Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Right where I'm supposed to be....

Don't have time to blog today, but I thought I'd share this piece that I wrote for Catholic365.com a few weeks back. Their site has wonderful material on it if you're interested! Have a blessed day!
Right where I'm supposed to be!
Photo Credit: Flickr/Caden Crawford

Friday, December 12, 2014

Come with me!

Handsome and beautiful for the Christmas show! It looks like Cecilia has too much lipstick on, but in reality,
her lips are just very chapped!
Last night my husband and I were lounging on the couch after the kids were in bed. He said that he would like to go to Mass this morning for Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day. He was thinking of going to the 8:30 a.m. Mass at our parish, which happens to be the school Mass (so our older kids would be there).

I was instantly sad for two reasons. Number one, if you read this blog, you might remember that I have a very special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her picture is in our hallway and I stop to talk to her often. I wanted to go to Mass too!

Number two, it meant that I would be left trying to get three kids (and me) ready and out the door for preschool by myself. This isn't a big deal, but it sure is nice to have an extra set of hands (usually my husband sticks around a little after the big kids get on the bus at 8 a.m. so I have a few minutes to get myself ready).

When I expressed the first reason to my husband (I kept the second reason to myself...this is my job as a stay-at-home mom...I'm sure that he has things that he doesn't like about his job too!), he simply said, "Come with me."

"Really!?!" I felt like asking him if he was nuts. We take all six children to Mass every Sunday, and it's less than fun (especially for me as I usually end up in the narthex with Lucy and Teresa). And this week, we went to Mass on Monday for the Immaculate Conception (with the three little kids as the big kids went to Mass at school)...the mishaps of that Mass were still fresh in my mind. Plus, it would be a rat race trying to get everyone out by 8:20 a.m.


I quickly decided that it would be good for me to go to Mass on such a special day. The benefits could greatly outweigh the hardships. Maybe the Eucharist would give me the grace and strength that I've been seeking this week (Teresa is kinda/sorta/not really weaning and it's making a mess of my hormones!). Plus, it felt nice to be invited somewhere. Even if it just was by my husband!

Mass was...as expected. I left very early with a screaming toddler who promptly took shaky steps right into the wall...and screamed even louder with a new goose egg. Lucy thought it was fabulous to go and out of the church door (it is much too crowded on Sunday's to play this fun game). I missed the Consecration so Lucy could spend some "I think I have to go" time on the potty.

But, I was there. And, the blessings, graces, and strength are coming (I just don't feel them yet...but that's faith, right!?!).

Wishing you a beautiful blessed Advent. I have very little time to write these days, but thanks for stopping by! Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us :).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Shock...

I told Gianna to brush her hair and it turned into a sister's hair party...love it :)
I started this post on Monday! Lucy stopped napping again, so writing just isn't happening...

Anyway, there was no school on Monday because it was the first day of deer hunting (that's not a big deal where I grew up, but it is here in Pennsylvania!). Luckily, I had some place fun to go with the kids.

Every year, my good friend Anna hosts a Toys for Tots (collecting new toys so unprivileged children will have something to open on Christmas morning) party on this day. It has grown from a handful of kids in her playroom to quite an event! It was held in the big fellowship hall at our preschool, and there was Zumba, Hershey characters, crafts, picture-taking stands, and tons of Christmas snacks. Everyone had a blast...and for such a great cause!!!

Getting out the door to this party was complete chaos. I sadly watched my husband get dressed and leave for work. That left me with seven people to get together before we went anywhere. You'd think the older kids would get dressed (appropriately) when I asked them, right? Too much to ask? I guess so!

Cecilia (age 5) and Lucy (age 2) actually love to dress themselves. And, if I let them pick their clothes...it's a win-win :). So, at least two out of seven were ready to go!

The rest was a ridiculous struggle (because I had to feed them breakfast too...lol!). After asking Justin (age 4) nicely no less than five times to take off his pajamas and put on the clothes that I had laid out for him, I finally lost my cool.

And, I'd be lying if I said that I regained it (my cool) before we left :). Somehow, everything happened and I sent the kids out to the minivan.
The Zumba instructor is helping Lucy bust a move (with a Hershey bar looking on!!!)
I asked...not holding my breath, of course...that everyone get themselves strapped into their car seats (and/or help the little ones who needed help).

I took the baby upstairs with me to brush my teeth. I assumed that I was going to open the garage door and find children gleefully playing. I was picturing Lucy in the driver's seat (she loves it there!), a few kids wandering around the front yard, and Daddy's yard tools (hanging in the garage) strewn about.

Instead...to my complete and utter shock, I opened the door to the garage and found five children strapped into their car seats. And, no one was fighting. In fact, it was...silent.

I just stared...and then I broke into a silly, goofy grin. I could feel my blood pressure returning to normal and my crankies melting away. Alleluia...someone had heard something that I said! And, not only heard it, but followed through!

"Oh wow!" Joseph said. "We made Mom happy!"

I asked if it was hard to make me happy. Joseph said, "Um...no...just get strapped into our seats." I said, "Actually, you did it the first time that I asked and without complaining."

And, Mommy wanted to sing, hug each of them, say prayers of thanksgiving, and dance. :)

I hoped it would sink in that I'm really not a cranky, scream-y, high stress, ready to explode Mommy...but I just get that way when I'm ignored (repeatedly). Lesson learned?


But, I'll call on that moment of opening that garage door often...because it means there is HOPE!!!!!

Wishing you a beautiful and blessed Advent, friends! Thanks for reading!

My sweet boys at the holiday train display at a downtown museum!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Marked Tardy

My big 1-year-old :)
This is my catholicmom.com piece for November if you missed it:

"OH! No wonder you were late," said the pleasant nurse after I told her the ages of my children (she had asked). There was only one problem. And, really it wasn't a problem at all. Rather, it was just the slight wounding of my pride.

