Monday, April 25, 2016

Not my PICTURE, but you get the PICTURE

Little 8 week person

I know it is not proper to type out a post and then abandon ship for three weeks.  I promise we have a really good reason!!!  The best of all reasons!!!!!!!!!!!!  I promise to address the post before this post.

We are over the moon to announce the news of our newest child due December 8th...the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  We are so grateful for this child whom God has put into our trust and care to bring to the waters of Baptism and hopefully many years of laughter and opportunities for sanctity so that we may all be together in heaven for all eternity.

We have great peace about the life of this child that God has known about from the beginning of time. I am not nervous after a miscarriage because God is the author of all life.  He already knows the plans.  He already knows how long this child will live and when he/she will die!  All Jesus wants is our YES!  You have our hearts, Lord. 

Who are you?  What adorableness will you bring to our family?  What lessons will your parents learn from your already irreplaceable life?  We trust HIS plans, but in the meantime cannot help but be delightfully giddy about who we get to meet in December.

Thank you for this precious child!!!!!!!!!!! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

About Blogging

Blogging seems peculiar these days.

I have a plethora of emotions that go through my head at any possible blog topic  and I am struggling to  write in good conscience right now.  It is probably part scrupulosity and part an actual question that really needs to be examined in the blogging world.  Anyone care to shed any light on the subject would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

1.  On Marriage:

Why would I write about marriage?  Why would I write about and show pictures of John and I (especially in an intimate setting) for the public to see?  Aren't those shared kisses and hugs between us only?   Even if one has a beautiful marriage and you view a picture of another couple enjoying a movie night by the fire, isn't that replicating a scene that is not authentic?  Fred and Jan go on date nights and have the time of their lives together.  So should we.  Why would I show us laughing and enjoying each other for the world to see?  Yes, those times are a plenty, but why blog about our marriage goals, our hopes and dreams, our personal conversations, and especially all the compliments and heartfelt acts of love we show each other?  For the majority of marital cases, women are the dreamers.  Usually.  They read something, see something, especially if it involves our children, and we MUST HAVE.  Why?  What is being accomplished?  Why would I share all of John's wonderful traits and habits?  Isn't telling HIM enough?  Isn't that called bragging?  Look what I have and you don't.

For the majority, most women write that THEIR MAN is so supportive of their dreams.  What if he wasn't?  What if his work was so consuming and by the end of the day, he was done.  He had nothing left to support THE DREAM.  Where does that leave you if my man supports my dreams, and your man doesn't have it in him to support yours?  LEFT BEHIND.
 What about those couples who are struggling and are dedicated to each other through the sacrament of marriage, but for one reason or another, they just don't get each other.  I have a friend who attended a wonderful conference on motherhood, marriage, and life in general.  She came away with so many ideas and was so eager to implement them into her home.  As she presented the idea to her husband, he nicely said, "That is not me."  She was crushed.  Her dreams of a blissful family life were met with a resounding "NO!"  So when my friend hears about other marriages or husbands who so excitedly embrace new ideas or whatnot, it really leaves her feeling LEFT BEHIND and thinking "My children will suffer because he won't lead the family rosary like so and so."   What accountability do I have towards her and others on the internet?  I am doing her NO favors by plastering John and his ways.

What about those women or men married to difficult to people due to broken childhood homes?  I think it very rare in the current climate that two people enter marriage without a load of baggage in some form. How does my attempted show of perfection help her?

Do we need more examples of happy couples (I think Hollywood does a good job at pretending they are in love)?  Love is tossed around so casually.  Commitment, dedication, fortitude through trial, endurance, and most importantly SACRIFICIAL LOVE (Death to MY needs, my desires, my wants) through life's storms, not so much?

What about those people clinging on to dear life in their difficult marriage?

 2.  On Homeschooling:

I have friends who want to homeschool, but their husbands or wives do not feel called to homeschool.  Where do my posts about our days leave them?  I know I have had numerous conversations with dear friends and it makes them feel LEFT BEHIND.  They read a small glimpse into our life and assume the fallacy of part to whole.  They see one thing, one nature hike and therefore the whole must be that wonderful all the time.  How am I helping her?

