summer family time.

We spent last Tuesday at a cool museum called Hands On House in Lancaster, PA...

On Wednesday we enjoyed a local wildlife park (kinda weird to see jungle animals in Central Pennsylvania!). Daddy took the kids on the tour. The pregnant lady and the toddler stayed back...neither of us would have done well on a 45-minute bumpy safari ride!

On Thursday, we spent the day at Idlewild Amusement Park in Ligioner, PA. It was very fun (and whole body was hurting by the end as we lasted 7 hours there!). The highlight for Joseph was seeing a Thomas the Train show. Since he was 2, Joseph has loved Thomas. I will be sad on the day that he no longer plays with his trains (by far, the best money Santa ever spent on toys!).

We then met up with my husband's family for a reunion at Seven Springs Resort in western PA. The kids had the time of their young lives with all their cousins! We will have great memories of the time that we were able to spend together. We had beautiful surroundings and gorgeous weather to boot!

It was so nice to celebrate my 38th birthday on Sunday with extended family as well as my immediate family! I woke up in the middle of the night and realized it was my birthday. It was a great chance to say prayers of thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, I didn't taken any pictures the whole weekend. I was too busy chasing Lucy around...she wanted to keep up with the big kids :).

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the campus of St. Vincent's College in Latrobe, PA. I had no idea how beautiful it would be! The picture at the top was taken in the magnificent church. I finally bought a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe to proudly display in my house! We could only visit the campus and church a short time (because we had five monkeys running around!), but I managed to squeeze in a few prayers.

I am 30 weeks pregnant today. Praise God! I went to doctor this morning and everything is going well. I have to have an ultrasound in a few weeks to check on a few things, so it'll be a chance to see baby again before we meet him/her!

The title of this post is Chronic Problems. I had to laugh out loud as I read the papers handed to me by the receptionist after my prenatal appointment this morning. It was a summary of my appointment and a prescription for my upcoming ultrasound. On the last page, there was a heading called "Chronic Problems."

Apparently, the fact that I am over 35 is a "chronic problem!"

Oh well...I'll live with it. Feeling very blessed...

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Game on...

It is Monday...and there are only two more weeks of summer! This summer has actually been quite nice, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't excited for the start of school (perhaps I won't say this so freely when I have older kids who will have projects, over-my-head math homework, etc. to complete!).

Anyway, it is one of the first days this summer that we had absolutely nothing planned. All the camps (and we did a bunch of camps!) are over. Most of my friends are busy enjoying some end-of-summer family time. There was a mom's club playdate at a local park with a wading creek. It is lovely there, but five wet kids (and fear of having to chase Lucy INTO the creek!) made that a no-go for us!

So, we went to the mall. It was actually a nice outing (always hit-or-miss for me!). We spent some time at the Bass Pro Shop looking at the fish and animals (although Gianna was asking an awful lot of questions about why there were dead animals hanging everywhere...hmm...never thought about it!). Then we went to the indoor playground. There was only one other child there (extremely rare). He was about 5-years-old. Luckily, he and my kids got into a very lively, good-natured game of tag!

The kids got hungry for lunch early (I never cease to be amazed at how soon they want to eat again...not that I can talk!). We went up to the food court for some pizza. We squished around a food court table and everyone was eating nicely. It was wonderful.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly woman with a walker very slowly approaching our table. I looked up and smiled. I could tell that she wanted to talk to us.

She came up to us and made the sign of the cross to give us a blessing. She commented on  our "beautiful family"...three girls and two boys...and then noticed that I'm pregnant (hard to miss, but I was sitting down!). She told me to stand up. "Okay!?," I said.

She then informed me that we are having another boy. I told her that was possible, but we didn't know the gender. She said that she just knew that it was a boy. I was wondering if she had an "in" with God (she seemed like a holy woman because of the blessing and medals around her neck). But rather, she told me, it is because of how I am carrying the baby in front. If it was a girl, the weight would be more in my hips and butt (funny, I think I've gained plenty of weight in my hips and butt...HA!).

