Monday, December 31, 2012

2012...

Well, I can't say I spent 2012 blogging, but so very much happened this year. So many blessings. If you have known me for any amount of time whatsoever, you know that I LOVE the holidays. They make me all mushy and in love with life. My inner teacher comes screaming out and I end up with projects and fun things for everyone to do. Beginning with the feast of St. Nicholas and straight on through New Years I tend to find love everywhere I look.

I don't know what it is about Christmastime that I love so much. Mass makes me weepy, the thought of Mary welcoming her newborn Son, knowing somewhere in her heart that He is not meant just for her, but for all, and that it will not be easy. Every song sung makes me cry. I have gotten used to it, but my kids still shoot me weird looks when I cry through a Mass. I'm a weirdo, what can I say? The gravity, and levity and enormity of it all settles on my heart during Mass and makes me cry.

2012 brought with it an enormous amount of healing in the arrival of my Sweet Priscilla Grace. I know how this will sound to any of my children reading this, but she is special. She was sent to heal my heart. She is a promise from the Lord. I could see her so clearly before she was even conceived. I am so very, very grateful for her. I hope that my children who may read this understand it as I mean it. I love every single one of them. I love them all so very much and each one, individually, has been the absolute best thing to ever happen to me. I have had the time of my life with these kids. Gosh, all I ever wanted was to live in a little house with a wonderful husband and revel in the joy of lots and lots of babies. How blessed I have been to have been given exactly what I have always wanted.

2012 also brought with it some changes in work schedules and duties and while that is still just changing and really getting under way, I am so thrilled to be working in a position that I truly think will give the company the best I have to offer, and that I have work to do for which I truly think I am suited. What a blessing, to feel as though you have something to offer! A new schedule means that I am now in the office 2 days a week, which has been a challenge. But, working in the office so much has also meant that I have not had to try and stay up until 2am trying to get things done. That has been such a blessing with a newborn!

This year has also brought changes for our older girls. Megan graduated from her cosmetology program and got a job three hours away. She moved out and left me here. I miss her so much, but she has been able to come home a good bit. I am so proud of her for making her own way in the world, and hope she really makes wonderful friends and has a wonderful time in her youth, before she becomes a wife and a mother someday.

Elizabeth graduated with a degree in education and will be doing her student teaching this spring. From there, we don't know yet where the future will take her, but  I am proud of her for getting through school  - something not everyone manages, and I know she will be a great teacher someday!

My little Luke, like me, is so glad that Christmas isn't really over yet. We celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, and will continue to make merry until then, when the children will open their stockings (again) and find three small gifts, and we will take everything down and put it away until next year. For now though, we will gather with family and friends, and make the most of what the season has to offer. It's not over yet! Merry Christmas and Happy, Blessed New Year to you all!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Priscilla Grace at 6 Weeks...

 This little baby is just so special. I am overwhelmed with love for her, which is not too surprising, as I really love little babies, especially my little babies. But she feels special. She was born after a devastating loss, and I think I treasure her so much more because of that. Her pregnancy was perfect, even though I was "elderly multi-gravida" - old lady who has had lots of babies, and even though I was at risk for gestational diabetes. I never developed it, thankfully.
 Priscilla Grace has been blessed by everyone. We have been given so many gifts for her, and as a 10th child - that never ceases to amaze me. She has been welcomed by our church and family, but even strangers, upon hearing that she is number 10, declare her a blessing. I think our world is changing, just a little. I honestly think that people are starting to soften their hearts where babies and children are concerned. In the early years of my motherhood, when I would run around town with just 5 or 6 little ones in tow, I would get dirty looks and even nasty comments. These days, dirty looks and nasty comments seem to be far, far outweighed by delighted surprise and amazement, with a good dose of oohing and aahhing over her obvious beauty and lovely demeanor. Okay, I might be a little biased, but I do get plenty of ooohs and aahhs over her!

These photos were taken when she was 6 weeks old. She is now 12 weeks old, and I have been having the time of my life with her. Her brothers love her, her sisters absolutely adore her, and I dare say her big sister Megan wishes she could take her home. A tenth child is the opposite of a burden. She is pure love, pure blessing. I am so very thankful God saw fit to send this precious little girl to us.

Need vs. Want...

This one has been keeping my brain busy for a while now. We have 10 kids running around this house. Granted, one has flown the coop, but she comes home pretty regularly. We live in an 1800 square foot house. One bathroom is down for the count until we find the funds to get it fixed. Frustrating for sure, BUT. We have a house. It has indoor plumbing. All of our children are warm and clothed and fed. They need nothing, really.

So, my dilemma. Our house does not function for us well. It is crowded and people can't get into the restroom when they need to. There is no where we can all sit down together. Like, at all. We just don't fit. Do I have the right to want something more, when we have so much and many others have nothing? I whine about the plumbing and the lack of space. But do we really NEED more space or do I just WANT more space? Is it greedy to want more when we have what we have? Or is it perfectly acceptable to wish for enough space that my family can all watch a movie together?

I'm an American, but I am Catholic first. So which side of me is being served by staying in a home that is too small for our family by American standards, but is more than adequate and downright luxurious by other standards? Even in America we have more than many, maybe even more than most. I just can't figure out what I should be wishing and praying about in regards to this house. That I can figure out how to make it work? That we find the nearly unimaginable means to buy a bigger home? Or that I find enough grace to quit whining and appreciate what I do have?

I don't know what the right thing is. My kids get annoyed that there is pretty much zero privacy here, as we all shower in the basement. But then my mind flashes to pictures of starving children and homeless people, and I know we are blessed to have that shower in the basement and the bread in the cupboard.

If I pray for a way to buy a bigger home, will God be angry at my greed? My lack of appreciation for what He has already given? Or will He understand that right here, in this time and place, far from work and family, in a too small house, spending nearly $800 a month on gasoline, that a bigger house, closer to work is a need, as much as a want? Because I am here, in America. I do need to work, as does my husband. We do have 10 children, by the grace of His will. Is it okay to pray that we find a way to buy a home that better suites our needs, or is it just plain greedy?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blooming...

As I sit here, with a newborn baby, my oldest is preparing to leave the nest. Tomorrow morning she is packing up her car and moving three hours away for a job, her own space, and yes, a boy.
I am so very, very proud of her for getting the skills she wanted and pursuing a career that really is just. so. her. But I am so sad she is leaving.

When she was little we called her Meggie Boomer because every time she fell down, we all said "BOOM!". By "we all" I mean me, my siblings (three of 'em) and my parents. She grew up in a household where she was the loved and adored granddaughter and niece for her first four years. As she grew, and fell less often, we would say she was blooming, and from that she got the nickname "Bloomer", which has stuck ever since. I think it is such an appropriate nickname for this girl, now a young woman who has bloomed so much. I know it is only right that she outgrow the crank and angst of her teens, but she has blossomed into a bright, lovely young woman. She graduated cosmetology school in August and set about finding a job, and has recently secured one - in far off Findlay. Our area just really doesn't have a whole lot to offer right now, and she is thankful for the job.

I just can't believe she won't be here for our nightly powwows, she and her sisters all piled into my bed or on the couch together, quoting movies and singing silly songs. Giving make up and hair tips or comparing false eyelashes (they are a really girly bunch). I can't believe she'll be three hours away, living with some girl I have never met. I hope they like one another.

I can't fathom that I won't find her oatmeal dishes or diet coke cans on the table beside "her seat" every morning because despite yells and threats, she never puts her dishes in the dishwasher or throws her cans away.

The first time she left home, to move to college, she was only 45 minutes away and it was too soon for both of us. She was home a semester later, though still attending classes. Dorm life just wasn't for her...or me. I only called her three times a day for six weeks. After that I was able to cut back to just once or twice a day.

This girl has had my heart since long before I laid eyes on her. She makes me SO MAD, but I love her so much. She was the first person I ever really fell head over heels for. I have since done that time and again, but she was the first. My first baby. My first reason to not be selfish. My reason to get an education. My reason to exist for a while there. We made it through some rough stuff together, and I am so thankful for her. She have me a different life than the one I thought I would have. I thought I would move out with my sister into an apartment we would decorate with posters and fun pillows. Live there until we each met the man of our dreams and got married in lovely, somewhat splashy weddings. Instead, because of her, I met a single dad who knew when his daughter's pants needed sewing and did it. I met the man who has kept my heart beating on so many occassions and still, eightteen years later makes it race.

