Thursday, May 31, 2012

Finding A Happy Moment

Peter had field day at his school today.  Special things at Peter's school are always a struggle for me.  For my "neuro-typical" kids, field day causes much excitement over time off from doing work and the fun of competition.  (I use neuro-typical because I dislike the word "normal" because that would imply that Peter is abnormal...and that's too negative for me.  Peter's normal is just different from everyone else's normal!)

Peter doesn't "get" field day.  If he participates, it's really more like a rote listening of commands("wait in line"  "hold the ball" "walk to the cone" etc.) than any kind of excitement over competition.  Peter doesn't "get" competition, either.

It is hard to see him mixed in with his neuro-typical peers.  There is no mask that can hide the vast differences between Peter and the other kids in his age group.  It twists the grief knife in my heart a bit to see the other kids and think that this is what he would be like if he wasn't so affected by Autism.

Going to these types of things for Peter is also hard because, even though he realizes I'm there, it doesn't seem to really matter to him.  He acknowledges that I'm there but there is no connection that my other kids would make that "I'm so happy Mom is here to see me.  I'm so glad she brought the baby and I can feel important showing off my little sister."  As a mom we are supposed to give all we have(and I do)....but it really is hard when there's almost never any positive reaction shown in return.  I know I'm not supposed to feel that way, but I do.  Sometimes being Peter's mom is just hard.

And then there's the fear of what I'm actually going to see while I'm there.  Will he freak out at all?  Will my presence make him act out and not follow his teachers?  Will he freak out when I leave and he stays at school? Will I have to bring him home with me?

But if I don't go, I will feel guilty about it all day!  So, the guilt over not going won out over all my other concerns.....

...And I'm glad I went because it went just fine....well, "Peter fine", that is.

The first activity they did was a three legged race.  He got paired up with a little boy from a regular 3rd grade class.  I held my breath at first because I wasn't sure how the boy was going to react being paired with Peter.  The other boys in his class were paired off with each other.  But he was very nice to Peter and didn't even complain.  I sent up a silent thank-you for that one and a prayer for grace for Peter's partner for his generosity.

Peter missed the relay with the ping pong ball in the spoon because he wandered off to see the tug-of-war.  Oh, well...On to the basketball relay, where he threw the ball instead of dribbling.  He almost got his shot in and half dribbled, half carried the ball on the way back before passing it to his classmate.

For following directions he earned some time playing with 2 dinosaurs, which he enjoyed more than the races.

After a short wait to let all the other kids finish, we moved on to the next event.  Walking over to the area we had to be in, Peter was singing as he walked, "I'm so glad you came."  Maybe he was singing his feelings, and maybe not.  But I will take it that he meant it....A little gift for Mom!

It was on to the sponge race.  The kids had to run a short way to a bucket filled with water, put a sponge in it, and run back to where they started and squeeze the water into another bucket.  Peter likes water....actually, loves water.  So he waited in line, walked to the other bucket(he would just giggle as everyone prompted him to run, run tow steps, and walk again), and then walked back.  He wandered around the area as the other kids had turns and people were cheering.  He had another turn and earned time with the dinosaurs again.  Occasionally he would walk over and dunk them in the bucket.(He does not get the idea of a race or competition!)  But he was having fun.  He reminded me of the Disney cartoon, Ferdinand the Bull...."And he just sat quietly and smelled the flowers.".....except for Peter the quote would be "He quietly walked around aimlessly...and occasionally ate the flowers."(!)

Then it was time for snack so his teachers brought him and his 3 friends back up to the classroom.  He did not ask to go home.  No fits or tantrums or behaviors!  Peter just waved a distracted good-bye to me after his teacher took this picture of us.

(Last week I stumbled onto a blog that encourages moms to take pictures with their families.  I am very guilty of being the picture taker so there are not a lot of memories with me pictured in them.  So, regardless of how I am not thrilled with my body, I am making an effort to be more visibly present.  This was my first attempt...ponytail, no make-up and all.)

But it's for my kids...and I will do anything for them...even Field Day and pictures!

Simple BPM

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

You Never Stop Learning As A Parent

A quote that I read this morning from the blog, Adventures in Babywearing, really spoke to me.  She was talking about her kids and said, 
"And they make me who I am as much as I made them them."

That's just so true!

My children have taught me how to love someone more than myself(at least most of the time!)

They have taught me how to accept change(because they are always changing...and not just their clothes!)

They have taught me how to work with people's strengths and strengthen people's weaknesses because they are all so different and excel(and struggle) in different areas.

They have taught me that multi-tasking is a fine art that can always be improved upon!

They have taught me to really listen in order to understand what they are really saying.(i.e., "i'm fine" can have many different meanings)

They have taught me to listen to my heart to know when something they say they "need" is really only a want....and to know when something they "want"(like playing basketball with Jay or watching a movie together) is really a need.

They have taught me that teenagers need as much, and sometimes more, attention and effort as when they were younger because they are still growing and changing SO much and their  emotional needs are very important.

My children have taught me that I need way more patience than I possess and constantly give me opportunities to fail....I mean grow... in this area!

My children have taught me so many things beyond showing me how talented I am at surviving through years and years of sleep deprivation!

They have taught me way more than I have listed here...but I have to stop blogging and attend to something else my kids have given me lots of practice in over the years....the art of diaper changing!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Seeing In The Dark

Last night around 10:45 the power in our neighborhood went out.  Pitch darkness enveloped our house and silence replaced the sounds of the Celtics game my husband and sons had been watching. Cell phone screens were used as flashlights to lock up the house and get ready for bed.

Luke was restless even earlier than usual last night so he was already in my bed when the power went out.  I was laying in my bed between Kate and Luke in the darkness.  I was feeling very vulnerable and thinking how isolating true darkness can feel when we are so used to connection in this technologically driven world.

Luke started stirring and he reached out to feel my face with his hand to make sure it was me(Usually we have a nightlight).  He settled back into sleep with his pudgy little hand on my arm for a little extra assurance that Mom was there....

My hand was on Kate's belly feeling it go up and down with every breath she took.....

They are so sweet and so little and changing so fast.  I wanted to etch this memory on my heart so that it stays forever!  It was one of those moments when I wish time could stop, or at least slow way down so that they could stay small for just a while longer.


Monday, May 28, 2012

A Special Thank-You

I've often just thought of the benefits of Memorial Day as being a much appreciated 3 day weekend that gave me the gift of extra time with my family.  As a child born in an era after Vietnam and many years before the conflict explosion in the mid east, war was just a part of my history books.  My grandfathers both fought in World War II but it was something they never spoke of.

My older sons have all been very interested in history.  Jon in particular would often ask my grandfather questions about his experiences.  Much of what he went through is still extremely painful to talk about, even after all these years.  My grandfather(Pepere) is a man with a sensitive heart: generous, loving, and quick to shed a tear over sad and happy news.  When Luke was born we surprised Pepere by giving Luke Pepere's name, Arthur, as a middle name.  Jon showed Pepere the picture we texted everyone as soon as Luke was born with Luke Arthur written underneath it.(Pepere is not a "new technology" kind of person and will never get a cell phone...he doesn't even have a credit card!)  When Pepere saw the picture and Jon pointed out his name, Pepere started crying.  And he cried again when he held Luke the first time...and he proudly tells his Dunkin friends that Luke is named after him.

Pepere is a very sensitive man.  I never knew that he could not watch movies, or even news reports, about information from any war, whether past or present.  It would cause him much anxiety.

Four years ago, Jon was in 7th grade and doing a report on D-Day.  My grandfather heard Jon had chosen this topic and wanted to share his story.  One day during Jon's research, Pepere came over and Jon had a list of questions that he asked him.  Pepere was on a Navy supply ship that was stationed just off the Normandy beach on D-Day.  Pepere shared his many memories of that difficult day with Jon...his own fear and the fear of the men around him.  Really it was more terror than fear.  Seeing some his friends wounded and killed.  You could see in his face that he was right back on that ship watching all the events unfold in his head.  He broke down several times.  Each time Jon would tell him, "It's ok, Pepere, you don't have to tell me anymore."  But Pepere really wanted to share his story with Jon in a way he had never shared it before.

