Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Having Fun

Living in New England always keeps us on our toes in regards to weather.  I do love a good snow...especially when it comes so late in the winter and I know it will only stay on the ground briefly!  There's something so peaceful about watching it fall and decorate the tree limbs and collect on the ground.

I like the snow even better when my family is all home together and I don't have to worry about them being out on the road.  Unfortunately, tonight isn't one of those nights when we can lock the doors and just chill on the couch.  But, thankfully, once Mike gets home from school its only Jay who has to go out again and he doesn't have to drive far.

Last night our 3 oldest were hanging out in the family room playing video games together.  They were having a lot of fun together.  It was so satisfying for me to hear their laughs and (happy) yells as they competed with each other in Wii sports.  I was grateful that they were getting along(some of their personalities are like oil and water!).    There have been times when I wondered if they would ever be able to tolerate being in the same room with each other...never mind being friends!   They were making happy memories and that made me happy!  Then, around 10:15, Jay and I spoiled their fun because we were feeling "old and tired" and needed to go to bed!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Quote to Ponder

"I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody."
Benjamin Franklin

Isn't this a hard thought?  It often seems so much easier to focus on the negative! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Collective Sigh

Did you hear it this morning sometime between 8 and 9 am?  It was the collective sigh of moms seeing their kids off to school!  I know I feel a little lighter this morning and my house is a lot quieter!  Having a bright, sunny day is definitely a bonus!

Actually, I enjoy having my kids home.  It's only Peter who is hard to have home for long periods of time.  Right now, between having Peter, an infant and a toddler, family outings are really difficult.  (Of course the stomach bug that raced through our house took care of having to worry about outings this past week!)  Trying to do something special with the kids as a family is definitely something I want to work on this year.  I want to make as many family memories I can with the time I have left with all of the kids at home. 

What's been hard is coming to the realization that we really need to start doing some of the family activities without Peter.  It's hard taking Peter places because you never know how he will react to things.  Plus, he is impulsive and bolts places so you have to hold on to him at all times.  You have to keep a close eye on him too because he has this obsession with rubbing people's arms which can cause quite a problem(especially if people don't realize he is autistic right away!). 

It's definitely a lot more stressful when we have Peter with us, trying to keep him safe and out of embarrasing situations.  It's also hard because we can't pay attention to the other kids as much.  And, honestly, unless we are at a zoo, or an aquarium, or Disney World, Peter doesn't really have a good time.  He doesn't really enjoy a lot of things.  He would rather be home.  It makes me feel sad and a little guilty to think of not including him, but I know we need the opportunity to give our other children opportunities for normalcy and our undivided attention.  And sometimes Jay and I need a break from Peter so that we can enjoy outings more and have our own positive memories.

Having a definition of "family time" that doesn't truly involve the whole family is definitely a tough change for me and it's sad too.  It's a tough reminder of Peter's struggles and highlights that he is very far from a normal functioning 10 year old.  There is always a sense of loss and a little bit of grieving for me when that happens.

Just because change is hard doesn't mean it is bad though.  It also doesn't mean it's permanent, just best for our family right now.  We haven't given up on Peter.  He keeps making progress and we are grateful for that!  We will continue to work with his teachers and therapists and, most importantly with God through prayer, to help Peter become the person God created him to be.  And, really, that's what I want for all my become the people God created them to be!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Living in the Moment

We made it through vacation week!  One more day and back to our normal schedules!  I'm looking forward to our regular routines...and a break from cartoons! 

Jonathan turned 16 yesterday and I can't believe that I have 3 sons that will be driving!  The driving milestone is definitely my least favorite of all the developmental milestones so far!  There's just so much worry involved...and now it will be times three!  It is exciting to see them growing up and becoming their own person...seeing the paths that God is leading them on.  It seems like just yesterday that they were all little and making up zoo games in their room together.  Now they sit around watching the GOP debates and ESPN. 

I think I am more grateful for their presence right now because I know it won't be too long until that changes.  Between work, school, and sports, most days they aren't home all that much as it is.  I guess it's good training in letting go....but I am not looking forward to when we are no longer together for at least a few minutes each day.  Knowing that change is coming I am really trying to hold on to the little memories and time we do have together.  It is very good practice for living in the moment....

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Quote to Ponder...

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
Anne Bradstreet

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Looking For Hope...And A Good Night's Sleep!

It is Day 5 of vacation and I am officially "done".  After days of vomit and sleep deprivation, I have finally hit a wall.  I am grateful no one has been sick for 48 hours, but Luke slept lousy last night and when I was sleeping I had nightmares.   I have had too many nights of bad sleep in a row and am feeling very burned out.  Thankfully, I was having some moms over to talk about The Happiness Project  today, which kept me from wallowing in self-pity and yelling at my kids all day! 

