Mother’s Day

When I think about what a mother is, so many thoughts come to mind. As the mother of 9, I have found that each child brings their own personality to the table. Each child has their own gifts and talents and their own needs. Each child needs a different thing from their mother. It seems pretty obvious, but where it gets tricky is when the same person (mom) has to be so many different things to so many different people. It can feel overwhelming and frustrating, exhausting and impossible. So how can any of us do this mother thing?

Firsts things first… you need to realize who a mother is. It is not necessarily the person that gave birth to you. I can tell you from my own experience, the love that I feel for every one of my kids, regardless of whether I gave birth to them or not, is real. It is deep and it is life changing. As the adoptive mother to my oldest 3 kids, I have a special place in my heart for their other mom. She has gifted me with the most precious gift, her children. This is not something that I take for granted. I don’t ever forget the part that she has played in their lives, and my own life, for that matter. I have always tried to honor that.  She was real. Her love was real… But so am I. I am their “real mom” too. The fact that I didn’t have the joy of carrying them or giving birth to them, doesn’t negate the reality of my role as their mom. They are mine and I am theirs.

Mothers can come in the shape of a grandmother, an aunt, cousin, sister or friend. Motherhood can come from a marriage, such as a step parent relationship. Mothers can be born through adoption and foster parenting. There isn’t a single definition that can accurately describe who a mother is. It is so much more than a title. The answer can be found in the heart. A mother has a special kind of heart. It grow and grows. With each child, the capacity to love is greater. It is kind of crazy.

Secondly…you can’t do this, at least not alone. Thankfully God will bless you with the grace to get through the difficult times. And their will definitely be difficult times, trust me. But you will get through it. Just pray, pray hard and hand it over to Him.  And He has seen fit to give us several examples to look toward, when we need a role model. We have the saints. So many of them were mothers that exemplified a mother’s love in an extraordinary way. St. Gianna, St. Anne, St. Monica, St. Rita and St. Elizabeth, just to name a few. And of course the Mother of us all, the Blessed Mother Mary is always there. I know that in my own life, I pray to all of them frequently. It is nice to have some Saintly backup. But thankfully, I have also been blessed with an earthly mother that has given me many of the tools that I have needed to tend to my own family.

My mom always made things beautiful. When I was growing up, my dad was a school teacher and my mom stayed home to take care of us. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was blissfully unaware of this. Our home was always clean and tidy and I remember my mom taking the extra time to make it beautiful as well. Our home wasn’t full of designer furniture, but my mom was always refinishing or repainting old furniture to give it a  unique beauty and new life. We didn’t have high threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets, but we had soft worn sheets that smelled of the outside after hanging on the line all day. To this day, that scent is one of my favorites. One of my favorite childhood memories took place one morning. I came downtairs and walked into the freshly mopped kitchen. The morning light streamed in through the window, settling on the kitchen table, catching the light of a glass vase full of freshly cut lilacs. That memory is so vivid that I can practically smell the lilacs mixing with the scent of pine sol.  This is just one example of how my mother loved to make a beautiful home for us. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have a lot of money. We had a lot of love and that gave a shine to things that can’t be bought.

I try to do the same thing in our home. I want my kids to look back and remember our house as being a warm, comfortable, safe place. I want them to remember that I always went a little overboard with Christmas decorations, but it was beautiful and made Christmas magical. I want them to remember me sitting on our porch in my rocking chair reading a book, or enjoying a glass of wine while I watched them play. I want them to think of all of us sitting around the fire pit attempting to make the perfect smore while the marshmallows catch fire.

I want them to think back and realize that even when I was angry or disciplining them, it was because I loved them. Seriously. I know that parents say that all of the time, but it is the truth. My job as a mom is to bring my kids closer to God and to teach them to not be axe murderers or jerks. Some days this is easier than others. Some days it is a challenge to not murder someone myself. But refer back to grace. Thank you God for granting me grace…and wine. Happy Mother’s Day !!

 

 

All About Aiden

What a few days for this little guy! Yesterday Aiden received his First Holy Communion. Today is his 8th birthday! He is a fuzzy blonde haired hot mess of a boy. His shoes are never tied, and his knees are always bruised. But his heart is big as his eyes are blue. (Which is really, really blue, in case you are wondering.) He is funny and weird and sweet and pretty much everything that you want in a little boy.

