Friday, June 29, 2012

Just Another Speed Bump

Too many days of rushing to get everyone ready and where they needed to go, then rushing home, the rushing to pick everyone up.  Everyone everywhere...everyday different.  Too much planning to do and not enough sleep!  I like having the kids home....but I miss the school year routine.

This morning was not organized with everyone going everywhere.  I was running teenager was cranky and snappy because one of his siblings took his headphones and he needed to leave; one teenager didn't know the details of the day and the other teenager, who was doing the very same thing and was in the same room when we were discussing the day(!), happened to mention as I was dropping them off that the schedule of the day was different than what we thought! teenager #2 had to be driven back home to change...and I was very late dropping Peter off at camp.(And completely frazzled!)

Feeling like a bad mom today...and struggling SO much with patience!  I keep trying to re-focus and take a deep breath but the baby that won't nap and the 5 loads of laundry waiting to be folded and the bills/paperwork is waiting to be done.....

I opened my email and read Today's Quiet Moment...

There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.
St. Augustine

Thank goodness!(And, just in case you were wondering...I fall into the "no sinner without a future" part of the quote!!!

So..........deep breath!  This is just another speed bump!

Now, if I can just get through the rest of the afternoon without biting everyone's head off and folding the mountain of laundry!

According To Denise

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!!!

Summer is moving ahead at 100 mph!!!  That's the way it feels like around here.  Don't get me wrong, it's all good stuff...camps, time with friends...but I'm tired already!  Waiting up for a teenager to come home last night didn't help either.  Trying to negotiate a curfew for a 19 year old that gives him some independence...and let's us get some NOT an easy task.

I feel like I'm at the beach...we are enjoying body surfing in the waves(activities) and the waves just keep coming one after the other!

The planning and organizing and coordinating of activities and schedules takes a lot of work...and there's still the laundry, dishes and meal planning that has to happen, too!

I made my first scheduling mistake of the summer today.  I planned most of my week around a planetarium exhibit for Ellen at the library.  We showed up this morning at the library at the right time was yesterday!  Ugh!!!  Poor Ellie was so disappointed.  I could tell she was trying not to cry :(  Bad parent moment #1 for the day.

Honestly, I just want to stay home for an entire day and catch up on cleaning...and hopefully take a nap:)'s not going to happen today.  This afternoon, I'm picking up Andrew from the leadership retreat he's been at all week.  I am looking forward to having all my kids back in the least for a couple days.  Two or three of them are going to the Vineyard with my parents this weekend after we have a clam boil to celebrate my sister's birthday!  Like I said before...all fun stuff but busy, busy, busy!  (When I say "busy, busy, busy" I hear the voice of the magician from Frosty the snowman!:)

Jay has the week off next week.  Hooray!  Nothing big planned, but it will just be nice to have extra time together:)  I want to spend some time today or tomorrow planning a couple of small outings.  I'm thinking the local oceanarium.  I also want to spend some time planning a fun menu for the 4th.  I'm also making stuffed quahogs(my grandmother's recipe) and trying my hand at a homemade ice cream cake for my sister's birthday party. Trying to make things special takes time!

Did I mention that I really want to take a nap, too?!?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More On A Special Celebration

In case you missed my post yesterday....we celebrated Jay's parent's 40th wedding anniversary last night.  We had a grown-up dinner with Jay's parents, his sister, Julie, and her boyfriend, Tom, his sister, Jackie, and her husband, Robbie, and the two of Kate.(Not quite kid-less but close..and Kate was great.)

We ate at a really nice restaurant.  The atmosphere was very calm and beautiful and the food was great!  The conversation was laid back and it was a very enjoyable time.

We all surprised Jay's parents with the gift of a 2 night get-away to the Cliffhouse in Maine.  They haven't done many vacations, so we were hoping a mini vacation to a place they've never been would be just enough adventure for celebrating such an important occasion!  While they are there they will also be going to see the musical, South Pacific, at a local playhouse.

We came back to our house to finish the celebration with the kids.  We had the cake that Sarah decorated so nicely.  Mike had run out while we were gone to get flowers...and ice cream.  All the kids had picked up to make it neat for the party while we were at dinner.

It was such a fun night.  Jay's parents enjoyed it.  It was great to surprise them with the get-away...and just a nice way to celebrate them!

(If you missed the first part of the story yesterday, here's the link......)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Special Celebration

Tonight we are celebrating Jay's parents 40th wedding anniversary.  We are going out to dinner and have a couple of surprises planned.  Sorry...I can't spill the beans here yet because my in-laws read my blog and I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise!(Plus, my sister-in-laws would kill me!  I will definitely fill you in tomorrow, though:)

What a special milestone 40 years is in the world we live in today!  Jay's parents not only still love each other...they also like each other.

It has been a tough year for my in-laws.  Jay had gotten really sick last summer and scared all of us.  Then, a month later, Jay's sister, Jackie, started going into pre-term labor.  After two stressful weeks on bed rest the doctors could not prevent my niece, Mya, from coming into the world 14 weeks early.  Mya spent 4 difficult months in the NICU and, praise God, is doing great.  In the early fall, Jay's dad was diagnosed with prostate surgery and had surgery in late November.  As I posted recently, he has begun further treatment.  Thankfully, the prognosis is extremely positive.  But the emotional roller coaster was tough on everyone, especially my mother-in-law.

Celebrating this special occasion amidst all the recent health crises makes the moment even more special.  

My in-laws have worked hard all their lives to provide for their family.  They are both teachers.  My mother-in-law has been retired for almost 10 years but my father-in-law still teaches at the Catholic high school my sons attend.  He retired from teaching at the public high school because of the stress of dealing with tough, inner city kids.  But he missed teaching, and was hired at the position he still holds.  He loves it there...and the kids all love him.  He has won teacher of the year and this year the seniors dedicated the year book to him.  He is a great math teacher(which I personally appreciate because he tutors all our kids when they need it!  Good thing, too, because math was never my strong suit!  Thankfully, most of my kids have gotten his "math genes"!)

My mother-in-law is extremely crafty and always takes the extra time to put special touches on whatever she does for all of us.  She is a great cook.   The family favorite dessert she makes is her chocolate cake.  Everyone requests this cake for special occasions.  Andrew has already told her he wants her chocolate cake when he gets married one day!

Usually, my sister-in law, Julie, will make the cake when it's a party for her mom.  Unfortunately, Julie had the work the overnight shift at the hospital so she wasn't going to be able to make "mom's cake".  So, Sarah and I are attempting to do it justice.  So much pressure!  It won't be as good as mom's, but it was made with love.  Sarah is decorating it right now...she inherited my mother-in-law's "craft gene"(again, not my strong suit!)

