Sunday, July 26, 2015

Feast of Saint Christopher

My husband's name is Christopher so obviously we needed to celebrate this feast day big time. And by big time I mean making his favorite dinner and baking a cake. The kids were both very excited all day Saturday since I hyped up the cake to them and made it seem as though it would all be a great big surprise. We couldn't manage a surprise because Chris needed to spend all day studying for the Virginia bar exam which he is taking this week, so we needed to schedule in the party. 

The kids had a great time helping me make the cake. By helping I mean watching me mix the batter and tasting probably handfuls of raw batter while my back was turned. They especially loved the blended butter and cream cheese for the icing which I'm sure tasted amazing since I hadn't mixed in the sugar yet. Lenny was a bit disappointed that the cake was green, though. After watching my brother and sister-in-law's baby gender reveal, he is dead set on making a cake "the color of the baby." (I just keep imagining a fleshy translucent cake full of veins.) I guess once we figure that out we'll have to bake a cake together. He wants to surprise daddy and is very upset with me for being so adamant that Chris will be coming to the doctor's appointment with me and will already know. I guess he'll have to "forget" so we can surprise him anyway. 

Chris's absolute favorite dinner is Thai chicken which I learned from a slow cooker cookbook I got as a wedding gift but now I always make it in the oven. It's ridiculously simple and so good. You mix a cup of salsa, 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and a heaping teaspoon fresh ginger. Then just pour it over chicken and bake. So good with rice and broccoli. We even had it when we did the whole 30 diet, just swapped almond butter for peanut butter and fish sauce for soy sauce. I really wish I had a picture to put here but maybe you can just imagine the rich and chunky dark red sauce on top of chicken and rice. It's just a little spicy and sooo good. I literally can't even ask Chris for dinner suggestions because he will always and forever only say Thai chicken.   

This cake was a new recipe to me; thanks, Pinterest.  I am completely obsessed with fruit flavored desserts so I was all over this key lime cake when I saw it. I just swapped the Orange juice for lemon juice cause I didn't have any. It was the bomb dot com. And since I weirdly do not have round cake pans I just made it in a large rectangle and less work for me so yay. I also added lime zest on top which was not a hit with Lenny who demanded I take off the onions before serving him a slice. 

Something about making a fuss over someone just makes days like this feel so special. We talked all day about how great daddy is and how hard he works for us and loves us. Lenny and Carolina were so excited and even though the only thing different from our regular routine was the cake, we talked it up so much that they couldn't help but feel the joy of celebrating someone you love! It's things like this that I want them to remember- the way we always did something special on feast days and asked our patron saints to pray for us and how we always celebrated each other. I'm sure they will also remember the way they drive each other crazy and how I was always forcing them to do chores and how they didn't get to see certain movies or stay out past 9 or whatever. All kids remember the negatives. I read once that it takes ten positive moments to override one negative instance. So for our kids I want the fun to outweigh the day to day, boring stuff that is the same for every family. I want them to remember how our family is different- how being Catholic is different in such a good way, that we love our faith and had fun living it out and not just on Christmas and Easter but all year long. I want to make Sunday the best day of the week and family prayer, if not fun, at least bearable. (I still remember trying to keep from falling asleep while kneeling on the cold kitchen tiles at a hard wooden chair praying the rosary right before bed. Not my fondest memory ever.) 

Kids who don't celebrate their faith grow up to be adults who lose their faith. Yeah, it's asking a lot to expect a dinner and a cake to safeguard my children's faith for life. I obviously know that it will always be between them and God, my job is just to show them how joyful living your faith can be. So I'll try. I'm basically a miserable failure so far because the cakes and fun are few and far between the frustrations and chores and bedtimes and broccoli. But hey...

Monday, June 29, 2015

When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong!

Sometimes it's hard not to wonder why being pregnant has to be so hard. Especially now that I have already carried two babies to term, my body feels like it's crapping out on me. Not yet, body! I need you to keep yourself together!

After the horrible morning sickness, my first pregnancy was a breeze. I felt good, with the exception of Braxton-Hicks, which weren't all that bad. I could bend over, jump, play, do whatever. Then with the second, I started feeling those aches and pains everyone always moans about. But still, I could live a normal life, pick up my toddler, be on my feet all day. And now with this baby I feel like I am dying, starting with my hip joints decaying and slowly spreading out over my body so that by the time I'm nine months I will be bed ridden and probably comatose. 

I have had on and off hip pains for probably ten years now because of scoliosis but it's pretty serious right now and I just want to punch my hips right off my body. I seriously cannot walk sometimes. Or sit, or lay down, or whatever. Now, it's like, I vacuumed the other night and then I couldn't roll over in bed without practically weeping. We had to switch the almost two-year-old into a toddler bed from her crib because I seriously struggle to get her in and out of there. Half the time I am limping when I walk and it looks like I'm doing the third trimester waddle when I am only 12 weeks. TWELVE. Shouldn't I technically have zero aches and pains at this point?

Hi baby! Stahp hurting meeee. Love you!

Not only that but I can feel my uterus aching. What? Like I might possibly already be feeling Braxton-Hicks. Not cool, body. Not cool. Yeah I know I don't give you enough exercise and during these past two months of morning sickenss I have been eating pure junk. But can you cut me some slack. Thanks.  

So with all of this I sometimes forget that it's all part of God's plan. He's all, girl. I got this! I got your back. And it's like a rainbow WWJD bracelet slap to the face. Loving some St. Paul today on the solemnity of his feast day, so of course I have to get my answers from this dude. He says:

The Lord said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 
Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 
(2 Corinthians, 12:9-10)

God is not weighing me down with unnecessary burdens. He is giving me a gift of His love- His strength in my weakness. Suffering is a point of contact between heaven and earth, a kiss from Jesus that molds us more closely in his image as we suffer in love as he did. 

If my goal is really to get to heaven, I need to be thankful for these aches and pains of pregnancy. Not only do I get to work with God in the creation of a human body necessarily intertwined with a human soul, but I get to take the gift of self that Jesus gives me and offer it back to Him along with my own suffering, as a perfect gift of love, because it is the gift of Him in me, and He is perfect. 