3.  On Children:

How do I write about their accomplishments without making a struggling mother with the same-aged child feel deflated?  If I post that our 3.5 year old is reading happily for hours on end at a 2nd grade level, who or what does that help?  Mothers are fiercely competitive and most will immediately look at their child that age, and feel BEHIND.  If I write about Dominic's academic achievements while a good friend confided that her son, who is Dominic's age, HATES school and actually confessed to them he has been addicted to pornography for 4 years now.  How am I helping her and other mother's battling for the soul of their child?

On the flip, how do I write about my own childrens' faults without doing a disservice to their future selves?  I can guess that they wouldn't want their sins or challenging temperaments plastered across the world wide web.

4.  On Style:

I really don't understand style blogging and what it achieves.  Doesn't it scream, "You are not skinny enough, not tan enough, wrong hair, wrong clothes, wrong shoes.  You are not enough THE WAY YOU ARE."   Am I all wrong on this?   I see you tired, worn mother.  I see your efforts and your attempts to be whole on the inside and outside. My beautiful friend just delivered her beautiful baby and sent a picture.  She said, "Please excuse my swollen face and pajamas." You just had a c-section.  You are beautiful.  Look closely on the inside.  You carried life within you for 9 months, throwing up most of them.  You are about to give of yourself the rest of his life.  You are enough the way you are.   Am I way off on this one? I had a conversation a couple weeks ago and my friend was commenting on certain styles certain people wear and how it is just not in.  I had a big question mark coming out of my head.  Who says it's not in?  Styles and fashion change with the wind.  In a world that SCREAMS, "BE YOU!!!"  Aren't clothing styles the epitome of NOT being you, but being what you are told is in?  If I like a certain pair of jeans, than why can't I wear them instead of wondering if they are in or not.  Don't get me wrong, I like style, but I like my style.  I enjoy dressing our family with dignity with the main attention of clothing to be the faces of the wonderful children God has given to us.  It is a rabbit trail, as it never ends and a world that cannot be kept up on. 

5. On Pictures:

Now, we all know that we only post pictures of ourselves that we like how we look.  Isn't that vanity?  Aren't I searching for compliments and my funny caption to the picture really is a cop-out of being out-right vain?  I have two sisters in college who have let me in on the game BIG TIME.   It is a game.  There usually is someone in mind when posting a picture of ourselves.  Is that true, good, and beautiful?  Have we made it about US, and not CHRIST by these games?  Isn't that disordered and what accountability do I have before God?

6.  On Suffering:

We all have many people in our lives suffering.  I have several friends right now carrying massive crosses.  HUGE.  The biggest you can carry.  They are barely holding on to life.  Very sick children, infertility, husbands without jobs for months, sick parents, depression.

I have witnessed first hand, the community that rally together to pray for each other.  My gratitude to those who prayed for my mother and Lourdes will only be measured in another lifetime.  I am so utterly grateful.  I see the fruits of grace and love.

It is easier to write about life's philosophies when life is well, but when the nails are being driven in, it hurts and not much makes sense. 

I seriously would love and appreciate any comments regarding what blogging accomplishes and how it promotes Christ.  I am not trying to be fiesty, I repeat, I am not trying to be fiesty.  I really would love insight.

 I start back at why I blogged in the first place.  I wanted to keep record of their lives and the times we shared together.

Thank you for your kind comments and insights.

So, why keep a public blog?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I left early that morning to drive three hours to  Kansas City to be with my mother for her oncology consult discussing the results of the biopsy and CT scan.  After the biopsy, the nurse informed us that the tumors were highly suspicious.  Hearing that a new tumor had grown in a matter of a week and the biopsy looked highly suspicious really set the stage for the tone and manner of this day.  We all knew what was coming it was just a matter of the logistics involved.  What stage is she at?  How much time do we have?  Who will move home to help care for her?  These, and along with many other questions of the same nature, filled my three hour drive down in the conversations between my siblings and I.

I met her and my uncle (who is a physician) at noon mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel.  I slipped in behind her as mass had already started.  I could see her nervousness and her hands were shaking.  After communion, she sat by me, leaned over and said, "Why did you drive down?"  I told her, "Because I want to see the miracle today."