Yesterday, while we were sitting in the church before mass started, I could sense his excitement and his nervousness. I leaned over and whispered in his ear that he was about to receive the biggest gift that Jesus could ever give him. A grin spread across his little face and his eyes lit up. “I know mom,” he said. “It’s really cool!”And then he turned his gaze back to the altar.

DSCN5118
This was right before he stepped in a big pile of dog poop. Like I said, hot mess. 

When we came back to our pew after receiving Communion, he looked at me and whispered, “Mom, do I look more Jesusy?” More Jesusy??? Absolutely!

dscn5148.jpg
Getting Jesusy with Msgr.

We came home and had a party to celebrate his big day. The weather was beautiful and the food was plentiful. The company was great. All in all it was a wonderful day.

 

DSCN5115.JPG
Party time!

Today is his 8th birthday. I can’t believe that it has been 8 years. Remembering Aiden’s birthday is one of those bittersweet moments… The Circle of Life…My Pappy passed away on the morning of the day that I had Aiden,  at the same hospital, while I was in labor. This is his story and he asks me to tell it to him often. He seems to take comfort in knowing that he has this special link to Pappy. The other day we were in the van on the way to school and the kids were talking about his upcoming birthday. Gianna, aka the Queen of Sass, interrupted him saying, ‘Yes Aiden, we know…you are the miracle baby that brought joy and happiness to the family again. We get it! Move on!” Ok, I realize how utterly bratty she sounded. But what she said was right. Of course the sadness of losing Pappy didn’t just disappear, but there is something about holding a tiny, little, new life that can ease the pain a bit.  A new baby is full of hope and promise and a reminder that good still exists in this crazy world that we live in.  And while losing a loved one is painful and difficult and just plain old sad,  it is really difficult to hold a sweet new baby and not feel a piece of your heart stir with joy.

So it has been 8 years since we have lost my sweet Pappy, but it has also been 8 years since this blonde haired, blue eyed, freckled mess of a little boy gave me a reason to smile again and again and again.

Happy Birthday Aiden Joseph! We love you!

April Fools Day…ugh

Can I just say that I HATE, capital H HATE, April Fools Day. In this house full of imaginative and prankish boys, it is not fun. There have been cups of water precariously balanced on the tops of slightly opened doors. This has lead to all kinds of mess, including Brian needing to change his clothes once. Whoops! (That one clearly didn’t go as planned!) There was a plan to place a puddle of glue on Jake’s computer so that he would think that somebody spilled milk on it. (Thankfully the glue didn’t dry, because I am fairly certain that the retribituon would have been swift and severe. )  Noah threw a handful of cinnamon into Jake’s coffee. Unfortunately for him, he did it right in front of Jake so not only did Jake not drink it, but Noah ended up getting trouble for wasting a cup of coffee and cinnamon.

The only thing that has made today, even slightly tolerable is the fact that Jonathan is 100%  committed, but completely confused as to what a prank actually is. For instance, he taped a piece of toilet paper to Coley’s door knob. I am not really sure why he thought that would be funny, but his giggles as he told me about, clearly indicated that he was quite pleased with himself. He also put tape on our light switch and “totally got Dad!” Again, not really sure what the prank was, but he was beaming with pride. He  put a nerfgun under Aiden’s pillow and switched some of their video games into the wrong cases. (Maybe he forgot that he is the only one that can’t read?! And honestly, they never ever put their games away in the correct cases normally…sooooo, I am not seeing the prank.) He also “fake gave” Aiden a picture. I am not even sure what that means.lol

But I think that the best prank of today was pulled of by yours truly. Jonathan came into my room this morning before I had actually gootten out of bed and he was telling me about all of his jokes. I asked him, very seriously, if he had looked outside yet. He said no. I then said, “Oh! You didn’t see all of the snow?! It snowed so much that you can probably go sledding and build a snowman.” He ran to the window and looked out. He turned to me looking rather confused. “April Fools!” I shouted. A slow grin took over his little face. “Nice one Mom!” he exclaimed appreciatively. Nice one…

Lesson learned

I have so many things that I should be doing right now, things that have nothing to do with being on the computer. But…I have the house all to myself, a nice warm cup of coffee, and a thought swirling around in my head, so here I am.