"I wasn't late," I said a bit too harshly. "I was told to be here at 7 a.m., and I signed in at 7 a.m.!" She apologized and said that she hadn't noticed me in the waiting room (probably because I had taken the baby into the farthest corner so that she wouldn't disturb anyone!). I just smiled a fake smile.

My baby had arrived at 7 a.m. to have a bilateral myringotomy...otherwise known as ear tubes! After months of chronic ear infections, I was relieved that a procedure would take away her pain (and perhaps mean more sleep for both of us!).

Thank God, my prayers were answered and the short procedure was a success with no complications. Everyone was very competent, professional, and lovely to the baby. We were home by 8:30 a.m., and I could see the improvements in my baby immediately! All was great.

A few days later, I got the evaluation in the mail. Was I happy with the service that I had received? Yes! If so, would I please send in the questionnaire (very simple...just circle 1 to 5) in the pre-paid envelope?

All I could think of was what the nurse said to me about being late. I felt that she had judged me as a woman and as a mother. Sensitive much!? Trust me, I am well aware of my shortcomings as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc.! There's quite a list of things that I would like to change about myself and things that I am working on. But, being late is just not one of them!

Later than night, my 8-year-old daughter came downstairs in tears around 9 p.m. A little bit of honesty: It's very hard for me to be a loving, caring mother at 9 p.m. when I'm so wiped out myself. I tried though (this time)...really!

Turns out that her once-a-week computer class (which she had that day) was stressing her out. She said that the teacher pointed out that some students were clearly not trying their best because they did not finish the project. This devastated my daughter. She told me (and I truly believed her) that she DID try her best, but she's just not as fast as others (I can see this as she has very limited technology time at home). She said that she didn't finish...therefore she must be a terrible student.

I lovingly explained (luckily, I snapped back into maternal mode!) that this comment was not intended to hurt her...or even geared toward her at all (her teacher herself told me that she's in a "difficult" class). She internalized the message and it was making her feel rotten (not to mention anxious about her entire future!).

Hmmm...internalizing something and letting it take over your emotions. (Female anyone!?)

I want my children to be able to put things in perspective. How can I teach them this if it is one of my growing edges? I know emotions (and sensitivity, in particular) are gifts. But, letting them take over rational thought is not fair...to me or others!

My daughter actually came up with a beautiful solution for both of us. She asked me, "Will Mary help me with this if I ask her?" YES!!! She asked to be better at computers and I asked for graces to know my worth in God's eyes (lest I not be so concerned with what others think) and to take myself more lightly.

We said a Hail Mary together....and we both felt better.

And, I was late for preschool the very next day. I glanced at the clock...and smiled. If the nurse had said the exact same thing to me on that day, I would have readily agreed! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Extra Incentive...

Lucy's very first time on stage at preschool for Grandparent's Day...she nailed it :)
Last night Cecilia (age 5) was sitting in my lap playing with my hair. Suddenly she stopped and stared. Then, she was trying like crazy to "get something out of my hair." I knew what it was, but I didn't offer the answer. 

Finally she said, "Mommy, what are these white strings in your hair?" I said, "They're white hair." She gasped, "You mean, you're just like Elsa!?!" She seemed to love this development.

Ha! I wish I was as excited about my white hair (and they do seem to be white...not gray!). Luckily (unless I'm deceiving myself!), they're not too noticeable yet unless you are standing close to me and searching for them (at least that's what I tell myself!).

My sister is a hairdresser. She has an adorable salon in the Boston suburb that I grew up in. She offered a free haircut (badly needed!) and free highlights (would love!) for Christmas if we come up. Hmm...one more reason to make the trek to Boston!

Wishing all of you a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Thank you God for sending Jesus and for countless blessings in my family and in my country! Amen. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This is the day that the Lord has made!

A celebratory smile after a first step :)
Last night I captured this picture after Gianna was present for Teresa's first step. Gianna had been "teaching" her to walk right before the big moment! Of course, I was in the kitchen and I missed the step. I said, "I am with this baby 24/7! How is it possible that I missed it!?!" Oh well...hopefully there will be another "first" step because Teresa is 100% back to crawling today!

Anyway, last night I drove Gianna to basketball at 7 p.m. Her basketball class is 7:15 to 8:15 twice a week through January. I hate that it's so late. Gianna does well, but some of the other kids in the class appear to be overtired (read: acting crazy!) at that time of day. But, she really enjoys it, and that's only time for 2nd graders. So, out we went into the dark freezing cold night for basketball!!!

On our way, we drove by the Orange O at our neighbor's house. I've mentioned this several times before on the this blog. Our neighbors tragically lost their 8-year-old son three years ago when he was hit by a distracted driver. To honor him, they have created a foundation against distracted driving. At their home, they have the letter O in bright orange lights. It shines 365 nights a year.

I always say prayers when I drive by. I assume that Owen is in heaven so I ask him to pray...first and foremost for his mom, and then I add the rest of his family and our family too! Last night, I was very aware that I had an 8-year-old in the backseat. And, after some quick math, I realized that Gianna was EXACTLY the same age as Owen when he passed. This just made me pray for his mom even more (I think of his dad too, but my prayers come from one mother's heart to another). Needless to say, I really enjoyed basketball last night!

In action...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

In the moment...

