Poop on the roof, and other things.

1. In the latest addition of nesting guilt and doing my best to make this a fun summer despite my size and general bad attitude, we went to a museum. Accidentally arriving 45 minutes before closing, the reluctant workers let us in even though all 27 of Jim’s attempts to remember his membership name failed. To the Dinosaur bones we went. First, Rita made a great impression by banging on the window of a “Do not enter,” and demanding that the nice dinosaur maker “open door!” Next, I unknowingly and with confidence proved my prehistoric? paleolithic? stone age? idiocy to each of my children repeatedly. Not to brag or anything, but I did get the term herbivore right. As well as “TRex.” Jim’s history channel memory made up for and fun of the rest.

And my proudest moment…

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“Did he get that big because he ate all his vegetables?!”

“Yes!!!!!!”

We then accidentally knocked over the “how to make your own rain water exhibit,” when our over zealous one year old got hold of a plastic shovel. We also dropped a lot of the library’s flashlights. Next Rita ran away giggling until she ran into a fossilized mammoth and realized that mom’s thigh is really the best place after all. Upon hearing the words, “the exit is this way” a few too many times, we reluctantly took the hint and the kids went home with a full understanding that the only way to be as big as a dinosaur is to finish their green beans.

A great family day, indeed.

2. In other news: Never leave dumped out pancake mix unattended, even if a really exciting sporting event is on tv. It is the closest children get to summer snow angels. Snow, however, is much easier to clean, even if inside a house.

3. I convinced a kind young usher to give me free VIP seats at Alabama Shakes by simply saying, “I’m pregnant.” While my husband’s attempts to request help for my hurting feet from a unsympathetic female were received with an eye roll, the gentleman’s single and lightening speed look at my belly prompted immediate fear, stuttering, and “sit before you say placenta.” A phenomenal concert, with a phenomenal view, and zero ankle swelling. Thank you, young man!

4. Erica let me write this guest post. And VerilyMag so very generously featured this article.

5. Confessing, with permission, on behalf of my sister, mother of six and next door neighbor:

The building up of water in her gutters prompted a quick call to the roofer. As the skilled worker examined the roof’s perimeter, five of the six children ran underneath and around the latter, throwing out questions and balls, riding bikes, and shooting pucks. As my courageous sister requested her children’s presence in the interior of the home, they mostly abided. The rest came to my house and tried to teach me how to swing a baseball bat. Soon, the cause of the water’s build up was found in disgusting piles of young human fecal matter.

Diapers.

Dirty Diapers.

The Dirtiest, dirty diapers.

Thrown up onto the roof as the result of competitive contests secretly taking place behind her back for the past several months, maybe even years, there laid several soiled diapers more foul than ever. Maybe it is their advanced athleticism that caused them to grow tired of throwing regular balls on the roof. Maybe the thrill of throwing something so foul smelling and full of pink eye bacteria was too difficult to resist for six little boys that will never tire of poop being hilarious. The chant “throw the poop on the roof!” may have caught on quickly. For anyone who has ever been the victim of “chug!” we know its difficult to pass on a chant. Or maybe they were doing their best to get rid of all of their smallest brother’s crap before it stunk up the driveway’s baseball field. Whatever the reason, it was gross.

The experienced roofer stood in disbelief. “Never in my 44 years… You poor mother,” he said with wide eyes to a woman barely able to contain her laughter because what else is there to do?

So the next time its raining, remember, there could be poop in your gutters. And your kids could have put there on purpose.

Bat crazy.

The lackluster attitude with which they picked about an equally lackluster made meal began the spiral of guilt laden pity. Dinner’s contents contained bland and boring ingredients for two reasons. First, the stomach flu is looming and has struck the smallest among us. As my husband grossly reminded, “bland ingredients make for easier puking.” She also has Hand, Foot and Mouth, which makes for an extra disgusting weekend burdened by soiled couches, a lot of screaming, and the amount of drooling that occurs when a baby refuses to close her mouth due to it being filled with sores. To complain further, the second reason is my laziness abounds in the last trimester of pregnancy. And every pound makes me crankier. And there seem to be a lot of those.

Its not like I haven’t made terrible dinners made of mostly burnt food, or skipped the task entirely hundreds of times. It is not that I won’t do it again, guilt free and take-out happy. Yet, tonight, I projected my own, already looming, guilt onto their reactions and absorbed it fully as if it was their intent all along. As if a picky three year old who would likely fake eat and hide a chef’s most delicious creation in the bottom of her backpack in the hopes of still getting ice cream should indicate whether or not my dinner is ok. But, my to- do list is piled high and my energy level lower than ever. A summer, already half over, is seemingly slipping from my reach and am I making it fun enough? “They have only done one camp!” I remembered. I believe that’s actually how to spell BAD MOM…

“Eat your chicken!!!!” I demanded.

Psshhh. Like that works.

Post picked-at dinner, I scrubbed, and washed, and demanded help from kids who can’t tie shoes, and frustration has never left the counters cleaner. I dictated more ridiculous chores and I began scouring the internet for camps, and sports, and the keys to their future. My husband, who is aware of nesting and its’ power to craze, began relay races in the backyard, one-year old toddling included, keeping them as far away from their angry typing mom as possible. As they raced back and forth- curls bouncing, bare-feet cycling, giggles echoing- I missed it all. I did, however, plan out every Saturday from now until this new baby is 6 months old full of ‘ fun activities.’ Crazy nester then began organizing the baby clothes pre-washing schedule, and mentally deciding whether its better to introduce my soon to be two year old to classic ballet, creative movement, competitive gymnastics, or ice hockey because all two year old should obviously be specialized in something other than diapers.