I hope that we will all be able to help them celebrate this milestone in a way that makes them feel special and appreciated after all they have done for all of us!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! 

To read about the actual party, follow this link:)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Quiet Moment

"If, in spite of your goodwill, you cannot accomplish what you want
then take every opportunity to sing the psalms in your heart and to
understand them with your mind.  And if your mind wanders as you
read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more."
St. Romuald

I opened my inbox and read the Catholic Digest Quiet Moment for today.  I definitely struggle daily to accomplish what I would like to accomplish...and that goes far beyond laundry!  This morning I had the desire to seek out and feel God's presence.  So often my prayer time is done in stolen moments...driving to drop off or pick up my kids, when I'm alone making dinner, moments before I fall asleep in my bed at night.  I'm not alone very much during the day(or night!), and I do a terrible job of scheduling in solid prayer time every day(or exercise time).

Today is a new day...and I had a desire for connection with God like I said before.  So besides talking to God and asking for opportunities to be close to Him, I took Today's Quiet Moment literally and decided to read a Psalm.  I read Psalm 8...Why?  I don't know, just seemed like the right #.

What I got out of Psalm 8 was a sense of awe at the God who made all things...the incredible moon and stars and everything on the Earth and, despite His incredible power and greatness, He cares so much for all of us!

So I am trying to take the "opportunity to sing the psalms in my heart and to understand them with my mind."  It's hard to wrap my head around that God cares so much for me.(and each one of us!)  Despite my lack of focused prayer, and my lack of patience, and all the other ways I fail each day as a mother, wife, daughter and friend, God continues to give me opportunities to try again and grow in all the roles of my life.

I'm really tired today...last night's sleep was less than stellar despite going to be a little early.  My little ones woke me up quite a bit last night.  So I'm feeling rather foggy and sluggish today.

Kate is also super clingy today and is not happy on the floor or in her bouncy seat.  She just wants to be held.  And that's ok...sometimes there are days I just want to be held.

I feel like I've been more introspective lately.  I feel like I'm waiting for internal directions...especially with writing.  I feel more connected to my kids and trying to better understand each of their needs and finding opportunities to meet those needs.  I definitely feel the pull to be more present in each moment, and I am trying to really immerse myself in the blessings I've been given.  (I'm still struggling to deal with the more negative moments with patience but I keep trying!)  

Sorry if this post sounds all over the place....I really have sleep deprived fog brain!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our Little Blessing

This week our little muffin turned 6 months old!  6 months old!  I can't believe it!

Kate is sporting 2 new bottom teeth.  She creeps across the carpet....especially if she sees a magazine.  She gleefully tore several pages out earlier in the week when I walked away for a minute and a half!

The last couple of days, Kate has been getting up on her hands and knees in the crawling position.  She doesn't quite to know what to do when she gets there...but it won't be long until she figures it out!  Then the real fun begins...babyproofing 101 all over again.

Kate is so sweet.  She has the chubbiest cheeks..and the chubbiest thighs.  She loves, loves, loves attention! Thankfully, attention is never lacking in our house!

The best is when she sees you and breaks into a great, big grin and starts waving her arms and kicking her legs.  It is very nice to feel wanted and loved:)

My favorite moments are when I hold her and she lays her soft, little head in the crook of my neck.  It makes me just melt.

Kate is such a little blessing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Work In Progress

Thankfully, the spinning of my emotional tornado from earlier in the week has faded!  I'm still trying to sort out the lessons it was meant to teach me.  I know that sometimes answers don't come quickly.  God does not always answer my questions in the order they are received!  I have to continue praying on it and working through my feelings....but I always find a place of peace and acceptance eventually(even if the answer I receive is not the one that I am looking for.)

I am grateful for the days when I can love and enjoy my children.

Don't get me wrong...there are no perfect days.  Even on the good days there are meltdowns and impatient words occasionally.  But on the good days, I am able to treat those imperfect moments as speed bumps rather than mountains.  I am able to move on and continue living in the moment and finding such joy in the things that Luke comes out with, and Kate's chubby thighs and goofy grins and, her newest trick, raspberries!  I am able to be more present to the older kids and listen patiently to ALL that Ellie has to say and be open to the times when my teenagers are willing to open up and share parts of themselves with me.

I'm a work in progress.  Thankfully God has much more patience than I do:)


Have no dread or fear… the LORD, your God, carried you, as a man carries his child, all along your journey.

Deuteronomy 1:29, 31

linking up with each card tells a story, memories captured and

According To Denise

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beware of Pigeon Poop!!!

Some days are better than others.  Yesterday was an "other" day!  It was one of those I am the  kind of days.  I could NOT pull it together yesterday...and the extremely hot weather kept throwing me over the edge.  I do not do well with heat....and that's an understatement.(Just ask my kids!)

When Jay came home last night to our 88 degree house the first thing he did was put in the air conditioners to soothe the savage beast...I mean to help his wife feel more comfortable.  Things were better after that.

I apologized to everyone today.  It was too crazy a day with too many drop offs and pick ups and not enough laundry and dishes.  I really kept trying to pull in the reins and realize that I was not in a great place but it just seemed that I was yelling or crying every hour.  Not one of my stellar moments for sure:(

Thankfully, today is a new day.  It's much cooler inside:)  And I have many less pick ups and drop offs with the kids today.

Last night I was reading the latest Good Housekeeping Magazine and there was an article by Gretchen Rubin about the "pigeons of discontent", which she describes as "an ordinary problem that has settled into roost."  In order to live a happier life we need to try to "identify these pigeons and find ways to shoo them away."  She listed six of the most common ones...and I could relate to all of them!  Not a good sign!

Then I started visualizing these "pigeons"...and thought of all their noisy "cooing" and all their poop!  I do not need the poop of six pigeons all over me! (Kate and Luke supply quite enough as it is!)

That got me laughing on the inside!

I got thrown off track yesterday.  I'm going to keep moving forward today.  I don't have my house clean yet, or the laundry caught up, or the next few days completely organized in regards to everyone's schedules of work, camp, games, etc....but I will get there.

I plan to enjoy my children more today in the midst of the chores.  Hopefully, they will enjoy me more today, too, and won't be running for cover!

Otherwise, I'm calling in reinforcements..........
.....Or my good friends, Ben and Jerry!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Place I Need To Be

I think I need a deep breath moment.  You know, one where you take a moment to re-focus and sort through some emotions and figure out which ones need to be let go of and which ones need to addressed.

