Friday, September 27, 2013

Feeling like a man (I'm guessing...)

This picture has nothing to do with this post...except I remembered that pregnant women aren't supposed to be in petting zoos (as I was taking this picture)...woops!

I am 36 weeks pregnant now. And, I'm SO ready to have baby next to me and not in me!

But, as much as I would like to have baby out as soon as he/she is full-term (God willing) next week, I need to worry about childcare. I told my husband that he could just drop me off at the hospital if need be (if the baby comes unexpectedly before family arrives to help). He really didn't like that idea!

Truth be told, I hate it too...but, I would have much more peace of mind knowing that my children at home were okay and no one was being inconvenienced for too long (I am blessed with amazing friends who I know will help in any way that we need...but, they all have their own families, so we certainly don't want to burden anyone!).

It's so out of my hands! I need to trust that everything will happen exactly as God wants...even though I'm terrible at letting go of control...especially when it comes to my kids (aren't we all, moms!?).

So, when I say I'm ready to have baby out...I'm definitely talking about physically. I am excited to get my body back! Of course, it won't look like I want it to for quite some time...but, at least I will be able to bend over, get off the couch without a big fuss, and sleep (I actually sleep much better...even feeding baby every few hours...than I do in the third trimester!).

I am NOT talking about emotionally. I know that a lot of women are MORE emotional when they are pregnant. And, hormones are to blame. But for me...for whatever is the complete opposite. 

When I am pregnant, I am very steady emotionally. There are no cycles to mess up my hormones and moods, impulses, etc.! I joke that I feel "like a man" must feel all the time! And, I love it. I am not overly emotional about things at certain times of the month...and everyone in my life really benefits!!! It is something that I am very sad to see go...because, even though I receive progesterone injections which are life-saving for me emotionally during the postpartum phase, my cycles are soon to return because of this (despite breastfeeding).

And, cycles mean dealing with myself as less than the person, wife, and mom that I want to be...once a quick month for at least a week. Hormone profiling has been invaluable (anyone interested should look into Naprotechnology created by Dr. Hilgers) to help, I can function. But, it's not perfect and I still miss that aspect of pregnancy (of course, I haven't had to miss it long yet...ha!).

I bet you've never heard a 9-month pregnant woman say that she feels like a man before, huh!? HA!

I pray that God will safely deliver this baby into our family...and that I will not be anxious about all that is out of my control. As we all know, worry adds nothing fruitful to our lives. I would appreciate any prayers!

St. Gerard, please pray for me and my baby, and for all women (especially those suffering from loss of a child or infertility). 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

St. Pumpkin...

We are still deciding on a name for this baby (and not knowing the gender isn't helping!).

We have only a few names that are in the running for each gender. The main thing that we agree on is that we would like to choose a saint's name (all of our children have saint's names for both first and middle names). So, I am re-reading all of my books about saints to see if any names jump out at me (even though this is pretty useless at this husband vetoes a lot of my favorites...and has for five previous babies!).

One of my favorite books (well worth the read even when I'm not trying to pick a name!) is 'The Incorruptibles' by Joan Carroll Cruz. It is "a study of the incorruption of the bodies of various Catholic saints and beati." Meaning, it is a book about the known saints whose bodies did not decay (even centuries) after their deaths.

It is completely fascinating to me! And, if you are having a "down" day when it comes to your faith in God, this book will help you believe again really fast...because, this incorruption thing is completely unnatural and miraculous!!!

Anyway, I was "reading" (more like scanning a couple of saints) this book one afternoon last week. One thing that came up for multiple saints was a "heavenly aroma" surrounding their dead bodies. It is described as the "best scent they've ever smelled"...and they're talking about dead bodies. I'm no expert, but I don't think they're supposed to smell that good :).

I was contemplating this "heavenly scent" as I went into the family room to snuggle with Cecilia (her movie had ended and she was debating what to do next). Suddenly, I smelled something...heavenly!?! So strange.

