Thinking of an appropriate Title for the first blog post in 3 months is too Hard.

Hey Strangers!

Man, it is difficult to write the first fresh sentence on an abandoned blog.

I direct your attention elsewhere yet maintain the steady theme of self promotion :) VerilyMag published a reflection I wrote on Postpartum Depression. Read if you like!

Since the death of naptime here at Casa JimGina, I am still figuring out how to incorporate this blogging hobby into my daily (monthly? quarterly?) life. And that’s ok!

Happy Dead of Winter!

The 10 Virtues of Mary: Angelic Sweetness

While I did manage to talk Jim into running a 10k once, short of manipulation I have few ideas as how to convince my spouse to do all that Joseph did for Mary. This is no insult to my better half. He attributes much of his vocation to marriage as being in the hands of Our Lady, so clearly he is willing to take on a mission of dramatic proportions. I’m just thankful there is always plenty of room availability in the maternity ward.

Ever since sweet, sweet Olivia asked me to reflect about Mary’s virtue of Angelic Sweetness, I’ve been thinking about how seemingly easily Mary, the most non manipulative woman to ever exist, can convince so many men and woman to do just about anything.

While I’m no scholar, to me, Mary’s Angelic Sweetness is what makes her so incredibly irresistible.

And don’t we all want to feel just a little bit more irresistible?

So let’s look at Salve Regina. ;)

Mary, in possession of the virtue of Angelic Sweetness, radiates joy and peace to those she encounters. Through this ability to communicate God’s requests to the hearts of men, God’s will, even with its inherent duty of the cross, is an invitation impossible to refuse.

At first thought of Angelic Sweetness, I concentrated on the etherial, youthful side of angel and the delicious part of sweet. This is the side of Mary that undoubtedly giggles every time my kids throw her a birthday party, put a party hat on her statue’s head, or accidentally smear carrot cake on its feet. Or when my CCD kids insisted that they draw the image of the Blessed Mother of God wearing high heel stilletos and sequins, or in a Pittsburgh Penguins Jersey with ice skates. Like the angels, she is light, not in substance, but because she understands what is important and lets go of the rest, including a 7 year olds understanding of heavenly fashion. She accepts us where we are and makes us comfortable, yet gently reminds us to be better.

I think it is this light and sweet side of Mary that draws us in to desire the will of God, maybe even when we least expect it. Like a chocolate cake at the end of a 7 course meal; we might not even know we can fit anymore until we set our eyes on its savory goodness. And while I’m hesitant to write a sentence comparing a soul’s encounter with the Blessed Mother to the marvel of pairing chocolate cake and elastic pants, I’m doing it.

Yet, Angelic Sweetness is also virtue of fiercely powerful feminine strength, of which Mary is the epitome. The angels, etherial in their beauty, light and swift in their form and approach, are also fierce protectors of God’s eternal plan. God’s will is so important, so precious, so delicate, that the angels waged war against one of their own who threatened to ruin it.

Mary may not be waging war like her angel friend Gabriel did. But, as a new mom with a little guy, I can say with confidence, I’m willing to bet her fierceness might display itself if someone goes after what her baby wants.

Sadly, I think if we polled women and asked “name a fiercely feminine figure,” responses would probably indicate Beyonce or angels of the Victoria kind. I think this might be because “irresistible” tends to be understood in terms of big boobs, tiny waists, and Kim Kardashian’s slippery bum. Our culture does seem to understand that there is something better. But, “better,” is usually in the prospect of experiencing a more gratifying sexual escapade, or being the one in possession of the body that can grant it. No offense to Queen B, but, I think the Queen of Heaven would like the word Fierce back. Because no matter how hot, sexy, talented, funny, rich, or charming that we are, the only thing that will really gratify us to the point of fulfillment is the will of God in our lives.

So often, I think of Mary as a stoic figure, always walking toward receiving the bloody remains of her son’s body at the foot of the cross. That image is surely not one to ever be forgotten, yet it ought not overshadow the depth and savory sweetness of her joy, the power of her strength, the irresistible nature of her beauty that is neither deceptive in its charm or fleeting in its presence. Mary’s sweetness is a feminine experience of the world without guilt. She is completely free to draw us in, make us stay, and protect our mission with every power granted to her.

Mary’s freedom allows her to be completely unshackled by societal pressure, stigma, worry. Her body, so incredible, saved the universe without ever walking a runway with silly wings attached to it. Her joy and confidence in God is so contagious in its essence, so convincing by its peace, that hopping on a donkey in the middle of the night using the stars as the only GPS seems like a great idea!  Feminists of the world! You’ve found your girl!

