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December 31, 2012

2012 "in review"

I saw Rebecca put up a year in review

 I did one last year and afterward thought, "well that's kind of silly because if people want to read those, they'll read them regardless of whether I put them up there in one post or not." But then, I did like having a "go-to" spot for myself where I reflected on the posts of the month and put them in one place. 

Therefore, again this year, I will post a year in review for 2012.

January -- In January, I found myself Pondering the Unknowable Future, ranting when I'm really not a ranter, but then settling down and reflecting on the grace that comes with midnight cuddles, and how quickly the first year of a baby's life flies by and that I really don't dislike what I always think I will.

February -- I laid it out there and explained why I prefer to kneel to receive the Eucharist, and Rebecca and I (and others) shared and declared that we were "The 98%"

March -- I took my civic responsibility to correspond with my elected representatives seriously as I wrote a letter to Senator Claire McCaskill taking her to task over her support for Planned Parenthood, the HHS Mandate and attacking the Catholic Church using her public office.

April -- I wrote a blogpost for iusenfp.com regarding the Marquette model of NFP and followed it up with a post exploring all the curiosity I experienced in the aftermath.

May -- I was a mess in May:  First I was discerning and pondering all things about NFP, Marriage, babies...then I was declaring that I didn't want any more children (see how that worked out, huh?)...then I was backtracking and revisiting and clarifying my stance on that.  Can we say...hormones???

June -- I guest-posted, and my Catholicism Nerd returned waxing philosophical on Altar Rails and Vincent turned 1!

July -- I used NFP Awareness week to its fullest! 

August -- So began my new role at my company and I was busier than all get-out.  Blogging time was few and far between!  But I managed to write about the changing needs of children and mothers as the family grows and grows up.

September -- I admitted to being an over-worked Mama!

October -- brought the revelation that I really was suffering some mild stress anxiety.  At the same time I was struggling with how to reach my pre-teen but also having fun with how cute she can be.

November -- crazy month at work and at home!  But the conversation happened:  Just how DO people afford to raise a large family these days? And, in the end, I announced that my large family was growing in 2013!

December -- I shared my Anxiety and Peace and ultimately addressed the elephant in the room about whether I was surprised at #6.

Off With the Old, On With the New -- Hello 2013!

I've been mulling an end of year / beginning of year post all day long.  A new year brings along...well, newness.  It's like a blank canvas and we're anxious to paint our story once again.  A new year is like a brand new coloring book and we can flip through all the outlined pictures and see that no one has scribbled all over this one or already colored that one.  We get to pick!  

There's so much about 2013 that will be the same for me:  Still a work-outside-the-home-mom; Still trying to figure out the preteen years, but potentially adding a second girl to hit those phases in this house; Still trying to grow closer to Christ -- whether it be continuing to attempt a Rosary every morning as I get ready for work, or making it to extra Masses during the week; Still confused about my relationships with my parents and how they impact the kind of mom I am.

There's so much that will be new in 2013, too.  The biggest new thing is another baby -- one thing I know from experience is how you can hardly remember what life was like before that baby once s/he is born.  Other new things include my first year as an officer at my company, my first year completely as a spectator with regard to my kids and their sports/activities.

I love to make New Year's Resolutions.  And I love to break New Year's Resolutions.

This year, I am really going to make a much better effort at making and keeping the following:
  • Stay caught up on my Reading the Catechism in a year.  I'm terrible about getting about 8 days behind and then catching up all at once.  So, every morning, I'm going to read that e-mail and stay caught up!
  • I'm going to blog on Wednesdays and Fridays.  If  a Monday post sneaks in there once in awhile, we won't cry about it.  But I think I can get something up on Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • I'm going to stay on the budget I create.  I was doing really good at this until about May of 2012.  Then, I started going all willy-nilly.  While we were able to absorb this, I just want to say...the picture ain't pretty when I go all willy-nilly on the budget.
  • I have a few private ones having to do with my food issues that I'm just going to keep private for now.  I've written enough by now that you probably know I have real issues with food.  Just because I'm not suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia does not mean I don't struggle with an eating disorder.  Mine just happens to be more socially acceptable for some reason.
I think I'd be a little bit untruthful to say that I wasn't nervous about what 2013 will bring.  I haven't had my first prenatal appointment so I haven't heard the heartbeat of this baby.  But, I've been religiously taking my injections like a woman (sitting here with ice packs on my bum as we speak!!) and I'm 10 weeks along.  I've finally stopped watching for my period to start and I think I've finally gotten a good grasp on the idea that I have 6 children.  

I'm anxious that I will have a newborn who is up at all hours of the night while I still have a just-turned-2-year-old who isn't a reliable all-night sleeper (yes, still have problems with baby boy Vincent these days).  I worry as I discern with Craig whether we should trade in our van for a vehicle that will seat everyone in our family or if we should just keep the two paid-for vehicles we have and carpool whenever the whole lot of us need to go somewhere.  