Now the hard part is reminding myself of this constantly, not wasting a minute of these nine months complaining or looking for sympathy. Not sure I am quite there yet but hey, tomorrow is a new day. Also tomorrow is the feast of the first martyrs of the church. Nothing like some people who actually died for Jesus to guilt me into getting over myself and suffering cheerfully, right? I can do it!

Relaxing on the hammock helps too :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lenny's Birth Story

I very much went into labor with Lenny, thinking, I got this. I can do this. My baby is right for my body, and the pain of labor can't kill you. (Nevermind all the rest of scary childbirth stuff that can.) Braxton-Hicks contractions were just so whatevs. Manageable, no big deal. Once I got through the deathly, horrible morning sickness, the rest of pregnancy was a breeze.

I remember thinking he would come early. Of course I was wrong. My sister planned to stay with us and coach me through labor. I forced her to come when I was only 37 weeks. It's not like she had anything better to do with her time, right? I stopped working at 38 weeks. Then the two of us gallivanted around Austin doing as much free stuff as we could, cause we were both broke as a joke, trying to walk the baby out and people watching downtown.

Labor started 5 days after my due date, around 4 in the afternoon. I had the weirdest feeling like my cervix was just stuck in the open position. I didn't know what the heck was going on. The feeling lasted all of ten minutes. MINUTES. I sat on the toilet thinking I had to pee, and asking Chris and Maria what the heck was going on, and of course they had no idea. I said, contractions don't last ten minutes, this doesn't make any sense. 

Around 30 minutes later it happened again. It was such a weird feeling and not at all like what I expected a contraction to feel like. I felt the urge to pee so I sat on the toilet again. It was just strange. This time it lasted only eight minutes. Of course we were googling "ten minute long contraction" and finding nothing and I started to get the feeling this might be real labor but I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.

Twenty minutes go by, then another contraction. This time it lasted six minutes. Fifteen minutes later, a five minute contraction. After almost two hours of this, my contractions had started coming every ten minutes, lasting about three minutes each. I called the doctor to see what was going on, she said it sounded like labor and offered no explanation for my baffled incoherent questioning about the extremely long contractions. She told me to call and then come in to the hospital when they were about 3 to 5 minutes apart.

At one point during all of this I decided I didn't want to give birth hungry so I said I wanted something "light" to eat, whatever that means. I sent Chris to Chick-Fil-A to get me some chicken noodle soup. When he came back I ate two bites and started eyeing the heck out of his nuggets, so we switched. 

Once my contractions got closer than ten minutes apart, I started really feeling them. I was standing up and swaying through contractions and thinking, wow, this really does suck. They still weren't too bad and I had full confidence in myself. The closer my contractions got, the shorter they got, until they were maybe two minutes long and five minutes apart. I didn't want to be laboring in the hospital forever so we decided we'd wait til they were four minutes apart to make the 15 minute drive to Seton Southwest. 

Once we all decided it was time to go (because I felt clueless and not at all able to make decisions by myself) Maria had to make herself a dinner to go. She was on an extremely strict diet due to food allergies. So Chris was aghast and I was laughing as she cooked herself tilapia and peas and packed it in a Tupperware to take to the hospital. 

I remember HATING the drive to the hospital. It was about 8 at night so no traffic. But I ended up having three contractions in the car and thinking it was the worst experience of my life. We had to go through the emergency room entrance and of course they put me in the wheelchair to take me to the triage room which still boggles my mind why they think forcing laboring women to sit in a wheelchair that they have no control over is a good idea. 

I got changed into a hospital gown and the nurse checked me and said I was 5 cm dilated and Maria was just about beaming saying isn't it so great you're already at a 5? And I was proud, I knew it meant things were going quickly, deep down I knew that was good especially for a first time mom. But really I wanted to curl up and die. I thought, I'm only at a 5?!? Only halfway. This is going to suck. 

We got sent over to the delivery room and the nurse forced me to lay down an wear a monitor and even though I was against all of that before going into labor, things changed. See, once I laid down on that hospital bed I was stuck. Maybe they superglued me? I got up a few times to pee but after a while I just couldn't. I couldn't walk around, I was so tense I just clenched every muscle in my body the entire time I laid there. 

Maria suggested I get up, that it would help move things along, but I felt like I would die if I tried. Chris held my hand and whispered sweet nothings to me. Maria got out the bag of tricks including a hair comb to dig into the palms of my hands and a hard ball to roll on my back. We must have read about that online? She was all set to massage me and take care of me and I told her if she put one finger on me I would snap it in half. Instead she got the workout of her life trying to hold on to the end of the bed while I pushed against her with my feet through every contraction, and pulled up on to the bed rails with all my strength. She told me afterward that she was shocked I could push that hard and she was just about dying trying not to get pushed off the bed. 

Chris said I looked calm(ish) like I was in the zone. Really I had retreated into some deep dark cave of pain and I could hardly talk or do anything. I forgot to pray, I forgot to relax, I forgot all my labor training. With each contraction I cramped up like a clam and I started repeating these words, "This doesn't hurt. This doesn't hurt. Thisdoesnthurt." until the contraction was over. Not sure why, but lying to myself seemed to really help. Thankfully no one was coming in or out of the room, the nurses just let me be alone with the lights off although they were checking up on me from the other room since they forced the monitor on me. I was also hooked up to an IV of antibiotics since I had been tested group B strep positive, and they gave me a saline solution to keep me hydrated, I guess. Which seemed unnecessary but what do I know. Also it made my skin blow up like a fat gloopy sea slug the next day. 

I kept looking at the clock thinking "wtf how has it only been ten minutes since I last checked the clock?!?" I was hopeful that Lenny would be born on April 11, the birthday of his namesake, my husband's grandfather. But midnight came and went and no baby. And then it seemed even more unbearable because I was so sure all along that I only had to tough it out til midnight and the baby would be here. But no, I'm still glued flat to a hospital bed hating everything at this point. 