The thoughts continued: Have I missed the opportunity for the oldest to be good at anything by not exposing him to enough summer camps? Will he read on time? Have my small genes ruined him for life? Did I really get the puke out of the couch? Maybe I should buy a new couch. That couch is ugly, anyway. Maybe more cleaning help will make this better. If only I got more sleep. But, I’m so damn itchy! Pregnancy is for the birds. But I love this baby. What will I wear next the second Tuesday of next month? What will the children do when I go into labor? I should start making freezer meals. Freezer meals are gross, a live in chef is the only way. I wonder how I can trick them into more kale. What will I name this baby? Will I go bat crazy by the time I give birth? (yes.) LABOR!!! I CAN’T DO IT AGAIN.

The skipping entrance of Josie, smiling and singing a made up song that included the word “Alleluia,” released me just before I remembered what 10cm feels like and started crying. In her hands are crab apples from a tree in our yard, and as she searches for a container I almost tell her to stop. Why? BECAUSE I’M BEING A GIANT CRAZY SOUR CRAB APPLE.

Maybe God couldn’t resist showing me my silliness through the fruits of my yard’s apple tree, because Eve and all. Or maybe, Josie’s freedom did exactly what it is supposed to, what it usually does, which is to snap me back to remembering joy and forgetting my anxiety. Maybe, I needed to go a little crazy before I realized it’s all ok- fourth baby and all, non-specialized activities and all, boxes of unorganized baby clothes and all, no plans or perfectly scheduled summer and all, so many pounds in my butt and all.

The kids might notice my fatigue, my tiredness, my more- boring-than- normal self. I’m not sure how to reconcile that quite yet, but I would like to avoid the rocky ground on which those thoughts lead as much as I possibly can with as much faith as I can muster. Because tonight I was full of worldly anxiety and came dangerously close to missing the opportunity to incorrectly teach James what a shortstop is in baseball.  My pride had to dodge a few “it looks funny when you run with dat baby in your belly, Mama,” comments. Even so, my waddling the chalk-drawn bases certainly made more of a happy impact than my furious internet searches ever could.

There are 11 very hot weeks to go, at most, in this pregnancy. While I’m sure I will complain (I’m positive, actually) and freak out 5 billion times more, I hope and pray to enjoy the kicks and the rolls, and even the fatigue, because there are lessons and missions to learn and fulfill. And three very happy, mostly misbehaving, wonderful children to soak in this summer. 

Here’s to hot summer pregnancies! May we sweat less and sleep more. 

A MomWorkOut…at the EDEL GATHERING!!

Adding the Edel announcement to Five Favorites at MamaKnowsHoneyChild. (Have you read this yet? Incredible)

 

Do you bend down roughly 6 billion times a day picking up various objects on the floor and go to bed each night wondering why your back hurts?

Do you find it difficult to muster the energy or motivation to workout even though you’ve been dressed for it all day?

Do you ever feel like you lack the strength that a mom needs to fulfill daily tasks without pain or discomfort?

Are you in search of getting in shape but have no time to get to a gym?

Do your babies wake up screaming at the first sounds of a workout video?

Is your only space to store workout equipment taken up by toys?

Has pregnancy made your core muscles weak and less effective than you would like?

Do you like me?

Then the MomWorkOut is for you!

I am happy to announce that at this year’s Edel Gathering, yours truly is looking forward to meeting you and making you sweat. It will take place Saturday morning at 8:00am. In my first stint as an amateur blogger who also is also an amateur workout instructor, I will be leading the MomWorkOut. I think it will be plenty of sweaty fun. But, only if you join me.

This is Why I am Excited to lead it:

I am a mom of 3 under 4 with a 4th baby on the way. For me, fitness is much less about appearance, and much more about function, faith and fun. It’s about finding an outlet to relieve stress. It is a chance to realize specific goals in a way that I enjoy and that works with the demands of my daily life. It’s about doing things that are difficult on purpose for God, my family, myself. It’s about having enough strength to lift my babies, enough energy to clean the house and play with my kids with less physical discomfort, especially when pregnant.

Before becoming a mom, working out was tedious, more about feeling less guilty about eating, and mostly horrible. I pushed through lots of cardio, ran a few races, came to love the endorphins. Yet, when I became a mom, I realized more than ever that a body that can give life to the world can surely finish a 10K with strength, grace, and a big fat smile. The guilt about eating, not eating, working out, not working out, running too much or too little began to greatly diminish. Freedom and fun took hold of the guilt and smashed it. I began completing several road races, triathlons and now, I CrossFit. I have grown stronger and happier, and I would like to spread the message.

Here are Five Reasons why you should join me.

1. The Workout is designed specifically for Moms
As moms our bodies are under core strength stress, limited sleep, and demanding schedules. The movements and exercises will be designed specifically with a mom’s body and mental disposition in mind.

