Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Need of Some Emotional Duct Tape

Today is Peter's 11th birthday.

I am grateful for the strides he continues to make.  It would be a lie if I said seeing his disabilities wasn't ever painful.  We've accepted his diagnosis and all the crosses and blessings that have come along with it.  Sometimes it still hurts.

Peter knows that his birthday is July 31st.  When I ask him how old he is...he gives me some random answer like "it's my birthday".  He doesn't understand the question, or get that he will be 11.  That hurts....

Every year, our family members ask what Peter wants or likes...and each year the answer is still the same..."Nothing, really."  He doesn't ask for anything or really play with anything.  Sometimes he will show a spark of an interest in dinosaurs or, right now, in sharks. But it's fleeting.  Luke, at 2, surpassed Peter's non-existent pretend play skills months ago.  That hurts....

Peter needs to be on a gluten and dairy free diet.  He also can't have anything with yeast.  Those foods really throw off his sensory system and make him miserable..in turn, making us miserable.  Cooking for Peter is a challenge.  He has his small list of favorites....and often doesn't want to try new things.(Which is frustrating since gluten free ingredients are often expensive!)

Cooking is so much more than just a meal.  I love being able to cook something special for my family to enjoy.  A satisfying meal or dessert does so much more than just fill up a tummy!  I hate that I can't share that with all of my kids at the same time.  I do make Peter gluten/dairy free treats...but even the best ones are no where near as good as some of the "regular" food I make.(Sorry if that sounds conceited...it's just that the texture and the taste just aren't the same.)

I know this shouldn't be such a big deal, but since Peter's diagnosis I don't enjoy cooking as much.  It's become stressful always worrying about cross contamination or Peter swiping foods he shouldn't have.  (He hid a package of oreos in the couch a few weeks ago...I couldn't understand why he was sleeping so horribly for a few days until I saw him take the cookies out of the couch!)

Cooking just isn't as fun when you feel like you have to guard everything you make!     

When Peter was originally diagnosed 8 1/2 years ago, Jay and I went a little nuts and tried to have our whole family eat a gluten/dairy free diet.  It was a miserable experiment that no one enjoyed.  It lasted a week or two.  I still remember the day I decided that it was ridiculous to keep trying.  I made dinner with regular spaghetti and meat balls without telling Jay.  I still remember Jay's face and tone of voice when he asked me if they were gluten free and I said, "No".  A huge wave of relief spread across his face and he said, "Oh, thank God!"

We had even tried "squash fries" when Peter was first diagnosed on another person's recommendation that they were "wonderful" and "tasted just like real fries!"   Ummm...no....they don't.  The older kids still mention it occasionally...."Remember when mom and dad went a little nuts and made us all eat squash fries?".......

I'm trying to hold onto the funny moments....I'd much rather laugh than cry.  Today I will probably do a little of both.  But, my main goal, is to make today as meaningful as possible for Peter.  And I'm happy that, this year, I think I actually got him a gift he will really love and use.....a camera.  He is always stealing my cell phone to take pictures with it and he loves to look at the family photo albums.  He also likes to make an incredible mess by taking out stacks of loose pictures that I haven't put into photo albums yet or am saving for scrapbooks (that someday I will get to!!!!).  (Ugh!)

Today, I will try not to let the "what if's" or the "if only's" take over my thinking and just enjoy who Peter is right now.

I just need to pull the emotional duct tape a little tighter.....

Monday, July 30, 2012

Martha's Vineyard

We had a fun weekend on Martha's Vineyard.  My parents have a home there so we usually get to visit once or twice a summer.  This was our first time this year.

Andrew had to work so he stayed with Jay's sister and his parents.  I don't think he was disappointed because he got lots of special attention....I joked that he wouldn't want to come home!

The weather wasn't the best, but we still enjoyed the beach, and the game room, and the Flying Horses Carousel, and lobsters at Menempsha, and dinner at Giodanno's, breakfast at Linda Jean's and then Giodanna's pizza before we left on Sunday.

This year, Luke actually sat on the horse and grabbed the rings himself!  He had so much fun!

It was Kate's first time at the beach....

....she wasn't quite so sure about it!
Her siblings had a good time!

Most importantly, we had ice cream at Ben and Bill's multiple times!  Their ice cream is great....and rivals our local favorite ice cream spot, Acushnet Creamery.  The neat thing about Ben and Bill's are the flavors they offer.....particular family favorites are triple chocolate(chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate chunks) and, Jay and Mike's favorite, Baileys.

