Friday, August 29, 2014

Right by both of us...

Lucy has a big girl bed :). It's earlier than I wanted (I love cribs!), but I saw how she was climbing out of the crib and it scared me! She's delighted...and so is Teresa who can stand up holding on to the bed!
I have been praying about a decision a lot lately. It has to do with my almost 4-year-old, Justin. Preschool starts next week, and I still don't know what I'm going to do! He's most definitely going, but I don't know how often!

He is currently signed up for five days at two schools. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are at the Christian Nursery School that all my kids have gone to (including Justin himself last year!). I know his teachers well (they are lovely women), and they know our family well. I know that it would be a great group of children and families. I signed him up in February (I arrived at the school at 4:30 a.m. and sat in a friend's car until the doors opened at 7 a.m.!).

Over the summer, Justin was driving me crazy. I say this very lovingly (although it doesn't sound very loving...ha!). He was just being 3-1/2-year-old with all the usual challenges (potty training, random meltdowns, temper tantrums, driving his little sister crazy, etc.!). I did not sign him up for any camps (although he was old enough to go to all the vacation bible schools with his older siblings!) because I thought he needed the summer off from stress (he loved school when he was there, but he has a lot of anxiety at first). The result was being together 24/7. I was a little anxious for him to be enrolled in activities this fall :).

Long story short, after a few phone calls and some paperwork, we were blessed with a scholarship for him to attend Holy Name's preschool (this is our parish and the school that my older kids attend). This preschool is Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I went to the orientation meeting last night and I am thrilled that he will have such a loving, gentle teacher in a solid Catholic atmosphere. He is definitely starting there next week. The scholarship seals the deal!

Cecilia had her first day of kindergarten and she LOVED it!!! Here's a shot of the kids before the bus came!
So, 5 days or 2 days?

MY answer is 5 days!!! He will be the oldest one in the 3-year-old class (he has to go into a 3-year-old class even though he'll be 4 in a couple of weeks...don't get me started...I HATE this law!). It's only 2.5 hours a day, and he will (eventually...after nerves wear off) have FUN! He will practice socializing with children his own age (of all my kids, he's the shyest), and he will gain important academic skills.

HIS answer is NO days...but, if he truly understood it, he would choose 2 days. And, the unselfish person in me (it would be really nice to have him go to school each kids and I tend to be happier at home for the rest of the day once we've gotten out for a little bit!) thinks that 2 days is the better option of the two. I think going to two schools would be stressful for any small child as there will be two sets of rules, all those new faces to get used to, different teaching styles, etc.

So, what's my answer? I really want to do right by both of us. I'll let you know!!! God hasn't told me yet. Although maybe He has (did I read what I just wrote!?) and I'm just not ready to hear yet...

Cecilia and Lucy love walking their baby dolls while waiting for the bus! However, now Cecilia is ON the bus ;).
Funny story though...

Justin was in my lap and he kissed the Miraculous Medal that I wear around my neck. He said, "I love Mary!" I told him that was great and that she loves him too. I tried to introduce a new concept of prayer to him (the fact that he can talk to Jesus and Mary on his own...not just during family prayers). He looked at me very weird before saying,

"But...them don't talk...them are dead."

Ha!!! I figured that I should stop there instead of trying to explain more concepts that he wouldn't understand.

It sure would be easier if Jesus or Mary would speak to us out loud about all the big and little decisions of motherhood, huh!?!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just for the heck of it!

I kind of feel like writing today. But, I have nothing really important that I want to say :). It's just an ordinary day! I'm seldom at a loss for words, but I'll spare you "writing just for the sake of writing" (which is never very good writing in my experience)!
So, today I'm just going to post some pictures of  memories and reflections that I want to store in my heart!
Thanks for stopping by...may God Bless you today!
The kids love their Uncle Bobby! He doesn't have any kids of his own, but I'm glad he gets to experience the special love and attention that children give so freely!
Summer fun at the museum. I know that I'll miss these days of piling all my children into the minivan and going on adventures! My mind will eliminate all the stresses and only the smiles and happy times will remain in my memory, right!?
They were ready and too :). First day of school went very well...except Joseph came off the bus with shirt un-tucked...we'll have to work on that!
Yes, that's big bite of cheese in Lucy's mouth! We went to the Open House at the Harrisburg International Airport. And, Cecilia and I waited in line for a half hour to use the porta-potties!!! After waiting that long to go to the bathroom, I didn't have any desire to wait in even longer lines for the kids to actually get on a plane :). Lesson learned...get there early next year!
"Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it."
St. Josemaria Escriva

Friday, August 22, 2014

I made it!!!!

