Friday, July 25, 2014

We are the Champions - of the World (Series)

The most exciting thing happened this week! Owen's baseball team won their league's World Series!

World Series Champs 2014
Owen is second from the left, number five.

Seriously, this season will go down in the books as the best ever, I'm sure. What an incredible group of kids, phenomenal coaches, and a team that just got better and better as the season went on. By playoff time, they were making it look easy, but still worked their tails off every single game. I know how special it was to Owen to be a part of this, and being able to witness it from the sidelines was a privilege.

We already can't wait for next baseball season!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I cried at Costco today.

I didn't mean to. And I didn't see it coming.

It's been a tough week in a lot of ways, and I scooted out by myself just before dinner time. I was wandering kind of aimlessly, kind of toward the rotisserie chickens, when I heard a woman behind me talking on her cell phone. In Spanish. And then WHAM! that wave of emotional nostalgia that you didn't know was there but hits you really hard when it comes, well, it came.

When I was a kid, I was around the Spanish language a lot. My mom was born in Cuba, and while she adopted the U.S. culture and became a citizen, her parents never learned English when they came here. (Stupid Castro. He was supposed to fail so they could go back to their beloved homeland. They never thought they'd spend the rest of their lives here, as grateful as they were for the refuge of the U.S.) Growing up, we lived in the same town as my grandparents, and my sister and I spent every Friday night at their house for many years. Somehow we got by just fine, even with the language barrier between us. Every phone call, every visit, every holiday - filled with that lovely language. My aunt would come into town and the Spanish-speaking would quadruple. Sometimes those sisters thought they were pulling a fast one on my sister and me, as if we hadn't learned enough of the language on those Friday night sleepovers to follow a conversation, and they'd talk about something they didn't want us to hear, in Spanish, even though my grandparents were nowhere around. I grew up speaking a sort of Spanglish, but I could always understand a thousand times more than I could speak. Something about being immersed in it all those years, without ever being expected to really speak it.

We just passed the 12th anniversary of my grandfather's death. That was a hard time for my mom, as she had been the one caring for him for most of his adult life, especially in his later years. It put a strain on her relationship with her sister. Several years went by without us seeing my aunt, and all the while I was busy having babies and building my life with my new family.

My grandma did not do well after she lost her husband. She had been hard of hearing her entire adult life, likely from factory work she had done when they arrived in this country. It was difficult to carry a conversation with her, so things got much quieter without my Abuelo around. She slipped into a deep state of dementia, and then, nearly two years ago now, we lost my Abuela too.

There's no one left for my mom to talk to in Spanish. So she doesn't.

I hadn't really thought about this loss in my life. Things like that, they just seem to fade into the background while life keeps moving forward.

But that woman in Costco, speaking loud and proud in her native language, it could have been my mom 20 years ago, catching up with her sister. Me walking along side, hanging onto the cart. For a split second it was.

And that's when that wave hit me. Like losing my Abuelos all over again, but in a new way. And feeling the loss of my childhood too.

My life today is blessed beyond reason, but it's also trying, and these days are wracked with third trimester hormones that sometimes get the best of me. I was pretty embarrassed when those tears came with people bustling all around me in the store, but I'm grateful now for that little reminder. Sometimes it's good to stop and remember.

Monday, June 30, 2014


I need to get back to blogging. Because life goes by too fast, and if I don't record things somewhere, I'll turn around and it will be a blur. I just know it.

For instance, how will I ever remember the day Genevieve shoved a rock the size of a marble up her nose and I had to take her to the ER to have it removed, if I don't blog about it?

That was today, by the way. Just before Ryan got home, with me at the stove and three pots simmering, browning, and boiling, which I had to walk away from with a shout to Owen to take care of things. He did, of course, and Ryan was in the driveway as I was pulling out anyway. Thankfully, the doctors acted quickly and got it out and G-girl is just fine. Also thankfully, the process wasn't without some trauma (Picture three doctors and a nurse pinning her down from all sides while shoving metal instruments of various shapes, sizes, and functions up her nostril. And let's just say they didn't get it on the first try. I didn't actually know a nostril could stretch that much, and she did end up with a bloody nose and some broken blood vessels around it.), which I'm hoping maybe will deter her from ever thinking about doing it again. Seriously, what was she thinking.