So, in these next few weeks, as Advent approaches, my prayer is that I may desire to be as irresistible, as fierce, as beautiful, as generous, as close to God as Mary, so much so that her “fiat,” becomes my own.

Now go and do some better reading:

This post is part of a series on the Ten Virtues of Mary, hosted by Olivia of To the Heights and running every Tuesday until the middle of December. So if you need some help in the virtue department, here’s a great place to start ;)

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October 7 – An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary – Olivia of To the Heights

October 14 – Lively Faith – Molly of Molly Makes Do

October 21 – Blind Obedience – Kendra of Catholic All Year

October 28 – Constant Mental Prayer – Jenna of Call Her Happy

November 4 – Heroic Patience – Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum

November 11 – Profound Humility – Carolyn of Svellerella

November 18 – Angelic Sweetness – Regina of Good One God

November 25 – Divine Wisdom – Britt of The Fisk Files

December 2 – Universal Mortification – Abbey of Surviving Our Blessings

December 9 – Divine Purity – Gina of Someday Saints

December 16 – Ardent Charity – Christy of Fountains of Home

December 17 – Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights – Just in time for Christmas

A few Confessions as of Lately

James Witnessed a Crime: He sat in his carseat as his Uncle Dan filled up on gas. Holding a McDonald’s milkshake that his mother would have never bought him, he continued to LOL about the word “poop,” and all of its sounds. The open window provided him with an unobstructed view of the Gas Station interior. As one particular man, described by the witness as a “really bad guy,” approached the coffee counter, he looked to his right and left to make sure, in the words of the witness, “the police weren’t watching.” With no handcuffs in sight, the man then stuffed “at least 3″ handfuls of napkins into his pocket. Both four year olds in the car were sure: there is no way he could have needed them for himself, and he absolutely did not ask permission. Alarmed and astonished, the mention of fecal matter was, momentarily, no longer funny. Instead, he finished his milkshake with wide eyes and asked 4,789,435 questions about what in the world that man would do with all of those stolen napkins, how other gas station patrons would be able to wipe ketchup from their hands without enough napkins, and, most importantly, why does God make bad guys in the first place. And as every good first born knows, there is no more efficient way to extend bedtime than asking theological questions regarding the essence of God and his gift of free will to two rookie parents trying to do their best.

Looking for a Circus Discount? Arrive one hour (plus) late and bring with you adorably excited children. Be sure to answer “why are you so late,” with the explanation “new nursing baby.” The ticket sales man might have so much pity that 60% of the show has been denied to the curious and whimsical hearts of the older children that he offers a steep discount on tickets for the parents and allows the kids to go for free because “they missed so much good stuff already.” To make the evening even cheaper, forgo the $14 chicken finger and ask for a small popcorn split 5 ways. Dinner is served as clowns toss fire in the air and crazy people dive face first into trampolines. Then, sit back, relax, and watch dancing elephants inspire the happiest facial expressions on children who are unaware that they missed a thing.

The Police Ruined Curious George: Before George could even make a mess of things, or I could enjoy the 27 minutes of monkey mischief to drift off on the couch, the carbon monoxide alarm began its sounding. Convinced the house would surely blow up if I didn’t start screaming and running out the door, I unnecessarily scared all of the kids as they followed and demonstrated to me my overreaction through their learned behavior. 911 was quick to the scene and so was my husband. As all six of our next door neighbors got wind of “Fire Truck!” my driveway was beginning to look crowded. The fireman exited the house and assured me, several times, that the sensor is broken and that no one will die in their sleep and my headache is attributed to something other than deadly gas. Since 10 kids under 10 were already in the truck anyway, the kind men offered a tour of their sweet ride and curiously asked, “Excuse me, ma’am, but how many children do you have?”

Completely unaware to how much more confusing my response would make the situation, I said, “Oh these kids? Most of these kids aren’t mine.”

And Finally

Have you been reading the Ten Virtues of Mary? Next week is my week, but all of these other bloggers are way way better, so read!