In the hurricane chamber at a local museum! Winds at over 100mph! starts on Monday (it's Friday!).

I came very close to losing my mind this week. And, that would've been a shame after staying pretty sane all summer :).

Last night was the 1st grade meeting at Holy Name of Jesus School. Joseph is a 1st grader so I had to attend (even though Gianna was just in 1st grade and I thought I would know everything...and I did!). I was greeted by one of the kindergarten aides who innocently said, "It was a quick summer, huh?" I did my best to remain calm. I had an awful afternoon, so I joked that, in fact, NO!, it hadn't been quick at all :).

The principal overheard this and joked with me that I was probably the happiest person in the building to be attending a meeting. She was probably right...Daddy was going to bathe all the children and they would (fingers crossed!) all be in their bedrooms by the time that I got home (and they were!).

Gianna danced around the room with Teresa to the theme song of Curious George...Teresa loved it!
It hasn't been a bad week, mind you. As always, there have been countless blessings. But, I think the kids are just ready to be back in school. The fighting, tattling, boredom, and restlessness are at a summer high. There hasn't been any camp this week (besides an hour tennis lesson for Gianna and Joseph in the mornings), and the kids are very quick to argue with me about...everything!!!

They did spent over an hour trying to catch a worm this week. Despite all the objections, I sent them outside to play after movie/rest time was over one day. Joseph came inside to plead their case to me. Since I will not allow any pets (deprived children!), maybe they could catch a worm that they would leave outside at all times in a cup full of dirt. How could I possibly say no to that!?

They caught a worm (the site of five kids digging with plastic spoons in the bad yard was something. I was just glad that everyone was occupied so I could focus on the baby!) and named him, "Truck" (NO idea why!). The next morning, Justin came to tell me very solemnly that, "Truck is dead." I did my best not to laugh (and I did feel guilty for about 10 seconds for not letting them have a real pet!).

When Gianna and Joseph played tennis, the younger three ran through empty baseball fields!
I love watching my kids run.
Joseph gave me the laugh of the week. He randomly told me as I was putting away laundry that I was going to be a grandmother soon. I literally laughed outloud!!!

I asked him, "What in the world are you talking about?" He told me that he is growing up fast (true enough) and that he might want to get married someday and be a dad. Therefore, I would be a grandmother (I think it because he was very interested in how I am related to Papa, Nana, and Uncle Bobby who came last week).

Fertility has been on my mind a lot recently. Although, I am talking about my own fertility...not that of my future daughter-in-law ;).

As a practicing Catholic who is practicing Natural Family Planning, it has to be on my mind. I am amazed at how much my emotions, moods, and my physical body are affected by where I am in my monthly cycle (I still suffer from low progesterone when I am not pregnant too). On any given day, I am very "tuned in" and I have a pretty good idea of what it going on (although there's always some doubt too!). Anyway, fertility is never far from my mind.

Little did I know that I do not need to worry about's time to think about grandchildren. Silly me ;).

God willing, next time I write, the school year will have begun and we will be settling into a new routine. Stay tuned...

I never go down in my basement...but I did when it was raining this week. I thought my presence would
cut down on the fighting...but it didn't :).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shoo Fly...

Monday was my birthday. I decided that it would be lovely to spend the day alone with my children (Daddy had to work). In fact, I had something special in mind. A few months ago, I visited a beautiful small parish in our Diocese. It's not very far away (only about 20 minutes), but it's in the mountains...and it's simply lovely! And, there is great playground on the property. My goal was to play for a while at the playground, take pictures in the Mary Garden (above), and then enjoy the picnic lunch that I had packed.

We pulled in and my heart was singing. The weather was perfect and it was as picturesque as I remembered! The kids saw the playground and started to run right for it! Perfect. For about three minutes :).

Three minutes was how long it took all of us to realize that we needed to leave NOW. Why? Because we were being attacked my swarming little flies (they are usually not a problem in this part of the country, but I'm told they're so bad this year because of the very wet summer!).

I'm not sure what they're called, but man, they're annoying! I didn't have bug spray with me either (we've since bought some!). A few got caught in my contact lenses which was gross. Moments later, the baby was chewing on the ones that flew into her mouth...which was much grosser. Time to go!!!

Hurry up and smile so we can get out of here!
We did stop at the Mary Garden. And, I almost got a good shot (above!). The highlight was that the beautiful church was open (didn't think it would be on a weekday morning). We lit a candle for Mary's intercession and then a candle for St. Joseph's intercession. And then my very last $5 went into the poor box (it seemed like a great teaching moment...).