2. It is Fast
Diapers! Laundry! Dinner! Cleaning! Carpool! Playtime! PlayDates! ETC! Time is of the essence! The MomWorkOut is meant to be short and intense. We will be done within 20 minutes, yet complete enough work to get us stronger, healthier, and holier.

3. It is Simple
No Equipment. Simple Movement Patterns. At an individual Pace. No Athletic Coordination Necessary. Can easily be recreated in the middle of the family room when Edel is over.

4. It is Free
And you might learn something!

5. It will be Fun
In addition to the opportunity of witnessing a very clumsy 31 Week pregnant woman instruct a workout while waddling as morning entertainment, I promise it will be fun.

Despite my general fear of traveling to cities alone in which I know no one, I’m facing my fear and eager to workout with you! Sign up and spread the word!

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 3 minutes after nursing my 3 month old, I jumped into a very dirty river and swam with several floating, dead fish. WE CAN DO THIS! SEE YOU AT EDEL!

And for the best Inspiration: A Video of my baby doing burpees

 

 

Also, while there is no need to sign up, I would love an email or comment if you are coming! Wear what you want, move how you want, have a blast.

5 (favorite) Reasons to Rent the Runway

Linking with Mama H of Mama Knows, Honeychild as the new host of Five Favorites. She’s one of the funniest bloggers out there and somehow mixes spiritual edification with LOL humor seemingly effortlessly. Become a follower if you aren’t already! 

A black tie wedding fit for Princess Kate in a dress of her own finally committed me towards trying the service that lets me afford to wear a dress of someone much richer. Friends of style have raved and cheered and looked awesome. Business executives have rightfully marveled over the two Harvard creator’s business savvy. Its called Rent the Runway, and it is perhaps the most inclusionary, convenient, and financially wise idea to hit normal people fashion since the genius of Marshall’s.

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It works like this: Browse the hundreds and hundreds of high end designer dresses from 120 of the industry’s top designers including everyone from Missoni to Oscar de La Renta, to Tibi and Elizabeth and James, to Marchesa and Carolina Herrara. Pay as low as $30 to wear dresses worth as much as $3500 and feel like a million stylish $ for a special night or the entire four days during your rental ownership.

5 Reasons Why I was scared:

1. I won’t find my style

2. It won’t fit

3. It will be too long and, thus, a waste of money

4. I won’t be able to figure out the return policy

5. I’ll hate not owning it

5 FAVORITE Reasons Why it’s my new Favorite

1. Designers at a Discount

While I think almost 4 kids and pushing 30 qualifies me for buying investment pieces, there is something scary and mostly stupid about dropping top dollar for trends because as Heidi Klum likes to remind us while wearing short skirts, “one day you are in and the next you are out.” Additionally, even though approximately my cousins pay attention to my Instagram, internet pictures can easily wreak havoc on feeling good about outfit repeats. So! Instead of spending who knows on a who knows, $30 to test something thats $1900? I’ll take it!

2. Dresses for Everyone

With 120 designers from which to choose and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of styles, trends, classics, dreams that are actually affordable, there is truly a dress for everyone!!!! As a 25 week pregnant woman who stands at 5 feet nothing let me be living proof that there are dresses for everyone. And, hemming tape is delivered with dress. Hunting and reading the profiles is key. Kind women who have worn the dress offer height, age, weight, body type and photos to indicate whether or not a particular style will work. Stylists offer one on one help. It’s actually difficult to mess it up. AND! Choose two sizes for no additional cost and a whole different dress for just $25!

3. Delivered to your Door

Too many babies to try on a dress at the mall? Too busy staring at unfolded laundry? Spaghetti again? Shipping costs adding up to much more than just $30? RENT THE RUNWAY!

4. Easy Return and Easy Refund

When day four arrives, slip the beauty into a UPS drop box and wait for a super friendly email confirming its arrival back at RTR.    Buyers remorse or it doesn’t fit? Call them and they will credit you!

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Its so easy, a mom who just accidentally crashed the car with three screaming children inside, can do it.

5. Its so much fun to borrow clothes!!!

So much fun. We all felt like a Bagillion. Do it!

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A few of my favorites:

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Missoni: Real Price $1900, $RTR 30

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Herve Leger RTR $80, Retail $1950

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Nicole Miller, RTR $90, Retail $485

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Halston Heritage: THE MOST MATERNITY FRIENDLY DESIGNER!!!! RTR $100, Retail $585

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Tibi: RTR $30, Retail $475

But buyer beware: RTR tends to be generous and offer a free makeup SURPRISE! Babies, or rather, my baby, can sense that sort of potential happiness, and spread it all over a bed spread, their face, and can even get it dangerously close to a very expensive gown that is not mine. Additionally, 3 year olds, and also 4 year olds, but especially 1 year olds, do not, I repeat DO NOT, understand “no touching its a rental!” Keep baby wipes close by and run out on a dream date with the husband :) Also, if Monday morning rolls around and a late night of baby in utero partying kept you up much too late to function, and the dress must go back, just be sure all four doors of the car are securely closed before backing out of the garage. Or else, the car door breaks. And your children might make fun of you. And you might deserve it.

 

I’m not even a little bit getting paid for this, so believe me. 

 

 

Five (sort of) Favorites: Maternity Clothes

Finally linking with Hallie again!