It was definitely coming from my daughter...but, I was at a loss as she hadn't showered since the previous night. I asked why she smelled so tasty!?! She said, "You know that new soap in the bathroom...I just washed my feet."

OH...I had forgotten about the new soap (a good friend had given it to me for my birthday...gotta love little thoughtful gifts!). My husband must have found it and put it in the bathroom for my playdate this morning. Mystery solved...

Too bad Pumpkin Cupcake isn't a name in the running :).

God Bless the baby inside of me...whatever his/her name is! I'm going to get off the computer now and browse another book!

I didn't realize that Cecilia was into washing her feet in her spare time!

Friday, September 20, 2013


Here's a picture of my kids back in August. I had a humorous conversation with some preschool moms at the playground this morning. One was lamenting the official end of summer (hence my summer picture...I was trying to remember some of the fun we had this summer!).

Anyway, this mom was suggesting (in good fun) that fall is for nothing more than introducing winter when everything is just...dead. The whole season just depresses her!

How opposite from how I view fall! For me, summer is the season to merely survive...while fall is for beginnings, beautiful crisp days, sweatshirts/sweatpants (my favorite), apple picking, pumpkins, hay rides, warm drinks, snuggling up with cozy blankets, sleeping better at night, etc.! Not to mention the anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The only thing that I don't love about fall (and it's probably my husband's favorite part of the return of 3-4 hour football games on TV that trump all other potential weekend plans!).

Anyway, I saw yesterday that my blog has now had 5000 views since I officially started telling people about it last summer. For most bloggers, these stats might be pathetic...but for me, I feel psyched and honored (I block my own views from being I think these stats are real...ha!?)!

I pray to be humble (because I know that is how Jesus wants me to be), but there is such a big part of me that wants to be recognized, heard, respected (don't we all?!). This is coupled with a deep desire to bring others to God and to make this journey (of being a stay-at-home mom of many blessings) "count." I know this job (the most important one that I've ever had/will have) is "ENOUGH," but I was feeling quite untapped until I found a public voice on this blog.

I think these needs were filled quite naturally when I was a teacher (after all, I was the one up in front of the class day after day...students had no choice but to listen to me...and, as I taught at a Catholic high school, I found tons of ways to share my faith through prayer, stories, etc.!), but it's harder to feel validated when it's you and little tiny people day after day!

Anyway, a sincere thanks to all who read. I am happier on days that I seems to "refresh" me for the afternoon/evening. And, more importantly, it helps me achieve my goal for keeping a blog at recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate all of God's amazing blessings each and every day (especially the hidden ones that tend to come to light when I sit down to vent (write!).

Here's to 5000 more (I humbly ask...) :o)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I have resisted letting technology come into my far. Of course, as I write this, three of the kids are glued to the TV screen (Catholic schools are off today for a conference, so everyone is home!). So, I haven't totally shunned it...we all need a little down time! But, there is no cable...only PBS and videos that I buy (the nice thing about this is that they do not see commercials with the latest toys...).

I am talking more about the Nintendo DS, Kindle, Wii type of things...

I am not going to debate the pros/cons of such things as I grew up with early versions, and I *think* I'm okay! And, I know a lot of my friends enforce usage rules to limit harm done.

But, for us, so far, I'm happy to keep our lives a little simpler. Not to say that my children are not Kindergartener and 1st grader have Smart Boards in their classrooms, they are allowed an occasional educational game on the family computer, and they'll often ask me to text or e-mail a friend's mom to set up a playdate. So, they are well aware...

My husband and I have had conversations about buying a Wii (or something else) for the family. And, I'm positive that we will as the kids get older...but so far, we haven't. We always seem to have the conversation and come around to the same conclusion...not yet.