On the way home, we stopped by the Wildwood Nature Center. My children love it there, and it's free! It's also closed on Monday's. Can't win :(.

To make it up to all the disappointed kiddos in the car (and to improve my mood!), we stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way home. I got a Toasted Almond Coffee (heavenly) and the kids split 2 donuts (2 donuts for 5 kids doesn't go far, but they knew better than to least Teresa doesn't eat donuts yet!).

It wasn't the birthday that I dreamed of. But, if I put it all into perspective, it kind of WAS the birthday of my dreams! I spent a gorgeous day with my greatest treasures. I received a beautiful card and gift from my loving husband. Some bonuses include my health, a nice home in a great free country, and plenty of food (and even coffee!).

A few flies can't take all this away :).

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nothing lasts forever...

Nana and Gianna have a very special bond. The are making bead bracelets here.
Gianna was so sad last night because our visitors left. My father, mother, and brother came down from Massachusetts to spend five days with us.

I certainly enjoyed their visit, and I feel incredibly blessed to have spent happy times with my relatively healthy parents as I know not everyone my age has this honor anymore. My bachelor brother, who does not have any kids of his own, was incredible at making each one of my children feel loved and special.

It was just awesome to sit back and watch my children enjoy my "family of origin."

There was an abundance of laughing, tickling, hugs, and kisses! One of the highlights for me was going out three nights in a row...two date nights with hubby and one night out with my brother. I felt giddy just being able to go out for a few beers (and not worry at all about my kids...if I had a sitter, I don't think I'd have been able to relax as much) ! :)

I was okay when they left (it helped that I was leaving at the same time to take Cecilia to a birthday party!). I hope and pray that I will see them again (although I never know when the next time will be which is a little hard to think about!).

I'm sure that my parents were happy to sleep in their own bed and just to be home. My mother has always been fond of saying, "There's no place like home!" I know my sister who lives in the same town was anxious to have Papa and Nana back home! It is comforting to know that my parents are home safely together...where they belong!

Gianna, almost 8, does not have the same outlook. She is just...SAD! She was like a lost puppy last night. She asked me if I would take her to restaurant alone or at least play Uno with her. Neither one was possible at the time that she asked (almost bed time). I tried to make it better, but I knew that I was failing. She said that she doesn't like that things have to end. I told her to talk to Jesus and Mary about it and to just let herself feel sad for a little bit because it's normal!

Gianna's favorite person!

Luckily, she was much happier this morning. She is super excited about my 39th birthday tomorrow...way more excited than me...LOL! It's a very nice distraction at least.

This morning before Mass she was helping all the kids make birthday cards, and then she asked me a bunch of questions so Daddy can take her to get a gift. For example: What is your favorite drink? What is your favorite flower? What is your favorite pet? (Ha...can't blame a girl for trying!).

Justin joined in saying, "Happy birthday to my big 39-year-old girl!" Gee, thanks :).

I'm reminded of when I was 9-years-old and sneaking through my mother's bureau (hoping my kids don't get any ideas...not that they read this blog!). I came across a pad of paper that said, "39 Forever." I did not understand what it meant at all...

I get it now :). Crazy to think I am the one who is 39...

I don't feel bad or sad at all though. Just happy...what a blessed woman I am to celebrate my birthday with my parents, brother (missing my other brother and sister who stayed in Massachusetts though), husband, sad yet incredibly thoughtful almost 8-year-old daughter, and the rest of my beautiful babies.

Nothing lasts forever so I'll treasure today!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A League of Her Own...


Last night I was so proud of Gianna. It was opening night of football season at Holy Name of Jesus. It started with a 6 p.m. beautiful Mass for all the football players, cheerleaders, and their families. Our pastor gave a great homily. And...the best part...I actually got to sit and listen to it (usually I'm out of the church and running around the narthex with Lucy and Teresa at this point in the Mass!).

After "Field Mass," we all marched over to the football field where they introduced each and every member of all the teams (it's actually a football league with pee wees, midgets, ponies, etc. Gianna is technically a K-2 Majorette!) this took a while!

When it was their turn, the 30+ group of Majorettes ran onto the field. Gianna made eye contact with me as she got into her spot (I was able to sit in the front row of the bleachers!). I know that she was nervous as that's all she talked about on the car ride over to church.

Nerves and all, she did awesome! She completed the routine almost perfectly (as well as anyone else out there!), and the best part for me...about half way through, she made eye contact with me and gave me a huge smile. It was one of those moments when tears come to your eyes because you can't even believe that God has given you the gift of this child!!!