 

If you ever find me picketing (waddling) the streets of Washington with the Feminists anytime soon it might be because of maternity clothes.

While I fully apologize to MLK for this, I have a dream that one day I will be able to walk into a high end department store and browse entire collections of beautiful designer clothes made to fit a pregnant woman well, without the fear of the overpriced dress fabric potentially catching on fire if I stand too close to a birthday cake.

I have a dream that women will no longer be asked to spend twice as much on fabric that is significantly cheaper to manufacture. I have a dream that when shopping I will not have to search so so so much harder to find something that fits during a stage of femininity that should be celebrated and considered normal.

I have a dream that one day when I swim laps at 9 months pregnant I will not be asked to wear a bikini because absolutely no athletic brands make a full piece swimsuit that fits a pregnant athlete.

I’m dreaming of a day when compression technology leaves me less itchy and more comfortable, sans looking like a grandma, because swollen veins hurt and shouldn’t have to be ugly too. Of self-expressive colors and prints with fewer ill placed bows and ruching. Of a recognition that not all pregnant people are one size; some of us are petite and still need to buy pants. That diaper butts should be reserved for infants. That price hijacking should be illegal.

I have a dream that designers will view making clothes for a pregnant figure as beautiful and desirable as the flat stomach because pregnancy is the natural result of all that sex they are always trying to sell.

Please join me in my drama because, women, we deserve better. Most of us happily and actively choose to get pregnant in prime fashion years, and here we are reduced to choosing between expensive yet cheap, hot, itchy fabrics and would you like that sizable bow on your back just above the pregnant bum or around your large belly to make it larger on this shirt that costs about 3 cents to make?

This pregnancy I’m attempting to push the boundaries of my style and experiment with colors, shapes, fabrics, and, even, buttons. Thus, I’m wearing as few “maternity” clothes as possible.

Here are my five forced favorite finds so far:

1. JCrew Pant

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While they still fall down, they do so less. While the fabric would keep me warm in a snow storm, it is well made and reserves the diaper butt for my baby. If I went to work, I would wear these there. I will point out that the non maternity version of the exact same pants is $40 cheaper than the maternity. Not fair!

2. Lululemon No Limits Tanks

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I sized up one, and my belly is all good and covered and it stays in place. The luon absorbs the sweat and moves great.

3. Maxi Dress Via Shopbop

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I have yet to wear it, and I might look like a tent, but its cool and flowy and a great color.

4. Anthropologie tops
Although not advertised to pregnants, this is my favorite maternity store, when I find a sale.

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5. Hatch and Rosie Pope

 

I’ve only browsed. Has anyone tried? Worth the price?

Happy dressing to you, not matter your current size, shape, or reproductive stage!

To my husband, Jim, the cupcake stealer.

Linking with Blythe for One hot mess. Enjoy her, she’s great!!

To Jim, 3 days after his 30th birthday and on our 6th wedding anniversary,

It’s difficult to believe it has been a full year since the last time you thought you turned 30. Even so, it is with so much excitement and happiness that I wish you the happiest year of all, to you, the very best person I have ever known.

With 6 years of marriage just 3 days after the big threeoh, 1/5 of your life has been spent married to yours truly, and that, I think, is super cool. Josie and I had a blast picking a gift appropriate for 1/5 of a life spent together, and post delivery, I can’t wait to enjoy a bourbon or few with my favorite partner. PS and FYI, your daughter is strangely comfortable and well behaved in the alcohol store.

Your birthday began delicious and sugary: cake, and crepes, and eggs, and scones. By 10 am I thought we probably needed more sugar. Since every working dad loves a surprise from his three small children and pregnant wife, in the middle of the day, completely unannounced, I thought it best to tell you nothing. By noon, we finally had enough shoes on enough feet to make it to the bakery. One dozen cupcakes for you and your work friends coveted by three small drooling children.

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Upon arrival at your place of work, our starving kids were welcomed by a completely vacated office, out early for the last day of school. I found you by your car in the parking lot, wondering why I hadn’t called and why you married such an idiot. With cupcakes as our comfort, each child picked their favorite to enjoy in the blistering heat. James picked the chocolate one, and you wanted some. So, on the 30th anniversary of your birth, you took a bite of James’ chocolate cupcake.

You took a bite of his cupcake, Jim. A bite. Without warning, your mouth enjoyed the chocolate icing that his mouth had already planned to enjoy. You tasted the small cake before he tasted the small cake. Then, before you could even lick the rest of the icing off of your chin, back to your office you went to finish your phone calls because you are a dedicated, good, and hard worker that has absolutely no idea of his power to destroy the dreams of a four year old boy.

Because you had taken a bite of his cupcake. One, singular, day ruining, earth shattering, his life is now over, bite of his cupcake.

As his sisters giggled their way through a sticky mess, now all over their faces, outfits, carseats, and hair, his tears streamed into what remained of the chocolate icing. His celebratory treat, now mutilated and made salty by the watery excess of his sadness.

I tried to concentrate on driving through the busy city streets, but the piercing screams of the backseat left me distracted. His cupcake. You took a bite. You gave him your germs. You didn’t ask. He wanted it. He picked it. He loves you, but you took a bite of his cupcake, and he might never be happy ever again. Through the four doors of our dirty Acura, all of Pittsburgh’s city heard the consequence of your craving for chocolate as I prayed our baby in utero still has a chance at developing normal hearing.