I do admit to going stir crazy with the children at times, but there are awesome benefits to limiting TV/computer/etc. exposure. For example, the $3 male and female scarecrows in the above picture. Those, coupled with the 3-year-old crown which Justin received at preschool, have provided HOURS of imaginative play at my house over the past 48-hours.

I picked up the scarecrows at Christmas Tree Shop thinking that they would look cute on my porch. I had no idea that they would quickly become members of the family. The children (without exception) love them. This has happened countless times before (I spend very little money on something small, and provide limitless mistake!). It never fails to amaze me!

I am trying to appreciate and cultivate the simple joys and blessings of childhood...playing with siblings, entertaining yourself (no screens allowed!), fresh air, imagination, and laughter! I'm trying to think of the quarrels/meltdowns that inevitably occur (after all, there are only 2 scarecrows for 5 children!) as character building (for me and them)!!! On occasion, they will problem solve and figure out new ways to share/include others on their that!

Happy fall (almost...3 days or so until my favorite season officially begins...)! Not sure if those scarecrows will ever grace my porch, but regardless, the best $6 I've spent in a long time!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Attitude adjustment...

Snuggling birthday buds!
Someone needs an attitude adjustment today.'s ME! Okay, I'm not the only one who's been cranky today...but currently, the preschooler and toddler are hopefully their attitudes will be much improved after a little shut eye!

It is a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon. The sun is bright in the sky, about 75 degrees, low humidity, etc. This is the kind of day that, in my prior life, I would have gone hiking. When my husband and I were dating, we lived in the Washington D.C. area, and there are some beautiful national parks within a short drive. We spent many a weekend afternoon enjoying nature and exercise!

Well, my body can't really imagine hiking right's kind of hard to get up out of this chair! But, I would still love to be on a date with my husband right now savoring this afternoon. Rather, I am here with four of my children (five, I guess, if I count the little one kicking me at the moment!). I am keenly aware that this is also quite the blessing (once we were married, I'm remembering how our hikes were a little lonely when we were experiencing infertility!).

Someone else is having a special day with my husband. It is my 7-year-old, Gianna. She is playing a soccer game right now, and then she and Daddy are going to Hersheypark for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Someone at work gave my husband two tickets, and we knew this would be the PERFECT gift for Gianna.

The time alone with one of her parents would be really be special enough, but the fact that she'll be at the "sweetest place on earth" do you beat that!? My husband is thrilled that she is tall enough to go on several roller coasters he has a partner to enjoy amusement parks with (I hate roller coasters, so that was never a good date for us!).

I want my daughter to have this day. I remember my 7th birthday very clearly (some of the others...even older ones...not so much). Why wouldn't I want her to make these special memories to treasure? I am ditched on Sunday afternoon!!

And, this is one of only two days of the week that I should have help with the children and companionship for myself! I've written countless times that late afternoons are very hard for me. I'm good in the mornings (after my raisin bran and coffee!), early afternoon, after dinner, and even bedtime has its charms...but not so much from around 3:30-5:30 (can you say very needy, cranky children!?)! Playdates help, but now that I have two kids who don't get off the bus until 3:45, there just isn't much time to play before I have to make dinner in time for soccer practice, swimming lessons, etc.

So, I am writing this blog post so I remember to take the high road. My gift to Gianna is not  Hersheypark...but, to be truly happy for her (and to not take my mood out on the other children!). I am sacrificing something (family time with Daddy) for someone that I love...and, isn't this what being a parent is all about?!

This quote by Mother Teresa is helping me (a little!):

  “It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Or, this one by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

"Teach us to give and not to count the cost."

I don't know what's on tap for after nap time/resting time is over, but I'm *trying* to change my attitude :)!

Happy Birthday, Gianna! I love you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Birthday buds...

Today is a very special day in our house. Two birthdays...four years apart!

Gianna finally understands why they are not twins even though they share their special day! So, instead of being her twin, Justin is her "birthday bud!"