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October 7 – An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary – Olivia of To the Heights

October 14 – Lively Faith – Molly of Molly Makes Do

October 21 – Blind Obedience – Kendra of Catholic All Year

October 28 – Constant Mental Prayer – Jenna of Call Her Happy

November 4 – Heroic Patience – Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum

November 11 – Profound Humility – Carolyn of Svellerella

November 18 – Angelic Sweetness – Regina of Good One God

November 25 – Divine Wisdom – Britt of The Fisk Files

December 2 – Universal Mortification – Abbey of Surviving Our Blessings

December 9 – Divine Purity – Gina of Someday Saints

December 16 – Ardent Charity – Christy of Fountains of Home

December 17 – Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights – Just in time for Christmas

What No One Told Me About Having my 4th Baby

Three weeks ago, my husband, three children, and I welcomed a sweet, gentle, wiggly little baby boy into the world. He weighed in at 7lbs and we named him, John Christopher, after my father in law, one of the most wise men I’ve ever known. One of these long, exhausting days I’ll get around to writing his birth story. But for now, I’m back peddling into blog catching up.

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Motherhood threw shock my way within the first moments of my being one. Our first baby boy was incredibly loud (even to the ears of an Italian) so much so that he was kicked out of the nursery because he woke up the other babies after the terror of his first bath, had the latching skill of a piranha, and slept in 5-7 minute cycles before demanding to be fed again. There I sat in perhaps the smallest hospital room (closet) ever designed in a quarantined floor because swine flu swept the nation in the very same way that Ebola might. I was alone and completely clueless with my very young, new husband. My hospital bag packed full of text books, pre-pregnancy jeans, and, my high heel booties, was of absolutely no hope. My plan to study for the graduate school finals I suffered through 5 days post baby while dressed in pants that button and stilted shoes quickly vanished from my delirious mind as all of my thoughts turned to, “how will I ever sit down again?” While everyone told me their congratulations, well wishes, and sent adorable plush stuffed animals, I was somehow left in the dark when it came to bleeding nipples, stitches, mesh underpants, and normal baby behavior. The three of us, still, somehow survived, and we did so happier than ever.

While I’m fully accustomed to the joys of mesh underpants this fourth time around, motherhood, so it seems, is and always will be, full of surprises. Here are some of its most recent unexpected joys:

3am occurs 24 hours in a row, or so it feels: I know it, you know it, all other moms know it. Children have no idea and still expect to be fed. If someone could only inform my infant that sleeping all day and partying all night is only acceptable in college, all will be well.

There will be blood: I sat across from Jim at our very dirty, mostly falling apart, hand me down kitchen table. With James reaping the benefits of having successfully tackled both of his sister’s in the race to tend to baby John Christopher’s desire for a pacifier, Rita drowned her sorrows in a third helping of steak. Josie continued in trying to distract her big brother from his post through song and clumsy dance. With everyone occupied, we raised our first post baby glass of wine and toasted to a Friday night home and together. Just as the delicious fermented grape touched my lips, Josie’s dance routine grew increasingly spirited catching Rita’s concentrated love of meat off guard. Three spins and the most clumsy plea ballet has ever known later, Rita’s chair was accidentally shoved out from underneath her feet. In that moment, Rita learned that heads, unfortunately, do not brace falls very well. After Jim and I discussed “I think it looks fine? Maybe not?”, we took our great parenting to the expertise of group text. Consensus confirmed stitches. To med express Daddy and sweet Rita went as I waited anxiously by the phone. Jim’s calm demeanor was first challenged when Rita did what every woman wants to do at the doctor’s office and threw a complete screaming and crying fit when asked to stand on the scale. The dr went on to diagnose that she needed staples. Every single postpartum  hormone began to be released in hysterical tears. My favorite detail, however, is the med express doctor’s immediate recognition of our last name based on the frequent visits from our next door neighbors. “Give Maria and Dan and all their boys my best,” he said as they left. Lesson learned: more kids, more med-express.

– It will be humiliating in unexpected ways: Like when I thought servicing the furnace would take 10 minutes and cost 10 dollars, it might take 4 long hours and cost much more. Enter: unprepared HVAC technician into a house with 8 children all 4 and under (the neighbors came to visit). After one hour and a leggo fight, he returned from the basement to say, “something is broken.” With the sweet sound of “Mom!! Wipe my bum!!” in the background, 45 minutes after that he asks, “is it possible something is stuck in the vents?” “Yes.” I confirm. Two hours and a sawed off pipe later, as JCDII demonstrated his impressive skill of nursing and yet simultaneously vomiting all over me, and Josie ran around in only underpants, he had found the problem. “Sorry that took so long, Ma’am,” he began nervously. “But it looks like the furnace exhaust had been stuffed with a considerable amount of rocks, chalk…and it looks like… a pair of dirty underpants.” Upon sight of my visible embarrassment, my sister comforted me with, “At least it’s not poop filled diapers in your gutters.” Lesson learned: it could always be worse, and it usually is next door.

