Wednesday, November 8, 2017

our holy little soul

(Disclaimer: this post contains terminology pertaining to the female reproductive system, if that makes you uncomfortable, please read no further.)

On the feast of All Saints I discovered I was pregnant. 2 days later I began to miscarry.

About a week before I took that pregnancy test Joseph announced at lunch that "mommy has a baby in her belly!", and since I had just finished the bodily functions that women receive to confirm that they are not pregnant only a week prior to his little announcement, I did not think it necessary to take a test. Clear that bodily function was something else entirely, but I didn't know that at the time.

All Saints' day came and all the kids were sick so we had to cancel plans with friends for that day. I had slept terribly and complained to Mike that I was waking up with a bad headache every single day. That day I had another one, so I medicated with my typical Tylenol/caffeine cocktail and drank tons of water, but something else was going on-- the coffee smelled and tasted awful, I could not stop running to the bathroom to pee, I felt nauseous and no food sounded good to me whatsoever.

After everyone had gotten to Mass, and I took the kids for a special McDonald's feast day lunch, I got the boys in their beds for naps and collapsed into mine for one. But then I had to pee again-- I had literally just gone right before I laid down so I decided I would just grab one of the tiny pregnancy test strips from my huge Amazon prime collection and take it. I actually said these words to myself right before I took it: "only the Blessed Mother just finds herself with child, you do not need to worry about that happening to you."

I know the Creighton fertility method well, and had been (lazily) charting signs for months and had known with "confidence" that my extended nursing of Fred was keeping me infertile (I was having anovulatory cycles, I had seen my doctor about it and he said it was normal). Plus, I had had a cycle only 9 days before I took this pregnancy test. There was simply no way it could be positive.

And then it was. Very positive right away. WHAT?! HOW!?!? I ran down to tell Mike who had not yet left for work meetings and we just stared in shock at each other, and laughed, and celebrated. And I worried. I knew it couldn't be right-- what was that cycle? I took another test.

Positive.

I went to the store that night and bought one of those super expensive ones that says the word on it and...

 Right there.

That night I cried with Mike about my worries-- the first of which was how on earth I had just had a cycle and then gotten so many positive tests. I read online that that can happen with ectopic pregnancies, so I slept fitfully that night and got to the doctor asap the next day.

That day was the longest day ever, but by the end we were reassured that they saw nothing ectopic on the ultrasound but nothing in the uterus either. They said that my levels indicated I was very early along and so maybe they just couldn't see anything for that reason. I was scheduled to go in 48 hours later for more blood work to see if my levels were going up. Naomi wrote me this sweet note while I waited to ultrasound results:

For the next 24 hours I hoped so much that everything was just ok, we talked about the baby, hoped that he/she was growing and the kids even started to name him/her. But by the afternoon of Friday I started spotting and knew it wasn't ok. The tests the next day confirmed what I already knew and this sudden, expected joy was gone as soon as it had come to us.

One thing I struggled with initially was why God even had us find out-- or why not find out once the miscarriage started so that all of our hopes wouldn't have gotten up so high? And I immediately felt the answer strongly in my heart: God wanted us to know about this little soul for as long as we could, He wanted this person to be rejoiced over and loved and accepted and welcomed into this family, even for just a few days.

I know I don't need to blog about everything, and maybe to some people this seems like something I should keep quiet, or hide in my heart, and I am in many ways- there are many details I will not share here. But this loss as well as my first miscarriage have been something I've felt so strongly that I need to write about. I think it's partly because they happened so fast, their little lives were here and then gone in the blink of an eye and I am left wondering whether it was all real: did that little person exist? Was it all a terrible dream?

They did exist, their little lives started the exact same way my 5 other childrens' lives started but for some reason, which I won't know until I get to heaven, they were cut extremely short.

The other reason is that I don't want to forget. I know it will fade and this pain that I feel will fade and all the details will meld into each other in my mushy mom-brain and I want to have as many down on paper as I can. I want this little person to be documented in this place along with her brothers and sisters.