In the last few years after talking to Jon, and with the help of our local Veterans Association, Pepere received medals that he had earned during the War but never received.  After all these years, it helped him to feel thanked and validated for his service to our country.  Pepere was so proud to receive these medals...and Jon was the first person he showed them to.

He also got to speak to a counselor that helped him to realize that he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  After WWII, the men coming back were thrown right back into "normal life"  and left to deal with all they had seen and felt on their own.  I'm sure most men were like my grandfather, who internalized and sealed off all those traumatic memories that bubbled up to the surface whenever something triggered those memories.  These men did not have the psychological support to help them work through it all.  What a heavy cross to carry all their lives.

Pepere will turn 90 in a few months.  He is not the typical 89 year old.  He is still very independent...lives alone,  takes care of his house and yard, does too much even though we are always offering help.  He seems to know everyone in the city he lives older boys joke and tell him he should run for Mayor!  Pepere can be seen at Dunkin Donuts every morning and every late afternoon sipping a small coffee and shooting the bologna with whoever is there.

I think that talking through his experiences helped to alleviate some of his anxiety and terror from his difficult memories.  I'm glad...and it shows that no matter what age you are, there can always be healing.

Today we will pray in a special way for Pepere and all the men and women that have served and are serving in any of our country's Armed Forces.  We owe them much gratitude for the sacrifices they made and continue to make.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Be Careful What You Pray For!

Do you ever notice that when you go through a period of feeling blue and start to come out of it, that the world around you looks different?  The last couple of weeks have been a little tough for me, but the last few days have gotten much better.  I started noticing it in the middle of the week.  I opened the fridge and all the colors really caught my attention...the orange juice looked so orange, and the broccoli so green, etc.  I think everything, including colors, had dulled into a shade of gray while I was feeling that low level depression.

This morning I was in my room getting dressed.  I was looking around the (extremely messy, in desperate need of a deep clean) room and really admired our wall color.  It's a really creamy medium brown color and I just love it.  We painted it a couple of years ago and it's just a really classy color.  It was nice to notice and appreciate it.

When I was at Mass this morning I recognized that I just felt happy.  I think you notice feeling happy even more strongly when you have felt "not happy" for any amount of time.  Feeling happy was something extra to feel grateful for.

It was also a BEAUTIFUL day today!  Sunny, warm and just perfect!  We spent a lot of time outside in the back yard...uncovering the pool and watching the little boys play on the swings and in the sandbox.

We are enjoying our backyard SO much right now because it is brand new.  Our backyard is actually the result of that saying, "Be careful what you pray for.".....

Two and a half years ago, I really wasn't sure if I wanted to stay in this house or not.  There were several things that didn't work for our family.  The most important thing that did work was the location.  We happen to live in one of the best towns in the area in regards to special education for Peter.  So, if we were going to move, we had to stay in the same town.  I started looking at houses and we made a "must have" list of things we needed to change in order to stay in our current home.  The list to stay was: putting on a garage and a family room and re-working our backyard layout so it could be functional in some way.

We live in an area that has the dreaded septic systems.  They stink...literally and figuratively!  Our house had this enormous raised system that we nicknamed "Mt. Septic."  Mt. Septic took up a third of our yard.  It was an eyesore.  And we never really used the back yard because of it.  The swing set was in the side yard because the septic system was so high that half of our yard had a strange pitch because of the way it was graded.  It wasn't conducive to baseball games or soccer games either because of that hill.

Trying to figure out a way to make Mt. Septic better was a challenge.  Jay and I threw out ideas about a retaining wall so that maybe we could take away some of the grading and have room for an above ground pool...a lot of work but I needed to have a usable back yard if we were going to stay.  It was a "must have."

So I was praying for guidance about where we were meant to live and, if we were meant to stay, what we could do about Mt. Septic.  The winter before last, I noticed that a spot in the snow on Mt. Septic was melted in a circle right on top of the system.  My heart sank and when the Spring came our friend who was an engineer confirmed my fear that our system was failing:(

We went through the difficult, and pricey, process of repairing the system.  Because of the extreme generosity of one of our neighbors that owned the woods behind us, they gave us a permanent easement to allow part of our system to be on their property.  We were able to move our septic system and it was able to be a regular gravity fed more Mt. Septic!  It took a long time to get it designed and put in.  But last August it was finished and we got a pool and poured a patio and Jay built a big sandbox for Luke to dig in with his trucks.  We planted grass in September and moved the swing set back there in October.

Now that the grass has(mostly) grown in and we are opening up the pool, I am getting excited to really enjoy our new backyard.  My grandmother surprised her 6 grandchildren with a monetary gift last week that I used to buy a patio set and order a new awning for our deck.  The shade will be great for the baby so I can keep her out of the sun while I watch the other kids in the pool.  We set up a volleyball/badminton net on Saturday.  Jay is going to build a small deck for the pool in the next couple of weeks.  It's so exciting to be able to have this great space for our family and friends to enjoy!

When I was praying for inspiration for our yard I never imagined that our septic system would fail!  But, if our septic system hadn't failed, we never would have had such a great backyard.  Sometimes our prayers are answered in very surprising ways!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Nice Day

Today was such a nice day.

I am grateful for the time spent with our friends at our home tonight during a potluck dinner, some prayer time, and then potluck dessert.

I am grateful that the day we spent preparing for the party was filled with peace and cooperative helpers.  I can honestly say I didn't yell once about getting the house cleaned.  Even though we didn't get to everything on the to-do list I felt satisfied with what we did get.  We had a good pace going through the day too, that included breaks, so that it didn't feel like there was so much pressure to get everything done in a manic way.  Even Jay looked at me right before everyone was supposed to arrive and said, "Today was such a great day!"  

That has NEVER happened before on a party prep day!

This is certainly not always the case of how our pre-party clean up happens...In fact, I usually struggle to keep my emotions calm because there is so much to do and never enough time to really do it all.  

Today was different...I'm not sure why.  But I am really happy with how everything went.  We even hired a babysitter for Peter to follow him around and keep an eye on him so Jay and I could enjoy socializing with our friends.  It worked out great!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the first day of our holiday weekend and I'm looking forward to tomorrow!  I hope you all have a great time with your families and friends as well!

According To Denise

Thursday, May 24, 2012

All About Andrew

My son, Andrew, has mentioned to me on a couple of occasions that he has been mentioned in my blog less than his siblings.  So I decided that today's post would be "All About Andrew."  (Don't worry, won't be about everything...especially about a certain special someone that you don't want me to blog least not today!;)

Andrew is our second son.  He was born a little ornery....spent the first few months being pretty colicky...and always enjoyed quiet places.  (Pretty ironic considering our household is almost never quiet!)

Andrew is very smart.  He would memorize how to spell long words, like elephant, when he was only three.  Andrew would come to us and ask how to spell a word.  We would spell it for him.  Then he would ask us to spell it again.  After we spelled it a second time he would repeat it back to us and "click", it was in his head for good.

Andrew also taught himself to read when he was four.  We realized he could read when we drove past a milk truck one day and he read the advertisements on the side.  He certainly surprised us that day!

Andrew has also been blessed with the "math gene" from my husband's side of the family.  Mike would be doing his first grade math homework out loud at the table(3 + 5=) and Andrew, who was 4, would yell out the answer from the living room before Mike had a chance to answer it himself.  Mike would get so mad and yell at him, "Andrew, that's my homework!"

Andrew's passion was dinosaurs.  He knew everything there was to know about every type of dinosaur: their names, the period they lived in, all their characteristics, etc.  He would get so mad at us when he would "quiz" us on dinosaur facts and we honestly didn't know the answer.  Andrew thought we were just teasing him.

