As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Kind of Crazy

My husband and I were out doing some Christmas shopping earlier this week.  It was the first time in years we've been able to shop together for Christmas, which is a big deal for us!  While we were out I bumped into an old colleague of mine that I worked with for many years.  We exchanged hellos and he updated me on life at the office, and then he asked me if I was working.  I casually answered no, that I was home with the kids and homeschooling, and carried on our conversation.  But after he had left I almost felt a twinge of regret that I hadn't mentioned the fact that I do freelance work on occasion.  This was the same person who, when I was pregnant with my third child and approaching maternity leave, asked me if I thought I'd get bored being home all day with nothing to do.  It was clear to me that he had no concept of what it means to be home raising a family and all the work that is involved, and that part of me felt the need to justify my current "career" choices as not a waste because I do, in fact, freelance occasionally.  I felt the nagging need to say something that showed my skills weren't being wasted, and that I did indeed have ambition.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Normal

I have been meaning to write a post for the past three weeks now, since I discovered the blessed news that my husband and I are expecting our seventh baby in June of 2015.  We are ecstatic, and though my husband assures me it's not so, I think I'm already starting to show in the way that is obvious only to a woman's eyes about her own body.  I love seeing the signs of the new life that has only resided in my body a mere eight weeks already beginning to leave its unmistakable imprint.  Life is so beautiful.

Friday, October 17, 2014


This is post I feel compelled to write, because it's not neat, and nice, and pretty.  As I sit here, typing, my kids are on their way to my mother's.  She was watching them so that I could do my part-time job of cleaning an office once a week, and she offered to keep them for the night.  Which is really a Godsend for all of us, because I think we all needed the break.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Homeschool Tweaks

We were facing some pretty significant problems at the end of the school year last June, not the least of which was one (or more) distracted students, a school day that dragged on well beyond the intended end time (and with no additions to the curriculum), and an overly busy schedule.  At the time I chalked it up to it being the end of the year, and the kids and I needing a break.  When September rolled around and we started with all of the same problems however, I knew something had to change.  I'd love to say that this happened without a major meltdown from me, but it's not true.  After my very first (first!) day of school this year I lamented to my husband, "I caaaaan't do this for another year!!!"  A couple of days later at a meeting of homeschool Moms I shared the same thoughts.  I prayed and cried and prayed some more, and eventually God helped me to see the areas I could improve upon.  I share them with you in the event that they may be helpful, knowing of course that every family, like every child, is different. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stay-At-Home Feminist

I’ve watched a few great videos about feminism lately, including one by UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson and another by Laci Green.  They both made powerful points about gender equality and stereotypes, and sought to de-vilify the word feminism in order to move forward with the necessary work that still needs to be done to improve the condition for women around the world.  Both were excellent, and you may be wondering what someone like me can add to the conversation?  Hasn’t everything already been said?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Busy Week

We're finishing up our fourth week of school, and this week has been the busiest so far.  They won't all be so crazy, but right now I'm enjoying the freedom of being able to pick up and do things a little bit easier than I could this time last year, when I still had a little-ish baby to work around.  This week, for the first time since school started, we had something to do every single day.  On the average week I try to make sure I only go out two days of the five, and I try as best I can to make sure they aren't in a row.  Today we were out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, today and will be again tomorrow.  It's been exciting and exhausting.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If you let your children touch Jesus

A friend recently asked me if I had any tips for bringing very young children to Mass.  Immediately it brought me back to the days when all of my children were little (when my oldest was four, and I had a two-year-old and a baby at the same) and I remembered just how difficult that was.  I thought of all the things that kept me going in those years, when Mass was such a trial for me, my children, and anyone sitting around me.  I worried that I left more sinful and flustered than when I came.  I worried my kids had no clue what a gift the Mass was, and that my lack of patience was not teaching them.  I worried we were ruining the Mass for everyone around us.  But always, I knew Jesus was there.  And for me, that trumped everything.  I knew this was good, and that even if I couldn't see it, there were so many graces we were gaining, for us and our children, every time we came here.  This is the only place we can bring our children to see Jesus in the flesh.  That was the only thing that got us through those difficult years.  And so, we persist.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Not Worthy

As the parents of many children, at any one period of time we find we're having one or more issues with one or more children.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming (and they're still little - I can only imagine what it will be like when they're bigger!) And sometimes you feel defeated, like you're just not up for the task.  This week, God has really helped me to take a look at that and be thankful for the the crushing weight of this burden, and the realization that this is a job that's bigger than I am.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Back to School (Thank Goodness!)

Back in July I wrote about how much I needed summer vacation.  And it's true, I did.  For a multitude of reasons July ended up being super-busy, and there was no way I could keep up the pace of the many months that preceded it.  I always enter the summer with the realization that I need this break, and I always leave it with the realization that I need my routine back.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Crucified by Patience

"We are called to accept the crucifixion of patience." (Catherine Doherty).