Naomi and Bernadette were both Saint Agnes (one of Rome and one of Assisi) for All Saints' day and Lucy was Maria Goretti, so we named our little one Agnes Maria. Mike and I were also married at Saint Agnes parish, which was my home parish where I grew up. We entrust our little soul to Saints Agnes of Rome and Agnes of Assisi, and to Saint Maria Goretti and ask for their prayers for us.

Saint Agnes of Rome and Assisi and Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

Our family is the only family that I know personally who does not celebrate Halloween, though I don't get out much, so there are probably way more than I know.

I did celebrate it as a child, Mike did not. Our own little family has never celebrated it and this is the first year since starting our family that I am totally ok with it, it only took 9 years. I've gotten questions in the past about why we don't celebrate it but never wanted to join the discussion before (it can get heated and I am pretty non-confrontational) but between the peace I finally feel about it and the lack of any other blog content circulating in my brain currently, I am just going for it.

I wasn't suckered into not celebrating Halloween by my husband, I was pretty much on board 100% from the beginning, primarily because I was exposed to a lot of weird, inappropriate stuff as a young person as a result of Halloween done wrong and me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But that is not why our family doesn't do it.

We don't celebrate it because we want the focus of all celebratory activities to be centered on and revolving around one of the greatest feast days in the Church (and one of the only Holy Days of obligation in the liturgical year) All Saints' Day.
Baby Naomi Therese as Saint Therese, the best yet.


Now please know that me saying this is not insinuating in any way that YOU aren't focusing enough on All Saints' Day. I promise with all my heart that I am not saying that. But I know myself and I know my limitations all too well and I know that if our family participated in the many festivities available surrounding Halloween, I would be deplete of all necessary energies required to play up yet another celebration the very next day. It's a lot, and I don't have it in me. So we stick to All Saints' day.

I really do love that when we get into October, the thing my girls start whispering about at night is the saints they will chose to dress up as on All Saints' day. I love that they deliberately sit down and read saint books to find out about super obscure saints to be in order to really throw people off (Bernadette was Saint Mildred 2 years ago and Naomi will be Saint Agnes OF ASSISI this year-- didn't even know she existed until today).

I spent the last 5 years or so approaching Halloween with dread and not even because of the kids, but because of how I dealt with it all in my head and heart. At first I felt guilty for depriving my kids of all the fun, then that morphed into feelings of bitterness that Halloween even needed to exist. I've gotten defensive in the past and had a hard time looking through various Halloween costume pictures on social media. But not this year, praise the Lord.

I am so thankful for this year because it is the first year that I finally just do not care, I'm happy about what we do and happy about what everyone else does. I don't care if my kids are a little "deprived", because I know they are not. We do a ton for All Saints' day and they are used to the way things are for us, plus we thoroughly enjoy viewing all the fun Halloween displays in stores and in our neighborhood (with the exception of the utterly inappropriate corpse in the yard down the street). We love looking at all the adorable pictures of friends and family and their cute costumes, and all the feelings of defensiveness have vanished.

I am totally clueless as to where this peace has suddenly come from, but I'm so happy about it. It's possible that I have just grown up a little bit and realized that there are so many bigger, more important things to dwell on than Halloween, but I'm not going so far as to call myself a grown up. Not yet.

Regardless, a happy Halloween to all of your families and a very blessed and happy All Saints' day tomorrow!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Oh, hello!

Oh life, life, life, why must you be so busy? What happened to the days when I could just sit down on any given afternoon and pound out a post all about how I didn't get any sleep and how someone pooped on the floor? I miss those days.

I know life is utterly crazy for everyone, and that I am not special in any way, but I do so miss the laid back days with just toddlers and babies around, the days when it didn't really matter if you didn't have anything planned for dinner because only you and your husband are going to eat it anyways and you know you'd both rather have Thai food.