I drove and tried to reframe his lament into generosity and a great gift for your birthday. Yet, no matter what a mom could say amidst deafening screams, it was clear. His life was ruined.

For one brief moment the screaming stopped. At the sight of a puddle, all three weirdos stared in awe of the way its dirty water splashed our car. I have never known gratitude for a large collection of murky rain like I did in that brief moment of relief from his screams, and I might never again complain when I accidentally step into one. I also might owe that puddle our daughter’s life. When I looked through the rearview mirror to catch a glimpse at amazed wonder, that’s exactly when I noticed her walking around the back seat, picking up the skirt of her ballerina leotard over her icing covered face and hair, as she twirled and spun, like the dirtiest little tiny dancer there ever was. I thought you had buckled her, you were too busy ruining James’ life.

I pulled over just as fast as I could into perhaps one of the nicest streets in all of our city, and pierced all of their eardrums.

The thing about trying to buckle a baby who has now tasted the freedom of walking around and practicing clumsy ballet in the backseat of a moving vehicle is that its basically impossible. Wet pigs in a rodeo squirm less, and I would imagine, kick much more gently. I’m sure baby #4 will one day return the blows to either her or me, whomever he/she chooses to blame for the forceful disregard of his personal space.

With a strong desire for earplugs, I drove on to our home. James still crying in the backseat, Josie happily reminding him that you had not taken a bite of her cupcake, Rita still pissed about being restrained, me spotting the best 30th birthday gift your mom has ever given you, other than life, at our front door: Birthday Balloons. There was one for each of them, because she is a good hearted genius. The horror of the shared cupcake now just a crummy mess staining further the dirty floor of our car now just a distant memory to the incomparable joy of floating helium on a string.

It was with the greatest gratitude that two babysitters agreed to watch them for an overnight, and even though there were twin beds in the room we booked, I agree, it was super romantic. Remembering the day spent watching you skeet shoot, eating like I’ve never eaten before and will never eat again, and golfing was one that will always make me smile. And when I tell people I shot a 90, I’ll probably allow them to be impressed and leave out how many holes we golfed. Thank you for your patience with me, your wife, as I 10-putted every hole, responded to your advice to “choke up” with “no,” and “Why don’t you try your sand wedge?” with “I prefer my driver.”

To you, my sweet husband! I hope and pray our 6 turns to 60, that God remains first, and that we never stop laughing through the crummy and crappy, because there is just so much good here. As we begin year 6, the year of Iron, or so the standard anniversary gifts indicate, let us allow Iron to beget Iron, growing stronger in love and faith, perseverance, joy, and fortitude.

Happy Birthday, and Happy Anniversary. I still feel like the bride that jumped up and down on the altar, but please, never again, take a bite of a cupcake that isn’t yours.

 

Three confessions for a Tuesday.

A Feast: A few days after I noticed 20 month old Rita Therese’s impressive handle on the words to John Legend’s overplayed hit, we had the opportunity to celebrate her life on the Feast of her patron, St. Rita. She spent much of her day taunting my discipline as she repeatedly danced on the counters in her diaper, which I hope and pray is not a representation of foreshadowing of any kind. Through a list of choices like “chicken or steak,” she picked her feast day meal of risotto, green beans and steak and proceeded to eat none of it. She also managed to put her entire head into a mixing bowl of what were supposed to be sanitary brownies in an attempt to lick whatever baking ingredient her tongue could touch. No nutritional intake was as gross, however, as witnessing the post dinner and bath feast that took place as mom was too occupied running the length of the driveway to prevent her four-year old brother from riding his bike into a tree again without wearing a helmet. As I waddle-ran back down the length of the pavement, there I saw her tiny, perfectly chubby feet. Her body, though, remained hidden and completely crawled inside the garbage can, about to be cleaned by her father, on which she used her baby strength to knock over. And with the same proud face that she finishes all of her broccoli, a hand full of maggots sat in her mouth and on her face, and boy was she thrilled. A throat full of threatening vomit never burned so bad. And with that I say, To Rita a few days past your feast day: It is with a particular gratitude that I will continue to thank you for the presence of your life in mine. Your hair, your smile, your rolls, and your waddle are topped by no one. You are easy-going like your father, and no one adores him more than you. May your gentle heart continue to fill the family with joy and appreciation for innocence. May you experience the same comfort in God’s love that you show to your siblings. May your mother feed you better so you never again feel tempted to eat a seriously disgusting insect, and may no one top your feat of “most disgusting thing I’ve seen as a mom to date.” I know your patron got a little woodsy in her days, but…yuck!

Midnight visitors: This morning I attempted to give the two oldest a stern talking to for continuing to come into my room at night and wake me up for various non reasons, hide at the foot of our bed, sleep on my head on purpose, or wake each other up so that they can wake me together. I explained that tired parents are boring parents, and pregnant moms need sleep and proceeded to beg, promise rewards, and make other acts of parental desperation. Responses included, “But in the night the trees grow arms, and Darth Vador climbs them.” “But one time I threw up in my room.” “Staying in our rooms to sleep is supposed to be special. That’s why we can’t do it every night.” “How about we switch rooms?” And, finally, perhaps the most threatening of all, “if I pee in my bed can I come in your room?”