Forgiveness is such a Lenten topic, you know? It is the subject of so many of the  Lenten readings. It is the subject of so many of the homilies and podcasts that I listen to. It is the subject of so many of the devotions that I read. This is not a bad thing. Forgiveness is such a gift. And it can be so, so hard.

For me, I can offer forgiveness.  It is probably the sanguine melancholic temperament that I have. I don’t like when people are stressed or upset. It really gets to me. I don’t like discord or confrontation. It unsettles me. So if someone has wronged me and offers an apology, I usually accept it, thankful that the issue is settled. However, I have a really hard time believing the reverse. It is a huge challenge for me to accept that I am forgiven. This is something that I have been working on for a LONG time. I have a difficult time remembering that my value and worth comes only from the fact that I am a child of God. I can’t do anything to make Him love me more, just as  I cannot do anything so horrible that God will not forgive me. How? How is that even possible, when we, as human beings, can just really…well… suck.

I think that I may have caught a little glimpse into this the other morning. I was running around, barking orders at the kids to hurry up and get their shoes on and eat their breakfast, brush their teeth, etc. You know, the usual morning routine of controlled chaos. I was in my room making my bed when Jonathan came in crying.  I looked at his little face and he was a mess. He was sobbing and tears were just streaming down his cheeks. This wasn’t a normal “I’m-not-getting-my-way-Noah-called-me-a-stupid-buttcheek” kind of cry. No, this was a pitiful, from the depths of his little soul, anguished cry. I am instantly thinking that something horrendous has happened, although what, I had no idea. “What is it? Jonathan, what happened?” I frantically asked him. My heart was breaking for him because he was SO UPSET. He looked at me and just kept saying, “I am sorry Mom. I am really sorry.” I just held him for a minute until I felt his ridgid little body relax against mine. I had already forgiven him. It didn’t matter what he had done, I just wanted him know that it was ok and that I loved him. How could he ever think that he could do something to change that?

Lightbulb moment… Here I am, flawed and imperfect, willing to forgive my son anything. I just want him to know how much I love him. Duh! That is just what God does for us, only so, so much better. If I, lowly human that I am, can forgive my son for I don’t even know what, how much greater is God’s ability to forgive us? His is the only truly unconditional love that there is. The heartbreak that I felt at Jonathan’s fear that he could do something, well, anything that could make me not love him, is NOTHING compared to the sorrow that God must feel when we pull away from Him. We don’t need to shy away from Him because we are embarrassed by our actions. He has already forgiven us! (And newflash, he already knows what you did. It doesn’t matter.) We need only offer to him our failings and our weaknesses and alllow Him to transform them. Allow Him to offer you forgiveness and just accept it.

You might be wondering what it actually was that had Jonathan so upset. Or maybe not, but I will tell you anyway. He was trying to be a “big boy” and made his own breakfast. He managed to get a bowl and pour the cereal and milk without any problems. But when he tried to put the, almost full, gallon of milk back onto the top shelf of the refrigerator, it slipped out of his hands. It dropped to to floor spilling everywhere and making a pretty big mess. I just chuckled as he helped me clean it up. “Are you really mad, mom?” He asked me. I smiled and said, “Nope. No sense crying over spilled milk.”

 

 

Fingerprints and Flower Petals

If you are Catholic, I am sure that you are aware of St Therese of Liseux. She is also known as the Little Flower. It is said that if you pray a novena to her, she will give you roses when she answers your prayer. I had, of course, heard stories of this happening, but it wasn’t until I was about 24 that I experienced this for myself. I am sure that many of you are aware of my family’s “story.” But I don’t know if I have ever actually written down everything. Looking back, some 17 years later, it is amazing to see, not only, God’s fingerprints all over the place, but there are also rose petals strewn about.