We left straight from mass and headed to the KU cancer center.  The nurse brought us to a room and took her blood pressure which was way too high.  The nurse acknowledged her nervousness and said they must repeat until it goes down.  They transferred us to the conference room for the consult.  My mom turned to me and said, "I don't like this room.  I always get bad news in this room."  In the cancer world, everything becomes like that.  You associate everything with something.

Dr. McGuirk walked in and we exchanged small talk. He asked me about my family and other bits about my siblings.   I thought it a bit odd as literally my heart could be seen pounding through my shirt.  My uncle had come from Kentucky to help us understand the medical side of her prognosis and to offer his advice on the next step for her.  He is just so wonderful like that.  Dr. McGuirk continued to talk and then turned to my mother and said,

"Damaris, it looks like you have a lot to live for. I HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR YOU.  It is NOT cancer.  The tumors are benign and your CT scan was clear."

What????? How can this be????

I jumped up and grabbed her neck to hug her and did all the inappropriate crying you can imagine.  I looked at my uncle and he was just as stunned.  We were all stunned.  For weeks our minds were heading in a complete different direction, and now he is telling us she is COMPLETELY CANCER FREE.

Dr. McGuirk kept talking but I was fumbling with my phone trying to text all my siblings who were waiting on the other end about to pass out from anticipation.  It was the best text I have ever, ever, ever sent.  My sister said she took a picture of it.  It was unreal. 

How can this be?????  For two weeks, our minds were wrapped around the news that her cancer was already back and spreading.

NOW, you are telling me that this is NOT CANCER!!!!!

He explained the tumors as being part of her new lymph system since her bone marrow transplant.  Her system is learning how to work again and likened it to a coffee filter that was clogged a bit.  He put a strong emphasis on the need to ALWAYS biopsy as you just never know.

We left there and drove straight over to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne church to make a visit and thank Him for his mercies.

I drove back to Lincoln and she drove to Beloit.  I called her several times and asked, "What just happened?  How is this possible?  What just happened?"

It was an absolutely unbelievable day.  Like none I have ever experienced.  We are still reliving it everyday since.  It was that shocking.

The doctors aren't claiming it a miracle, but for our family IT WAS.  It was miraculous.  Indeed, the amount of prayers and sacrifices offered on her behalf played a roll in this unbelievable day.

She will have a scan in 3 months again, and then will be followed with a yearly exam if nothing arises in between.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you for our continued prayers.

I have to post this video to describe what this day was like.   I told a friend it was like a Hail Mary pass being tossed in the air to win the game and it is caught and YOU WIN!!! Seriously.  Unbelievable.  I basically was #12 Ron Kellogg the quarterback running around like an idiot!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

God's Providential Delay

From my daily devotional this morning:

 "God in His healing mercy often requires PATIENCE from us, but we creatures of time want our comfort right away.  We would steal his lordship of time.  The Father is wise, and knows not only what to give but when to give.

It is a common theme in Shakespeare, PROVIDENTIAL delay.

He knows what will bring us the most joy, in the fullness of time."

I last wrote about my mother's scan showing a new tumor.  They planned to rescan that following week, but she developed pneumonia so everything was pushed back until this week.  They rescanned this past Monday and biopsy on Tuesday.  The biopsy showed two new tumors instead of the original one discovered a couple weeks ago.  We have all held out hope so much that the tumor was just scar tissue, but knowing that a new tumor has already grown pretty much rules that out.  We meet for the biopsy/scan report on March 9th.

My dearest, most wonderful friend in all of the world. How can we be here?  I have cried my eyes swollen so many countless nights.  I have thrown every last bit at God asking Him to please spare your life.

Shortly after this news, I began to count the costs.  I have every temptation to type out every cross that has come our way this year right here, right now.  But, I won't and can't.  It is not about me, it is about Christ.  I had forgotten that and I added it all up for my grand total of suffering this year.  It became about me.  It is all about HIM.  I had taken my eyes off the one I love most and looked at myself and began to drown like Peter.

You asked those dearest my heart this year.  I know we are made for heaven, but our time seems to have been cut short.  I have so many questions I need to ask her.  I want her to see our children grow.  I want her to see the fruits of her prayer and sacrifices manifested in her children, grandchildren, and all those she has prayed for.

