Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Happy times for Joseph's birthday. Say "Cheese," Lucy!
I was talking to a group of friends at a birthday party last weekend about family size.

It comes up so often...maybe because we are all in our mid to late thirties, and it's on our minds (consciously and subconsciously) that our fertile days are coming to an end. The conversation always includes questions like, "Are you done now?" (usually directed at me), or statements like, "We're really thinking about number three, but we're just not sure!" Etc.

And, then it moves on to who is feeling "done" today and who still has the "itch" (understanding that these feelings are subject to change hour-by-hour). Luckily, I handed around my precious baby so that everyone got a "baby fix!"

One friend in particular is the loving mother of two absolutely adorable children. She said that she has to be done because motherhood is just TOO intense. To quote her, "I go from 0 to 10 in one second." Note: I'm not judging anyone's reasons or motives when it comes to family size as I simply do not know the whole story and it's between the couple and God. But, this particular reason made me laugh. And, I could totally relate!!!

People often tell me that I always appear calm and "put together." I'm not saying that it's true, but I truly appreciate it if God gives me the graces to present this face to the world. Because, I must agree with my friend that motherhood is INTENSE!

I feel like my life is broken up into two very different animals: night and day. By night, I feel so grateful and peaceful. I go in to check my babies as they sleep and my heart overflows with love. By day, sure there are many loving feelings and moments, but there are also so many blood boiling or "0 to 10" moments!

I took my four younger kids to Target this morning. I will not go with all six children, but I can manage four...kind of! After we RAN inside (with the wind chill, it feels below zero out there), the problems started immediately. There was a special cart with only two special seats...and three children (luckily, Teresa is old enough to protest!). Then, I made a rookie mommy mistake. I told them that if they were good, I would let them pick something out of the dollar bins (I won't get into all the whining that took place from this *nice* gesture). There were multiple trips to the bathroom, meltdowns, tantrums, etc. Ridiculous...comical really!

I had as many if not more intense feelings as my children, but I did not yell or lose my smile. I was exhausted by the time we left.

Maybe being in public is actually a blessing...the same mother does not live in their home! I go from "0 to 10" at home and I don't try to hide children know when I'm upset. But, I find I'm very quick to ask forgiveness and I do my best to try to avoid triggers of bad behavior (putting a tired preschooler down for a nap is more loving than blowing up at him because he's being obstinate, snacks at regular intervals does wonders, etc.). I want to be better and I'm always striving to be better, and I think that might count for something.

I always remember the quote, "God does not call the equipped...He equips the called." So, I do not deserve my 6 children, and I'm not always as good a mother as I want to be...especially at home! But, God intensely blesses me and equips me with the graces to go forward...

The best "10" moment (like a big smile from my baby) tends to erase all the "0" moments from my mind (at least for the moment...).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To like or not to like...

Today is Joseph's 6th birthday! It is such a happy day at our house. The two-hour weather-related delay this morning meant we had extra time to celebrate before school. His siblings are almost as excited as he is! Daddy drove him to school as he couldn't carry the 25 Despicable Me cupcakes on the bus (or, he could have, but I don't think they'd be edible this afternoon!).

It's also the sad 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in the United States. I was born in 1975, and I used to wonder (when I was old enough to understand) how many of my classmates were missing in my school due to this decision. I'm not judging anyone who had an abortion (there were actually times in my life when I did not consider myself pro-life...but, this is mainly because I never really thought it through and I didn't truly grasp the miracle of life or the dignity of the human person). I'm simply praying for all unborn children, for their parents, and for an end to abortion.

When I lived in Washington D.C., I was fortunate to attend the yearly March for Life on January 22 every year. It was amazing to see people...especially young people...from all over the country coming together for this cause. I taught at a Catholic high school and students from other states would actually sleep on the floor of our gym! The signs that touched me the most were always the ones being held by women that read, "I regret my abortion."