I refuse to let my feelings of inadequacy ruin!

I wish that I could be all things to all people.  But I can't.

I need to stop absorbing stress from my mother.  They are having some employee problems.  They really need a full time office manager and at one time, before I got pregnant with Luke, they were hoping I would be that person.  

I just can't be.

Luke and Kate need their mom full time right now.  I belong here with them.

I still feel like I'm letting my parents down.  Feeling inadequate just triggers all the other ways I feel inadequate until that emotional tornado in my head starts spinning and picking up speed.  (Anyone relate to the emotional tornado?!?)

Thankfully, I recognize it now.(After years of practice!)  I refuse to feed it and let it take over my day!

So, I'm choosing to give the mess to God.  I'm asking Him to help my parents and send them the people they need to run their business.  I'm asking for the grace to be organized and maintain some level of outer order and peace in my home.  I'm asking for the grace to know what I'm supposed to be doing in regards to blogging and time management and the ability to supplement Jay's income so that he doesn't have to carry all the pressure.  Most importantly, I'm asking for the grace and guidance to be the mother my children need.

It's Luke's new phrase to me the morning, when he wants me to do something for him, when he wakes up in the middle of the night...."Mommy, I need you!"

I'm right the place I need to be.

Linking with Walk With Him Wednesdays and PYHO and Gifts We Use.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Walking Through the Valley

I feel a little on edge today.  My emotions are a little raw.  They really shouldn't be.  If only emotions were like a vending machine.  Can you imagine that.  Standing in front of it...considering..."Hmm, I think I will be melancholy today."  Or, "I think I'd like a happy day."  "Darn, they are out of anger today!"  Wouldn't that be nice to control!

I started off yesterday with a really good attitude over the disappointment of my birthday not going the way it was planned.  By the time I got back from Jon's basketball game that night it was close to 8.  I was starting to get tired and the toddler was whiny, and the baby was clingy, and the house was messy, and I was behind on the laundry.  And it was my birthday:(  I knew I had to work today and I hate going to work feeling so behind in everything.

I was really fighting against sliding into a full blown pity party!

I felt guilty for even feeling that way.  I mean, really, I am so blessed.  Even though Jay was under the weather he was already feeling a little better.  So many people, including my brother-in-law, have to deal with chronic illness.  How selfish was I for feeling blue over just a day!  I felt pretty disappointed in myself .

This morning, Peter was feeling better so I brought him to his first day of camp.  The 1:1 aide that will be with Peter during his camp weeks is someone Peter has never met.  The aide seems very nice and Peter was happy to be at camp.  I tried to give his aide the lowdown on Peter...GFCF diet, needs a snack break to keep it together in the morning, liked all the camp activities last year, is obsessed with people's arms so be aware when he's around kids in bathing suits or tank tops.

As I was driving away, I felt a little sad and a little anxious.  Anxious because I hope it all goes well.  Sad because part of me wants the aide to like Peter.  I want Peter to be enjoyable.  Peter is a beautiful kid...but enjoyable is not the word that springs to mind when I think about spending time with him.

...more like exhausting.

Ironically, I want the aide to enjoy spending time with helping Peter to have fun at camp.  Yet, I'm sending Peter to camp because I don't enjoy spending weeks of free time with Peter.

The thought of spending the week at camp with Peter makes me feel exhausted and burned out...and that's just thinking about it!

I want to enjoy all my kids.  I want them to all feel loved and special.  That's tough to do with Peter.  It's difficult to get him to answer a simple question or respond to my greeting, never mind sharing something on a deeper level.  I keep trying, but it's hard when most of the things I say to Peter are met with silence.

Driving away from the camp, my heart was feeling heavy.  I turned on the radio hoping for a balm to make me feel better.  I ended up on K-Love.  The band playing was Third Day, one of Jay's favorites.  The song was "Mountain of God."

Even though the journey’s long
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who’s gone before me
He will help me carry on
After all that I’ve been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God

It made me feel a little better.  A little hug from God.  That I'm not alone in my every day struggles.  None of us are.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Birthday?

Today is my 38th birthday:).  I'm not sure how 38 years have managed to go by!  (I definitely know the children who have caused my many gray hairs!)

Jay has planned for weeks to take today off so we could spend the day together.  He arranged a sitter for Luke and Peter was supposed to start camp at the Y.  We were supposed to go out for a day that included lunch and shopping.  I say "supposed" to because both Jay and Peter are sick today.:(

So plans have changed.  But that's life.  I'm grateful that I got to sleep until 7:15 today!  I'm grateful I got to have a lazy morning taking care of Kate and reading a book.  I'm grateful I had some time to clean up two corners of my room(halfway to all clean!).  I'm hoping to do a few errands and bring Jon for some new shorts this afternoon.  Not the kind of shopping that was planned but something that needs to be done nonetheless.  I do love getting things crossed off my to-do list!  That's a gift all in itself! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

It's winding down to the end of Father's Day.  The first half of the day went great for us....Mass, then home for a little breakfast and listening/singing to some early 90's tunes, then brunch with my family and Jay's family to celebrate Father's Day.

Jay had woken up with a bad sinus cold.  By mid-afternoon he was starting to have chills and a headache.  He's mostly been in bed since 3:30:(...not the best way to spend Father's Day.

Yesterday, Jay and his dad spent from 7am until 8:30pm building a pool deck.  Last week they had dug the holes and poured cement.  Jay really wanted to finish building it yesterday as a birthday present for more thing completed to make our backyard even better!  The deck came out great!

The only thing left to do is trim the boards over the pool.  Jay's circular saw wasn't strong enough so he had to borrow my brother-in-law's.  He was going to take care of it this afternoon, but that didn't work out because he was feeling so awful.  Other than that and putting some water seal on it, (which Jon will be doing), it was built in a day.

Peter already tried the deck out even though the water is freezing!  Luke keeps calling the deck his tree house.  Luke was underfoot most of the day yesterday "helping" to measure and drill.  Luke loves doing projects with's SO cute!

My husband has many talents!  Most importantly, he is a GREAT dad!  He not only meets their physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well.  He is thrilled each time we add a new baby into our family.  Even after all the children we have had, he still gets incredibly excited and nervous whenever it gets close to the arrival of a new little blessing!  He is the first one to get teary eyed as a new little life emerges and we get to meet him, or her, for the first time.