It all began in January of 1998. My spunky -, mama, had passed away. She was in her 80’s and had lived a long full life filled surrounded by family. She had 3 daughters, who in turn had 12 children, who then had a slew of their own kids. Needless to say, she had a bountiful life. I remember asking my mom if a family friend, Marge, was going to sing at her funeral. Marge had not only been in choir with my dad for years, but she had also been my third grade teacher. It would only be natural for her to sing at Mama’s funeral. But when I asked my mom, she said, “Didn’t I tell you about what happened to her stepson, Brian and his family?” I shook my head no as she went on to tell me about this young family, a husband and wife with 2 year old twins and a 10 month old baby. They had recently found out that they were expecting their fourth little one. They were a beautiful example of a young, faithful, Catholic family. They lived in Michigan near her family, but I vaguely remember seeing them at church once or twice when they were visiting. They stood out because the little girl had red curly hair. You don’t forget that halo of fire around her little face. This little family was dealt a tragic blow. One night when the baby woke up, Andrea didn’t go to him. Brian got up and checked on him and got the baby settled back into bed and went back to bed. He realized that his young wife wasn’t breathing properly. He dialed 911 and started CPR, but it was too late. She was gone. This story about this little family just touched me so deeply. I couldn’t imagine what this poor man was going through. And his children?! Those poor babies had lost their mother! I couldn’t get them out of my mind. I very distinctly remember being in the church at my Mama’s funeral and seeing the light stream through the windows and I just couldn’t stop myself from thinking about them. I remember asking God to heal their hearts from an unimaginable pain. I kept thinking of my Mama who had lived such a long and full life and then thinking about this young mother with babies that needed her and she was gone. I remember asking God to allow them to someday find happiness again and help this widower to find someone to raise his family with. At the time, I was happily dating my college boyfriend and was planning to marry him eventually. I had no idea what God had planned for me, but it was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Fast forward 2 years… My college sweetheart and I were no longer together. I was living in Ohio and working for nine west shoes as a manager of one of their million dollar outlet stores. I was miserable and I felt so lost. For some reason, St Therese came to mind. I was still attending mass, but not with any consistency as I should have been. I still believed in the church’s teachings, but I had grown lazy. I found myself longing for a peace that I realized I would only find in the Faith. I started to go to mass regularly and felt some of my stress and anxiety start to leave me. It was Lent and I found myself at Stations. The comfort of the old tradition touched my heart and I longed to find my Faith again… or rather find my Faith for myself. As a cradle Catholic we always went to mass and to stations, but I went because it was what we were supposed to do. Somewhere along the line, I allowed myself to make excuses for why all of that stuff didn’t really matter. Of course I loved God and obviously I was Catholic, that should be enough, right? It wasn’t enough. I was feeling drawn back to the church and back to a life that I had lost. I just couldn’t figure out what to do next. I felt nudged to turn back to my old friend St. Therese. So I started a novena. I didn’t even know what I was praying for, I just asked her to help me to figure out what I was supposed to do. A couple of days later, my mom called me and asked me if I would like to meet a guy. This guy was my third grade teachers stepson, the one who had lost his wife a couple of years ago. I have to admit that I was a little bit gun shy after my recent break up. And the idea of going out with someone that had been married and had lost his wife was rather intimidating. Let’s be real, how can you compete with a ghost? You can’t and honestly I didn’t really want to try. But my friends were very encouraging.. “Just meet the guy! It’s not like you have to marry him!” “It’s only one date. It will do you good to get back out there!” Always one to cave under peer-pressure, I told my mom that she could pass along my number, although I was secretly hoping that he wouldn’t call. But I was trying to “be open” to where God was directing me, so I figured what the heck. I was sure that it wouldn’t actually go anywhere. So a few days later, Brian called me for the first time. I remember feeling very anxious when I answered the phone, but he sounded kind of nervous too, so that helped to put me at ease. That and the fact that he had a very nice phone voice. Who could sound that nice and be an ax murderer? I am convinced that it isn’t possible. He said, “So I guess that we are supposed to go out or something? ” I laughed and said, “Yes, I guess so.” We planned to meet up the following weekend at my parent’s house. Because I was living in Ohio, I was going to head back to PA for the weekend to meet up with him. In the process of making these arrangements, I was barely aware that I had finished my novena to St. Therese that day.

The following weekend arrived and I headed to PA for our date. He was late getting to my parent’s house because he kept getting lost. Maybe not the best way to start out our date, but I was so nervous, that I didn’t mind. He finally made it to the house and after a super awkward introduction to my family, with my dad and brother looking slightly scary, we headed to Pittsburgh for dinner. I remember talking about everything from our jobs, to his kids, to religion. I remember thinking that it was so nice to spend time with a guy whose faith was so integral in his daily life. It was so refreshing and at that point in my recently renewed journey back to my faith, I was just taken with him. We joked that we felt like we got about three months worth of dates in that first evening. We are both fast talkers and there was never a lull in the conversation. At the end of the evening, he took me back to my parent’s house. When I walked in the door my sister was waiting to hear how it had gone. I looked at her and said, “I am going to marry him.” She of course laughed and shook her head, but I meant every word.

