Friday, January 28, 2011

To Be or Not to Be?

When I was little, I wanted to be a nurse.  My grandmother and my mom were nurses and I desired to help others.  I was fascinated by stories my mom would tell about her patients and the experiences she had working at the hospital.  As I grew older (highschool), I became interested in pshychology.  I liked our social worker at school, and so I decided I wanted to be a social worker.  Then when it came time for college, I selected elementary education as my major.  I don't think I ever really wanted to be an elementary teacher, but I needed to select an area of study and so many people were signing up for it, that I just checked the box and viola!  I was an education major.  I really enjoyed the education classes I was taking.  Being a liberal arts school, I was required to take a religion class.  It was a challenging class and raised many questions for me.  I decided to take another religion course and loved it.  During my sophomore year, the chair of the Religious Studies department contacted me.  She noticed I was taking quite a few religion courses.  After my conversation with her, I decided to change my major to Religious Studies.  I wanted to be a religion teacher.  I graduated with a BA in Religious Studies and began a career in Parish Ministry - not quite what I had in mind, but the door was opened to me and I walked through it.  It has been apart of life for 15 years.

With all of that being said, I am going to share a dream of mine that I have never shared with anyone before.  For most of my life, I have pictured myself being a motivational speaker.  I know it sounds crazy, even more so now that I've put that thought out there, but it is true.  Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother's house.  She enjoyed watching Public Television which aired one of her favorite authors; Dr. Leo Buscalgia.  He was a professor who taught classes on love.  She would have me sit with her and watch Dr. Buscualgia lecture to crowds of people, all listening intently.  Even at my young age, I was impressed by his passion.  I thought it would be invigorating to have the ability to stand before a group of people and speak so eloquently. 

A few nights ago, I spoke at my church about the Saints and The Beatitudes.    I was quite nervous as the time drew nearer, but once I began, I felt very comfortable speaking in front of people.  I am very passionate about my faith, and tried to incorporate life experiences into what I was saying.  My talk went pretty well, and as I reflected on my experience that night, I was reminded of my "dream" and thankful that I had the opportunity to share my passion with others.  Although my dream is far-fetched, it is fun to just dip my toes into the river of possibilities as they present themselves.  As for now, I am called to be a wife and mother.  I can motivate my kids, can't I?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dignity of Life

Yesterday was the anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Each year at this time I give thanks that my parents chose life for my siblings and I, and that they instilled in each of us the importance of recognizing the dignity in every human life.  I am prolife.  I have always been and always will be prolife.  I believe that if society doesn't give a damn about life in its earliest and most vulnerable stages, then why is anyone surprised that society doesn't give a damn about any other stage of life?  I believe, with every ounce of my being, that the recoginition of life beginning at conception will lead to the resolve of many problems in the world.  Again, it goes back to honoring the dignity in every human life.

See full size image"A woman who sets her rights, the supposed right to privacy or right over her own body, above the life of another human being is saying that a woman’s rights are superior to human rights. She has put herself above the human race, she has made herself the executor over life and death. Is that a woman’s right?"  Janet Smith


I don't sit here pretending to have all of the answers.  The act of abortion is wrong, but the women who choose to have an abortion are not bad.  I think often times they are misled believing that it is the easy way out or it is their only option.  It is important that we don't pass judgement, but rather, offer support, love and resources.  It is our calling to see the face of God in every life, from conception to natural death.

"Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death." 
                                                                                                                                      Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meal Time

Meal planning is one of the most dreadful tasks I have as a domestic engineer.  I don't mind grocery shopping and I like to cook, but planning a menu is a thorn in my side.  It is one of the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning - "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?"  As a family we have attempted a week-at-a-time menu.  It worked well while we kept up with it, but soon it fell to the wayside.  So now we have come up with "theme" nights.  Monday - hotdish, Tuesday - Mexican night, Wednesday - brupper, Thursday - grill, Friday - pizza, Saturday - parent's choice, Sunday - smorgasborg.  My favorite night is Wednesday brupper (breakfast for supper).  Other than Friday's pizza, it is the one night even my picky eaters will enjoy.  Tonight we had french toast and bacon.  Not one morsel remained.