But seriously, life lately, linking with Kelly, here we go:

1) I now have a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old thanks to birthday for Bernadette and Lucy. Also I now have 2 teenagers, WTF?!?

Alright Lucy still looks little, but the car kept giving me flash forwards to her life as a teenager-- I love her seriousness in the second photo contrasted with Joe's party face-- that is DEFINITELY a glimpse into how life with them as driving teens will be.

2: Lucy figured out how to ride her bike ON her birthday, and every time she rides I almost have a heart attack.
Always the super chill, laid back mother.

3: I took the kids on TWO field trips, one to some pretty incredible caverns in town, where I managed to take zero pictures. And then to the pumpkin patch this week where I did snagged a few:

Repeat from Insta, guilty as charged.

4: Rooted in Hope launched!  It is SO good!

I'm not just saying that because I am a contributor, it came together really beautifully and I'm so honored to say I am a part of such a wonderful group of writers. It's on prime too and not too expensive, I highly recommend!

5: We carved pumpkins!
Nestled in my lovely dead mums and likely to be our only fall family portrait.

6: I have roughly 5 loads of laundry to do and a bible study to get ready to help lead tonight plus a trashed house so I will spare you the very last one.

7: Happy Fall!!!






Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mantle Makeover

Have I mentioned on the blog how much early 90s light oak wood we have in our house? I have? Ok, good, so you know that I don't really like it and it is eeeeeeeverywhere. The floors, blend into the cabinets, blend into the vanities, blend into the fireplace... oh wait not that last one anymore!!

We do not have a home renovation budget. We bought at the HIGHEST end of our budget when we moved, and the house is fine, totally livable, and really nice. But I have this constant itch to PAINT ALL THE LIGHT OAK THINGS ALL THE TIME!!

After last year's spray painting fest + curtain and rug revamp, I took a nice long break from doing anything around the house and was just really working on being content with the way things are. But then I started perusing pinterest for fall mantle ideas and I was done. I have wanted to pant our electric fireplace since I sewed the curtains and got our main living room all set up.

It is such a focal point and I just couldn't stand how it looked like it was emerging out of the ground. I kept feeling like a fireplace should be a wall feature, not something that blends into your floor color.

So after several days of poking and prodding my dear, and extremely patient husband, he finally said he was also on board and encouraged me in my endeavors. He even taped for me!

I wanted a grey tone that would accent the curtains and rugs, but be light enough to not be too overstated. So I went to Lowes and picked a super light grey but when I got it on and it dried it was almost white with hints of light blue. Not what I wanted at all.

So back to Lowes I went with all the kids to get a darker grey, but I made the mistake of using the stupid color swatches and the second grey I got was basically a darker powder blue when it dried. These are the first "After" pictures I took, before I decided I hated it and it would not do-- they don't even do justice to just how blue it looked in person, so blue:


It was at this point that I was feeling like this was the dumbest idea I had ever had and I just wished I hadn't done anything, but there was no turning back so.... BACK to Lowes I went a third time with the kids, this time with a bit of fabric from our curtains for them to so a custom color match with and:




BOOM. Success.

I also realized through this process that our grey curtains have way more brown tones in them than I had previously noticed, which is probably why they go nicely with our brown couches and the browns in the area rug. Who knew!? Lowes is great and they have a "love your color" policy so they took back all the colors I didn't like and refunded me completely.

I think the whole shebang including my few decorative fall items from Wal-mart totally $35 altogether. Not bad at all.

Now I am dying to paint our kitchen cabinets a similar grey and think about it roughly every single day but I'm thinking that my painting ventures will need to have something like a year long break in between them for my sanity and Mike's and for general peace and harmony in the house.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

spastic seven

Linking up with Kelly early thanks to my wackadoo body clock that woke me at 4:45 today. I am on my 3rd giant cup of coffee before 7 a.m. These should be interestingly spastic.