Because of her  I had to grow up pretty fast, but I loved every minute of her, every second of her and have never regretted any of it. I hope she now gets to go do the things I never got to, and loves every second, and then gets to do the things I love the most in the world, becoming a wife and a mama. Good luck, my beautiful girl. You are always in my prayers, and we will always be your safe place to land should you ever need it. I love you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weird...

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day we lost the twins. It doesn't feel like it was a year ago already,  kind of expected my post partum depression to be twice as bad, because I was lost the twins in October, and was pregnant again by December. I am thankful that it really hasn't materialized yet. I have been weepy today, but that doesn't surprise me. I get weepy at the thought of those little boys, even a year out. It's just sort of a weird place to be. I am so, so thrilled that I have my Priscilla Grace, and and thankful for her healthy pregnancy and successful VBAC. At the same time, I think that if we had had our twins, I wouldn't even be pregnant with her. I wouldn't have her at all. Maybe not ever. I know God wasn't asking me to choose, and that I don't have to choose. I have my babies in heaven, and I have my sweet Priscilla Grace, here, in my arms.

We've never even gone to see where the boys are buried. I want to, but I kind of know that will bring on a firestorm. I just don't have the energy to deal with that. I love them, and I want to think of them as the sweet babies they are, at Christ's feet, listening to the angels sing. So, tomorrow, instead of going to the cemetary, I will take my baby over to church for a while, and buy some flowers to lay at Our Lady's feet. I'll pray that George and Gabriel are watching over us, and being our own little intercessors, and that they are happy that we have Priscilla Grace. I'll tell them how much I love them, and all our babies in heaven. We have six in heaven, what a crowd to welcome me when it is my turn. God knows perhaps, that I will need babies even in heaven.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Princess Priscilla Pants...

3 weeks
My sweet lil baby weighs 10 pounds, 2 ounces. Safe to say she is a good eater. She and I have spent the last 3.5 weeks nuzzling, eating, changing and eating some more. I always love having a new baby. It is hands down my favorite thing in the world. The smell of the sweet breath, the staring into your eyes, the way she listens and then turns towards my voice. All of it bioligically programmed to make me love her, and boy o boy does it work. My heart trips every time I hear her cry, every sound she makes. Even her diapers smell good to me - what is that? She is all warm and fuzzy and new. And I am loving every single second with her. Her dad is too, we kind of duke it out at night - who gets to sleep with her in the chair...she has a little bit of reflux and trying to lay her down just makes her spit up and spit up, poor baby. So we just hold her. It's a legit reason to just hold her every second, right? I am sure I will not regret never putting her down. Totally.

2.5 weeks...
 

Just a few minutes old here...
This time around, I knew it would be extra special, because I am so very thankful she made it. Losing the twins made me fearful, and losing Yeb's twin the pregnancy before, and the other losses, all started to make it seem like perhaps childbearing wasn't a good idea for me anymore. But, God knew better. He knew my heart needed this wee tiny girl. He was so, so right. And after 4 boys in a row, I was really, really ready for another girl. I am a little ashamed at the sheer glee I felt at hearing she would be a girl, and then when we saw her, all slimy and white, but definitely a girl, I was thrilled. She was so round and soft and beautiful.

I know I said I would write her birth story, and I will, but that should be a post of it's own. It's a little long, and I want to write it down when I have a little time to think. For some reason I have few real memories of the day. Just flashes and impressions for the most part, and some of it must have been in my head, because Douglas says some of the stuff that I remember didn't even happen. Nope, no drugs (until after, because I thought I heard the doc say something he didn't say). Just foggy memory.

In the meantime, I am sorry for the lack of posts - I am OLD, people. Pregnancy kicked my behind this time around. And Miss Priscilla Princess Pants likes to eat at night - as in, all night, so I am running on very little sleep. Not that that is an excuse for not posting. Maybe sleep deprived posts are better than no posts, but they should at least be coherent.

Before I go, though, I have to say that people never cease to amaze me. Here we are on Baby #10, and so many people brought meals, and gifts and sent cards. We feel so blessed. I have heard lots of moms say that people just don't bother after baby #2 or #3.  Our little Priscilla has been welcomed by so many, and we really appreciate all the love and welcome.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Priscilla Grace's Birth Announcement




 
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I know it's been a long, long time. Pregnancy got the best of me this time around. I don't think it has anything to do with being 41 and having nine other kids or anything, though!
So, we have our sweet Priscilla, and she is heaven. I am just doing the sitting, soaking and nursing thing. Enjoying every second. She was an eventful birth, for me at least. More to come on that, and why I am still convinced you should never induce unless it is an emergency! For now, here is the announcement of our beautiful, sweet Priscilla Grace. Love to all!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things...

At 41 years old, I have never really bought "stuff" for myself. At least, not since I was a babysitting teenager with extra cash. I have always sort of thought that skincare and beauty items were sort of silly, and made do with Suave and Ivory soap.

Last year, when I turned 40, I gave myself permission to buy Dove soap. My mom and grandmother have always used it and the smell evokes lovely memories of both ladies. I LOVED it.  I still bought Ivory for the rest of the family, and kept my Dove all to myself...seemed a little greedy until I realized I was buying Doug the shampoo, soap and toothpaste he requested, the girls all bought the products they wanted, and I was buying special shampoo and lotion for the little guys. And honestly, the big boys just don't care what's in the shower...I am pretty sure they use the first bottle of whatever is handy. So, I bought Dove and suddenly my skin wasn't itchy all the time. I went all winter without the winter itchy, dry skin I usually have, even though I am a big lotion applier. Happy with my purchase, but soon started seeing little white marks on my face  - my sister said to switch soaps as Dove has moisturizers in it that were creating the bumps. So, while I use it for the bath, I don't for my face...

Soon after that I was invited to an Arbonne party. I was super skeptical because the price tag was pretty darn high, but after hearing how their products were made, with all natural ingredients, like for real, not just for talk, and how they were Ph balanced, we decided to give some of the products a try.

The first set we bought was for my 15 year old daughter. She has had extremely bad acne, and nothing helped. Not the prescriptions from the dermatologist, not ProActive, nothing over the counter. Nothing. Within a month of using the Arbonne Clear Advantage line her skin was 100% better, and the scars were starting to fade. We spent $68 on the whole set, and then repurchased 6 weeks later because it was working so well. Money well spent, considering how much we had spent on doctors, ordering products, and the drugstore...

As for me, I at first only let myself have one product... the RE9 Advanced Facial Smoothing Cleanser. Within 3 weeks all those annoying white bumps started clearing away, and some that I had assumed were from aging or whatever stared to disappear. I decided to have an Arbonne party of my own so that I could order more stuff, I was that tickled. In the end, I am not sure if it is just buying quality products, or Arbonne itself (though my mom has given me Clinique as a gift several times in the past, and I couldn't use it...too harsh, leaving me with dry, tight skin), but I have been thrilled with the results. I honestly don't think I have ever looked better. My skin has been almost entirely clear, and even while pregnant - which is a miracle for me. I haven't had smoother, nicer skin since I was a kid.

While all this was going on, my oldest daughter was finishing up her cosmetology license. She came home and threw out all my Suave and brought me some fancy schmancy shampoo called Sebastian. Now, this stuff is pretty darn pricey, and I couldn't figure out a way to say, have a party and get a discount, but for what it does, I honestly think it is worth it...except that I have run out and can't bring myself to go buy more. She brought me shampoo, conditioner and some kind of cream in a can  - like mousse, but super soft. My hair hasn't been cooperating while pregnant - dry and all kinds of extra growth and just frizzy. Plus, I have always, always had dry scalp...this stuff cleared up all those problems. It is soft and silky now, and I haven't had the dry scalp problem at all. I thought I had dandruff - turns out good shampoo will do the trick! That, and a great little stylist who comes home to cut and color your hair for free - Thanks Megs!

New bras are something every expecting mama needs, there is almost no way to get around it. I usually buy some on the web, mostly Ebay, and hope for the best and end up with the worst. This time, my sister Dana introduced me to afreshpair.com. She ordered a bra for me that is the most comfortable, softest and best fitting I have ever owned. Apparently, it pays to know one's bra size and order a quality bra. Who knew?