In the words of Amy Poehler, it appears that “tired is the new black.”

Shopping on Memorial Day: On Friday Jim and I toyed with the idea of finally replacing the refrigerator eye sore that has been replaced by no one since 1992. We thought we should take advantage of the Memorial Day marketing strategies. There are two things about Loews on Memorial Day. The store is 10% off, and they serve free hotdogs. In an attempt to avoid having to cook a real lunch, I entered the store with two clear public displays of “my mom is actually unAmerican.” First, as the kind man offered Josie the work of all his grilling, she began to cry and say “What is that!!??” The man maintained his friendly demeanor with a very concerned, “your daughter doesn’t know what a hot dog is?” I tried to cover with, “I think she’s just not hungry,” but my bluff was called almost immediately after James and Rita received the dog with “it looks like food to me,” delight. James ate the bread in two-three massive bites and then waved the entire hot dog in the air while shouting, “here, mom! I don’t like this part of the hot dog.” The maggot eating baby licked the ketchup and then threw it at me. I didn’t realize a mom could feel judged for avoiding feeding my children fake meat, but it is in fact possible.

As I browsed the appliances. which is apparently my children’s least favorite department in all of shopping, I tried to use psychological manipulation in an attempt to disguise distraction with inclusion in the hopes of maybe, just maybe quieting the shouting and continued standing as the cart was moving and older patrons stepped in to say, “Miss, your kids will die like that.” “James and Josie, I need your help!” I explained. “Please tell me your opinion on which of these your dad and I should buy!!” It grew silent as I witnessed concentrated perusing eyes. I let the feeling of achieved brilliance sink in. Then, after 5 seconds my bluff was called with, “I think we should definitely buy that blue balloon. It looks like a really nice one.” And with that I left with nothing new but three balloons colored red, white, and blue, because I love America and am a sucker for my children.

May your weekend memories make for a happy week, and may none of your babies be sunburned like mine.

 

Happy 3rd Birthday Josie

To Josie, 14 days into her 3rd Year

Sweet Josephine Marie,

With 14 joyful days completed in your third year of life, I am finally making the time to wish you an internet happy birthday. Please forgive my tardiness as you quit napping almost two years earlier than your brother, and the afternoons just aren’t as productive in the way that they once were. But, a heart as creative and wild as the hair on your head can’t be slowed down for sleep. I am very much looking forward to each day of this third year with you, but it’s hard to say goodbye to 2, an age you mastered with intelligence, mess, and coordination far beyond my expectations of toddler.

The chocolate you managed to eat, the home alarms you managed to walk underneath, the boxes of cereal poured, the child proof containers you opened. The fish oil. The bullion.

Yours and your siblings birthdays turn me into an even crazier mom. My emotions recounting your birth story keep me up at night, and I stress about how to make the day perfect. And yet, every year, and especially this year, you teach me to calm down and “celebrate the morning.” With only one “its my party and I’ll cry if I want to,” moment of the whole day revolving around Rita’s attempt to steal your candy filled pencil case, I’d say you taught me well.

Each day you wake with a sweet, sparkly eyed, scrunched nose smile that asks for nothing but a hug. A few minutes into the morning you use your sweetness in an attempt to acquire several pieces of cake or candy, and it is very difficult to say no. So sometimes I don’t. And neither does Dad.

And speaking of Dad, wrapped around his finger is a lame description of the way you have with him. You will fish with him for hours, watch hockey with him for days, ice skate with him until your toes are blue and fingers are frozen. You will shovel snow, plant vegetables, dig the dirt, kick a soccer ball, sit on his lap, finish a container of salsa only with him. You will not, however, collect hockey cards, and for that, I’m sort of thankful because one safe full of 20 year old bubble gum is enough. You received his patience and kindness in a very special and unique way. Its a kind of generosity that sees the best in others with a total focus on them, no matter what that means for you. For instance, in a race, if the boys next door cheer for your opponent you will join in the cheer and help him win. Or when we pick up James at school and he shares a special opportunity, you can’t help but rejoice in his excitement. Or when I asked you what you most wanted for your birthday, you responded, “presents for James and Rita, and a real princess and one balloon.” Mammy took care of the ‘real princess’ part by showing up as Princess Leia, and believe me when I say, you were thrilled by her craziness and creativity.

On Mother’s Day, you said your favorite thing about me was that I will be the one “to hug so many trees with you when you grow up.” As a fiscally conservative, pro-life libertarian, I’d say you are the only hippie who could ever convince me to do such a thing.

Your style is a tomboy’s version of bohemian chic, and God picked the most perfect head of hair for such an aesthetic. Your eyes are a striking brown, with very long eyelashes, and your smile is as contagious as your belly laugh. You will eat an entire gyro by yourself. You will sing made up songs at the tippy top of your voice while climbing a tree. Your comedic timing to pull a prank on your big brother puts your dad and Me in hysterical laughter. Your strong feminine presence, even in its early years, changes the behavior of the 6 boys next door (most of the time).

The quality you share most with me is that you tend to crash your bike into trees pretty frequently.

