Saturday, July 15, 2017

When it becomes too much.........


I have five weeks left with this pregnancy.  This pregnancy that will produce my 8th living child (God willing) and also God willing,not be the shocking, please don't let me die baby Jesus, birth experience I had 2 1/2 years ago!  I had a great delivery with baby #7, but a few hours later, found myself going through something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy!  There are some things, just not worth reliving- that is numero uno on my list.  Bleeding to death.
So to say I've been struggling with anxiety is probably the understatement of the year.  Decade. Heck, Century....
I'm gonna be brutally honest- I have probably been the numero uno WORST patient for my OBGYN...between the last four babies having some kind of CRAZY bleeding during the first/second trimester, to my near death experience after baby #7, I am almost 99.999999% certain, there are little red dots or stars, or actual skull and cross bones on my chart.....

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Pink, because, well, it's cute.

This might be extreme, but let's face it.  We all have things we struggle with.  As women, moms, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, neighbors, classmates, friends, you name it.  We women struggle with things that God probably doesn't want us struggling with at all.  I have shared about my struggles before.  My insecurities.  My inability to stop worrying about what others think....
I am the one who wouldn't walk in to pick up one of my kids when my belly started to expand because I didn't want certain people to see I was expecting again........
How horrible is that?  Am I not even proud of the fact that I am indeed pregnant with another blessing, another soul for Heaven?  Am I that insecure with my own life that I don't want to hear the exasperated GASP of, 'what is THIS?'  Another baby?????  I mean, I get it.  Today's world does not shy away from posting/writing/tweeting/instagramblabblering/spewing it's own opinion of how stupid people are for even considering children, let alone LOTS OF THEM......
Take this for instance.....true story......

Who writes stuff like this, and better yet?  Who lets their friend actually speak like this in public?

I have several friends who are either pretty close to 11 children, or far surpass them.  Heck, I actually have 12 babies if we want to be technical, and I will rejoice when I get to meet my four who have died in utero before I ever got to 'meet' them.  So I get it.  Society, social media, people everywhere, are just spewing their opinions everywhere.  And sadly, many of us, are reading what they're spewing and taking it personally.  Which is WRONG.....

We struggle with maintaining sanity in a world that wants to remind us if we don't have Martha Stewart's house designs, home made organic meals/snacks/food for our kids/husbands/family, we are horrible.  If we don't do breast feed, use cloth diapers, vaccinate/not vaccinate, make our own baby food, clean with cleaning supplies made from the grass in our backyard, we are failures.  I could go on....

There seems to be a new movement I've noticed on the Instagram account I run for our Catholic Women's conference that is women showing all the books they're reading, rooms they're 'redoing,' meal planning they're engaging in, all these amazing things we can be doing and I have to admit, it makes me get the willies. Some days, if I let it, I can let myself get sucked into this, clicking from account to account following these amazing people, all the while, feeling my heart rate increase, sweat bubbles pop up across my forehead, and blood pressure slowly rise.  I can completely see how we women can fall into a trap of thinking because we are NOT doing these things, we are failures, or at least, not living up to our potential.  

Social media can really be quite the unhealthy, unkind place to find ourselves sucked into.  Once, I had a woman actually unfriend me.  Not only unfriend me, but block me from every social media site she had and the funny thing was, all I remember about why she was mad at me?  I couldn't get together with her because of all my kids activities kept me planted at home and at their disposal because they didn't drive.  And do you want to know what's even crazier than this?  I actually still let it bother me all.the.time because I'm not a bad person. I want to somehow prove to this person who clearly isn't healthy for me, that I'm not.that.person......I'm nice.  I promise..... Who does that???

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Tell me we aren't oversensitive and looking for people to affirm us!!!!!  

With all these insecurities, and the hormonal drama in my brain (which as we know is a place we shouldn't dwell in alone....) I knew I needed to do something pretty radical and for once in a very long time, for myself. 

So I decided getting together with other women and either doing a bible study or a book study was essential.  