Jay cuddles babies, changes diapers, plays on the floor with toddlers, plays games with grade schoolers, goes to countless games and meets and practices, spends hours talking and, more importantly, listening to teenagers talking about their hopes and their struggles, plays basketball with teenagers(and still refuses to let them win...though Mike has managed a win or two in the last couple months for the first time), and teaches teens to drive.

I remember the day Michael was born and Jay became a father for the first time.  We were very young and had no idea what we were doing!  But Jay was so proud and so full of love for his baby boy!  The afternoon Mike was born, Jay went down to the gift shop and got Mike a small stuffed alligator.(Then looked at me sheepishly and said he forgot to buy me flowers!)  He was just so happy and so excited.  Jay had never really held or cared for a baby before.  That didn't matter.  He jumped right in, even in the hospital.  Jay wanted to give Michael his first sponge bath.  He loved holding him, feeding him, and cuddling him.(He did lots of diaper changes, too!)

For 19 years Jay has been, and continues to be, a great daddy!  I am so blessed...and so are my kids!

Happy Father's Day!        

Friday, June 15, 2012

Make Love My Aim

It's Friday...and the first full day of summer vacation for my kids!  At one of my middle of the night wake up calls, I was confused, trying to figure out what day it was.  Felt like a Saturday, but then I remembered it was only Friday, and I drifted off to sleep thankful that our morning rush to get everyone out of the house was over for the summer and tomorrow could be a lazy morning!

One of the perks of summer!

We need to keep focus on the positives!  Right, felllow moms?!? :)

Anyway, Kate started to fuss this morning because she has a stuffy nose.  I managed to get her out of my room without waking up Luke.(Positive thought #2!).  When we got into the living room and looked at the clock, I realized it was only 5:45!  So much for sleeping in!  But I was hoping to get my blog written before my Happiness Project book club this morning, so it's really not so bad.  And the house is quiet since only Kate and I are up so it's a good time to write.(Positive thoughts #3, 4, and 5....I'm on a roll!!!)

I'm glad it's Friday, and Jay took Monday off, so we are looking forward to a long weekend.  Since I had a quiet moment I decided to open the Bible for inspiration for the day.  Being the first day of summer vacation, I would like to start it off in a positive way.  Hopefully, I can have patience and help to create(and maintain) a joyful atmosphere in my home.(At least for one day!  I am keeping my expectations low, though, and aiming for a morning!)

So I opened the Bible and my eyes fell on a couple of verses about love.  Seems appropriate as we embark on our extended opportunity for family time.  We seem to have the screaming and the cranky moments down pat....but we could always use a little(sometimes a lot) more love!

"Make love your aim and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts" Corinthians 14;1

O.K., sounds like God sent me the plans for today....make love my aim! (Hopefully my aim is better than it has been in the past!)  It's like target practice....although usually when I think of target practice I am imagining using a super soaker on whichever child is driving me nuts at the moment!

Well my first target...I mean child....just came walking out of his room.  And the toddler is awake and calling me from my bed.  Now Peter is going to see Luke and Luke is already bossing him around and Peter is already making him scream!

Isn't it great that I have so many opportunities to practice patience and love!?!

Did I mention that I know where the stash of water balloons is hidden?  You know, just in case I need to practice another kind of aim at some point!

Hooking up today with Create with Joy and Each Card Tells a Story and According To Denise 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This school year has flown by!  At various times today all of the kids will be home for good for the summer.(With the exception of Mike who had a few weeks off and started 2 summer courses last week.)

The boys have half days and the girls have a full day.  All of them are looking forward to summer break and have been counting down the days for several weeks!

It will be an adjustment in my routine for sure.  I actually like having them home.  Well, to be honest, I like having them home for the summer with the exception of Peter.  I know that sounds awful, but Peter is tough to have home for extended periods of time.  Peter has all the physical abilities of an almost 11 year old but cognitive abilities of a preschooler, without any real play skills.  It burns me out big time.  It's been getting better over the years, but anything more than a week is tough for both of us.  Peter doesn't play with things, so he gets bored and misses his school routine.  Thankfully he will have 5 weeks of half day summer school and 4 weeks of camp at the local Y.  He did the camp last year and loved it.  It worked out great for both of us and made the time we were together so much more enjoyable.  I appreciated the time rather than trying to survive it!  

Andrew will be starting a part time job next week(hooray!) and Jon will have a very part time job but we will be "employing" him to do some projects around the house like painting the shed.  The boys also have a couple of retreats they will be going on.  Sarah and Jon have some sports camps they will be doing as well.  Andrew and Jon will be donating time once a week with the Missionaries of Charity summer program they run for children living in the city, too.

Summer always seems longer than it is.  With all the summer get togethers and busy weekends, it always goes faster that I think it will.

I have some personal goals for summer that I intend to discuss with the kids tonight.  Since there will be extra hands to help, I want to schedule 4 days that I can walk for 30 minutes.  One thing with having all the kids home all the time is the constant noise and business.  A little time to take care of myself and re-charge will help me a better and more patient mom!

I want all of us to go to Mass at least one extra day a week.  I also want all of us to spend 30 minutes in adoration in different shifts during each week.(Bringing Luke to adoration is not prayerful!)  The walking and prayer does not really take much time...3.5 hours over the course of a whole week!  But I know that if I don't schedule it, then it won't happen.

I want to make more of an effort to give all of the kids more individualized attention, especially Ellie.  With the older kids all being teenagers and the needs of Luke and Kate and Peter, Ellie is like a "middle child" right now.  The teenagers, particularly the boys, can often be too critical of her and expect her to be older than she is.  It's just on my heart to focus some special attention on her so I'm going to try my best to do that.

I want the kids to have friends over each week...especially the girls.  We have a great backyard this year and I am excited to use it!  We also have a family room now so having other kids over is so much easier.  Since we have a large family the kids have built in companions, but it's important to foster other friendships too.   That's definitely going to be a focus this summer.

I have quite a few goals.  I don't expect to be perfect by any stretch of the imagination!  I will take it week by week and do what I can.  I'm praying that our family time will build all of us least most of the time!:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Life Gets Messy

It's so hard to see friends struggling.  Sometimes it's financial problems, sometimes it's troubles with their child, sometimes it's emotional struggles, sometimes it's a combination.  It's hard to watch and feel helpless as to what to do.

Knowing what to say and when to say it to someone going through a difficult time is TOUGH!  I care about my friends and I want to support them...but I don't want to be pushy either(which is something I've had to learn the hard way!)  I cannot solve their problems.  I cannot take away all their bad feelings and make it all ok.  I cannot take on their problems so much that it affects the way I function and zaps  my emotional reserves so that I can't take care of my own family.  It's a balance that I really struggled with in the past.