We were in Disney World when Andrew was 5.  We were in Epcot taking a break for lunch.  Andrew was telling Jay and my brother-in-law, Matt, all about the first mammal called the Dinotherium, which was a distant relative of the elephant.  Jay and Matt were humoring him but thought he was getting things confused...neither had ever heard of any such animal.

We went on the Universe of Energy ride right after lunch.  Part of the ride involves going back in time and seeing an incredible, realistic scene from dinosaur times.  Then, when we are supposed to be heading back to the present, a radio announcer is describing certain scenes in time from the dinosaur times to the present.  Well, wouldn't you know, that one of the things that was mentioned was the arrival of the first mammal, called the Dinotherium, who was a distant relative of the elephant!  Jay and Matt looked at Andrew very surprised...and Andrew just had this giant grin on his face and said,"See, I told you!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Am Fearfully Made

I am fearfully made...and by that I mean I am full of fear!  Some of it is from my background...fear and guilt seem to be French Canadian traits in my experience.  One moment they tell you, "You can do anything you want in life" and when you mention something they list all the reasons that wouldn't be a good or safe choice.  It makes me a great "devil's advocate" but it takes a lot of work for me to look at the positive side of things.

My Memere was a tough lady...she loved us, but was not soft around the edges.(In her family of 13 growing up they all got a nickname...Memere's nickname was "razorblade".)  She was hard-working and the true middle child of the family(#7).  Her mother died when she was in her late teens and she was the oldest, unmarried girl still living home so she basically raised her younger siblings(the youngest was only 4 and most of them were boys).

When I got my driver's license, my Memere told me, "If there's a box in the middle of the road, don't hit it.  There could be a baby inside that someone is trying to get rid of.  We live in a crazy world."

Words of wisdom?!?  Yikes!

More of the fear I carry comes from personal experience.  Before we went through the tragic experience of losing our daughter, tragedies that happened to other people saddened me but didn't generally get past the surface of my heart.  When a tragedy happens to you or to someone in your immediate family, all of a sudden you lose that "ignorance is bliss" mentality and get thrown into the land of "something horrible happened to me and something horrible could happen again.....and I have no control over it."  Everyone else's struggles affect me so much more because I have felt those deeper emotions of grief and helplessness myself and it makes me hurt for others going through difficult times so much more.

I went through a number of years trying to control anything I possibly could to combat feeling all that grief and fear and helplessness.(Controlling things comes more naturally to a first born, type A personality like myself!)  After several years, and major burnout and depression, I realized that I can't control everything.  Now I put my effort into trying to work on what's within my scope of responsibility and let God take care of the rest.  Notice I used the word "trying" because I often find myself wrestling for control...especially when my "fear issue" has been triggered in some way and I feel helpless and vulnerable inside.(I hate that feeling!)  Ultimately, I feel and act much better when I do my job and let God do his...but that still doesn't deter me from wrestling when things get really tough emotionally.  I'm getting better at letting go but I am far from perfect!

I don't know if this is how anyone else feels, but when I've gone through a difficult emotional time I feel pretty bruised and battered and sensitive for a while afterwards.  I've felt that way this week because of all the emotions that had been stirred up last week from the anniversary of Therese's birth.  I wish I could put myself in a bubble.  Jay says I should put a sign on myself that says "Only happy stories please!"

Yesterday I heard three really sad stories from three different people.  The stories made my bruised self want to get my husband and kids safe in our house, lock all the doors, and curl up into a fetal position until all the "bad" feelings, i.e. fear and grief and vulnerability, faded away to a more manageable level!

I am a fear wimp!  I do not watch the news, or yahoo headlines, or scary movies, or violent tv, etc.  I hate when people share some of the terrible, stupid things that other people do in this world to hurt others, especially if it involves kids.  I can feel my  protective numbing mechanism fall into place to keep me from absorbing all the negative images and to try and keep my fear, grief and vulnerability under control.  What it really does is give me anxiety and a panic attack until I can work through my feelings and get to an internal emotional place where I feel safe again.(Which often takes several days!)

I do react well in any initial crisis because I look at things with my head since my emotions go on hiatus for a time!

You can find something positive to just about any situation if you look hard enough, I guess!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Moment In Time

It's crazy work morning day.  I did a good job getting out of bed earlier this morning and, thankfully, Luke and Kate slept until 6:45.  I was in the shower when they started waking up so Ellen, being the great big sister that she is, climbed onto our bed to keep an eye on Kate.

When I first walked in the room Luke yelled excitedly, "Baby Kate's awake!"  It just really struck me how cute they all are together.  Kate was all gummy grins and her arms and legs were pumping because she was so excited to see everyone.  Luke was being so sweet with her hugs and making her smile with his high pitched, "Hi, honey!"  Ellie was being sweet with both of them.  They were all so happy.

It was one of those moments where you just take in the scene with all of your senses...well, except taste!...and you just want to keep it in your memory forever!  Ellen's love for her siblings; Luke's love for Kate and his squeaky little voice and Luke and Kate's soft, pudgy little bodies and, of course, Kate's adorable gummy grin.  Even the faint scent of "pee-pee diapers" will be something I miss someday!

It was one of those moments when I wish that time could stop for at least a little while so I could enjoy these moments just a little longer.....

....and one of those moments when I feel overwhelming appreciation for the gifts I have been blessed with!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Calm After the Storm

"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous, small treats."

~Iris Murdock

This quote was in my email this morning from The Happiness Project.  It was particularly appropriate for me today because Jay ended up staying home.  It was a happy surprise and definitely a treat.

Emotionally it was a tough weekend.  Even though we know that Therese's birthday is always a heavy day for us, we had some added stress of Peter being off the wall after many dietary infractions from my Grandmother's 93rd birthday on Saturday and Ellie had a project due on Monday and I was struggling to deal with it all.  Jay was, as usual, much more level headed.  But the anniversary was really affecting him a lot too.  We both felt emotionally beat up.

It was nice just to spend time talking today.  It's amazing the difference a day makes.  Yesterday I felt like I was fighting a threatening emotional tornado.  Everything feels so much calmer today.  It's also amazing how much a date can stir up feelings even after 14 years!

Yesterday afternoon, Jon was inducted into the National Honor Society.  We are very proud of him and the break to go to the ceremony was a good thing for both me and Jay.  Mike and Sarah stayed home with Ellie, Peter and Luke.  They all cleaned the house as a surprise while we were gone.  I think it was their way of trying to take some pressure off of us and it was very much appreciated!

The rest of the day was better and bedtime was very welcome!  Kate was having one of those snuggle nights and I was perfectly happy bringing her into bed with me.  I am so grateful that she is healthy and so blessed that she was given to us.  

I'm looking forward to a week that will(hopefully) be much calmer emotionally!(I'm sure the rest of my family is looking forward to that too!)    

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Drowning in Teenagers

I remember when all the older kids were little and Jay and I would joke that someday we would have four teenagers in the house at the same time!


That day has arrived!

Today is Sarah's 13th birthday!  I can't believe that the baby we held in our arms is now a teenager!  The transformation from a little girl to a young woman has been happening slowly over the last couple of years.  Sarah has spent more time getting dressed, wanting to go shopping for her own clothes, doing her hair......

People always warned me that "Girls are so much harder than boys!  Just wait until your daughter's a teenager!"  I have to say, those words haven't rang true for us(at least yet).  Sarah is, for the most part, an emotionally level person.   

All of our children are blessings!  Sarah's birth brought a lot of happiness back into our lives.  Her arrival, one day before the one year anniversary of Therese's birth, helped to fill the hole that Therese's death had left.  She couldn't replace Therese, but she filled our empty arms and hurting hearts!  

Sarah has always been Daddy's little girl!(As is Ellie and Kate:)  The girls have Daddy wrapped around their fingers.  We have this picture I took from right before we left the hospital of Sarah, dressed in her homecoming outfit(pink of course), laying in the hospital bassinet.  Jay is leaning over it to kiss her little cheek.  The look on his face is pure bliss...just filled with love and joy.