A throwback to a year ago! A computer virus has sadly eaten all my recent pictures :(.
 I love remembering little baby Teresa though!
Today is Saturday. And, I am a single parent today as my husband is giving presentations at a big conference for our Diocese. I have not handled this day very well. It's easy to blame my children for being SO ridiculous!!!
No really, so ridiculous! There have been so many unavoidable tears this day that it's kind of insane! Just for an example, if Mommy says, "Take off your shoes when we get into the house," then you shouldn't wait until you're at the top of the stairs...and throw your shoes down the stairs for them to hit the several siblings running upstairs behind you. And, if Mommy says, "Please watch the baby for just a second when I wash my hands," you shouldn't give her a big cup of ice water (this baby did not sign up for the ice bucket challenge!).
But, they are children. I am supposed to be the adult who is in control of herself (if not her surroundings). I have pleaded and begged my older children to help me (for example, simply doing something the first time that I ask makes a huge difference in my sanity!). My pleads went unheeded by Gianna. I am amazed that so much attitude can come from an 8-year-old. I do remember being loaded with attitude as a child, but I could've sworn that I was older :).
I recently read about Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. I guess she had horrible temper tantrums as a child...until she received her First Holy Communion and became a totally different child at age 7. I have decided that I am going to ask her intercession as my Gianna prepares for her First Penance (January) and First Holy Communion (May). Of course, I am going to equally ask that she intercede for me as Gianna's mother. I know that a lot of her (Gianna's) behaviors could be eliminated if I was a more effective parent. I'm trying, but it's so hard to try to be loving, patient, just, and forgiving of first offenses when your adrenaline is pumping and you are angry...especially when you are trying to deal with other children at the same time!
Throwback of Gianna and Teresa! Both have grown so much this year. Gianna is a great girl...I got a very good report from her teacher at conferences this week! I'm so proud of her.
Joseph might have saved the morning. He was in a great mood. As he saw me begging Justin to take off his sleeper and get dressed this morning so we wouldn't be late getting Cecilia to dance, he said, "Mom, I'm going to say a Hail Mary for you right now." Ahhh...how did he know that this was the most perfect thing to do...like ever!?!
I was instantly more peaceful. Joseph loved my reaction so much (big hugs for that!) that he went on to say a Glory Be for his father and an Our Father for everyone in the world. Love that!!!
I must go now to wake the nappers (Lucy has been napping again...Alleluia!!!!!) so we can pick up Gianna at Brownies. Speaking of Brownies, I know that a lot of devout Catholics do not have their daughters participate in Girl Scouts because of their known connection to Planned Parenthood. This connection is troubling to me. But, our Diocese has wonderful Catholic scouting programs and at least right now (not sure about when she gets older), I love what she is learning (about her faith, leadership/friendship skills) and that she is completing service projects (they are making baskets of Thanksgiving food for the needy this afternoon). And, she LOVES it! Just FYI!
Have a blessed day, friends! It is 2:30 and Daddy should be home by 5. We'll be very happy to see him :).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

100% happy!

My sweet boys spent hours making a "bedroom" for their favorite stuffed animals (King the lion and Stripes the tiger)!
I'm so glad that God plans families. And, I'm so glad that we were open to His plans. When Cecilia was four months old, I started feeling strange. I was exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles, no pacifiers, etc.), she was not sleeping through the night, and my cycle had not returned. For these reasons, conceiving a child was not on my radar yet. Yes, our other kids were closely spaced, but I had a few cycles so I was not shocked when I was pregnant!

Anyway, I was at the mall one day in January of 2010 with Gianna, Joseph, and Cecilia. It's not a great mall, but it has an indoor playground which is key during Pennsylvania winters. I suddenly felt kind of lightheaded, and then I had a huge craving for McDonald's. I don't hate McDonald's food, but I certainly don't eat it often or "crave" it, either!

As I was navigating my preschooler, toddler, and infant through the mall, I passed by a dollar store. Hmmm...feeling faint and having cravings sounded familiar. I decided to get a $1 pregnancy test to put my mind at ease. Most moms can probably relate to the mental anguish you feel if you, "could be pregnant!?!?!"

I took the test right there at the mall...yes, with three little ones in the stall with me :). Fun times! As the line showed up within the three minutes, I couldn't wait to get home and call my husband (it didn't seem like an appropriate cell phone conversation for the indoor playground!). When he answered the phone, I said, "Are you sitting down?" His reaction was great, and I'll never forget it. He laughed out loud! It put my mind at ease. Most moms can probably also relate to the millions of emotions that rush through your mind when you get the result of the (positive or negative) pregnancy test!

Love my clean-haired ladies :).
Anyway, Joseph and Justin are the best of friends these days. Sure, they have their moments; and at times, it is obvious that Joseph is almost 7 and Justin is just 4. But, I'm so grateful that they have each other. Watching them play together is one of the greatest joys of my life right now! Thank you, God. St. Joseph and St. Justin, please watch over my boys!

The OB/GYN told me that there was a only 2% chance of conceiving Justin (because I was exclusively nursing a young infant with no bottles/pacifiers, no extended sleep, no cycle return). Hmm...sounds like God really wanted him to a part of our family...

Like I said, I'm glad God's in charge :).

Friday, November 7, 2014

To be small...

My rose (or, at least half of her!)..
One morning this week, I was sorting through some gently used clothes that a friend had given me. I love doing this; it is such a blessing for our family to receive these clothes! And, it feels like a Christmas morning to my daughters (my sons couldn't care less!) when they look at all their "new" clothes.

On this particular morning, a bright, sparkly shirt sporting a dressed up kitten caught my eye. I knew that this shirt would become a favorite of one my daughters! I glanced at the size and noted that it needed to be put away. It was a size 4...too small for the 5-year-old and too big for the 2-1/2-year-old.

Just then, the 2-1/2-year-old, Lucy, burst into the room. Her eyes quickly landed on the glittery kitty shirt. "Oohhh," she gasped as she tried to rip off her sleeper to put the shirt on NOW. I tried to explain that this shirt needed to be put away. There was no dissuading her. She managed to get it on and broke out in a huge grin. Besides the fact that the sleeves were too long, it didn't look that bad. I didn't have the heart to take it off of her, so I rolled up the sleeves and helped her pick out some pants (not too many pants would match such a busy shirt!).