I'm better with it now but sometimes I still have to remind myself that I can only do my part in difficult situations.  Figuring out my part can be a challenge!

I find that when I pray about what I should do, things turn out much better.  What I think people might need isn't necessarily what they truly need.  Sometimes I try to give them what I needed when facing a similar situation, but that never helps them or fills the leftover emptiness in me!  Things always run more smoothly when I do my part and let God do His!(Again, a lesson I often learn the hard way!)

That's hard because often that means praying for them and being open for those opportunities to be a comfort and support in God's time, not our time.  Sometimes, difficult situations don't have a quick fix.  In those times, I really have to remember to think of things as a marathon and not a sprint.  Otherwise, your desire and ideas to help are exhausted and you have nothing left to give.

Inspiration might come in the form of calling someone, or sending a card, or making a meal, or making a dessert, or setting up time for a cup of coffee, or giving a compliment...really it's about listening to your heart.    It's the greatest feeling in the world when you are blessed with the opportunity to connect with someone on a such a personal level and encourage them and ease the burden they carry in even a small way.  It's a blessing to give hope to someone.

On the flip side of giving is receiving.  I think it's even harder to receive that help and hope.  Our society has bought the lie that we are all supposed to be self-sufficient and capable of doing everything ourselves, all the time, perfectly.....NOT!  How many times have you(and I) been feeling really down and really trapped in the negatives of a tough life moment and we get a phone call, or a card, or a kind word out of the blue that gives us that window of hope and reminds us that God is in control, and good feelings still exist, and we will get through the tough moment....a reminder that it's just a speed bump!

How hard is it to accept that help that we desperately need?(VERY!!!)  How often do we not ask for the help we need from other people.....ask them to lighten our burden?(not often enough!)  How often do feelings grow and fester out of control because we keep them inside instead of working through them?(too often!)  I'm talking about myself here....if it resonates with you, too, it's purely coincidental!

Do you recognize any of these thoughts?.....  I don't want to burden anyone.  I can work through it myself.  It's not so bad, I can handle these (sad, angry, hurt, etc.) feelings.  Maybe I will call someone tomorrow.  "I'm fine" is always the answer to everyone's question, "How are you?" even when I'm not.  I don't even know how I'm feeling anymore, so it's just too much work to talk about it.  What I feel is just too will just push people away.

I'm guilty of all of them...and even more.  What I have more recently started learning, is that it's easier to be the listener to other people than the one asking people to listen.....BUT....when I keep my messiness inside  I do not really share all of who I am.  That effects the closeness of my friendships.  I'm not saving them from my messiness, I'm creating a fence keeping people away from a part of me.  It creates disconnectedness...and hurts my friendships.  It hurts me too...makes me feel that I NEED to hide parts of myself.  That's not very healthy.

It's hard to be honest with my messiness.  But my real, true friends will be ok with who I am on any given day.  I'm not perfect.  I have strengths and I'm working on my weaknesses.  It's humbling to admit that to other people....but it helps me grow.  And, realistically, they see it all anyway, whether I tell them directly or not!

Life is messy!  It cleans up better and quicker when we work together with the family and friends around us that God has blessed us with.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"We Snuggle?"

Every morning I wake up between two people(and neither of them are my husband!).  On Tuesdays, when I try to drag myself out of bed a little earlier so its not so crazy getting ready for work, I try so hard to disengage myself from little legs and arms that are touching me without waking them up.  Then, I try to sit up and climb off the bed without waking either of them.  I try to walk quietly out of the room and say a quick good morning to Jon, who is dressed and usually watching sports highlights on ESPN while he's waiting for school.  My hope is to let him listen for Luke and Kate while I get a quick shower and a jump on my morning.

This morning, I was halfway across the living room when I heard, "Mommy!", from Luke calling from my bedroom.  So I stopped, and took a deep breath, and realized I would have to move to Plan B.  I heard another, "Mommy, where are you?"  from the bedroom.  Then I heard Luke talking in his extra high pitched voice he uses with Kate, "Hiiiiii", and "Baby Kate you awake".  So, I took another deep breath and walked into my room, where Kate was pushed up on her arms laying on her belly and Luke is laying in front of her smiling.

Luke looked up and saw me.  "Mommy, you here!", in his soft, squeaky voice.  "We snuggle?"

And how could I say no?

So I laid down next to him and he molded his little body close to me with a big smile on his face.  I looked at his chubby little cheeks and his chubby little hands and his little arms wrapped around me.  Luke is

Even though I didn't get a jump start on my day, I started my day in the best way!  I wouldn't trade that special snuggle time for anything!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Every Day Is A Blessing

My father-in-law was diagnosed in the fall with prostate cancer.  He had surgery in November and recovered well from it.  The doctor was optimistic that he wouldn't need any further treatment.  Follow-up blood tests showed a continued elevation of numbers that should have been decreasing.  This week, he received the news that he would have to undergo different combinations of hormone therapy and radiation for the next six months.

Everyone, including the doctors, are very optimistic for a positive outcome.  My husband, his mom and his sisters are all ready to support my father-in-law in any way they can.  Though there is some fear that rises up now and then, (which is certainly understandable!), everyone is trying to remain positive.

The one really good thing that I have seen come out of my father-in-law's illness is that everyone in the family has started living life with the focus that "every day is a blessing."  In the back of our heads I think everyone knows that we don't know how long any of our lives will be.  We don't want to live in complete fear of losing those we love, but we also don't want to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we let too much time pass connecting in deeper ways with our family and friends.  When someone is sick, it forces us to stop and re-evaluate what is happening, how the changes will affect everyone, and how to adapt.

When you are forced to look at the reality that life is finite, you appreciate the time more. I see my sister-in-laws being supportive and encouraging to keep his spirits up.  I see my husband wanting to stop by and visit his parents more...even if it's just for a quick hello.  I see his father being more connected with his grandkids and more social at family get togethers.  I see father and son bonding with shared projects and ideas, communicating in their own "man language" that seems to bring important connection and peace to both of them.  I think regular celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries get looked at differently- less as something to "fit in" and more as a special moment to spend time together, let people know how special they are, and make family memories.

When someone gets sick, it forces you to realize that the amount of celebrations they have left are less than the amount we have had the opportunity to be a part of in the past.  In some ways it is a grace to re-focus and a grace to appreciate in a deeper way the time we do have together.  Sometimes, (often?), it feels like everyone will be here forever and things will always be the way they are.  Things often change so slowly, and life is so busy, that it is often a shock when some bigger event a graduation, or marriage, or realize just how much things have changed!  You look in the mirror and wonder when those wrinkles and gray hairs started appearing!  Or how your baby could have graduated from high school(or college..or kindergarten..or 8th grade!)....or when your parents started to slow down...or how your teenagers are bigger than you are....