Peter loves the Vineyard!  He loves it so much that when we leave he cries.  In fact, he was so upset about leaving he started crying 4 hours before we left!  He cried all through church, and all through breakfast, and on his trip with Pa to watch for planes at the airport, and waiting for the ferry, the whole ferry ride home and all the way home.  The only thing that got him to stop was going for cake at Grandma's house.  She had made a cake for everyone to enjoy after the family pictures we were supposed to take but had to postpone because of the weather.

Thank goodness for Grandma's cake!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Super Dad to the Rescue...Again!

It's been a rough week with all the non-sleeping, a very clingy baby(oh, why won't those teeth just come out already!), and taxi driving...especially the lack of sleep part!  I was hitting a wall today.  It wasn't a good day to hit a wall because I have to get ready for a short weekend trip we are taking.  It's not the best time for my brain to be on "sleep fog" mode...I'll end up forgetting something important!

On top of planning for the trip I also have to have everything picked out and ready to wear for family pictures we will be taking at Jay's parents' house a couple hours after we get back.  That's not an easy task either.

So, packing, prepping for pics....not to mention Jon's doctor appointment, grocery shopping, driving my parents and a couple of my kids down to the ferry to catch an earlier boat, driving Andrew to work, going to the bank, finishing the laundry and dishes and being ready to leave by late afternoon!!!  That's my day today!

I really needed to make muffins and cookies for Peter to bring with us.  Peter's on a dairy free, gluten free, yeast free diet so having enough snacks for him, especially when we are away from home, is very important!

Last night I asked Jay to help me with it in the morning.  He ended up cooking it all last night(and cleaning up the mess).  He didn't even start it until after 10...which is usually when he is asleep on the couch already!  He finished at 11:30.  A late night, but it will make for a much easier morning.

It was such a huge help and it took two important items off my to-do list!

Super Dad(and hubby:) to the rescue....yet again!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today's Assignment!

The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place.
St. Therese of Lisieux

This was the quote of the day from Catholic Digest Daily Moments.  In fact, it was sent to me twice.....I figured that was a sign that I was supposed to really think about it instead of my normal skim and delete.

I'm glad the value of my life isn't dependent on the "place I occupy."  I will never live in an incredible house or have an amazing summer home.  But, I have a home that (mostly) fits my family and we do our best with the time we have to take care of upkeep.  Really, compared to the way much of the world lives, we have an incredible number of blessings!  (Even with a dryer door that still needs duct tape to help hold it shut despite all of Jay's efforts to fix it!)

The real meat and potatoes of that quote is the second part...How do I "occupy that space?"  I wish I could say our home was always a place of peace and respite.  I wish I could say that our time in our home is always used to build each other up and encourage each other on the paths God has given each of us.

That wouldn't be the truth.

Too often, one or more persons in our family are too critical, too impatient, not loving, or struggling with something internally that makes them unsettled and they end up taking their feelings out on the people that love them the most.

Too often that person is me!

I am running on days of broken sleep, due to a baby and toddler that continually stir during the night and now, on top of that, because of fear.  Turns out that our neighbor's house alarm went off at 4:30 am two days ago because someone actually got into their garage and tried to break into their house!  We live in the suburbs in a fairly quiet town.  That break in has definitely triggered a lot of insecurity and fear for me and is now adding to my sleeplessness....and I truly do not need anything else to help me not sleep(Kate and Luke do a great job on their own!)!
Fear is a tough issue for me.  Now that I feel like I've worked through the issue of grief over our kids growing up...at least for the moment!(click here to view that post)...I think I have my work cut out for me with all my fear problems!

To deal with the issue at hand, I'm just not sure how to regain a feeling of safety.  We are making sure all the doors and windows are locked before we go to bed, but there are going to be nights when the windows will need to be open.  I just don't know if I will ever feel safe enough to sleep soundly with windows open ever again.

I'm thinking we should get an alarm system...Jay's talking about a dog.(Umm...no...sorry, honey, been there. Done that!  Not that I don't like dogs...but they are a lot of work and I am cleaning up as much poop as I can possibly handle right now with a baby and a toddler who has no interest in potty training.  I don't have the energy to care for one.more.thing!  Not to mention the dog hair!  We had a nice lab named Ben who died 4 summers ago.  Just when the kids and Jay talked about getting another dog, I found out I was pregnant with Luke....so the kids got a brother, not a dog!  There's only so much one mom can handle!)

Anyway, I'm rambling...and way off topic!

Goal for today and for the near future....work on making "the place I occupy" a patient, loving, life-giving environment!  That shouldn't take too long.(insert eye roll here!)

Why couldn't I have gotten this quote on a day I wasn't feeling cranky, tired, and impatient!!! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's All About Perspective

One of the things I've been really wrestling with over the last year is the reality that our children are getting older and life is changing(at least with the older teens...we started all over again, too!).  I have been living with the knowledge that the kids will not be part of our family in the way they always were in just a short time.  Already, jobs and girlfriends and drivers licenses have begun to change the way they participate in family life.  I realize it's a healthy and natural step in their development into young adults, but it's hard to let go!