But, that might not be God's will for her here.  The hardest part of accepting that which you fear most is knowing how to live day to day.  I place my life in your hands, but how do I radiate your joy to the world? 

I came downstairs this morning and just watched her.  She was sipping coffee listening to Lillie play the piano.  I was frozen. 

We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking together.  I finally tucked her in and looked back to see her smiling at me.  It couldn't help but blurt out, "I am going to miss you so very much." When someone you love is sick, you eagerly push all your feelings aside to be positive and soley focused on their emotions that any pain that you encounter is shoved aside because it pails in comparison to their pain.  I couldn't help but say it. 

This picture popped up on my facebook feed as a memory from two years ago.  She was in the hospital at the time for pneumonia.  This was before cancer.  This picture came the day after her scan.  I couldn't help but think how fitting to show her with that big heart.  She loves so deeply, specifically her children.  She has fought, battled, and waged war for our souls.  What a heavenly mother we were given to be so focused on getting us to such wonderfulness. 
My brother sent this video to all of us today and I thought it explained my good mother so well.
It is well worth the 6 minutes of your life to understand our mission here on earth specifically towards our loved ones.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Prayer Request for my mother

My mother had her follow-up scan last Thursday to see how effective her treatments were from the bone marrow transplant and chemo.  She last finished chemo in November and had her bone marrow transplant following.  The standard procedure after transplant is to re-scan 100 days post transplant which was last Thursday, Feb. 11th (which was the first birthday of Lourdes). 

Her scan showed two new tumors present.  It was just heartbreaking for our family to hear those results.  Seeing what she went through, but maintaining hope that it WAS FOR a reason, then only to find that it wasn't, is just devastating.  She was so anxious for the scan.

They want to follow-up with a higher resolution scan tomorrow morning at 8:00.  There is a small chance that the tumors are benign cysts (highly unlikely given her past history).  The doctors recommend a stem-cell transplant and chemo again which she is unsure what she will do.

Once again, I am asking you to pray for a miracle tomorrow morning for her.  Please pray that God will show off again and that her tumors are clear.  PLEASE and thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pink Stork Solutions

I would gander to say that most women encounter morning sickness to some degree or another.  I am certain the market would be quite profitable for some brilliant mind if they had the time, money, and resources to dig up the origins of morning sickness and more importantly develop a natural remedy.  I've researched this topic for hours and have come across many, many recommendations natural and pharmaceutical.

I wrote about the topic in this post: To Remember About Morning Sickness.  I had researched most of that after the nausea had subsided with Lourdes so I didn't have a chance to test out the theories, but I am sure they would help so much.

I wanted to pass along this new company that a friend introduced me to a couple weeks ago called Pink Stork Solutions:  Morning Sickness and Prenatal Health.  This is not a sponsored post, but I couldn't keep this information to myself especially given the topic of morning sickness.  I know how desperate I have been in the past for relief.  This company seems to have researched and gotten to the core of why women encounter morning sickness.  The reviews are honest with most claiming that it didn't take the sickness away, but reduced the effects of morning sickness tremendously.

They offer two plans.  The first being for mild symptoms and the second for severe.  The descriptions for each plan are clear and will guide you through which plan to buy.

I am assuming that you are wondering why I am passing along this information at this time.
We found out two weeks ago that God had given to us another child to love and hold.  We were over the moon.  It was the best telling our children that baby #10 would be gracing our family in October.  My due date was October 7th which is my dad's birthday.  John and I were just giddy about our new baby.  We had a series of ridiculous events that week and I kept saying to John, "I don't care!  We get to have another baby!  Those things don't even bother me compared to the gift of a whole new person."  Our kids cried with excitement when we told them.

That was when I learned about Pink Stork as I had texted my friend to let her know about our newest and she told me about this new company.  I ordered THAT night!

Sadly, the day the package arrived we learned we had miscarried our baby.  I am a selfish lover.  John's mom always says that it is so hard to give them back.  Man. I felt this HARD.  I don't know why, but my first emotion was ANGER.  We wanted so much to see and hold that baby in our arms.  We wanted so much to know who you were.  The moment we find out we are expecting LIFE shifts in a different trajectory.   We know that in 8 or so months a new person is coming which affects so much in our home from homeschooling, to room arrangements, on and on.  My mother heart starts immediately going and preparing my nest for a new person.  When that comes to a sudden HALT, emotions can go wild.  This is the fourth child we have lost to miscarriage.  It is comforting knowing those little souls are waiting for us on the other side, but humanly I cannot help but want to have known WHO and stare into that beautiful face a while on this side.