Finally the pain was getting so bad and somewhat different, I wasn't sure what the deal was but I said I wanted to get checked because I thought I might be almost done dilating. I was scared to death to hear that I was at a 7 or something so I put off asking but finally we got a nurse to come in and she checked me and said I was at a ten and they would go get the doctor so I could push. What a huge relief I felt! 

Now all of a sudden this dark, calm, quiet room got flipped completely upside down. What felt like twenty people but was probably four busted all up in my room a little after 3 am flipping on the lights, moving stuff around, setting up all kinds of rolling tables and whatnot, making a ton of noise. Although, in retrospect, I think they were being as quiet as they could. My doctor came in looking tired as heck, too tired to smile but she really was trying. She said, "Are you ready to have a baby?" in the most tired voice while trying so hard to seem chipper and happy, I wanted to bust out laughing at her but I kinda had other stuff going on. And now after all the fuss they had made at this hospital about all their options, about their birthing bar and squatting stool and birthing tubs and just how I had a million options and it was all about me, they flipped down the bottom of my bed, told me to lay flat, hold my knees just about up to my ears, and PUSH. 

They literally had me pushing like it was some kind of major emergency. Give it all you got, they told me. Push harder. Harder. With each contraction there was a bouquet of heads floating around my area, looking at me with shining and expectant eyes and demanding me to PUSH. Well of course I did. I pushed hard as hell with no excuses. My doctor was "massaging" my perineum, I put it in quotes because what started as a gentle stretch bloomed into a tug of war. My sister later said the doctor was "ripping me apart" as hard as she could and was literally shaking with exertion. I did not realize any of this was happening at the time but I do remember yelling out saying "Ow wtf is that it hurts so bad!" when I kind of knew it wasn't crowning but I was a noob so I had no idea what I should feel and what I shouldn't. 

After the fact I look back and wonder what was the reason they had me pushing so hard. I literally pushed for maybe 20 minutes before Lenny was born. All vitals were good, I just don't understand the reason for all that rushing and I felt kind of lied to by this whole hospital system of doctors and nurses who were supposed to be there for me to birth naturally, my way, whom I completely trusted and in the panic of labor did whatever they told me without thinking. 

Pushing was not a relief as some people describe it to be. It was the worst pain of labor but I was glad knowing it would be over soon. I was so floored and relieved and happy once Lenny was born, after his head came out I gave one more push and his body twisted right out. He was so healthy and red and tiny like a little naked baby mouse. I was all torn up and the doctor had to give me a lot of stitches, I can only assume due to the extreme push fest I just went through, especially since Lenny was only 6 lbs and 1 oz. I guess I didn't know or didn't remember that slow pushing with proper support can help to reduce tearing but even after that I didn't even really care because I was just utterly relieved to be DONE. 

We spent some time with our sweet little son, marveling over him and how it was even possible that this human was growing inside of me. Then I got insanely hungry and all they had at the hospital at that hour was turkey and cheese sandwiches. I ate two of them and then begged for someone to go get me a big breakfast platter from McDonald's but Chris and Maria were both passed out sleeping so I just laid on the bed and tried (and failed) to sleep. Newborn babies sure do make a lot of noise breathing! Every little hiccup and breath he made had me wide awake, but somewhere in those first few hours I guess I managed to get a little sleep. 

I felt like I had literally been hit by a truck but the feeling of accomplishment and happiness I felt was overwhelming. Although, I don't feel I "became a mother" the instant he was born like some women do. For me it has been a daily renewal of learning what it means to be Lenny's mother through each stage of his life and how to grow in love each day. It is a continuing conversion to motherhood, a fire that I willingly plunge myself into everyday out of sheer love. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Hard Day

Today was a really hard day. I can only assume it's cabin fever getting to the kids because we have been without a car for months now and trapped inside because of rain this week. I don't really know for sure. But they are just off the wall with getting into stuff. 

First of all I was so tired today with being 8 weeks, I definitely have fatigue and the morning sickness going on all day doesn't give me much motivation to be an active mama. I upped the dose of unisom and b6 trying to fight off the nausea but all it did was make me tired beyond belief. I couldn't get out of bed, and had to take two naps just to make it through the day. Add pregnancy hormones to the mix and its just the perfect recipe for a horrible day. 

The worst of it all is that it's mostly Lenny getting into stuff and at 4 years old he definitely knows better. On top of that he instigates Carolina into doing bad things too. Just a few highlights of the day-

Lenny colored on the underside of the table and on the white carpet with a sharpie. I don't even know where he got it from but he knows not to touch sharpies!

At least five jumbo spills of juice, milk, and water as Lenny keeps going into the  fridge to get whatever he wants. 

Half the hand soap in the bathroom squirted out into the floor. 

Lenny gave Carolina dry erase markers that he got from the kitchen drawer and she colored all over the white table legs and chairs. And herself. 

Lenny snuck into the pantry and got a yogurt covered granola bar which I guess he decided he didn't like because he smeared and ground it into the kitchen chair. 

Also the kids went into the bedroom and squirted out some diaper cream and rubbed it on themselves. 

Normally I try to have somewhat of a sense of humor about these things but today I was just beat. Ever since I've been sick it's like the kids saw their opportunity to act out and ran with it. Especially Lenny, he normally keeps out of things he's not supposed to touch but lately he has been so disobedient. After each incident I have given him very serious talks. He knows he's not allows to get into the kitchen cabinets or fridge without asking. Just a few days ago I had to hide all the scissors because he kept getting them out and cutting up all sorts of things. Since we moved into this house the rule has been that the bedroom and bathroom doors stay closed but several times a day I find one or more wide open because he has gone in to get into something. 

Time outs, withholding privileges, whatever kinds of punishments I can come up with are not working. I know he can listen because he's done so well in the past. But this combination of his boredom and my inability to supervise everything he's doing has got some really crazy stuff going on. 