It's happiness and grieving all at once.

There are two particular things that have touched my heart in my search for peace over these impending changes.  The first came from the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp.  She wrote,

"I watch the hands move grace on the clock face.  
I'm growing older.  These children growing up.  But time is not running out.
  This day is not a sieve, losing time. 
With each passing minute, each passing year, 
there's this deepening awareness that I am filling, gaining time."

What if, instead of looking at the growing older and eventual nest leaving as loss.....I look at it as gain?

Picture a giant colander.  I have been looking at life in a way that meant, as my children grow and leave, more of my life will seep through the holes and disappear until all that's left is the empty colander. 

But that's not really true.  My children growing up does not mean that everything we have experienced is gone.  Those relationships will still be there...they will just be different.  Our memories will still be there, too.  

Even if they aren't living in our house our bond will still be real and our relationship meaningful.  And, eventually, new relationships will grow to include spouses and grandchildren and, God willing, great grandchildren.  

So, here's my thought...
Rather than an empty colander....my life is like a beautiful trifle.  
Each stage just adds a new layer.  
My life is more, not less.

With this perspective, I can focus on rejoicing, not so much on grieving.  Enjoy where I'm at more completely instead of just fearing its end.  

I can embrace the words Fr. Dave gave as a quote at the talk I attended last week, which is the second thing that brought me peace:
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."     

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Sleep...Where art thou!

Sweet, sweet sleep has been elusive lately.  I think that Kate is working on her two top teeth and is waking up multiple times a night.  Luke has been less than stellar as well.  I think I got woken up six times before 1am last night!  Then our neighbors house alarm went off at 4:30.  Ugh!!  Luke was ready to go at 6 am and I felt like I never really got a chance to have a true night's sleep.  It's never a good sign when I wake up praying that I will have time for a nap!

I have the kids tune, Bingo, running through my head...you know, "There was a farmer who had a dog and Bingo was his name-o" tune.  Except I'm changing the words.

There was a mom who needed sleep,
and Mommy was her name-o!
M.O.M.M.Y, M.O.M.M.Y, M.O.M.M.Y,
and Mommy was her name-o!

Ahh...the joys of sleep deprivation!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Did Someone Call For A Taxi?

I began my taxi driving services this morning with a blast from the past floating through my head.  Remember the Bangles hit "Manic Monday"?  Well, the refrain has been stuck in my head all day and I can't remember the last time I heard it on the radio?!?(Probably 20 years ago!)

"Just another manic Monday(Ohh...ooo)
I wish it was Sunday(Ohh..ooo)
Cause that's my fun day(Ohh..ooo)
An I don't have to run day(Ohh..ooo)
Ohhh...Just another manic Monday!"

I wouldn't really call my day "manic".  I did do a couple of errands this morning...but honestly I was running at a slower rate than normal today.  There was lots of broken sleep going on in our house last night and I am feeling kind of tired. (You know the kind of tired that when you stop the car in the driveway and you close your eyes and just don't want to move..until the baby screams or the toddler starts chanting for a snack!)

 Seems there will be an additional person to carpool this week.  Mike's car had a blinking check engine light and he mentioned it to Jay, who just happened to receive a phone call from our mechanic who was trying to contact our friend just hours before he(the mechanic) left for vacation.  Our mechanic(Joe), who is unbelievable(another 80's song reference...hee hee..I'm on a roll!), told Jay to have Mike bring his car by at 3.(Mercy hour!)  Joe hooked it up to the machine and, though he didn't have enough time to thoroughly diagnose the problem, deemed it unable to be driven until it is fixed.

So even though Mike will be car-less for a bit(Joe's on vaca for a week...sigh), thankfully, Mike won't be driving around potentially destroying his engine!

I guess it's all about how you look at things!  

I'm seriously thinking about getting myself a taxi sign and charging my kids for miles driven!!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Off To The Fair

Today, Jay has headed out to spend the afternoon with Jon and Andrew as their pro-life retreat weekend wraps up.  Staying home for the entire afternoon was not appealing to me.  I looked online and found out there was a town fair less that 30 minutes from us so I decided to brave it!  (With help from Mike and Sarah!)

We showed up at the fair without getting lost!(There's a plus).  I opened the back of the van to take out the carriage and.....no carriage.  Jon had taken it out on Friday before I drove a bunch of kids to the retreat and it had never made it back in the car.:(

So now I couldn't contain Luke and Kate wouldn't have shade.  But, we were there, so I figured we would make the best of it.  Thankfully, I had slathered Kate with sunblock...but it turns out I forgot her hat!