– Questions are Asked: The last time I gave birth my oldest kid was two and mostly uncommunicative. This time 3 of them speak and they speak well. Questions include: “Mommy’s Diaper?” “Why can’t we jump on your belly?” “Why does your belly look like that?” “Why is that milk yellow?” “Why does that pumper sound like that?” “If the baby is out, why is your belly still big?” “Mommy, are you pregnant again yet?” “When will you be pregnant again?” “Can we help you get pregnant?” “Next time can you have two babies?”

– Generosity will astound: The meals, the gifts, THE PRAYERS! Unbelievable.

Joy will permeate: In perhaps the greatest grace filled moment of my life, I held sweet baby John Christopher and heard the rest of the clan’s pitter patter down the hospital hallway. My heart was beating in pure excitement that I could barely contain myself from jumping out of the hospital bed to greet them. EVERYONE TOLD ME THAT I WOULD BE TIRED. EVERYONE TOLD ME MY HANDS WOULD BE FULL. NO ONE TOLD ME I WOULD CRY IN COMPLETE JOY UPON INTRODUCING MY NEW BABY TO MY BIGGER BABIES. So they spilled chocolate cake all over the floor, wiped their faces on my sheets, broke the buttons that make the bed adjust, and nearly jumped on me so many times that my husband thought I might hemorrhage all within a twenty minute visit? THERE IS NO GREATER GIFT THAN THAT OF A SIBLING, EVEN IF THE YOUNGEST IS DISAPPOINTED THAT HE ISN’T A DOG.

– Somehow it’s easier Maybe it’s because the last time I had a baby no one could yet walk down the steps or maybe it’s because three were still in diapers, or maybe it’s because JCD’s siblings are totally obsessed with him? But, I swear its easier to have a fourth kid around! Don’t get me wrong, my hands? They are at their fullest. But, to have a new little newborn life! What a grace, what a life, what a love.

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This blog is coming back. Stay tuned.

“I think this is probably our biggest baby, wouldn’t you agree?” And other accidental insults

Pregnancy, in all of its beauty, can make a woman feel like a large elephant. And while people don’t mean it, things are said, mostly by husbands, and mostly on purpose.

Unless said by my husband and children, accidental insulters shall remain nameless. 

 

“Have you noticed how big I got this week?” I asked convinced that my husband would notice the considerable change in belly size that probably has mostly to do with eating donuts for breakfast, muffins for lunch, and cookies for dinner.
“Haven’t you been that big for a while?” he replies as stupidly as innocence allows.
With a shocked stare as my only response, he concludes, “There is absolutely no point in ever talking to a pregnant woman.”

 

As I dress in a particularly favorite maternity shirt, Josie, in notice of its impressive size, intervenes, assured that I am mistaken, “Mommy! Why you wearing Daddy’s clothes?”

 

As we allow Rita to dance to her new favorite inappropriate pop song, Jim suggests, “This baby is all about that bass!!”

 

“I feel like a cow,” I say, most likely because I ate like one. “Well you look like more like a toothpick with a big meatball attached if that makes you feel any better,” he offers the strangest compliment ever spoken.

 

Six weeks ago, in her first glimpse of me in a tight shirt, Josie expressed her concern that “Mommy, I think your baby balloon is going to definitely burst today.”

 

About 4 months ago, upon witnessing me in a swimsuit, an obviously unmarried, guy in need of training says,  “Looks like you already have that end of pregnancy waddle down pretty good.”

 

In an effort to get my attention, a particularly brave cousin shouts, “Hey KoolAid!”

 

When showing Jim my wayyyyy too small bridesmaid’s dress worn last week at 38 weeks, he asks “Isn’t the point of you guys to make the bride look good, anyways?”

 

Upon hearing friends were coming over, “Do you think he will bring cookies?” I wonder in delicious hope. There to crush my feelings and my appetite in one swift comment, my husband asks, “Are you sure you need that?”

 

In an effort to ask me to move, Jim says, “Hey Big Bum!” to which, before I can respond, he senses his error and begins to back peddle, yet dig his hole deeper, with, “That came out wrong! I meant that figuratively, not literally.”

 

After a glimpse at my back side growth, one could only innocently ask, “Have you been back squatting?”

 

At some point around 6 months gestation when this baby may have reached the 1.5 lbs mark, “So is that baby like 9 or 10 pounds by now?”

 

As I tried to both shower myself and my kids at the same time, which will never again happen, “Mommy, your bum is weallllly wiggly.”