Really, I know it's mostly my fault because I'm not following him around like a hawk or taking him out to do fun stuff and get his energy out. It's just the early pregnancy sickness and fatigue that stop me from getting anything done, I can't even get dressed or do the dishes so I sure as heck can't be a "perfect mom" right now, whatever that is. I know in a few weeks or months I will be feeling better, and by then we should have a new car (hopefully) and everything will go back to the way it was. It's just the here and now that is so overwhelming and hard and makes me feel like a huge and total failure. 

There's nothing like small children to bring to light all the very worst parts of yourself that you've so successfully hidden from the world your whole life. 

Selfishness? Yeah, they will make it so obvious how selfish you are when you look up from your phone or your book or whatever me-time it is that you "deserve" and see that you have kids who need more of you. All of you. 

Anger? Kids will definitely be able to pull off multiple stunts throughout the day to make you blow your top and realize that you get frustrated too easily and react too quickly. 

Pride? Kids will make you look like a fool in public, make you wonder what other people think of you and your parenting choices, give you a flabby stomach and stretch marks and make your greatest accomplishment of raising children look like an unfulfilling circus act of changing diapers, cleaning floors, and making sandwiches.  

Kids hold up a mirror that shows you just how ugly you are inside, all the sins that you can sugar coat and explain away get magnified and you can see just how much these sins have a hold over you. We've gotten used to living out our own personal sins in socially acceptable ways. We gossip, complain, flip off other drivers, tell white lies, and at the end of the day we get to say, it's not that bad. Kids take away all our reserves. Our patience and understanding get all worn down to nothing and underneath it all is just a picture of you all naked and alone chained down by every vice you allow to have a grip on your life. 

And here I am, running on empty. The fatigue and nausea and everyday routine have left me with no reserve to keep my anger and selfishness from coming to the surface. This seems like a bad thing but really it is an opportunity to grow. The only way to fight against the sins in your life is to confront them at their very worst. When that last drop of spilled milk seems like the right time to throw in the towel, spank the crap out of everybody, and lay down and weep, that's when I can look in the mirror and see myself at my worst and fight against myself with all I've got.  And when I try, and fail, to change 100% and be the perfect person I want to be, I have the strength to say, ok. I'm not there yet. But I am a little bit closer, and that I can thank God for. 

Thank you God, for the trials and struggles that lead me to see myself for the sinner I really am so that I can turn to you for help and rely on my Savior and not on myself. You have given me the weapons of prayer and sacrifice and as long as I use them faithfully I'm sure to win the fight. Knowing this doesn't make it easy. In fact it's hard as hell. Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life because it is the most important thing I have ever done in my life. The harder it is, the more I realize that I'm never going to be able to do this own my own. But with God, all things are possible. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Baby Girl Talking

Carolina, you are too funny. You are learning to talk so well now and it is just too cute. A lot of your words start with the letter B. You say bup (cup), bore (more), bable (table), and bilk (milk). Sometimes when you get upset you throw yourself on the floor and say "uh-oh, falled." 

Every time your dad gets home from work you laugh and scream and run to the steps and yell down, "Hi Daddy! Daddy home!" You tell me "poopoo peepee" a hundred times a day and I never know if your diaper is really messy or if you just like to say so. You can say just about any word and you copy everything anyone says, especially Lenny. That must be why you love the word dinosaur so much. This morning you told me "cheetah run fast." I know that one came from Lenny. You copy everything he does because you love him so much. 

I love to hear you singing. This morning you and Lenny serenaded me with your sweet rendition of "O Happy Day" and you held your own pretty well, saying "happy day" and "Jesus wash away." You also like the theme songs to Paw Patrol and Dinosaur Train and you sing along with them whenever we go to Nana's house to watch tv. 

You love to go "side" and play. If you ever get annoyed by Lenny you start yelling "Ow! Ow!" and wait for me to come rescue you. Then you tell me "boo boo" or "hurt" and make sure I kiss you on the finger so you can go back to playing. Whenever it is naptime or bedtime, once I am done changing your diaper I ask you, "What time is it?" And you tell me, "bed bed." You go down to sleep so easily which is the biggest blessing of all time. 

What makes me laugh the most is to hear you shouting, "Whee!" whenever you are playing and when you play dinosaurs or monsters or animals you say "Roy! Roy!" for roar, which kills me every time. 

It's amazing how you went from a baby to big girl just by learning how to talk. You are definitely not a baby anymore! You narrate everything you do throughout the day and you're so content with yourself and all your abilities. You have my heart, little girl. That's for sure. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Murder Mystery

I hate being home alone at night. Last night Chris didn't get home until after 11. I tried to make good use of my alone time by going to bed at 9, but falling asleep wasn't happening. I tried to pray myself to sleep figuring the rosary would knock me out. I mean, whenever we pray a family rosary at night I pretty much have to slap myself in the face to stay awake. No such luck last night. I watched an hour long episode of the Journey Home and still I couldn't sleep. Then just as I was getting down to the serious business of telling my inner voice, "SHUT UP and let me sleep I do not want to think about remodeling or raising honey bees or moving back home or any of this cray cray so STOP talking to me," I heard some noises.

There was definitely some loud floor creaking going on in the kids' room. Maybe Lenny waking up? Carolina standing up in the crib? So I went to check on them and they were sleeping soundly. Ok, whatever, house. You're weird and please be quiet. I shut the door on them and went to lay down and heard it again. So then my inner dialogue started to get loud.

Obviously there's a murderer in their room with a knife ready to slice their little throats as soon as I fall asleep. No there's not. You're dumb.

This is why I hate being alone at night. Cause it gives all my crazy thoughts free rein to drag me down the wild path of stupid paranoid panic.

Of course I had to go back in and check on them and look in the closet, behind the door, and under the crib.

No murderer in here. Windows and doors are all locked. Aren't they? Yes, Duh.

I checked all doors and windows. All locked.

Maybe the murderer came in through an unlocked door and locked it up behind him. Nope. Dumb. Shut up brain.

I heard another creak at the bottom of the stairs.

Oh heck no I'm not going to check for no murderer down in the dark basement he can rot down there along with the spiders and roaches. Good. Cause there's no one down there. And no roaches either crybaby.

