Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happy Anniversary to my Superhero Hubs....

I don't mean our wedding anniversary....I think, I hope I would be in greater trouble for forgetting that one....But yes, I made a huge blunder this weekend.

I forgot my husband's anniversary with his job.

Why is that a big deal?

Because my husband has loved his job since before day 1.  He waited "patiently" for many years to even have the opportunity to be what he is today.  I met him when I was just 18 years old and he was about to be freshly graduated from college with his "easy" token to get in, a degree in Accounting.  Determined to not settle, that man never gave up.  Not one day went by when he didn't lose focus.  He didn't do anything too stupid to risk not getting in, or affecting his application.  He had known since high school the easiest way to get in was a degree in accounting.

There's an endless amount of white collar crime in this world.

He knew everything he needed to do.  He did everything required of him.

And he waited.

For four grueling years he waited.

When the freeze was finally lifted, he waited.

When "affirmative action" meant he would be placed at the back of the line, he waited.

He never gave up.


He's the reason why I am who I am today.  I have watched this man for 25 years work tirelessly and passionately in everything he ever encounters.  From his days playing rugby, to waiting for this 'dream job,' to planning his retirement, he works hard.  He works endlessly.  He's up by 6am most days (which is about an hour later these days than in the beginning, but kids tend to do that to a person....) and out the door and at the gym before most are even eating breakfast.

He celebrated 21 years at his dream job this past Sunday.  May 28th, 2017 was his 21st anniversary at the only job he ever envisioned himself doing from the get go.

And I forgot it.

I guess after his 20 year celebration last year (which I did commemorate with a gift, BTW-didn't forget) I just kinda forgot to make note of it.  And really, I should know better, because every year since entering, he's always talked about it.  And I can't blame him.  If you had been waiting since you were in HS for your dream job, only to have the hiring process freeze for years, and then other people who may or may not have been more qualified be hired before you, you would understand his desire to always remember the day he entered this job.

I'll never forget it.

We were engaged to be married, pending the job.  Seriously.  He was not prepared to marry me until he had a good, stable, well paying job to support us.  I admired him so much, at times annoyingly simply because of my lack of maturity and selfishness, but looking back now, 21 years later, I can see how God molded our relationship and it included his job, my immaturity, his work ethic, and so much more.

I was young, selfish and kind of a brat when it came to what I wanted....  God knew that.  He also knew that the one way to help me understand that, was to place the most awesome, practical, sensible, terribly handsome man in my life to help me realize that.  He appealed to every sense I had with my superhero hubs... :)  Down to the cologne this man wears.... HA.

I sometimes couldn't understand why this man wouldn't marry me until he had a stable job, I mean, he was working at a mental health hospital with a day treatment program helping adults maintain some semblance of a normal everyday life living with mental illness.  I felt that was adequate to support us and I certainly was poised to get a decent job at the school I student taught at, so I couldn't understand why he felt it so necessary to wait.

The important thing overall, was that he was my best friend, and I could still see past my silly selfish self and see that if it was important to him, it would be important to me as well.

I remember the month he received the phone call delivering the message he was accepted.  He had just disconnected his phone line where he lived and was planning on moving home until he was accepted.  They couldn't get in touch with him, so I was the next contact.  Imagine my surprise when the job called ME to tell me they needed to get in touch with HIM and congratulate him on his appointment.

It was yet another gift from God, despite not recognizing it for many, many years.....

Many of us are like that.  Shoot, I still am.

I miss His messages.  Even when I get the phone call and hear it right in my ear.  God showed me that patience pays off.  Perseverance is important.  Honor and integrity are worthy characteristics.

Instead, I heard, "NOW WE CAN PLAN THE WEDDING!!!"

So, of course, my priorities were in place.

But, thanks be to God, our relationship has grown exponentially in the last 25 years of knowing each other.  In so many ways.

But I still mess up, and Sunday I messed up, but I'm going to make it up to him.  I'm going to SING TO THE ROOFTOPS,  how proud I am of this man I call my Superhero Hubs.

He is the bravest, strongest, kindest, faith filled, handsome, loving, giving, generous, man I know.  He is an awesome cook.  A better father than I could have EVER imagined for our children.  A man of God who never wavers, despite the hostility sometimes felt by others.

I'm so utterly amazed by him, I thank God for him everyday.  He works hard.  He has never cut corners.  He never kisses up to anyone for the chance at 'something better.'
He works hard and expects others to do nothing less as well.  He's sometimes disappointed and let's that get to him, but who doesn't.

He is a rock.  He is amazing.

Thank you, sweetie, for not only keeping your family safe for all these 21 years, but for everyone else in this world you have worked tireless for, even under adversity.  Even with the negative world who would rather watch you fail,  Thank you for always seeing the glass half full and teaching me to do the same.

Thank you for listening to God and being exactly the man He made you to be.

Love you smoofee.

I have posted some pictures, the most 'non-threatening' ones, that won't reveal too much about his work.  He's very particular about that, and I struggle with respecting it because frankly, I really do want to shout to the rooftops what he does and how much he does and how much the public is just completely stupid to believe everything ugly the media says about his job.  But I digress.

Dear Superhero hubs,

I'm sorry I forgot your anniversary, babe- but I hope this makes up for it just a little bit.  I'm so proud of you and all you have done and are doing, and will do for the next nine more years until we can retire together (well, ok, you will retire....) and spend the rest of our days together with our crazy crew.  I love you so much.

Your crazycatholicmomma wife.....

He wrote me letters during our 16 weeks apart!

One of our dating pics...
His bride...
These are just some of the millions of pics I have.
Isn't he handsome?

Teaching his team repelling...

This picture got many laughs from friends-'which way did he go?'

One of his many 'work cars.'

I see my children in his smile....

Thursday, May 11, 2017

As A Mother.....

Over 17 years ago, I become a mother.  The road was long and quite an arduous journey.  Months turned to years, and at one point, I felt certain God was not calling my super hero hubs and I to even consider parenthood.  I was devastated.  Why would God put this almost uncontrollable desire in my heart, if after two years, I still wasn't able to conceive a child?