We've all done it.  We've seen that mother out in public, yelling at her kids.  Maybe they deserved it and maybe they didn't, but when we look at her we know it's not right.  We go home and cry a little bit in our hearts, and vow that when we have children of our own, we will never do that.  We'll be patient.  We will explain to our children why we want them to do ask we ask.  We will understand that it's not easy to be a kid learning boundaries, and will be empathetic to their pushing, not taking it personally.   I will never forget visiting a relative with many children one time as a university student, and leaving his home so distraught over how much he yelled at his children (never considering for once how the fact that I dropped in unexpectedly at suppertime must have amped up the pressure at one of the busiest and stressful times of day for a household of children.)  And now, as a Mom of just as many children, I am the very same.  I never wanted to be that Mom, but I am.  I yell far more often than anyone ever should, and I am not nearly as patient and rational as I wish I was.  It is my single biggest struggle as a parent.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

If Today You Hear God's Voice

It's funny how hearing something can completely take you back.  The gospel acclamation today was Psalm 95:8: "If today you hear God's voice, harden not your heart."  In an instant, I remember being at this same weekday Mass twelve years ago.  At that time I had been dating my boyfriend for three years, and like probably most young Catholic women in a dating relationship was desperate to be married.  Conversations in that time generally took on the tone of "WHEN???"  Even strangers were asking us when we would just hurry up and get married already.  We were 21 years old, and had been talking marriage pretty much since we first got together, at 18.  It seemed like it was in the cards.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Potty Training Case Study - Tips and Tidbits after Six Children

My daughter is 22 months old, and we just started potty training her a couple of weeks ago.  She was not showing any signs of readiness (understanding of the potty, keeping dry diapers, desire to use the toilet, etc.)  But I just happened to have a week with nothing planned and thought, "what the heck?"  Since this is the sixth time around for me, I've developed a pretty good case study for what works and what doesn't in our household - and age is definitely at the top of the list.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Thousand Ways to Die

"Christ calls us to be like Him.  But what did He do? In the gospel, we hear that the people wanted to make Him king, because He gave them material things - fed them bread and fishes, raised the dead, cured the sick.  But He fled, out of their way, for His kingdom is not of this world (John 6:5-15).  To the contrary, Jesus did His greatest work when He was nailed to a cross, helpless, unable to give anyone anything except love and His life.  This redeemed us." (Catherine Doherty)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thank You For Coming

I attended Ash Wednesday Mass this year at the church where I often attend Sunday Mass. In our diocese like many other attendance is dwindling.  And yet on Ash Wednesday, the church was packed.  It almost reduced me to tears to be surrounded by so many people, many I knew and many I didn't.  It made me question why this particular Mass would be a priority to so many people, many who (presumably) do not attend regularly throughout the year.  I get it with Christmas and Easter, those Masses feel good.  They are a celebration, a tradition people keep up with their families.  We feel good when we leave, like we've done the right thing.  But on Ash Wednesday it's all about our sinfulness.  And here I was sitting in a church full of people who all came to hear that they are sinners, to remember that they are dust, and unto dust they shall return.  It was beautiful, and made me feel a connection to all of them, that there is this universal recognition that we need more than ourselves in order to overcome our desire to sin.  We need God - and these people know it.  These people, many of whom do not come to Sunday Mass but still take up lenten sacrifices, these people I walk beside in my daily life and think to be so distant from me, they really are not.  I felt one with the human family in that moment, in a way I could not explain.  These people touched me, lifted my soul, and I was so blessed by that one Mass that they chose to attend.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Two Minutes

Two minutes.  That's how long a temper tantrum that's lasting for what feels like an eternity actually takes.  It's also how long it takes to get a little perspective.  Two minutes isn't very long, but when a stubborn child is putting their feet down, and is in an "everything is making me cry because you didn't let me do what I want to do, and I just hit my toe, and I wish it was sunny today, and can I please have a snack - wait, that's what I was crying about in the first place - waaaaaaaaah!" let's just say it feels a whole lot longer. One of my children, if you haven't guessed, is in this phase.  They have been there before and seemed to come out of it.  "Great," thought I, "they're finally maturing a little bit."  Nope.  I'm going to guess this is fairly typical, which I hope will provide me some comfort but these days, it's just daunting.  I have a house full of babies already, and when my big kids start acting like babies I go from zero to sixty - quick.  Not good.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday - My Beautiful Birthday Boy

This is such a timely post, since my current baby is approaching her second birthday.  It's the first time ever that I have not had another baby either in my arms, or very close to entering the world.  In fact for now there are no new babies in the near future for us, and while I am enjoying a new stage in our family life, it doesn't come without longing for the precious days that belong to new babyhood.  I spent the day with friends who have a three-month-old baby yesterday and actually got to hold their sleeping baby for a long time, and it brought back a flood of memories of what that life is like.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Need Summer