The new year brings excitement, joy and shiny newness.  

And the new year brings some anxiety.  

But one thing I've tried to do over the years is put all of that -- the joy, the excitement, the anxiety, the discernment -- at the foot of Jesus and trust that He will see me through it all.  

Photo Credit

December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes - 36

--- 1 ---

So, the world didn’t end today. Or at least mine didn’t. How about you? I suppose we still have about 12 hours left in my world. I don’t think I’m going to worry too much about it.

**You know, it just occurred to me that I didn't respond in any way on this blog to the horror that occurred in Newtown, CT last Friday.  Truth be told, I just don't think I have it in me.  It's unfathomable, unspeakable and utter tragedy and I look at my baby girl, Helen, and can't imagine a world where it was possible that she wouldn't come home from school one day and we'd have to go on without her.  So, literally, I continue to pray for the children who died (and the staff), the families trying to go on without their family member, and all the people in Newtown, and in our country.  What a sad, unspeakable day in the history of our nation.

--- 2 ---
Truth:  If you allow your child, who is only 11, to view Instagram, chances are that something like this
(posted by a friend, that you know, who is someone she interacts with every day in person) will pop up in her feed...at which point, you will most likely end her access to Instagram because between this and other things that kids too young to handle social media do while using Instagram, you realize it is JUST. NOT. WORTH. IT.

--- 3 ---

On Sunday last weekend, the kids got to see Santa.  I was very surprised that Vincent walked right up to Santa and sat on his lap and played with the bells he was holding.  Not scared at all.  Makes me wonder if his interactions wtih my dad recently (who maintains a very Santa-like beard) had anything to do with it.

Dominic was his usual forthright self and talked with Santa with no problems.  At least this time we were able to get him to come on down when his turn was over.

Even Dani is still good with Santa.  :)

--- 4 ---
Sarah may not do the sit-on-Santa's-lap deal anymore...but she does like fooling around with the iPad and taking funny pictures.  The first one she took of herself.  The second one, I snuck in the other day as I noticed she was holding her volleyball while watching T.V. and I thought it was way cute.

--- 5 ---

Lately, Helen has been open to me messing with her hair.  At least sometimes.  In small doses.  The other night she let me braid her hair in two french braids.  I think she wanted the kinky-curl that comes from that, but I really like her hair braided regardless.  She is growing her bangs out, so I was able to get them into the braids, too.

--- 6 ---

Fatigue.  That is what I have in large doses these days.  I am trying to keep a few workouts each week going, but last night was not one of those and I literally fell asleep on the couch almost immediately as soon as I got comfortable.  Craig had taken Dani to swim practice so it was just me with the rest of the kids and I literally was just laying there unable to keep my eyes open.  Mother Mary, please help me get through the next 6 weeks with some coherence.
--- 7---

Christmas shopping and shipping has been complete for over a week.  Guess who's been procrastinating on the wrapping part of this season?  Holy Moly, this weekend is not going to be too much fun because I have GOT to get my wrapping done!!  I really don't want to have to do it on Monday.  Really. 

Our Christmas Eve will be spent with Craig getting some sleep, putting together a Ginger Bread Train, baking some cookies and/or pies, heading to 4:30 p.m. Mass and then heading to Grandma's.  Poor Craig has to work Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day night.  :(  But it's just the way the ball bounces sometimes.  *sigh*

Have a great weekend!  MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all!!!

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting and be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

December 19, 2012


So...is baby #6 a surprise?

Yes...and no.

If there is one thing Craig and I have understood since learning Natural Family Planning, especially if we weren't 100% sure before -- it is what causes pregnancy.  Truly understanding that to engage in intimacy during fertile days is to basically "ask" God for a baby is something we've been keenly aware of over the past 11 years.  Over the years, we have also learned that to simply "ask" God for a baby in this manner does not necessarily mean God will grant the request.

So, no...I'm not surprised in the "Oh. My. Goodness.  I can NOT believe I am pregnant!" way at all. 

We "asked."  

This time, God granted.

Over the past 4-5 years, I can think of numerous times we "asked" and God did not grant the request.  It's a fact that God doesn't grant the request for a baby for everyone every time they "ask."  As painful as it was at those times that God did not answer our request with a baby, I have often thought that it was a good thing that there were multiple months of openness before conceiving each of our sons -- it provided a window into what it is like to wait.  A small window, I will grant, and no -- I don't equate our waiting period to anything like infertility -- but it was a good lesson for me just the same.

I recognize a level of pride I held earlier in our childbearing years -- that simply engaging intimately during fertile days guaranteed a baby; believing I was pregnant before even half of the two-week-wait was over.  This is not healthy.  I was humbled by months of waiting only to find out I was not pregnant as we waited for Vincent.  