When Gianna came downstairs this morning, the first thing she did was run down to the basement to wish Justin a Happy Birthday! I love their bond...I hope he's always the first person she thinks of when she wakes up on September 13th (and vice versa!).

Luckily, this year on September 13th, I am thanking God for my sweet children...and not remembering all the pain that this particular day has meant in my past :). This is a good thing for a lady not too far away from giving birth again...

Happy 7th and 3rd guys! We love you!

Cecilia helped me make the cupcakes yesterday. She is loving some one-on-one time in the afternoons when little ones are sleeping and big ones are at school :).

We celebrated Justin's birthday with a fun playdate this morning. Gianna is having cupcakes with her class and then we'll sing tonight!

Lucy loved her cupcake!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another reason...

...why Jesus wants us to be like children...

Yesterday, September 8th, was the Blessed Virgin Mary's birthday. I saw it posted on facebook (I get the daily feed from a number of nice Catholic sites) first thing in the morning, and in my head I muttered, "Oh yeah...Happy Birthday, Mary." I said it again to a statue of her at Mass. That was it!

Compare that to the reaction of my 7-year-old, Gianna. I told her over breakfast that it was Mary's birthday. She was overjoyed! Immediately she thought of cake (this child seriously likes treats!). I told her that since I will be making a cake later this week (we have two kids who have a birthday on September 13th...including Gianna's 7th), I did not want to make one. She was only momentarily disappointed.

After breakfast, she asked for a piece of white paper (my children seem to think that creativity can only happen on a completely blank piece of white paper!). She drew her version of Our Lady of Guadalupe (there are three variations in the picture above!) and an "I Love Mary" sign. She hung them up to honor Mary. We also sang Happy Birthday at each meal AND after bedtime prayers. Lucy loved this as her language development is exploding and she loves recognizable melodies!

I can't help but think that Mary must be quite pleased! And I feel like quite the slacker :). Maybe (or maybe not...there's dishes and laundry and a 4-year-old who could use some one-on-one time while the others nap/at school!)...I will get off the computer and try to squeeze in a few decades of the Rosary...

Or, maybe I could make that cake (is two cakes in one week such a bad thing!?).

Happy Birthday, Mary! I pray that Gianna will hold on to her enthusiasm...and continue to bring me (and hopefully others) closer to our Blessed Mother and her Son!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Changing Roles...

Gianna is going to be 7 next week. She's very excited for her birthday. We're not having a party, so I gave her a list of special things that she can choose from. She is having a lot of fun thinking about how much fun she will have!

I'm not feeling sad about her turning 7. I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that she is very much still a little girl (mentally, that is)...she is physically tall for her age, so most people think she is in 2nd or 3rd grade rather than 1st!

She is still into princesses and she wants to be a ballerina when she grows up (interesting choice as she has never even taken ballet!). This is all great with me. I have no desire for her to discover the tween-ish things that some of her friends have moved on to!

She is incredibly sweet and affectionate. And, of all my children, she craves adult attention THE MOST! I sometimes feel bad that I am not able to give her all the time and attention that she desires...but, I hope that being a loved member of a large(r) family will serve her well in the long run...and help her develop strong morals, values, and an unselfish character!

All 5 kids doing a craft together at the local nature center!
 Luckily, SO FAR, I have been able to take all of my children to a place...and they all have fun (a benefit to being so close in age!). This has been the case at the local mall. There is an indoor playground (thank goodness during the long winters!), and all of my children run around, make friends, and enjoy themselves.

That is...until they "upgraded" the playground last week.

They have been talking about upgrades for a long time, and I was excited (it has been the exact same since I started taking Gianna there as a toddler). It was kinda getting worse for all the wear.

We went to the mall on Saturday (it was a super humid day and I wanted an indoor location!). We got to the playground, and my first thought was, "Oh NO!" Although nice (with a new heavily padded rug), it was definitely geared toward the 3 and under crowd (although my 4- and 5-year-olds seemed quite pleased).