1)
Week 3 of school is done and that is just a tad bizarre to me because... wait for it... I DON'T FEEL LIKE I AM DYING FROM HOMESCHOOLING. This is a first. Every year I get a couple weeks in and start to seriously look at school tuition prices because "there is no way I can keep doing this", but this year I am ok. I had one moment during the second week where I was frantically IG messaging with my girl Heather about how I might die, but then I got a grip and this week things have been really good. I know I am totally jinxing myself because we aren't even one month into things and it's highly likely if you talk to me in December I will singing a much different tune, but I will take the goodness while it lasts.

2)
I had the lovely pleasure of getting to chat with Mrs. Fulwiler on her radio show this Monday, which is at the top of the list of "Things I'm Not Qualified To Do" right up there with Motherhood and Homeschooling. I was chatting with the kids about what I should talk about with her and I went ahead and wrote down their ideas on my phone because they were so ridiculous:

I never got desperate enough to actually use them during our chat, lucky Jen. Anyways, it was so fun! She is an absolute delight and now that I know I can listen to highlights from her others shows via podcasts on her website, I have all sorts of good listening in my future.


3)
I am so excited to get into Stories of Grace, the latest bible study devotional put out by Take Up and Read, which goes through the parables of Jesus. I am late to the game with these devotionals, but better late than never! I'm also thrilled to be an upcoming contributor to their publications in the next devotionals, which gives me another item to add to my "Things I'm Not Qualified To Do" list!


4)
I attempted to photograph the kids to update some frames in our abode and I am dying with how different they all look in just 1 year. I know I'm a gushing mother and will likely be the only one who has fun with this (save for the few grandparents reading), but what say we play a little game of "who's changed the most?"
Ok, clearly Fred wins, but can we just give a little attention to how much Joe is NOT a baby anymore and such a little boy?!? Also the very obvious number of inches Bernadette has shot up, which is so much more noticeable because she wore the same size 6 dress this year even though she's well into size 10 in height.


5)
Mike and I just finished The Good Place and are pretty excited to watch the season 2 premier tonight. We also enjoyed Hidden Figures last week and cracked UP at Ryan Hamilton on Netflix, plus big props for how clean he was!


6) 
I am making my way through A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and really loving it (holla for the rec, Sarah!) I also randomly grabbed The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots from the library because we're studying her in history right now and I thought I'd be fun except that her life is so incredibly tragic.  
7)
The kids and I are venturing off on a trip tomorrow for the weekend and this will be my first time ever traveling alone with all 5. Wish me all the luck and wine!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Nail Biter of a Cautionary Tale

This is one of those posts that is embarrassing to write. It's not embarrassing in an inappropriate sort of way, because I have a few, very low standards for myself and my blog, but just in a "now people will know how weak and silly I am" sort of way. Regardless, this life occurrence must be documented because 1) it's good for me to have an extra dose of humility and 2) it is monumental.

Ok, on with it.

I am (or was?) a nail biter.


Surprise!! Not that surprising. 



I do not remember a time in my life where I didn't bite my nails. And I do not mean the occasional nibble on a nail now and again when I was feeling extra nervous or watching something especially suspenseful. No, no, no. I was a nail GNAW-er. At any given time on any given day you would find me furiously devouring both my nails and my cuticles-- though I did especially favor nail biting while driving in the car or reading-- but I was always biting. Sometimes I would even catch myself biting them while nursing in the middle of the night or pausing my workout in the afternoon to just get a little biting in.


Seriously, it was BAD.

I remember a middle school teacher in the 7th grade who would call me out in front of everybody-- almost every single day-- telling me to stop and I would flat out refuse.

That's really the story of the habit in my life. I just refused to stop.

I would get to a point where I decided it was time to stop and make a big resolution and try for 20 minutes-- or maybe even make it an hour-- and then decide it wasn't worth it. It was cathartic for me, it was a habit that wasn't hurting anyone, and it helped me deal with life's stresses in a quiet, minding  my own business, smoke free, drink free sort of way.