We were released from the hospital late at night because I had to wait until the 48 hour mark because I had tested positive for strep B and Sarah was born at 9:55pm.(7lbs. 11oz 21in and the easiest of my 7 non-medicated births..Luke and Kate were born after receiving epidurals!)    

The boys were asleep when we got home that night.(They were 6, 4,and 3).  I remember changing Sarah's diaper at 5:30 the next morning and she was crying because she was hungry.  I heard rustling from the boys' room.  The I heard Mike's sleepy voice get all excited, "I hear a baby crying!"  Six little legs came running out of the room thrilled to find their baby sister home!  

Sarah was such a sweet baby and toddler.  She was laid back and easygoing.  Even as a toddler at church she would sit on Jay's lap and just cuddle with him..I don't ever recall having to bring her to the "cry room."(Where we have taken up residence with most of my other kids when they were toddlers!)

Sarah is still sweet.  She is gentle and loving and thoughtful.  She is outgoing and personable.  She loves her younger siblings..tolerates her older brothers when they are teasing her mercilessly...and is such a joy!  

Just so you don't think she is all sweetness...her nickname on the basketball court is "killer."  Her coach says if the other team gets the ball and Sarah is next to it....he feels bad for the other team.  I think the court is where she takes out all her aggression towards her brothers!

So Happy Birthday to our special little girl!  You are such a blessing!  Please try not to grow up too fast.  Your poor dad needs time to adjust!  

God help us when Sarah is ready to get married!  Jay has cried at every song about little girls growing up and getting married since Sarah was 10!  I think we may have to medicate him to get through that day!:)  

p.s. You may have noticed that I made some changes to my blog!  I hope it didn't confuse you if you've visited before!  I'm taking baby steps(very slowly) with all this technology!  I hope you like them!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Super Dad Strikes Again

Do you ever have a morning when you have more things to do than morning?  And I'm talking about things that cannot be done making sure Peter brushes his teeth and puts on deodorant before school...or making Peter's lunch so he can go to school....or putting Luke's clothes on so I can run to my mom's(which is thankfully right across the street) and do the payroll for their small business that I should have done last night but didn't because I fell asleep trying to get Luke to sleep.(Ugh)  Did I mention that it all had to be done by 8:30 because that's when Peter goes to school and when my parents had to leave for work(30 minutes earlier than usual today...what great timing!?!)?

By 8:03, when Jay was ready to leave for work and bring the girls to school, it was evident there was NO way I was going to get Peter ready and do paychecks by 8:30.  So, did I do the grown-up thing and calmly ask Jay for extra help?  Umm.....sadly, no.  I freaked out...just a little.  And then I cried...just a little.  And then my husband, who has an incredible amount of paperwork to do and many patients to see today, (not to mention he is running on only 4 hours sleep because Peter had a really bad night), stepped in and took care of Peter and bringing the girls to school so that I could do the paychecks.  He even finished stacking the dishwasher with this morning's breakfast dishes while he was waiting for me to get back!

I am one blessed wife!

I was tired today after a not so great night of sleep myself.(The terrible sleeping toddler struck again!)  I was also feeling a lot of anxiety because Andrew was taking his driving test to get his license early this morning.(He passed:) I have a lot of anxiety about Andrew for a different reason!!!)

That's still not a reason for the missed opportunity of giving a "right response" in a moment of stress.  Thankfully, there will be lots of chances to make up for it as long as there are children living in the house!  If I'm not a professional by then, there's no hope for me, because at the rate we're going we are going to have children in the house FOREVER!    Not that it's a bad thing...I just hope they aren't all still in my bed.  I would like at least a few years without the safety rails on my bed before I need to put them back on for when we are old and need them to keep me and Jay from falling off the bed!

Speaking of of our funniest parenting stories ever happened when Mike was 3, Andrew 15 months and Jon about 3 months. Let me preface the story by saying Jay is not very helpful when he is extremely tired and woken up in the middle of the night.

Jon had woken up and was crying.  I asked Jay to go get him in his crib for me so I could nurse him.  So he went into the boys' room and picked up Mike(who was sound asleep!) and put him on the couch in the living room.  Then he went and got Andrew(who was sleeping!) and put him on the couch in the living room.  Then he went back in the room and got Jon,(who was still crying!), and put him on the couch.  Then he put on a Winnie-the-Pooh video, laid down on the living room floor and went to sleep as all three boys cried around him!  I came out of the bedroom, saw all the boys on the couch, and said, "What the hell are you doing, Jay?"  He woke up completely confused, not even remembering he brought all the kids into the living room!

So much for the parenting books encouraging dad's to be more involved with their breastfed babies by changing diapers and getting them from their cribs when they need a feeding!  Dads mixed with sleep deprivation is not a pretty sight!

Oh well!  No one is perfect!  Even super heroes have a weakness!:)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Today will be a much lighter post!  Delving into the past can be painful and it's best done in small increments!  I really wanted to honor our daughter's memory since Sunday would have been her 14th birthday.  It's amazing to me that it's been 14 years.  Yet, when I stop and let myself revisit that painful time in our lives, it's like it was just yesterday!  Writing about her keeps her memory alive for me.  Thank-you for sharing such a sad and difficult time in my life.

For today, though, I promised to keep things a little lighter!  No tissues necessary:)

After my struggle with body image the other day, and realizing that almost all of my summer clothes does not fit right due to my post pregnancy body, I decided I really needed to go shopping before I got to the point of meltdown again.  We have a very busy weekend ahead of us..Ellen's spring concert, Sarah's birthday, celebrating my grandmother's 93rd birthday, a Christian concert that my kids in youth group plus Jay and Ellen will be attending, and Jon's induction into the honor society.  Since it is going to be warm here the next few days...and probably from here on in now that we are in mid May....I REALLY needed clothes to wear.

My sister-in-laws offered to watch Luke for a few hours...thank-you, thank-you, thank-you..and I headed to the mall with Kate.(She was an absolute angel and slept the first hour of shopping and then happily sat in her carriage after I nursed her for the rest of my shopping trip!)  I found quite a few shirts, a couple pairs of shorts and capris, and even a bathing suit.  Mike finished early with work study so he met me at the mall and I treated him to a quick lunch.  It was a good shopping trip.

The only challenge with buying clothes,(other than not being the size I want to be!), is trying to find appropriate clothes.  I wish they had "age suggestions" for the different sections.  I do not want to buy things that make me look like a wanna be teenager.(My teenagers would be SO embarrassed!)  I also don't want to look like I'm ready for a visit in the senior center.(I mean NO offense to seniors...especially the women of a certain age who look stylish and classy!)  Honestly, that's what I want, to look stylish and classy for a woman in her late 30's with a bunch of kids!  Which section is that in?!?

I like makes me feel bright and cheery!  I don't really like sleeveless because I have "issues" with my arms.  I don't like tight fitting because right now my chest sticks out enough without any extra help!  And I definitely don't like low cut because I just like things that are more modest and because of my chest "issue" mentioned  previously....not all cleavage is a good thing!

It's a riot to listen to people shopping around you.  Their was an elderly mom and her daughter shopping.  The mom was a hot ticket...kept making these hilarious comments while her daughter was trying things on..."Why are you grunting so much in there tryin on those clothes?  Ya sound like you're having a baby!"

It's also interesting to see the outfits that different people choose....just because an outfit fits doesn't mean it flatters!(Of course, that's why it's always good to take an honest friend shopping with you for a second opinion!  Jay will be getting a "fashion show" after dinner tonight for that very reason!)

I mostly shopped for me today.  I only bought a few items for the kids that were needed.  I did refrain from entering into the baby girl section!  Those little pink dresses were calling to me though!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Biggest Regret

This time of year is always a little tough for me.  Even though it's been almost 14 years, the season that our first daughter, Therese, was born in, lived, and died always has a blanket of sadness upon it.  It has definitely faded tremendously through the years, but it is always present on some level in the late Spring.

