Friday, May 30, 2014

Pushing Buttons...

A rare picture of Mommy and Daddy together...with our cute baby :).
Yesterday was not the day that I planned. We arrived at our original destination only to see busses of field trippers also arriving. I pictured myself chasing Lucy through masses of elementary school children and then trying to find a private place to nurse. Um, yeah, it wasn't going to work! So, we promptly drove off.

We ended up at the mall at the kids' request (definitely not my first choice!). I've written about this mall before as it's one of the only indoor destinations for small children in Harrisburg, PA! It was a cold, rainy day so outdoors was not an option.

I was a little nervous that Joseph (who is tall for age 6!) would be much too big for the preschool playground. Luckily, however, there were quite a few older kids there yesterday, and they immediately introduced themselves and started playing tag. Only one small toddler was knocked over (I ran over to apologize to his mother and she told me that she understood as she has older kids too...phew!). The kids had a blast for 45 minutes, so it was a success!

On the way out (I adhere to a strict nap schedule for my sanity, so we had to leave before they were ready to leave!), I got a small snack to tide everyone over until lunch. Then, because my mother sent me a gift card for Christmas (yes, it's almost June now!), I went to the nearby Starbucks drive-thru and ordered myself a delicious coffee! Maybe the mall wasn't such a bad choice after all...

The ride home was torture (for Lucy, that is!). Because we need 6 car seats and/or booster seats, there aren't a lot of options for who-sits-where in our minivan!!! This means that Justin (age 3-1/2) and Lucy (age 2) must sit next to each other. Ugh!

During the 15-20 minute ride home, Justin managed to push of Lucy's buttons (and therefore, Mommy's buttons!). Lucy was already cranky as it was getting close to nap time, and her big brother simply wouldn't leave her alone (putting body parts all over her, taking her water, touching her face...and these are only the things I witnessed from the rearview mirror!). I did my best to firmly correct him, but he knew that I was completely helpless to stop him (unless I pulled over, which I have done before!). By the time we pulled into our neighborhood, the coffee was the only thing keeping me sane!!!

Happier Times!
Then, I heard these lyrics come on the radio. I had not heard this song before, but it had a nice catchy tune. And, for the record, after reading the rest of the lyrics online, I really don't need to hear it again! But, the words summed up my feelings toward Justin perfectly at that given moment. They were (from Pink's song True Love) the following:

 Sometimes I hate every single stup**id word you say
Sometimes I wanna slap you in your whole face (Whoa-Oh-Oh)
There's no one quite like you, you push all my buttons
I know life would su** without you (Whoa-Oh-Oh)
At the same time, I wanna hug you
(the song continues with not nice words!)

Now, I have never/would never slap my children's faces...but at the moment, it sounded like an okay idea...ha!

It summed up the feelings of parenting young children (in my experience, especially 3-year-olds!!!!). They can get me so worked up as they test like crazy, and they are extremely stubborn (Justin can sit for hours without taking another bite and we will just never be finished potty training!).

Love is a choice, and I choose to love my son...praying that he'll become more reasonable at age 4 (as my others have!). As my friend said recently about her 3-year-old, "Half the time I want to hug her, and other half I want to sell her!"

YES! God help us :). It's True Love!


Monday, May 26, 2014

My almost retreat...

We got the kids out in nature yesterday!
The first two days of summer vacation were long! Luckily, they were pretty normal with nothing eventful, but just...longer than usual (and usual is quite long...ha!).

I know it'll be okay. It's just a transition, and transitions are hard on everyone!

One of my anniversary gifts from my husband was the promise of an afternoon away (well, an afternoon away with an infant, that is!). As I'm still nursing a lot (I hate pumping so never even bothered to try a bottle!) and Teresa is just starting to get the hang of food, I have a constant companion (for at least three more months when she will hopefully get the hang of water in a sippy cup!).

Saturday was a picture perfect day (sunny, 75, low humidity), so I decided to cash in on my afternoon away! Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to plan my trip (I was just having a stressful week and I thought time away would do wonders for me)! I had ideas...hiking in nature, mini-pilgrimage to a church or shrine, trip to Emmitsburg, Maryland, etc.