The agenda for Lucy that day was errands with Mom and baby sister. She goes to school two mornings a week and LOVES it. She is quite disappointed when it is not her day to go. We went to the Girl Scout store because I had to pick up uniform stuff for my Daisy (Cecilia) and Brownie (Gianna). Lucy went into the small store and made herself right at home. She crawled under a table in the corner and found a bin full of stuffed animals. She proceeded to bring them out one at a time and present them with noises (most were correct, others were just humorous!).

The cashier asked how old she was. I said, "Two." Then the cashier, who didn't look old enough to have kids yet (but you never know!), said, "Looks like such a fun age!"

I should have just said, "YES!" Because, it is a wonderful age. So are ages 8, 6-1/2, 5, 4, and 1 (the ages of my other children!). And, 39 isn't so bad either :).

I often think of the quotes in St. Josemaria Escriva's book, "The Way," about small children. In particular, "Be little, very little. Don't be more than two years old, three at most." He goes on to explain that older children have lost their precious simplicity. St. Josemaria goes on in another quote to remind us that before God, WE (grown ups!) are smaller than 2-year-old toddlers!

Anyway, two is wonderful. The cashier saw it! And, I did too (she did look absolutely adorable making animal noises in her too-big kitty shirt!).

But, I said, "Yeah, but they get very challenging as they approach age 3." True enough! But, why did I have to vent that to complete stranger who was complimenting my toddler!?

It is easy to get caught up in the drama and meltdowns and lose sight of the big picture. I am praying for the grace to appreciate each of my children as they are...not as I would have them be! I want to see the rose (as the cashier did) and not the thorns! Yes, I do have to feel the thorns sticking in me...but, if the world just sees the rose...

That's awesome :).

I love this prayer...especially the part about our children...

Prayer to Our Holy Guardian Angels
(source: www.catholic.org)

Heavenly Father, Your infinite love for us has chosen a blessed angel in heaven and appointed him our guide during this earthly pilgrimage. Accept our thanks for so great a blessing. Grant that we may experience the assistance of our holy protector in all our necessities. And you, holy, loving angel and guide, watch over us with all the tenderness of your angelic heart. Keep us always on the way that leads to heaven, and cease not to pray for us until we have attained our final destiny, eternal salvation. Then we shall love you for all eternity. We shall praise and glorify you unceasingly for all the good you have done for us while here on earth. Especially be a faithful and watchful protector of our children. Take our place, and supply what may be wanting to us through human frailty, short-sightedness, or sinful neglect. Lighten, O you perfect servants of God, our heavy task. Guide our children, that they may become like unto Jesus, may imitate Him faithfully, and persevere till they attain eternal life.



Sunday, November 2, 2014


Joseph's 1st grade class made this Olaf for the Fall Festival. I love Holy Name of Jesus School!
We are blessed with everything that we need. We have a lovely home in a safe neighborhood. We have plenty of food to eat, and the children are receiving a wonderful Catholic school education. The older three children are involved in their choice of activities, and our playroom is filled to the brim with toys (in fact, we are due for a purge...just don't tell the kids!). I am profoundly grateful for all of our blessings!
That said, there isn't a lot of money for "extras." We won't be going to Disney World (at least in the foreseeable future), and we don't "splurge" on many things! And then, there are always the unexpected costs of home ownership (like our new garbage disposal). And, I could go on and on about the price of orthodontics (although we lucked out there because Gianna's teeth "showed vast improvement!"), car repairs, and anesthesia costs for Teresa when she gets ear tubes this week. Although, I won't go on because I know that you have your own list of costly concerns!

Birthday celebration huddle!

Because we are on a tight budget, I am careful when I am shopping (although I'm still always shocked at how quickly things add up!). I was recently at Target and I remembered that I needed socks (like good old-fashioned white ankle ones to wear under my sneakers!). Like most moms I know, I rarely buy things for myself. I honestly don't remember the last time that I bought socks...maybe 10 years ago? Anyway, I've been throwing out pairs left and right as they get holes. I picked out a 6-pack of socks and threw them into the cart.
As the cashier was ringing up my order, I was watching the price go up and up. Most of it was household necessities and stuff that the kids needed. I quickly decided not to get the socks. Note that if one of the kids needed socks, I wouldn't have thought twice!
I forgot about the socks. Later that week, I was sorting through some lovely hand-me-down clothes from a friend. People are extremely generous...they often ask if would like some gently used clothes. I always say yes!!! I saved all of Gianna's old clothes for Cecilia, and Cecilia (my 5-year-old fashionista) refuses to wear most of them. But, luckily, we have received lots of styles that Cecilia WILL wear. I can't afford to go out and buy all new clothes for Cecilia, so this is a great blessing (although it would not be the end of the world if Cecilia had to wear a pair of sweatpants...lol!).
Anyway, I got to the end of the bin of clothes, and there were six pairs of brand new socks. As I was checking to see if they would fit Gianna or Cecilia, I realized that the answer was, "Neither." They were adult socks. And, they were exactly like the ones that I had put back at Target. My heart was filled with such a feeling of God's presence...He is here, He hears me, He provides. Coincidence? Perhaps. But not to me!
Don't remember the occasion for this picture, but happy times in the kitchen :).

It happened again this week. Gianna needs brown leggings for Brownies before her field trip this weekend. I found a pair of leggings, but they were more than I wanted to spend. I put them back on the rack and made a mental note to check out a few other stores.