You are spiritually sensitive, and naturally empathetic. Even though you are convinced that Jesus was killed while swimming with sharks in the ocean, you ask how you can make it better. The best part of your day is often a moment you witnessed someone else enjoy, rather than a moment you had for yourself.

You rarely ask for help and approach problems with skillful confidence. And even though sometimes it means you are wearing your pants backwards and shirt inside out, the pride of getting dressed alone is worth the comments from strangers.

You continue to teach me to approach the world with humor and vigor, adventure and freedom.

At one point on most days, your dad and I tend to look at your long curly blond curls as they spunkily bounce in each of your decisions and ponder at the marvel of your creation. While each of the three of you is a clear gift from God, His creative power is revealed to us in a very special way through you. While there are certainly glimmers of your father and me in what you do and say, there is something so breathtakingly wild, and freely generous about your general state of being that both of us know we couldn’t have created on our own, or even together, without a little help from the Big Man. I admire the way you look at life, my curiously mischievous, perfectly weird, impossible to catch or convince, sweet and so very pretty little girl.

Love,

Mom

Marathon Mom’s Monday

Not even a warning from a new to the toilet toddler could convince me it was time to stop watching. A fateful Sunday brunch brought us to the perfect spot to witness the incredible spiritual, mental, and physical feat that is displayed by each and every person still running at mile 24, and if my children’s bladders had allowed me, I would have stayed there all day cheering. If I hadn’t been wearing jeans, holding two kid’s hands, and sporting a 18 week baby bump that sends all sorts of pain down all sorts of places when running occurs, or had my sweater pulled back by my husband and children, I probably would have paced a whole bunch of scared strangers through the 2 miles to the finish line over and over and over again.

Three days ago I discussed “never wanting to run a marathon.” I am honestly very happy with my previous experiences with halfs, 10ks, and triathlons (from which I’ve retired due to the most clumsy bike crash Southern Florida has ever witnessed). But, yesterday’s site of the very obvious perseverance, fortitude, and myriad of human virtues exuding from the runner’s I witnessed, strongly called my bluff, and back on the bucket list running a full marathon went. So in a few years, or decades, if my body allows, I will be the girl eating a burger at mile 20.

Running has made me a better mom. It’s something I crave, look forward to, anticipate. It clears my head. It pushes my body. It gives me the opportunity to practice virtues. It’s the best silent prayer I make. It reminds me of what I’m capable of, who I am, who God is, what I’m grateful for. It makes me less crazy. It relieves stress, and instead of pounding a wall, I pound the road. And I can’t wait to get back at it 6 weeks post delivery.

And other mom’s who run fascinate and inspire me. Like my sister, mother of 6 boys, who ran at a highly impressive speed for each and every one of her 13.1 miles, mom or not. Crossing the finish at 1 hour and 41 minutes earned her the title fastest mom in the family and probably a lot faster than most others. It was a hobby she picked up after having her 5th boy. Since then, she tackled injury and physical weakness with mental strength and prayer, lack of training time with creativity and more prayer, goals are accomplished with will power and the pursuit of being better, and so much prayer. I think sometimes she might wish her treadmill actually created distance between her and her responsibilities, and her long runs might set a Hail Mary record. And how she does it, I will never know.

To celebrate yesterday, and all of its runners, I bring to you an interview with one of my favorite mom’s. Yesterday she ran her 2nd half marathon in a personal record. Her answers offer insight, reflection, and inspiration not just to run, but to set goals and reach them with grace and a super huge smile.

Meet Natalie: mother of three, wife to Bill, phenomenal friend to me. She answered these questions post half marathon #1. Due to a pregnant stupor, I failed to dedicate a post of which she was very deserving. Since then, she crossed a second finish line in record time with another huge smile. Cheers to Natalie!!!

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Can you explain what it was like to commit to training for such a huge physical endeavor while being a mom to 3 toddlers?

Commit. That is the answer. I committed. I signed up, paid the fees, bought the plane ticket. I committed to a training schedule and stuck to it. It actually wasn’t as time-consuming as I thought it would be. The schedule I followed had me training 3 days a week. Tuesday and Thursday were always 30 minute runs and on Saturdays I would increase my mileage. Sure, there were days I didn’t want to run, but I would get out there and do it. Luckily my husband also likes to be my coach and would get me off the couch and running in no time. The support of my husband was huge. If he didn’t support my commitment to this goal, I would have never been able to accomplish it. Having a good support system was key for me to prepare. Friends were a huge support for me and I can’t even tell you how much words of encouragement, running advice, and simply interest in how my training was going helped.

What was the low point? How did you overcome it?

To be honest my low point was being annoyed with myself for not sending in my times from my 10K to get a better corral number. I was in the second to last corral and found it difficult to get past the walkers. I was so frustrated that I had spent so much time training and was feeling like I couldn’t compete to my abilities and as a result was not going to meet my time goal.  I was already feeling defeated and grumpy at mile 4, but after seeing my awesome sisters cheering for me, I simply decided to change my mental state and have fun with the experience.  They were having fun so I should too! I decided at that moment that my goal was to finish my first half marathon …after all the Pittsburgh half marathon was just around the corner and I could work on new goals for that one!

Do you think the experience will help you be a better mom in any ways?