I decided to go to Dauphin, PA. It isn't very far away...but far enough that I don't ever go there (again, I hadn't planned ahead so I didn't want to go far!). My husband told me about the newly built St. Matthew's Parish, and it is not a far drive from some lovely-looking parks with walking trails. I thought I would clear my head by getting some exercise, and then head to church to spend some time with our Lord (I know that supernatural help is the only way to attain the happiness and peace that I so badly desire!).

Inside of St.Matthew's
The ride out there was perfect. Teresa slept, and I had feelings of excitement to be driving outside of my 3-mile radius (everything...Holy Name, preschool, Target, grocery store, library, most friend's houses, many playgrounds, etc...are within 3 miles of my house!).

The walk through the park was very nice, too. I nursed baby in the car and she was content to sit in the stroller. Then we headed to the church (I figured it would be open on Saturday afternoon for Confession and Mass).

I found the church, and I instantly fell in love. It is a small parish in the country (at least more country than Harrisburg!), and it is simply beautiful. The sight of it filled me with peace. There was no one there yet. My husband prepared me for this. Because it is such a small parish, he said that the priest would probably walk up from the Rectory down the path and open the church when it was time. As we were early, I pushed the baby around the property in the stroller. There was a beautiful Marian prayer garden and a great playground (for a SECOND I missed my other kids as they would've loved it!).

When the church was opened (it happened just like that...suddenly the priest appeared walking toward the church!), I wanted to stay forever. It was very simple (see above), but I strongly felt the presence of God. The lovely stain-glass windows, religious icons, and Crucifix were just perfect.

I could see my family joining this parish, and the thought filled me with joy. Our current parish is wonderful, but it is just BIG. In fact, it is the biggest parish in our whole Diocese! I am at a stage in my life where I really seek relationships. I used to be more of a wandering soul, but I'm more than ready to lay down roots and build community. I know it would be easier to get to know people in a smaller parish. But, that said, I'm sure that I will feel more connected to my parish (and find what I'm seeking) when I have more time in my life to get involved!!!

Retreat Spoiler!
Anyway, I took a seat in the pew and really wanted to spend some time there. A man was just beginning the Rosary for the people starting to trickle in. I thought I might stay for Mass (we've going to separate Masses a lot recently as it's hard to take six kids to a church with no cry room!).

It wasn't meant to be. Teresa became inconsolably fussy, and there is no place to hide in a small church! My only option: to go home (the thought of bringing a fussy baby anywhere else just didn't appeal!). God's message to me was loud and clear: Go back to your family! My happiness, contentment, and peace cannot be found in a beautiful country church right now (as much as that does appeal to me!). Rather, it is amidst the chaos of life (disclaimer: go see the movie Mom's Night Out if you're's a comedy/tear jerker dedicated to this point!).

I will sign off with a quote by St. Frances of Rome, a wife and mother.

"It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife (no offense intended by this term...ha!) and sometimes must leave God at the altar to find him in housekeeping."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Glad someone's ready!

Gianna and Joseph enjoying Fun Field Day at Holy Name
Today was the last day of preschool...forever...for Cecilia! Justin had his last day as well (although he still has two more years of preschool!), and Joseph has his last full day of Kindergarten today (half day tomorrow and then he's done).

Yikes! How did this sneak up on me!?! Summer is here?! God willing, as of tomorrow, I will have 5 kids home all day (Gianna has a few weeks left). Really? Oh's too much for me...too intense!!! Breathe...because, as my husband reminds hasn't happened yet, so I don't have the graces that I need yet...but God will provide them as needed!

The kids are ready! They will miss their friends (and for certain, they will get bored and restless!), but they will embrace a slower pace (especially in the morning) and more time to just play.

I love my kids...all of much. I want to be with them and I am content to be a stay-at-home mom. But, I would so gladly and quickly move to a state that had school throughout the summer!!! 

I am writing this to prepare myself mentally and physically. The good thing is that I've done this before. And, I know that after a few days of transition, we will settle in. And, I will actually enjoy it (writing it helps me to remember this!).

I used to DESPISE (I mean really hate, can you tell!?) staying home after naps every day. These are the longest hours of the day with the most meltdowns, whining, etc. It did us all good to have a change of scenery. Time sped up, and the kids were better when I was trying to make dinner. Sometimes I would host a playdate instead so we didn't have to rush around to get out the door.

But, then this fall changed all that.