Imagine my surprise when not one of these, but BOTH of these opportunities landed in my lap-or what's left of my lap.  One of my partners with the Catholic Women of Buffalo Catholic Women of Buffalo, Inc., asked me if I was still interested in a bible study of some sort.  So we got in touch with our other partner in crime who works for Augustine Institute and she suggested we do the bible study, Lectio: Peter.  It was a GOD SEND!!  Truly.  We've only met twice and I've learned more about Peter and the bible and God's plan in those two meetings than I've known my whole 20 years of reversion back to the faith.  It's been exhilarating!!!  If your parish doesn't have Formed you need to get them on it.  It's the best money your parish could spend.  So much information right at our fingertips.  It's almost ridiculous.

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Some AMAZING content on this website!!!!!

The second opportunity was kind of crazy.  I saw that one of our speakers from our first conference was putting on a study with one of her awesome books that I had read when it first came out several years ago.  I figured a million women would put in to get into this study through Ascension Press, so I didn't really count on getting in it.  Imagine my surprise when I checked my email after a few days and there was a message from a rep from Ascension Press inviting me to participate and to let them know ASAP if I was going to in order to fill my spot should I not accept it.  Here is the link to that site where they, too, offer amazing information.  Books to order, studies to participate in, you name it.  Ascension Press
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I've ordered a ton of books from here.... :)

So now, every Wednesday in July (which is PERFECT considering I'm due mid-August) I get to "chat" on google chat with several women, including one of my true Catholic heroines, Danielle Bean!  Her book, Momnipotent, is one of my absolute favorites because as I've told her before, I feel like she has literally taken my life and put down on paper.  I laugh, I cry, I shake my head in solidarity at pretty much everything she wrote!!!  There is a journal and videos that we write in and watch before we meet on Wednesdays, and they too, have proven fruitful for me to see just how my insecurities interfere with God's perfect plan for me.  It's been a true blessing for this weary old brain of mine......

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Danielle Bean's book....a treasure...

To be honest, I really believe, that the sense of community, is something we all need.  All of us.  Not just women, but humans in general.  I think most especially women.  I am not very close literally/figuratively to my family, so getting together with them, or even sharing with them, is not something that happens often, or ever.  But finding that community, to feel a sense of belonging, is important regardless of our family dynamics.  I have some of the most amazing women in my life and sometimes I take them for granted.  I have found since getting together with them this summer, that I am feeling better.  I know it's only been twice with each group, but it has been enough to know I'm not letting it fall to the wayside again.  It's healthy to be with other people and it makes us better women for it.  Listening to someone else's perspective on current events, life, children, friends, family, bible studies, is just what we need!  It grounds us.  I find I'm a better wife to my husband after talking about things that I tend to keep bottled up because I don't want to burden him with my silly issues.  I think it gives me a great sense of how really great my own kiddos are compared to the rest of the world. It affirms us. Gives us perspective.  Lessons burdens.  Lightens loads, and most importantly?  Fills that part of our tanks that need filling. God didn't make us to be alone.  He showed us that from the beginning of creation.  First He gave us beauty all around us.  Then he gave us amazing creatures.  And lastly, He gave us each other!  

So as I said, I have five more weeks of potentially being pregnant.  Hopefully with these new adventures I'm participating in, my anxieties that at times tend to overwhelm me, will somewhat calm down.  Hopefully, I can reconnect with my prayer life when those moments surround and overwhelm my brain.  My prayer is that after these two events end, I'll still be working to find more things to get involved in.  Being at home is a wonderful thing, I love being with my family tremendously, but I also know, to be a good wife, mother, friend, neighbor, sister, daughter, I need to take care of me, too.  We all do.  We owe it to the people in our lives.  

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So next time you find yourself sitting outside your shoe, feeling overwhelmed, as if you'll never make it through another hour let alone day, with all your kids that are a BLESSING, not a horrible thing, remember, there are other women out there feeling the same- go find them and start something huge!

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'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 a mother.  God bless.........