Sensodyne toothpaste has been another product that has brought our family a lot of relief in the last year or so. I have super sensitive teeth, and this product as almost entirely reversed that problem. It has also helped with some enamel issues I have from too frequent brushing with too hard brushes...BUT, the best part is that there is a version without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This is the stuff that makes soaps, shampoos and toothpastes foamy. What is also does is change the chemistry in your mouth, making you 80% more prone to mouth sores and ulcers. My kids were getting them so often, and it was breaking my heart. We switched to Sensodyne, and it is very, very rare now for one of my kids to get an ulcer/canker sore. Just one time using regular toothpaste, though, and the next day they have one. If your family has this problem, I really, really recommend Sensodyne. It makes a world of difference!

Some of the little kids don't like the Sensodyne - too spicy! So I have found that the Burt's Bees kids toothpaste is a fabulous option. They love it. It is very hard to find, so if you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them!

I have never been super green, or super crunchy, but I have learned recently that a lot of the things we are putting in our bodies really do some harm. I am really enjoying the more natural Arbonne products, as well as the results I am seeing for my whole family through a more natural approach to skin, hair and teeth care. What are some of your favorite, more natural products? I am especially wanting to find some baby skin care products...Arbonne does have infant products, but they are again, pricey. Do you know a less expensive, but equally good option? Anyone use Burt's Bees?

But you know what else? I have been really enjoying letting myself have some of the products that make me feel a little pampered, and pretty and just smell good. At 41, I need all the help I can get. I was also able to buy some cute maternity clothes this time...justifying the expense by selling some of my youngest daughter's clothes on Ebay. It is amazing the difference cute clothes, nice skin and hair care, and some good make up can make in one's self esteem. I can honestly say that I have felt about as cute and pretty as a 41 year old, chubby, pregnant lady can possibly feel...and that's pretty darn great! Kinda wish I had let myself do it sooner...And ya know what? My husband has been so thrilled to see me in decent clothes and looking good - poor guy. He has wanted me to do this for years, and I just never could bring myself to spend the money. So, he would go out and buy me things...and I would return them. This time, I just did it. And I have been really glad I did - so mamas - do you let yourself have some things...clothes and make up? Or do you just keep skipping yourself in favor of the kids and the house and the..... ?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Savoring....And getting ready...

I love being pregnant. Even in the heat. Even being huge. I just love it. Never do I feel so closely connected to Our Creator, as when I am pregnant. At night I climb into my bed and pull up my shirt so I can watch my sweet baby dance around in my belly. If I sit just right, she gets moving. Oh, I love her so already. She squirms and wiggles away whenever anyone tries to feel her move, especially her dad, with his big, heavy hands. He lays one across my belly as he falls asleep. The closer to sleep he gets, the heavier his hand becomes, and the more scooting this sweet baby does. This nightly ritual is one we have repeated with every single baby. It's his time to get to know his child a little, and for us to revel in this miracle...this gift that God has chosen to give us.

Kenzie and Liz went to Adoration late last night to pray for their grandmother. She is in the ICU at the hospital after recently undergoing a quadruple bypass surgery. Please keep her in your prayers, as she is not recovering as quickly as the doctors seem to think she should and her husband, one of my favorite people on earth, is getting very tired.

Anyway, my Kenzie brought this lovely prayer card home for me. It sums up exactly how I feel about pregnancy. I feel blessed and loved by my Creator. So, I am savoring what will most likely, and should be my last pregnancy. The doctor has made it abundantly clear that this is no longer a great idea, for me or for my babies. My own body has made that clear, as we have lost 6 sweet babies, who now wait for us and watch over us from heaven. This pregnancy has gone very, very well. I hate to worry about the other shoe dropping, and I try not to be anxious. The anxiety of earlier in the summer seems to be dropping away, of course just now getting into my groove and will have to change it all up again as school draws ever closer (NO!).

So being a planner and a list maker in the extreme (I don't really like surprises, especially the ones that come from being unplanned or ill prepared!), I have begun getting ready for this little girl. I of course have shopped, but not to an extreme extent. I have some things, and still need to get some things, but the most important thing is the list, yes? I have several lists, a To-Do, a To-Buy and a To-Aquire-One-Way-Or-Another. ha!
To-Do
1.Get out the car seat, clean it
2.Get out the downstairs bassinet, clean and paint it
3.Get bassinet bedding out, clean it
4.Get 1st round of baby clothes out, wash
5.Get baby swing out, clean it
6.Get crib and bedding out, clean both
7.Create/find a place to keep her stuff

To-Buy - Most fun list ever! And really almost as much fun as folding tiny clothes...
1.Barfies!
2.Socks - just a few
3.Newborn diapers
4.Blankets - just a very few
5.Bins or baskets for on my dresser to keep her tiny things in
6.Baby leg warmers, just because the whole onesie, leg warmer combo baby trend is KILLING ME with the cute!
7.Onesies - though, I need to recheck this because I keep buying more, thinking, "I need onesies!'
8.Yummy smelling baby bath and lotion
9.Dreft!


When Doug and I did our fun, "It's a Girl!" Gymboree happy dance, I earned $50 in Gymbucks, which I happily used today. One of my favorite purchases was a set of three matching 'Big Brother' t-shirts for my littlest guys to wear to the hospital to come meet their sister. They will love that, but I don't have anything for my other kids. We don't usually bother, as they are fairly used to having new siblings come along, but this time, I just want to celebrate. I want to welcome this baby girl, and be excited and have the kids be excited. I feel so blessed to be having her after we lost our little boys, that I just feel like celebrating a bit more than we usually do. Any suggestions for a 12 year old girl, an almost 10 year old boy and a couple of teenagers? The teenagers are going to be the godparents, so I kind of feel like my Kenzie would like some small charm with hers and the baby's birthstones? My 12 year old will share the same birthstone, so I may do something along those lines for her, too. Even the big girls have charm bracelets - it might be a nice way to commemorate the birth of what will probably be their youngest sibling, 22 and 21 years younger than they are! My boys are harder...maybe some goofy t-shirt will be best for them, too. Maybe something along the lines of "I don't do diapers" or "I am the brother, not the babysitter!" - Hey, I am open to suggestions and obviously need them!

To-Aquire-One Way-OrAnother  - Really just means borrowing back things I have leant out, or straight up borrowing from a sibling...
1.Probably some socks, blankets, onesies
2.Very cool Vera Bradley diaper bag that no one but me seems to like
3. JJ Cole Cuddle Me Car Seat cover
4.Whatever else I decide I MUST have  - one of the girls will have, I am sure - like a bassinet for upstairs -

So we are heading into the full swing of getting ready for a baby. I love being in the full swing of getting ready for a baby. I love folding the clothes and sniffing the Dreft and Baby Magic. I love packing the tiny things she will wear home from the hospital. What I don't love is knowing that it's almost over. This magical time is coming to and end. Yes, I know having her here will be amazing...there is NOTHING in the world I love more than a newborn. Flat out, no holds barred, nothing better in the world. Followed closely by toddlerhood. OOh, the sweet magic of toddlerhood! I love that, too. But, this cherished state of being pregnant, holding hands with God, is not something I take lightly, and am so thrilled to have this last time. I intend to savor every single second...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Little Joys...

Today was full of little joys. I got to go shopping with my Kenzie Rosie. We had Starbucks, went to Target, and didn't spend much money. Always good. We went to Sam's Club, mostly on errands, and I watched as sales guys, several of them, made comments to my Kenzie as we walked by. Now, while the mama isn't particularly thrilled with young men making eyes at her daughter, the other part of me knows that these smiles and comments will give her a nice little boost in the self esteem area, and what 15 year old girl couldn't use that? So, I pretend not to notice...and let her have her little  moments without giving them the evil mama eye or anything.

Feeling the heat beating down is a joy of it's own. This summer has been so fantastic, lots of swimming, lots of sunshine. It has been a very summery summer so far, and for that I am grateful. I am not a fan of the snow and cold, but a big lover of long, long days and warm sunshine. Even pregnant, I would take this heat over the cold any day. It has been really fun so far. I think my kids have been swimming more so far this year than they got to the whole summer last year!