We walked around the game area first and Mike was drawn like a magnet to the basketball game.  He won a medium sized stuffed animal....cute, but something else to carry!

We went over to the 4-H area.  They were judging cows in the main animal area but first we checked out the sheep.  My eyes kept scanning the kids....and while I was looking at  Luke, Peter's hand came very close to a sheep's fanny.  EEEEWWW!

So, just in case, I wanted to wash his hands with a wipe.(After all..he was holding MY hand at the fair!)  I dug through the diaper bag and the only wipes I can find are 2individual packs of a single wipe!!!  Ugh!  Feeling like the worst.mom.ever!

....Oh, why didn't we get a snack before the animals!

Again, we did the best we could.

Then, we made our way over to the enclosed picnic tables where there was a band playing Christian music.  Cool:)  We found a table in the back so it wasn't too loud for Kate...and she had some shade!  Mike went off to buy some french fries to share and frozen lemonades.  The kids all waited patiently...and Peter had fun wearing my sunglasses.

Everyone enjoyed the snack...especially Peter.  (He loves french fries!)

After snack time we headed off to play some games.  Even Peter played a couple of the carnival games.  It's the first time he really showed any interest in them.  Pete's favorite was throwing darts at balloons!  He managed to pop two...but had no interest in the prizes.  He just wanted to keep popping balloons!

Then we went over to watch the big trucks.  That was Luke's favorite part!

We bought a bag of cotton candy right before we left....a sweet ending to a fun outing!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Confessions of a Closet Nurser

For about a year now, I have been a "closet nurser".  Each night, my almost 3 year old wants to nurse at night to fall asleep.  Most everyone assumes he's been weaned for a long time...but he hasn't. It's a topic that raises lots of debate.  (And, no, he does not nurse in army fatigues standing on a stool!  That Time cover was offensive and made extended nursing seem dirty...and that's not true at all!)

Luke has been a very attached child from day 1.  He had no interest in baby food at all at 6 or 7 or 8 months.  He just started on soft table foods eventually.  Thankfully, I have an ample milk supply and he was always a healthy, chubby baby!

Luke continued being an avid nurser as he reached the one year milestone.  He was also a lousy sleeper and would wake up several times at night and want to nurse for a few minutes before falling back to sleep.  Luke has always been emotionally needy and very attached to mommy...literally and figuratively!

When Luke was 19 months old I got pregnant with Kate.  Luke still had no interest in weaning.  My exhaustion and "morning" sickness..I don't know why they call it that since it lasts all day?...pushed me to at least start weaning Luke.  No more nursing on demand.  I weaned him to nursing only at nap time and at bedtime.  Around his second birthday, Luke gave up his nap so we were down to nursing only at bedtime for a few minutes until he fell asleep.  He was still waking up at night but he only got water!  But I still didn't get him to the point of giving up nursing before Kate was born.

Have you ever watched the movie "Grown Ups".  There's a scene where a little boy is nursing and the boy's father is asked, "How old is he?"  And the father answers, "48 months" to which his surprised friends answer, "That's four years old!"

For the last several months, every time Luke nursed before bed one of my teenagers asked, "What is he, Mom, 48 months?"  Smart alacks!

I wanted to wean him but I also didn't want him to feel rejected or jealous because the baby was nursing.  I wanted him to wean when he was ready....but I've been ready.  If I wasn't home, he would snuggle with Sarah or Jay and fall asleep.  The last two nights he fell asleep without me.  If I am home, it is a different story....until tonight.

Tonight Luke watched trucks working for a while on Jay's phone.  Tonight I brushed Luke's teeth and he climbed up on the recliner.  He mentioned nursing once...but I got him some water...and he didn't ask again. No tears, no tantrums.  I gave him a pillow and within a few minutes he was asleep.

My little boy has reached another milestone.  
I'm a little sad.  
But I am ready....and so is he!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Beauty of a Rose

I am still not in a "blogging roll" this week.  I still find myself feeling introspective and slightly overwhelmed at all the busyness in our lives this week.

I was able to go to a talk last night that was put on by a woman's group at my parish.  The speaker, Fr. David, was very good and I really enjoyed it.  It was the first time that I left Kate to do something for me.  I missed her...but it was nice to be able to pay attention to something spiritual.  I actually focused on his talk for over an hour!  That's a record for me lately.

There were a few things that he said that spoke to me.  He was talking about spiritual direction and how he was taught that when someone comes to him with something they want to share they usually present it to him as a closed rose.  It's his job to help them to peel back the petals of the rose of what they have shared so that they can understand it more fully.  Because, as Fr. Dave said, "A rose is most beautiful fully opened."