I got home and the mailman had delivered two boxes from my mom. She works at a high school in Massachusetts. One of the teachers has two daughters who are a few years older than my girls (and the oldest is named Gianna Marie, just like my daughter!). She gives the clothes to my mom who then sends them to me. Later that night, I opened the box. Anyone want to guess what was in there!?!

I'm not kidding....the perfect pair of brown leggings. Again, I sent up a silent prayer of thanks. Coincidence? Not to me.

The last example is not about clothes. I recently deactivated my Facebook account (and then reactivated after my family asked me to send Halloween pictures of the kids...lol...but, I plan to deactivate it again). Since Lucy is not napping consistently, I am feeling out of balance.

I've not found any time for prayer and silence. So, when I've had five minutes, I would go on Facebook to browse. I convinced myself that there wasn't enough time to do anything "productive" before I was interrupted, so I might as well spend a few minutes of mindless "vegging" out.

One day last week when the kids were doing their homework and everyone was quiet for a minute, I snuck on Facebook again. Joseph asked, "Why do you like to look at pictures of other people so much?" Hmmm...that was kind of a good question. I suppose that I wanted to feel connected to other people as I felt rather stuck in my kitchen at that moment. However, I was left feeling disappointed and depressed because others seemed to be enjoying their lives so much more. I did not feel connected, I simply felt...worse...and cranky.
The next day at preschool, I saw a sign. It was about the benefits of solitude and silence, and the well-known psalm, "Be still, and know that I am God." I realized that God was calling me to recapture some "stillness" in my life. I knew that the allure of Facebook surfing would be too strong, so I deactivated my account. I instantly felt peace. However, there was one thing I was afraid of missing.
A friend, not a close friend who I speak to often, but someone who I see a few times a year and whose friendship I treasure, was past due with her third baby. She had recently switched to my OB/GYN (I highly recommended them to her) because they would support her in her attempt to have a VBAC after 2 C-sections. Her old OB/GYN practice had told her that it was too risky.
Anyway, I had been praying for this friend, and I was afraid that I would never know when her baby was born if I was not on Facebook. I considered reactivating my account. I resisted. A few hours later, I got a text. It was a picture of a gorgeous newborn with a note from my friend, "unmedicated VBA2C"...thanks for all your support and prayers! I do not ever remember giving my friend my cell phone number. Or, maybe I did...once...years ago.
Coincidence? Perhaps. I know all of these are easily explained otherwise. But, through the eyes of faith, they are gifts from my Lord reminding me that He's here, He's in charge, and I should continue to invite him into all of my decisions...because He knows and cares. This is of great comfort to me!
Have a peaceful week, friends. Don't be afraid of silence. :)


Monday, October 27, 2014

This is it!

Back in July, I ran into Babies R Us. I had the 3-year-old, 2-year-old, and baby in tow. We had about 15 minutes before we had to pick up the older three kids from their Vacation Bible School. Of course, the whirlwind pace of our shopping trip was making everyone cranky (especially me!).

But, we were on a mission. The baby had a major blow out in her car seat and I forgot to put a spare outfit in the diaper bag. I was determined to grab something cute on sale and have her clean and smelling better before we reclaimed the others!

I quickly looked for the clearance rack. Some adorable rompers caught my eye. The price was right and they met the comfy requirement. I selected a navy blue and pink one with ice cream cones...perfect!

As I threw it into the shopping cart, I had a vision of my baby wearing the romper. In the daydream, everything was just right. She was sitting in her Exersaucer (which she hates) in my clean, cheery, sunny kitchen, and she was smiling while watching me make a delicious meal. We could hear the other kids playing happily in the backyard through the open window.

The outfit and the daydream were sold. I couldn't wait to create that scene in my kitchen that very day!

Needless to say, the only accurate part of the daydream was that the baby looked adorable in the outfit...until her next meal! I made a meal in my cluttered kitchen...but it just edible (not delicious), and the only sounds that I remember hearing were sibling quarrels. There was no yard play because of scary thunderstorms.

This happens a lot. I briefly imagine something "perfect." It's been happening as long as I can remember: From first kisses as a teenager (most that never transpired!) to buying a house with my dream kitchen overlooking my dream yard (I really like my kitchen and yard, but...!).

So, my life isn't as perfect as my daydreams. I know that I'm not alone. Every once in a while though, I have the consciousness of mind to recognize a, "THIS IS IT," moment. As in, this is EXACTLY what I've always wanted, hoped for, prayed for, dreamed of (even if the particular circumstances had never crossed my mind before).

The picture above captured one of these moments. It was Sunday night after a very busy weekend, and we had just finished the crazy bedtime routine. Everyone had been bathed and teeth brushed. We had gathered in our bedroom to say our family prayers and read one book (sometimes it's more, but I was anxious to get everyone down!). I was sitting near the bed nursing/rocking the baby.

And then, it happened. My husband lay on the bed in exhaustion. I told him to wake up and hang in there...we were SO close to finishing the day! And then the kids started lying on top of him. One of those unplanned things. Everyone was happy (well, maybe not Daddy!) and everything seemed...perfect. My kids were so cute and so sweet (miraculously no tears or complaints of being squished!), and we were all together while cozy and snuggly in our warm, safe house. My only thought was, "Stop time now!"

The best part was that the camera was randomly next to my bed so that I could capture it. The baby's not in it, but five out of six happy kids is a victory!

Lord, sometimes I feel discouraged because life isn't matching my best laid plans and intentions. I think I miss some peace and contentment because I'm picturing something different. Thank you Lord for knowing what is best for me. Give me the grace to accept it.

And, thank you, thank you for the precious heartwarming moments that affirm me and uplift me. Please help me to recognize your hand in all the circumstances in my life...especially the out-of-control ones that come up incessantly with young children! Amen.

I had another vision today while buying some cute Halloween crafts at Target. I'm excited for the kids to get home from school so I can create the scene. Anyone want to make a bet that'll it happen!?