We went to a graduation party of a young lady our family has known since she was wee small. Getting to see her accomplishments and hear her plans was a joy. It was also fun just to see so many familiar faces! Getting to talk to other mothers, especially homeschooling mamas, with many children, always lifts my spirits, especially when one of those mamas is having similar experiences in the home, with grown children returning home, etc. and feeling much the way I do about it...it helps me to not feel so mean about it all.

Tomorrow will be filled with laundry and cleaning and maybe something fun for the kids, but Doug will be home, and I am hoping to see his face for more than 30 seconds, and that will be a joy. I miss that guy. We have been running in opposite directions since summer started and that is never easy for us. We are buddies. We kinda like each other, so the whole working opposite schedules a couple days a week, along with swimming, dance, library programs, and the whole summer thing, we never really see each other. I know that hoping for a date night is asking too much, but it would be great! Maybe next week, as we are both taking some much needed vacation time.

Planning pink items and making small purchases for this little baby is such a joy that I want to really remember and savor it. I feel like I have waited a long time for her. The loss of the little twins last fall has made this pregnancy scarier, but all the sweeter. I ask them to pray for their sister all the time, for her health and safe arrival. I talk to them, and knowing that I have these sweet babies waiting for me in heaven is a strange sort of joy. I am still so, so sad about the loss of them, that the mere mention still brings tears. I have nightmares that I can't find them, or this new baby. That they are just lost. But, I know they are not. We ask God to keep them safe for us every night. We know they are waiting. My subconscious has a hard time remembering, that's all.

So, I plan little things to buy or find, and I savor all the sweet thoughts of a wee brand new baby. I watch her move and kick, and find joy in all of it. I know that so far, she is healthy and strong. We are blessed and thrilled.

The coming week will bring a lot of fun and joy, cousins coming to celebrate the 4th of July, some time off with family and friends, and I am still hoping to fit a date night in there somewhere. There are plenty of things to be joyful about, when you just take the time to look around and find them, and not get caught up in every little frustration...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Frustration...

I wish I could be a "go with the flow" kind of girl. I used to be. I even think I sort of know how to be, but I am not one, so I can't even pretend to be. I would love to be the mom that takes everything in stride, and honestly when you have so many kids, people just expect you to. But I don't. I analyze every little thing. I worry every thought and think through every worry. I have a hard time just handing things over to God.

Lately I have been having a hard time with kids coming and going in the house. I just do, and I can't pretend I don't. I have a hard time when we get a pet, when we have a new baby, even the thought of a new car makes me a little nutty. One of my babies took me a full 8 months to get used to having him around. I was in such a funk, even knocked my pretty even keeled husband out of whack for a while.

I know a lot of it is anxiety. I am not good at handling it, and have become convinced that I have some sort of hormonal imbalance that feeds into the anxiety. The last few babies have created very bad post partum depression. My last full term baby, Caleb left me with horrible voices, bad thoughts, a terrible fear that if I laid him down for even a moment, he would stop breathing. So I didn't lay him down. Ever. For weeks. The only person I trusted to make sure he kept breathing was his dad. Because if anyone is more protective than I am, it is the dad around here.

As summer approached, and I knew changes were coming, changes I don't particularly do well with, and some that knock me for a loop, I started to get frustrated with everything. Every time a child didn't immediately obey, every time there was a mess, every time some part of my schedule changed. I dislike frustration, because it makes me feel unreasonable, and I confess that a lot of my prayer life has just sort of evaporated in the midst of all of this. I was getting it back, bit by bit after we lost our little boys, but it has been slipping away. As it slips away, and others remind me to pray, I often find myself back in my teenage rebellious thoughts  - "You pray! I am done praying!" and such...and then find myself shocked to hear my own thoughts. I know this is the evil one taking advantage of my less than stable, less than peaceful mindset. At seven months pregnant, I want to be happy and cheerful and excited, and I often find I can be all of those things... with frustration one jar lid away. Having been pregnant so many times, I know that hormones do play a large part in all of this, but I feel particularly susceptible to crankiness and not at all well founded in my faith at the moment.

For me, writing it all down often helps rid my mind of this stuff, so I am hoping I can focus on what needs to be done around here, get ready for a new baby, try to get our finances, which just keep taking hit after hit under control, try not to let the politics of this country of ours rule my thoughts, and try to get God back at the center of my life, my being. I will start with praying to Our Blessed Mother, for I know she knows a mother's heart, and she is my true friend and will pray for me. I am thankful to know and love her, and know that she will take my pleas and cares to Christ for me. Honestly, I think I need a few hours in His presence. I miss Him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Banana Bread or Muffins...

My little Benjamin loves all things baked, but asks ALL the time for "nana bread". We have always made banana bread in this house. My husband is naturally thrifty, and doesn't like for anything to go to waste, so once those bananas are looking a bit brown, my Ben is counting down the days until there is enough brown on them to make his "nana bread".  Today was the day, and since the stuff is so darn yummy, I thought I would throw the recipe up here, in case you are feeling particularly banana bread-ish. Today we put the batter into muffin cups because that just makes life easier, and I can tell how much of it they are eating. Sometimes the kids whip through a loaf like it's nothing and I come to find out later that Benji ate a goodly portion of it by himself.


Banana Bread

1 ¾ Cup flour

2/3  Cup brown sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

½  tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ Cup soft butter

2 very ripe bananas (I often throw in however many I have  -the more the better!)

2 beaten eggs

2 tsp. nutmeg (I love, love, love the fresh nutmeg grated right in!)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

Oven @350*

Pam a bread pan or muffin pans~ mix 1st 5 ingredients, with a pastry blender (I used my mixer) or two knives cut butter in until you get coarse crumbs. Stir in bananas and eggs and spices until just blended.

Bake 50 minutes or so, unless you are doing muffins, then it is only like 18.

My kids gobble this up, and it makes a great breakfast on the go item if you are racing out the door- gotta be better than a poptart, right? No preservatives, and you know what's going in! I've thrown in dried cranberries, raisins, pecans, etc. All yummy! Kids' favorite is straight up - plain...enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contemplating Summer...

Summer is here, and for the first time ever we are going to die  still doing school. Kenzie, my 15 year old freshman is still at it because her online school goes until the 8th of June. The other kids are enrolled, too, but because we can set our own schedule we have always been done long before now. They are done with most subjects, but several are still muddling through Math or History or Science, whatever their least favorite/proficient subject is, mostly because of some work versus school scheduling that happened this winter. The kids that aren't done are LOSING IT. I am so, so ready to be done. I spent a nice chunk of the day deciding how we would spend our summer.

Kenzie and my Jenna will be doing a summer session of dance, which I am so happy about. The three middle guys, Kolbe, Luke and Ben will take four weeks of swim lessons at the local pool - and boy, I love that so much! It is an outdoor pool, so I get to sit for 45 blissful minutes, by myself without having to do anything or think anything, except wave when one of my little guys waves to me as he jumps off the diving board. I love the sun, the semi-solitude, and the fact that there is nothing I can do or have to do for those 45 minutes. This year, as I will be working two days a week, their dad will get to do two of the days a week, and I will get two of the days a week. That's fair, I guess.

So now, I just have to find a fun summer thing for Jonah. He is so into just being on the phone, or up messing around with Legos, I feel like I need something constructive for him. He hasn't had a class or anything in about a year. I am thinking of finding a drawing class for him. I hear rumors about a lady here in town who does drawing classes. I think I will seek her out and see if she does anything over the summer. I am also looking into getting Kolbe signed up for guitar lessons. I can't seem to ever remember to make the call during business hours. I drive myself crazy.

While we are making plans for the summer, we have also come to the conclusion that we really can't go on a vacation this year. I am so sad about it, not because of the vacation itself, but because we were going to be sharing a house with my sister and her family. We had the BEST vacation ever the last time we did that. Dana and I had so much fun. We would give the kids breakfast and do laundry every morning while the guys snoozed or played with the kids. Then we would all head to the beach where the rest of the family would be camping out. We had lunch on the beach and played all afternoon, and then headed back to the house for dinner, or whatever. We had the best time. We had planned to go before we found out about the baby. Now, between finances and the fact that vacation is planned for about a month before her due date, my husband thinks we better stay home. I know he's right, but I can't help feeling little kid disappointed.

