Thursday, February 27, 2014

A decade of love...

This post is actually about my husband, but I know he wouldn't like his picture on this blog! So, I'll put some candids of my kids!

Lately, I've been back into reading. I always find it hard to find the time to read when I have a newborn. When I do have down time, I'd rather just curl up on the couch (usually with the baby!) and watch TV. But, Teresa is four months now and she goes to sleep very nicely around 8 p.m. or so. As I'm usually conscious until at least 9:30 p.m., I've been reading when there's nothing good on TV (a lot!).

I love reading non-fiction books (I'm reading a terrific one on parenting right now), but sometimes I long to just escape into fiction. Problem is, most fiction turns me off now. Things that never used to phase me (romance...or just sex pretty much...violence, etc.) bother me now. If I don't want my kids to be exposed to it, why should I indulge? I prefer the guilty pleasures of coffee and chocolate these days :).

Anyway, this led me to take out a Christian fiction book from the library yesterday (while two preschoolers ran through the aisles, the toddler pulled random books off the shelf, and the infant had finally had enough of her car seat...yup, the people trying to concentrate just loved us!). This led me to grab the first one that had the "Christian" label on it (the librarian told me to look for it) and call it a day!

I tried to read the book a few minutes later in the children section (where we belonged...ha!). The baby fell asleep and the others were happily playing, so I decided to read the first chapter. I almost didn't make it through (although I did take it home as I realized that I probably wasn't giving it a good chance!). The opening scene was a woman standing in her kitchen drinking coffee (love it...can so relate!).

Anyway, her husband of ten years came in from working in the yard and takes her in a warm embrace and reminds her again how lucky he is to have her. Um...yeah, can't relate so much anymore! Although, I am about to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary in April!

Flashback to when I was 21 (Facebook pictures are reminding me that it is throwback Thursday today, after all!). I was sitting at a bar in Boston by myself. I was supposed to meet my best girlfriend for a few drinks, dancing, and flirting. Problem is, she never showed up (I didn't have a cell phone at the time! Turns out, she couldn't find a parking spot so she drove around for an hour and gave up!).

After I finished my beer, I went to the bathroom. I walked by many happy (well, they looked happy many people do at bars!) couples. An overwhelming sadness came over me. I realized that I was at a bar...alone. There was no one waiting for me back at the bar and in fact, there was no boyfriend in my life at all at that point. I made a decision that I would stop going to bars until I had someone who actually loved me (not someone looking at me through beer goggles!) with me.

Did I stop going to bars? Well, no. But, I realized how much I wanted TRUE love. Up until that point, my relationships might have mimicked love in some ways, but they were not real. I also realized that I was done with the whole bar scene (at least for finding a potential spouse!). I have many regrets of misusing alcohol in my past (something I only hope and pray that my children will be spared!). I was SO ready for the next stage of my life...

...which started in early June of 2000 (yes, some years after that day in the bar...but, thank God, it happened!). That is when I met my husband. After three years of dating and discernment, we were engaged for a year before marrying on April 17, 2004.

While we don't share many moments like the woman in the Christian fiction book, we do share many loving glances across rooms filled with our greatest blessings. And, my husband doesn't even have to use words to show his love.

He is supposed to be in Baltimore at a conference right now. I've known about it for weeks. He was all set to leave around 6 a.m. this morning. I was prepared to get up early, pack the lunches, get the kids on the bus, get to preschool, host a playdate, pick up Gianna from choir before dinner and bath. He was hoping to be home in time for bedtime.

I was prepared until around 10 p.m. last night, that is. We were sitting on the couch together watching the end of Dirty Dancing (love this movie from my youth!). He made an innocent comment about what time he was going to leave in the morning.

I should've just kept my mouth shut and gone to bed.

But, instead, I shared feelings that shouldn't really be spoken when you're exhausted from a long day. I said that I feel nervous when he is far away (Baltimore is only 1.5 hours from here, if that...but much farther than his job which is only 10 minutes away!). We don't have any family in the area, and I am solely responsible for these six little human beings when he is away.