Over the years, I've often heard people call a surprise baby an "oops" baby.  As if a human being coming into existence was a mistake.  As children, we got two different takes from our parents about the children who came along after me.  My mother would often say that she never planned to have #3, #4 or #5 but that she couldn't imagine life without them.  My father simply stated to my sister when she asked him if she was planned that, "you kids were neither planned for or prevented."  Over the years, I have found comfort in my father's statement because it provides a level of honesty and responsibility without sounding like he wished he'd done something different.  At least the way it hits me it seems that way.  And as an adult, I come into contact with people who proclaim they knew they were not "planned" by their parents -- it was a mistake, or an "oops".  Maybe I take it too seriously or have just grown too sensitive to the matter, but it really breaks my heart to hear anyone refer to a person in this manner.  No matter what was planned by humans, each soul was planned by God -- for that time and that place -- with a purpose that only He can reveal.

I think I could safely say, though, that an element of awe, wonder and ... yes, surprise seem to accompany the revelation of a positive pregnancy test.  It is more a testament to the miracle of life than anything else.  In the instant that I see a positive pregnancy test, a flood of varying emotions hit me -- joy, excitement, trepidation, worry, disbelief, anxiety -- I could go on. 

This miracle changes everything from the minute we know about it.  My family dynamic has completely changed; Craig and I are the parents of six children; Sarah as a preteen and Dani as a "tween" are big sisters to another little one; Helen is no longer THE middle child, simply one in the middle.  Dominic is a big brother to more than just Vincent.  Vincent is now a big brother.  It changes the way I see each member of my family... instantaneously.

I think most people we know are over the surprise that we'd be open to another baby.  I feel some sort of exasperation from certain people.  I feel the worry from others.  I worry how my children really feel.  (For the record, I asked Sarah recently, and she said - in typical preteen fashion - "Well, I kinda thought we had enough kids..."  I simply responded to her, "Yeah, me, too, Sarah.  But I guess God planned at least one more for our family.")

I haven't said anything at work yet.  I plan to next month as the first trimester comes to an end.  WE have another very stressful busy year planned in my department, but I am sure we'll be able to get things in place so it will all run smoothly, even if it means I work from home during half of my maternity leave.  The best part is that I'm not really nervous about my boss (she's one of six and she is a twin!  She seems to be really down to earth about this sort of thing) and I think my work group will be excited.  And as I type that I think, "Yeah, who ISN'T excited about babies???"  But, I've experienced that side of it, so I know those people who don't really appreciate it are out there.

The questions will come.  People will ask if I "meant" to (get pregnant).  People will stare at me as I walk into the store with my five kids in tow and a bulging belly and make some mention that I must idolize the Duggars.  People will stick their nose where it doesn't belong and make value statements they have no business making.  It's part of the life I lead that I will be subject to that stuff.  Interestingly enough, I laugh it off so much better now than I did when I was newly pregnant with #4.  Back then it really got my back up to know people thought it was "too much" to have 4 children.  

No, I don't have all the snappy comebacks.  Although, I do like it if we're all out somewhere and someone asks me "Are they all yours?" and I am able to point to Craig and say, "Yup!  And all his, too!"

I guess I started rambling here...but in case you readers were wondering if baby #6 was a surprise -- I just wanted to say...this baby is one glorious, loved and expected...surprise.


December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes - 35

--- 1 ---

Cute Story.  Monday, I picked the kids up from school.  The preschool kids line up outside of the office and when they saw I was outside to pick up the kids, they sent Dominic on out to greet me and wait for his sisters.  We were walking around and he says, "Mommy, guess what!?  It is December!"  I said, "That's right, Dominic, it IS December."  And then he says, "I'm so excited because Santa Claus is coming!!"  Oh my goodness, I love my little boy.

--- 2 ---
So, Craig and I went on our trip without kids last weekend!  It was so great to spend the weekend with Rebecca and The Man.  Spending three full days with Rebecca completely convinced me that we were meant to be sisters, but the geography didn't work out.  She has the gift of gab to match my own, she is competitive, passionate and doesn't mince words.  She married a man who can handle her, just like I married a man that could handle me.  I am so very glad I brought Craig along, instead of going by myself. 

--- 3 ---

On Friday, we walked through her part of Morgantown.  Walked onto Campus and saw some of the sights.  We were fortunate that we happened upon The Mountaineer (WVU mascot) in the Student Union!  Of course, we got our picture taken with him.  :)

--- 4 ---
We went to watch KU get slaughtered at the hands of the Mountaineers in football, but I must say, the fans were friendly and didn't get their noses out of joint because I refused to high-five their team's touchdowns.  They all seemed to understand that I wasn't going to be happy about us getting the raw end of the calls or getting trounced even though it was to be expected.  Many of them acknowledged that we (KU) would get them back in basketball.  I'm not going to lie, I enjoyed saying, "I think you're right." 