Justin (almost 3) looked at her in the eye with a defiant look. He told her, "NO. When I'm "free" (he'll be three next month), I am having a baby SISTER."

She told him again that it's a boy. I waited for Justin's response. He kept the look on his face but decided not to engage. Smart boy...I wouldn't mess with her either!

"Game On," I thought! As I told my husband this morning, this baby is due to come (God willing) in 10 short weeks.

Can't wait to see who is right!!! God Bless this baby boy or girl and all elderly people (beginning with our friend from today!).

Friday, August 9, 2013

The beginning...

This is me in September 2006 holding my one-week-old baby. I am smiling in the picture, but I remember exactly how I felt. I was more than in love with my precious bundle of joy, but I was a complete wreck inside.

For a good 3 weeks (before I went to the doctor wondering how I could keep functioning while feeling so sad, so anxious, so irritable, so on the verge of complete meltdown any second, etc.), I remember wondering how it was possible that the world was continuing on around me.

Fortunately, I have not had such postpartum depression symptoms since then as I have received progesterone shots after each subsequent birth (and for 6 weeks after). They are life-saving to me in the postpartum phase! I can function while feeling relatively (as much as possible with a newborn!) normal.

Anyway, during that first week of being a mom, I desperately wanted friends! We had moved to Harrisburg from the Washington, D.C. area the previous year, but I had spent the entire year working a number of odd jobs (mainly substitute teaching, but also doing some temp work and taking some classes). This kept me very busy, but it did not leave much time for building a support system. I had wonderful support systems in the Boston area and in the D.C. area, but they couldn't help me much in Harrisburg!

I hesitantly called the number for a group called the New Mom Network. They met every Tuesday at 1 p.m. in a room above a grocery store. It was about a half hour drive from my house, but that definitely didn't matter!

The nice lady on the phone that I could start attending whenever, but I probably wanted to wait a few weeks until I was ready to get out (I told her that I had a 1-week-old). I hung up the phone and cried...two weeks from then felt eternal...I needed friends IMMEDIATELY!

Long story short (too late, right!?), I survived the next two weeks (and I got to the doctor for some hormone help!). I showed up at the New Mom Network and sat down in a circle next to all the other moms and babies. Gianna slept the entire time in the baby carrier. I was scared to death that she would wake up because I had never breastfed in public...ha (now I can't think of a place that I haven't breastfed)!

One mom in particular (Jenn with baby Maddie) was extremely friendly and welcoming. She went out of her way to introduce me to people and to make sure that I felt included. I remember how I drove home that day with a big smile...I now had a friend! I will never forget her kindness at a time in my life when I needed it most...

For the next four years, there was a group of us that got together every single Tuesday. Once our babies became crawlers, we left the grocery store room and headed to living rooms instead! Some of my best memories of being a new mom are from my times with this group.

I left the group when Gianna turned 4 for a number of reasons (primarily that she was in preschool every morning and by then I had four kids). But, I kept in touch with Jenn through the years. Sometimes we wouldn't see each other for four and five months at a time, but we would catch up right where we left off (friends like those are the best, no!?).

The reason that I mention this today is that I just said goodbye to her on Wednesday. She is moving about two hours away to be near her husband's family. Although there is hope that we will meet up again (and there's always facebook so I can watch her kids grow up!), there is the sadness of saying goodbye.

Perhaps the start of my third trimester and the realization that (God willing), I will soon have another new life to care for and treasure, has me nostalgic for Gianna's first days...

Goodbye and God Bless, Jenn! No doubt you will continue to touch lives and make many friends in this new chapter of your life. Thank you for your friendship and best of luck!

Here's to moms supporting moms. We can't do this alone :). Thank you God for the gift of friendship. God Bless all new moms...that they may get the support that they need.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Enjoying my boys...

Last Thursday and Friday, my three oldest kids were at a vacation bible school all day (8:45-4 p.m.). They loved it (although I think it was a very long day for them!), and so did I!

I read a whole book at nap time on Friday. Granted, it was a very short book. But, I read it straight through without getting up to attend to the kids (even during nap/resting time, they find me!).