I wouldn't either. If I let my expectations go though, I might just be surprised? Here's hoping :).

NOTE: This is my October piece that I wrote for catholicmom.com. I'm just reposting here!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Lucy and Justin all ready for school!

I am so delighted and humbled that people check my blog regularly. Really, thank you!!!

The reason that I am not blogging as much has a name. Her name is Lucy. She is a 2-1/2-year old tornado :). She simply will not give me a break in the afternoons. At the moment, she is sitting at the kitchen table with orange paint (the only color left!), a yellow glue stick (who knew they came in colors now!?), and some almost-hard Playdough. This is better than climbing on chairs and counters, which is one of her favorite things to do these days! I'm hoping for 10 minutes at most before she's trying to climb into my lap again :).

So, this is just an FYI post. I have many things that I would like to write about...and in fact, I often write blog posts in my head when I'm out and about! The problem is actually sitting down and writing them.

I can't write them after 8 p.m. because I fear it would not make any sense. The other night I was hemming my son's uniform pants around 9 p.m....while drinking a beer. My husband called to check in (he was working), and he asked me if I really thought this was a good idea. Ha! There are not many things that I do well after 8 p.m.! Miraculously, the pants turned out okay (although I'm not sure that the hem won't fall down next week!).

So, thanks for stopping by! I will try to write when I am able. I pray for the grace to enjoy and appreciate my daughter (and for her safety...constantly for her safety!) every afternoon. She is very easy to love at other times of the day...just not so much when I'm dying for a minute to myself! This "stop the nap" thing (when they are too young to sit and watch TV for an hour) is the hardest transition for me...dare I say even harder than bringing home a newborn!? I know that it's a phase (and a short one at that!). I just wanted to let my readers know why I am MIA these days!

Praying that the peace of Christ will be with all of us. Perfect timing...I better get back to the kitchen!

Here I am offering Teresa a cupcake on her birthday!! She is ONE and a love. She's having trouble with her ears (chronic infections so we're off to specialist next week), but I'm enjoying her last days of babyhood! 

I know it's a fuzzy picture...I was having camera issues that day! Happy birthday anyway!

Friday, October 17, 2014

End of shift...

The Trouble Twins
I wouldn't trade being a stay-at-home mom for anything. But, I would pay a whole lot of money for someone to come and watch my 4 and 2-year-olds at certain times of the day!!! Now is one of those times...it's 2 p.m. I would promise to come back by 3:30 to get my older kids off the bus because I really like that part of the day (even though it tends to be NUTS!).

My 2-1/2-year-old (who refuses to nap), Lucy, is running around in her bathing suit. Yes, it's fall and probably 65 degrees out. But, it wasn't worth the battle. You get it, right? She also is carrying around and applying six lip glosses (the kiddie kind that is nontoxic, thank goodness!). She has colored her hands with markers. And, she keeps getting on a chair to go into the kitchen cabinets. Can you say accident waiting to happen!? I remember not that long ago (March maybe?) when I wrote a blog post about my favorite age (age 2). I'm rethinking this...big time!

I guess I should be glad that she's not trying to climb all over me. I love snuggles most of the day, but I try to steal some "me" time when Teresa is sleeping. For the record, I spent the entire morning actively engaged with her (Lucy)...so she is not deprived of affection and attention!

This baby turns one next week!!!!
Justin, age 4, had a fabulous time at school this morning. He came home with pumpkin seeds because they made a jack-o-lantern in class. I asked him if he wanted to roast them and eat them. He insisted that he needed to plant them in the backyard immediately. I supported this idea if it would keep he and Lucy entertained for a bit! After all, it's a beautiful fall day.

Skip ahead to the mud party in the bathroom while I was trying to grab a bite of lunch. God help me!!! I love these children, but all my efforts to maintain order (and a somewhat clean) house are defeated! It makes those alcoholic apple ciders in my fridge look mighty appealing!!!

I apologize for the vent post. When I tuck these babies into bed in a few short (okay, who am I kidding!?!) hours, I know that I will thank God for an amazing day with them like I always do. I am tremendously blessed...it's just easier to remember this at 9 p.m. than at 2 p.m. :)

I was stopped at a red light this morning at a corner where they are building a new Rite Aid. Lucy and Teresa were happy in the backseat, and I was listening to a beautiful song while enjoying my windows down. I watched a man lay bricks. He was working so efficiently and so carefully, and even in the short time that I was at the light, he made great progress. I couldn't help but feel (momentarily) jealous. When he finished his shift, he would have something beautiful (and something that will stand the test of time) to show for it.

What will I have at the end of my shift today!?! This is rhetorical. I know that my work is important. I know that I am carefully laying "bricks" also...just with a much slower (and messier) outcome. :)

Have a great weekend everyone! I will be enjoying one of those alcoholic apple ciders later when my trouble twins are safely tucked in their beds. Now I must go investigate the crash in the other room...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just perfect...

Despite the cool drizzly weather, we had a great time yesterday! It was Columbus Day and the big kids were off of school. We dropped the little kids off at preschool, and they had a great time visiting their old teachers. It's a wonderful feeling for a parent when people are excited to see your children :). After preschool, we headed to a fall wonderland with tons of hay, sliding boards, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, face painting, etc.! The kids had a BLAST!

I couldn't help but remember last Columbus Day. I was 38 weeks pregnant and miserable with high blood pressure, contractions, low blood sugar problems, etc. My husband had to work so I took the five kids to a fall fun fort (like the place we went to yesterday, but just a different one!). It was a hard day for me. My children had a great time, but I was unable to enjoy it with them as everything felt hard and like so much work.

But, the memories of that day made yesterday so much sweeter. I loved watching my sweet Teresa enjoy the day right along with her siblings! And I felt great...small (ha...compared to last year anyway!), energetic, and just happy. My load was light.