Every year just before summer begins, I have grand ambitions about the school work we're going to do over the summer.  Nothing extraordinary of course, just "bridge" work, or little daily things to "keep them fresh".  This year the goal was to finish off a few books my kids had not finished in the school year, because way back as a new homeschooling parent I made the mistake of being over-zealous to start a new book in April or May if a child had finished a subject, which means that each of my kids find themselves partway through at least one subject (to be clear, they are partway ahead, but still the idea of not finishing neatly at the end of the school year stresses me out!) And of course, as has happened since the beginning of my homeschool, those plans take a hike somewhere around the second week of summer when I realize one simple thing - we all need a break!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beautiful Mess

It is a great paradox in my life that while I have never cleaned more often in my life, my house has never looked messier.  If you had walked into my home ten years ago, you might look around and say that it was well-kept and clean, when in all actuality the floors had probably not been vacuumed in a week and a mop was something that collected dust in my closet, the toilets were probably deceivingly white despite the many weeks without a good scrubbing, and the pile of dirty dishes was just tucked neatly beneath a cutting board in the sink, keeping them out of sight, out of mind.  Today if you walk in, you will likely leave your shoes on because the floor is sticky despite yesterday's vacuum and mopping, the tower of dishes that looms in the sink is likely too large to be hidden beneath anything (and is in fact, just today's dishes, which will be washed in the afternoon as yesterday's were), the bathroom will smell of urine from a little boy who can't get his aim right, and despite the fact that the toilets are sprayed and wiped down nearly every day.  I have never cleaned more in my life, and my house has never looked as messy.  Appearances can be deceiving.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

East2West 2014 - Praising Jesus, Kids in Tow

One week ago today we undertook our first camping trip with our three oldest boys to attend East 2 West, Canada's biggest Christian Music Festival.  Our journey began back in the fall when a friend posted on facebook, "Who wants to go to this with me?" I had never heard of it before, but three of my favorite bands were the main acts each of the nights - Jeremy Camp, The Newsboys, and Third Day.  We were given tickets to a Newsboys concert in our hometown a few years ago which we took the boys to, and it was our first shared concert experience with them.  It was such a powerful experience to share with them, because contemporary music and worship was such a big part of my conversion, and something I don't often have an opportunity to engage in anymore.  Being with the kids at a live event and seeing the way it really resonated with them as it did with us made us eager to attend East 2 West, since it was so close.  And so in January, in order to get the early bird prices, we locked in our adventure and bought tickets.

Throwback Thursday - On Children

It's so funny to me to look back and see that even when I only had three children, people were contstantly saying, "Wow, you must have your hands full!" And I did, I suppose.  But now that the number of children has doubled and that life is so far removed from me, I can't even imagine what it was like now . Those days were so hard and yet, there was grace.  I lived one day at a time because I didn't know anything else, and God blessed me richly.  We just returned home from a vacation with just our three big boys, and it was such a gift to spend time with each of them without the little ones around.  I love the little ones, but life can be consumed with them - which isn't a bad thing, but a little break every now and then helps you to realize that life won't always be this crazy.  One day, there will be time to listen to a quiet middle child's story in its entirety, or to toss a frisbee at a beach because you don't need to be stuck to a toddler who might disappear in an instant in a busy crowd.  One day there will be time to just be with older children and hear their thoughts, or watch their faces light up at the things that bring them joy.  And as a friend whose youngest starts high school in the fall shared with me yesterday, one day too there will be loneliness.  One day children will grow up, with go their seperate ways and begin their new lives, and I will find myself longing for the chaos and busyness, the joy that fills these crazy days.  As I continue on this path, my prayer is that God sustains me through the trials, and helps me not to take for granted all the goodness that is in the midst of it all - all my children together, under one roof, growing together with me.  Such blessed days, and I am truly grateful to be here with them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday - This is How God Works in my Life

Do we ever really have things figured out?  This post makes me laugh, because I feel like I could have written it yesterday.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lighten Up on the Grey Hair

If there's one thing I can't hear people say, it's this: "When I look around at Mass, all I see is grey hair."  Because I will tell you something.  The little parish that I live in has the strongest and most faithful community I have ever experienced.  They are the kind of people who know the name of every person in that parish, who rejoice in new members and go out of their way to introduce themselves to new people.  Who stop by your house and bring pie when you've just moved in.  Who host after every single Mass a coffee and sweets social in the lobby by donation, and who consistently have regular, well-attended social events and fundraisers outside of Sunday Mass.  And guess what?  More than the majority have grey hair.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Can't See The Weeds For The Garden

This week's throwback post is something I still struggle with every day.  Though we're not as sick now as we were in those days (we were really sick a lot then!) there are different things that cause me to reach the end of my rope.  I'm coming to see those things as a true gift, because they don't allow me to coast along oblivious to my sin.  They force me to deal with that real deep-rooted selfishness, which is still so real for me.  This is why this life is so good, this is why these children are the greatest blessing to me.  I pray that one day I can be the mother they truly deserve, and I know it's only by their help and guided by the loving hand of God that I even have a prayer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Heaven Has a New Saint