Perhaps it was to prepare me.  Cause me to abandon my own wants and desires.  Push my heart deeper into a dependence on things not of this world, but of things to come beyond this world.  I grew in my faith in those two years.  My relationship with my husband grew exponentially, I had lots of time to pray.  LOTS.OF.TIME.  My prayer grew.  I went from selfishly telling God what  I "needed" to surrendering to what God wanted.  I learned that it wasn't just telling Him what I wanted, but sitting before Him and listening to Him.  My prayer went from infancy, to toddler hood, to teenager, to adulthood in those two very long, very grueling years.

Why we became pregnant and so many of my friends struggled (and still struggle)and remained infertile?  I have no idea.  I have learned over the course of the almost 21 years since beginning this journey to motherhood, not to always question and ask why, but to pray more and accept things and be more compassionate.

That's not to say the motherhood journey has been all bliss.  Getting pregnant after two years of struggling came very easy the next two pregnancies.  But then my confidence in having children and my "I'm a pro at this" mentality came crashing down when at 9 weeks pregnant with our fourth child we had just seen two weeks prior, we lost our first baby.  Of many.

Miscarriage is probably equally if not more painful than infertility.  Mostly because people just didn't talk about it.  Just a few friends even knew about John Matthew.  One in particular was extremely instrumental in my healing by even getting us a garden stone for where his body was buried in the small Catholic cemetery behind our church.

Baby five and six came with relative ease and I quickly realized that being a mother of five was more than enough for my plate and I quit teaching indefinitely.  My hands were "full" as I was constantly being told.

We moved about a year and a half after baby five came along and once again, started over in a new town, and now, a new state in a totally new geographical area.  It was daunting.  Registering three in two different schools (I laugh now because at times we have had 5 in 4 different schools), and trying to "fit in" a place where we were definitely not familiar with, was overwhelming at times.

It seemed that once we became comfortable with our new home, the desire for another baby came back.  My husband and I practice NFP and despite what all the grandmas in the world believe, it is a tad more advanced than the calendar method.  In fact, if practiced correctly and efficiently, can either space your babies, postpone babies, or even help detect physical issues that could need further review by an OBGYN.  Our bodies, as I've stated before, are simply AMAZING.   The actual window of getting pregnant is so small and short you sometimes wonder how these people continue to become pregnant with unwanted babies.... :(

So we decided to try and almost immediately became pregnant.  Once again though, at 9 weeks, I miscarried.  Actually, according to my superhero hubs, I tried to pull an Elvis, by dying on the toilet.  No one truly prepares a mother for miscarriage.  Perhaps it's the taboo fear that we don't want to spoil her joy of knowing this happens in 1 in 4 or 5 pregnancies.....but I hemorrhaged and passed out in my bathroom.  Fortunately for me, I didn't realize how I scared everyone in my home at the time. Gemma Rose was honored at a ceremony through our hospital at a local cemetery.  It was the hardest and most emotional event of my life.

After that, I had two more positive home pregnancy tests that once again, a week or two later, resulted in starting my period.   Most in the medical field wouldn't even recognize them as pregnancies, but to my family, they were and are bambamboo boo and bambambino (We have named them Michael and Maria-but the youngest have always called them those names since we first announced the pregnancies.)

Those two miscarriages followed my Gemma's miscarriage, so once again, I began to question the desire in my heart.  Was it selfish?  I was actually told once that I was using up my 'permitted carbon print' by having so many children.  Shouldn't I adopt if I really wanted another baby?  Question after question swirled through my head.....I began to doubt my understanding of what God wanted and once again, abandoned my prayer life that had become so much more mature to the childish- 'why God?' whine I was very good.  (somebody throw me an Oscar- I can nail it...)

We semi-abandoned the idea of another child when we decided that for my 40th birthday we would go to Rome with our very dear priest friend.   God has such an amazing sense of humor.  We found ourselves pregnant just a few months before the trip and even decided on an Italian name while there visiting the beautiful city of Rome and all it's amazing history.

Number ten didn't come without her issues during my pregnancy as well.  In fact, the last three pregnancies have caused me more worry and gray hair than the first nine combined.  I bled with each one, some heavily enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.  One putting me on a bed rest for weeks until it subsided.

'Why do you keep doing this,' a friend once posed when I had my second miscarriage.  It wasn't said in a mean way, but it did make me wonder at the time, why do I do this?
But honestly, I've read so many books on saints and holy people in my faith and around the world, that it doesn't seem too odd to me at all to open my heart to what God is asking of me. Society and culture have a way of sometimes seeping into our deepest thoughts and casting doubts so easily.

No where in the bible, or in tradition, or in history has it ever been 'easy.'  I've taught my sixth grader this year history from before Jesus' time and frankly, life has never really been 'easy' for anyone in this world!  So to say I needed to "stop" to make my life easy is, well, a rather ridiculous and selfish statement.  But the desire in my heart would still be there.  Just because I decide I'm done with something, doesn't mean God is finished with me and what He wants of me.

There are all kinds of fears the older I get and the more children I have.  Children with disabilities, more miscarriages, and potentially hemorrhaging to the point of death are just a few of the concerns that have literally plagued my brain.... (I haven't even thought about what happened after Lucia's birth, two years ago, yet, but I've got 15 weeks, give or take a week or so, to let my overactive imagination lose control).

Why do I do all of this?  Why do I subject myself to the delightful comments, the stares, the neighbor who declared in Panera a baby ago, "OMG-YOU'RE PREGNANT....." to all the customers around us........Why?

Because both my husband and I feel in our hearts that this is what God has called us to do.  We don't do it lightheartedly, we don't do it as though we are the only capable people of it, but we do it with obedient hearts and minds.  Knowing that nothing in this world will reward us for our sorrow, pain, heartache, joys, celebrations, or anything....Only God will give us that fullness.  We truly believe that.  We've had too many un-explainable moments, I call them God moments, to not believe in that. Most especially, when you've lost someone(s), God gives you those moments to reassure you that one day you will be reunited.  I believe that with my whole heart.