I find it kind of hilarious/ironic that we've survived almost 15 years of parenting six boys with no trips to the ER for objects in noses, and here's my dainty little rose who shoves a rock halfway to her brain.

So besides the traumatic milestones, we've had lots of good things happening too. Like Oliver making his First Holy Communion.

Oh, how I do love witnessing my children receive Christ for the first time.
We got a gluten-free/dairy-free cake for the occasion from a local specialty bakery, so that Oliver could share a special dessert with all of his guests on his big day.

Bonus picture. Because it was in the same file as the cake, and... seriously. I know.

That's her latest Sunday Sweater. I've made it in several sizes for her now, so she always has a pretty, neutral sweater to wear over dresses. This one is the size 2/3 - too big for her right now, but I didn't finish it until April and I wanted to make sure she'd still be able to wear it in the fall.

Bonus #2 - unstaged. This is truly how I found them eating popsicles on the back porch.

Let's see, what else...
Oh! Isaac turned six and Sebastian turned four. Brothers who are born one year + 363 days apart are destined to share a celebration. We did pirates this year.

Peyton made them matching treasure maps, which led them around the backyard and to a treasure box (see modified pizza box below), which Blake made, filled with their presents. It was a simple party, but they loved it and we all had fun.

And then just last weekend, we participated in a fundraising walk for CCFA, the foundation whose mission is to cure Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.

Like him.

(Please ignore his outfit. He got his last decent t-shirt dirty just before we left and had to change into this. I've since bought him some new clothes, he was in desperate need.)

The fundraising walk was awesome. I have no words for what it feels like to know that we have that kind of support. Just look at the number of people who were there:

Walkers stretched as far as the eye can see, down 11 Mile Road:

The guys, just before we left for the two mile walk. (We took the shortcut. The full distance is three miles, but between toddlers and pregnancy, we felt justified.)

Our loved ones contributed to help us raise our goal amount of $500. We did it.

This picture makes me sad, and I flinched a little at even having taken it.

But reality is, this is what we're dealing with. And reality is, he's doing awesome. We'll continue to say our prayers and count our blessings, and God will take care of the rest.

The park we met at before and after walking was set up like a huge festival, with a DJ, races, bounce houses, food, and freebies. We told Sebastian that it was all for him.

Because it was.

One more, for good measure.

And that's all she wrote.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

There and Back Again

The week after Easter, we traveled to Tennessee to visit Ryan's parents.  They live in a tiny town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, two miles up a windy little road, in a house nestled right into the side of a mountain.  We left Monday morning bright and early, and stayed until Saturday.

 So happy to be out of the van, after a 10 hour drive!

 We mostly hung out at the house, and this was one of the things the boys were looking forward to.  Their yard is a valley, and perfect for shooting with BB guns and bows and arrows.

 We did a lot of chasing after this little girl.

 I know they were being safe, but I'm not gonna lie, I can do without this type of extracurricular.

 Exploring on the first night.  This is the hill that leads to their driveway, along the whole side of the property.  You get quite a workout!

I loved this whole series of photos of Sebastian and Genevieve! 

 Traveling clothes and sloppy hair.  She looks like she's been in the car too long.

We took one day to go have some fun.  The guys all go-karted, we spent some time at an arcade, and went out for a splurge meal at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

Always goofy faces when I ask someone to pose. 

On the way home from our day out, we visited the Elkmont Cabins.  It's a ghost town that was once a resort community of summer homes, started in the late 1800's.

This girl loves her daddy, and doesn't mind how he holds her, as long as she has him. 