During the pregnancy, the baby was not growing as she should have.  In the level 2 ultrasounds I had it was determined she had IUGR(Intrauterine growth retardation).  At 25 weeks I had to stop working and do light activities.  Not easy with 4, 3, and 2 year old boys to take care of!  At 34 weeks I was put on complete bed rest.

On May 20th, I was induced 5 weeks before I was due because of low fluid levels.  Therese was born that night around 10pm and transferred to Women and Infants 2 hours later because she had breathing issues and needed to be vented.  She spent a little over a week in their NICU, where we learned about her devastating diagnosis, Trisomy 18, and found out about all of her heart defects.

After that first week, Therese was transferred to a local hospital, St. Lukes, which made it easier to be with her and take care of the boys.  On May 18th we took her home and were set up with hospice nurses.

We were so grateful that she lived long enough to come home.  When you know someone will not be with you long you appreciate each moment so much more.  In our case, we were thankful for every memory we had, because we knew there would not be many.  I was grateful the first time I got to dress her in pretty girl clothes.  I was grateful she got to meet her brothers.  Just eating dinner at our dining room table with the boys and looking over at Therese sleeping on the couch was such a gift...we were together as a family.

Though we didn't know it at the time, the gift was to be short lived.  Afterwards, I feel like God did give us a sign of what was going to happen that night.  Our next door neighbor, who we were not particularly close to, came over and gave us a single orange rose.  It honestly was the most beautiful rose I had ever was perfect and bloomed into a perfect full rose over the course of the following days.  (Therese was named after St. Therese of Lisieux, who was known for her promise to send down a shower of roses from Heaven as she lay dying at 24 of tuberculosis.  Our Therese was conceived a few weeks after praying a prayer to St. Therese for a daughter, and right before I found out I was pregnant a dead rose bush in our front yard bloomed in mid October.  When I went  for the first level 2 ultrasound during the pregnancy, the doctors set her conception date as October 1st, which is St. Thesese's feast day.)

At 11:30 that night, I went to bed exhausted.  We were so incredibly sleep deprived.  Jay stayed up and gave Therese her midnight feeding and I set the alarm for her next feeding.  She choked a little when Jay was feeding her which made her apnea monitor alarm go off.  I got up to check her but Jay had it under control.

I stirred again about 12:30 when Jay put Therese to bed in her crib in our room.  I remember feeling so thankful that she was home and sleeping in her crib...a crib we had bought just for her a few months before she was born.

About 2am the apnea alarm went off.  I could hear her breathing, but she was stuffy.  I got up and shut off the alarm.  I picked her up and cleaned out her nose.  I snuggled with her for a few minutes but convinced myself to put her back down.  I was so exhausted and the alarm for her bottle would be going off at 3.

I wish I had listened to my heart to just rock her.

At 2:15, the apnea monitor went off again.  I shut it off and picked her up.  I went numb as I realized she wasn't breathing.  I held her in front of me and started to grieve to God, "We didn't even have her home for one whole day."...But I had such a moment of grace and peace, and I picked her up onto my shoulder and said from my heart, "Thank-you, God, for giving us two weeks."  Then she took a breathe.  I called for Jay but he was sleeping on the couch and so exhausted he didn't hear me.  Therese took another breath and I just knew in my heart that she wanted her daddy there too.  I had to put her down because she was attached to so many damn wires..3 from the apnea monitor and her oxygen tube.

I ran out to the living room, shook Jay awake and went back to the bedroom.  He walked in still half asleep.  He stood next to me as Therese took her last breath and passed away peacefully.

I am so grateful that we were able to bring her home and that she didn't die in a hospital room with a nurse...that we didn't have to get a call telling us our baby was gone.

I just wish I had known that she was going to die that night.  I wish that I had rocked her during those last 15 minutes of her life....I wish I had listened to my heart and not put her back down.  That is the biggest regret of my life.

She only lived for 16 days, but her life was meaningful.  No matter how many physical problems she had, she has an eternal soul that will live forever with God.  Her life wasn't worthless.

I don't understand why God allowed Therese to be born with a genetic disorder?  I don't understand why He allowed us to carry that heavy cross?  But He brought good out of it.  He was there with us walking through our pain.  We have a daughter that we miss but we believe that she is waiting for us in Heaven.  One day we will be all together again.

"But the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace."Wisdom 3:1-3

I dedicate this post in loving memory of our daughter, Therese Elizabeth Hamel:  May 20, 1998-June5, 1998.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crawling Out Of My Skin

Do you ever have one of those days when you are just crawling out of your own skin?  Since it is finally getting warmer here, it's time to change into spring/summer clothes.  Last spring I was 3 months pregnant and wearing maternity clothes.  And this year I have a nursing 5 month old and, even though I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight(which is still 20 lbs. higher than I want to be), none of my spring/summer clothes fit right.  My waist line is still not back to where it was before...and, because of nursing, my chest is much larger than normal.

Some days I can feel ok with my body.  And some days not so much.  This is a "not so much" day.  I feel like every fiber from my clothes that touches my body is accentuating the rolls.  I can't stand the way the cloth touching me feels.  It's making me feel like crawling out of my skin.  It's making the chores I need to do take so long because I am having anxiety because of the way I feel.  I am struggling with patience with my kids because I am feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin.  I can't stand being touched right now.  And you know what happens when you are feeling like that....everyone wants hugs and to be held!

I do not lose weight easily.  I also lack fortitude.  I can work super hard at eating healthy and trying to exercise and only lost a pound or two.  That's so discouraging.  It's especially hard when I'm nursing.  I know for some people nursing makes it easier to lose weight.  Not me.  Losing weight goes extra slow when I'm nursing and I've been nursing for almost 3 continuous years.

I know I just need to keep working at it and not give up.(Sewing my mouth shut has a certain appeal too!)  I also need to make some time to go shopping and get some clothes that i feel comfortable in.  I just feel really negative and sensitive about it today.....

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Living In The Moment~3rd Edition

After a truly peace filled and enjoyable Mother's Day, bed time was a welcome arrival.  Kate was not settling in her crib for some reason so I brought her into bed with me.  She settled right in to a deep sleep.  Sometimes she just needs to be close to mommy.  I was laying down next to her just gazing at her pretty, little face in the night light illuminated room.  She was so peaceful and I am just so grateful for this unexpected gift that God sent us.

Luke started fussing and calling for me..."Mommeee!"  He wanted a drink.  It looked like he was going to settle down but started fussing again a few minutes later.  I gave him more water and he climbed into bed with me.  He settled right down and put his foot on my leg...just wanting to know I was there.  

So there I was, between two little, precious children who needed the reassurance of their mommy's presence.  I thought of how this was what being a mom was all about.  To give all your love and all of yourself.  It's the sacrifice of sore shoulders and hips from sleeping in the same position too long because you don't want to wake  up the little one(s) in your bed.  It's the lack of sleep....the lack of "me" time...the lack of flexibility to go out and shop, or eat, or an easy night out with friends.


Those peaceful moments when you watch them sleep....or see their gummy grins...or get that first drooly baby kiss..or hear "I yuv you" from a toddler...or see your 9 year old that looks at you with complete love and without seeing your failures....or your teenagers that see all your failures(and point them all out) but give you a hug out of the blue or text you a "thank-you, mom" or "I love you, mom"....those moments are worth all the sacrifices!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I am very blessed to have friends in my life who, through examples with their own children, make me a better mom!

I think that each of us fights our own "demons", trying to avoid passing down the things from our own childhood that were less than ideal.  It's so hard to parent when the example was not made clear when we were children.  I'm sure that there are things my kids will look at in their lives growing up that they will improve upon. I am far from perfect!

I am thankful for the friends that God has put in my life that give me examples in mothering my children that I would not have known otherwise.  I have learned to love and respect my children as individuals in a much deeper way because I have seen my friends love and respect their children.  They have taught me by example and I am so grateful for them!