If you were to see us on the street, we would appear to be a family of eight.  In fact up until a few weeks ago, we were a family of ten, with two little saints waiting for us in Heaven.  John Paul Gerald, who was miscarried in March of 2005 at about 12 weeks, and Gabriel, our Advent baby, miscarried in December of 2011, also in the first trimester though we're not entirely sure on dates.  We recently discovered that I had been blessed with a ninth pregnancy (Nine! Wow!), a baby who was also destined to live their whole life in Heaven.  As a parent, there can be no greater joy than knowing a child has made it in Heaven. For the children living with us we do our best to point them in that direction, and pray that we would not do anything to hinder it (as I sure all too often we do).  But for these three little souls, the battle is already won.  Thanks be to God for His goodness!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life Lessons from my Six-Year-Old

"Mommy," a voice calls up the stairs long after bedtime, "I'm a little bit sad."  It's Stephen, my six-year-old.  He shares a room with two older brothers, both of whom have long since gone to sleep, leaving him to ponder the mysteries of life.  And in that pondering he has come to a conclusion. "I felt like I don't care that much about Barnaby, and that makes me sad." Barnaby is a much beloved teddy bear.  I don't remember where he got him, but he loves that thing.  And yet, I suppose as every child does one time or another, he's probably feeling like maybe he's outgrowing him just a bit.

Throwback Thursday - Stop and Smell the Daisies

Wow, this week's throwback post is so poignant for me.  It was written at a time when I thought I could get this under contol, like maybe if I worked hard enough at it, I could turn things around so my kids would not know me as a raging, yelling Mom.  This was written when my oldest was four years old.  Now he's ten and I have twice as many children, and they all know better than anyone just how much I struggle with my temper.  It's a control issue I know, and one of the things that has stuck with me the strongest since the spiritual exercises I was blessed to attend a few weeks ago is that the problems of our life will reveal what is the essential for us.  I want Christ to be the essential, but in order for that to happen I need to use these problems as an opportunity to meet Him, to tell Him how much I need Him, and to let Him help.  If I keep pretending like they're just going to go away, like one day I'll have it so together that I'll never struggle like this, then I always will, because I will always be keeping the burden with me.  I need to learn to let it go, to let this daily provocation be an invitation to go deeper and meet Jesus.  Such a great reminder for me, and also encouragement to go back and reach into some of the coping techniques I had in the past.  Taking a time-out to engage myself and my with the world around me might be the best way to remember that God is greater than any of the problems I have, and that I need to trust in Him.  And if it helps to stop the screaming, on my part or the kids, that's always a good thing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Gentle Alternative to "Cry-it-Out"

My 19-month-old has recently decided she does not want to go down to bed, at naptime or at bedtime.  With the approaching summer meaning more hours of daylight, I can't expect any help in the form of darnkess at bedtime from Mother Nature.  My kids are all great sleepers.  I nursed them to sleep until they were all over a year (something the "experts" caution against strongly) and had no problem transitioning any of them to being put down awake.  No bottles, no rocking.  This is where the "cry-it-out" method came into play for me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Get It In

Six years later, this is still a lesson I struggle to learn. My biggest trial lately is just learning how to deal with the constant mental demands on my life.  The fact that it seems so difficult even to finish a complete thought without interruption.  Here is this week's throwback post about praying in the midst of distraction.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Little Mary

I've never done a link-up before, but I have been meaning to write a post in honor of the month of Mary about how our little Mary got her name.  My orginal hope was to do it on Mother's Day, but that had me on an unexpected whirlwind vacation alone with my husband (the first we've ever taken alone together for as long as we did - six days of pure bliss!) and I was not able to post.  So when I found out that Elise over at In Endless Song was hosting a link-up of posts on Mary, I didn't want to let the opportunity slip away. (Thanks for the encouragement, Elise!)  So without further ado, here is my story of how the Lord has chosen Mary for us.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Princess" isn't a bad word

There’s an older gentleman at our church who takes up the collection, who absolutely loves my girls.  He speaks loud enough to suggest he may be slightly hard of hearing, meaning the whole church (or at least the ten pews closest to our vicinity) can always clearly hear him say, “How’s the family?  Oh look at the little princess!”  He never fails to stop us after Mass to say hello, to tell us of his children and grandchildren, his beloved wife who has passed on (and whom he loves more than anything), all the while addressing my five-year-old as, “the princess”.  She beams every time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Like a Child

"Let all the earth cry out to God with joy!" That's the psalm for this weekend.  The kids and I just finished talking about it, and how every day, every moment contains with it the possibility for joy.  Particularly during Easter, the Church turns us towards joy - the joy of the risen Christ, the joy that all the sufferings and trials we endure are not in vain.  It is not a false or fabricated joy, built on its own reasoning and doomed to crumble under the weight of its own inadequacy.  This is what happens when, as St. John of the Cross says, we caught so caught up in the method of our devotions that we loose sight of the reason for devotion itself - that deep, passionate, personal relationship with Christ.  The one that realizes joy is more than a feeling of elation, that joy can exist simultaneously with fear, that joy in fact gives us what we need to weather any kind of suffering.  It is hope and trust that sees us through the most difficult parts of our journey.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Kids: Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