So, with the issue of finances at hand, we are trying to come up with a reasonable budget. Right now, we get paid twice a month, basically, and our whole paycheck is gone the day we get it, paying bills. We end up really struggling just to do gas and groceries. I don't know how to budget, let alone budget for this size of family. We have always had more going out than we have coming in, month to month, so I have become an expert finagler. We tend to count on our income tax return to catch us up on bills and then live off the rest for several months. We didn't do that this year, opting instead to pay off a vehicle, which we thought would really free up a lot of money. Turns out, we really just couldn't afford that vehicle, I guess. So, now we are trying to figure out how to budget the money we do have, so that we can breathe a little easier, and hopefully get out of this house and into one a little more suited to our needs in the next year or so. Right now, that's not looking too promising.

I know some of you have many kids, how do you budget for gas and groceries? How do you get from one pay to the other? Right now, we are not making it pay check to pay check. I look at the check book and am not really sure where all the money goes. I have a bad problem of thinking a thousand dollars is more like two or three thousand, and pay bills and spend accordingly. I just tend to think it will go much further than it does.

So, with all the classes I have planned and things for this summer, I now have to figure out how to come up with the cash for all that, which means I need a budget. Any of you moms have a recommendation or plan? How do you figure out your budget? Between what we spend on gas (right now about $60 a week for my husband and $20 a week for me, about to go to $40) and groceries, we think we need $700 to get from one pay day to the next. That is being conservative, and bargaining that nothing horrible (such as a car repair or even new sneakers) happens. This pretty much means that all bills will have to come out of my husband's paycheck, and the daily expenses have to come out of mine. We are eliminating cable on Friday, and I have to find a way to cut our electric bill. (How???)

I feel like kids who are homeschooled need the "extras", and I also think that swimming lessons are a life skill. So, how do I find a way to provide these extras? Is there a way to coupon that is reasonable? I have tried from time to time, never doing better than a couple of bucks on a $200.00 bill. I don't have hours and hours a week to clip coupons. I am open to suggestions! What do you mamas do to make those dollars stretch a little more?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When Adult Children Live At Home...

Oh my. This is a sensitive topic. My husband and I are really just entering this phase. Two adult children, one moving out soon, and one who has just moved home from college until she graduates and gets a job and then who knows? I  never expected to be the bill Cosby parent who couldn't wait until the adult children moved out, but I am SOOOO there. They need to git, already. Partially because it's just time, and partly because they drive me nutso... so, I have to ask, if you have adult children living at home, what are your expectations? What are the "rules"? I'll lay out what I think is appropriate, but please, I am looking for some guidance.

I also have to add in that I have a sort of anxiety thing when they come home. It takes me weeks to acclimate to them being here. I don't particularly care for the disruption of my routine, from the bathroom time to making dinner. I just don't. Once they go, I really would rather they just stay gone. I know that sounds harsh, but having to readjust everything every few months really doesn't work for me, so I end up on edge, all grouchy and irritable, and I REALLY DISLIKE being grouchy and irritable. I don't like feeling like I being unreasonable, though to a certain extent, I know I am.

So, to lessen my anxiety, and just to instill some common courtesy, there are a few rules I think they should obey:
1. Always let me know if you are going to be home for dinner. It's just the courteous thing to do. It helps me plan. It also gives me a "warning" so I can be prepared for your arrival.
2. If you are home for a meal, pitch in and help prepare and clean up. Seriously, you are adults eating for free. Help out!
3. If you are home for a meal, and I am not, PITCH IN AND HELP! Don't leave everything to the younger kids.
4. You use sheets and towels, right? If so, please throw a load in once a week or so. On top of washing all your own laundry, of course. And, if you don't have enough to make a load, throw some of the regular wash in, just to be nice.
5. Don't come in here after you've been gone for months and demand your spot back, or try to tell the younger kids anything. You haven't been home, you lost your spot, and you don't really know how things currently work. If you mess with the kids, I am probably gonna side with them, because you don't know what you're talking about anymore.
6. Don't sit. Just don't. If you want down time in a household of this many, go find it someplace else. If you sit, you will make me angry. I might have visions of you working in some sort of  prison encampment chopping wood or busting up rock with sledge hammers, and I will continue to boil until you leave or find something to do. If you are home, be busy, find something to do. Even if it is reading a book to a small person or pretending to clean your room.
7. CLEAN YOUR ROOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!! You are too old to live in a mess. Wash your clothes and put them away, CHANGE YOUR SHEETS! Dust, sweep, generally restore order.

There are also a few requirements to living at home:
1. If you are currently enrolled full time in school, then you must have a part time job, at a minimum.
2. If it is summer you must have at LEAST a FULL time job or jobs. Whatever has you busy and earning as much cash as possible.
3. Once you graduate, if you still want to live at home, you must be employed a minimum of FULL time, and you must pay rent, to be determined when/if that day ever comes.

So, Mommas, what do you think? Is this reasonable? Is it enough? Too much? My brother would say it is not nearly tough enough, while I suspect my husband would be fine with all the kids living with us forever. I think I would deal with the comings and goings much better if these were adhered to, which right now, they are not. One kid does talk to me, letting me know what's up most of the time, and she does pitch in with dishes when she is home, and even does some driving for me, so that I don't have to go out late on Monday nights. I do know when she will be home for dinner, she just communicates with me on a regular basis. The other kid doesn't tell me anything. Comes and goes at will, and never lets me know. She has ocassionally helped with dishes. Perhaps three times in the three weeks since she has been home.. not sufficient. So, it is a work in progress. I get angry, because I honestly don't think most of this should need to be said. They should just know. If you are going to be home for dinner, let me know. If you are here, help with prep and clean up. We don't ask for much... and I should think that a little common courtesy isn't too much to ask. So....let me know your thoughts! How have you handled these issues?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Family?!....

I often wonder what family means to other people. I know they come in all shapes and sizes, and that people have their own definitions of what makes a family. What I am talking about is how you are family with your family, if you know what I mean. Are you family in name only? Do you go the extra mile? Do you forgive hurts and move past your issues with other members?

It's no secret that I love my family. My husband teases me that I love my family of origin even more than I love him. He knows how I really feel, he is the other half of my heart. He is my home, my life. My family of origin, my parents and brother and sisters? I love them, too. They make up a huge part of my life, my heart, my prayers. I would absolutely do anything in my power for any of them. And they would for me. They have. They have taken care of my children when one was sick, helped us move, and all the little things that come with being family, too.

My sister and I often butt heads. I don't know if that is because we are too alike, or too different. I suspect it is because we are often alike. We butt heads. We irritate each other. But, no matter what happens, not matter how irritated or angry we might get, we always make an effort to put it all back together. We make sure we smooth things over. We never, ever let it go on long. Why do we make this effort? Because we are sisters. We are a family. I don't care what happens, she will always be my sister.

I recognize that we were blessed to be a rather verbal family, and as such were probably given some skills to work things out. My dad taught us how to be diplomatic, reasonable, yet passionate. My mom always said to treasure your sisters and brother. She taught us to stick up for each other, no matter what. Sometimes that means even to yourself.
 

Family means putting yourself, your wants, issues and needs aside for the good of others. Family means making that extra effort, no matter what wrong has been done. Family is more important than slights, insulted egos, and even, broken hearts. Sometimes, family will be all you have in the world. Hang on to it. Cherish it. Make them more important than yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

That Different Blessing...

I still cry during Mass. I just do. I have always been emotional about Mass, but ever since we lost the babies, it has been so much ...more. This week, as I was preparing to go to communion, I was just thinking about them, about how they are now at the feet of Jesus, and I am grateful for that, and even happy for them. As I approached the altar, and looked our Deacon (transitional deacon who will be ordained - yay! - in two weeks) in the eyes, and he offered the host to me, I locked eyes with him, and started to shake. He clearly saw this, and raised the host closer, so I could take it on my tongue. I went to the cup and accepted it with shaking hands, handing it carefully back.

As I made my way back into the pew, tugging my Benjamin gently behind me, I knelt and covered my eyes, as I always do. I miss so much of Mass sometimes, tending to runny noses or noisy boys, but I always take those moments after communion to just be there, present, and offer up my Mass and communion. As soon as I covered my eyes, I started to cry. I wasn't even really sure why. I was happy. My girls shot looks over at me, and I tried to swipe away the tears, but they just kept coming. I have been wondering why my reaction to communion was so strong.