I didn't come from a large family.  It was only me and my younger sister.  Having a big family was always something that I wanted.  I don't know why.  Sometimes I can't believe that I have been married almost 20 years and have this house full of children!  I can't believe that some of these children will soon be adults...well, one technically is already!  Most days I feel like I am just flying by the seat of my pants.  It is especially hard trying to parent young adults when I skipped that stage myself by getting married and having a baby at 18.  It's hard to guide your kids when your own experiences were so different.

Happy Mother's Day to all who mother...whether by giving birth, adoption, or loving and caring for children who are not your own.  I send up a special prayer for all those women who pray to be moms but have not yet been given an answer to their prayers.  I pray that their longing for a child is fulfilled!

I am blessed to be a mother.  For me, that's all I really wanted. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Planning for Mother's Day

Some days you just feel a little flat.  That's how I felt today.  No real was a good day overall.  I had some grown-up time today talking to a friend and my sister-in-law.(Talking to grown-ups is always a good thing for stay at home moms!:)

Like I said before...just flat.  I think I just need a little sleep and some time to catch up on laundry and do the grocery shopping!  

I'm hosting a Mother's Day luncheon at our house Sunday.  It will include my family, my in-laws, and my sister's in-laws.  I want to make it special....but in order to do that I have to go shopping tonight to get all the things I need.  I'm planning on prepping the food tomorrow so that it won't be too crazy on Sunday morning.  Here's my menu so far:
lasagna(2 regular, 1 gluten free)
spiral ham
baked beans
taco salad
strawberries and dip
melon skewers
apple sauce(my brother-in-law makes)
2 appetizer dips(from my sisters in-laws)
bread pudding(my sister makes)
lemon cheesecake bars
chocolate truffle cheesecake

I need to get some small brown pots for the girls to paint so they can be a centerpiece/take home gift for the moms that are present.  Ellie made a really cute pot for me at school for mother's day with lady bugs all over it.  They made the lady bugs with their finger prints and used a black sharpie for the spots.  So cute!  So I'm going to have them copy that design. 

The girls will help me cut the melon with small cookie cutters and put the fruit on small wooden skewers.  They did that at the American Girl Bistro where we took Ellie for her birthday lunch.  Something a little extra special!

Having it at our house is so much easier than trying to contain a 2 year old, and Peter, in a restaurant.  Eating out had no appeal to me...way too much stress.  (I know, you are probably laughing because cooking all that food and having 30 people over isn't easy either!  But I do like to cook and entertain!)

The best part is that because my family and Jay's family are coming to lunch, I will have the rest of the day all to myself.  And for dinner....Papa Gino's pizza!!!!:)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Mothering Is All About

Today I'm going to do something I've never done before!  I stumbled across Mama Kat's Writer's workshop blog.  She does a weekly writing prompt that I thought was interesting.  I decided to give it a try.  Today's prompt was:
1.) Happy almost Mother’s Day! Share a parenting moment where you really began to realize what this mothering thing is all about.

The first memory that popped into my head was from 19 years ago.  Michael was only about 2 months old at the time and had caught a bad cold and had a cough.  I took him to the doctor.  He considered hospitalizing him but the chest x-ray was clear, so he just wanted me to keep a close eye on him.

I was young(18) and terrified he would have to go back to the hospital.(Mike had already been to the hospital when he was a week old because his bilirubin levels were too high.  My inexperience as a mom and his difficulties latching on were the cause.  When we tell that story now his siblings always tease him and say he couldn't figure out how to nurse!)

I was so worried that he would stop breathing or his cough would get worse.  I remember laying on the couch propped up at night to sleep with Mike laying on my chest so I could feel him breathing.  The vaporizer was set up a couple of feet away. 

 I certainly didn't get a lot of sleep for a couple of nights....but it didn't matter.  All that did matter was  that Michael was safe and cared for!  

That's what mothering is all about...doing our best to love and care for our children.  With a house full of children I have had lots of mothering opportunities.  I have not always made the most of those opportunities!  Sometimes the sleep deprivation or the busy schedule or the overwhelming to-do list chips away at my patience and I am not the loving, caring mom I want to be.  Even those moments that are not so bright(i.e. Mom has lost her mind for cover!) can be turned into a teachable moment in how to apologize and ask forgiveness when you don't act the way you should!

For the record, I believe all the mothers that have told me that you never stop worrying about your children and that, as they get older, the worries get bigger!(DRIVING!!!shudder, shudder!)

Even though sometimes(read: often) they drive me crazy, I would not choose any other life besides my own!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Many Kids Do You Have?

Being a parent of a large family has its comical moments.  One of them is seeing the look of shock on people's faces when they ask how many children we have.  Usually their next comment is "God Bless you"...which can have many different meanings.  "God Bless You" can mean, "Wow, you are crazy people!"  "God Bless You" can mean, "Thank God it's you and not me!"  "God Bless You" can mean "You need some serious help!"  And, sometimes, "God Bless You" is said just the way that it's meant.

Regardless of the tone of voice of the people saying it, I always reply, "Yes, He has."  (And that's exactly the way I mean it!

"How many kids do you have?" is actually a loaded question for me.  I have had 9 children.  I have only had the privilege of raising 8 of them.

To say that I have 8 children always makes my heart twist a little.  I feel like I am somehow belittling our daughter, Therese's, short life.  I feel like I am somehow denying her very real place in our family.  She will always be our fourth child.  She will always be our first daughter.

To tell people I have 9 children often opens Pandora's box because I often end up having to explain that we had a child that died.  Sometimes people get really uncomfortable.  Sometimes I feel like I'm opening a window to my heart that I don't really want to share with just anyone.

When Therese first died I always included her when people asked how many children we had.  It was my attempt to hold onto her presence and make her short time as a visible part of our family more real.  It was so painful for me to share was like being stabbed with a small knife in the heart every time.  That was when our grief was still very much on the surface.  Emotionally, I was like a cracked vase that had been taped back together.  I'm sure that every time I explained what had happened my face portrayed my intense pain even though I had managed to mostly numb my emotions on the inside.(I remember meeting the mom of a childhood friend in the grocery store when Sarah was a few months old.  When she made a comment about Sarah, I told her about Therese.  She hadn't realized we had lost a baby the year.before, and she was visibly trying not to cry.  I remember feeling surprised at her emotion, and then surprised at how frozen my own emotions were.  I can still remember the compassion and sadness on her Sarah looked in the grocery cart..where we were standing in the produce aisle...)

Eventually, it was just too painful and difficult to explain.  So I stopped.  It was like losing her all over again on a slightly less intense level.  It was one of the ways that our ties to her earthly existence were cut....the same way we felt when we put away her baby clothes...and the day we took apart the crib 3 months after she died.  It was always a letting go...just a little at a time because that's all we could handle.

When people ask me how many children I have, I may outwardly answer 8.....but, in my heart, I always answer 9.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Precious Little Gift

I have a wiggly 4 month old in my lap.  She's been a little grumpy since yesterday.  Maybe some early teething?(She's gnawing on her hands) She's definitely extra clingy...but that's ok.  One of the good things about having multiple children is that you know from experience that the different phases won't last forever!(Although sometimes it feels like it will...such as the stage my never-sleeps-through-the night toddler is in!)

My little Kate is snuggled nursing in my arms.  Her two little hands started out all balled up covering her eyes.  Now they are grasping the front of my shirt.  One of her hands has a strand of my hair twisted in it.(Gotta love that post pregnancy hair shed!)

She's hungry again since she spit up part of her last feeding all over my arm.  I now have the lovely smell I refer to as Eau de spit up!

She's starting to relax and fall asleep.  Her hands are more relaxed and her sucking has almost stopped.  Her breathing has slowed.  Her pudgy little body fits so well into my arms.  She's so squishy and cuddly!