So as a mother, it's hard for me to explain the why.  People will make their own assumptions, and that's ok.  What matters is that, as a mother, I have had the privilege and honor of birthing some of the most amazing kiddos.  I have witnessed the face of God in people who came in with one way of thought and after 'dealing with the crazy big family' left with another.  I have seen friends leave because I am so family focused and busy with them, but I have had the friends I have grow deeper in our relationships.  I have dealt with heartache that will only one day be filled when I am reunited with my babies in Heaven.

Today?  Today I am 'just a mom.'  A mom who gave up her career as a teacher years ago.  A mom who struggles daily with a lack of sleep for a myriad of reasons- teenage drivers, teenage workers, babies, husband's who have scary jobs, you name it, and that is a struggle for the one who is the sleep queen of the universe.  I have given up dressing stylish at times to afford hair cuts, shoes, sports.  I have spent countless hours on Pinterest looking for new and exciting recipes that only about 1/3 of my kids will actually even taste, let alone consume.... I have given up lots, but in that sacrifice, received more than I could have ever dreamed.  Ever.

Take today for instance- I love my kids.  I mean, LOVE THEM.  Their favorite food is this dish....it's THE.MOST.PAINFUL meal I make for them simply because I have to not only put my hand in this raw meat, but I actually have to squeeze it, mix it, urp-almost makes me throw up writing this- but meatloaf.  Their favorite.  Blech.

Raw meat...not my thang...
But I love them.  I love to hear them come home and smell it cooking in the oven and know immediately what it is.  I LOVE how they eat it ALL.GONE.  No leftovers. That is one small reward I get to see.  Not everyone sees this and thinks, 'oh wow!  You are CRAZY blessed....'  But I do...

It's the little things.....as a mother.  God bless.........

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Confessions and Faith

I have a confession to make.

It's been 20 weeks in the making.

Y'all, I think I've been ashamed of this pregnancy.   I mean, almost, like being an unwed momma and finding out your having a baby, wear baggy clothes and don't tell anyone, and just let them think you're gaining weight in your mid-section ashamed.  It's really been eye-opening.  And, in the same breath, embarrassing.  And by no means, something I'm proud of.  It's been hard to put into words what I'm trying to convey, so if this sounds confusing, I apologize, but blogging for me lately, has been very therapeutic to really see.

I am usually the one who posts a million prego pictures and lists all the developments going on with the baby in utero, from the moment of conception until the day this little peanut is born (little is a figurative word, considering my first seven babies were all over 8 pounds, five of them being nearly 9 pounds....).

It started with being afraid to tell family.  Then it escalated to the general public.  Now it's just a full fledged fear that I've allowed to take over my world.

My family and friends took it fine.  I'm sure snarky comments are made.  Honestly, who wouldn't make a snarky comment about a family of 9 becoming a family of 10 in today's world where the average number of children is 2.4 (how that is possible, eye roll inserted...). I mean, I would probably do the same if I was the same person I was 21 years ago.  Truly.

But as my belly grew (and believe me, day one it grew....) and grew, I became more markedly aware of the fact that I might appear to be a freak of nature for people, and perhaps, would lead them to make very uncharitable comments, or comments I was frankly not in the mood to deflect....

I was dressing with big clothing.  Wearing large sweatshirts.  Praying it would stay cooler so that a jacket might always be needed until impending birth......(NO, THIS WINTER IS NOT MY FAULT!)

But y'all, I was doing it completely subconsciously.  I had no idea I was actually ashamed, and perhaps ashamed or embarrassed are not the correct words, perhaps just wanting to blend in would be a better description....either way, this morning, when I woke at 5am and could not for the life of me, fall back asleep, it truly dawned on me what I was doing.... and I was ashamed by that realization.

Nothing like really walking the walk, right?  I was clearly talking the talk about being open to life, but when the going got pregnant, the pregnant went incognito!

A whole assortment of concerns plagued me:

I'm old (44 when baby comes)

People already think we are a tad nuts

Despite how I laugh, people's bizarre comments do hurt my feelings

I don't feel very equipped to handle another child

I really struggle with people's comments to me (like, terribly struggle, in case you didn't catch that)

It's so hard trying to explain how NFP works when people are looking at your large brood

When on earth DOES MENOPAUSE START!!!!!!!!!!!  

(ok, last one is just teasin....I do understand biology and actually find our bodies quite fascinating and the entire reproduction process completely fascinating and find it difficult for people not to believe in a higher power when you really delve into the entire process.....)

But besides the concerns were the reactions of our family and friends.  How would families where we live react.  How people at my children's schools would react.  I mean, seriously, if pride was ever a concern of mine, it clearly reared it's ugly head out FULL FORCE this time.

But last night, as fear began to creep into my heart because today I was having an ultrasound, I began to see what was going on with my heart.  My fear exposed the truth of my shame front and center.  I was embarrassed as the door of that shame opened up and the floodgates of all I had avoided were put in front of me.  Picking up my kids at school and making my children go in and get someone, avoiding going places during the day for fear of running into someone, and basically hiding out in my home.....all front and center as I faced my fear of this ultrasound.  My fear was semi-unfounded, but because of all the stigma about all the things that can "go wrong" when your actually 9 years over the AMA starting point (age 35), fear can sometimes just creep in, despite our best attempts to stop it.

Not to mention, the paper the nurse was filling out my history on stated very largely at the top, "ANOMALY SCREENING."

Anomaly screening?  That means problems....then the genetic questions started.  My blood pressure which is generally 100/60, was actually 134/66 as the screening was occurring.  My heart was racing.  First question, "so you DIDN'T have genetic testing for Downs Syndrome?"
The verbal answer no sounded like a tiny, barely audible, person....the tougher, more fiery red headed voice inside me yelled, "WHAT WOULD IT CHANGE IF I DID??"

