Playing Catch UP

Let me half way catch you up:

Internet Disappearance: Despite what posting frequency may indicate, this blog is not dying. Its resting. Or rather, its pregnant. For very good reason, its typer’s brain turns mostly to mush more frequently than it is active. In certain moments its quite easy to grow in frustration as my to do lists grow more undone. Yet, then I remember that even when nothing is done and I’m still exhausted, I probably gave my baby a working limb or helped dozens of important organs thrive and that much closer to viability. And what is Lent and Holy Week without a little healthy detachment from things and hobbies and lists and check marks on those lists. With the week of Easter being the 17th of this baby’s gestational life, I am noticing slightly more brain activity, and significantly fewer meetings with my face and the toilet, which, will hopefully enable more consistency in doing the dozens of other things that seem to lose importance when the making and growing of another human being within my own body is involved.

Easter: Their fervent speed might have rivaled even John’s, the fastest of the disciples, and biggest brother, James, let that be known. The orange, purple and pink Pumas for each successive child found in their Easter baskets may have made no difference in actual speed, but their laps around the kitchen island felt at least “hours” (pronounced “ow-wows”) faster than the shoes they wore the day before. Rita proved her mother wrong as she managed to open each and every one of the dozens and dozens of candy filled plastic eggs which she found, crushed open with force never before exposed in her personality, then devoured each candy with speed rivaling her siblings leg rotation in their new light up shoes. Josie received her sale price Easter dress with joy, yet continued to question why she couldn’t have the crazy priced toddler Oscar de La Renta. I think more frequent trips to TJ Maxx and Marshall’s is the prescription to regain and educate a future maxxinista and not a spendtoomuch-a. Jim and I received the greatest honor of all when as we held and witnessed our new Godson’s baptism on the very day which God revealed his love to the world in its purest most joyful form. And then we ate the sweetest and most delicious Easter meals at least 7 times more than a daily caloric intake requires. Risen, indeed.

Baseball: A patriarchal obsession for generations in this family has been successfully passed onto my son. As he squats behind each batter he usually chooses his middle finger to signal to the pitcher. He will run any distance to retrieve the ball, and in an Easter miracle all its own, I found the requested orange (pronouced ow-ange) leather mitt with which he is slowly learning how to catch. Josie will run the bases in fast circles again and again and again, while baby sister Rita mostly eats grass and kills bugs. Dad uses his most calm instruction and coaching technique to create an almost perfectly wonderful family bonding activity. Upon asking James to kindly refrain from repeatedly spitting on his sister when he has the ball, he reminds me emphatically that, “that’s what baseball players do” and quite honestly, it was tough to argue. With so many happy memories in our very own backyard with new mitts and bats in learning a classic pastime, I think I’m quite alright with raising a team of my own.

A Petting Zoo: In another edition of “Mammy is the Greatest!!!!” my mom hosted the most joyous of celebrations for our newly adopted cousin named Carson. Its been a long road to officially make him part of this family and she, as always, celebrated the only way she knows how; by creating an over the top childhood dreamland that even a child who has yet to produce the cognitive brain power of concrete memory will indubitably remember. One item on the list of so so so many fun things? A petting zoo. Its highlight? Rita generously feeding several farm animals a bottle of milk and then taking a few sips for herself. Teeth have never been brushed so hard by a crazy mom. And in a new way to puzzle me, she eagerly fed, chased, pet, rode each and every strange looking, possibly hybrid farm animal with gleeful delight. Yet, when it came to my introducing her to the cute yellow chick, she ran away in a good amount of horror toward the extra large llama for protection in one of the most confusing displays of almost toddler behaviors I have ever witnessed.

A Preschool Recital: If there is ever a person questioning God’s love or existence in this world may I suggest attending an event during which several small children sing with choreographed hand motions? James walked onto the stage right along side best friend and cousin Bailey, and as he spotted his family, he gave a smile and a wave to Rita, making his specificity known to all with a “Hi Rita!!” I hope it sticks with her always because she smiled the widest smile, fully scrunched nose and shoulders included. They sang several songs and I only cried a little bit. I’d like to take the opportunity to blame it on pregnancy hormones, but it was really just me being a mom witnessing her first born preform on stage in a suit much too large for a boy that was only recently swaddled and in my arms. Afterwards he got extra bright blue icing and chocolate cake over said suit and released several decorative balloons into the sky very much on purpose bringing me right back to the type of emotional mom moments that include phrases like “would you like a nap today?”