The timing of these throwback posts never ceases to amaze me.  As I recount the story of a particularly frazzled evening with my kids many years ago, I am just returning from a six-day vacation alone with my husband, our first ever.  We returned home grateful for the time away, for the gift of our children, and the family and friends who lift us up and give us the opportunity to get away knowing our children are in good hands. Someday I'll write a beautiful post along those lines but until then, here's the other side that is so often the reality, and equally beautiful.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Thank God for Nature

I love reading these old posts, because it reminds me how very different life was.  It seemed so overwhelming at the time and yet, God still reached in and somehow guided me through those years, and I can have faith that if He did it then He will do it now, and He will do it in the future in whatever life brings my way.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Like My Boy

Jeff and I were in the kitchen this evening when we heard a basement door open.  The kids had been in bed for a bit, and I heard the spleepy voice of my six-year-old calling me from the basement, muttering something.  I sped to the basement, fearing that maybe he was sick (isn't that always the first thing that pops into your mind when a child awakes in the night?) Then in fact, he told me the real problem.  "I think I need someone to lay with me for a bit until I fall asleep," he said. "I'm a little bit scared."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Lest I Forget

Six years ago it was a little easier for me to get used to the daily interruptions of motherhood.  Now I have twice as many children and infinitely more interruptions, and this has become the single biggest challenge of my life. How to function in a world when finishing a job, a task, a sentence, a complete thought, without being interrupted seems like such a luxury.  It seems like a daily assault on my senses, and never ceases to remind me of how impatient I am.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Manuscript Unpublished

We are each a manuscript unpublished

A story to be told
A life to behold
A mystery to unfold
The discretion ours alone

Throwback Thursday - Friends Again

It is entirely fitting that as I write this, I am basking in the joy of a great visit from some homeschool friends. I can't help but be grateful for the way my life has changed since I wrote this post six years ago. At that time Jeff and I felt so isolated, so far out in the country and with such small babies.  We really were much more restricted in those days when it came to how often we could get out to see people, and we had very few people who were really willing to invest time and energy into visiting us on anywhere near of a regular basis.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Grand and the Grandeur

This year, as we have often done in years past, we took our kids to the Easter Vigil. It didn't come without much back and forth though.  It's long, it's late, the kids are WI-RED at that hour of night.  My three-year-old is in a particularly difficult stage of development where he screams like Gollum from Lord of the Rings at the mere thought of the word, "No."  We knew it would be good for them to go, but we weren't sure if it would be good for us.  In the end however, we did decide to go. And I'm so glad that we did.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Who are you in the Crucifixion narrative?

Yesterday evening, Good Friday, we watched The Passion of the Christ with some friends.  In keeping with the solemnity of the day, we concluded our evening in silence.  Silence is wonderful for what it does to the soul.  It gets us past those creature comforts and instant gratification, and turns us inward, to ourselves.  As hard as it was to deny the urge to talk to everyone about their thoughts on the movie, it was good because it forced me to consider what I really thought for myself.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday - A Better Mother

Reading this week's throwback post was funny to me, because as I started delving into these things I realized what a luxury it was back then to have a babysitter I could drop older kids off to once a week.  It just seemed like a normal thing at the time (so much so that I wrote about it in every post!) and yet, not something that would last.  Finding a babysitter was such a heartwrenching experience, but the Lord provided someone right within our parish who was a Godsend, and continues to be a good friend, many years since we've stopped needing her babysitting services.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ugly Love

We're finally on the mend from a stomach bug that took over a week to go through our house.  I called it "The Noah's Ark" bug, because it took us out two-by-two.  I know that stomach flus may not be everyone's idea of a great post (get over it already, I hear people telling me!) but when you have kids it can be quite harrowing.  Just ask Simcha Fisher, who says in one of my favorite posts:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kids Art - Eric Carl

In honor of the beautiful springy weather, I wanted to post some sunny pictures the kids made in Art with our  homeschool co-op.  It follows the style of Eric Carl, and each picture needed to have a sun.

Happy spring!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday - If You Can't Laugh At Yourself, You'll Go Crazy

Two things strike me about this post - 1) the timing couldn't be better, since our two littlest have been battling a stomach bug, and last night ended up being just one such night as I describe in my earlier post.  And 2) I was much more crude in my speech back then!  Maybe it was because it was just Facebook and not on the whole Internet (which of course Facebook is, but it's locked to anyone except my friends, giving me more security, false though it may be!)  Or maybe it was because I was in the throws of parenting three children ages three and under that left me a little rough around the edges.  Be that as it may, here are my undoctored (and uncensored) words from 2008.  Brace yourself! (it's really not that bad.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Music to my Ears

Music has been a big part of my life.  Growing up our house was always filled with music, and both sides of my family are gifted musicians.  My mother is from Newfoundland and my Dad is from Chatham, New Brunswick, and we were always surrounded with the flavor of both of those cultures.  When I became connected with a group of young people from the Queen of Peace Charismatic Prayer Group, I was engulfed in a new kind of music called Praise and Worship, that spoke to my heart a language I knew well. Through the gift of music Jesus romanced me and called me into deeper relationship with Him, and it continues to be one of the most powerful things for me.  Here is an early post about finding my musical footing in a house full of babies.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Kids Art - Winter Owls