Oh and Rebecca has killer tickets:

--- 5 ---

Sunday was a fun, hang around and do nothing day.  Let's face it, Craig and I don't get those days...EVER.  So, we went to Mass, then had some breakfast and played Mexican Train Dominoes (way fun!), then watched some football and had some dinner.  Rebecca and The Man were great about taking us to local places that we wouldn't be able to experience anywhere else.

--- 6 ---

Of course, while we were gone, the kids were well cared for. I felt terrible that a stomach bug hit our house just as we were leaving.  Helen was home sick from school the day we left.  Dani had to stay home from school on Friday.  And the couple who was watching them saw their daughter succomb to the nasty bug over the weekend.  :(  I guess I am glad that my baby boys got it on the bookends -- Vincent suffered from it before we left and Dominic got it when we got home.  We only had one incident where a kid needed to talk with us to get through the day.  I got a text from our school office Friday afternoon to call if I could to talk with Helen. She was in the office, crying and "missing her mommy."  So, I talked to her for a few minutes, told her I needed her to be my "big girl" and take a deep breath.  School was almost over.  I'd see her Monday.  I guess it worked because I didn't hear from her again.
--- 7---

Monday brought our trip to the doctor for Craig to be refreshed on how to administer progesterone injections.  I'm happy to report that since I've treated the progesterone deficiency (beginning with Prometrium while still on our trip) the level of cramping has decreased to pretty much non-existent.  So, that makes me happy and relaxed.  I think the "shock" (for lack of a better word -- because let's face it, as well as I monitor things, it's hard to be shocked that we get pregnant...) of the pregnancy has lessened.  I'm not necessarily overwhelmed anymore at the thought that I've moved on to needing 2 hands to exhibit the number of children I have.  I'm definitely thinking a lot about the vehicle situation and room organization.  My kids are intent on picking a name even though we don't know the gender yet, and Sarah's made it clear that a baby really need not be a reason for us not to get a dog.  I'm mulling that as well. 

I feel a post coming on about what an additional baby means to the rest of the family, i.e., the older kids.

Have a great weekend!  Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting and be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

December 3, 2012

Anxiety and Peace

Pregnancy can be filled with anxiety.  Especially in the early weeks.  Before I published last week's post, I was starting to feel happiness and anticipation about this baby -- which is why I just decided to let the whole world in on the news. 

But then, Tuesday came the next day.  Along with some cramping.  It wasn't "oh-I'm-doubled-over-in-pain" cramping.  But it was "hmmm-that-wasn't-like-that-before" cramping.  And then it was "this-is-ever-present-and-not-going-away" cramping.  So, I called the doctor and he recommended another blood draw the next day, which was Wednesday.  My doctor is not in the office on Wednesdays.  So, I knew results would have to come after that day.

Finally on Friday morning, I called and left a message for the nurse and Friday night, my doctor called with the (un) expected news that my progesterone level had plummeted in 2 weeks. Since we were out of town, we decided to get through the weekend with Prometrium suppositories and Craig would get a refresher on administering injections today.

Hence, there has been some anxiety within my heart for the past 72 hours.  Thankfully, I'm not someone who acts out anxiety with any sort of frantic measures and I am able to keep it mainly self-contained.  Perhaps it is because I have been here before.  Regardless, it is by the Grace of God I am not consumed by it.

I asked our priest to administer the Annointing of the Sick for me because of my progesterone-deficiency-induced state of risk.  I asked him to do it 2 years ago when I was pregnant with Vincent under similar circumstances and it brought peace as I finished out the first trimester and moved on to the point where my body wasn't responsible for producing the progesterone required to maintain the pregnancy.  Today, receiving the Sacrament brought peace again.  We're not out of the woods of course, and we have to do our part by administering the injections. 

There is something relaxing and peaceful about the prayer said at the beginning of the Rite, the oil administered to my forehead and hands, the laying of the priest's hands to my head and the blessing that follows.  I think it goes without saying that God knew what He was doing when He instituted these Sacraments as a physical way for us to experience His mercy and love.  We as Catholics are so blessed to have these physical encounters with Christ in those times we need to feel His presence the most.

And so, while the anxiety may very well return -- perhaps later today as we administer the first of the injections -- I will attempt to return also to this state of Peace made available to me through the Sacraments of my faith. 

I will offer up the anxiety and suffering that may result for all of those struggling to conceive or suffering from miscarriage.  I pray that by uniting my suffering with that of our Lord on the Cross, the good of the relief of suffering and struggle from infertility may be achieved.