Joseph started full-day Kindergarten and he really wanted to decompress and play after getting off the bus at 3:45...not rush through a snack and get into the minivan.

In October, Teresa was born. And, I needed to sit down and nurse this little person all the time. The kids weren't really big fans of sitting in the car waiting for me to nurse before we rushed through an activity to get home to make dinner.

I stopped inviting people over kids (with all different personalities and temperaments) are tired and not at their best in the afternoons...and same for the other kids that I invited it stopped being fun and felt more like work (although I really miss seeing my friends more!).

And, you know what? My afternoons are still long (VERY long somedays!), but I actually like staying home. The kids know the drill and they have gotten much better at entertaining themselves. Blessings sneak in daily...beautiful moments that my heart wouldn't have captured if we were running around. There is more time to just BE together as a family. My children are growing closer to their siblings, and I am calmer, more loving, and peaceful (most of the time!).

Another week or two of school wouldn't make me ready...but it would be nice :). Since it's not going to happen, I say (begrudgingly!), "Welcome Summer!" If we can do afternoons together, why not all day (* but please God send those graces quick*)!!!

Justin holding Teresa at his end of year show!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Goodbye Loving Mother...

My aunt died on Mother's Day. I wasn't close to her, and I haven't seen her since my grandmother's funeral in 2002. So, her death hasn't really affected my life too much (I'm not going up to Boston for the funeral Mass this week because my children have a lot going on), but I am thinking about her life and praying for her soul throughout my days.

She had more than her share of suffering in her life. There were beautiful moments and triumphs, for sure; but, the suffering stands out to me. She divorced when her three children were still at home. I know nothing of their marriage, but I heard through the grapevine that it was not a happy home. For reasons that I do not know (and it's really none of my business), her three children chose not to be in her life for many years now. These were years (at least 10 years, but I think more) that were spent in a nursing home suffering from MS and early onset dementia, among other ailments.

My father and my uncle were faithful visitors to the nursing home. But sadly, to their knowledge, no one else came. This makes me sad. I think of Mother Teresa talking about how one of the greatest poverties is to be forgotten. Granted, I did not visit her in the nursing home when I have been home either. I suppose I do have some good excuses, but they do not make me feel better because...

She was a good aunt to me. She chose special thoughtful gifts (which are long gone), such as a name plate for my desk when I got my first teaching job (she was also a teacher in Catholic schools). I also remember a nice pair of earrings. I felt the love behind the gifts (and I am doing my best to teach my children to remember that gifts from family are often picked with love...and feeling the love behind the gift is much more important than the gift itself!).

Anyway, my father was responsible for writing the obituary. I think he did a beautiful job. Even though her children deserted her (perhaps a strong word, but to my knowledge, they chose not to see her), she never stopped asking for them. My father often told her that they sent their love to make her feel better (and perhaps, please God, they were thinking of her and loving her from afar!). The first line of her obituary read that she was the loving mother of three children (one who predeceased her).

I know this woman loved her children (I spent a lot of time with them as a child). Perhaps she was not the mother that she was called to be and meant to be (who is!?), but she loved her children (imperfect love though it might have been!). I am happy that people who read her obituary (and I assume some people will...I actually browse through the obituaries sometimes in the Sunday paper) will know that she was a loving mother.

I hope that my obituary reads this way someday too (maybe that's where this is all coming from...).

My aunt did receive the Sacraments and absolution (and hopefully her suffering has been uniting her to Christ for quite some time!), so I am hopeful that she is enjoying her eternal reward free of all suffering.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon her. Rest in peace, loving mother.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A New Day...

Here's my preschool graduate on her field trip day (she's glowing with sunscreen)!
I had an absolutely crazy Mother's Day weekend. It actually wasn't much fun at all!

I would love a "re-do" as I didn't even get to enjoy the day dedicated to ME! But, it's not gonna happen! And, despite the unpleasant things that transpired, I was still filled with a profound sense of happiness, gratitude to God, and wonder to be a mother to my six beautiful children (so all was not lost!).

I will briefly describe the events of the weekend. Perhaps it will be entertaining or perhaps not(!), but I think writing about it will help me to vent and to put things into proper perspective (although things seem so overwhelming in the moment, they are really nothing in the grand scheme of life!).