So I got in bed and tucked every inch of my body up to my neck under the blanket.

Murderers can't get me if I'm under the blanket, right? Am I a bad mother for protecting myself in here and leaving the kids to fend for themselves? I bet they're both under blankets so they're fine. Blankets can't save you. Then why does it feel so good. Go to sleeeeeeeep.

Then I finally heard the car pull in the driveway.

THANK GOD Chris is home. 

Hopefully one day when my kids read this they will understand that I am a lunatic and forgive me for my shoddy parenting and have mercy on my in my old age.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Good Life

We are sitting on the deck loving life right now. I do have a ton of things to get done inside but it can wait. I mean, hey, the completion of chores is sorely lacking on a daily basis but here we are, just as happy and healthy as we are every day, clean house or not. 

Looking down at these shabby pants is not gonna stress me out right now. I have very few wearable pants and these now have a huge rip on the knee. Which is not really my style, plus these are dressy-casual and I think the rip looks stupid. I'm mentally counting ahead wondering how long the jeggings with the giant holes around the pockets will last, too, and how long it will be before I'm wearing the same pair of pants every day. Months maybe?

I gave up stressing out about money when I was pregnant with Lenny. Still it's hard not to. When I'm staring my options in the face all I see are low rise skinny jeans that are one size too small and ratty ripped yoga pants. I'm gonna have to buy new pants soon. Simple enough, until I add it to the list of things we will need to buy soon. 

I notice every hole and rip in Chris's socks and underwear when I put the laundry away. I feel his pain when it takes him twenty-five minutes to start up our hunk of junk computer. I've been through every stage of cabin fever these past two months stuck in the house wondering when we'll be able to buy a new car. I see the kids' highwaters and tight shoes and how fast they are growing. I hear every darn scratch and scamper of these squirrels we got throwing a block party in the eaves of our house and wonder how much it will cost to get rid of them. I watch every single pair or my shoes slowly unraveling and falling apart all at the same time. I listen to the rattling noise of the garbage disposal and wonder when that, too, will fall apart. 

It doesn't matter what we buy, fix, or take care of. Once you get ahead then it's Christmas. Or you need new tires. God has seen us through every need in the past and he will continue to do so in the future. So I just let it go. When I'm finally stuck wearing the same pair of pants everyday, I will get new pants. I don't need to worry about how right now. I just need to trust. Trust that this is His plan for me. When life isn't perfect we learn that we can't control it all, that we need God to do it for us. THIS is the good life. 

And looking back, he's done an amazing job. Especially with these two gorgeous, gorgeous human beings. When it's good, it's good. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Things Lenny Says

I hate it when the kids say or do something funny and then a few days later I forget. I really want to keep a record of some of the funny things Lenny says so we'll be able to look back and laugh one day. So I'm going to start this post and keep a record of funny or memorable things Lenny says and update it whenever there's anything to add. So, here it is:


I made Lenny a quesadilla. 
Me: do you like it?
Lenny: yes, but I like the water better. 
Me: O_o

Are you going poo poo? Because that's not good because I get nervous when you go poo poo. So nervous. 

When you do bad things, your heart is a mad face, but when you do good things, your heart is a, uh, a, a good face. Right?

Lenny: Don't crosswalk in heaven?
Me: Are there crosswalks in heaven? Like, to go across the street?
Lenny: Don't crosses walk in heaven. 
Me: *blank stare*
Lenny: Like this *penguin waddles across the kitchen*

Holding a Valentine's Day card from his cousin...
This card smells like cold potatoes. 

In reference to that same cousin...
I'm kind of disappointed that Stella has dogs and they're not in a shack.

When you yawn, you have to say "Yawn bless you."

...and here are some of his recently taken photos...

Just lovely. Portraits are clearly his strong suit. 

The extreme close-up and juxtaposition of that bedsheet and arm(?) is so striking. 

I like this one!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Internet Talked Crap About My Mother and Everyone Laughed

So I saw something ugly in the world of Facebook today, thanks to BuzzFeed. This is not OK. If you are a Christian, you should not be ok with this. Heck, if you have any sense of decency at all you should not be ok with this regardless of your religion.

Um, no. I really have a pot full of No bubbling up right now. What we you thinking?? And here is the caption:

"It looks like Sassoferrato’s Virgin Mary is still having a really hard getting over her break up with Joseph after he found out she was hooking up with God in the projection room on Thursdays."


This is the kind of thing that makes me weep vomit from my eyeballs. BuzzFeed rips these from the "Art History's Burn Book" tumblr, which pairs quotes from the movie Mean Girls with classic paintings. Which really could have been funny except for the whole blasphemy part. 

The problem is, the internet is over here talking crap about my Mama Mary and I won't stand for that. Worse, we got people up in here talking down on Jesus like they are just begging to get smacked upside their head. 

Here are just a few:


Happy Grool Friday from Mean Girls Art History!


Hittin’ the crack pipe has it’s advantages. Janice Ian knew it. So does Virgin Mary apparently.

Just no.

I was speechless when I saw this. I just shook my head, stopped scrolling through the list, and went on with my day. After a while though, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I know the majority of this country has some kind of belief in Jesus. How can so many people who claim to love Him be laughing at this? You really thinking Jesus is up in heaven chillin and laughing when you (this is the part where I want to say all the bad words) CALL HIS MOTHER A WHORE?!? It literally breaks my heart just to say that. 

I understand if you are an atheist, buddhist, zoroastrian, whatever. You do not believe in Jesus and yes this whole thing is probably a joke to you. Regardless of that I still don't think it is ok to mock someone's religion but that is not really my point here. I am just so sick thinking of all the Christians who would look at this without a second thought, share it on facebook, laugh about it with their friends, go to church on sunday, and act like they are all good with God. Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer died for us. How can you make Him the butt of a joke? He suffered more that anyone ever has, because he has a perfect love for each and every one of us. He did this for you. Do you not think it breaks his heart when you mock Him? 