I believe that this journey has gotten me to a better place to physically care for my children. It was way of reclaiming my body, getting healthy, and having energy.  It has also offered a mental release to relieve the stress of parenting so many small children.  Every time I finish a run, whether short or long, I feel refreshed and ready to be present to my children again.  In addition to being a better mom, I am able to be a better wife.  Seriously, sometimes bill will get home on a day when I am not having the greatest of days and he gets the brunt of my frustrations.  He’s so awesome that instead of getting angry back, he will just order me to go for a run. Coach Bill to the rescue! So at the end of the day, I run to be a more loving wife and mother.  Oh shoot  I better stop typing. Maria is currently on the counter, putting plastic bracelets in the toaster and sipping my left over coffee from this morning……………………maybe a run would be good right about now….  

How did it feel to cross the finish line? 

It felt great! I worked really hard to train for this race. And for me this journey towards completing 13.1 miles was more about overcoming a sense of self. I was never a runner growing up. I played sports – basketball, soccer, etc – but was never a runner. After having Maria I was 30 lbs heavier than pre-maria and just felt really awful in general. I decided running was the best way to get exercise and save my sanity (when I started running I had 3 kids ages 2 and under and sanity was usually a fleeting luxury). So this journey towards the half marathon begin 18 months ago when I could barely run 1 minute without huffing and puffing and wanting to quit. To cross the finish line of a half marathon felt like an achievement on a physical level but also on a spiritual level. There were so many times during training I had to fight my body and convince myself not to quit. I found myself repeating my mantra, “the flesh is weak but the spirit is strong”. Often during the long runs when I wanted to quit, I would contemplate the stations of the cross and really try to journey with Jesus. Now I have to admit that at the Disney princess half marathon I couldn’t quite get into the spiritual journey with princesses distracting me at every corner! And seriously at the end I just wanted to fall over, drink water, eat hummus and bask in the glory of what I just accomplished.

 

AND A HUGE CHEERS TO ALL OF THE RUNNERS THAT PARTICIPATED IN THE BEST RACE THIS CITY OFFERS.

 

(if you are a mom, know a mom that would like to share their thoughts on fitness of any sort, get at me via email or blog comment. I’d love to chat, learn from you, or offer a post to you viewed by 7-12 readers.)

Gushing over Second Graders.

In retrospect, even if I had a tissue for every one of the 33 veils or bowties that entered the Church, it still would not have been enough to soak the tears I very embarrassingly shed on Sunday morning. But, when God strikes the heart with waterfalls of undeniable grace and gratitude, its difficult to anticipate its timing, or choose flood-proof cosmetics accordingly.

One by one they stepped up to our priest and received the Body of Christ for the first time. With a front row seat, my emotions at seeing their faces got carried away at the first “Amen.” In an attempt not to scare their parents at what Jim referred to as “weird, scary, creepy, that’s so weird. Or I guess maybe you have the spiritual gift of tears?” I tried to hide my face in praying hands. When that failed to end the waterworks I attempted mental distraction about what I wanted to eat afterwards (Donuts). I closed my eyes and not discretely placed my forearm close to my nose to try and catch the snot produced when there is too much crying. The ante was then upped by God or the music director or whomever decided the “Hail Mary” song I sing to each of my kids before bed would be the best next song to make Regina continue to whimper. I tried later to be a good mom and blame it on my pregnancy hormones. The truth though, is that the faith of a child is unmatched. They meant those ‘Amens’ and they worked hard to receive that Sacrament. They smiled as big as they could because they knew they had done something BIG. It was not a routine, or part of a Sunday morning checklist. It was exciting and fresh and stunningly beautiful, and my prayer for the rest of my life is that I can receive with the same eager earnestness as each one of those children.

Since early September, I met with each of these First Communicants every Tuesday for 90 minutes. Each week they had me biting my cheeks to prevent my laughing at their most sincere prayers for the dead roadkill they spotted 6 days prior while walking their also prayed for dog, their grandma’s pet turtle that lives in a far away land called North Carolina, or the barely scratched knee scrape that they insisted almost sent them to the ER. In other moments, their continuous prayers for their mother’s safe flight, ease at work, or prayer of thanksgiving for time spent with their father edified and strengthened the most tired parts of my motherhood. Their questions and curiosity about Catholicism challenged me and made me and my faith better. And their insistance the Blessed Mother surely wears high heels in heaven and that Jesus is obviously a Pirate fan makes me wonder if imagination is a virtue that Aristotle missed when writing the Nicomachean Ethics.

Thank you, dear students, for your innocent faces that brought me to my knees in thankful wonder toward a God who permitted me to encounter your first experience with the Eucharist. You declared on your first taste of the host that it is “WORSE THAN BROCCOLI AND ASPARAGUS!!” and explained to me that Easter Sunday is the day the “Parasites (pharisees) got burned!” and asked me “so when do we get money?” after making your first reconciliation, and wondered if maybe “instead of talking about God we could drink homemade hot chocolate and paint our nails?” In response to the revelation of my pregnancy you said, “I knew your stomach had changed,” and when I told you my age you said, “oh my gosh.” Your spirits are young and pure and you truly want to give God everything. Though my time as your teacher is a glimmer of your faith journey, the opportunity to participate in your formation will forever be cherished, and my gratitude for you eternal.

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Thats just me on my First Communion with a veil big enough for everyone to share.