Since I'm not able to attend the March for Life anymore (it's only a 2-hour ride, but it's not really practical to subject my young ones to this ridiculous wind chill!), I say extra prayers. I love that Joseph's birthday is today (he was born at 11 p.m. and he wasn't due until the 25th). My own personal response to Roe v. Wade was to have a baby on this day (well, with a little help from God and the doctors at the hospital...ha!).

I have been posting on Facebook a bit more the past 6 months or so. I've found that it's a great way to keep in touch with family members. I also have many local friends, and it's a fun way to celebrate life's ups and downs with them. As I was preparing to post some pictures for Joseph's birthday today (a baby picture and a current picture), I decided to also mention that it's the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and that we are praying for an end to abortion as we celebrate life today at our house. 

I almost did not do it. I was actually sitting there worrying about whether people would "like" it or not. I usually avoid politics at all costs and figure that my life is an example (people often assume I'm a pro-life Catholic when they see my family...ha!). I decided to wait until after lunch to decide. So, I fed the kids and got three of them down for naps. As I was helping Cecilia with an art project, I suddenly thought, "Lots of people didn't like Jesus either!" And, in my case, I really don't think people will shun me or dislike me, but instead, they just won't hit "like" on Facebook as to not condone my views. That's fine :). Maybe (or maybe's up to the Holy Spirit) someone will be touched by it...or at least it'll enter their mind. 

Here's Joseph's baby picture below. I never realized how much I wanted a son until he was born!! Thank you God for the gift of my Joseph :). Praying for all unborn babies, their mothers, and for an end to abortion.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's All About the Milk!

Me and Teresa

My baby turned 3-months-old yesterday! She's a love. Her smile takes up her whole face and I love that she's so small and snugly. Her siblings are loving that she lights up in response to them. We are so blessed and our lives are greatly enriched by her presence.

I am exclusively breastfeeding on demand. And, psychologically speaking, I love it! I wouldn't want it any other way. My body is giving my baby everything that she needs to grow and develop (except vitamin D, but there are drops for that since we aren't getting outside in the sunshine much these days in Pennsylvania!). I marvel at how well God designed the female body to care for babies...truly amazing!

There is something that I am not loving though. And, it's all about the milk (to quote the life-sized singing cows at Hershey's Chocolate World!). I have been blessed to breastfeed all of my babies for a year (well, my milk dried up when Cecilia was 9 months because I was very pregnant with Justin!). The first two times, the baby weight came off pretty quickly (especially after Joseph was born...I was able to wear a size 6 dress in my sister's wedding when he was only 6 months old!).

Even after Lucy (who is not yet 2), I was able to lose the weight pretty easily. I still had a little over 10 pounds to go when I was got pregnant with Teresa. But, I'm realizing that those pounds were not at all the big deal that I thought that they were!!!

This time around, the baby weight is just plain STUCK. I have a whole closet full of clothes that do not fit. I would understand it if I had quit exercising and was eating poorly. But, I love exercising and have recently been able to increase my exercise quite a bit. And, I'm eating the same that I have for years (honestly, even more healthy as I am so conscious). I am careful to eat the calories that I need to make breastmilk (300 to 500 extra calories), but they are healthy choices.

And, nothing! A few hours of cardio a week, a weight lifting class on Wednesday nights, healthy eating...and the same number on the scale week after week! I know my body made maternal fat stores (and my body will never be the same again!), but this is ridiculous to me :). I have been able to maintain a healthy body weight my entire adult life because of good choices. It's not vanity or wanting to look a certain way because my culture tells me too...but rather, I simply feel best when I am a healthy weight for my height.

I only need to go online to read that the same thing is happening to thousands of other breastfeeding moms. It's nice to know I'm not alone! My body is slowing down my metabolism to keep my maternal fat stores to ensure that I am able to produce enough milk. My age and the number of babies that I've had is a factor too. Go body! Luckily, many women lose the weight once they wean (to be continued...)!