I hope Pink Stork is able to help someone in the throes of morning sickness and I am hopeful that if we are given more children, this will help.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

No more Uncle Billy moments

I guess this is the time of year I'm supposed to write a post about what I've resolved to do.  It's always about weight loss and how this will be the year I will have a complete body transformation and finally win $10,000 from and humbly accept my award.  Also, my spiritual life will grow by leaps and bounds to the point of levitating on the daily.  In that order, of course.

Not this year.  I have two resolves this year.

First:  No more Uncle Billy moments

Let me set the scene: In Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, Uncle Billy is most famously known for absentmindedly misplacing the money that was to be deposited in the bank.  Although throughout the entire movie, he is best known for his fumbles, so much so that he must tie string on his fingers to remind himself of various tasks.  He is always rummaging around the Building and Loan, sloppily dressed with hair awry.  Always fumbling.

No More Uncle Billy moments.

So, this came about as I was spending time with my mother in the hospital.  As I was preparing to leave one evening and fumbling through my purse, half panic-stricken that THIS MUST indeed be the time I've lost my keys forever and will never be able to return home to my family, my mother says to me, "Hey, Uncle Billy, where are your keys this time?" 

I know it was a small detail, but it had mountainous meaning for me.  I was fumbling through my purse, a lot like I fumble through making dinner, a lot like I fumble through cleaning, a lot like I fumble through grocery shopping, and a lot like I do many things.

Honestly, since that day I've purposely said to myself, "Slow down, Uncle Billy.  Why are you in a hurry?  Why are you hurrying right now?  Slow down and look around.  Look at people in the face.  Look at the faces of your precious children.  Look at the apples you are picking out to feed those precious children.  Examen those oranges with pleasure in God's great creation.  Look at them.  Carefully cut that kale salad up for those little mouths to eat."

Hey, Uncle Billy, look at the bottom of your precious baby's feet.  They really are unreal, all those lines unique only to her.  Hey, Uncle Billy, Have you ever turned around in the car wash to watch their faces watch the automatic machine?  It is wonderful especially when in squirts the Tri-colored foam.  Who needs Disney when your car wash squirts Tri-color foam?  Hey Uncle Billy, have you noticed how darling two-year-old hands are?  Look at them.  Look at the dirt under his fingernails.   Stop fumbling around.  Hey Uncle Billy, slow down.  Your children and their simple ways are enough entertainment for a lifetime.  Stop fumbling around.

So, I resolved to not fumble.  Just today, in fact, I was striding into Hy-Vee and felt Uncle Billy coming on.  I purposely stopped, realized the mission at hand, and slowed down.  I was on my way to buy food for our Epiphany Party.  They were so excited back home.  What a pleasure I had to be buying food for our Epiphany Party.  This one action triggered a series of following actions.  Because I slowed down, I got out our fine china and gold chargers.  I got out our stem wear and let the kids have grape bubbly in the tall stems.  They loved it.

Hey Uncle Billy, Did you know Kapaun watches you make dinner every night?  Did you know that he stands on that chair watching you no matter how long it takes you?  One hour.  No problem.  He stands there watching.  Look at him.   Look up and no more fumbling.

Secondly, I am attempting to make a holy hour everyday or at least spend some time alone with HIM in the chapel each day.  I look forward to our date everyday although it takes a considerable amount of minutes to calm my inner Uncle Billy and focus on Our Lord.

Those are my resolves.  Here's hoping to 2016 being fruitful in this endeavor. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Teaching our children about sexuality

Teaching our children about their sexuality is something we've invested a lot of time preparing for.  We wanted to do a thorough job trying to understand every angle a child experiences when learning about sex.  I have asked countless individuals and priests their recommendations for preparing our children for a sexualized culture.   This is what we've discovered so far and I wanted to share the resources we've found and what we've experienced so far.  Please add any additional resources or ideas.  We would love to hear what you have found for your family.