It was a day that I counted all my blessings. I was so happy to be alive and enjoying a beautiful fall day with my children! Thank you God. Please bless us and protect us, and please, Blessed Mother, bring great comfort to all who are suffering.

Amen! Still savoring my favorite season....

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Cure...

Trying on Halloween costumes! They look so cute...too bad they were fighting moments later!
It's Friday afternoon. It's been quite a week. Lucy, age 2-1/2, is napping for the second time this week. Alleluia! The other three afternoons were challenging. When she's not napping then she wants to be with me. As in, on my lap trying to type on the laptop and hold my coffee mug, with me. Ugh! I'm used to Justin watching a movie and Lucy and the baby napping so that I can have some "me" time and recharge my batteries. I can't expect this anymore...and it's a hard transition.

Wednesday and Thursday I ended up putting the laptop away and praying the Rosary with her (Lucy) snuggled on my lap. I think that was a very good use of my time. I love cuddling with my children...I just have to remember to embrace the moment and not think of other things that I could be doing! I had a lot to pray about. For starters, I had just read about another 2-1/2-year-old girl named Lucy who is fighting for her life (she has leukemia). And, I read about several infants this week who passed away (did you follow Shane's Bucket List at all? Such an inspirational reminder that all life is sacred). I wanted to pray for their parents. Anyway, it just felt right to hold my child and pray. Precious moments!

My cutie still prefers baby food to "real" food!
Yes, precious moments! But, yesterday afternoon I started to feel very unbalanced. It was a combination of not enough adult interaction (stay-at-home mom syndrome!), a head cold, hormones, and the change in seasons (less daylight!). We all have days like this, huh!? I felt a strong desire to connect with people...and not the six little people who I am blessed to spend my days with :).

When he got home from work last night, I told my husband that he needed to TALK to me. After the kids were in bed, I asked if we could have a no technology night (it's so easy for us to get on our laptops to check "a few things"...and suddenly it's bed time!). We did watch some TV together (we were both too tired to have much deep conversation!), but it was nice to have someone listen to me. And, the best part, he actually recommended that I go out with my friends!

So, tonight I am meeting a bunch of friends at Panera Bread for some kind of fall drink (I'm ridiculously excited to pick between caramel apple cider and a pumpkin latte!). Beer or wine would be my first choice, but I'm fighting a cold/sinus infection and I don't think that'll help me heal!

But, I think that laughter and connection is just the ticket to help me (physically and emotionally!). Have a blessed weekend everyone :).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Trying again...

Librarian at kids' school asked for "Selfie with my shelfie" pictures to kick off reading challenge!
This morning was a challenge. The alarm went off at 6:20 a.m. and the three of us were all snuggled under the blankets. The temperature dipped into the 30s last night so the room was freezing!

Yes, the three of us. Teresa is baby number six and the only baby ever to sleep in our bed (and not all night...only when she wakes up after 4 a.m. and I'm desperate for her to go back to sleep...quickly!). I'm counting on the fact that she'll sleep through the night after she's weaned...at least that's what's happened five times before!

I also have a bad head cold. This made it even harder to get out of bed! Once I put on some heat (I could anticipate the kids complaining about getting dressed!) and some COFFEE, I was feeling better. Five out of kids woke up in a pretty good mood...despite the low temperatures.

The 6th child to wake up was a grump. She (Gianna) had lots of ailments (sore throat, sore leg, sore arms, sore neck, etc.), and she couldn't believe that I was going to send her to school anyway! The nerve...

Flashback to being a child and begging my mother to stay home. My mother was very good at discerning when we were really sick. If she determined real cause, we would get the royal treatment (no wonder we wanted to stay home!). From my father, I inherited a ton of guilt about being out of school. Even as an adult when I was teaching, I often went to school feeling terrible to avoid feeling guilty. Yes, I realize that this is irrational :).

Here's the baby who gets the extra snuggles!
Anyway, Gianna was not sick. It was just the morning grumps. I knew that a bowl of cereal would snap her out of it. Of course, "there is never any cereal that she likes in this house!" Despite her pleas, I was not going to make her pancakes or let her have cookies!

Kids have bad mornings. I am very grateful that (so far), they are usually on different mornings. Cecilia was very grumpy on Friday morning, but she was delightful and very independent this morning. Joseph was as agreeable as Joseph can be today! If there is ever a morning when they are all grumpy, I will surely write about it (if I survive!).

Gianna remained grumpy and it was torture to get her fed, dressed, teeth and hair brushed, and coat on. She did not want a kiss goodbye. I wasn't going to push it. In fact, I was very excited to see her go so that the house mood could improve (woops, did I admit that!?).

The door closed as my husband went to take the three oldest to the bus. I returned to getting breakfast for the younger kids. See ya!

And then, the door opened again. I held my breath...

Lots of soccer this weekend and I loved it because it was fall weather!! Last weekend it was in the 80s...the heat really affected the kids (and the parents on the sidelines!). 
It was Gianna. Crap. My mind was screaming, "Go to school already!!!"

No wait, she looked...nicer. She gave me a big hug as she apologized. She asked if we could try harder tomorrow morning to be nicer to each other.

My defensive instinct was to tell her that I WAS perfectly nice this morning. I didn't feel well and I was still taking care of everyone... SHE was the problem. She was snotty, rude, dramatic, unmotivated, and lazy. Luckily, I spared her the lecture because the bus was going to arrive...and I realize the power of mom's response. I did not want to be the cause of a bad day.

I hugged her back and smiled as I told her enthusiastically, "YES! Tomorrow morning is a re-do!" I wished her a great day and she skipped to the door while blowing me kisses.