So I was thinking of this image of a beautiful, closed rose.  And I was thinking about how many roses God has given me over my life....moments of truth, or a spiritual gift of understanding....and how often the roses failed to fully open.  Why?  Sometimes it's because I didn't take the time to sit in the quiet and try to understand the depths of what I was given.  Sometimes it's because I didn't share what I'd been given so it withered earlier than it should have.  Sometimes it's because I didn't ask for help to understand it so it never got to open to its full potential.

It's hard to share parts of your true self.  It makes me feel so vulnerable to share the real me...uncensored!
Sometimes posts that I write make me want to "turtle" and just hide in my shell...that little voice inside my head yelling, "How could you share that with people?"  

On the flip side, there's something freeing about sharing your thoughts and feelings, too.  My feelings are real and meaningful to me.  Writing them is for me.  If other people can relate to or be encouraged by something I write then that's like icing on a cake! :)

I don't know about you....but I love icing!!!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The "Right Way"

It's been a few days since I blogged last.  It's hard to find uninterrupted time to spend in front of the computer while the kids are awake.  Luke and Kate haven't slept well for a few nights so I am falling asleep on the couch as I'm getting them to bed!

There have been a few things going around in my head the last few days.(It can be a scary place!)  There have been a couple themes that keep popping up that I want to spend more time praying and thinking about. One is about technology...and how much time we (meaning the kids and myself) are spending on the multiple types of electronic devices that each of us owns/operates.

The other theme that keeps popping up is "stuff".  By "stuff" I mean.....
How come everyone has so much "stuff" that they are always leaving all over the place?
Do we have too much "stuff"?
How much "stuff" does everyone really need?

Sunday I was feeling overwhelmed and tired.  On my mind were worries about too much technology...too much junkfood...too much t.v...and there was way too much clutter around the house!

The right way to deal with all these lovely thoughts and feelings would be through talking and lists and prayer to figure out what things I might want myself, or my family, to work on to form some healthier habits.  Oh, and to realize it takes time to change behaviors and routines.......and that the desire to change is a better thing to concentrate on than letting my negative thoughts make me feel like the poster child for "inadequate mothers".

That would have been the "right" way to handle things, too.

Unfortunately, meltdowns are not the way to handle things:(

Thankfully, my family still loves me.
I am trying to do things the "right way"...at least for today!    

Friday, July 13, 2012


I picked up Jon and Andrew from the retreat they have been at all week today.  It's nice to have everyone home again....at least for a few days!  Andrew and Jon leave for another weekend retreat next Friday!

I've been spending some time trying to plan our trip to Hershey next month.  There's so much that goes into planning a vacation beyond booking the hotel room and buying the tickets for the park.  Going on such a special trip doesn't happen every year, and I want it to be as organized and fun-filled as it can.  That's especially challenging with the many different age groups we have!

I am under no illusion that the trip will be perfect!  I'm sure that it will have it's share of "moments" that wouldn't be appropriate for a Hallmark card!  I just want the majority of the trip to be happy memories...and  hopefully even the bumpy moments will become funny memories of their own.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


A friend of mine asked me recently if I thought God gave second chances.  I answered a quick and firm, "Absolutely!!"...and 3rd chances, and 4th chances, etc.

I've been the recipient of many of those extra chances over the years...and I am very grateful for them!

Two of the biggest second chances were Luke and Kate.  When I was pregnant with Peter and Ellie I was struggling to deal with unresolved grief from losing a child.  I was struggling with serious burn out and depression.  It was not an easy time for me or my family emotionally.

With therapy and time, I arrived at a better place.  I always think of that time as the "dark years" when I feel like I fell short(and often failed) in my role as a wife and a mother.  I can't go back to that time, but I did have to come to accept that I did the best I could with what I was going through and pray that God makes up for my shortcomings.  (I am blessed with an incredible husband who took up way more than his share of the parenting during those messy years!)

Before Luke and Kate, I always felt guilty about how unhappy I was during the last two pregnancies.  I love Peter and Ellie, but I felt disappointed and cheated out of that special time of pregnancy.  I had never really had a "blissful" pregnancy(if there really is such a thing).  I still carried guilt and shame about Michael's pregnancy when I was pregnant with Andrew and Jon, since we were still so young and not established.  The first time I didn't feel guilty for being pregnant was when I was pregnant with Therese...and that pregnancy turned into a nightmare for us.  Sarah's pregnancy was washed in fear....followed by Peter and Ellie's which I already described.  

When I was pregnant with Luke, things were very different.  We were living without help from anyone...I no longer carried the extreme grief of losing a child(though I certainly still grieve occasionally!)...and I am older and more secure in who I am and what my beliefs are.  