We continued to get to know one another over the next month or so through phone calls and trips back and forth between PA and Ohio. Several of our dates were with the kids. We would take them to the movies or to a park or just have a movie night at home. Later on he had made a comment at how I had seemed rather uninterested when he first showed me a picture of the kids and I just laughed. It wasn’t that I was uninterested, but rather I didn’t want to seem like some scary weirdo by letting on that it was pretty much love at first sight with them too. Looking back, it had been a few weeks into our relationship that I was struck by the fact that St. Therese had a hand in all of this. I had been talking to the kids and they kept mentioning their grandma in Michigan, Nana Rose. I assumed that her first name was Rose, but it is actually her last name. St. Therese had not answered my novena by giving me one rose or a bouquet. No, she gave me a whole family of Roses!

It became obvious that this relationship had God’s fingerprints all over it. Everything just fell into place perfectly. I was able to find a job back in PA so that I could move back in with my parents and be closer to Brian and the kids. When I realized that he felt the same way that I did, I started to say another novena to St. Therese. I wanted to make sure that we went forward with our relationship in the best way possible for the kids. It was really important to me that we handled everything right for them. I didn’t tell Brian about this novena, I was just quietly saying it on my own. During this time, he said, “You and I are going to go out for a night on the town this weekend, just you and I. I will see if I can get one of the grandparents to babysit, but I want to get all dressed up and take you to Pittsburgh for a fancy dinner.” I am never one to turn down a nice dinner out, so we decided that Saturday was the day. He arrived at my parent’s house on Saturday with a small miniature rosebush for me.( Once again, I wasn’t thinking that I had finished my novena to St. Therese that morning. I am clearly a little bit dense. ) We went to the Top of the Triangle , which was a very fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh, and had a delicious dinner. And then we decided to head up the incline to the top of Mount Washington to look down over the city. The view is beautiful up there. It was a rather warm evening and I tried to get Brian to leave his jacket in the car, because I could tell that he was uncomfortable. I had no idea that it had nothing to do with the temperature, but rather with the small box that he had in his coat pocket. There must have been a prom or something going on because there were groups of kids everywhere all dressed up getting their pictures taken. I just smiled at them, but Brian seemed kind of distressed that there were so many people around. There was finally a break in the crowds and we were looking out over the city. He was standing behind me and all of a sudden spun me around so that we were face to face. He pulled the box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. When he opened the box, he looked panicked for a minute because the ring was dangling precariously and I think that he had a vision of it flying over the cliff or something. Being the complete romantic that I am, I looked at him and yelled, “Shut Up!” (He has yet to let me live that down. )Here he is asking me to spend the rest of our lives together and I tell him to shut up. I was just in shock. I was so utterly surprised, that was the only thing that popped into my head. “Shut Up!” I just started laughing because I suddenly realized that I had finished my novena that morning and he had given me roses when he picked me up! How had I missed all of that?! I guess that I just didn’t think that everything would happen so quickly. We had only been dating for 77 days on the day that he proposed. It was insanely fast and crazy, but so, so right.

After the fact, he told me that when he had asked me to go out to dinner with him, he had no intention of proposing. In fact it wasn’t until that Thursday, 2 days before our date, that he was felt an overwhelming urge to get a ring. He said that he just kept hearing, “Get a ring. Get a ring.” And so he did…thankfully. We have talked about how we can just imagine Andrea and my mama sitting at a table in heaven, working out all of the details. My mama probably called out to St Therese to join them and told her that her granddaughter needed a husband and that Andrea’s husband and kids needed a wife and mother. I can just imagine her challenging St. Therese with the question, “What are you going to do about this?”