Anyway, Saturday was a very busy day for my husband. He had a big role in the logistics behind a Men's Conference for the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg. It was a wonderful day of renewal and enrichment for around 600 men. I am glad that things were going well at the conference...because at the home front...not so much :).

My husband left around 6 a.m., and I was relieved that the baby was still sleeping so I could roll over for a bit. "A bit" lasted 10 minutes! My oldest daughter came in at 6:10 a.m. and notified me that she felt sick to her stomach. Fabulous!

I started my day with a big cup of coffee as Gianna rested on the couch. I was hopeful that it was just the antibiotics that she was on for strep throat that were bothering her stomach. Everyone but Lucy was up by 6:30 a.m. Lucy slept without a sound. At 8 a.m., I became concerned as I have no way of knowing what is going on in her crib and she is usually up by then!

I came to discover that Lucy had thrown up all over her crib. I'm not sure WHEN exactly...she was just sitting completely calm in the middle of the mess! Strange reaction! As I was getting Lucy into the tub and starting the laundry, Gianna suddenly threw up in her bedroom. Fabulous!

This sweet baby was the last one to get the stomach bug last night!
I will stop all the details now. But, all 8 of us were hit with a very nasty stomach bug. Everything is back to normal today, and I have loved every minute of a "normal" day. It was a great reminder to never take health for granted!!!

Back to Saturday! I managed go get Cecilia to dance and Joseph to soccer as they were not sick (yet!). We came home from pick-up (luckily no one was sick in the car!) and I tried to send the healthy kids out to play. It was a gorgeous day and I thought the fresh air was just what everyone needed!

Cecilia came to me and said, "Something is very wrong in the backyard." Uh-oh...that didn't sound good!

I ran to the door to see that a gust of wind had picked up the umbrella on the patio...and this had shattered the glass table into at least three trillion little tiny pieces of glass. Yay (said with much sarcasm)!

I got the little ones down for a nap and then put a movie on for the older kids so that I could begin the cleanup. Fun times! After an hour, I decided to have some pizza delivered as my reward. I was hungry and at least I wouldn't have to cook dinner :).

My husband got home around 5 p.m. I begged for an hour to escape to the gym. I thought that some heart-pumping cardio would give me an outlet and a healthy dose of endorphins!

I arrived at the gym to discover that I had forgotten my ear buds. Err...this was frustrating as I really wanted to enjoy an episode of The Middle (love this show!). Oh well...I decided that silence (well, not counting the music playing in the gym) was probably better for me.

That is until the fire alarm started to go off. Really!?! I just started and, really!? Luckily, the employees told us that we could stay on our equipment. Although, I'm sure that I suffered some permanent hearing damage! And, it wasn't really the "break" that I had needed or wanted...

I picked up this pretty statue of Mary for $2 while browsing through the Goodwill store!
Today is a new day. I am extra grateful that all of my children (and Mommy and Daddy!) are healthy and enjoying a regular day. I am looking forward to Cecilia's graduation from preschool tonight (Teresa will be my date because it's at 7 p.m. and we have quite a few little ones who "melt" at this hour so Daddy will stay home with them).

It's also the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Thank you for helping through this crazy weekend, Mary (I called on her quite a bit!). Please, continue to help and protect my family by your most powerful intercession!

Wishing you a "regular" day...that we all have the graces to appreciate the three trillion little (preferably glass-free) blessings in our lives! :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Just Laugh...

Did I mention that I LOVE our new fence!?!
I was having a lovely conversation with two women last week at a place called Tumble Town (yup, a preschool paradise on a rainy day!). I know one of the moms pretty well, but the other I had just met that day.

They were both loving my sweet baby. As she is number six, I have absolutely no problem handing her right over to (within reason!) anyone who would like to hold her!

One said, "Ohh...this puts me on the fence again (about another child). But, I'm just too old." The other said, "Yeah, if I was younger, then we would've had another one." They then shared their ages.

Um...they're both younger than me! And, their youngest are 3 and 4. So, I've had several babies since I was their ages.

I decided not to join in by offering my age (I'm 38, for the record). It would've put them on the defensive as they went out of their way to tell me that it's just not for them and that they were definitely not talking about me!!!