If I took some cheap shots at my husband like this and blasted it all over the internet for the world to see, that would not be ok. And he is not even my main squeeze. As much as he is the love of my life, I have an even greater love. Someone who calls me every day to an intimate union with him, greater than the union of a husband and a wife. Someone who desires to live and love in me. Someone who suffered and died so that I could be saved. And if I claim to love him too, I can not keep quiet when others insult him. Even if the all the internets are against me. 

Saint John Paul II said:

It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.”

Humor is a way of trying to satisfy that longing, It is something that fills our hearts so much that it spills out into laughter. We all love a good joke. It reminds us that we are alive and gives us a breath of fresh air in the monotony of our lives. But, when we make sarcastic jokes or put others down for the sake of a laugh, it is a desperate way of trying to achieve that happiness that we all dream of. By looking down on someone, we place ourselves above them. The higher we can be above others, the closer we feel like we might be to that place of happiness and satisfaction. We compromise the dignity of others for a false sense of fulfillment. Laughing at Jesus is grasping at happiness without reaching out to grasp his hand. Making fun of God is a way of stepping on him as we follow along the path to happiness. The problem is, the only true path to happiness leads straight to Him. If we keep stepping on Him, we keep passing Him by, walking in circles and never reaching a place of fulfillment. 

If you love Jesus, please don't put up with this kind of trash. Don't laugh at it, don't perpetuate it. You are better than that. 

So, please pray for whoever thought this was a good idea. And pray for me that I might be more forgiving and loving. But this is not the world I want to pass on to my kids, one where people treat the treasure of our faith as a joke and faithful people everywhere stand by and say nothing. Even if it was not ill-intentioned. Even if if everyone stands against me and says that I am overreacting and being a total hypocrite. I will never ever not have my heart broken when people do things like this. 

To be clear, I am not mad at whoever created these images. I do not hate them or harbor ill will against them. I am angry with the images themselves, but not the creator(s). If anything, I feel sorry for them. I pray for them that they might be overcome with the love of God and change the way they act and feel toward him. May we all have a conversion of heart daily for the Lord. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Kids busy at work is one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. The weather is absolutely perfect today- well, at least compared to the cold we've had for weeks now. So of course we had to venture out into the backyard, and the kids picked up their work right where they left off the last time we came out here. 

Carolina and Lenny were very busy raking and hoeing and shoveling at the dirt. Everything was covered with dry leaves and pine needles so their work was cut out for them. Then Carolina had to get started fixing up the toy car, cranking all the levers and knobs and refilling the engine and trunk with all the sticks and gum balls and leaves she could find. 

Lenny meanwhile was satisfied with the landscaping job they'd done and became immersed in some paleontology. Very serious business, indeed. He scoured the dig site for fossils and found all sorts of bones. Teeth and jawbones, petrified into stone, from all types of dinosaurs. He plans on getting them to the museum right away to clean them up and classify them. 

Lenny has quite the set-up sliding the specimens down to the shovel to be collected. 

The way they go about their "work" is so purposeful and direct. There is no wandering around wondering what to do, not like when we are stuck inside with cabin fever. There is no clinging to mama and crying and complaining. They go outside, see a job that needs to be done, and they do it. Play- the work of childhood- is the most important thing they have to do every day. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Suffering is a Gift

Grief is a process full of ups and downs. The more I open myself to love in my life, the harder this process seems. When my brother died it was the absolute hardest time of my life. I was and still am full of so many regrets. The lyrics from an Avett Brothers song struck me so hard, "Every night after and every day since, I find myself crying when the memory hits. Sometimes it knocks me down, sometimes I can just put it away." This is so true. Sometimes I would cry and cry for days, then at times I could even forget myself for a time, and then I'd remember, he's dead. And it's like someone cut the cables to my heart and it would just speed down into a bottomless abyss, and my body melted and wasted away.

The memories would all come flooding back. The phone call. The screaming. The pleading with God. All the details of every word spoken, my sister calling me while she drove about a hundred miles an hour to his house, begging me to pray, the spot where I sat on the couch in our first apartment when my mother told me over the phone that I needed to sit down, Lenny's innocent body sleeping on our bed, his wispy blonde hairs nestled between the pillows, as we packed funeral clothes in our bags. Every minute was like a wave, the realization would crash against me leaving all my senses numb, and twist my insides into knots until they burst, and leave me lifeless on the sand, only to start it all again when the next crushing wave hit me.

Every time I would feel a bit of peace or acceptance in the months following Pietro's death, a new facet of the tragedy would manifest itself to me, as so many people lost a husband, a father, a brother, a best friend, a son, a cousin and nephew and godfather, a stronghold and a resting place. Lost was the chance to live and grow in love. Lost was the chance to forgive. And the greatest horror I felt was a soul being called away from this Earth with no warning. Was he scared? Did he think he might die? Or did he think he might not be hurt too badly? Did he even see it coming at all? I wonder what he thought of in that last moment, whether he turned to regrets and clung to his life on Earth, whether he feared the judgment of God, or whether he threw himself gladly into the loving arms of Jesus. Did time stand still as he fixed his mind and gaze onto the Holy Face, or did he suffer greatly thinking of his beautiful wife and child, of the great trials they would face, as a million thoughts raced through his head?

As time goes on I know I can only trust in the infinite love of Jesus. Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “to dedicate oneself as a Victim of Love is not to be dedicated to sweetness and consolations; it is to offer oneself to all that is painful and bitter, because Love lives only by sacrifice and the more we would surrender ourselves to Love, the more we must surrender ourselves to suffering.” I think of her disposition in which she delighted to suffer and to undergo trials for the love of Christ. To surrender yourself to suffering you have to accept it, not wish it away. Still, I do wish this tragedy away. But I try to resign myself to it, knowing my deepest wishes won't change the past. The sacrifice Saint Therese speaks of involves very much the giving of our lives to God and allowing Him complete control. Whatever trials we face we must accept them gladly. Most importantly, we must endure even the small things with the same spirit knowing that it is of great value to the Lord who has given us the smallest burden to carry for the love of His Name, and thank Him for the gifts of suffering He gives us. Bearing the suffering of tragedy has great merit to the heart of Jesus, but it is the small sacrifices we make in all the little moments that collect like drops in an ocean and rise up like a great tide to purify our souls. 