Then as if I wasn't worried enough, a whole gamete of genetic questions about anomalies I didn't even THINK about were tossed at me one at a time. I was getting hot....

When she got to the mental issues, I almost paused and asked, "in what regard, and does there have to be an actual medical diagnoses???," but thankfully, my tiny voice was still in charge and once again, barely whispered, 'no.'

When I returned to my awesome super hero hubs, who was waiting on me, I filled him in on all the "basic" questions and even joked that yes, I was asked, "are they all with the same dad?"  We always have a good chuckle over that one, because most of the time, it's people at the grocery store asking it...as if it's some unwritten code to ask such things of women pregnant for the umpteenth time.... :)

I was so nervous.  Some of those genetic anomalies I had never even imagined, or worried about, but now because of the power of words, I was suddenly dreading this ultrasound worse than I had been just a few hours prior.

All I could do was pray.  So in my heart, I took it to my Father....

"Lord, you make all things.  ALL things.  All life is precious and made in your image, no matter how society might view it.  This baby is already loved by SO MANY people, remind my heart of that love and how love will move mountains and build strength.  Lord, Jesus, I love you.  Help my untrust.  Which feels huge and sadly not of you....."  

The longer I sat there, the more He unfolded for me my shame of this pregnancy.  How it was rooted in fear, my terrible issues with pride, and my total need for control-which even now, I struggle with.
He showed me those moments where I avoided people.  Dressed to cover my swollen belly, and even refused to do things just to stay hidden from public view.  He was peeling away the layers of this world that had taken hold of me and really, to describe it using crazycatholicmomma terms-


The ultrasound tech soon called us back and she could not have been more delightful.  I don't know if my chart really has red flags all over it as we joke about, but at that moment, she didn't give the impression that we were "those crazy people with lots o' children."

I had the most thorough ultrasound I've ever had in the history of pregnancies (which is a 17 year span)and each time she pointed out a body part, or even what the baby was doing, she did it with delight.  Almost joy!  It was refreshing!

She gave us a few pictures and said the doctor would be in shortly.  The doctor came in and once again, was another beautiful gift from Above.  She looked at each picture on the screen, commenting each time how perfectly formed each part was, and when she took a peek herself with the ultrasound machine, she was still so complimentary of Baby #8.  She finished the ultrasound and asked if we had any questions.  I of course, hemmed and hawed but finally found the words I wanted to ask.

"So, I know I'm 'old' in obstetric world, but you find the baby to be ok as far as you can tell from ultrasound?"

(I'm no dummy when it comes to genetics. I do understand that some genetic issues can NOT be detected on ultrasound, but we have come so far with these (non-evasive FYI) ultrasounds that so much of the brain and heart, spinal column development, organ development, and measurements of the distance between the eyes and shape of feet/hands can and do help determine many genetic issues.)

She was amazing.  She said every part looked amazing.  All were measuring/working exactly as they should and I really wasn't 'old' (she's too sweet-she knows who's paying for this....HA) and she's actually seen more women my age have healthy pregnancies than not.

Call her my grace moment for the day.   God literally took these two beautiful people, and allowed those two to be the ones to see me this morning.  I felt blessed, and sorry in the same breath.  I was sorry for being so ashamed of this amazing gift of life.  I made a vow then and there to stand tall and be proud of this gift.  So, so sooooooooo many women I know struggle with fertility and would give anything to be in my shoes....I need to recognize this gift and not hide it under a sweatshirt....

We had our appointment with my OB after and while we waited I spoke to my superhero hubs about my realization of how I'd been acting.  Sometimes, it's easier for him to smile and nod at me, and for that I am grateful.  I can tend to be a hot mess and he knows that.  I am blessed by his love.  It's completely unconditional and most days, undeserving because I am sometimes a royal pain!

I am home now.  Staring at the adorable picture of baby and wondering if it's a boy or girl.   Totally assuming since the last 5 were girls that this one for sure is and wondering what name I will EVER agree to......But also, sitting here in awe of my sheer lack of faith, but reminding myself how Jesus said we needed just the faith of a mustard seed.  In Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells us if we just had faith the size of a mustard seed we could tell a mountain to move and a mulberry tree to move. I am pretty sure, I don't even have the faith of a mustard seed.....yet......but I am working on it.  As I always say, I'm like clay in the Potter's Hands.  A piece of work that is allowing God to mold me (albeit some days I feel like unbendable steel) into the person He created me to be.

Alien baby staring at me!
Sweet profile-can see TEETH!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I am NOT Super Mom!!!!

I am reading the best book on the planet.  I mean, BEST book on the planet.  I'll post more about it, further down, but before all my bookworm friends remind me I say that about every.single.book I read, you're right.  I have read some amazing books over the years, and it seems to me that the writers just keep getting more amazing.  I don't read a lot of books outside my faith, simply because there are so many darn good books to read IN my faith I just don't have time.  Oh, yes, I'll read the occasional best seller like, "Unbroken"  (awesome book by the way), but mostly I read books either about my Catholic faith, or written by some amazing Catholic authors who write about motherhood, being a woman, etc, etc, etc.  This book is no different.  It's called, "Getting Past Perfect."
Image result for getting past perfect kate wicker

It's written by a woman I've never heard of, which is incredible considering I pretty much stalk, er, I mean, follow about every amazing writer out there, but nonetheless, one of our speakers from our first conference last year suggested her for next year and so I ordered her most recent book to devour, er, I mean, skim through, to see if she was someone who could potentially meet all women of all walks of life, not just moms....

She has passed with flying colors, but what I found most refreshing in it, was something I struggle with a lot. 

I'm not super mom.  

I've always known it.  Heck, if you ask my kids, they'll be the first to tell you, even if you don't ask them!!  