I don't think this will be a productive afternoon!  I think I am just going to snuggle with Kate in my arms, gaze at her pretty little face, and thank God for this precious little girl!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Not So Manic Monday

I am happy to report that the "mommy madness" effect from the super moon over the weekend is no longer present!(Hopefully the next time I freak out there's a crazy moon to blame it on!)

Despite not wanting to drag myself out of bed...(though it was made easier by the toddler laying next to me saying, "Mommy, open you eyes!":) was actually a very nice Monday.  I washed some laundry.  I folded laundry.  I put away laundry.(Just so you don't think I turned into Super Mom, the laundry I folded and put away was laundry I washed Saturday and the laundry washed today is now in baskets waiting to be folded tomorrow.  It's a never ending cycle!)

I nursed a lot.  I played with Luke.  We even got to go for a walk.  It was just a nice day...made even better that I was in one of those moods where I just felt appreciative to be with my kids.  Snuggling in the rocking chair with Luke while I nursed Kate was definitely the highlight of my day.  I was really living in the moment without letting the outer chaos of an untidy room(well...really an untidy house!) ruin the precious snuggle time.

I wish I could take every day in stride like today!  I wanted to get outside and pull some weeds but it didn't work out because Kate didn't nap well and was a little grumpy and clingy today.  Oh well.  I didn't get the dishes in the dishwasher until 10 minutes ago.  Oh well.  The living room could still use a good tidying but it will still be there waiting for me in the morning .  Oh well.

Having peace inside makes it so much easier to deal with the lack of peace around me.  If only I could avoid the triggers that make me the crazed woman unable to get the items on her to-do list checked off!  Its times like this that makes me wonder why I can't keep enough control of my emotions to react to my kids with love...whether it's to meet a need they have, or help with a homework/project problem, or even deal with crappy behavior?

I will definitely be saying a thank-you to God tonight when I go to bed for the gift of today.  Actually, every day is a's just that today I had the grace to appreciate it!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Too Close to The Edge

Do you remember the alpine mountain climbing game on the Price Is Right?  It's the one where there's a climber dressed in suspenders that yodels as he climbs up the mountain for every dollar the person playing is off from the correct price of a random product.  If the climber doesn't plummet off the top of the mountain the person playing wins the prize.  Is this ringing a bell for you?

Anyway, I had "one of those days" yesterday.  I felt that I was that climber at the edge of the cliff all day!  I had no patience for anything or anyone!  Every time something happened, there I went, crashing over the edge.  It was not a good day for me.

I started out my day doing an exercise video..which is great.  It was a good start.  Then, I sat down at the computer to work on my blog profile.  To be more exact, I had to create my blog profile.  On Saturday night I was reading an article I found on the Sits Girls Blogger website about the top ten no no's for blogging.  One of the 10 was not having a profile.(I wrote them all down...I was guilty of several!)

I headed over to my blog and realized my profile was pic, no info,zip, zilch, get the idea. So, Saturday morning I sit down, pull up a picture,(check), and begin writing a very thorough background explanation of who I am.  I finished, pressed save, returned to the home screen, and...nothing!  It was gone!  All that time and work just disappeared to wherever it goes....the computer world black hole.

I was frustrated.(understatement)

So, I did the mature thing and went and cried in the shower...allowed myself a little pity party..then ate breakfast, threw in a load of laundry, took a deep breath and tried again.  Computer queen I am not!

It turns out that I overestimated the 1200 character limit and did not scroll down to where the warning was when I tried it the first time.  So, I started deleting...and deleting and deleting.  Finally, I got the idea to write it in Word to get the count.(I had to google how to do that since my older children were all out of the house...I really meant it about my lack of computer savvy!)  I ended up rewriting the bulk of it because 1200 characters is really short...I guess there are some things about me that aren't meant to be in a profile!  After cutting and pasting(I can do a little more than turn the computer on), my profile was created!  Hooray.

Peter and Luke were doing their rough play/screaming/ends up with someone getting hurt antics AGAIN while I was trying to figure out the f....rustrating computer.  My responses were less than patient.  If Peter wasn't annoying Luke, he was trying to sneak food from the kitchen.  (Jay was at Ellie's softball game so it was just me, Kate, Luke and Peter.)  It probably wasn't the best time for computer work but I really wanted to figure it out to calm my feelings of failure.  The trade off was that I was yelling at my children which was triggering my "bad mother syndrome".(sigh)

You would think that finishing my profile would have made me feel better and take me away from the emotional edge of the cliff.  Unfortunately, not so:(...I still felt grumpy.  Peter continued to aggravate the screaming/wrestling/hurting cycle continued.  Then Luke pushed an entire watermelon off the counter on the floor...and, yes, it cracked and juice leaked all over the floor just when we had to leave to go get Andrew at school.

I haven't had one of those screaming Mommy days in a while.  Thankfully, the drive to get Andrew had a calming affect on me and the rest of the afternoon went more smoothly.  The day ended on a happy note when we had our friends and their kids over for a cookout.(And the cookout included wine and chocolate!)  While we were talking, it turned out that she had a tough day too.  We determined it must have been caused by the "Super Moon" that occurred last night.  Apparently the moon was the closest it will get to the earth this year.(So if you had a tough day yesterday feel free to blame it on that!)

Thankfully, today is a new day.  I am happy to say that I am no longer in screaming Mommy mode:)...the rest of my family is relieved too!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Super Dad To The Rescue

This morning Andrew is taking his SAT's.  Last night he printed out the form he needed to get into the test and read the list telling him what he needed to bring..I.D., two #2 pencils, calculator, snacks.  This morning he was up, showered and ready to go.  On the way out I asked him if he had everything.  The answer was,"Yes, Mom!"...with a slight eye roll and the tone that sounded like "Why are you asking me again..I've got this."

Well, I ask him(and all my other kids) multiple times because they have been known to forget things. And sure enough, right before they got to the school, Andrew looked at Jay and said, "I forgot my calculator."   UGH!

There was no time to go home and get it.  So, Jay dropped Andrew off at school and headed to Best Buy.  He called Best Buy as he was driving but got the recording saying they opened at 10(It was 7:45).  So Jay pulled over and tried to think of somewhere else.....Walmart!  He called them and they opened at 7.

So he headed up to Walmart.  He prayed before he got to each light along the way and got a green light every time!  He ran(literally) into the store, bought the calculator, and ran back to the car.

Jay drove back to the school.  He hit green lights every time again...Thank-you, God!  He got back to the school before the test started, found the room Andrew was in, and gave him the calculator.  Andrew was talking to his friend when Jay walked in.  Andrew thought Jay was going back home to grab his calculator so was surprised to see him.  Jay teased them that he made it home and back in only 10 minutes..and was signing up for Nascar next week!  They all had a good chuckle!

Stressful situation solved!  Super Dad to the rescue again!  Superman holds nothing to what dads(and moms) do on a daily basis to "save" our kids!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is quite an outing at our house.  Feeding a family of 10 is not all that easy....and it certainly isn't cheap!  I always make a list with the weeks' meals planned out.  I plan what meals we have based on the meat that's on sale each week.  Peter is on the GFCF diet so his food is more expensive.  We pay more in groceries each month than we pay on our mortgage!

Besides the price at the checkout, just the amount of food is a lot of work.  Every week, I look like we are having a big party...or like I'm shopping for the month.  On the weeks I'm shopping for a party I have to go to the store twice because we don't have a fridge that can hold enough for a party and our regular weekly groceries!  Hopefully that will be changing in the next few months.  We are renovating our kitchen in stages and will be purchasing a much larger fridge!(I can't wait!)

Usually the only people that have a bigger amount of groceries than I do are the people shopping to stock a fishing boat for a group of men that will be out at sea for over a week!