Our kids have the blessed privilege of taking art classes from one of the teachers at our local Catholic school.  She comes in once every two weeks to our homeschool co-op and guides our kids through many amazing techniques to produce masterpieces that we had no idea could come from our children!  If you visit Divine Mercy Catholic School, examples of her instruction can be seen lining the walls.  She is an amazingly gifted teacher, and we are so fortunate to have her come work with our kids.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Following the lead of my three favorite bloggers (Rachel at Testosterhome, Sarah at Clover Lane, and Kelly at In the Sheepfold), I decided to make a list of our favorite unplugged activities.  Truth be told it is quite ironic, because while almost every day around our house is unplugged (electronics are not a given on any day, and quite often we go entire days without any screen time. When we do allow screens, it is usually in controlled doses of no more than an hour, once a day).  As I am writing, our kids are all parked in front of the TV with a friend having a games day.  I don't mind that once in a while, particularly given our general lifestyle without screens.  This is a rare treat to be enjoyed, something to keep little (and not-so-little) boys occupied on a dreary and rainy day, and to foster community within our neighboorhood.  We're all present in the same room, and everyone can enjoy the fun even if only a few are playing at a time.  It's all good fun!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Untroubled Heart

Sometimes life can be difficult.  We cling to this false notion we have of peace, that the peace of Christ is in everything that He is in, and when we lose our peace it can be quite disconcerting. No more so, I am coming to learn, than in relationships.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Perspective

My oldest son (almost ten) reminded me that it's Throwback Thursday, and that I should put up an old blog post.  How fun is that?  Though he doesn't actually read my blog (except when I'm typing and he's reading over my shoulder, and that's only until I shoo him away because I really can only take so much of that!) the truth is I think he's really interested in it, which is a good thing.  I don't kid myself, it's not because I wrote something, but because I wrote something on the Internet!  He loves technology, and I kind of like it, because I do to.  I hope he can use it in many good and holy ways, to glorify God with his life and share his gifts with many people.

Hardest Number

I did a post a few days ago about how six is my magic number, and well worth every bit of work it takes raising them.  So often people say things like, "I don't know how you do it", and "I only have two kids and I'm swamped!"  But I'll let you in on a secret.  For me, two was definitely harder than six.  In fact, of all my children I found two to be the hardest of all.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Do

I had a moment about a month ago when it hit me - this is what I do. It was early morning, I had just finished dressing the baby and was still in pjs myself, trying to motivate my kids to get dressed and do their morning jobs, and thinking that I needed to make sure I threw in a load of laundry before the school day started.  For the first time in my ten years of marriage, when I weaned my baby (at sixteen months old) I was not expecting a new one. And it occurred to me that this is the most steady my life has been in a long time. For so long I had been in constant change-mode: baby on the way, mat leave, getting ready to go back to work, baby on the way, home again, work again, home for good, baby again!  Now however, I find myself in the unexpected place of being able to settle in just a little bit.  Not too much of course, because if there's one thing I know as a Mom it's that things are always changing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Families at their Best (my very first post!)

Before my husband and I were married, I spent many of my late teen and early adult years sharing my faith on a youth ministry team.  We married in 2003, and embraced a new ministry as domestic church.  I longed to share my faith, but involvement in youth minstry was no longer a possibility.  I deeply missed the community I had in those years, and remembered a dear friend and her "teapot ministry" as a young Mom.  She simply opened the door of her home to friends and neighboors, and shared her faith with anyone who happened to pop by for tea.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Timothy's Five-Year Post

I was doing some thinking after my little girl turned five and I wrote the usual five-year post, that it was high time I post my oldest son's five-year post to the blog (I had written and published it on Facebook, since it was before my blogging days).  As I scrolled through my blog archives though, I couldn't find one for my second son.  Even though I had been blogging for a year by the time his fifth birthday rolled around, I could not find it.

Joseph's Five-Year post

When my oldest son turned five (almost five years ago now - Wow!) I started doing these "Five Years Ago" posts.  That was before the days of my blog, and I posted simply as a note on Facebook.  For old time's sake, and for the purpose of having my memories together in a central location (which is the main reason I keep a blog in the first place) I thought I would take a trip down memory lane, and bring you all along for the ride.  As this little boy prepares to turn ten this summer, here's a look back to this milestone birthday.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Magic Number

Sunday morning I was home by myself getting ready for Mass.  Jeff was working but set to meet us there, and on his sound advice I started getting the kids ready long before we actually needed to go, so that time wouldn't creep away on me.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Oh tattered knots that twist and rise
Then fall again and draw our eyes
Away from truth and into lies
From things we love to what's despised