I had a really great conversation with a friend of mine the other day.  She called me wonder woman when she was proclaiming how amazing it was I was pregnant with my 8th and still considering teaching religion class next year. (I'm on the fence about teaching, but my actual super hero hubs said I should).  I was very quick to tell her I'm no super mom.  She balked as though I was being too humble, and of course, made the generalized statement, "I could never handle eight kids!  I can barely handle my __________."  Fill in the blank there.  Because any number lower than 8 is what I will hear from here on out.

And I don't say it begrudgingly.  I say it sincerely.  First off, you don't have 8.  I don't tangibly have 8 and I can't handle 8 right now. That's why I get 9 months to prepare.  I'm not saying sign yourself for 8, on the contrary.  We live in a society that completely and utterly FROWNS on large families.  Try getting your kids on multiple sports teams.  These days, if you have more than two, you'll need a second mortgage and two good kidneys so you can sell one, because we don't live in a large family friendly affordable world anymore.  

And our culture does a fantastic job of reminding us daily how ridiculous the cost of rearing just one of those little minions does to our savings!  I know, you're probably surprised we aren't in line at the mental hospital waiting our turn to wear the sweet cozy jacket and be in the nice padded room when we think about those silly costs that somehow, some family, some where, told a pollster person and made it the cost of the gods of raising kids.....Listen to me now- KIDS DO NOT NEED NEW THINGS ALL THE TIME OR 40 GIFTS TO OPEN A PIECE AT CHRISTMAS TO FEEL LOVED OR ACCEPTED IN THIS WORLD....

Rant over momentarily.  

But her comment bothers me because it's why I really want people to see what life is like in a house full of LOTS of humans.  And not just any humans, but tiny ones, big ones, hormonal ones, angry ones, happy ones, silly ones, ones who feel the world is against them, ones who feel their siblings don't understand.... I mean, Jerry Springer ain't got NOTHIN' on drama.  My house could feed an entire network with rated G soap opera drama..........

I would LOVE to post a recording of my kids before my birthday dinner the other night, literally YELLING THEIR HEADS OFF TO BE HEARD, all wanting the other to understand that THEIR plight in life is the worst on the planet, despite the other trying to convince them, NO MY LIFE IS WAY WORSE....

Then my husband, not in the nicest voice he's ever used, quieted everyone down so that we could pray the blessing before dinner and you would have thought we put a muzzle on them because they were barely audible!!  He stopped them once, made them start over, reminded them who we were praying to and for, and once again, they were barely audible.  

I want to post things like that.  Like the two girls that share a room who are almost 14 and 17 who get along like fire and ice and most days are decent to each other, but a LOT of days, sound like something out of a horror movie.....

Of course, on the flip side of exposing myself and my family like that, there is the unwritten horror of the "wrong people" getting a hold of these posts and of course, finding a way to hurt my family.  By either turning us in to child social services, or just getting unwanted and negative feedback from the social media world who apparently have full time jobs of just trolling the internet looking for people to fight with. 

I would LOVE for people to understand that just because I have a lot of children, does not mean I have some sort of trophy awarded to me titled, "mom who can do anything..." 

Because if anything, I'm about the laziest mom on the planet.  

I do not make my kids lunches.  They start in Kindergarten perfecting that art.  They are quite good at it.  

I do not clean my kids rooms.  (let me restate that-I will occasionally go in and do a trash/declutter removal when the "junk" gets mile high).

I do not make their beds.  Even the 8 year old, who believe me, let's me know every.time she's made to change her sheets, that she 'just.can't.do.it....' (in the whiniest voice I've ever heard next to Caillou!  And y'all KNOW how whiney Caillou was!!!!)

I do not bring their lunch to school after their "first freebie."  I am a firm believer in one free pass, after that, we must learn to be better organized.  Ouch.  Had a mom call me a nasty name over that one years ago......oh well.  My children are probably scarred from worse things....believe me.

I do not allow electronic devices before middle school.  Middle school for us is 7th & 8th.  And even now, I'm considering moving that date back to HS permanently.  I've discovered that parents are getting snowed by their sweet little gems who are secretly creating multiple accounts and hiding chat groups and bullying other kids on these accounts.  Trust no one.  Kids are naturally inclined to do wrong.  That's why we have them for 18 years.  Clearly, someone, SOMEONE, believed at some point, they need lots of intervention.  Consider this my intervention.  Even in HS it will be a case by case evaluation.  
But in middle school, there is a phone in the office that kids can use to call us parents who are waiting with baited breath for their every move.  I was delighted when I asked the office that question and posed it with the simple truth, "My kid is not going to have a device next year. Will they die from becoming lost in a classroom alone with out my constant technological supervision reminding them to breath/and or go to the next class?'  The woman, whom I felt found me delightfully refreshing, said, 'of course not!  My dear, let me show you this old fashioned device we have just over here, just for such occasion......'  To my surprise, a PHONE!

We're BFF's now.  :) 

Image result for dial phone
Perhaps not exactly like this....

But there are a LOT of things that I do and DON'T do, that would probably horrify today's "modern" parents!!  But the fact that I have so many children, causes so many to safely assume so many things about us.  We are basically the same as most parents.  Basically.  We are far more frugal.  Don't give in to many whims and desires.  Can't afford to take them to Disney....ever.   But honestly, I have no desire.  I really don't even like trying to plan a vacation, let alone go on one....but my kids don't seem too terribly scarred by that.  We camp a lot, and try to a vacation once a year if the kids school schedules allow for it.  There are a lot of them (kids).  Even them just picking one sport/activity to participate in, causes us a lot of taxi driving.  Which we don't mind.  It's part of our job as parents. We are just now getting one old enough to actually drive by herself and she has just made enough money to buy her own car (GASP!  NO-we don't buy cars for our kids either....good lord, do we look like Mommy & Daddy Warbucks???)    
My desire is to do the very best I can raising semi-nice, functional humans that can contribute to our society and maybe, just maybe, help make it a little better place than how we found it....