They are very nice ladies, and they certainly meant no harm. And, I am definitely not assuming that another child is right for their family (I really have no idea of God's plan for their families!), but I do know that God does not mistakes. Obviously, women in their late 30s and 40's are able to have babies...God trusts us with precious gifts even at ripe ole ages (lol!), and He supplies the graces and means to raise them too :).

So, I just had to laugh a little bit to myself as I dragged the four kids out of the mall. I actually felt quite old that day, but I think it had more to do with the fact that it was raining torrentially and I was trying to shove hungry, tired children into the minivan rather than biology :).

Preschool graduation is only a week away!
Another "just laugh" moment....

I was trying to get breakfast for everyone yesterday morning before heading out the door to Mass. It was actually more like a mid-morning snack because everyone was up so early and "breakfast" was long gone...

Gianna, age 7-1/2, was cranky while waiting for her food (of course, it's not as easy as just putting food down on the table because everyone likes different things...and I was trying to avoid arguments!).

I was getting her waffles ready when she yelled out, " order still has not arrived!!!!!"

Ummm....excuse me?! I didn't realize that I was a waitress (I haven't seen many tips lately!).

After sending her away from the table, and then calling her back a minute later (we really didn't have much time), disciplining, and receiving an apology (albeit not the most sincere!), I had to laugh to myself again.

Perhaps she should try another restaurant...the service is probably much better there :).

Thursday, May 1, 2014


This morning I went to JC Penney Portrait Studios because I had a great coupon: only $3.99 per sheet! Because I belong to their portrait club, there is no sitting fee. So, I was really hoping for a good shot of Lucy (age 2), Teresa (6 months), and both my babies together (I haven't gotten a picture of just two kids together since Gianna and Joseph were toddlers...but, today the girls had these gorgeous dresses on and I wanted to capture a moment....).

I captured nothing...ha!! I did get a headache for my efforts. And, luckily, I made it back to preschool in time (wasn't sure about that because I was waiting and waiting to see my comical pictures!).

It is just impossible to get a picture of Lucy these days (see above and below for exhibits A and B). She is extremely camera shy (especially with strangers!) and always on the go!

She was smelling the flowers and it was beautiful...but now it just looks like she's!
While I really wasn't expecting to get a good picture of Lucy, I was really hopeful about Teresa. I have 6-month-old shots of all my babies (well, I think Lucy was late!), and they are my favorites in the whole house!!!

Poor Teresa didn't feel up to smiling though. She had her 6-month-old well visit yesterday at 4:15 p.m. My afternoons with the kids have been atrocious lately, so I was actually looking forward to handing over the reigns to Daddy (who came home early to watch the troops) and going to the pediatrician.

Up until the shots, we both enjoyed it! Even though we were stuck in a small exam room for an eternity, we were both quite happy. I felt like I was on vacation (ha!), and Teresa was loving all the undivided attention.

But, then came the shots. And, poor baby has had low fevers and sore legs ever since (hence the bad pictures this morning!). Should've thought of this before I booked pictures!

These two love the camera ;)
Gianna's 1st grade class is having a Mother's Day Tea next Friday. It sounds like fun (it's a terrible time for my husband to come home and watch the other kids...but no siblings are allowed!).

Last night, my husband was working after dinner. Four of the kids were playing (well, in between quarrels!) in the basement. Gianna and I were taking turns brushing each other's hair (I remember doing this with my mom when I was young!).

She told me that she had to fill out a questionnaire about me for the Mother's Day Tea. She said she had trouble on one question (I flashbacked to when she told her 3-year-old teacher that I was 66!). "Which one?" I asked (not really knowing if I wanted to know!).

She explained that the question was, "I like it when my mom and I do _____ together." She said that she couldn't think of anything that we did together because I was always so busy cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the other kids. How great I felt...ha!!! Sorry I asked!

I wanted to remind her that we were actually spending special time together right then (but, maybe this didn't count in her mind!?!).

Anyway, she informed me that she did not write the word "nothing" on the line (PHEW!). Then she said that she wrote "play soccer" together. Um...okay! I did play soccer in the yard with her....once...last year! I guess that moment meant a lot to her!

I can think of lots of other things that I do with her...not that I'm defensive! And, of course, I can/should do more...especially if she feels that way!

After 5 inches of rain yesterday, it is a beautiful (albeit too humid for my taste...because it means summer is!) day. Soccer anyone!?!