Each moment is special in its own way.  Memories are important...especially good ones.  There are lots of opportunities to make those memories...we just have to take the time to re-focus every now and then and remember what's important.

If you could keep my father-in-law, Fran, in your prayers it would be much appreciated.  I know the next few months won't be a picnic for him!  Once it's over we are looking forward to many more years of special memories!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Field Trip!!!

I was able to go with Sarah on her class field trip to the Newport Mansions today.  We went to Rosecliff and The Breakers.  They are incredible!  There is so much architectural detail.  You can almost imagine men and women, dressed in formal attire, dancing in the ballroom!  It's amazing to think of people living in such elegance.  

Sarah was loving it.  One of the volunteers mentioned that people can rent out the space for parties and wedding receptions.  Her eyes lit up.  Sarah started talking about how beautiful wedding pictures would be on the decorative staircase!  (Uh-oh...we better start saving now!)

The weather today was perfect...sunny and warm with a nice breeze.  I love watching the ocean..and the views from the mansions were just amazing!
Can you imagine waking up to this view?

It was nice to be able to spend some special time with Sarah.

It was fun being with Sarah and her friends.  They were all so in awe with everything they saw.  It was fun to watch their expressions in each of the rooms as they looked at the details and listened to the descriptions of the rooms' function and special stories of the people that once lived there.

It was a really nice day:)

According To Denise

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shedding My Emotional Duct Tape

Anxiety has been my constant companion the last few days.  I really don't know why.  Some moments during the day I can feel almost normal, but before too long, that anxiety washes over me like a wave breaking on the beach.  I feel panicked, overwhelmed, like I can't take a deep breath,and not able to focus on things.  It makes me want to retreat into a small, safe quiet place...and there is no quiet in my house!  So I close my eyes, take some deep breaths, ask for God's assistance and just take things one moment at a time.

It was the anniversary of Therese's death on Tuesday.  I did not have the emotional whirlwind that I felt around her birthday.  I wonder if the anxiety is somehow linked to loss....sometimes our bodies remember things in ways that are different from our present thoughts.  I thought the anxiety would get better after Tuesday, but it really hasn't.  Maybe a little, but it's still wreaking havoc on my ability to function.

Therese died on June 5th in 1998.  Her funeral was on June 6th.  The deep, dark depression started on the 7th.  I don't think I really left my bedroom for a few days...just laying on the bed staring at the ceiling as the time went by.  I was feeling complete nothingness...emptiness...darkness.  Jay was home taking care of the boys because I could't care for anyone.  The boys had been such a source of comfort to me while Therese was alive and we were facing her impending loss.  When she was in the hospital, Jon would climb into my bed in the middle of the night to snuggle and I would embrace his chubby little body that was so warm and healthy and alive and it would comfort my soul that was already filling with grief.  But, after Therese's death, seeing the boys just made the reality that I didn't have my baby girl even more painful.  Looking at them laughing, playing and living enveloped me in emotional pain that took my breath away.

Back then, I was incredibly sleep deprived from the events of the previous 2 and a half weeks.  The night Therese died we had slept for less than 3 hours..and it was broken sleep.  After she died, I suffered from horrible nightmares.  Recurring dreams of being in a hospital with an empty bassinet looking for my baby...waking up multiple times a night in tears.

 I broke down in Jay's arms in the evening of June 9th...crying over and over  "I don't know what to do!", "What are we going to do?".   But there was nothing that could change the reality that our baby had died...nothing to stop the pain or take it away.  I was drowning in the darkness of grief and depression and despair and wanting to die myself....I was so scared of how out of control I felt in my grief and the scary thoughts I was having.  I scared Jay...enough that he left the house to talk to one of the priests that had walked with us during Therese's short life.  The priest, Fr. Pat, said he would pray for me that night.

The next morning, Jay's birthday, the despair was lifted.  That was a gift.  I wanted to go to confession that day and talk about all the scary feelings I had.  I was able to talk to Fr. Pat.  I also broke down while talking to him when I told him about the nightmares.  He prayed over me, and from that night on, the nightmares stopped.(Thank-you, God!)

I was INCREDIBLY emotionally fragile for a long time.  I should have gone to counseling right after Therese died.  I would have saved my family and myself a lot of grief.  Instead, I picked up my shattered life and put it back together the best I could and wrapped it in duct tape.  It was never pretty when those broken pieces cut through the duct tape and I fell apart occasionally over the next several years.  It wasn't until I was pregnant with Ellie, and really fell apart, that I got the help I needed, and that was 5 years later.

I had severe anxiety attacks after Sarah was born.  Anytime I drove in the car I would have these moments of extreme panic that she had stopped breathing.  The feeling would make me catch my breath and I would reach back into her car seat and put my hand on her chest to make sure she was breathing.  This feeling didn't happen every once in a happened every three or four minutes for the entire time I was driving!  It was emotional torture.  I needed help but never even told anyone about how I was feeling.

The worst moment of panic was when Sarah was a couple months old.  Jay and I had all four kids in Toys R Us.  I had Jon sitting in the seat of my carriage with Sarah in her car seat in the main part of my carriage.  Jay had Mike and Andrew in his carriage and was walking right behind me.  We were walking down an aisle with one of the employees up on a ladder.  All of a sudden, that extreme panic took over.  I stopped, yelled "Oh my God, where's the baby?"  in a completely frightened, hysterical voice.  Jay had pure terror on his face and the employee almost fell off the ladder!  Jay looked at me and said, "Michelle, she's right in your carriage!  She's right there."  To which I answered "Oh" and kept walking...pulling my duct tape a little tighter.

Poor Jay must have felt like his wife was losing her mind!

It would almost be a laughable memory if it didn't make me want to cry for the broken, grieving mommy that I was who desperately needed help but didn't ask for it.

Memories can be hard....and sometimes they envelope you when you least expect it!  But going through the emotions, instead of trying to stuff them back inside and hold it all together with duct tape!, brings healing and peace.  It's not convenient, and it's certainly messy, but it's worth it to let God fix those shattered pieces.

Besides, I need the duct tape to hold our dryer door closed until our new part comes in!  You might be a redneck keep your dryer door shut with camo patterned duct tape!(Yep, that's us!)

Thanks for sharing my messy memories......