Upon discovering this, Gianna said to me, "What am I supposed to do here!?" I was a little sad as this was the first time that I felt that I could not happily entertain all the children at the same place! It had been a great convenience. I knew the day would come...but I wasn't ready for it!

In a moment of grace (thanks, Holy Spirit), I told Gianna that her new role could be a Mother's Helper. I told her that Lucy, age 1, would need help navigating the new playground, and my pregnant body would just love to sit and watch rather than chasing a toddler! I wasn't sure if Gianna would go for it...

but...she did!!! And, she was fabulous with Lucy. Although Lucy wanted to do most things on her own (my fiercely independent climber), Gianna was attentive and quick to lend a hand so Lucy didn't fall. I could see that Gianna was very proud to be useful, and I enjoyed watching her in this new role...I hope that she continues to be my helper (in expanding ways) when this baby comes next month.

And...she can continue to enjoy princesses and dance around the living her free time...HA!

Gianna's "birthday bud" (she and Justin share a birthday!) is turning 3 next week. And, he started the new role of "preschool student" today!! He did tears! Because he has a September birthday, he had to go into the 2-year-old classroom this year. So, he'll be the oldest in the class. But, he looked very handsome and mature with his new (hand-me-down) backpack! I think he will love it.

After I dropped him off, I went upstairs to drop off Cecilia in her 4-year-old Pre-K class. We are so blessed to have amazing teachers at this great school! I know she will have an amazing year. She happily went into the same room that she watched Gianna and Joseph file into yesterday (I mean in years past!).

I got back into the elevator with Lucy...and I frantically started looking for Justin. My heart was in my throat because I thought I had left him somewhere. For three years, he has been at my side.......

Silly me! All these new roles...

God bless us and help us all!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Even If...

This is a picture of my brother and my two youngest kids. This post is not actually about them, but this picture is so much cuter than the ones of me (this post is about me!) lately!

I wanted to be in pictures with Gianna and Joseph on their first days of school this week. So I am...but, I just look so...big. Yes, I am 8 months pregnant. So, I know am supposed to be big(ger). But, I do not think I look attractive and radiant like some very pregnant women!!! I just think I look (and most definitely feel!)...big!

Anyway, I must look very pregnant because a number of people have asked me recently if I am due soon. And now that it's September, I can officially say that I am due next month! I am getting to the point where I tell people that I am definitely not ready for a baby (are we ever really!?), but I am more than ready to not be pregnant anymore (my body parts just alternate hurting!).

People (mostly strangers or new friends) have been asking me if I know what I am having. When I say that I do not, the answer often seems to be, "It doesn't matter!" I would be fine if they stopped there. I would agree with them!

But, they often add, " long as it's healthy." I know they are most often just making pleasant conversation and mean absolutely no harm...

But, I never respond. I just give an awkward half smile. Because...I still want and love this baby (just as God has made him/her)...even if he/she is not healthy.

It just makes me think of all the babies who are aborted because they are not perfect or not the right gender. And, it makes me think of our culture in general that does not value people with disabilities...although God does not make mistakes.

Of course, it is super easy for me to sit here and write this. Thank God (and I do), I have no reason to think that this baby is anything but healthy. The pregnancy is going well, and I have had two reassuring ultrasounds.

But, there is always a chance...

I do not have the grace or strength this day to even think about this as a possibility. A part of me would be devastated if there was something wrong with my baby, but...I know (thank you God for the gift of blind faith)...that it would be alright. That this baby would be a welcome and loved member of our family, and that God's plan would ultimately bring happiness and peace.

Again, this is very easy to write. But, I sincerely hope that I mean it...

Please God bless all unborn babies (healthy and not healthy)...and give all parents graces to accept the blessings that you send. I pray for an end to abortion and a change in the "culture of death" mentality.

Maybe I'll post a picture of myself...

in three months or so...ha!