I haven't gotten into a new grocery shopping schedule since Kate's arrival.  I used to go every Friday morning with Luke....and every Friday afternoon before I had Luke.  With a nursing infant and an active toddler, I haven't been brave enough..or foolish go shopping on my own.  Plus, with the both of them there wouldn't be room in the cart for the groceries!  Mostly, I have been going with Jay on Friday nights with a few of the kids.(pseudo date night!)  Sometimes I go on Saturday morning with one of my teens but I try to avoid that because its so busy and Saturdays are our day to get projects done around the house......(Well, Saturday is the day that Jay tries to get projects done around the house and I try to keep the kids from getting into his tools!)

Today, Jay's mom watched Luke so I could try grocery shopping with just Kate.  Kate did really well...I think she likes all the attention from all the grandmas in the store who stopped to talk to her.

It's the first time I have gone with just Kate in a while.  The challenge is getting all of the groceries to fit in one cart.  By the time I got to the check out I had all of the bread/buns for the week in my hand because there was no room left.  Good thing I was getting ice cream from a different grocery store this week!  By the time I paid for the groceries(sigh) and had the cart piled high and the underneath full, I felt like I needed a "Caution Wide Load" sign!  As I walked through the automatic doors you could hear all the outer bags sliding against the metal.

I only lost one bag before I got to the car.  A woman talking on her cell phone in her car saw the bag fall off and honked gently and gestured with her free hand to the ground behind me.  I waved a thank-you and picked up the bananas.

I stuffed all the groceries in the van.(I always forget to take the double stroller out of the back so I end up having to put all the groceries in the back seats around the kids!)  By that time, Kate was no longer happy and needed a diaper change and she needed to nurse.  So we took a nursing break.  Then I headed to Staples to get a couple of things for Sarah's history project.  I decided to punt and not go to the 2nd grocery store for the few things that were on sale there.  I could hit that store when I pick up Andrew after sports tonight or after SAT's tomorrow.  Then I went to get Luke at my in-laws.  Then we went home and I lugged all the groceries in the house.  Then I put away all the freezer/fridge items.(I'm leaving the rest for the girls to put away.)  Then I made myself lunch(at 1:45).

I'm exhausted!  I definitely think that our family has moved beyond the mom only grocery shopping trips....not unless I have back up at home to help carry them in and put them away!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning from my "do it myself" Toddler

I've had an interesting morning with Luke.  He's had a lot of "I do by myself" incidents today!  It started at breakfast when he was helping himself to cereal.  He was choosing the kind of cereal he wanted.  He grabbed the box and Jay and I heard a spilling sound and then Luke saying, "Uh Oh".  Jay went to investigate as Luke walked over to me holding an empty cereal bag.  Sure enough, 3/4 of  a box of cereal was all over the floor.  Jay salvaged enough for Luke's breakfast and swept up the rest.

Later on in the morning, Luke found a screwdriver and attempted to "fix" a window that wasn't broken but now has a chipped piece of wood.  Then he was attempting to "help" me make my bed and spilled water all over the end table, wall, and floor.

Thankfully, I have been able to keep calm despite Luke's antics.

These small situations did make me think about the times I've tried to do things "by myself" without bringing things to prayer first. (Or, even worse, the times I did bring things to prayer and, despite feeling I should do "X" , I chose to do "W" anyway.)  There have been lots of times when I have used a screwdriver(my words or actions) in a place that didn't need fixing and caused damage to myself or others.

I've made plenty of messes trying to make something better but managing to screw something else up.  Sometimes I get too focused on one thing and other things that are important are pushed to the side.

And sometimes, I've tried to get something myself that I wasn't ready to reach, or I shouldn't have had in the first place, and everything in life just spilled all over the floor and made a mess that was way too big for me to clean up on our own.  Thankfully, even in the worst moments, I have a loving Father who salvaged the good out of the these situations and swept up the rest of the mess.

God can use anything for a teachable moment!

Oops...there's my cue...water spilling from Luke's high chair!  The messes just never least I'm behind in doing the laundry so there are dirty towels to clean it up with!  See, you can put a positive spin on anything!  It's all about how you look at it.......

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Small Steps

I observed a positive moment today with Peter I thought I would share.  After school today he requested watermelon that Sarah had left on the counter.  As I cut up the watermelon and put it into a bowl, Peter began running around the house in his usual Peter style.  He eventually made his way back into the kitchen and snagged a piece of watermelon out of the bowl.  I yelled to him from the living room, (we have an open floor plan), to please go wash his hands(so watermelon juice didn't get everywhere) and to use a fork.  We ask Peter to do a lot of things and usually he doesn't understand them or he just ignores it.

To my great surprise, he eventually made his way back to the kitchen.  He reached for another piece of watermelon...and stopped.  Peter turned around, opened the silverware drawer a fork!  Not only did he get a fork....he actually used it!

I know it's only a small step, but it was a very pleasant surprise!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Terrible....I Mean, The Terrific Two's

Luke has definitely been more challenging in the last few weeks.  He is generally a happy, go lucky kid as well as very busy!  Several weeks ago the phrase, "All by myself" became very commonplace in our home.  Even the way Luke says the phrase,"I gonna wash my hands, all by myyyyy self!" always said ending with an exclamation point!

In the last two weeks he has begun screaming, and occasionally having  full blown tantrums, when he doesn't get his way.  Staying calm and trying to acknowledge his feelings and redirecting his attention is definitely a challenge.  His older brothers look at me and ask, "What's up with Luke?"  To which I always answer, "It's just a phase.  Don't worry, he will out grow it."  The best thing about having other kids is that you have experienced that "This too shall pass."  And, in this case, I can say, "This two shall pass!"  Sorry, bad pun...I live with lots of "punny" people in this house!

Luke loves trucks.  I mean, Luke really, really, really LOVES trucks!  Last summer, we had to have our septic system redone and we put a garage onto our house.  So there were quite a few weeks when Luke had the pleasure of watching trucks right in his own backyard.  That is when his love of trucks began.

Luke would play at night and on the weekends with his smaller versions of the "big trucks" digging in our yard, which resembled a giant sand box.  When the major work was finished, Jay built Luke a large sand box to play in.  Luke loves it and is outside playing in it whenever it isn't too cold or rainy.

When we drive in the car, Luke is always looking for trucks.  His high pitched voices gets even squeakier when he sees them and he is always so in awe, as if he's seeing them for the very first time!  His favorite truck is an excavator....or as Luke says it an "esafator".  He loves looking at pictures of excavators on the computer and on Jay's iphone.  He can look at a dozen different pictures and each one will draw the same response, "Wow, an esafator."...."Wow, an esafator."  It's really completely adorable!

Last week I was looking online for excavator videos for him to watch.  A website came up offering a package deal with a video of trucks, a video with truck songs, a cd with truck songs and a tshirt for only $19.99.  I thought he would love it!  It arrived on Saturday morning and he wanted to wear the shirt and watch the video and he did love it.  He loved it so much that on Sunday morning he threw a tantrum because he wanted to wear the truck shirt again but it needed to be washed.  So, daddy threw in a load of colors so that Luke could see it getting clean.  Luke wasn't thrilled but he was very distracted because we were at his cousin's house most of the day at her Baptism party.

That night after his bath, Luke was tired and grumpy.  Guess what the first thing was he said after his bath?  "The truck shirt is clean!!!  I wear it?"   And he ran into the laundry room to find it.  He was so happy to have it on again.  And in the morning, there was no getting him to take it off.  So he wore it all day.  And after his bath last night?  You guessed it.  Another huge temper tantrum because he wanted to wear his dirty truck shirt.  So back in the laundry it went.(Good thing I always have laundry to do!:)

The first thing he asked for this morning?  "I wear my truck shirt?  It's all clean?"

None of my other kids, with the exception of Peter who is obsessed with things for other reasons, have ever been this attached to an item of clothing.(See, even after having 8 kids you can still have a new experience!)

I'm not sure how to handle the shirt obsession yet?  Hopefully this will be short lived!  All I can think about are the cute summer outfits I got for him at Gymboree with the Gymboree bucks I had gotten from spending too much money on his little sister!

All I can say is it's a good thing he's so darn cute!