I felt good about the self-control that I showed in that moment. High five to me!

But, upon reflection, I must admit that I could've done a much better job. I could tell as soon as she walked into the room this morning that she was in a bad mood so I "turned off the love."

Instead of telling her to "get over" her aches and pains this morning, I should've given her a big hug and said good morning. I could've helped her morning by laying out her clothes like I had done for the other kids (I didn't because I was frustrated with her). I could've LISTENED to her (even if it was complaining) instead of dismissing her.

Gees, I should've been the one asking her for forgiveness!!!

I thought it showed great maturity for an 8-year-old to ask for forgiveness and to try to make it right for next time. I hope that she is getting that from me. This motherhood thing is crazy hard (to quote the "Mom's Night Out" movie!), and I can only take so much before snapping. My kids hear me say that I'm sorry...a lot. I ask if we can start something over...a lot.

Joseph started calling Justin and Lucy, "The Trouble Twins." Trust me...it fits!!!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go rescue Lucy from older brother torture. I'm sure that he owes Lucy an apology...

but, not holding my breath that he'll show the maturity that Gianna showed :).

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Lucy's "silly guys" are outside our house again! Love this time of year!!!
I was the dental hygienist who cleaned my teeth this morning, I would have hated me. I would still be talking about the snotty lady with the 8:40 a.m. slot :).

For the record, it is that most challenging week of the month for me when my hormones take over (better known as PMS!). I'm also coming down with a cold and Teresa and I didn't sleep well last night. These are not excuses or justifications, but at least it makes me feel better :).

I was sitting in the waiting room with Justin. We both had appointments to have our teeth cleaned at 8:40. Around 8:55 (not too bad, I guess), I was called back. However, the dental hygienist did not call back, "Trish Bolster." Rather, she kept saying over and over again, "Pat? Pat? PAT?"

I knew she was calling ME. However, I didn't answer. Since I was a girl, I have despised being called, "Pat." Yes, my name is Patricia. And, there is nothing wrong with Pat. In fact, I was named for my aunt, Patricia (Pat) Margaret Mulhern, who sadly died of a sudden brain aneurysm at age 25.

But, Pat is not my name. Only one person in my life has called me Pat. It was Mrs. Irons, my 7th grade social studies teacher at St. Catherine of Siena School in Norwood, MA. Sorry if I'm calling you out, Mrs. Irons (I actually have NO idea where she is today!). I corrected her (even though I was very shy) and my parents corrected her. She then called me Tricia for exactly one day before defaulting back to Pat. Not that I'm still bitter :). WHY does this bother me? (no answer)

Anyway, after she called, "Pat BOLSTER," I finally stood up and told Justin to follow. She asked if I hadn't heard her. I told that I'm not used to being called Pat (check my chart lady...I've been coming here for almost ten years and my preferred name is right on it...I know this because no one has ever called me Pat before!)! She didn't seem too pleased.

But at least my teeth are clean. :)

I love my boys!

Lucy would nap everyday (like she is right now...hooray!), I would be much saner, happier, calmer, you-name-it!!! All of my girls have stopped napping at 2-1/2-years-old...pretty much to the day. Lucy turns 2-1/2 this week. And, this is only her second nap of the week (it's Thursday). Last week she was napping just fine. Two and a half-year-olds NEED naps.

But, my girls (luckily my boys both napped until 3-1/2ish) decide they are big enough to stop (and they drive their mother almost insane because they are too young to sit and watch TV for an hour or two (the only TV allowed all day is during nap time) so Mommy gets ZERO break). I need a break. Not to mention the declining mood of the toddler as the day progresses!

And, yes, I have tried all kinds of solutions...but I spend my entire "break" when Teresa is sleeping trying to get Lucy down, so it's really not worth it...I'm even more stressed! If I'm not blogging much these days, you'll all know why :).

Image result for picture of guardian angel
Happy Feast of the Guardian Angels! Thank you angels...please watch over us!
I was God, I don't think I would be very happy with how I respond to my children in stressful situations. In fact, I would punish me...harshly...for not being the mother who my precious children deserve.

Case in point: My husband was teaching a class on Tuesday night. So, it was just me for afternoon homework for 3 kids, dinner, and clean up (and I really lose it if there's not a little bit of order, so I ask the kids to pick up a few things...reasonable, you'd think!?!). I was getting worn down anticipating bathing six children and getting everyone to bed on time (so I could enjoy my reward...a glass of wine!).

Gianna (8) and Joseph (6-1/2) were being VERY silly. Most of the time, I love the close bond that they've always shared. Watching them together makes my heart sing. But, not on Tuesday evenings when I'm the only adult!

At 7 p.m., I asked the two of them to clean up the backyard for me (riding toys, baseball bats, etc. everywhere!) and then head upstairs for their showers. Let's just say that they were less than cooperative. And, because they had support in each other, they were extra bold and uncharacteristically rude.

I did not respond well. I do not physically hurt my children, but words can sting too. Let's leave it at that. I got their cooperation in the end. And, I did apologize and explain (for what it's worth) that I really need their help when Daddy is not home. They seemed to forgive me and everyone got to bed peacefully and on time.

I do not forgive myself as easily. And, in all honesty, who knows what long-term damage I am doing to my children!?! God help me.

There's a line in a song that makes me feel all better. It's the song, "Overwhelmed," by Big Daddy Weave. There's a link below (I think...I've never been any good at this sort of thing!!!).

The line is this: "God, I run into your arms...unashamed because of mercy."

Thank you God for your mercy and for never giving up on me. I pray for the grace that I need to be the person that I am called to be (even when someone calls me Pat, even when my toddler doesn't nap, even when my kids are disrespectful). Amen. :)


You are still reading, then I thank you!!! Many blessings on your day. Guardian Angels, pray for us!