This is frustrating. But, I need to keep perspective. Would I ever trade my precious baby to be a smaller size? NEVER. At the end of my life, is the number on the scale what people will remember? No. (And I always read the obituaries in the Sunday paper...not sure why! I feel like I'm honoring the dead and I say a quick prayer for their souls. I never once saw a comment on body size!).

The advice that stood out from the rest when I read the comments from other frustrated breastfeeding moms was this: "Concentrate on your baby's face and not your body. There will be lots of time to take the weight off...but infancy is a short, precious time."

So, today I remember the Serenity Prayer. It's applicable in so many areas of our lives...

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.




Tuesday, January 14, 2014


My 4-year-old daughter Cecilia has gorgeous blond hair. As I come to terms with the fact that my first gray/white hairs are really there (I had quite a case of denial when my husband first pointed them out to me!), I appreciate my children's (all of them are quite blond...except for baby Teresa who still has the very dark hair that she was born with) hair!

Last Saturday, we were on the ride at Hershey's Chocolate World (one of the kids' favorite things to do in winter!). Cecilia leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, when you were a kid, did you have yellow hair like me?" I told her that, believe it or not, I did (maybe not as blond as she is, but definitely blond). She thought for a moment before saying, "When I grow up, I hope I have brown hair just like yours!"

WHAT!?! Luckily, I didn't say it outloud. I didn't explain that women pay huge amounts of money to have blond hair like hers! I didn't tell her that I would love to have her blond hair myself, and that I only recently stopped spending money to have my hair highlighted to be "just a little bit blond". I'm not a blond (and I'm not a size 6 any more either)...reality just hurts lately!

Rather, I tried to capture the moment. My beautiful sweet girl telling me that she wants to be like me.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Love these moments when my children play on their own...and everyone's included!
Chances are, if you are reading this from anywhere in the United States, you are also cold today. Here in central Pennsylvania, schools are closed for the coldest day in almost 20 years! It is a balmy 20 below (with wind chills, that is!).

I am actually having a great day, and this is shocking to even me :)! As someone posted on facebook today, "Having a snow day after 16 days of vacation is great...SAID NO MOTHER EVER!" Ha! I loved that...made me feel so connected to others!

But, by the grace of God, I woke up today in a good mood with the feeling of extreme GRATITUDE foremost on my heart. This is shaping the way that I am looking at my day. Instead of feeling frustrated that we are all stuck in the house together all day, I am feeling happy that all my babies are safe and warm under my roof.

And, by the grace of God, my children all woke up in a good mood today too! Even my oldest, who is by far my most restless/easily bored child, has been playing nicely with her sister for hours. I am happy that only three years separates Gianna and Cecilia...and, the fact that Gianna seems to be a "young 7" and Cecilia a "very mature 4" really helps :)!

Joseph and Justin (also almost 3 years apart) are also playing nicely together. Actually, it's more like Jopa (as Justin calls him) telling Justin what to do...but, Justin is thrilled to be included and happily obliging Jopa's orders. Hey, it works for me (and for them!).

Lucy (who also tends to get bored easily like Gianna) seems to be enjoying all her siblings being home for the day. She is busy at her age-appropriate tasks of pushing the baby stroller around and filling up any number of purses with "goodies!"

Teresa is my sweet baby (see pictures below). I appreciate her more as I reply to frequent texts from my sister. My 1-month-old nephew is very colicky at the moment. Plus, my sister is trying to occupy my 3-year-old nephew at the same time. Going from 1 to 2 children was definitely one of the toughest challenges of my motherhood I know what she's going through! Children 4, 5, and 6 have been much easier transitions!

 This day is definitely not the day that I thought I needed or wanted...but, I am happy to be home sweet home. By Friday it's supposed to be back up to 40. Until then, stay warm. Wishing you all peace and contentment with whatever comes your way today!