But most importantly, I want other mommas to understand that I am the farthest from perfect.  I struggle day to day.  I cry a lot.  I pray a LOT.  Matter of fact, I couldn't do this crazy without my faith.  I don't know how other large families do it, but that is what gets me through daily.  I worry that not only will I screw up my kids, but I'll screw up ALL OF MY KIDS.... Statistically speaking, it's worse for me!!!

But that momma who just has one, and is barely keeping a float.  Or that momma with three rambunctious crazy boys.  Or that momma who has had more miscarriages than she cares to admit and cries herself to sleep thinking she'll never have kids, we all struggle!  We all have those crosses we bear and we carry them the best way we can.  No parent is perfect, minus God our father, and frankly, like the new book I'm reading pointed out, if we are truly all God's children, all of us, created in His image and likeness, then that includes all.of.us.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the criminal, the dangerous, the deceitful, the murderers, the prostitutes, the addicts, all of us.  Every.single.one.of.us.  We don't look at Him and say, "Wow, God, you really messed that one up...."  The same way we shouldn't look at our own kids and make the same assumption.  Free will is a tricky gift to us.

Lastly, just take one GIANT thing from me if you take anything.  My life is crazy.  I love it, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change it for all the money in the universe, but it's crazy.  My carpet is falling apart.  My cabinets are peeling.  My husband has a really, REALLY super cool shell of a Mustang he'll probably  never have time to work on, let alone find and install all the necessary parts to make it an actual working vehicle (which sometimes kinda makes me sad, cause it's SUPER COOL).  My house is in constant disarray.  The white trim (why on God's green earth did white ever become a style in houses, natural wood is just so...... PERFECT for kids....) is chipped, peeling, dented, black....the house needs another coat of paint already because there is only so much the magic erasers can erase before the paint begins to fade drastically.  I literally have a room full of girls and DESPERATELY need another bedroom because I'm fairly certain this child in utero is another girl just speaking statistically.  Do you KNOW how hard it is to find enough money to finish a basement AND still have a life AND still buy groceries?  It's a slow saving process.  My clothing is mostly hand me downs from my awesome sister who has the fashion sense of a pure genius.  My kids mostly wear hand me downs, not only from their siblings, but from awesome friends near and far who have made sure they too, recycle and reuse their own fantastic clothing.  My kids basically have three pairs of shoes when they're young.  Tennis shoes, church shoes, and snow boots.  Sometimes they're lucky if they request a new pair of shoes as their bday gifts, but mostly, they don't complain.  They have learned that hard work and saving can produce some of the things most children are blessed to acquire by simply existing.  That is a skill that can't really be taught except by doing.

I am no super mom.  I don't even come close.  I don't pretend to have it together, even when my kids all appeared dressed for the day and laundry is mostly done.  Those are bonus days.  I am just like you.  Working hard to be a daughter of a great King, loving my kids the best way I can, and encouraging the mommas I know to keep on truckin', through the good, the bad and the toddler temper tantrum world we live in.  Hope you can relate...Love all y'all.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Self....Be YOU.

I recently saw a post on Facebook that stated something I think we as women could all use a reminder of....

"I didn't ask you to be her,
I asked you to be you."

I don't know about anyone else out there, but this resonated with me tremendously.  I had taken a month or so off of Facebook and what I discovered was that I had stopped worrying about everything I was doing wrong as a mom, a wife, a woman, you name it.  I got to where I was feeling so bad about how I was a train wreck in the making that I had almost convinced myself that I was the only one in the universe who couldn't keep a clean house, who had zero social life because basically when you have a large family, your life revolves around a large family (and there is NOTHING wrong with that), and that I was a loser as a female in about every category imaginable.  (believe me, I've said this before, my husband is up for Sainthood living with me....)

I think social media can be good, but it can also be horrible.  I think there is a happy balance, but can people really attain that happy balance?  I mean, if we truly sit and think about it, how many of us on these sites, don't go back constantly and see who has liked our status, or rebutted a comment we've made on another's post, or look for anything to affirm how we live our lives?  If you're one of the few, I think you're lying, or don't have a Facebook page.  Ok, just kidding.  You aren't lying if you have a very healthy balance of spending as much time on social media as you do with live human beings.... :)

I think it's very important that we stop comparing ourselves....and that's way easier said than done.  I've done a lot of stupid things to lose friendships over the years, and people have stopped being my friend for similar reasons, but what I've noticed is there is a disconnect with true human to human contact.  We don't know HOW to communicate except behind a keyboard and it's far easier to hide behind one than to actually sit and communicate.

And I think the people suffering the most other than the children that are permitted on social media (and mine will not be until they are 18 for very good reasons...) Are us women.  We have already built into our souls a bit of a guilt complex.  We feel guilty over a lot of things.  How we do most everything.  (disclaimer-this is my opinion.....please understand.  I'm one person in this galaxy of opinionated humans....you have the right to disagree and I will welcome that...this is just what I see)

We can feel guilty over just about everything!
Here is an example.

Christmas here in my crazytown home.  We buy the children three gifts (who am I kidding, I BUY, superhero hubs just approves the spending...).  Just as the Wise Men brought Christ.  Which is why we celebrate Christmas btw.....  Santa, whom we don't place a whole lot of emphasis on, but still 'believe in' brings them one gift each after they go to bed on Christmas Eve.

Well, Christmas morning arrives and they're ooohing and awwing over their Santa gifts (we go to Mass in the morning and open our gifts after) and some of the little ones are looking longingly at the other's gifts.  I let that little pit of guilt seep in and before I know, I've convinced myself Christmas is ruined because little Junie bug didn't get the Generic American Girl doll like her sister, SusieQ....

Then I let that seep into my heart and mind and by the end of the opening of the gifts, my superhero hubs asks if I've had a good Christmas so far and I give him this look and he immediately realizes he has two choices.
1) Run.  As fast as he can the opposite way and pretend he never asked..... or
2) Suck it up.  Take a deep breath, and ask 'what's wrong.'  In which case I go into a diatribe of what I did wrong this year at Christmas.  Who got the shaft, and how I 'never seem to get the gifts right with my kiddos...'  He spends the next hour (or 5) reassuring me that yes, I did well by the children and no, they are not shafted, and no, they will NOT be scarred because we didn't get them a Playstation or Xbox or whatever is the latest and greatest electronic saga toy.  They won't be on Jerry Springer because of Christmas gifts......It will be because of other things....... (he's such a card....)