I think it finally just came to me. I always react strongly to going to communion, but now, I knew in my heart that my babies were with this Christ, and that, in meeting Him in communion, I was sharing a bit of what they got to experience all the time. These perfect, sinless, precious children got to sit at His feet. And I don't feel worthy of that...not at all. But, every time I go, I get a bit of that. I get to sit with Him for that moment in time. And I get to share in something my little ones who have gone before me get to experience all the time. To be the mother of such children is an honor. I have saints in heaven. I have children in the presence of Our Lord. We are blessed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sweet Priscilla Grace...

is a healthy baby girl! Thank the Sweet Lord. I was so scared to go in there today. Equal parts scared and excited, because I could feel her moving all around. The ultra sound tech, Katie, is the same tech who was with us when we found out about the twins. She felt so bad about that, and when I went in for a check up after it happened, she asked if she could give me a hug, and that she had not been able to stop thinking about us. She is truly a wonderful person, and I am so glad this little one is in her care! She was as thrilled to find our baby happily scooting around and healthy as we were. We feel immensely blessed. God is Good.

So, we are thrilled to introduce our sweet lil Priscilla Grace!

Priscilla is her dad's choice. I  pretty much hated it wasn't thrilled with it for a long time. Honestly, I am still working on it, but he has wanted that name for a long, long time. For a while I thought he was joking, and that as soon as I agreed he'd say - "Naw - I was just messin' with ya!" But when we found out we were having a baby I was so thrilled, I told him that if it turned out to be a girl, I would name her Priscilla. He is such a good guy, and he deserves a say, don't you think? I think I will probably call her "Gracie" or maybe Kenzie's suggestion of "Rissa". We are such a nicknaming family, she'll be 10 or 11 before she knows her real name anyway. Priscilla is also the name of a saint I have come to admire since studying the name. 

From Saints and Angels on Catholic.org

Aquila was a Jewish tentmaker. He and his wife Prisca or Priscilla were forced to leave Rome when Emperor Claudius forbade Jews to live there. They went to Corinth, where St. Paul lived with them during his stay there and may have converted them to Christianity. They accompanied Paul to Ephesus and remained there; Paul stayed with them on his third missionary journey. They then returned to Rome, where there house was also used as a church and then went back to Ephesus. They suffered martyrdom in Asia Minor, according to the Roman Martyrology but a tradition has them martyred in Rome. Their feast day is July 8th.
 
from Wikipedia
Priscilla and Aquila were a first century Christian missionary couple described in the New Testament and traditionally listed among the Seventy Disciples. They lived, worked, and traveled with the Apostle Paul, becoming his honored, much-loved friends and coworkers in Christ Jesus.[1] Priscilla and Aquila are described in the New Testament as providing a presence that strengthened the early Jesus groups. Paul was generous in his recognition and acknowledgment of his indebtedness to them.[Rom. 16:3-4] Their mutuality in ministry and their leadership can inspire members of church communities today to work together as teachers and preachers of the gospel.[1]

And Grace - well, that's my contribution to her name. I think it is the perfect compliment to Priscilla. I am actually starting to love the whole thing.

So, we saw the best ultrasound we have ever seen - brand new machine - and saw all four chambers of the heart, her little brain, kidneys, bladder, all her measurements and she looks great. As a told a friend earlier, the fact that she is a girl is just icing on a really big, happy cake. We're just so thrilled she is healthy and growing well. 

I had been teasing Douglas that if the baby was a girl I was going to make him take me straight from the doctor's office to Gymboree and buy out the store. We have not had a girl in ELEVEN years! I needed to get started on her wardrobe, because you know, she's got to look fabulous when she bosses all these boys around. And so, we went. Doug didn't try to hold me back or give me a limit or anything. He got right in there, finding all the best stuff faster than I could! I was proud. When we met, he didn't even know there were clearance racks - now he was diving into Gymboree like a pro! This is out haul - pretty impressive, right? All clearance, as we were looking for mainly Fall and Winter items, so they were 60% off, plus I had a 20% off everything coupon, plus I got $50 in Gymbucks! Seriously, that was so much fun. 17 pieces, all between 0 and 12 months...I tend to mostly dress my babies in soft, comfy items and save real clothes for Church and pictures... the occasional get together. But my, oh my - they are all so sweet and fun. We bought everything we wanted, and the total was $112. I was pretty happy with that! 


We feel so blessed and thankful for this new little one. I continue to offer prayers of thanksgiving, and continue to beg for her protection and continued health and growth.  As for the kids, the girls are thrilled to have a wee baby sister, as are the little boys. The big boys are acting all aloof, but I know they will love her when she gets here, even if she isn't a boy!




Monday, April 30, 2012

You Are Only Christian IF....

You believe that everyone is fine, no one can do any wrong, because that way you are not "judging".
You are fine with whatever choices the people in your life decide to make.
You look the other way when the people you love or care about make decisions that you think could put their soul in jeopardy, that way no one can claim you  are on a high horse, or want to meddle in others' lives, or are doing the worst thing any "Good Christian" could EVER do... judging.

I, quite frankly am tired of it. I am a Catholic Christian. Sometimes I am not all that great at being a Christian, and then I feel as though I am failing. Sometimes I judge others. Sometimes I fail to judge others' actions. Sometimes I feel like arguing a point, and other times (okay, almost never), I just want to let it go.

I am also a Karcher. With that, as some of you know, will come a politically minded soul who will argue a point to the death if necessary. Sometimes making a point overshadows touching  a heart. This is a mess I get myself into regularly. And I can argue, boy can I. As can any of my parents, brothers, sisters, cousins. It's a gift. Except when it's not. I know for a fact there are numerous friends who would slink away from our kitchen table whenever religion or politics was brought up, and that was often. There were a few who thought they could hold their own, sadly/proudly no one can shout down a Karcher when it comes to religion or politics. It might sound like this is a bad thing, or that I feel negatively about it. I don't. Really. It's a good thing. We've always been informed. We've always discussed current events and how they shape our lives. We know our issues - most especially Catholic teaching and the Right to Life issues, inside out and upside down. I kinda dare ya to start an argument with a Karcher over anything falling into one of these areas. A couple of times, with a few friends, we have had to learn new angles, leaving out religion when discussing the Right to Life issue, or learning the bible (tough for us Cradle Catholics, right?) to know what we were talking about with others, because boy o boy, you don't want to get into a theological discussion with a Protestant who knows his bible! He'll smoke you and have you for dinner! So, we've had to learn to accommodate for things here and there.

Lately the thing I have been working on the hardest is to "Keep Calm and Catholic On" (which I love and must have a sign made, by the way). I have had to remember to be charitable and kind in our discussions with those who disagree. Not surprisingly, that has been difficult for me. But, if I want to call myself a Christian, I need to behave as a Christian ought to behave. That means loving the other person, even if they are really ticking me off. Even if they are being unkind and uncharitable. Even if they seem so misguided that I don't know how to reach them, but they are acting as if I am the foolish one who is throwing judgement of others around.A great post on just what I mean from one of our Catholic Network Bloggers...