Cooking for a large family poses a few problems.  In the mix, I have a couple of picky eaters, two that will eat almost everything, one that barely eats anything, and one who loves to leave the table early, only to wander back and eat off mine and Monkey Toes plates.  So creating the "perfect" meal is rare.  Tonight as I pulled out the large griddle, Sweet Pea and Pumpkin Pie decided it would be fun to crawl around me and through my legs.  I finally convinced them to play with the Mr. Potato Head.  I knew this would buy me a few minutes of peace, so I went into the zone - that is, I pretended I was an Iron Chef.

I hurried from the refrigerator, to the stove, to the cupboard, gathering a mixing bowl, whisk, and ingredients.  I cracked eggs, added a little this and that and whisked to my little hearts content.  While the french toast was cooking, I started the bacon, made some syrup, mixed the orange juice and set the table.  I had my hair pulled back, a towel on my shoulder and a spatula in hand.  With food on the table, I proudly called out to my brood "suuuuuuuuupper",  to which I heard big and little feet scurry into the kitchen.  We all sat down, said our meal prayer and I served up my creations.  In about 10 minutes, the only ones who remained were me and the baby in the highchair.  We sat and looked at each other as if to say "what just happend and where did everyone go?"   Then, I just laughed. 

It doesn't matter if it takes me 5 minutes or 2 hours to prepare a meal.  For the kids, mealtime is more or less a pitstop in their daily schedules.  I can take great care in producing a delicious, nutritious, and pretty to look at meal, or I can slap together a bunch of PB& J's and the kids wouldn't know the difference (at least not yet).  Whether grand or simple, mealtime is more about sitting down together as a family, with no distractions, even if for just 10 minutes.  Now. . . .what to serve for tomorrow. . . .hmmmm. . . .

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monkey Toes

I affectionately refer to my husband as Monkey Toes.  Early in our relationship I discovered that he can pinch - really hard - with his toes.  His whole family can pick things up with their feet.  Actually it's quite astounding.  So somewhere along the line, he has been nicknamed Monkey Toes.  One of my roommates in college and I had an idea once of opening up a coffee house and naming it Monkey Toes.  It was going to have an island motif - not island tacky, but island sophisticate (whatever that is).

Tonight, Monkey Toes is not feeling well, so here I am on my computer.  After running around all day with the kids and trying to keep up the house, I look forward to the evenings where Monkey & I can just sit and relax. Once the kids are in bed, we can actually have an adult conversation - truly a luxury.  But no matter what we do, whether sharing about our day or just simply watching t.v. together, I am thankful that I have my life to share with him. He is a loving husband, a fun dad, and a wonderful provider for our family.  He works hard, and as is evidence tonight, it often catches up with him.  I'm hoping sleep will remedy him.  So sleep well Monkey, feel better, and know that I love you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Today was Pumpkin Pie's 18 month check-up.  No shots, just measurements, so I thought it would be a simple trip.  As we were pulling into the clinic's parking lot, I heard the wretched sound of "bleh."  As I looked in my review mirror, poor little Pumpkin was throwing up.  At first I thought it was just a little, but as I pulled her from the van, I realized she was sitting in most of it.  Now a few years ago, something like this would probably make me gag.  I really don't think I could have handled such a situation.  However, motherhood has catapulted me into the trenches of not only the occasional sick child, but the really gross and disgusting realities of childhood.  Take for instance my experience a few weeks ago. 

I went to our basement to check on the kids and found a "foreign" substance on the light switch.  At first I had hoped it was just chocolate, but upon further investigation, I realized it absolutely was not.  So frantically I began disinfecting every light switch in the house and pretty much every surface.   When I asked the kids "who dun it" I received six blank stares.  I was 0 for 6 in cooperation. 

Next, I needed to get the girls ready for a Tea Party at my sister's house.  They had to take a bath.  So as the 3 youngest were splashing in the tub, I was multi-tasking (a necessity for parents) by cleaning the bathroom.  Suddenly, one of the girls screamed.  As I looked down, I saw it.  I had a mystery Dooker on my hands.  So I quickly pulled the girls out and began disinfecting the tub.  As I busied myself with the task at hand, Pumpkin (in the buff) climbed onto the sink, trying to reach her toothbrush.  As a result, she pushed my potted Peace Lily over the edge and onto the floor.  I now had a mound of black soil to clean up.  At my wits end, I gave each girl a quick shower and told them to find something to do while I cleaned up the mess.  A few moments later, yet another scream from the girls room.  Sweet Pea had found a pencil and decided to use the vanity as her canvas.  This was nothing major, just an addition to the already mass chaos .