1.  We decided that John and I would tell our children together as a couple about God's design for sex.  It is one of the most important topics we will teach them about so why would we not approach this subject together as a united team.  I AM SO GLAD WE DID THIS.  It certainly appears to have left out any uncomfortability as we are there sitting next to each other complimenting and validating each other while presenting the topic to our children.  NOTE:  We didn't tell our children all together as in everybody in one room.  We told Dominic separate from the age-appropriate girls, but John and I are there together while we are speaking to both groups.

2.  We very much intend to not just have ONE talk. We intend to have an on-going conversation reading different bits of material together mixing encyclicals with other great resources that I will list below.

3.  Most of our talks will be in the comfort and familiarity of home.  I've asked many friends about when they first learned about intercourse.  I received a variety of answers which included some being told by their parents, some went on special trips with a parent, many learned from kids at school, and far too many learned from their encounters with pornography at a young age.

4.  While we stressed the seriousness of the sin involved with abusing our sexuality either with pre-marital sex, self-abuse or masturbation, or viewing pornography, we told them last night that our goal as a family is to stress the beauty of life and God's plan for each person.  We have a two fold goal.  YES, this is a mortal sin BUT Please know of this big, beautiful world God has created and how He has made you for a specific purpose.  It is a tricky thing in parenting because on one hand you want them to never put their soul in mortal danger so a parent can tend to pound and pound the subject out and then the child is left dulled by the repetition.  On the other hand, we don't want to neglect the seriousness by only portraying how wonderful life is.  I believe you must present both.

We've found these valuable teaching tools that I would recommend to invest in for your children.

1.  Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner

We've read this with everyone including Clairvaux (5 years old) on up.  It's a powerful 5-step plan to inoculate your children again the epidemic of pornography.

2.  Wonderfully Made!  Babies
A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies (for ages 9 and up)
By Ellen Giangiordano with Dr. Lester Ruppersberger

3.  The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Catherine Scherrer

Other resources that have been recommended to us:

1.  All Things Girl by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller and Monica Cops
2.  The Care & Keeping of You:  A Body book for younger girls
3.  The Story of Me (book 1)
4.  Before I Was Born (book 2)

I will add recommendations here that I receive from other readers.

1.  Listen, Son (Family Life Education for Boys) (Seton)
2.  Mother's Little Helper (Family Life Education for Girls)  (Seton)

I would certainly read everything before you present to your children just so you can sift what you deem appropriate for each child.  For example, while the last two books I've recommended are good, they are advanced for many children so proceed with caution.

All these books can be ordered through Gloria Deo bookstore at 888-420-1830.

I want to close with a few tiny tidbits we added and found helpful.

There certainly was an element of nervousness to begin this process for us.  We wanted to preserve their innocence while not neglecting a very important parenting duty.  We wanted to preserve the sacred while making sure they are prepared to encounter the world and all that it might throw at them.  Once we began discussing with them, all the nerves went completely away and we've had many beautiful discussions.  I know the grace will be flowing!

One night we focused on body safety rules that I'm glad we went over with them.  I wanted to add that here as a chapter of the whole picture regarding this subject matter.

I found this on pinterest and thought it was pretty thorough so we just used this.

We added to #2:  Even if an older child or adult asks you to.

We also taught them early warning signs that should trigger their brain to beware of such as sweaty palms, racing heart and a sick tummy.

We never keep secrets that are uncomfortable or bad; we only keep happy surprises!

Be strong, Be brave and Always speak!

Again, these conversations have unfolded over many nights and weeks.  We haven't presented everything at once and while the topics can be serious, we always stress God's beauty and wonder to them.

Friday, January 1, 2016

She came HOME.

My love came home. Our Christmas was wonderful because she was home.  We were told she would be in the hospital until after the beginning of the year, but here she is.  Nothing much mattered to me this Christmas but her.  She will have scans in February to check the effectiveness of her treatments.

I have always had an awareness of the swiftness of time, but my sensitivity to the sand slipping through the hourglass has heightened.  This brings about an ability to push aside all trivial matters and focus on the most important, but it also brings about sadness not knowing what the coming months will bring.

I keep telling her that we are together now.  We have today and we can do today.  I don't exactly know how to navigate through these times.