Jump ahead about 15 hours and I was having the opposite feelings (not that I'm proud of them). Gianna and Joseph are attending soccer camp this week as soccer season starts soon. It is from 9-12 a.m. and today was the first day.

Gianna attended this camp last year and she enjoyed it because it was not too intense (some of the parents that I was with last year were complaining that it was too "light" with too many games and popsicles breaks...I thought it was a good fit for my child!).

Well, the complaining parents must have complained to the right people because this morning was anything but "light!" When I got back to pick them up around 11ish (I dropped them off this morning and then did a few errands with the little kids before heading back to hang out for the last hour!), I was met by a very angry Gianna (Joseph was fine...sweaty and out of water...but pretty happy).

Gianna ran up to me (it was a water break), and in front of a lot of people we know, demanded to know why in the world I had signed her up for such a long camp. Didn't I know that she doesn't like to run that much and that these stupid drills aren't important for soccer anyway!?!

I was mortified. I quickly tried to diffuse the situation by offering a snack (no snacks provided this year...I didn't realize that) and some extra water. After a short pep talk, I sent her back out to the field. She finished the camp, but she was not happy when it was over. And, she was letting everyone know about it!!!

My proud, loving feelings from last evening were replaced with anger. We had paid a good deal of money for this camp, after all! And, the exercise is very good for her, and she will undoubtedly pick up a skill or two regardless of what she thinks!!!

I thought about it on the way home. I suppose it was a little "long" (her biggest complaint). I love to exercise, but even to me, playing soccer for three hours in the hot sun suddenly seemed a little extreme! Gianna is not bad at soccer (she has greatly improved in the three years that she has played, contributes regularly to the team during games, and she seems to enjoy it most of the time), but she definitely seems to prefer Majorettes, art, and swimming.

Lucy's gonna miss the big kids when they go to school!
The plan is that she will finish out the week of soccer camp (hopefully sending snacks and extra water will help). And, since she is all signed up for the season, she will play this fall. And then, I can't really see spending money on soccer if it's not HER choice to play (I didn't ask her!).

So, I guess this is the beginning of the end of soccer! It's a nice reminder to me that God's plans for my children may not necessarily match my plans for my children :). And, now that she's getting older, I need to listen to and respect Gianna's opinions and feelings...even when I don't agree with them.

So easy to write this, but...gonna need some major help, guidance, and humility here, Blessed Mother :).

Have a good day, everyone!

Friday, August 8, 2014

History in the Making...

The highlight was a horse pulled wagon ride!
My husband took yesterday off so that we could do a family day trip. At the last minute, I decided that I did not have it in me to make the 1-1/2 hour trip to Baltimore as we had originally planned (we can use a current museum membership to get into a great science center there). Our LONG trip to Ohio was still too fresh in my mind :).

I decided on Lancaster, PA as it is only about 40 minutes away. And, it feels so "different" from Harrisburg as we don't have Amish horse and buggies around here!

I knew that we could get into a museum called the Landis Valley Museum for free. It is a museum which features an old village from around 1900 or so. You walk from building to building talking to people dressed in costumes and you get to see what life was like back then. There are lots of animals, gardens, etc. It is a VERY cool museum...if only my children thought so :).

The biggest problem is that the Landis Valley Museum shares a parking lot with Hands On House, a children's museum that my children absolutely adore. They ask to go there all year (we used to have a family membership, but it expired). Imagine their disappointment when we pulled into the parking lot and told them that we were not going to Hands On House, but rather a historical museum. Can you hear the whines of disappointment?!?

Turkey Hill ice cream is made in Lancaster, PA :)
Everyone but Joseph soon forgot about Hands On House and started to enjoy themselves (after they understood that there was no place to play!). I loved imagining what my life would've been like if I lived back then. I know a lot of things would've been harder (we went into the general store and were shown all the fabric...the women had to make clothes for the whole family!). But, I think it was also probably much simpler with more quiet moments and a greater focus on what is truly important in life. My girls said they would love to play with the colorful marbles which was the most popular children's game back then.

Our favorite part was seeing where a family like ours would have lived. There was one bedroom. The guide explained that the parents slept in the one bed, anyone over 6 slept on a mattress in the attic,  anyone 5 and under slept on a bed attached to the parents, and babies were in cradles. The kids had fun exploring where they would have slept. For a moment it sounded so have the whole family safe and warm snuggled together. And then I remembered what it was like a few weeks ago when all 8 of us were in a single hotel!

Joseph made my favorite observation of the day, "I'm glad that I'm not a 100-year boy!"