Being with them made me think about how important hope is and how God's timing is definitely not necessarily always when I think things would be best.  And what's good is that seeing how God is working in my friends' lives....especially in the answers to their struggles and hardships...uplifts me and encourages me even when the changes don't have anything to do with me.  It makes me feel hopeful that God will continue to do good things in my life and that He has special "surprises" and gifts for me and for my family.  You know that feeling you get when you just know without a doubt that the way something works out can only be from God and you just feel so grateful and close to Him when that happens?  I definitely love the warm, fuzzy feelings that brings me to feel that God is close and fills my heart in that moment.  It re-focuses me and gives me strength to get through the everyday struggles and difficulties that life throws at me during which I usually don't "feel" God but choose to remember and believe that He is there and taking care of me. 

I'm hoping that His plans for me tonight include a good night sleep!!!  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today has a touch of spring in it...I am so excited to see the sunshine and feel that(slightly) warmer air!  Last night we were watching tv and a commercial came on showing women walking on a cruise ship in the sunshine with summer dresses on.  Looking at it made me feel has gotten to that time of year when I forget what warm sunshine feels like!  Today's weather isn't quite there yet, but it's still a nice, sunny day! 

I think it's also so nice because I have not gotten thrown up on or had to change any sheets in over 24 hours!!!  I feel like we are finally heading in the right direction!  I am very thankful for that.

Lent starts today.(Although honestly I think it started on Saturday night for me!)  I took the kids to Mass this morning.  It's always a challenge to bring Peter to Mass without Jay.  We ended up sitting in front of people I didn't recognize, which always makes me feel more stressed because Peter is distracting at sitting or standing randomly and making the occassional strange, loud noises, or perseverating on the same questions in a voice that is too loud.(Questions like "First church, then home."(20 times or more). 

It's hard to ignore that inner fear that gnaws at you, making you feel that people are making judgements about your child and your ability as a parent.  Of course, those feelings are compounded by my 2 year wiggling through the Mass and NO ability to whisper, and that we have such a large family.  Sometimes having such a big family definitely makes me more self-conscious and that people are thinking I shouldn't have so many kids when I can't keep control and order.  Sometimes I feel like we are a detriment for the "Being Open to Life" teaching of the Church...that people look at our family and think in fear.."We might end up like them!"

Of course no one signed up our family to be the poster child for Church teaching!(Thank God!)  My focus is the problem...I need to do the best job that I can do being patient and loving with the kids God has blessed me with, not worry about what other people are thinking of me!  Plus, when I worry what other people are thinking, I find I am less patient and less kind to them and more irritated about their faults!  Then I just end up angry and frustrated and yelling at everyone on the way home!  If you are asking yourself if that happened today...well...unfortunately, yes, it did.  I did apologize very soon after it happened...but if I hadn't let my insecurity rev up my emotions I wouldn't have yelled in the first place!

If I can be thankful for how far Peter has come(it used to be so much worse!), and thankful Luke is just acting like most normally developing 2 year old, and just be grateful for being in the presence of God and the grace He gives me, then I will leave Mass with the peace I crave and the patience to love and care for my family!  God knows the struggles Peter has, and He knows we are trying our best to work on those struggles.  We just need to not worry about what other people are or are not thinking, and focus on loving our children where they are at and cooperating with God to help them become the people He made them to be!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Long Night....

I was never much of a Star Trek fan...but last night I could hear the Capt.'s voice in my head..

"Captain's log...they are dropping like flies.  Vomit everywhere.  Send reinforcements."

It did make me laugh a little while poor Luke threw up every 45 minutes between 1 and 830.  He threw up in my bed first(one set of sheets and blankets...thank God for our large front loader washer!), went through four sheets from his bed, four pairs of pj's, and a couple shirts for me too!  Thankfully, it's a fast moving virus but he is now tired(read:  whiny) and hungry and doesn't understand why he can't have a grilled cheese sandwich!

Needless to say, there wasn't much sleep happening last night!  I am definitely sluggish today...and short tempered.  Peter got sick three times before dinner yesterday but was in rare form with his brown towel obsession this morning!  He wants everyone to use the brown towels so that he can wash the brown towels but because he was sick last night the brown towels stayed in  a clean basket and everyone used the other towels in the bathroom closet this morning.  So he was obsessing over the towels saying "Ellie use a brown towel" which I answer, "She will tonight when she showers," and "Lukie use a brown towel" to which I answer, "He will tonight after his bath." get the idea.  I definitely snapped at him twice(and that was before 7), and I realized we were in for a long day.  So I prayed for patience while in the shower(quiet time!), and determined to have extremely low expectations for today(LAUNDRY!!!).  I'm on load three...only 3 more to go.  (As long as there are no further incidents!) 