I had gotten to the point of really, genuinely wanting to stop this summer. I got my first gel manicure on vacation and hoped that that would encourage me to leave them alone, and when it didn't (or when I did not have the will power necessary to stop even though I was ruining my pretty, freshly manicured nails) I decided I was done trying to stop. For good. I just wasn't ever going to be able to stop, I had even started praying about it and telling God that it was just too much for me to do so I just wasn't going to try anymore.

Then about 3 weeks ago, while driving in the car biting my nails, I noticed one of my fingers was hurting (my right middle finger, coincidentally) and was hurting especially when I was biting that nail. It did nothing to deter me from continuing to mess with it, because frankly I am a total idiot.

A few more days passed and I realized it was hurting to touch things with that finger- it hurt to take Fred's tray off the high chair, it hurt to turn the steering wheel in the car, it hurt if anything at all went near that finger.

I probably still kept on biting it.
Mightily preggo with Fred, chomping away
Finally it got to the point where the entire top of the finger was visibly infected, and I was running a fever.

A FEVER, people.

After a bit of Googling the problem I concluded that I had inflicted this on myself with my nail biting (and I also came to the conclusion that my entire finger would soon fall off, thanks to Google's worst case scenarios.) Also I am never not totally irrational.

My finger did not fall off, mercifully, but my doctor did have to prescribe an antibiotic and a finger soaking regiment to clear up the infection, which worked for the most part.

But what really worked and what is a much bigger deal than the fact that I kept my beloved right middle finger is that I STOPPED BITING MY NAILS.

Ok it's only been a little less than 2 weeks, and technically it takes 21 days to break a habit, but I can assure you readers that I have never gone this long before and I think I am effectively scared straight.

The funny thing is that I really and truly believe that there is no other way that someone could've gotten through to me and convinced me to stop biting my nails other than an infection which spread to my body and made me fearful of losing my finger. That is just how completely enslaved to this terrible habit I was and how little self control I had in this area. Clearly God knew he needed to take over and answer my prayers in His own way and I am so glad He did.






Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day, School Day

We had been planning on starting school after Labor Day weekend all along-- well, working on Labor Day, because I'm a jerk-- but waiting until the first week of September to start. Lucy kept talking about the "blue flowers" being our school month flowers (Rose Harrington Art, our lives revolve around your calendar botanicals)

Then all of the interwebs were posting first day of school pictures 2 weeks into August and I was like "wait, do I need to start earlier?!?!" and almost did because I am a sucker but then.... the flood. And no school room (I know most people don't need a school room, but I NEED A SCHOOL ROOM). And also I needed to host that conference, so I didn't start early. I'm so thankful we didn't because I really loved having last week to just hang around a little bit more. Mike worked his behind off and got the school room all back together and I had to photograph it's pristine state because it currently looks like a tornado hit it:



I got those little vintage desks on Craigslist and I love them because my girls are like hamsters with ADD during school and if they are all at one table and one person's paper touches theirs they get into a serious tizzy. Desks are a great solution to that. And the best part of this set up??...


If you just zoom back the camera little and you get to see my giant room-length baby gate that is fastened tightly on both ends of the room so that Freddie cannot get to the side of the room where the school stuff is. It is one of those outdoor baby pens but you can stretch it out and let it save your life all day.

Enough of the room, let's get to the first day pictures:



Lucy Josephine, Kindergarten; Bernadette Martha, 2nd Grade; and Naomi Therese 3rd Grade (or if you're going by their binders the latter two are grades 22 and 33, but we won't get nit picky).

It really was a fantastic first day, which I am chalking up to the fact that any and everything would be a fantastic start to the school year compared to last year-- new house, new town, new baby, crazy hormones-- no bueno. I also loved being so prepared and I am a HUGE fan of WTM for making my life easier by combining subjects across grades.

We celebrated with a lunch out plus ice cream and the kids were utterly profuse in their praises of me for making that decision.
You're welcome, cuties.

Happy Labor Day to you and yours!