As a Christian, there are certain things we are taught are wrong right off the bat. Abortion, sex outside of marriage, homosexual acts....this list goes on, and I am sure there are those out there who will say that these are the reasons they cannot be a Christian. There are more who say that Jesus said "love everybody" and therefore, we cannot say that these acts are wrong. This one gets used A LOT. So frustrating. Jesus never said "love everybody" in the context that it means that no wrong is ever committed. I think "Love the sinner, Hate the sin" is a bit more in line with His teaching. So, in that spirit,  I  offer the following:

1. Abortion is wrong, it is killing. No, I will not tolerate the act, and I will judge it as a wrong act. I will love you, though. I will do ANYTHING I can to help. I will do ANYTHING that will help you keep your baby. If you do it anyway, I will find a way to help you heal. If you come with an open heart seeking love, I will offer it. If you come at me and say you are glad you had an abortion, and that you feel no remorse, then I will pray for you, even more.
2. I have been pondering a post called "I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay". This post basically called out Christians for being unkind to the gay people in their lives. This has caused a lot of discussion in our home. My daughters are more able to accept a person with homosexual tendencies. I think this has to do with media, the general world in which we now live. They have these messages pounded into them. It's my job to remind them that we love ALL people. In loving them, we want them to go to heaven. We are ALL called to be chaste. It's not a special commandment just for homosexual or heterosexual people. We are also called to recognize that God created a specific order for humanity. One man and one woman equals a marriage - the perfect place and situation in which to bring forth new life. Homosexuality is disordered. Now, here is where people get angry  - we all have our crosses to bear. We all have tendencies that cannot be fulfilled. It is our calling, as the children of God, to live up to His call as best we are able. If one has homosexual feelings, that is not in and of itself a sin. It is only a sin to act on those tendencies. Christians need to remember this, and if confronted with homosexuality in a loved one, remember that this person is God's child. He or she is deserving of love, and will need to discern just what God is calling them to.
3. IVF, Contraception, and all the "reproductive rights" that people seem to think they have. This one pains me so much. So many women want to control their fertility, or lack thereof. There are good, wonderful ways to do this. Natural Family Planning, Napro Technology. These are gifts that we should be taking full advantage of before coming to the conclusion that poisoning our bodies against their natural functions and making and leaving children to die in petri dishes is even an option.If we can remain calm when discussing these issues, and really make sure the other party understands what is happening when they use IVF or contraception, that innocent lives are lost, and give the alternatives, we will win more hearts. I think the mamas who want babies so badly will truly see that destroying many for the slight possibility of having one is not what the Lord intended.

There are so many issues that get people's dander up. I get mine up pretty darn quickly. Any time people are bashing the Church, usually with incorrect assumptions, I get angry. I have to remember to keep my anger in check. Try and explain the Church's teaching on different matters. I honestly believe that if people would stop and consider the reasons the Church teaches what she does on certain matters, they might let their hearts open a crack or two and see the truth behind it all. But please, don't call me brainwashed, or a sheep. You might be looking for trouble, and I might be willing to give it to you. I have honestly had my own beefs with the Church. Some have taken me years to see the right of it. Mostly because of my own stubborn head or misunderstanding.
So, please in your discourse with others, please be kind. Be Christian. Keep Calm and Catholic On.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Some Just Don't Get It...

Every time we announce a new pregnancy, we get mixed reviews. We know this, and often postpone telling certain people because of this. We are over 19 weeks now and the people at my husband's work just found out because I waddled in there yesterday on an errand. After I left he was pulled aside and asked if he was okay, if he needed to talk, as if this were some accidental tragedy.

Okay, okay, I admit it! SOME PEOPLE JUST DON'T GET IT! And for some reason, I continue to be surprised by this. We know ten is a lot. We know that most people these days don't have 10 kids. We know that most people want a boy and a girl, and consider anything more ridiculous, burdensome. (Though it seems to me that Americans ARE having more kids!) But you know what? I think maybe we know something they don't  - and if you are a regular reader of mine, I bet you know it too. Kids are a joy. A blessing. A gift. They make the world go 'round. Quite literally. We as a species, NEED kids to survive.

But, beyond the survival of the species is a basic set of principles that my husband and I follow faithfully, and have since our marriage:

1. God is the Author of Life. It is not for us to reject His gifts of life.
2. Contraception, though so very widely accepted, makes for unhappiness. More about this in a minute.
3. A man and a woman, bound together in holy matrimony are sacramental.

We as a couple have an understanding of this that is limited by our humanity, but accepted as has been taught to us by the Church and cherished it as a Gift of the Holy Spirit. As such, we know that we are to be completely open to each other, and to God's gifts. This has made for a very rich marriage. We have loved and enjoyed each other with a freedom and abandon that really can only happen in a marriage. No fears of pregnancy, no fears or rejection, no fears of a broken heart, no fears of anything other than society's lack of understanding, and that, we are used to and unafraid. Why should we be afraid when we are acting as God intended? When we know that God created us as sexual beings for a purpose, it was meant as a gift to us as man and woman, husband and wife. We are married, we have the perfect setting in which to raise children. They will be provided for in love and faith, and will grow up with knowing they are loved and wanted. Can anyone honestly tell me that any other situation would be so ideal?

As for the whole contraception mentality; it is so pervasive, that even the sweet little nun who was with us in the hospital when we lost our little twins had it wrong. She suggested to us that while children are important and good, it is "our life, too", meaning that she thought it would be appropriate to use some form of birth control. Perhaps she thought we had done our "Catholic duty" and should move on and find some way of preventing future pregnancies. You know it is disheartening when you get this from a nun, and when you know which priests you can ask to get the answer you want... I know what the answer is. The only acceptable way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence through the use of NFP, and only when the couple discerns a serious need to prevent.

Anyway, back to contraception (I know, I tend to be really stream of consciousness - it bugs me, too - sorry!) - Contraception has done so much. Damage. Contraception has taken a woman, and turned her into a toy. No longer do men need to fear getting a woman pregnant, they can use her and toss her aside. No one need know, as no baby will result. Should the contraception fail, well, they can always fall back on abortion, again, no consequences. Contraception has taken a sacred act, that for most of 2000 years has only been acceptable in society through a marriage, and made it a recreational pastime. Contraception has created, to a large degree the culture of death. If it fails, either in preventing pregnancy, or in not allowing the newly conceived baby to implant, then there is always abortion as a back up. Contraception and abortion go against all a woman was made to be.

There is just so much to this topic, and it floats in my head all the time. I feel like I never made any of the points I meant to here, small ones keep interrupting my thought process, reminding me that this kind of post is best left for after bedtime. I guess what I was getting at here, is that we have joyfully welcomed each new life. Aside from Meg, they were all intentional. Even Luke, when I was so tired, was on purpose. We know what we are getting into, and welcome it with open arms. Is our time for parenting infants nearly over? Probably, and we will cross that bridge when we come to it. But, what society at large doesn't seem to understand is that we want these kids...pregnancy doesn't just happen  - no matter what the pro-aborts would like us to think. Nearly 100% of the time it take an act of will. Nearly 100% of the time, people make the choice, and if a pregnancy results...Hallelujah! Praise God, for He has been so generous! I know and understand that many people have sex fully intending to NOT get pregnant, but when you try to divorce the act from it's purpose, you are bound to get surprised, even with contraception. It's nature people. Know it. Accept it. Embrace it in your marriage... but take it from a girl who has learned the hard way - marriage is where it is AT, people! The greatest, best, most wondrous moments await you if you save it for marriage. I promise. And the gifts that it brings will never cease to astound you.
Blessings, Friends.

By the way - great book recommendation! Adam and Eve After the Pill  - Check it out!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Twizzlers, Processed Meats and Lemonade...



At nearly 19 weeks I am in full swing with all my weird cravings. My sweet husband puts up with them, indulges them a little,  and discourages them when necessary. It's often necessary.

Meg was caramel apples and spaghetti. When I say spaghetti, I mean, three times a week, spaghetti. My mom was very patient with this, and obliged me. The rest of the family still has a hard time choking down spaghetti, over 20 years later, and a family dinner of spaghetti and meatballs never occurs where someone doesn't mention my obsession.

 Kenzie was this peanut butter ice cream that was so good, it made you wanna slap your mama (I have never used that phrase in my life, but that's how good that stuff was!)  and canned Chef Boyardee (gross - but my Grandma Karcher had just died, and it so reminded me of her).

Jonah was all about lemon pie, but my usual need for some sort of pasta left me instead with a severe aversion to anything with red sauce. Jenna was maraschino cherries and barbecued pork ribs. As I have mentioned, we live in an area where there are no stores open late. This meant that any late night cravings, such as the cherries would have to be taken care of by someone who had access to a grocery store. I actually made my sister go buy me maraschino cherries and take them to my husband's work so he could bring them home to me at the end of the night.  I have no idea why.

Ah Kolbe - the Mexican restaurants probably quivered with a mixture of fear and anticipation of a big check when I frequented them... and the cole slaw - still makes me crave it when I think about it.

Luke Christopher wanted raw green peppers and Taco Bell. Prior to this I had never eaten a raw green pepper in my life - didn't like them cooked, either. I still totally love them, though. Thanks, Lukey!

Benjamin, the little darling, had me running to Dairy Queen on a nearly daily basis for a banana cream pie blizzard. I decided that was okay because I also couldn't get enough salad. Caleb - oh my. The bridge mix addiction was BAD. Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and no longer cared what I was craving. I ate mostly salads, with enough protein to keep me from being nauseous, and BANANAS like crazy. Often accompanied by sugar free jello and peanut butter, which usually is one of my aversions.