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's Really For Me

I tend to be a typical type A person whose current level of organization often leaves me frustrated.  My focus is where it should be...on my children and my husband, particularly my baby and my toddler.  That doesn't leave much time during the day to work on all the chores that HAVE to be done, like dishes and laundry.  Never mind all the organizational and deep cleaning projects that need to be done but keep getting put off because I just don't have the time, or energy, to tackle them.  

Sometimes I feel guilty for blogging.  It takes away time I could(should?) be spending on all the things I mentioned in the last paragraph.  But writing has been on my heart for quite a while.  

I have wanted to start writing for several years but never really knew where to start?....or what to write about?..or what I would do with what I wrote when I finished writing it?  I'm really good at creating stalemate situations for myself.  I talked myself out of something I felt like I should do for several years!!! 

It wasn't until I read The Happiness Project , and with the help of my friend, Anne-Marie, that I took the leap to start a blog.  There is SO much to learn.  I struggle with patience when I want to learn and be successful at something.  I have to frequently remind myself that this is going to take time and I will get to wherever this will lead me and learn tons along the way.  If this blog only serves to be a place of memories for my family then that's o.k.

But I really want so much more!

It's so hard to even admit that.  Wanting something for me.  Wanting to create something that will entertain and encourage and inspire other people.  Creating something that might one day be published.  Creating something that might help to support my family. 

It's terrifying to be blatantly honest in my posts and to share emotions that I have shared with very few people ever!  When I write while feeling those raw emotions, I'm sharing all of me.  That makes me feel SO vulnerable. The real, true me...uncensored, no filter for anyone who happens to click on my page to see.  In non-blogging life I am much more guarded and controlled....but I'm not always revealing myself as a complete person.  I might share pieces of myself but in a much more censored way.

I love learning from other people's life experiences and feeling a connection to where they are at in a particular area of their lives.  Sometimes I feel I have so much to share.  Marriage, having a large family, having lost a child, having had a child as a teenager, having babies, toddlers, grade schoolers and teens all at the same time, having a child with Special Needs, the everyday challenges of being a wife and mother...

All of these things make up who I am.

"Normal Chaos" is my's everyone's life to some degree.  The more people you add to the mix, the more chaotic it gets.  

People + activities + work +misc.(extended family, friends, disabilities, illness, etc, etc)= normal chaos.

When you have ten people in one house of very varying ages, and schoolwork, a career, sports, throw in some Autism and you get a really wild ride.  Around here, if we are at a level of normal chaos, we are doing pretty well!

Blogging about it all helps me to make my life more organized and feel even more meaningful.  Blogging gives me a place to share the day to day happenings that I might not take the time to write down otherwise, so it saves my memories for my family.  Blogging lets me share me: my life and who I am and how I really feel at any given moment and what I hope for and dream about.

I blog for me.

And that's o.k!

Linking up with Shell @ things I can't say & Learn as I blog@

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My little Muffin

Warning:  Mushy Post Up Ahead!

I just love, love, love my little baby girl!  Kate is so sweet and so cuddly.  When I hold her on my hip she holds onto my shirt like a little koala bear.

Kate is a snuggler.  She rests her little head on the crook of my neck and I just melt!

Kate is "gabby"....especially in the morning.  She will lay on the bed looking at you and make all kinds of noises!  When you make comments back to her she smiles her big, gummy grin and it just warms your heart!

I just want to hug her and squeeze her all the time..she's just SO cute!

I love her little hands.  When she nurses she always holds her hands together.  She will rub them together until she starts to settle and then they just rest quietly together over her eyes.  Her hands are so soft and pudgy....just like the rest of her:)

Her little head is like a fuzzy peach.  She looks like she has a little buzz cut because she has so many short hairs that are growing.very.slowly.  That's ok, though, almost every outfit she has is pink or purple, so people shouldn't confuse her for a boy!

Kate's eyes aren't quite as blue as Ellie's eyes and not quite as round.  Ellie has amazing eyes!  When she was a baby and a toddler she had light blonde hair too.  We used to call her Cindy Lou Who when we put her hair in little pigtails.  Ellie's eyes would draw everyone in and were ALWAYS commented about when we were out shopping..big blueberry eyes.  Another cutie:)
This was Ellie at 3.  She was a flower girl for my sister's wedding. 
 Her hair was already starting to darken, but her eyes are still bright blue.

I don't think Kare's hair will be that light.  Her eyes are still mesmerizing.  When she holds my gaze, I can't help but smile.  I always wonder what she's thinking about when she looks at me.  I'm so glad she's happy and healthy.

I am so blessed to be her mommy!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just Loving My Monday

The weather is lousy today, cold and rainy.  I don't mind.  It gives me a chance to try and catch up on some inside chores.  When I say "try" I really mean "try" because so far the morning has flown by and I've only managed to do two loads of laundry!  

I haven't been lying on the couch eating bon-bons.(Just in case you might think I would have time to do that!:)

I have changed 4 poopy diapers, made Luke breakfast, got Luke a snack, made Luke lunch, washed and changed his shirt after lunch, danced with Luke, pretended to fish with a belt(I caught a yellow fish and he caught a "froggie"), watched him hop like a frog, played trucks, made a fort with a sheet, nursed Kate multiple times, and spent 30 minutes during Kate's nap working on updating the photo albums so I can erase some pics off my camera.(Memory card is full...again!)

My kids are my world and today I just want to absorb every coo, every smile, every look of wonder as Kate manages to reach the bag of baby wipes, every pretend play moment with Luke....and I am grateful to be home and able to do just that!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Don't Blink!

I found a re-run of the Walton's family reunion on the Hallmark channel tonight.  The show went back and forth between memories of the kids when they were young and then being all together as adults for John Boy's wedding.

It made me cry.  It made me think of the baby boy I held in my arms 19 years ago...the baby that made me a mother..the baby that now towers over me by 9 inches and has to shave every day.  The same little boy that held my hand and gave me hugs and saw me as the center of his world is the same young man who is searching for another woman to be the center of his world and begin his own grown-up life.

That makes me cry.
It seems like just yesterday that Mike was the little toddler in the sand box!

It may sound awful, but what makes me cry even more, is that if he is 19, then I am getting older.  Someday I am going to be Mrs. Walton....seeing her children getting married, having grandbabies.  Don't get me wrong, I want to be present for that stage in my life more than anything.  But reaching that stage means that the time of having my own babies will be over and another chapter of my life will be closed.  Most of the time I am SO BUSY nursing, diaper changing, making meals, cleaning up after meals, doing laundry, and more dishes and more laundry, and keeping track of meets and games and practices, etc, that the days and weeks go by SO FAST.  By the time I get a chance to take a breath, weeks or months have gone by, and I barely realized it!