And, especially when I'm tired, I can begin to feel overwhelmed if I think too much. Thoughts like, who would I call if I got a flat tire, what if (please God forbid) there was an accident (someone came very close to running right into me at a rotary just the other day), what if one of the kids got hurt (my friend just told me the story today of when her son fractured his skull when her husband was away), etc., etc., etc.

In the morning, guaranteed that I would've been fine. I would've said my morning prayers consecrating my family to Mary and prayed for a legion of angels to protect us. It would've been okay...even if something had happened. I am strong and capable. I know that our lives are in God's hands.

But, my husband didn't go to Baltimore. I know he had been looking forward to the conference, and he stayed right here in Harrisburg and went to work...without saying a word about it. And, I love him so much for it. I feel safer...and very warm embrace or sappy words needed.

In thanksgiving to God for a decade of marriage to an amazing man! Praying for all those women who are looking for love in bars...that they may know their true worth and be blessed with decades of love!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reach out and touch someone...

Teresa is so responsive now...and this brings us all great joy!
Sometimes I'll do something that I think is good...for myself, my spouse, a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger,  and I'll think silently to myself, "Wow...I'm good!"

I am (either consciously or subconsciously) hoping for some kind of affirmation or recognition for my actions. I'm not talking about motherhood here as I know not to expect recognition (and in fact, my children often act I'm punishing them when I go out of my way to do something that is good for cook vegetables...ha!).

When recognition does not come, I am sometimes (thank goodness, only once in a while!) left feeling like, "Why bother?"

Well, I just read something (Sheri Wolpert's piece posted on that really spoke to me. It said that, "Joy and blessings come from the DOING and letting God be in charge of the outcome." Wow!

Furthermore, it reminded me that "If we are a true disciple, the result has everything to do with God's plan and not with our ego!" I love that.

I recently contemplated giving up writing for (something that has brought me great joy and fulfillment). Why? Because the new website design has a prominent place for how many people liked, shared, or commented on a piece. And well, my pieces weren't winning any awards...let's put it that way!!!

But, if I think about it, I really started this whole blogging thing for ME. Writing really helps me to clarify my thinking and recognize the many hidden blessings in my day. I kept a private journal for years (and still do), but I can't put photos into my journal (well, I guess I could if I ever actually printed pictures out!). And, as my daughter quickly becomes a proficient reader, I'm realizing that my secret thoughts may not be secret if they end up in the wrong hands...that could be bad! So, I think my private journal days are over. But, blogging gives me an outlet and a means to share.

As I've written about before, I feel a very strong desire to bring people to closer to God. I am thrilled that people actually read my posts, and I pray that my writing may touch people in some way (and/or allow them to know me and my children in a more intimate way). But, if people are affected...and in what way they are affected...that is just not my call!!! The Holy Spirit decides what touches whom and when! So often, I'll write a post while thinking about a particular person, and then a completely different person will e-mail me about it!

Reaching just one person is a precious gift (and I realize that some posts just reach ME...and that's okay if it makes me better for it). Because, after all, the main people that I need to affect are my husband and children (who just happen to give me tons to write about!).

So, wishing you joy and blessings today from all your DOING...whether or not people recognize it. All for you audience of one :).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Down Under

Water makes us all happy!
Cecilia is 4-1/2 years old (and I have learned not to forget the 1/2...she is very happy to be closer to 5 than 4!). I feel bad lately because she's home a lot more than she'd like to be! She loves school, but due to the crazy weather and the preschool's schedule (I love the school, but I'm not a fan of all the days off!), she hasn't been to school much since Christmas!

I feel a twinge of guilt every time she dances around the house or starts doing somersaults in the living room. I just know that she would adore dance or gymnastics, but unfortunately, it's just can't happen right now. There are many sacrifices to be made in a large family, and although I don't want my kids to miss out, there just isn't the money or time right now (without negatively affecting the rest of the family). She does take swimming lessons, and she is thrilled that she will be on a soccer team starting next month! Overall, she is very happy and well-rounded.

There is a big benefit to having her home more though. That is, that I get to have her home more! I love having her around!!! Although she is a very normal child who has less-than-lovely moments, she is usually like a breath of fresh air. She is very independent, very creative, and very kind. Some of my favorite moments are listening to her imaginative play.