Luke's pregnancy was a gift in many ways, a "re-do" for me...an opportunity to be pregnant without carrying all the baggage I had in the past.  In a way, it was like being pregnant for the first time.(That sounds so strange, I know!)

Then to be blessed with a little girl....and the chance for a pregnancy knowing I was having a healthy baby girl...it just made me feel at peace.

I used to feel that I "deserved" to be disappointed about my feelings during my pregnancies...after all, we didn't make the best decisions as teenagers.  

That wasn't the truth.  That was just me unable to forgive myself and let go of the guilt and shame.  I am so grateful God gave me the chance to experience Luke and Kate's pregnancies with such a joyful state of mind.  Out of all the do-overs I've been given, those two are the greatest and most meaningful!
For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience. And you shall call upon me, and you shall go: and you shall pray to me, and I will hear youYou shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29:10-14

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A New Phase of Parenting

I think we have reached a new, difficult phase of child raising....the young adult.  How in the world did that little boy that used to sit in my lap twirling my hair become this 19 year old that towers over me?

With extra time on his hands because basketball is only 3 days a week instead of 6, Mike has gotten a lot more social in the last couple months.  He has started hanging out with some friends he went to high school with.  So far, they seem like good kids....but, since they are just kids, we aren't letting our guard down.

Navigating this late teen/young adult mine field is proving to be challenging.  I think part of the challenge is that Jay and I never experienced this phase in our life.  When we were Mike's age, we were married with a 10 month old.  So, we are kind of winging it.

It isn't easy trying to keep communication open (and not hostile!) about the changing desires and expectations his social life brings.  Mike wants more freedom in his social life and, recently, the issue of curfews has become, well, an issue.  Texting debates go back and forth about what a reasonable time is...and, as you can imagine, his idea of "reasonable" and our idea of "reasonable" are quite different.

He wants more freedom....but, as a member of our family, there are still boundaries.  In some ways our situation is unique because, as sleep deprived  parents of an infant, toddler, and special needs child, staying up late is not easy for us.  As Mike's parents, we understand his need/desire to stay out later with his friends.    Trying to come up with a happy compromise is proving to be challenging!

I see his point in a way because, if he's hanging out at a friend's house(with parental supervision), not doing anything "wrong"(a.k.a. drinking, drugs, sex)....then what's the big deal?  Yet, knowing there is someone at home waiting for you also helps to keep teenagers honest!  Plus, I can't really sleep deeply until I know he's home.  Even during his basketball season, I never truly slept restfully until I heard the beep of his car alarm and the opening and locking of the front door.(Jay always slept on the couch until Mike came home, too.)

It's give and take....we have to let go of a little control at each of his stages of growing up and Mike still needs to be respectful of our needs and what is reasonable.  Trying to make sure he understands this, without anyone becoming defensive, can be tough...it's all so new and sensitive.

So, we are wading into uncharted waters and trying our best to swim and not drown.  I want our relationship with Mike to remain strong as he continues to mature and gets ready to fly from the nest.  Seeing him changing and pulling away....and letting him go little by little...is painful!  I'm enjoying watching him turn into a young man (especially when he is "happy Mike")...but I miss that little boy that was so enthusiastic, loving, and that I knew always loved me(and liked me!).

Since Mike's been extra happy and nice the last few days, I knew something was up.  Even Jon and Andrew had raised eyebrows at their overly generous brother...since offering to share his possessions is not something we usually hear from Mike.(Usually, they have to ask and are met with an eyeroll (and a huff) "Fine..but you better not lose "it"or mess up my stuff!")

Sure enough, he announced he was playing mini-golf lat night with a friend...who happens to be a girl I know he has a crush on.  That same friend just arrived and is playing basketball with him outside!  Lord...Give me strength!

Diapers and sleepless nights are so much easier than dating!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tech Time

I read an article in a magazine today...I think it was Newsweek....about being "too connected".  Part of the article talked about how being constantly connected via Smartphone, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can actually be addictive.  It is actually being researched as a diagnosis.

When I think about how dependent I am on my technology devices, I can understand how it can go to extremes.  While I like the fact that if my kids need me I can be reached pretty much anytime, anywhere, sometimes connection can be too much.

I worry about my kids, too.  They are growing up in a world that only knows constant connection.  My older kids, like many teens, sport cell phones and IPods.  They are frequently texting or online during the day...looking up sports news or stupid youtube videos mostly.  My almost three year old can navigate Peter's Kindle Fire pretty well.(Actually, a little too well.  He has gotten into the Amazon Store a few times and ordered a truck book accidentally!)  

When the older boys were younger, pre cell phones/ipods/or internet, we had a lot of time rules about video games.  They could play for so many minutes once or twice a day, depending if it was a school day or not.  We tried to be limited with TV time too...they frequently heard the phrase, "Enough TV!  Go out and live life!"