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rend Our Hearts

At our school of community this evening, some friends and I read Pope Francis' Ash Wednesday homily.  In a school of community (a gathering affiliated with Communion and Liberation), the intent is to do a reading early in the week, and use it as prayer as you go about your week, mindful of the opportunites to meet Christ in your circumstance (and hopefully the reading offers some enlightenment, a new way of looking at things).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good That We Should Be Here

In Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross speaks about how the soul can become so burdened with meditation that it allows itself to be distracted from God.  It spends so much time and effort in constructing a particular image in its mind that it misses the Lord truly present in its midst.  Nowhere has this proven more true for me than during the rosary, and particularly the luminous mysteries.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I love the picture of my kids in the flowers in the header of my blog. I added it a while back when I was nominated for a Sheenazing award, anticipating a few extra visitors.  But ever since it's been there, I've noticed how much it didn't match the rest of my blog.  Since I love the photo so much, I got playing around and decided to make the blog match the picture.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Greatest Gift I Could Never Give

One thing I am not shy about doing is calling a priest to make an appointment for confession.  There is often discouragement of such things in favor of the appointed times for confession in parishes around the city, but but in our city the appointed times tend to be the same for the few parishes that offer them (and sadly, they are not many), and most often fall on Saturday.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  It's also March Break, and so we had planned to have a friend visit for the afternoon.  It started off as a nice relaxing day, but quickly went downhill.  My husband has been battling a terrible sinus infection for the past few days, and I had started getting it earlier in the week.  When we were at Mass, it really started to hit me.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I need to be doing right now

I'm having a moment this morning, and it's a good one.  I've been in a slump for a while, and as the great Dr. Seuss says, unslumping yourself is not easily done.  Blame it on this crazy winter (I sure do!) Blame it on the monotony of the day to day, the unceasing parade of daily responsibilities mixed with the unplanned duties, appointments, birthdays, celebrations, and storms, storms, storms!  Whatever the reason, and it doesn't really need to be pinpointed, I am worn out.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

For Love of Baking

I really hesitated about writing a post about the recipes I use, because it's not my usual type of post.  And yet, whenever baking day rolls around, I can't help but think about how working to provide my family with food (and helping save money on the things we consume often), however seemingly insignificant, really does play a big part in my sanctification.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I had to laugh at myself the other day.  In the corner of my kitchen is a heavily-used pantry, which is also very cheaply made.  About a year ago, the door fell off the hinge.  And my solution to that, a temporary one in my eyes, was to use packing tape to tape up the door until my husband could fix it.  More than a year later, it is still there and holding strong.  Except for the creaking plastic noise when the door falls open, you'd never even notice.  I marvel at my handiwork every time I go into the pantry (secretly knowing that someday it will fall off, and I will need to have it properly repaired!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The kids and I had an interesting conversation over lunch.  We have a behaviour chart on our diningroom wall that I adapted from Dr. John Rosemond's book The Well-Behaved Child (which is just an excellent, excellent book).  Basically it works like this.  There is a list of behaviour targets that we expect each of the children to do (things that we've been having problems getting them to do).  Currently we have four items on our list...that might be a tad much, now that I think about it, but it's working for now.  I think Dr. Rosemond suggests three, and then waiting until one has been improved on to the point that it no longer needs to be there before removing it and adding another one (the idea being that as you improve on a few areas at a time, the others are bound to follow).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago today I thought I was an old pro.  I awoke in the short hours before dawn with contractions for my fourth child, and my husband and I got ourselves and our three boys ready to head into town.  We dropped our boys off at the babysitter around 8:00 am, and while my contractions were irregular and varied in intensity, I was certain I would be calling them by noon with news of a little brother or sister. But it was not so.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Homeschool Day in the Life

My homeschool day in the life had a bit of a makeover this year.  When I started homeschooling three years ago, I had one student in grade one.  This year I have four in grades K-4 (not to mention my one and three year old, who always make life interesting!) And while I had managed quite nicely with a school day that went from 9-12 every day for all students, this year it became painfully clear that wasn't working for all of my kids any more.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Due to official lack of interest (on her part, not mine) my 16-month-old is officially weaned.  I only nursed one other baby as long as her, the rest were all done by a year, and I mostly let them dictate when they're done (although in the past, a return-to-work date has influenced me just a bit, though the morning and evening feedings have always been up to them.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My First Guest Post!

I'm always so surprised that anyone besides friends and family read my blog, and so very humbled.  The first time I realized anyone outside my city even perused my site, was when Kelly over at In the Sheepfold nominated me for a Liebster Award last summer.  I did a double take when I read the list of names at the end of her post and saw "Natasha".  I thought, "oh cool, she must know another Natasha," but when I hovered over the link I saw the address for blog!  I was on cloud nine, seriously, someone in Georgia reads my blog!  So cool how the Internet works.