I took the kids to the State Museum of PA on Wednesday!
Overall, it was a fun day and I think the kids enjoyed it. There is so much that I want to teach my children and/or expose them too, and I think trips like this provide valuable lessons and precious memories.  I think our next family day trip will be more age appropriate for our young crowd though :).

Teresa would love to get down and play, but she'll have stick to my arms for a few more months!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Messy Monday...

Sister love at the playground!
Lucy took this picture with a friend's phone at the playground this morning. Not bad for a 2-year-old amateur photographer :).

It is my first week of the summer with all six kids home for the full day with no camps (and there's only three weeks left of could I complain!?). Monday is about half way done and it's been nice (but, I haven't reached my "tough" hours of the day yet...ask me again in a few hours how Monday was!!!).

Anyway, we met some friends at a playground, and it was fun. The kids played well together, I had another mom to talk to (key to my sanity!), the weather was comfortable, etc. Success! the distance, I could see that Cecilia (5), Justin (age 3-1/2), Lucy (age 2), and a strange child jumping into what looked like a deep mud puddle. UGH! Their sneakers were already wet because they had been jumping in little-ish puddles on the basketball court all morning (pick your battles, right!?).

When it became clear that my yells were being ignored (and probably annoying all those around me!), I ran over there. "Are you kidding me, Justin!?!?!" The lower half of his body was COVERED in mud. His clothes, socks, sneakers, and legs were disgusting. Are you kidding me?! Luckily, Cecilia only jumped in once and came to her senses (I just wish her senses had kicked in sooner!), and Lucy was much more interested in observing than in participating.

Long story short: I did my best to remain calm (not easy during PMS week!) and clean up my child with baby wipes without making a scene (the mother of the stranger child was making enough of a scene for both of us!). I actually ended up throwing out his socks and sneakers....they were that bad! Luckily, they were hand-me-down sneakers that are actually too small on him now. But still!!!

She's crawling now...only a matter of time before she's chasing everyone :)
On the ride home, I kept hearing that, "It was so-and-so's idea." I did my best to explain peer pressure and what to do if people are doing something that you know is wrong. It was clearly lost on those ages 3-1/2, 2, and 9 months. It's debatable whether the older three internalized anything useful (about mud puddles or about life!).

So, it begins! Messy life lessons...

At least we are all cleaned up and no harm done. If only life's lessons were always so easily fixed, huh?! :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Even when...

Cecilia's blond hair shimmers in the sunlight!
My three oldest have gone to an embarrassing number of Vacation Bible Schools this summer! They have been to three Catholic ones, but the Protestant churches around here put on some very nice ones too. Vacation Bible School is right up my (or very inexpensive), FUN, and focused on praising and worshipping God...what is not to love!?!

Sadly, they are done now for the summer (and I still have three weeks to survive before school starts!). We do have soccer camp and tennis camp to look forward to though!

Anyway, last Sunday, my husband said that he felt our family was "VBS'd out." Meaning, "Enough already with the Vacation Bible Schools!"

He had a point. Although each has been a valuable experience, it is kind of a lot to ask young kids to walk into a completely new setting each week...often not knowing a soul except each other! They often refused to get out of the car at Monday morning arrival due to nerves, but then begged me to go back day after day (even after I offered to cut this last one short and send them to playground camp instead!).

Anyway, the theme of many of the camps has been, "Even if you are (insert adjective), Jesus still loves you." For example, "Even if you are left out, Jesus still loves you."

What a valuable message!!! I should recite this to myself when I am having a nervous breakdown at 4:30 p.m. every afternoon :). "Even when six kids are melting around you and you have no idea what is for dinner, Jesus still loves you!"

Anyway, Cecilia has apparently internalized this message very well. We were driving to VBS on Thursday, and it happened to be "crazy sock day." Gianna picked out Christmas socks. Joseph decided that his regular socks were crazy enough (um, plain gray with stripes...okay!), and Cecilia decided to go sans socks and wear sandals.

I did not push "crazy socks" as I had enough going on making sure that everyone was dressed, ate breakfast, hair brushed, etc.! I love that the older ones...especially Gianna (who can now get her own bowl of cereal and pour drinks for herself and others...woot woot!)...are starting to be more independent.

Back to the story! We were driving when Joseph discovered (to his dismay!) that not only did Cecilia not have crazy socks on, but rather, NO socks at all! The nerve...

Cecilia calmly responded (love when there's no drama, tears, or tattling), "Joseph, it is okay. Even when I do not wear socks, Jesus still loves me!"

That a girl :).

Have a blessed week everyone!