We are all so thankful for her being home.  I was able to be with her for her bone marrow transplant and last chemotherapy treatment.  I thank all who prayed for Lourdes to take a bottle while I was gone.  She actually never did, but John willingly handled her so I could be with my dear mother.

Tomorrow will be her one year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer.  Wow.  It seems like it has either been five minutes ago they told us she had cancer or that it was fifty years ago.  I'm not sure which.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Baby's First Christmas

She was afraid of the lights at first, yet mesmerized all at the same time. She wouldn't touch them initially. I could tell her little gears were turning and wondering what in the world were these sparkling lights. She had the same reaction to the fur on my coat this morning. She wouldn't touch it. I just adore these picture.  They were all so happy for her to be putting up her first Christmas tree.

Why is Christmas so wonderful?  I had the biggest lump in my throat most of today and yesterday listening to their excitement and glee.  I observed their faces while we drove around looking at Christmas lights and listening to Christmas music.  Our car was mostly silent except for the oooh's and aaaah's.  Why is the world are we so excited about Christmas?  I think it is so telling of the human heart and one of our greatest of desires which is to give, to serve, and to have hope. 
Why are white lights so enchanting?  I have nursed every one of our babies by the glimmer of the Christmas lights.  It will be one of my best motherhood memories. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our boy

We interrupted this family photo for a very tired little boy who was done with touring our local seminary. Kapaun is a very easy-going fella, but nap time is important to his functioning at full sweetness.  I wanted to take a picture of the kids and he walked to the side and simply turned his back on all of us.  It was so great.  He wouldn't budge. 

Discerning his vocation, I guess.

Why was the picture his tipping point?  Why did he turn his back and stand perfectly still?  Who knows?  John and I sure thought it was funny.
I think we shut the van door and he turned his head and fell asleep.
Last month  was full of excitement and adventure.  We had four trips to the ER for three different kids.  Clairvaux hurt her arm while playing and wouldn't move it for several days.  We thought she broke it, but X-rays showed nothing.  After several days of a limp arm, we took her back again.  We took Lourdes in the middle of the night for croup and Kapaun fell off the back of the platform to our swing set. I was doing the morning dishes and watching them play up in the fort like they always do.  He was standing in the entry and I thought, "Man, he is going to flip off the back."  I literally turned my head and hear Clairvaux yelling to me that he fell of the back.  I sprinted out there.  He was doing the "I'm so hurt, I'm weak cry."   It broke my heart.  He wouldn't put any weight on his right leg.  I was worried about his head too.  I called our doctor to tell him what happened.  He sent me over to the ER.    Once again, X-rays showed nothing, but it still took several days for him to walk on it.  I took all three of them to our good chiropractor for adjustments.  He checked them out and made sure all was in line.  I will take about a three month nap to recover from that worry. 

Crackers were offered to help settle the suffering patient.  He was milking every last drop of attention. 
 His mothers positioned the patient on the couch and set about the day caring for our invalid.  Everyone wanted a turn.  In the picture, they were reading one of his favorites to him while holding up the book just so.
We still can't believe he is a boy.  Really.  We say it everyday.  John and I make our rounds every night before bed.  We look at each child sleeping and usually say the same thing each night.  We have a voice we speak in about each child.  Kapaun's room is our last stop.  We lean over his crib and giggle about any antic performed that day.  He was so perfectly tailor made for our family.  What a good boy.
Above all his admirers, John dotes the most. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


During the summer, Kapaun and Damaris brought me these flowers everyday.  "Put them in a vase Mama up there."  So proud of their love given.  At times, my sink was decorated with numerous glasses bursting with their thoughtfulness.  Have you ever watched a child pick flowers?  You really should.  Don't miss it.
Everyday someone is always reading on the couch.  I think we should just live at the library and then drive home occasionally.  We go there so often and have so many fines all the time because I can't keep our library cards straight and remember when everything is due back.  The nice lady over at Walt Branch knows my first name way too well.  Absent-Minded Professor at your service I am.