At the time they complained about it.  As teenagers, they have told us they are glad we had those rules because, while they all have a great time playing Mario Cart together now, they are glad that video games are not the only thing they are focused on.

I know it's all about balance.  Technology is a tool...and a very useful one at that!  How did we ever do anything without Google?  So many questions answered with just the click of the mouse!  Recipes....the best way to get glue off a shirt...directions...research....etc., etc.  I mean, really, the list is endless.

I just want to make sure that there is a balance...for my kids and for myself.  Thankfully, limits come pretty naturally for me because of all the people I need to take care of.  Even time spent blog hopping comes quickly to an end when a baby, toddler, or older child needs me!

Speaking of that....my 6 month old just crawled across the room to me and is eating a piece of computer paper that fell on the floor!  Guess my tech time is up!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Routine?

Jay's week of vaca is now over:(...back to reality for several weeks.(He took off another week in August).

I spent the morning doing errands with Andrew and Kate since Andrew and Jon will be away all week at a retreat.  I knew if I didn't get it accomplished this morning when the older boys were still home it wouldn't get done this week.  It was nice to get a few things crossed off the list.

I'm still trying to get into a summer routine...and still failing at it!  Isn't it ridiculous how hard it is to carve out 4 half hour slots a week for yourself!?!  I still want to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes...and I need that undisturbed, by myself, half hour of prayer time!  Hopefully this week will be the one I can reach those goals!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Trying to Make the Pieces Fit

I still haven't gotten that quiet time I've been hoping for.  I thought it would happen today but Jay is under the weather.  It was another one of those days when I was on plan D by breakfast...and breakfast was a yogurt I inhaled before running out for the 3rd "taxi drive" of the day(and it wasn't even 9:15 yet!).

I was able to go visit my grandmother today.  She had fallen a month ago and broke her hip.  I haven't gotten a chance to see her so I am glad I finally had an opportunity today.  I took Ellie, Luke and Kate with me.  She enjoyed seeing how much Kate has grown since she last saw her in mid-May.  Luke was all over the place but it was still a nice visit.

I am re-committing to seeing my grandmother once a month.  Not seeing her is a source of guilt in my life.  She doesn't live very far away...only 40 minutes.  It's just far enough away that it takes planning to head over.  She lives in senior housing...which is very tiny...so bringing all the kids is out of the question.  (And bringing Peter is really no visit at all.)

Like I said, just need to plan it and put it on the calendar...amidst all the other chaos....but this is important.

Sometimes I feel like life is a constant game of Tetris....every piece(life event) coming at us needs to be fit into our lives just right so that we don't get that backload of "pieces"  that leads to a game over...or in real life, to an emotional meltdown!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Peace Wanted!

Do you ever just feel like you are juggling way too much?

I just want to do a good job with all the responsibilities God has blessed me with.

I am definitely going to work on getting some prayer time in today....I could use a peace that's greater than I can make....and some direction!

I'll let you know how it goes!  Hope you find some peace today too! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Gift of Life

This year Independence Day will hold a dual meaning for me.  It will be the obvious celebration of being grateful for the country we live in and the men and the women who have served and continue to serve, and especially those that gave their life, so that we can continue to have this freedom.

In my heart, Independence Day will also be a day of thanksgiving for me because one year ago, Jay almost died.  In one brief instant, life as I know it was held together with, what felt like, the thinnest thread.  Everything could have changed....but it didn't.  And I thank God every day for it.

Last year on Independence Day, Jay collapsed at the end of a 10K when his body temperature rose above 107 degrees.  I didn't see it happen.  The nurse in the medical tent used his cell phone to call me.  By the time I got there, he was laying in an ice bath but gazing past me not responding to anything.  It was the scariest.moment.of.my.life.

He started seizing on the way to the ambulance.  I had to sit up front with the driver...praying the whole 15 minutes to the hospital.  Trying to push away the fears that he would be in that non-responsive state forever.  That he would not be able to be present to his children.  That he would never know the baby that was growing inside of me.

As we pulled up to the hospital, Jay started to speak coherently...actually he was yelling for me.  He couldn't hear me from the front of the ambulance...which was so frustrating.  As it stopped, I jumped out and ran to the back.  When they opened the doors Jay saw me and got this goofy(completely medicated looking) grin on his face.  He said later, when he had completely come out of the fog, that he was smiling because he wanted me to know everything was going to be all right...even though he couldn't find the words yet to say it.

After about an hour, Jay was completely coherent.  He got extremely sick from all the meds they had given him and he was extremely sore from the seizures.  He spent two nights in the hospital.  At first the doctors were worried that he could have damaged his kidneys or his liver permanently.  Thankfully, his kidney function and liver function returned to normal levels over the next month or two.