 I could picture all the children that must have run along these roads at some time, excited to see their summer friends, their mamas catching up with each other in rocking chairs on the porches.

This was a tiny, cozy little cabin. 

Made me want to pick it up and plop it on some acreage somewhere in Michigan, for a little hideaway for me and the Mr. 

 One of their favorite things to do, throwing sticks and rocks in the river.

Back at the house.  You get an idea of the elevation change from the yard to the house here.  That's it up there on the left.

More shooting. 

My mother-in-law does some really cute stuff around her house.  They built this retaining wall along the side/back of the house, to keep the mountain from eroding right into their living room, and she's been dressing it up with flowers and knick knacks. 

We had so much fun watching these hummingbirds all week. 

They'd come right up on the porch next to us to eat from this feeder.  I almost got dive-bombed a couple of times trying to get these pictures. 

Another favorite pastime - metal detecting.  Old nails and pennies were never so exciting. 

Blake kindly taking Sebastian back to the house when he was done for the evening. 

I loved the view and the light here - taken from the driveway toward the back of the property. 

The end.  Til next time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday

At the beginning of last year, I decided I had had enough.  Enough excuses, and enough of letting myself go.  I didn't feel good, I didn't look good, and I knew it wasn't going to get any better unless I did something about it.

I don't "diet" well.  I'm almost always pregnant and/or breastfeeding, and that requires a certain level of intake to maintain.  I don't have time for fad diets, or patience for special food preparation for just me.  I have learned a lot about moderation in portions, and about certain foods that just shouldn't be on my radar.  Besides that though, I knew if I were going to fix things, I was going to have to get physical.

I started running.  Well, running would be a generous term for what I was doing, but I called it that.  I shuffled along as best I could for as long as I could, and I kept doing it.  Soon, I could go a little faster and a little longer.  After that, I got more comfortable in my own skin doing it.  As I got into better shape physically, the running got easier and I actually started to enjoy it.

By June, I ran a local 5k.  By August, the scale was 30 pounds nicer to me.  By October, I felt like I had blossomed into a new person.  It's amazing what can happen when you make the choice to do something good for yourself.  Running became an outlet for me, and I hadn't felt so good everyday in years.

We're in Michigan.  The weather turns us into cave-dwellers for six months of every year.  November came and I couldn't get out to run anymore.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sebastian's medical crisis.  Extra food and extra stress.  We lost our dear Monsignor so unexpectedly on December 29th, and found out two weeks later that I was pregnant.  RSV and eight solid weeks of morning sickness fog.  It's been a very hard winter.

One day a few weeks ago, it all caught up with me.  It was late afternoon and I hadn't even showered.  I handed over toddler duty to the older boys, and locked myself in the bathroom.  I decided I really needed to tune out the world for a few minutes, so I did something I hadn't done in months.  I grabbed my phone and clicked on my running music.  I chose the playlist for a 5k run, which was what I had been using when my daily run hit 3 miles.  Suddenly, I was transported to a different time and place.  I could feel the fall air on my face, the energy in my step.  I could remember the confidence and joy I had found once, that I had somehow already forgotten.

Five minutes later, I was tossed back into my current winter.  The numbers on the scale are rising again (as they should be), and I know I'll have a fight ahead of me.  I had felt it though.  Now I remember that I am strong, and now I can see that spring will come again.

I wrote this a while back and wasn't sure I was going to post it.  I decided to send Margaret some love and join her link-up, even though I'm not really "weighing in".

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yesterday was a Good Day

It was busy.  We had our homeschool co-op in the morning, came home for lunch and an hour's rest, and then we were off again.

I'm going a different route with this baby.  I've always delivered at the local mega-hospital, but the last few experiences have left a lot to be desired.  Actually, it's more than that, but it's another story for another day.  We have an alternative birthing center near our home that I've always heard really great things about.  We've never gone there because of insurance/doctors/locations.  There's a group of midwives who deliver at the center, but their practice is 30+ minutes from my house, and I've never felt like I could make that commitment for prenatal visits.  This time we decided to go for it.