Everyday.  This baby is well-loved from John all the way down to Kapaun. She is a celebrity in our home.  They sprint to get her out of bed and cry if it's not their turn.  Clairvaux has reached the age where she can throw her five-year-old hip out well and tote Tiny around.  Tiny loves it.
Everyday.  These three play outside during school in the mornings.  I can see Kapaun's head popping out.  Their life is fun.  It is new everyday and they play hard. 
Everyday.  They wait together in the music room for someone to be walking their dog.  Although, the mail truck offers equal joy.  They wait and wait for the neighbors to walk their dog.  I heard the run down just last night of the walking schedule.  "Mom, did you know the So-and-So's only walk their dog at night? Why do you think they do that?"  What is especially cute is that he knows the names of each dog passing taught to him courtesy of his little mothers.  He loves every dog, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned Corgi walking by.  Corgis are his favorite hands down.
I love this picture of these two. Completely unaware that I was watching.

Everyday.  More reading.  More chatting together.  Always eating.

No-Shave November

This small incident will go down as one of the funniest, freakish, near panic attackish experiences to-date currently with one of our children.  I was sitting outside pushing Lourdes in the baby swing in Beloit.  Directly beneath me is an old cement stump that once held a fence post.  Kapaun came running towards me, tripped perfectly and fell face first into the cement stump.  I waited for it.  I flinched, twisted, cringed in all sorts of directions because I knew he had just knocked out all of his baby and permanent teeth.  He ran fast and fell hard.  I waited.  No sound.  Did he knock himself out?  Did he hurt himself so bad that the delay cry was coming in 3 seconds.  Nope.
He popped up looking like this.  I don't know what happened because it defies logic and physics.  Imagine my surprise when down went a clean-faced boy and up popped no-shave November.  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  How in the world?  The dirt was so perfectly formed it almost looked like I painted it on.  Thank you Jesus.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Who's that girl?

Right before my eyes I am watching the transformation of a little girl into a woman. Mostly woman now.  It is hard to wrap my mind around our children getting older.  We spend our days together everyday, but somehow they are slowly emerging out of their childhood shells into adults.  I still see them as someone I should/might/maybe would carry around in the ERGO so why are you wearing those clothes and thinking such deep thoughts?

Lillie has probably grown the most this past year.  We wear the same shoe size and she is almost as tall as me.  How?  Why? Where?  She really is the best older sister to her siblings.  She loves Lourdes so much that she gets tears in her eyes when speaking about her.  She is full of love and excitement.

Lillie's best trait is loyalty and compassion.  She can spot someone struggling from a mile away and is so eager to intercept and help out.  She has such a beautiful heart.  Out of all of our children, Lillie loves animals the most.  She is a natural with them.  I have noticed a simple consistency with people that those who love animals seem to be so aware of others and their needs.  Interesting.

These pictures capture perfectly why mothering is hard.  In the above picture, I see a growing mature girl blossoming into womanhood.  In the below picture, I see a little girl who was so excited to dress up for All Saint's Day and ran around and played like a child.  It leaves your head spinning at times.
My VERY favorite thing about Lillie is that she doesn't care a drop about her appearance.  She is so unaware and carefree about her clothes, hair, shoes, whatever.  She is thankful for anything in her drawer and would much rather be doing a million other things than worry about that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

All Saints Day 2015

The planning involved is so intense. I LOVE it and only wish I could sew elaborate costumes because it would be really fun to deliver their desired costumes complete with elaborate plans to fly, bilocate, and all the good things the holy saints did.   Every year, the planning begins way before October.  We always vacillate between going all together as a theme or just letting everyone pick their own.  I could trick-or-treat for hours.  I especially enjoy watching our little ones sprint from house to house trying so hard to keep up with the big kids.  I love watching them lug along their props only to find myself five houses into the the whole ordeal weighted down with paraphernalia.  The kids were ready to go home and it was ME asking them, "Let's go one more block."  We had our traditional Chipotle feast where everyone gets to have their OWN bowl or burrito.  We then make a few stops at old neighbors before hitting up the neighborhoods.
Dominic as St. George

Lillie as St. Gabriel

Rose as St. Agnes

Zellie as St. Zelie Guerin the lace maker

Vianney as St. Ursula

Clairvaux as St. Zita

Damaris as St. Kateri

Kapaun representing the Holy Martyrs of China.  John provided the hair split down the middle for added pleasure.

Baby Kateri played by Lourdes

A great picture into the sun at the Super Bowl of Saints with the Christ the King Sisters.