We have been married for over 16 years now and he is still managing to surprise me. We have been blessed to grow our little family of 5 to a little family of 11. Like all married couples we have been through many ups and downs, but we still manage to like one another. I think that it is because from the very beginning we have tried ( we don’t always succeed, but God has blessed our efforts) to keep Him at the center of it all. When things are rough, I think back to that first novena and I thank God that He listened to the prayers of His Little Flower and gave me exactly what I needed.

cropped-cropped-15622325_10155536858528906_4965223245421769631_n-e1487278705901.jpg
Christmas 2017
aaa
Our very first family portrait

Life is full of little annoyances and sometimes an angel

Have you ever had one of those times when it seems like everything is falling apart around you? I don’t mean terrible life threatening things, just a lot of annoying little things all at once. For example, our dryer is not working properly. It is making a terrible  clunking sound,which I have deduced is a bad drum roller. (Thank you youtube!) This  is a simple enough fix, however you have to run it three or four times to actually dry the clothes. I don’t know about you, but this is super annoying and our electric bill was a tiny bit outrageous last month. Add to this the fact that I can easily wash 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day and you have annoyance numero uno. We have been making bi-weekly trips to the laundromat and drying 10 loads of laundry at a time. Laundry in a house with 10 people can be overwhelming when you stay on top of it, so this has been super fun. (Note the sarcasm.)

We are really blessed to have four bathrooms in our home. This is huge since we only really had one working bathroom and one creepy, spidery half-bathroom that only sometimes worked, in the basement of our old house. Nothing annoying about four bathrooms, right? Well, not normally, but when the toilets in both of the main bathrooms won’t flush, yes that is annoying! Especially when you have little ones that do whatever in the toilet and then it just sits there for who knows how long. Super Yuck!!!Annoyance number 2.

Last Monday, Brian kissed me goodbye and left to go to work. I was surprised to see him come back in a few minutes later. “My car won’t start!” (Annoyance number 3!) He took the other car which was fine, except that it meant that Coley and Jake were going to need a ride to school too. No big deal. We can definitely manage with 2 cars. But then things started to get really interesting. On Tuesday, Jake drove Brian to work early so that he would have the car. Coley and Jake both have an 8 am class and didn’t want to chance being late by riding with the other kids and me. We left the house around 7:30. I watched Coley and Jake pull away as the other kids piled into the van. I put the key in the ignition and turned it and nothing. I mean absolutely NOTHING. Not a light, not a ding, not a thing. In all honesty, the van had been acting a little bit weird for a few weeks. Twice I could feel it power down and all of the lights on the dashboard flashed and the needles were twitching. But then it was perfectly fine. I was hoping that it had just been a fluke, but now it wouldn’t even turn on. So I called my husband to come and rescue us. Thankfully we only live a few minutes from work. He came home and took the first load of kids to school and I stayed behind with the two littlest. By the time he came back and picked us up, Aiden and Jonathan were late getting to school, so I had to go in and sign them in. And then we were off to work again. This now brought our working car count from three down to one, that is one 2 door, 5 passenger car to haul 10 people around in. Annoyance number 4!

Thankfully I was able to finangle some rides (Thank you Lisa Perron!) and get everyone to and from school for the next couple of days. But it was not without some, ok a lot of, stress.

And that is when we catch a glimpse at God’s sense of humor. After one thing after another seemed to be falling apart around us, Brian and I were laying in bed stressing about how we were going to have both cars and the dryer and the toilets fixed. We held hands and said a prayer asking that God take control and take care of us, as He always does. We said amen and I sighed. “What else could possibly break ?” I said under my breath. All of a sudden my entire side of the bed collapsed. I just started to laugh, because at this point, it was laugh or cry. I couldn’t even deal with it. I just grabbed on to Brian and tried not to fall out of bed all night.( Imagine the titanic going down. I was on the under-water side. )

After a somewhat decent night’s sleep, we woke the next morning, fully surrendered to God’s plan. We had no choice but to trust that He would work things out, not just because we were not in a financial situation where we had a ton of extra cash just lying around to take care of everything, but also because we had, in faith, given it over to God. Brian said that he felt that we should have the van fixed.  I was a little bit hesitant because I was fairly certain that it was the alternator and possibly the serpentine belt, that had gone bad in the van. This could easily be over $500 to fix. But we had asked for guidance and this is what Brian felt that we should do, so I agreed. I called a local mechanic and explained the situation. He said that he would send a tow truck. The tow truck driver called to tell me that he was coming and I went out to meet him. He was more than a little bit gruff and asked me if the van would move at all. I shook my head no and explained what had happened when I had tried to turn it on. I told him that it had been completely dead. I handed him the keys so that he could see for himself. He turned the key and the van started right up! My mouth hit the ground. I was as shocked as he was amused. He popped the hood to check things out. Apparently the alternator was fine and the belt was “good to go,” the battery however, was a “piece of s@#t.” He then asked me for a cup of warm water and three TBSP of baking soda and proceeded to clean off the connector things on the battery. He also told me where to get the best battery for the best price.( Rural King, if you were wondering.) He was so helpful and, despite his slightly scary appearance, so kind. I just chuckled to myself as I paid the $45 bill for his services, rather than the $500 it could have been. Once again He came through. And, in case you were wondering, sometimes angels drive tow trucks.