The ER doctor told us that if the medical staff at the race had not gotten Jay into the ice bath, he would have had permanent kidney and liver damage or if his temperature rose half a degree higher he would not have made it at all.

It took a few weeks for Jay to start feeling better.  He was in a lot of pain.  Since his liver and kidneys were still healing he couldn't take any pain medication.  He was in the hospital for two nights, out of work for a week, and it took two more weeks to start working his normal schedule.  It took a few weeks for his kidney function to go back to normal.  It took a few months for his liver function to go back to normal.

In an instant, our lives could have been devastated and changed forever.

Such a scary thought.  Something so scary made me feel incredibly vulnerable.  I was strong for Jay and the kids that first day.  Early the next morning, at 3am, I woke up and just started sobbing.  I cried for two hours trying to wrap my head around how something that was supposed to just be for fun could have ended so horribly.  Then I felt angry....angry that we had to go through this...angry that I almost lost him.  It took quite a few months to process through the emotions of what happened that day.

In some ways Jay is still processing through it....it's tough to forgive yourself sometimes.(But I know God is working on him:)

This year on Independence Day we will be celebrating the gift of freedom...

......and we will be celebrating the gift of life!


My post from earlier today was a cop-out.  It's easy to write about Kate because she brings such joy amidst all the chaos.

I am feeling frazzled.  I feel like I am drowning in clutter that I will never catch up with.  It's like the venom suit in Spiderman...you clear away a little space and it just grows right back.(My husband and older kids have been on a super hero movie kick lately!)

I don't want to feel overwhelmed.  Logically, I know that caring for my large family that includes a baby and a toddler is not going to leave time for much else beyond dishes and laundry....and I'm behind on even those chores!!!  Ugh!

I want to feel organized and together.  I never aspire for perfection...I gave up on that years ago.  I just want to stop feeling like I'm running "up" on a "down" escalator....always running full speed just to not lose ground.
If I stop, I am going to be buried by everything that is closing in around me in this house.  It's just not a good feeling.


Before I got out of bed this morning, I took a minute to watch Luke and Kate sleep.  They both looked so peaceful.  I noticed their sweet little faces and their chunky thighs.

Now wide awake and nursing in my lap is a squirmy, wormy 6 month old.  She nurses and then pulls off to smile at me and look around to make sure she isn't missing anything before she latches back on...only to repeat the smile and look process a few seconds later.

So sweet with her big, blue eyes!
I'm glad I had that moment this morning with my little ones.  I'm glad I took that moment before jumping into the chaos of my day!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lesson Learned!

Wow the weekend went by fast!  It was busy, but fun.  We celebrated my sister's birthday on Saturday with a clam boil at my mom's house.  I made stuffed quahogs and two ice cream cakes.  It all came out good...the ice cream cake with the brownie base was a little soft.  It would have been better if I had made it the night before.  The presentation wasn't the best...but it tasted good:)

Yesterday we went to a pond with our friends.  It was a lot of fun...until we lost Peter for five minutes.  He had been sitting with a snack at the picnic table.  I was starting to pack up and Jay was chatting with our friends.  Peter must have seen that we weren't paying close attention to us and walked away.

We all spread out to look for him.  It was a hot day and very busy.  Our friend's son spotted him first walking around.  He was chewing something that wasn't his snack so he must have taken food off of some other family's picnic table.  A modern day Goldilocks!

We finished packing up and went home after that!  Peter is so much better than he used to be, but is still challenging out in public.  We were both right there when he wandered off...but Peter is quick and quiet!  Like Jay said when we were talking about it last night, the problem was that we both relaxed for a minute.

Thankfully, nothing bad happened and it was a good reminder that, in public, Peter needs constant contact.  Hard fact....but that's just where he's at.

I only half-jokingly said we should color his hair when we go out in a public place like that next time.  (In case you're wondering, we don't do big outings often because it is SO much energy to keep Peter and Luke safe!)   But it would be easier to find a kid with bright colored hair in the crowd!  You know, like that Halloween spray paint!?!

Sometimes it's just really hard to be a parent to a special needs child....especially when we have two other little children that need close supervision, too.(Thankfully, Kate's not moving around much yet, but next summer it will be a completely different story!)

Hindsight is 20/20 and it's a reminder that bringing someone along to help with Peter would have been a good idea yesterday.  Especially since the girls and Jon and Mike weren't with us.  We only had Andrew, who was helping a lot with Luke.  It's just where we are at right now with our family.  If Jay and I want to actually have a conversation with our friends, we need extra back-up.  Even though we took turns with Peter and/or Luke, it still wasn't enough if we don't have our own family back-up structure present.

Lesson learned!