Our house and our kids are not ALWAYS like this, but we certainly have our days when we are tested.  I believe I have come a long way since having kids and handling the "surprises" that accompany them.  Their sticky fingers, peanut butter kisses, and snuggle time grace me with a short memory on the more challenging times.  So if having these little love bugs means a little poop and a little puke, well it will always be worth it! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cuke turns 4!

Today my Lil' Cucumber turns 4.  She is a bright, funny, and very independent little girl.  This morning she ran from her room and into my arms excitedly announcing that she is now 4 years old.  I praise God for this milestone in both of our lives.

When Cucumber was only 5 weeks old, she had a runny nose and sounded congested.  One morning, Honey Bunches of Oats woke up crying and tugging at his ears.  I decided to bring Cuke along to Honey Bunches doctor's appointment.  Sure enough, he had a double ear infection.  Then the nurse wrapped, what looked like a bandaid, around Cuke's big toe.  She then left the room and got the doctor.  In what seemed like a flash, we were on our way to the Intensive Care Unit.  I was told that Cuke would need to spend the night so her oxygen levels could be monitored.  While the nurse was setting up the bed, Cuke went limp in my arms.  I cried out and he immediately took her from me and began a nebulizer, yelling for someone to call our doctor.  Cuke took a breath on her own and began to cry.  The nurse wanted to hand her back to me, but I couldn't find the strength to take my daughter.  What if she stopped breathing again in my arms?  Fortunately, my sister was working that day at the hospital and was with us.  She took Cuke for me.  Then a few moments later, Cuke once again went limp in my sister's arms.  I remember my knees going weak and sliding down to the floor with my head in my hands.  How could this be happening when I brought her in because of a runny nose?

Cucumber began breathing on her own again and we were sent by ambulance to the Children's Hospital.  Once there, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace, somehow knowing that this was exactly where we needed to be and that we all would be o.k.  Cucumber was set up in her own room, with oxygen.  She was diagnosed with RSV and the only "prescription" was supportive care, thus the oxygen.  I rarely left my little girls side, except when the nurses would send me to go get something to eat.  Each morning, we were visited by a physician, who tested Cuke's oxygen levels, and each morning, I secretly hoped that we could stay for one more night.  I was scared to bring her home.  What if she stopped breathing and I couldn't revive her?  I did not have confidence in myself to care for her.  After 5 days, I once again felt at peace.  It was the first day I hoped we would hear the words, "You can take her home today."  That is exactly what I did.

Now, 4 years later, I see a beautiful, healthy, and vivacious girl.  I thank God for her, even in all of her defiance and sassiness.  This is a girl who one moment is wrapping her arms around me and saying, "I love you Mamasita," (I think she learned that from the Chipmunk's), and then the next moment is screaming that life is not fair. Through all of her mood swings, I love this little girl who has been entrusted to us.  Happy Birthday Lil' Cucumber.  I love you to the moon and back!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Kids

I have lovingly nicknamed all of my kids after food.  It is nothing I've given much thought to, they are just names that have rolled off my tongue when they were babies.  I'm sure it has to do with my love of food.  I like to cook, I enjoy baking, and I love to eat. 

Sweet Potato is 8, in second grade and he is quite the talker.  Honey Bunches of Oats is 6, he's in first grade, and wears his emotions on his sleeve.  Gummi Bear is 5, she is in Kindergarten, and is very motherly. Cucumber is 3 and expresses herself well.  Sweet Pea is 2 and has a sweet disposition.  Pumpkin Pie is 1 and has a bright, honest smile.  She is also the loudest (or shall I say the most vocal) baby we've had.

Our house is loud, a bit chaotic, and never dull.  My husband and I frequently get asked questions about having a large family.  At first I was quite surprised by the brashness of some, but now can shrug off most of the ignorant comments.  I believe people are mostly fascinated with the idea of a large family, as those of us who have them seem to be rare.