 

 

 

Kind of long…but I am back!

It has been such a long time since I have blogged that I don’t even know how to catch you all up on the last four months, so I am not even going to try. Long story short, I have been finding my new normal since going back to work. I love my job because it is wonderful to get up 2 1/2 days a week and put on nice clothes and makeup and do my hair. It is also equally wonderful to get up the other 2 1/2 days a week and put on yoga pants and a bra…maybe. I love being a mom but that is not my job. It is my vocation (which is way more important than a job, btdubs). My husband and kids come first, always. Period. the end. But it is also really nice to have meaning and a purpose outside of my house. My boss is awesome. (And I don’t even have to say that because I am 99% sure that she doesn’t read my blog. ) I like to use my brain for things besides budgeting and meal planning and 6th grade math. (sidenote: The other night it took my very intelligent husband and my very intelligent 19 year old son, who is a mathematical sciences major, about 30 minutes to help my 6th grader with her math homework because we don’t get common core math. We had the answer after about 15 seconds, but couldn’t figure out the insanely convoluted way that they wanted it solved…ridiculous, but that is another post.) I also like to complete a project and set it down and be able to come back to it 30 minutes later and have it still be completed. (That doesn’t happen at home very often…like never.)

But let me clear, even though I really enjoy my job, this working thing is crazy hard and I only do it 17 hours a week. I have absolutely no idea how you full-time working mommas do it. Seriously…no freaking clue. In addition to my regular job, I work seasonally in the bookstore on campus at the beginning of the semester to help with the textbook rush. I am only working there on my normal days off, and it is only for about a week and a half. So yes, I am working 5 days a week for two weeks twice a year. You can laugh, but let me just say, I am dead tired. My house looks like a family of trolls have taken up residence and they are morally opposed to doing dishes and laundry. The dust bunnies are now bigger than my dog and we have no food, because I don’t have time to go to the store. And honestly, even if I had the time, I am too freaking tired to get groceries! Wowza. Throw in an excessive amount of basketball games these last two weeks and you get the picture. But thankfully I only have a few more days of the bookstore and then I will be back to my normal schedule. I am not sure how long it will take to find my house underneath the chaos that reigns now, but I am fairly certain that it is still under there somewhere, so maybe by March???

So that explains why I have been such a slackadaisical blogger. Here is a quick review of the last 6 months or so, in case you are interested…

We were invaded by cicadas:

cicad

The kids went back to school…ALL of them!

14138128_10155112188833906_5455492976909294890_o

We played soccer and volleyball. We went trick or treating :

14889706_10155334516423906_1866734563720474462_o

The kids were in  some concerts and musicals, including Hannah performing in Godspell:

15156940_10155403032453906_3520271303473901431_o

One of us had a trip to the ER for swallowing part of a whistle…

15193590_10155410268633906_5124824918351219679_n

 

We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas.

15622325_10155536858528906_4965223245421769631_n

 

And we suffered the loss of some old friends. Rest in Peace Joey and Big Steelers Guy…

 

16114037_10155621310203906_2786131194857556261_n                13557703_10154923970023906_1344726867128292965_n

We are wrapping up basketball season and moving on to volleyball (again) and track.