All these questions and memories that haunt me, I try to give them back to Jesus and ask for His peace to fill me, to accept this cross with the greatest love I can. I ask Him to give me a love for the cross, to thank Him for the suffering in my life. All the sufferings and sadness of our lives, all the tiny deaths we die every day, stretch our hearts so much that we think they might break and we might die. But, our hearts don't break. We don't die of sadness. Our hearts stretch to their limits, and if we take that hurt and give it back to Jesus as an offering of love, he will fill us full of His love, and with each suffering that causes our hearts to stretch to the breaking point, we grow strong again from the healing balm of His love. Every trial causes your heart to stretch more than it ever has. It hurts and it seems pointless and cruel and unfair. But- the more your heart stretches the larger it grows and the greater the capacity for it to be filled. All the more thankful you should be then for every suffering that comes your way. Each one is a gift. Each hardship in your life is a gentle caress of Jesus who wants nothing more than to fill you with His love, and in His goodness He allows your heart to plunge into the lowest depths of sadness so that he might draw you up from your misery to the very heights of joy. 

As hard as it is, I thank you, Lord, for the many gifts you shower on me. The tragedies in my life. The countless times you allow me to be nothing before others, to show me how very little I really am. This world, in rejecting suffering, rejects You. Allow me then to suffer gladly so that I might never reject you. Suffering is a gift.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Time Well Wasted

These kids just crack me up! I just walked into the playroom where Carolina way playing with a puzzle. I said, do you have a horse? Apparently she hadn't realized I was in there because I scared her so bad she yelled out and jumped up like the horse was talking to her and not me. And in that same instant she looked up and saw it was me and she leaped over to me to save her from the puzzle and she laughed. Or course I was dying of laughter. 

Meanwhile Lenny is busy with his photographic endeavors, using my phone to take 100 blurry and poorly lit pictures of his toes, chin selfies, Carolina's hair bow, and several thousand up-close shots of the weave of my bed sheet. Because, "I like white." I wonder what he sees when he scrolls through the fruits of his experimentation. He takes a picture of his pillow pet, the back of it, mind you, not the face, and he says, "Oh, yeah. That's good." I'm so happy that he's creating art for his own sake and not for the approval of me or anyone else. 

Now I've been requested to take pictures of the farm animals poking through the holes of the tent, and I have to show them to Lenny for approval. He was none too happy at Carolina's little fingers trying to grab the goat and ruining the composition. 

And D.J. Mixmaster is walking around with her usual headphones around her neck, laying some sick beats by slamming toys on the table and adding in some vocals where she just repeats the words "Paw Patrol". A few high pitch screams complete the track. 

Now I'm off to make lunches and get a work out at the same time by wearing my leg weights- one slightly larger and about twelve pounds heavier than the other. Can't go into the kitchen without them tracking me down. Love them! One day they won't need to hang on me while I make lunch. One day they won't even want to. My heart. 

Sometimes when people talk about being  in the present, they act like you should forget the past and ignore the future. But you need that big picture to enjoy the now. To see your children as infants and not mourn the babies you'll never see again, but to enjoy the pleasures of your life together now as it wasn't back then. And to see your children as adults and not grieve for the childhood you'll never get back, but to be able to cherish it even more now. It's bittersweet to look at the past and future, but without it there is no present moment, and no understanding of just how precious each moment now truly is.  

It's easy to keep that big picture in mind when life with kids is cute and sweet and wonderful. Not so much when the kids make each other cry, or make me cry, or when I make them cry. But, I'm working on it. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When I Wake Up Tomorrow... house will look like this. Yes, this, and so much more:

Admitting I have a problem is step one right?

Ok. I have a problem. But I don't think I will lose any sleep over it tonight. I pretty much NEVER EVER leave a mess like this but things happen. 

So, for all you fools who think I've got it all together.
Any old time you want to send a pre-paid maid service over here, that would be great. 

Why is it that when it comes to cleaning sometimes you get so much done and other times so little, yet the very next day you are in the same sitch as usual, namely, your place looks like a huge crap. I just went though a huge ordeal of cleaning all week trying to get ahead, organizing stuff I've been meaning to get to since forever, and feeling quite accomplished and then here comes the weekend and at the end of it the house is trashed.

Things I regret:
1. The general trashiness

Things I don't regret:
1. Spending all weekend enjoying my husband and kids

There you have it. 
Although, tomorrow morning I'm gonna be blown. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Work in Progress

The other day Lenny came up to me while Carolina was having her nap and said, "Mama, I want to pray the rosary." The cuteness of his face and voice and skinny little body was just too much. Of course I wanted to weep, seeing this as some great foretelling of my son's future saintliness. 

So of course he needed to get all set up like we do whenever we pray altogether as a family. We got the old wooden rosaries down off the hooks where we keep them and lit the candle and sat down with a bowl of frozen berries for Lenny. I suspect this was the main reason for his request since I usually give him a bit of a snack after each decade to keep him from kicking Chris's glasses off his head or knocking the candle over with his wiggly body. 

I just cannot take all the cuteness. But... Sometimes I just feel like I want to lay on top of him and just hold him down until all the craziness stops. He can get really rough and he loves to snap at me, which really stings because his little comebacks and nasty remarks are all learned from the master of snarky comments- mama. He is a little mirror and everything I do whether good or bad is reflected right back at me and it can be painful to see what ugly habits I am teaching him and even though I try my best to change it's clearly a work in progress. 

But every once in a while such goodness blooms in him that it surprises me. He loves to do little things to please Chris, Carolina, and me. Like for Christmas he wrapped up his own toys to give one to each of us. He was absolutely delighted with himself. His smile lights up the whole world and although he has his moments, (what three year old doesn't?) he is such a happy boy full of such love for life. 