My sweet little twins, I don't remember if I craved anything with them. I am not sure I was even paying attention to that - I was so nervous and nauseous the whole time, I don't think I had cravings. This baby however, has made his or her preferences loud and clear. This child wants meat. Not lean turkey or anything healthy. He/she wants pepperoni. And pastrami. And capicola. Kielbasa!And any other spicy processed meat you can think of. I was watching Diners, Drive Ins and Dives last night. Guy was eating an all beef hot dog topped with pastrami, sour crout, and swiss cheese. I was salivating. I had to make Doug change the channel before I sent him out (which, here would mean to a whole other town where stores stay open past 9pm) and get me the stuff to make that sandwich. Oh my...I am still thinking about it. How twisted is that, though? Processed meats? I mean, I have nothing against them ordinarily. I certainly would not say I have ever been hungry for any of them before, though.

The other very horrible craving has been apple fritters. Our grocery store makes the BEST APPLE FRITTERS IN THE WORLD. And I am in there almost daily. To my credit (ahem), I have only allowed myself to purchase them twice in nearly 19 weeks of pregnancy. And I can't eat the whole thing - they are huge. But so, so delicious. They have loads of apples and plenty of cinnamon. The outside is all crispy and the inside is all soft and wonderful. You want one now, don't you? They are so good, and I have always loved them, but I have never had dreams about them before.

I just wrote an entire post about food. I am not sure that even pregnancy is enough cause to write and entire post about food, but you will have to forgive me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The End of The School Year, and Other Matters...

I am so not the prolific blogger of late. I have a number of things I have wanted to blog about, but they are hot topics, and I just feel that others say it better sometimes, so why repeat?
For instance, the older I get, the more I hear about this so called "War on Women" the more I am convinced that the Sexual Revolution did far more harm than good. I mean, what was so wrong with the way it was? In my opinion, the Sexual Revolution was the war on women. We had it good, ladies. Really. In most cases, the husband went out into the world, earned money, did the whole protector, hunter/gatherer thing. Women stayed at home with their children, raised them up the best they could. It was a partnership. Women did certain jobs in exchange for the care, provision and protection of their husbands. In exchange they raised the children, cooked the meals and cared for the home. Ahhh. I could go on and on. So many others have. But. It boils down to a systemic problem we are now faced with...the SR lead the way for so many things. Widespread use of birth control, turning women into toys, men into boys. Which lead to widespread abortion. The killing of the innocent inconveniences so that no one had to face any consequences. The direct lack of responsibility for one's actions, the demise of respect of men for women and vice versa, the end of the traditional family for MOST of America. So many homes without a father. So many families with one mom and many fathers, most of them absent. So many divorces, so many abortions. Our nation has lost 50 million people in the last 37 years  - all to abortion. We are losing civility at a rapid rate, in my opinion largely because parents do not parent. They are too busy working or doing other things. This is weighing on my mind, but you've heard it all before, better written and much more articulate, I am sure.

We are nearing the end of the school year. I am wanting to just rush, rush, rush to completion so we can veg out for a while. We've had so many computer problems lately. So many tech issues. I just want to be done with it all for a while. I wanna play! I want just time to hang out with them, read some good books that we actually want to read, and just spend some time together. I have some younger kiddos that need fine tuning with religion, learning the rosary, and some other things I have been pushing to the side, in my rush everyday to just get through. We have re-enrolled for next year in our e-school, OHVA, and I am glad that the decision part is over. The five bigger students will do that next year, and little Benjamin will be in kindergarten, and we will stick, for the first two years, we have decided, with Mother of Divine Grace. I am still contemplating taking Luke out of OHVA and just doing MODG with him, as well. He responds so much better to the phonics and things laid out by MODG than he does with just the basics at OHVA. So, still thinking that one out.

We are most likely going to be putting our house up for sale. We are in an area of the country that is seeing a little boom due to oil and other natural resources. Lots of new folks in town, looking for housing. I think this might be just the opportunity we have been waiting for to move closer to work. We decided we would much rather put more money a house than in a gas tank! So, we have started the process of getting approved for a mortgage and finding a home. Getting this house ready may take a bit of doing. It all needs to be painted, scrubbed and just cleaned up. So much STUFFFFF everywhere! So, I am going to use it as a reason to PURGE big time! I can't wait. I am a natural purger, but my sweet Douglas is a pack rat. We'll let you know who wins!

Lastly, we have been waiting a long time to share this news, mostly because I was scared. We are expecting a baby in September. We've only told close friends and immediate family. It was hard last time having to tell our entire church, and people on facebook, and have people asking occasionally still, as they babies were due to be born at the end of March. I just didn't want to have to deal with all that if something happened. I of course know that nothing is a guarantee, and we have learned the hard way that a pregnancy doesn't always mean you get a baby - sometimes heaven does. But, since we are past the 18 week mark, and will hopefully soon be finding out who this lil one is, I thought it was a good time to spill the beans.

Every time we announce a new pregnancy we get mixed reviews - some are happy for us, my sisters and friends from church. My sweet cousin Suzy. Everyone else just sort of regards us like we are a little nuts. And that's okay. I know some people worry. I know others think we are insane. I happened to mention it the other day to someone who suggested I try a new wine he had gotten for my brother. I had been wanting to sample it. When I told him I would have to wait, as we were expecting, he just rolled his eyes and sighed. He didn't even hide it, as if I shared his exasperation. Believe me when I say I am ECSTATIC! We are so excited, and happy. And relieved and thrilled. And excited. Yes, I know my husband will be 50 this year. Yes, I know I am 41. I know we already have nine. I know that we have bills and troubles and everything else that comes from being a family. BUT, this baby is a gift. Each one of them has been a gift. I am praying for a healthy, happy baby. If that baby happens to be a girl, I think I will be delirious with joy, but if it is a boy, I will laugh, and still be over the moon.

And on the house front? Nothing new, we are still waiting on Father. I have asked three times now. I know he's busy, but how many times do you think is polite to ask before you ask someone else? I really, really want the house blessed. We'll see. I kind of think whatever is here has more to do with us than the house itself. I don't know why, or have an explanation, but it seems so to me. But, what do I know? We have been praying the St. Michael prayer, along with other prayers. We sprinkled the salt, and I have put a scapular under Kolbe's mattress. His is the only new development, and I am not sure it actually is anything. He reported the other day feeling as though someone was pushing him in his bed. That night, he fell out of his bed at 3am. Later, at 4:40am he woke me, saying he had had a very bad nightmare. I don't know that the nightmare is relevant, as it seems to be something he saw on a museum show on tv, mixed with a scary scene of an old lady sitting on the back porch on the second floor of our house. Not sure what to make of all of that. He wears a scapular as a habit, always has, and has added his crusafix. He had only taken that off because they were getting tangled up, the chain and the scapular.

So, that's the news from the Jeffery household. What's new with you?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Update on The Things That Have Gone Bump in Our Nights...

First off, thank you all for all the wonderful suggestions. I went and purchased 10 Saint Benedict medals, and placed one in every room of our house. I obtained some blessed salt from our local Catholic book store, which, I was a little shocked to find out, they keep on hand at all times for this purpose, and do not charge for it, though they are grateful for any donations. My husband and I sprinkled it in every corner of every room, closet and storage area, including the basement of our home, and at all four cornerstones outside. I spoke with our parish priest again on Sunday morning and he assured me he would be over first chance he got. I am hopeful that it will be very soon.

I admit to feeling very unsettled at the recognition of something going on either in our lives or home. As always, I took to the web to do a little research. I found several sources, all Catholic, all legitimate sources, save one that is not sanctioned by the Church, but seems to sincerely adhere to church teachings. If you want or need more information, I would suggest the following sites.



As always, do not engage any evil or spirit or anything. Just adhere to the recommendations here, made by the sweet ladies who commented. I have also been told to recite the St.Michael the Archangel prayer twice daily:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

I have also been advised to attend Mass and receive Communion regularly (we do, but need add a daily Mass. Frequent confession, and a consecration to the Blessed Mother. All powerful weapons against evil.

Please pray for our family as we take the steps to clear up/clean up our home and prayer life in hopes of making whatever this is go away.