As my 30's get closer to coming to an end, I find myself appreciating this stage of my life even more because I know my time is limited.  In my 20's I felt like I had all the time in the world.  The physical ability to have children seemed endless.  Feeling young and in control seemed like it would always be there.

But now.....

Now I don't know if I am nursing my last child?  Now I know that each day I have my two grandparents still with us at 93 and 89 is such a gift.  Now I know that my parents, as they begin to round the corner towards 70, will not always be able to physically do all they do right now.

I remember when my mother turned 40.  I was 15 at the time.  And now, I am the one that is 2 years away from turning 40.  I can't believe how quickly time has gone.

Jay and I will be married for 20 years this year!  20 YEARS!!!  That definitely means I am not in my 20's anymore!  Twenty years always felt like such a LONG time.  Not anymore!  Don't blink!

I am grateful for the (almost) 20 years of memories.  I am grateful that we are even closer now than the day we exchanged our wedding vows.  I am grateful that I have a chance to appreciate my time with my baby and toddler in a deeper way because I know how fast this special time will speed by.

"The days are long but the years are short."(Gretchen Rubin) 

 I want to be physically, mentally and emotionally present for each and every moment!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Name Game

Jay and I have had quite a few (ahem) discussions over what names we would choose for our children over the years.  Each of us always has our favorites and our favorites are always different from each other's favorites.  I'm going to list our name wars in a backwards order...starting with our youngest only 5 months ago....

When we had Kate(officially Kathryn), Jay REALLY wanted Abigail, but I just wasn't feeling it.  I offered to use Abigail as a middle name, but Jay decided to wait.  He's (not so) secretly hoping we have another daughter and we can use the name then!?!  p.s. I love the alternate spelling I older sons tell everyone I spelled her name wrong!

Luke, Ellen, Peter, Sarah and Therese were all names that were chosen rather amicably.  I threw out Luke and Jay said, "Not bad."  So it stuck.  Jay suggested Ellen and Peter and I had the same reaction.  Therese had special meaning for us so it was an easy choice as well.

Jonathan was come by with a little more angst.  He was our third child...and our third boy.  But I was convinced he was a girl.  I never knew for sure before he was born because he was always "shy" in the ultrasounds!  So we only had a girl's name picked out....Abigail Caroline.  Obviously that didn't work for a boy.  Jon was born at 9:30 in the morning and we tried out several different names during that first day...Sean, Daniel, Benjamin, etc.  Jay was leaving the hospital that night and refused to leave until we had a name.  He didn't want to call extended family and friends and say "Baby Boy was born today."  So, we settled on Jonathan.

We went into the delivery room for Andrew in fierce debate over our list of favorite names.  Jay wanted Daniel or Jonathan.  I wanted Jarrod or Evan.  Neither of us wanted the other's was a stalemate.  Andrew was a rather large baby at 9lbs 8oz and he had a really big head.(When his head came out the nurse looked at me and said, "Wow, he has a really big head."  And I thought(sarcastically), "Thanks so much, the rest of him isn't even out yet!")  After he was out completely(did I mention I had him without any drugs?), Jay looked at me in all seriousness and said, "Honey, you can name him anything you want!"  Thank-you very much for a husband that acknowledged, and was in awe, of what I just went through!  I did the fair thing and chose the third name on my list....which was also the third name on Jay's list.  Andrew was not either of our favorite names, but it was a compromise...and it was a good fit!

With our first born, we had read through the baby name book countless times and had narrowed the list down to two names that we both liked: Michael and Benjamin.  In our heads, we pictured a Benjamin to be calm and laid back...and a Michael to be not quite so calm and laid back.  When the day arrived, our baby boy was born with a healthy wail.  The doctor moved him to the warming bassinet where he proceeded to......pee all over the nurse!  Jay looked at me with a smile and said, "He's a Michael!"  And he definitely is!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Special Blessings

Yesterday I was thinking about when I first found out I was pregnant with Luke.  It was right before Christmas in 2008.  It had been almost 6 years since Ellen was born, and she had just stared Kindegarten.  That fall had been a big change for me.   I was pretty blue in September...grieving the end of our baby years.  I started working several mornings a week and was just starting to embrace this new chapter in our life.
There is a certain freedom in having all the kids in school...I had more time for myself...I was enjoying having the extra money, etc.

In the middle of December, I started to suspect something might be up.  I didn't say anything for a few days because I occasionally have wacky cycles.  I decided to mention the possibility of being pregnant the weekend we were going to put up the Christmas tree.  My plan was to wait until after the tree was up.  Putting up the tree is not always such a fun, joyous occasion!  With an autistic child running around, a sensory defensive teenager who hates when people sing(that's always so much fun...insert eye roll here), and just the general bickering that can occur among siblings, decorating the Christmas tree is usually not a Norman Rockwell scene in our house!

I figured I would see how it went.  I didn't want to announce that we might be having another child when we weren't sure we wanted to keep the ones we had!(kidding)  So I kept praying for the right moment to reveal my suspicion.

It was hard to keep quiet.  It was all I could think about.  Was there the tiniest baby growing inside of me?  How would I start the baby stage all over again?  How would we handle a baby with all of Peter's needs?  So many emotions...scared, excited, happy, confused...all at once.

Before we got the tree in the house, Jay gave me a random hug in the dining room.  He whispered, "Do you ever regret that we didn't have more children?"  That was obviously the moment I had been praying for!  I said, "Actually, honey..." and just let the silence speak for itself.  Jay got SO excited and ran right out to get a pregnancy test.  I wanted to wait a few more days but he couldn't wait another hour!  I am blessed to have a husband who loves children so much!

All the kids were happy and excited....even Mike who was almost 16 at the time.  We thought our lives were headed in another direction but God had other plans!

Now we have a baby and a's been awhile since we had that combo in our lives.  It's tough to juggle the older kids' sports and toddler's naps and baby nursing.  I'm not so sure the teenagers are thrilled when I'm nursing at their high school(or college) games but I think they do like all the attention they get for days afterwards  from people telling them how cute their sister is.(Except when people think the baby is theirs!)  Luke and Kate have kept the teenagers "home centered" because they don't want to miss anything and they don't want the little ones growing up not knowing them.

I am so grateful for the unexpected gifts of Luke and Kate.  They have brought a lot of joy and healing to our family.  I can't imagine life without them!

According To Denise