 

Every few weeks, in continued amazement at the visible growth, James exclaims, “Wow Mom! Your belly is even fatter! Hey babysitter! Come see how fat my mom’s belly is!”

 

“You might be a wittle bit bigger than Santa Claus now,” my three little cherubs collectively decide.

 

“Seriously, the baby HAS to be ready to come out soon!” James exclaims while shaking his head in amazement and concern for my inability to tie my shoes.

 

While out shopping for a gift for my sister in law several weeks ago the sales associate says, “Looks like you are due soon! Is this your first?” To which I respond, “no its my fourth,” “Oh,” she begins puzzled, “what do you have at home?” “A boy and two girls,” I say smiling,” “What do you want this time,” she asks, “I’m super happy either way, but my 4 year old really wants a brother.” “Is that the baby?” she asks for clarification. “No, he is my oldest,” I say revealing my impressive reproductive pace. And with a jaw dropped stare she concludes the conversation, “ARE YOU TOTALLY CRAZY?!”

 

Only sometimes. But also, mostly.

 

Happy weekend!

 

How the current baby is dealing with the imminent arrival of the new baby.

“Rita, where is the baby?” I repeatedly ask on the hour. “Right here,” she asserts again self assured and with confidence as she points to herself. The gesture is not to be confused with the suggestion that she, like her mother, is carrying a baby within her own belly. Rather, she is sure to clarify with the statement, “I am the baby,” while staring directly into my eyes, without blinking or wavering, or even slightly acknowledging the imminent arrival of her younger sibling.

“What is in mommy’s belly?” I continue to jostle in a high pitched voice so as to indicate playful reassurance that all will be well as she continues to ignore in cold, staring, silence. Her reply is sometimes a shoulder shrug, sometimes a decision to face her back to my face, and most frequently a concentrated effort to change the subject as quickly as possible with the statement, “I pooped again.”

“Why don’t you feel my belly?” I offer, even more playfully, as her new little brother or sister threatens to bruise my ribs while their movement reveals the shape of knees, elbows, feet, and most especially noticeably, his or her bum through my skin and shirt.

I take her hand, place it on the moving limb, and she, stars again into my eyes, her bangs just over her eyelashes doing little to hide her insistence.
“Top it, Regina” she says, unaware of the hilarity of her silent ‘S,’ and no longer willing to refer to me by anything other than my legal name. Her tendency to refer to me not as mom when commanding me to “Clean this,” “Get this,” or “I want a marshmallow,” has taught me well that she does, in fact, mean it, and there will, upon my refusal to abide by her request, most likely, be consequences.

“Let’s feel the baby kick!” I insist again while tickling in a mother’s desperate attempt to prepare the inevitable shattering of her denial from causing potentially permanent psychological damage and/or a purposeful hockey stick to my newborn’s soft spot.
She smiles, lays on her back, and begins to kick me. “Baby kicking!” she exclaims happily as her foot slams into that of her unborn family member.

 

To Rita,

I really hope you like your new baby brother or sister. I hope even more that he or she doesn’t accidentally steal away your second birthday and ruin your life forever.

Back to Reality: Memories of a Family Vacation

The last non essential pair of shoes stuffs its way into my suitcase several minutes past midnight. With the 4am wake up call looming, I forgo the third pair of high heel wedges and 7th maternity maxi dress and slip into bed. While I can’t be certain,  I believe its about 17 seconds after I calm my travel anxiety, which is mostly concerned with “will I have enough to wear?” and begin to doze that the intruder alarm began blaring through the entire house. “Yes of course we want the police! I’m a million months pregnant and already naturally paranoid!” Several police officer’s assurances later, I decide to quit checking for robbers underneath my bed. I then claim approximately 45 minutes of mostly interrupted sleep with my hands clenching a hockey stick, the only weapon my husband permits in his bedroom which he shares with a crazy person who might one day accidentally use it on him if he rolls over or gets up to go to the bathroom unexpectedly. 

In a most shocking rally, we make our flight and only forget to leave several pieces of fresh produce on the kitchen counter to rot for the next two weeks being sure to welcome the entire fruit fly species to feast and infest our entire home. At some point on the plane ride, as she takes a crayon to a favorite passage, I realize Rita has been carrying Flannery O’Connor’s short story collection and The Brother’s Karamozov in her tiny baby backpack throughout the entire airport and has never once complained that her tiny back has been burdened with several unnecessary pounds of her mother’s favorite literature. No one poops on the plane and it lands with ease. With that, and the Florida sun to welcome me as well as seriously swell my ankles, I allow my palms to stop sweating and begin to relax. 