I pray every day to rise to the occasion of mothering my children. They deserve a saint but I'm all they've got. I believe God has a reason for it. Thank you, God. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why I Hate NFP And Why I Do It Anyway

About a year ago Chris and I took a huge leap of faith and decided God would be in charge of planning our family size and spacing. I wrote this post about our reasoning behind it. I was honestly kind of scared at first but it is a strange and wonderful kind of freedom to trust in God and believe that His plan is what's best for us. So when Carolina was 9 months old, I saw all the signs of my fertility coming back. We talked about it and decided that we didn't need to abstain any more and went for it. My peak day came and went. And three days later I got my period. I was pretty confused, considering the time between ovulating and the start of a new cycle is generally 2 weeks. So of course, I'm all, what thee H is this?!? Is it some kind of freakishly early implantation bleeding? It was very light and only lasted for a day and a half. So I considered it to be spotting and waited for my period or a positive pregnancy test. Of course I took several tests that all came out negative, because one can never be too paranoid. And then I started getting signs of ovulation again.

So, it was a period. Which means my luteal phase (time between ovulation and next period) was only three days. And after extensive rounds through the internet I learned some things. 1. A fertilized egg generally implants 7 to 9 days after the day of ovulation. 2. A luteal phase must be at least 10 days in order to achieve pregnancy. 3. A short luteal phase is commonly due to low progesterone. 4. The breastfeeding hormone prolactin directly decreases progesterone. 5. My progesterone would increase as I decreased the frequency of nursing. 6. If I became pregnant with a short luteal phase, I would get my period and miscarry before the egg had a change to implant.

First of all, I obviously had no desire to get pregnant cycle after cycle only to unwittingly miscarry God knows how many babies, just because my body started gearing up for the next cycle before the baby could make its home in my uterus. I also had no desire to wean Carolina, especially before one year, just so I could become pregnant. So, it became a waiting game. One where I had to chart. I got the fertility friend app and dutifully took my waking temperature every day and charted my fertility signs and month by month the numbers crept up. First it was 3 days. Then 6. Then 6 again, then 8, and 8, and 9... Every month I hated my stupid body for being so slow to get back to normal. I felt like I was cursed with this knowledge about my fertility and hated having to wait, and while the whole world thought we were being "responsible" and spacing our babies, I just desperately wanted another baby and even though I knew it wouldn't be too long before we could try again, it felt like the day would never come. Everyone around me with their stupid normal bodies and hyper fertility and cluelessness about the whole process of everything it takes to get pregnant was popping up pregnant left and right.

The truth is, I hate NFP. But I need it. Sometimes I question why God laid it on our hearts to trust Him in the baby making process only to show us that we need to wait. And not just to wait many months before we wind up pregnant again, but to have to physically abstain and be so careful because any slip up could mean pregnancy. And pregnancy with a short luteal phase is a certain death sentence for the baby.

Well, seven months after the return of my cycle, it happened. I hit the magic number- 10. So we knew that we could stop the waiting game and give it up to God and see what happens. I knew I was pregnant well before my period was due. I took exorbitant amounts of pregnancy tests even though I knew it was a waste of money. And each one came out with the word YES and we were so happy. I kept charting my temps every morning and I saw them go higher and higher, a sure sign that the progesterone produced in pregnancy was doing its job. I wept and laughed and thanked God and told my family and told my children and prayed for the baby and imagined life with a newborn and made the sign of the cross over my womb and cried and laughed some more. Lenny couldn't stop rubbing and kissing my stomach and saying "Baby!" and it was all too cute and perfect.

Except it wasn't. Apparently, ten was not the magic number. At four and a half weeks, my temps dropped. I didn't even stress about it because temperatures fluctuate and I knew in a day or two my temps would be high again. And then I started spotting. And panic and denial and desperate pleading became my life. And then I started bleeding. And it didn't stop for a whole week. I don't even know why I am sharing this because I just want to curl up in a hole and die and never talk to anyone ever again. Except that I hope this might bring me some healing, because I am completely broken and I need to get better. I'll never forget how I crawled into bed next to Chris in the morning, the moment I realized that the bleeding wasn't going to stop. I could barely whisper the words, "I have my period." There was nothing else I could say. And I'll never forget how my body was cracked in a million places and blood, sweat, and tears flowed out and I could barely keep myself together and Chris, trying to comfort me and himself through his breaking heart, said, "Maybe the baby will be OK" and it was like a hammer straight to my gut and all the pieces fell to the floor because that false hope hurt worse than even the realization that our baby was gone. It was like looking into a mirror, because that false hope was the ugliest part of me, and I couldn't bear to see it because I knew it was a lie.

Now when I look at my babies playing together its like I'm seeing their future and they are getting older and enjoying life but someone is missing. Their sibling belongs there with them and its kills me that there is a void there next to them that will never be filled. Even if we have other children, one unique and amazing person with immeasurable worth is gone and we will never see our child again until we die. I know our baby is in heaven and is praying for us and is so much happier than living on this Earth could ever make them feel but it still hurts so bad.

And now I look back over the months of waiting, carefully trying to avoid exactly what just happened. Why? We were so informed, so cautious, so careful. We didn't want this agony. But God gave it to us anyway. I know suffering is the path to heaven. I know this, and I don't care. I don't want this suffering. I want my baby, I want my life back, I want to be a happy puking exhausted mom to my two children and I want the fear and pain of going through labor and and I want to hold my baby in my arms and be a mother of three living, breathing, beautiful children.

I hate NFP. I did everything right. I learned everything there was to learn. I didn't want to do it, but I did. Because I needed it. And I still do, even though my body let me down, my stupid, ugly, non-functioning body that I feel so betrayed by. This is my cross and I have to learn to love it. It will take time and prayer and trust, but I know I will be able to accept this miscarriage and move on. And in the meantime I will have my baby praying for me before the throne.

I love you, sweet baby. Your daddy named you, just like he did for your older siblings. Maybe one of these days I'll get to pick a name. But when he told me the name he was thinking of for you, it broke my heart with love. We named you Wren, because you flew away from us too soon, and Karol, for Saint John Paul II. We miss you darling Wren, until we meet in eternal life. Pray for us.