So I had an appointment yesterday in the late afternoon, with one of the midwives.  Ryan came home early (after only 8 hours at work instead of 10!), we loaded up the kids and headed out.  They dropped me off at the office and then headed to a park.  The weather was beautiful, a rare day over 60, and it's a good thing because I waited an hour before even going back to a room.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was worth the wait.  I'm really getting excited over the prospect of a different birth experience, and that's saying a lot after 5 years of birth-related anxieties.  One very notable relief:  They will not force induction on me at 41 weeks.  They routinely let women go to 42 weeks if there are no signs of distress for the babe, and that should be all I need to let this little peanut come on his/her own.  My talk with the midwife yesterday was very refreshing, and I have renewed hope and confidence.  And speaking of the babe!  We heard a strong heartbeat and all those wonderful swishy movements.  Seventeen weeks tomorrow.  God is good.

So the guys came back for me, and everyone was starving.  That was fine, we had a plan!  We were 15 minutes away from Ikea, and apparently kids 12 and under eat for free on Tuesdays!  We made our way over there, and I (somewhat sheepishly) ordered SIX chicken tender/french fry combos and they were FREE.  Our cost for the adult meals was $17, and we all ate happily.  We can't even do fast food for under $40 (which is why we nearly never eat out), so this was quite a treat.

We shopped the store, picking up four of those dandy little wooden spice racks that everyone on pinterest uses for kids bookshelves, and headed home.  But not before Blake bought himself a cinnamon roll with extra icing on the way out the door.  He gave up coffee, tea, candy, and electronics for Lent, not so much cinnamon rolls. :)

I know these days are numbered.  That someday, probably sooner than I want, the kids will start to scatter and it will become a rarity for all of us to be together.  I hope I can savor these days and continue to appreciate even a simple outing for errands.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Five, Ten, Fifteen

Five random catch-up things:

1.  Sebastian is doing really well.  We like his doctor (which is good, since we're going to be seeing him quite often for many years), he's taken to the medicine beautifully with no side effects so far, and his symptoms have subsided.  We go in for a check-up next week.

2.  Peyton turned 10!  And Owen turned 12!  I intended to blog both occasions, but you know, there's was RSV to contend with...

3.  We got RSV.  Genevieve and I were the last to get it (it was just a cold in the older kids), and she ended up in urgent care with a double ear infection and her very own nebulizer for breathing treatments.  It landed me in the ER with a bleeding ear, from an infection that came on so fast and so ugly that it ruptured the eardrum, leaving me completely deaf in that ear for weeks.  It was crazy intense and super awful, but it's done.  I'm at about 90% now (hearing-wise), and so grateful to be able to turn the page on this chapter of Illnesses We Endure in the Small House with Many Children.

4.  Oliver made his First Reconciliation, and is preparing for his First Holy Communion, coming up on May 4th.  I can hardly believe that we have four children who are able to fully participate in the Sacraments.  God is so good.

5.  I just looked back, and the last time I posted a picture of Genevieve was the 4th of July!  She wasn't even a year old!  Now she's a feisty (but sweet!) 18-month-old, who does things like this:
That's a chair she shouldn't be standing on, and an iPod Shuffle she shouldn't be pressing buttons on.  But isn't she cute in her denim dress and tights?  I know.  Maybe I'll even scrape up another photo so you can see her face...

Ten weeks:

As in, this kind of weeks -
That's right, God has blessed us again!  We are all very excited.  I am in the depths of all day nausea and exhaustion though, which is a sacrifice for all (don't ask my men about the quality of my dinners lately!  or whether they have clean socks!  it's not pretty!), but that won't last too much longer, and it is such a small price to pay!

Fifteen years:

That's how long it's been since the Mr. and I promised forever to each other and God.  It's hard to believe, 15 years ago today, we were just kids!  And yet, by the mercy of the Good Lord, we have grown in faith and love, and He has blessed us.