Facebook is kinda the same way.  And I suppose Instagram can probably be worse because it's literally just a snap shot, which is usually perfect and well "portrayed" and can make a person feel as though they are not living up to today's standards of the 'perfect look.'  I only have Instagram because I am the co-chair of our Catholic Women's conference group and we realize that we need to reach as many women as we can to bring them to our conferences, but I see it there, even if I'm not posting my own "Norman Rockwell" photos of home life.

What we need to do for ourselves this 2017 is make some New Year Resolutions that we will work less on looking at the 'snap shot' photos and making assumptions.  I think we can all agree that we sometimes look at the quick snapshots and think it's how life is 24/7 for everyone but us.  We have to remind ourselves that we have these snapshot moments as well, but that there are also lots more unsightly snap shots that we don't post simply because we know no one wants to see the ugly!  I mean, I don't get on Facebook hoping someone shows ME a clogged toilet full of an 8 year's dump that is running over the toilet and draining INTO THE BASEMENT........

(sorry, that moment was actually very real for me a few weeks ago and it has apparently scarred me for L-I-F-E.....)   Sorry.

We need to work on our REAL relationships that are right here in front of us.  Our families and friends.  Towards the end of last summer, it hit me like a TON of bricks that my time left with my oldest two children was truly drawing to an end.  Meaning, my time with them as children, home with just us, and not moved away, in college, married, etc.  My oldest is a junior and I'll admit, it hit me HARD.  I took a step back, stopped worrying about 'fitting in' and 'getting out' with friends, and really tried to focus on my kids.  I'm sure it bothered people telling them no to helping them, or getting together, but my priority is, was, and always will be my family.  My oldest will be graduating in a year and a half and who knows where her future will take her.  But what I DO know?  Is that I can leave a lasting impression with her by being present.  Physically in more than the sense as sitting next to her while we are both on our devices enjoying the world and not each other....but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
We need to make these resolutions not only for our families and friends sake, but for our own.  Once we realize that the grass IS greener right where we water it, we'll start to realize that while the pictures of these perfect snapshots are amazing and beautiful, they are only that.  Snap shots.  And then, like me, we'll all realize, that a lot more of these people have snapshots just like us....

Clogged toilets.
Kids fighting.  Constantly.
Leftovers for dinner for the umpteenth time.
Kids fighting. Constantly.
Dirty houses.
Toys everywhere.
Barbie and Lego traps waiting to cut right into the heel of your feet.
Kids fighting...Will it ever stop?
Tubs with dirt rings so deep it will take the ENTIRE CAN OF SCRUBBY BUBBLES TO CLEAN.
A husband out of town again......while 46 events take place in that 5 day period.....
Teenagers who terrify us to death driving.
Kids fighting....Good Lord, what now???
Death of a loved one.
Kids fighting. We might miss that sound one day.......

Clearly, kids fighting is a winner in this house.  But I hope I've given a bit of a smile in our seemingly ultra-sensitive world where a person can't even post a pic of a delicious meal without someone going all postal on them, or an actor can't give a super sweet compliment about another who passed away without being publicly scoffed by the keyboard troll police for seeming 'insensitive.'

We need to find that healthy balance of real life and social media land.  And if we can't, we need to turn it off for a while and turn on the family time.  One New Year's Resolution after another.  Focus on the people around you.  The real ones.  Flesh and bones sitting right next to us longing to have a conversation with us.

Or maybe, just longing to tell me the toilet is clogged.............again.......for the elevendy billionth time this week.........

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Snow time and family photos!

I wish I could make a cartoon of my life, because some days, it certainly feels that I am in one cartoon square after another.....

It's taken me two days to find the time to write about a rather hilarious moment in the world of catholicmomma that happened on Sunday.

It snowed.

For the sake of not giving away my "family Christmas photo" and ruin the fun of it all, I'll just post the above photos of two super cute minions in my home.  One of whom is experiencing her first actual snowfall and the other who is just a rookie with two years experience.

They had been predicting this snow for a few weeks.  Actually, I was hoping the European model was more accurate, because it had the other areas other than snow country (south of us) getting up to a foot of snow.

But no such luck was in store for us.  So we had to settle for a few inches of the white stuff.

Alrite, where was I?  Oh yes, Christmas pictures and cartoon life.

I had been contemplating a day when all seven of the children would actually be home at the same time, not napping, not needing a nap, not hungry, not working, not having sports, band, etc (the window is small my friends, very small) and mentioning in passing how I would like to take a family photo of everyone one day soon.  Money is very tight in my home, so the more I can save by "DIY" the better.

Last Friday, it was 71 degrees.  I was so hoping to get them outside in the beautiful fall day and get some cute ones, but of course, as large families go, baby was asleep before oldest had to go to work and it was dark by the time we were all together because it gets dark at 3 pm these days.... (ok, really 5pm, but it feels like midnite by 5 pm)

Saturday I was at a conference all day promoting our women's conference for next year and Saturday night my oldest again had to work.....

See a pattern here?

So, Sunday, while my oldest was at driving school, I had the hair brained idea that getting a photo with them in their snow suits and standing with the Christmas trees in the back would be AWESOME!!!  (disclaimer-they are apparently not called Christmas trees up here, but in fact, are called things from firs to spruce-I know, terribly wrong.  They're Christmas trees...duh...)

Here is what I envisioned...
Image result for family picture in snow
I've no idea who these people are....
I swear, as I google messed up family snow photos, I am finding NONE.  So apparently, there is a market out there for people to post some pretty messed up outdoor snow pictures and I will not be the first one.  Perhaps that's why there ARE no snowy family epic fail pics as of yet.....