Wacky Wednesday

While it's true that that my Wednesdays are not quite as crazy as this, (love me some Dr. Seuss!) they can be pretty crazy around here.  Throw a snowstorm into the mix (as has been the case nearly all winter - what is it with storms always coming on the same day of the week?) and they are downright batty.  I find myself in the precarious spot of trying to decide whether I should chance the weather with my van (read: world's most unreliable winter vehicle EVER) or stay home and miss piano and ballet (which we pay for, and which we've already missed for the past two weeks) yet again.  Today we had a doctor's appointment as well (why do I do this to myself?) but I rescheduled that in late March, hoping against hope not to be dealing with this kind of weather.  But today, I think I'm taking my chances.  If I meet my husband in town he can drive the van home and up our crazy bottle-of-a-road, which is really the biggest problem on days like this.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


This morning got off to a rocky start.  The baby was fussy and the toddler was troublesome - not a great time for my six-year-old to start his new reader.  But he finished his other one last week, and was so, so (so!) excited to move up a level.  I tried my best to struggle through with him and be encouraging, but it's so hard for a six-year-old to concentrate on challenging words while the baby is crying and Mom keeps interrupting to yell at the three-year-old.  He trucked along anyway, God bless him, and didn't seem to be too bothered by all of it.  Not nearly as bothered as I was.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Open to Life

So, I've been doing some reading lately.  Heavy in the superficial suffering of motherhood, I opened Dark Night of the Soul in search of a consoling quote to affirm my cross.  What I found instead what an invitation to journey into the depths of my soul, with the promise of deeper union with God in His Divine Love - something I realize I have never even come close to understanding (and am so very far from).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Open Door Policy

It's the first morning in a loooooong time that I'm set to start the school day on time (*gasp!*) So why did I choose to write a blog post right now?  Maybe I have some sort of aversion to order (I'll have to talk to my husband about that).  Really, I mostly just want to get this sweet memory down on paper before it leaves my brain.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Quiet Place

Ever since I became serious about prayer life, I've longed for a quiet place for just me and the Lord.  When I still lived at home I managed to get an old kneeler from my parish and set it up in my room, but it quickly became a catch-all for a million other things except my knees.  In our first apartment we set up a small corner in our spatious spare bedroom, but that was quickly taken over by so many things we could barely even fit in the door!  When we moved here and started having children, well you guessed it - any spare space we had quickly needed to be put to use.  At least in that case it wasn't just clutter, but I still have always wished for just one extra room, if only a small one, to dedicate to quiet prayer.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Everything I Need

We packed up our Christmas tree yesterday (which though it seems late, still way beats the year we left it up until February, and one of the kids had a major meltdown when Jeff took it out, thinking he was killing Christmas!)  This year, due to space limitations in the living room we decided to take the leaf out of our dining room table and put it in there, in the corner that is closest to the living room and where you could still see and access it from our main living space. It was one of those ideas seemed good at the time, but really (really) sucked when we actually did it.  What was I thinking taking the precious little space out of the room that is arguably the most used in the entire house, a) for meals and b) for school?  Craziness.  I won't do it again.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Sensitive Soul

Have you ever had an emotional day, only to have someone say, "you must be pregnant," or "it must be PMS"?  Pretty much ever since I hit puberty these questions have been a reality, whether it has been from people around me or just me within myself, whenever I get a tad emotional I start to think, "What's wrong?  Am I pregnant?  Am I close to my period?"

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Great School Switchup - First Grade Edition

I wrote in my last post about my struggles with two distracted students, but my action plan focused on my nine year old.  Today I have the opportunity to test drive our new school day on my six-year-old as well, and I'd like to share some of the things I am trying with him.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Great School Switch Up

Today was our first day back to school after Christmas break, a day I am normally counting down to following all the craziness of the Christmas holidays.  Not so this year.  This year, I dreaded it.  I was so not into it this morning when school time arrived.  Maybe that's because a severe ice storm in our region saw us without power for three days (a minor suffering, considering many lost theirs for a week or more) and all of our Christmas plans shuffled around for ice or snowstorms.  Maybe it's because Jeff is still on vacation this week, and I'd rather lay around and enjoy the week with him (but feel I can't justify another week off after the two we've already had).  Maybe it's because by the time Christmas break arrived, I was completely spent with the physically and mentally taxing aspects of daily life in a homeschooling family with four students and two babies at demanding ages (three and one).  Who knows exactly what caused it, but it took everything in me to get into gear this morning.  And the results of that were evident.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cut Yourself Some Slack for New Years

It being New Year's (okay, well New Year's plus two days) I've been thinking lots and seeing lots posted about resolutions.  Usually there is one thing that is completely self-evident, that I don't even need to think about what I should do, it's just there. I hear someone else, read something, see something somewhere and go, "aha! That's it.  That's what I need to work on." This year however, I find it's quite the opposite.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Finally NFP Makes Sense!

Do your New Year's Resolutions include getting a better grasp of Natural Family Planning? Mine doesn't.  Which might be why I don't find it such a chore.  In fact, for the first time in my ten years of marriage, I feel like I'm finally starting to get it.  I should clarify that this post is neither a baby announcement nor an announcement of postponement, because while I feel that the question of whether we are trying for another baby is a private one, the one thing I will offer is that we believe it is a decision to be revisted and discerned on a month-to-month basis.