...Did I mention I'm grateful for my washing machine!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Out of Commission

Well, that nice peaceful Saturday ended with my succumbing to the stomach bug that has been going through our house!  There should definitely be a rule that moms cannot get sick!
Finding a positive spin on that night was a little bit difficult!  I was trying to be thankful that the virus was temporary...I really don't know how people get through illnesses that last for months or years!
 I was also thankful for my family who all stepped up and helped me.  Jay got up and walked Luke back to sleep when he was crying and couldn't understand why mommy had to spend time in the bathroom instead of laying in bed with him!  Michael heard me getting sick at midnight and came in to ask if I needed anything.  Sarah heard me getting sick at 3am and got out of bed to ask if I needed anything and changed Kate who was just starting to wake up.  All day Sunday I was a lump on the couch, still super nauseaus.  Jay fed the kids, took care of the baby, did lots of laundry, and took care of Michael who started getting sick in the afternoon!  The other kids all got along together and kept Luke occupied and happy most of the day.  Despite feeling awful, I couldn't help but feel grateful for my family.(Hopefully this memory will come into my head the next time they are all at each other's throats and I'm ready to run away!!!..Since it's vacation week I'm sure I will have an opportunity!)

Thankfully, I am feeling much better today and able to eat again.  And, hey....the one thing to be thankful for after having a stomach virus?  Losing a fast 5lbs!'s better to think positive, right!?!:) 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Moment of Peace

I have found myself in the unique situation of being at home with only Kate!  It is SO quiet I can hear the hum of the refrigerator!(Which is way too full after grocery day and trying to make meals out of leftovers!  I prayed for a bigger fridge...then quickly added "when we are able to re-do the kitchen, not because our fridge breaks!"  Sometimes I think we need to be very specific with God!...Last winter I prayed to be able to use our back yard more functionally and our septic system failed!  Expensive...but now I love our (very functional!) backyard!  God definitely brought about a greater good over that "stinky" situation!  Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun...I live in a house with teenage boys!

Just a quick note to thank God for this day full of sunshine outside a little time to myself!  I am definitely enjoying this moment!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some Mornings We Are On Plan D By Breakfast

Today we had a morning best described by something I read from Kimberly Hahn several years ago...
"Some mornings we are on plan D by breakfast!" 

After a rough night cleaning a throw up bucket, half sleeping waiting for Mike to get home from a basketball game in NH, and the usual wake-ups to settle Luke and nurse Kate, the morning started late and the dreary weather matched my sluggish mood.  Kate was feeling grumpy and Luke was crying and I didn't have Peter's lunch together when the "minivan bus" pulled up out front to pick him up.  I could definitely feel myself losing patience quickly and getting snappy.  Feeling the very negative path I was beginning to slide down, and not wanting that to set the tone for the day, I tried to take a deep breath and to focus on more positive thoughts.  Yes, the kitchen was a disaster but I would get to it.  Yes, Luke was being 2...his two favorite phrases are "I do it mysewf," and "I hewp you"(which is really no help at all!:), but I still managed to wash his hands and get him dressed.  Yes, Kate was grouchy, but she was just gassy(my fault for making quessadillas last night!), but after a little bit of walking around and a little more nursing she fell to sleep in my arms.  Thankfully, even though Sarah is still under the weather, she is no longer vomiting. 

So, with Peter off to school,  a movie on of Sarah's choice, Luke snuggled in next to me and Kate  asleep in my arms, I was able to thank God amidst the chaos.(What better feeling is there than gazing at a beautiful little baby snuggled in your arms fast asleep!?!)  After a little while I even managed to have breakfast and clean off the island from breakfast and lunch making!

 I'm trying to be grateful for the little things while living in the moment.   Though I failed initially, I'm thankful I was able to reel it in before it became the backdrop to the entire day.(At least this time!:)  Hopefully I can feel this way when everyone is home though February vacation next week! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Living in the Moment

I recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I found myself wanting to share about what I was reading so I started a book club.  We have only met once so far but I'm excited about sharing what has resonated with me in the book and some of the changes I have made.  One of the reasons I picked up the book in the first place is because it seemed like the book would further encourage something I've been working on in particular in the last year...trying to live in the moment.

I am finding that as my kids get older, time seems to fly by even quicker.  Some days I can be very grateful for the way they are growing and excited to see the people they are becoming.  Many days though it takes my breath away that many of their childhood stages are ending and I can't get them back.  I worry that I didn't do enough and wasn't present enough.  I wish I had spent more time and energy on the "little touches" to make sure that they felt special and connected and loved.

 One of the things Gretchen quoted in the book was, "The days are long but the years are short."  That's so true.  Having three young boys as very young adults still going through college, and in my husband's case grad school, was such a whirlwind crazy time.  Then, having our first daughter and losing her so soon(we didn't know she had a genetic disorder until after her birth), took its toll on a chunk of our lives.  I really didn't work through it well and ended up suffering from depression off and on for several years after.  I wasn't as present to the kids during those times.