Upon arrival, I am instructed to keep the kids inside while the men load the luggage into a tiny fishing boat. I oblige until Rita begins running towards the floating dock, confident in her ability to swim without assistance among big fish. “It might be full of flesh eating bacteria!!!” I warn my one year old, that is of course if Good Morning America’s report on the deadly Florida water is to be held accountable. I may have not given it a second worry, but my mother sat me down on 7, or maybe 9, separate occasions begging me to never even consider touching the clear Gulf of Mexico waters lest I desire a particularly terrible type of death. 

As I make my way around the bend wrestling a determined baby and her two siblings, James yells, “Daddy is in the dirty water!” and I notice my husband fully submerged and swimming in his clothing doing his best to wrestle five pieces of our family’s luggage before it fulfills its desire to sink my entire maternity wardrobe to the bottom of the ocean floor forever. My father in law, the smartest man I know, shakes his head and does his best to retrieve our belongings and his very wet son. “We had an accident,” he explains as I realize I will never learn the true details of how so many bags fell into such salty water. Luckily, the suitcase containing Jim’s scuba diving equipment remained completely dry and unharmed by the salt water for which it is designed. I began to repeat the mantra, “things. They are just things,” as we traveled to our final destination by boat, except the words, “MY FAVORITE,” kept getting directly in the way. 

Upon inspection, only everything is soaked and mostly ruined. (Rest permanately in peace: all of my makeup). The rest of the things only require dozens of loads of laundry to bring back to a “I think it smells ok?” level of wear, which is pretty much exactly the way a pregnant stay at home mom prefers to begin a relaxing vacation. 

Since the Scuba gear remained nice and dry, Jim has no trouble at all spending the next day 25 feet under water catching the night’s lobster dinner. As he eats his catch and teaches our children underwater signals like shark, octopus, and something is biting me, I notice his difficulty to swallow. “Are you sure you aren’t allergic to shellfish?” I ask. 

He isn’t.

But, we do learn that scuba diving allowed his trachea to partially burst which lands us very much in the ER at midnight, which, even before our arrival, is buzzing with excitement. With the promise of potential legal steroid use to heal his broken organ, Jim is still smiling. Mine begins to fade after a third person asks, “would you like us to get you a bed and make it a two for one deal? The maternity ward is right upstairs.”  Words like “fatso, enormous, still 7 weeks to go, huge, gigantic,” float around in my head, much like the air floating around Jim’s neck and major organs. While they might be less life threatening, I can assure they are much more dramatic and psychologically damaging. 

A million hours later, my little scuba diver is cleared to go home with the strict instructions to not swim or lift anything, and definitely no smoking. At 3am I drive my husband to the pharmacy to fill his prescription. With directions to “eat with food,” we ransack every highly caloric, fatty, junk food snack made of shortbread, nutella, peanut butter, and/or crap the drugstore has to offer its midnight customers and head to the check out dazed, and confused.  We are then met with the comment, “looks like some good munchies!!!!” With my pregnant belly directly in his face I nod my head, smile, and sort of a little bit, but not actually at all, wish that were the case and that my husband didn’t actually have escaped air perpetrating his organs and ruining future scuba diving ventures for the rest of his life.  

With all of my Debbie Downer out, we make it home and add another 2 hours of sleep to our 72 hour mostly awake record. Thankfully, in a house of 26 of my favorite children, and most of my favorite adults, it takes about 5 minutes to get over it and enjoy the sun, even with the ankles, and the water, even with the flesh eating bacteria, the dinners, even with the particularly high volume, and most of all, the family, the faith, and all the fun that Florida has to offer. 

Highlights include:

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Additionally, with the help of his imagination, James witnesses several sharks eat even more stingrays. Josie learns to swim, and Rita fully believes that she can, too. My curling iron eventually dried out from its Florida swim and once again turns on, and my favorite scuba diver is heals and still my favorite person on the planet. Jim touches a manatee twice, which is apparently, according to Florida environmentalists, punishable by death. Each of us acquires 4 million bug bites, and we brave public restaurants and are only asked to keep it down once. I eat 3 dozen heath bar cookies with only the help of my unborn baby. Oh, and I flood a generous portion of a very nice home when the toilet breaks. 

And now, its back to reality where I am about to eat chicken ravioli in the house I own with TRex, Triceritops, Cinderella, and Darth Vador. 

Happy Week to you all. 

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.