This morning she was playing with a bunch of her baby dolls. They all had great names (like Blueberry Marie Bolster) and lots of happenings (I overheard her telling two dolls that she only had two hands and she would be there in a minute...I wonder where she's heard that!!!).

I was painting her nails this afternoon (one of her very favorite things to do!) and I told her that I am really going to miss her next year when she goes to Kindergarten. Out of nowhere, she told me in a very serious voice that she is actually moving to Australia tomorrow. Silly could I forget!?!

Ha! I better start saving my money!! I'm a little jealous because so many people I know are taking their kids to Disney World lately. But apparently, my daughter has even bigger travel plans :).

Thank you God for these long days and short years. Thank you for the gift of being around these children who love life to the fullest. I am busy storing up countless precious memories in my heart of happy childhoods (despite no dance or Disney!).

Sometimes I think of what my life would be like without my children. There would be more "me" time, tons less frustration, and (hopefully) more travel, but there would be less of the everyday blessings that make me the happiest that I've ever been :).

Friday, February 14, 2014

No cure...

Lucy's preferred seat to do crafts!

I was feeling pretty good this morning! After a long (but surprisingly fun) snow day yesterday, the kids did have school today. I was so relieved because it's Valentine's Day, and they were SO excited to give and receive valentine's from all their friends (not to mention the classroom parties!).

After the older two were off to school (there was a 2-hour delay, so we were able to move at a slower pace!), I headed out to do an errand with the other four before dropping Cecilia off at school (she doesn't start until 11 when there is a delay).

A few aisles into our shopping, a man approached us and told me that my children were beautiful. He explained that he loves kids, and he joked with them. Then he looked at me before saying, "And, oh wow...another baby in your exciting!"


I said that no, not right now! He kept talking, but I hurried my children to another aisle. I wasn't feeling so good anymore! And, to think, just hours earlier, I was thrilled to see that I'm down a few pounds (after remaining the same weight for months!). In his defense, I DID have my maternity winter jacket on (it's just so cozy and roomy, and the weather has been so bad lately!). But still (didn't I just writing about crossing the line in my last post...ha!)....

My littlest Valentine :)

I dropped off Cecilia and headed to Target. I wasn't in the best of moods. That is, until I ran into a friend (the mom of 5 boys) that I don't see that often. She ran up to see the baby and then followed with, "You look GREAT!" Now, I definitely didn't look great (don't have much time to get myself ready in the mornings!), BUT, how I loved that comment compared to the one at the last store!

I told this friend about the pregnant comment and I laughed when she said, "Well...there's just no cure for stupid!" I normally don't call people stupid (it's actually off limits and known as the "s" word at my house!), but I needed the laugh :).

As I was driving back to pick up Cecilia (an hour later...delays mean very short classes!), I heard that coffee is free at McDonald's today...and I happened to be driving by a McDonald's and I love their coffee!

So, Valentine's Day is looking up (we'll see if it continues when my kids get off the bus all sugared up soon)! With 6 kids ages 7 and under, my husband and I are usually completely wiped out by 8 p.m., so no plans. But, I'm blessed to be married to my love every day!

Wishing you all a blessed day with your loved ones :). St. Valentine, pray for us!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Crossing the line...

Happy winter! We are enjoying the Olympics and cheering on Team USA. My children had a red-white-blue dress down day today (my daughter was thrilled to have a day off from her uncomfortable plaid uniform jumper!).

As I watched the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, my favorite part was watching the parade of nations. I marvel at how big the world is (there are countries that I've never even heard of that have populations of millions of people) and how God made and knows each individual person intimately!

As it is a winter wonderful outside (see above!), I have not been able to walk and run outside. So, I have been going to the gym. This is actually great as I love my gym (a $10/month gym less than 2 miles from my house!).

Last Wednesday, I took advantage of the free personal trainers at the gym (why  not, right!?). Everything was going great until I tried a challenging ab machine. I knew immediately that it was going to hurt my back (even though the buff trainer was standing above me telling me to go for it). I went for it...and it hurt my back...duh! I did one set of exercises and said that I was all good with that machine (I'll stick to old-fashioned crunches, I thought!). No harm done.