Anyway, it was a train wreck in the making.  If I was good at making cartoons, I would draw a cartoon depicting the entire scenario starting with when the almost 17 year old got home from class and immediately began complaining that her coat was too small....

I knew I was forgetting to order someone something for winter this year.....

Then the fight ensued over the hat my son should wear.  That hat may be permanently MIA.

The middle child said her hair was an oily mess.  (Isn't that what hats were made for??)

The babies were rested and ready, but the wind was blowing so hard it was scaring the youngest one.  

The photo session lasted all of 3.2 minutes with mounds of complaints.  

"My eyes are watering."

"I'm freezing."

"Can we go in?"

"Can we have hot chocolate?"

"Are we done yet?"  (which I quickly corrected and said we are not chicken in an oven....)

Wah, wah, wah, wah. 

And I was the one just wearing a hooded sweatshirt!!  These kids these days!! 

Fortunately, my superhero hubs was outside with us, doing the best to entertain the two Taz's into smiling willingly, but the ultimate photo that was chosen has a rather smirky boy,two squinty teen girls, an overzealouly smiling pre-teen, an 8 year old who FINALLY opened her eyes, a three year old more interested in the snow in the Christmas trees, and a rather devilishly smiling 22 month old.....

All in all a success I think..... you tell me after you receive the card....bahahahahahaha.....

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My All Saints Adventure.

Today is a holy day in the Catholic Church.  We honor the Saints in Heaven today. All of us should really be striving to get to Heaven.  I know yesterday I wrote about my disenchantment with my Catholic peeps.  Today, I hope they attended Mass and heard the readings and hopefully listened to a great homily.... I went to www.mycatholic.com and the craziest thing happened! I went to listen to the reflection on  today's readings, just to refresh my brain before I wrote, and lo and behold, the  priest doing the reflection?  IS FROM BUFFALO!!!!

Fr. David Baker?

Click on Fr. David's name!!!!  INSANE!!  But what he says sums  up  today!!!  Truly- a beautiful summary of the readings from Revelation, 1  John, and Matthew!!!  What we all should be striving for!  ALL OF US!!!!!!

So, I took five of the minions to Church this morning.  It was at 8:00 am, at a parish in the town I live in, which to give an idea of the number of parishes I  live "near," I could probably go to around 20 different churches within a 10 mile radius of my house.  I have Catholic surrounding me.  Or so I thought when I moved here.....the truth is in the pudding so to speak.  City-data lists Catholics at 77% here..... 13% where I moved from.  I was sad to discover that  most of the  77% who identity as "Catholic" do so in name only........most do not attend Mass regularly,  and sadly, most do not attend Holy Days of obligation.

But I digress again....if only I could convince them of the healing power of the Eucharist.  They'd never miss Mass....

So it was 8:00am.  A "new" church.  Literally 2-3 miles from my house.....We go in and sit towards the front.  I felt like not doing the  front row today, because despite my children behaving better sitting up front, having to walk out of a new church with a screaming toddler yelling, "no mommy" wasn't exactly on my fun radar today.

Mass was great.  Priest gave a great homily.  Told us we should all be striving for  Heaven.  And if we follow God's commandments, all of them (he added that last part in a serious voice), we should get to Heaven.  It's our hope. It's our prayer. It's our goal.

During the course of  Mass, several exciting things happened.   I'll just make some bullet points...

1. #6 loves singing.  Loves "following along" with the book.  She was singing and  using the book and when it was over, tried to lower the book, and in the process, ripped the page right.out.of.the.book.  Perfectly ripped it out.  I  looked over at my 8th grader and mouthed the  words, 'perfect...'  The 8th grader giggled and took the book and tried her best to make it look like that page never came out..... it sorta worked....

2.  Collection today.  Nothing like a collection basket coming down your row and feeling like a cheap skate.  "oops."  I say to my 8th grader.  Perfect #2.  She giggled some more....

3.  To keep terrorist 1 & 2  occupied, the 8th grader gave them a few envelopes and pencils.  Unfortunately, the tinier of the two terrorists, started doing this insane scribbling thing and preceded to stab herself with the tiny little sharpened weapon, er, I mean pencil in the  process.  This produced a rather loud cry, the intitial, 'crap, momma, that  hurt....' and led into the full blown, 'I think my arm needs to be amputated now,' cry.  It was amazing.  Once again, I look over at the 8th grader and mouthed, 'perfect.'

4. Was the only one once again wearing a veil.  I keep hoping to one day 'run into' a kindred spiritual sister wearing her veil, wrestling with her kids....but I don't.  Pretty sure I'm the only weirdo crazycatholicmomma in the universe.  Some days I'm ok with that, but others, it gets kinda lonely.  Just keep telling myself, "Mary wears a veil.  Want to be like Mary.  The Eucharist is  my focus.  My veil allows me to humble myself (in more ways than one) before my Lord and Savior.....'

5. Mass ended with relatively little debacle after that and I even managed to get my 3rd grader to her school before it even started!  Score one positive for crazycatholicmomma today!

6.  8th grader begged that  I  'take my time' getting to  the middle school.  She didn't want to come back right before the bell rang and wonder where she should go.  So I obliged her by driving through Tim Horton's to get myself a coffee, some donuts, and water for all of them.  She seemed extremely grateful and when we dropped her off, she informed me  that she missed a test today!

Explains her compliance with missing class this morning...................

So that was my All Saints morning.  My oldest attended Mass last night because her volleyball  team has it's semi-final playoffs tonight and my son has to work at our parish as the sacristan during the evening Mass.  Hopefully the super hero hubs remembered to attend Mass at noon today downtown so we can watch the oldest play volleyball.....

It was chaos.  It was exhausting.  But I hope that I'm  setting that example for  my children to see, that even in the chaos, the  busy, the overwhelmed, that it is so important to stop.  Examine what it's important.  And celebrate those who have  gone before us and have "won the fight!"

God bless you today.