That said, I did really start to miss them...I was ready to get them back starting around 3 p.m. It was a good reminder of how blessed I am to stay at home (and that I do enjoy my crazy life!).

The highlight was spending one-on-one time with Justin (age 2-1/2) on Thursday afternoon. Lucy is not a good napper, but she randomly slept longer than Justin.

I thought we would work on potty training. This proved to not be fun for either of us! So, we abandoned this plan.

I asked him what he would like to do. I realized that he probably never gets asked this...he is simply dragged to stores/sibling's events/playdates/church/etc. without a vote (good thing he is a laidback good sport!).

Imagine my surprise when he said that he wanted to give me a foot rub!!! "Really!?!" I asked. Of all the fun things in the world (well, we were pretty limited since we couldn't leave the house!), he wanted to give mom a foot rub. SCORE!

There was way too much lotion used (the best part for him was access to the lotion), but we both enjoyed it! My feet have never been so moisturized. What a special gift!

Joseph (age 5) has been playing with his Toy Story toys a lot recently. I love watching him play (he is just like Andy in the movie!).

I am excited for the start of school later this month (and having a routine that lasts for a bit!), but I am sad for Joseph to go to full-day kindergarten. I'm not sure if it'll be harder on him or me! He is going to a great Catholic school that does not have a half-day option. We believe it is the right decision, but it'll be a big adjustment!

Anyway, he was playing with his Toy Story gang after soccer camp today. He paused and asked me if he should go to college some day (like the character Andy does in Toy Story 3).

I told Joseph that we would love it if he went to college (in the very far away future...). He then asked if Daddy and I went to college. I said that we did.

He paused before asking, "What toys did you give away?" (at the end of Toy Story 3, Andy stops to drop off some toys to a young girl before he leaves for college).

Without thinking much, I said, "I think Nana and Papa gave away all toys by then, so I didn't have any toys to give away.

Joseph's face fell. WOOPS!!! Probably TMI for a kid who hasn't even gone to kindergarten yet!

Today is another picture-perfect sunny, low humidity day in Central PA. Thank God for blessings galore (and a house full of toys!) here...I hope your day is filled with great things too. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Things we don't have...

Because we have a big(ger) family (on one limited income!), there is a lot that we simply cannot do.

For example, most of my friends have Hersheypark season passes. Why not!?! It makes so much sense as there is an amusement park in our backyard! However, the cost (you pay per family member...not just one flat family membership fee) is just not feasible for our family...especially since we have been adding a member every 18 months...HA!

I am not complaining at all. There are countless blessings to having a big family. I was reminded on a picture perfect afternoon this week when my kids all played very nicely together in the backyard for almost two hours...I just sat there and watched...and felt amazed at how many precious, unique, irreplaceable human souls God has created to be in our family!

I have a lot of friends who have chosen to have two children. Please know, I am NOT judging them. God blesses married couples with reason and wisdom to discern their family is absolutely not my place to judge! My responsibility is to get my spouse and my children to heaven (and hopefully get there myself too), I have way more than enough going on to judge myself...ha!!! 

That said, one of the main reasons that families stop at two children...and again, this may be the right thing for finances. Lord knows that we're doing a lot of trusting that God will keep providing (in addition to trying to make sound, responsible decisions with our money). But, I did stop and wonder for a second this week if we would have things like Hersheypark season passes if we had less children. 

The answer was so simple as I looked at my younger children running around with their siblings. They don't need amusement park passes...they need each other! And, I am eternally grateful to God for the gift of these children who have blessed our family every 18 months or so. Our wallets might be shrinking, but our hearts are bursting :).

And...another benefit...a trip to Hersheypark is a major highlight of our summer (we are usually able to go at least once a husband has been lucky to win a raffle at work for several years now, friends give us comp tickets, etc.).

We went on Monday, and everyone (except Lucy who is not able to enjoy amusement parks yet...too much time in the stroller!) had the time of their young lives! We have a new camera, and I have a bunch of pictures that I want to download right now...but it's not happening (guess I better stop blogging and start reading the manual!).