We managed to celebrate a few birthdays in there too. The twins turned 21…yep 21. I am still not sure how I feel about that. Ever since this past summer Coley has had a countdown going on until when the two of us could have a glass of wine together. Honestly I was looking forward to it to. I imagined us chilling out in our rocking chairs on the porch sipping our wine as we laughed about something witty that I had said. Wellllll, i am not nearly as cool as I thought that I was. The evening of her birthday, I poured us each a glass of wine, but I couldn’t physically hand it to her. All of the years of “Don’t drink!” had caused a paralysis and I simply couldn’t do it. But the funny thing is that she was just as uncomfortable. She kept covering her face and saying, “Stop looking at me!” So basically, we are dorks. We are not cool, or at least I am not. But I am ok with that. It wasn’t any better with DJ. I sent him a happy birthday text to which he responded, “Heading out for wings and a beer with Luke!” My response to that was to throw up in my mouth a little bit. Yep, I am decidedly uncool. Don’t get me wrong, I never wanted to get drunk with my kids, ever. I am far too old for such silliness, and I really don’t want to see them like that either. I just thought sharing a glass of wine would be a nice rite of passage to share with my adult kids. Not quite there yet…although we are making progress…

16105779_10155614283513906_2573159122603479211_n

Speaking of this lovely adultish type person,  Coley has settled on a major that she likes and is excelling at. And she seems to have found peace with herself. She is devoted to being fit and strong, both physically and spiritually. This gives my momma heart peace.

15941184_1240214329360938_4611313650106485313_n

DJ is doing amazingly at St. Vincent’s. He has officially started to date a lovely young lady named Hannah that we all really like. He is involved in a ton of campus activities.   He has belonged to the Benedictine Leadership Society since his freshman year. They always take the seniors on a trip, but he will be student teaching next year, so they have invited him to go this year instead. The trip is to …ROME! Holy Moly! So, so proud of him. Now if he would just call home every once in a while, that would be great.

 

15894469_241978056226386_8404046581321360930_n

Jake has also started to see a sweet girl, Christiana. She fits right into the craziness that is our family and the little kids adore her. Jake’s big news is that he has changed his major and has transferred to Franciscan. He is now a mathematical sciences major with a minor in computer programming. He really seems to like his classes and is really excited to be at FUS. I am really happy that he isn’t driving into Pittsburgh everyday. And it is nice to see him content and at peace.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the opposite of peace and contentment,  you have the middle three…2 words…HOLY HORMONES! Isaac is 14 and pretty much knows everything that there is to know about everything. Sometimes he can get a little bit too big for his britches, if you know what I mean. but he is doing great in school and is as sports obsessed as usual. Hannah has become very into her music. She got a ukulele for Christmas and has already written a few songs with it. At 13,  Hannah is our weepy hormonal kid. Everything is devastating and nobody understands her and nobody cares about her…you get the idea. I get her, because I had my weepy moments as a teenager, but I was more like Gianna….the angry hormonal preteen. Watch out world. If Miss Sassypants gets her panties in a twist…my best advice is to just duck and cover. These two share a bedroom, so you can only imagine the interesting things that go on there. Most of the time they are ok…but there are days when I very seriously consider locking them in their room together just to see who makes it out alive. Gia is mouthier, but I wouldn’t underestimate Hannah. She has been known to pinch and scratch so hard that she has left scars.  On a positive note, Gianna is also excelling in school. She loved playing soccer in the fall and she is really looking forward to volleyball this spring. But don’t let her sportsy nature fool you. She is 10000% all girl. Makeup, nail polish, clothes…she loves it all.

Noah might be 17 months younger than Gia, but he is already quite a few inches taller than her. He played soccer as well and is in the middle of his basketball season. But his big interest right now is archery. He bought a bow and arrow with his birthday money and has really gotten into that. He has been working on woodworking a walking stick with Jake. Which is great…as long as he doesn’t whack anybody with it….which I am sure is coming.

Aiden is preparing for his First Communion this spring. I cannot believe that. In fact I keep allowing myself to forget that. He also played soccer and absolutely loved it. He has really been working on his reading and it definitely shows. He has expressed his desire to be a priest and has informed me that he doesn’t really need to worry about any of his classes in school other than religion, because that’s all he will need to know when he is ordained. I have been trying to convince him otherwise…we shall see.

And finally, it has been a huge few months for the littlest of our men, Jonathan. Not only did he start kindergarten this year, he also played soccer for the first time (which he dominated in!). Having all of those big brothers that refuse to take it easy on you just because you are little, is finally paying off! He absolutely loves school and has made several new friends. It has been hard to see his world explode. Just last year, it was all about us, and now we are just a piece of what he has going on. He manages to crack us up daily and he is the “oldest” five year old ever.

There you go folks, you are all caught up now. lol Hopefully I can keep my resolution to blog more regularly, now that things are slowing down (?!? not really) a bit. If not, see you in 4 more months!