The following was a skit I found on youtube that is very relevant to our family.  Honestly, we have heard every one of these questions.  I find this pretty funny.

Friday, January 7, 2011


The first Friday of each month is Eucharistic Adoration at our church.  Today, my mom came over to sit with the kids so I could go.  I always begin by thanking God for my husband and each of my kids.  I usually ask for guidance as a wife and mother.  Then, I sit back and simply listen.  Often times I will bring my Bible and other reading materials, but today, I just wanted to open my heart to hear what God was telling me.  I didn't walk away with any clear message, but I was moved by the experience.  I cried and didn't really know why.  As I left the church, I felt very much at peace.  I believe that God knew what I needed and gifted me with it.  I am thankful for the opportunity to spend this time with the Lord.  It gives me strength and clarity to live the life I believed I was called to live.  I've said it before and I'll say it again. . .I am blessed!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Last night my husband and I took our two boys to the Timberwolves game.  It was amazing.  Our tickets were for the lower level.  The closest I've ever sat in the Target Center has been 10 rows from the roof - so this was a totally new experience.  The highlight was when the usher, at halftime, invited us to sit at courtside.  That, I'm sure, will be a once in a lifetime experience for me.  I don't think my boys understood the rareity of this event.  Despite the Wolves loss, it was a memorable evening, made even better by sharing it with the guys I love the most!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Farewell Christmas

Today is the 12th and final day of Christmas.  I am not one who rushes into the Christmas season.  I don't decorate the day after Thanksgiving and usually don't buy gifts until a few days before Christmas Eve. I love the season of Advent and all it represents; a time of preparing our hearts for the birth of our Savior.  So I don't jumpstart my Christmas celebration.  I truly take the time to reflect on my life, my relationship with Christ, and being a better person.  When our family does celebrate Christmas, we celebrate for 12 days.  We continue to light up our Christmas tree and listen to holiday music.  We pray special prayers at meal time and leave our Nativity up in a prominent place.  So I hope everyone had a truly memorable and blessed Christmas.  May the Light of Christ shine brightly upon you and within your heart!

The following was an insert in our Sunday church bulletin. 

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS  Here is the story of the Twelve Days of Christmas. In England between 1558 & 1829 it was a crime just to be a Catholic. Even a scrap of paper with Catholic teaching written on it could have dire consequences. Catholics devised “catechism songs” with nonsense lyrics having a hidden symbolic meaning to teach the faith to their children. This is one of them.  The Twelve Days are the days between Christmas and the Epiphany, Jan. 6. The True Love in the song refers to God; the “me” who receives the presents is the baptized Catholic. And here are the gifts:  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the tree of the cross. The mother partridge, when her brood is threatened by a predator, will pretend injury to draw attention away from her helpless chicks. The partridge also recalls Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem, & all who ignore his gift of salvation: “Jerusalem how often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not!” Two turtle doves are the Old & New Testaments of the Bible. Three French hens represent the Trinity, three persons (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) in one God, as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope, & charity. Four calling birds are the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John.  Five golden rings are the first five books of the Old Testament. Six geese a-laying recall the six days of creation. Seven swans a-swimming bring to mind (a) the seven sacraments; (b) the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; (c) the seven corporal & seven spiritual works of mercy. Eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes. Nine ladies dancing represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, while ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments. Eleven pipers piping are the eleven apostles (excluding Judas) who proclaimed the Gospel to all nations. Twelve drummers drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed. As you sing The Twelve Days of Christmas during this holy season, remember its story. And teach its meaning to your children or share it with your friends.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Let's Begin. . .

Well, I've decided to dive into the pool of blogging.  There are a few blogs I enjoy following and was actually inspired by them to begin my own.  I'm unsure where I plan to go with this, but I'm excited for the journey.  I have failed miserably at keeping a hand written journal (I have at least 3 of them on my nightstand).  However, I do enjoy writing and look forward to recording my thoughts and daily life experiences - Lord knows I have an abundance of stories with a husband and 6 kids.  So here I go. . .I'm jumping in!