 When Peter was diagnosed with Autism at 2 1/2 it threw our lives into another whirlwind that took quite a while to settle down.  Our lives were consumed with research and bringing him to different doctors, nutritionists, and attending seminars trying to find the "magic bullet" that would "cure" him.  After a year we realized we had to stop treating his diagnosis as a sprint and move into marathon mode.  We also realized that we couldn't spend 95% of our time and energy on Peter and only 5% on the other kids.  That was hard because I was afraid we would miss the window of opportunity.  In the end, we had to trust God's guidance and acknowledge that He loved Peter way more than we ever could.  He has guided us to keep Peter progressing and we are grateful for that.  He continues to send people into Peter's life to help him and to help us keep our sanity!

So, I have been working hard at letting go of my guilt from the past I cannot change, and concentrate on being present in the moment and participate in and enjoy each of my children's lives at the stage they are at.(And with kids ranging from infant to the verge of young adult I have lots of opportunities!!!)  While I still grieve for the past that I can't get back and have many fears for the what ifs of the future, I am choosing to be grateful for the moment I have right now.  IT IS NOT EASY!  But I know that I have more peace when I am able to live in the moment and that makes me happier and able to enjoy life so much more...and it makes me a better wife, mother, daughter and friend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I have been thinking about starting a blog for about a year now and finally got the courage, and made the time, to do it!  Starting to write has been on my heart for several years now, but it always seems like such an overwhelming concept that I give up before I even start!  A blog seems like the least scary way to here I am!(and very excited about it too!)

Most blogs seem to start with a little background, so.........
I have been married for almost 20 years to my wonderful, loving husband, Jay.  We were high school sweethearts that married during our first year of college and have been on this wild journey ever since!  We have had 9 children.  One of our children passed away almost 14 years ago and one of our children has special needs.  Though we have been through a lot together, we are still very much in love.  I am SO incredibly blessed to have him!

Our oldest son, Michael, is 19.  He is attending the local community college.  He plays basketball for the school and had a great first semester.  I am grateful for the delay in having to cope with the first child leaving the nest, though between school, basketball and work he is gone most days from 7:30 to 10:30.  Mike is a good kid and very loyal to his family.

Andrew is 17 and is a high school junior.  He is our runner. He is captain of the cross countryteam and runs winter and spring track.  Andrew is a very straight forward, introverted, literal person who has "come out of his shell" in high school and found enjoyment in the campus ministry and pro-life groups.

Jonathan is 16 and is a sophomore in high school.  Jon is also a basketball kid and plays for his school's JV team.  Jon is very outgoing and personable.  He is also the biggest tease in our family.  He earned that role when he was less than 18 months old and stole his brothers' cow and ran away with it with an enormous smile on his face!  Jon is also involved in his school's campus ministry and pro-life groups.

Sarah is almost 13.  She is a very easy going, sweet person.  She loves playing basketball for her school's CYO team(where she is not so sweet and easy going!  We think that's where she gets out all her aggression towards her older brothers!).  She is very creative and likes to make jewelry and crafts for people.  She is in 7th grade, a very good student and a huge help with her younger siblings.

Peter is 10.  Peter has autism...his official diagnosis is PDD-NOS.  Peter is a beautiful kid.  He has many special needs.  Parenting Peter can be exhilerating, but it is most often very challenging, especially with a large family!  He goes to school in a special classroom at a school in an adjacent town.

Ellen is 8 and in 3rd grade.  Ellie is a happy-go-lucky, loving girl who wears her emotions on her sleeve.  She loves to be the center of attention!  She likes to play basketball and softball. 

Luke is 2 and a 1/2.  After not having had a baby for six years we referred to him as our "bonus baby."  He is a very loved, very energetic boy.  He is a lot of fun and his older brothers love rough-housing with him and teaching him sports.(they taught him to dribble before he could run!)  He is a terrible sleeper, but has a great disposition!

Kathryn is 8 weeks old.  I call Kate our "bonus bonus baby".  Her sisters were thrilled to have another girl in our family.(So was I!  It's so much fun dressing little girls!)  So far, Kate seems very laid back and is a good sleeper.(Thank God!  I prayed for the entire pregnancy for her to be a good sleeper!)  

We also have a daughter in Heaven.  Therese was born the year before Sarah.  She had a genetic disorder and only lived for 16 days.  Her birth and death were heartbreaking, but God's Hand was clearly on us during her brief life and in our grief following her death. 

So, that's my family!  I chose the name for my blog because often, when friends ask me how everything is going, my answer is"Normal Chaos." 

Welcome!  I hope you enjoy a glimpse into my world!