Until Thursday morning, that is! I was at the store, and I bent down to pick up Lucy (around 25 pounds) out of the stroller. And, I never quite made it back up! I have thrown out my back before, so I knew immediately what had happened. I somehow got Lucy in her car seat and rushed home to take some ibuprofen!!!

On Saturday, I couldn't stand the pain any more (I was trying to rest when possible, but I was still trying to take of the kids, etc.). I called a few chiropractors in the area that I have been to before. One in particular was extremely helpful last time this happened. Of course, they were not open on Saturday. So, I started cold calling chiropractors in Harrisburg. There are quite a few! And, I was quite lucky to find one with a Saturday opening...

After chatting with a very kind receptionist and filling out a ton of paperwork in a comfortable waiting room, I met the doctor. He reviewed my forms and he asked me questions. Two of his questions really stood out:
The first was, "Are you done having kids?" and the second was, "So, do you really like kids?" Both were asked very seriously.

I answered both with a smile, but soon afterwards (while waiting in an exam room for 20 minutes...followed by sitting in an adjustment room for additional 20 minutes), I started to feel quite frustrated and almost angry. It didn't really help that he made a joke about nuns that I didn't really find funny (he must have guessed that I was Catholic?).

I thought about how those questions might be relevant to my possible treatment. And, I couldn't really come up with anything! I didn't realize that my future plans to have children or how much I like children (both asked before he ever examined me) were relevant to back pain! Silly me :).

This post is basically venting! I did pray for my back yesterday at Mass (the adjustment that I received did not help, unfortunately), and I am happy to report that it is quite a bit better today. I always feel guilty asking God to heal something so minor (when so many people are suffering so greatly, both physically and emotionally). But, I know that Jesus cares greatly that I bring ALL my needs to Him.

I am once again wondering about a line that is crossed frequently. Why do people feel so free to ask about future plans for our family? It really doesn't bother me when it is close friends who are genuinely interested. But, why do perfect strangers ask something so intimate? And, worse, why do I feel like I have to answer?!

As in all things, God's will be done (my back, my future family, liking my kids even when they are driving me crazy...ha!, etc.). I pray again today in thanksgiving for all my blessings, for physical healing, and for all those who are suffering...that the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding will strengthen us! Amen :).

Go Team USA...cross that (finish) line!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Confusion sets in...

My children above, Gianna (1st grade) and Joseph (Kindergarten) are at school today! There was a 2-hour delay, but the bus rolled up at 9:55 and brought them to Holy Name of Jesus. This is great because yesterday was a snow day (there is an enormous snowman in my yard much to the delight of my children!). And, most likely, tomorrow will be a snow day too (we're expecting snow followed by dangerous ice!).

Since they announced the delay last night, we were able to have a slow-paced morning. This usually means everyone up by 7 a.m. (except for the baby and toddler who snooze a little later!). Lots of playing (with very loud toys...which Mommy doesn't like...especially before coffee!), lots of half-eaten bowls of cereal, lots of complaining as Mom runs around trying to get everyone dressed, and then a second breakfast (since the first light breakfast at 7:30 has worn off!), etc.

The highlight of my day (and it's only 2:45, so this is an assumption!) was a rousing game of "School" created by my five older children for all the stuffed animals (and we have LOTS of stuffed animals!). Gianna and Joseph were the lead teachers. They read books to the animals, took them to the bathroom (age appropriate humor that I really don't get!), had "circle time" with songs/weather/calendar, called out bus numbers, etc.

I LOVED listening to them play from the other room (I didn't dare go near them as I always seem to ruin it somehow...ha!). My children are so creative, and I love how thoughtful and kind they are capable of being to each other (it is easy to forget this when they are torturing each other over breakfast!).

Of course, this magical time had to end. There was then a big struggle trying to get everything ready to leave (you'd think two extra hours would prevent this!).

At 9:45, I told Joseph that it was finally time to go. "Where!?!" he asked.

"SCHOOL!" I said. "Remember Kindergarten!?!

He'll be home soon. And, no worries...looks like there will be lots more time for playing again tomorrow!