To be blogged one day soon: (hopefully tomorrow!!) A roaring house party with an easy full proof DIY, and a First Holy Communion that inspired more waterworks than a box of tissues allows.

The happiest of Holy, Holy, Holy Sundays to you. JP2, I love you!

A Late Monday Momily

Last night a friend of mine posted this on Facebook, “Anyone else’s kids impossible to take to church right now? Need some encouragement” Little did he know that hours earlier Josie and Rita had performed their greatest balance beam routine of their Sunday morning Mass gymnastics careers, as James repeatedly asked just exactly how Lazarus came back to life 25 decimals louder than the priest’s microphone, leaving me tired of taking them at all.

Few things in parenthood leave me feeling more defeated than my children’s poor Mass behavior. With three kids 4 and under, I realize solemn prayer and recognition of the pews and kneelers serving a purpose other than that of balance beams and things on which to tap dance is a rather tall order. Nonetheless, I want to believe it possible for them to do slightly more communicating with God than gymnastics.

The truth is we’ve tried everything from cry room to front pew, middle aisle to easy exit. We’ve packed fish and banned food the following week because purposely creating orange cracker crumbs is much too entertaining to a two year old. I’ve packed a Mass bag. I’ve forgotten to pack the Mass bag. We have attended daily Mass as practice. We’ve hired a babysitter and kept them at home. I’ve taken the older two individually for Mass dates. Punishments have been threatened and ice cream promised. I’ve turned away both laughing and nearly crying when hair is pulled or faces are scratched, or the word “poopy,” is said at moments of silence. Crayons have been allowed and then permanently banned and tend to stain pew wood slightly more than a baby wipe can fix. We’ve praised the good and ignored the bad. We’ve re-read our child psychology books, and put in a call to Pavlov’s dog. No answer. I’ve allowed the bad to ruin my own experience of Christ, and yet, I’ve been given the grace of deep union with God even while a baby pulls my hair and tries to open my closed and praying eyelids. I try frequently to remind myself that my kids are 4,2, and 1, remembering  that the concept of mommy and daddy praying while they sit quietly seems to carry about the same contextual weight as bathroom privacy or cellphone etiquette. As anyone who has once tried to maintain a conversation with me via cellphone, these realities of raising little ones can be frustrating. Most weeks Jim and I leave Mass and feel relieved that “it’s over!” And that, my friends, is the poorest of parenting techniques.

This week’s Gospel, however, reminds me of something very important. “He wept.” It’s the shortest sentence in the Gospel, and to me, the most amazing. I know I should maybe be more amazed with Jesus’ ability to raise Lazarus from the dead, but, the full humanity of a God weeping at the sight of His friend’s sorrows gets me pretty good. While I fully realize relating a weeping Christ to my qualms with poor Mass behavior is more than a mile away from a giant hurdle, as Rita began throwing each and every Missal out of the pew on purpose, those words struck me and eased my very real motherhood frustration. Jesus gets it. He is deeply human and fully understanding of every crushed gold-fish, fought over animal cracker, and tip toe balance beam performance. He hears my prayers and theirs in the fullness of their simplicity and/or complete silliness. And it is for that reason and that reason mostly that I will continue taking them to Mass, most weeks at least, despite their lack of readiness or ability to sit quietly or participate. He hears them as much as he hears me, and communicates with them just as much, if not more.

Moments, that may have felt like an eternity of stern staring and wrangling, I was given a glimpse of hope in what often feels like the strenuous task of family Mass. Josie began singing the Holy, Holy with almost all the wrong words.  “Holy, oh holy Jesus! The holy spirit is in the sky with the birds.” Her rendition is probably closer to the Norman Greenbaum song than any part of the liturgy, but that’s not the point. She then whispered “are the angels here now?” I smiled and breathed a small piece of heaven and was sure of the prescience of every angel in all eternity surrounding the altar of the feast of all feasts. Even though it feels like a tireless task of no results, she has been paying attention. And when Rita soon after offered an elderly woman, sitting alone, the sign of peace, the contagious joy filled up three pews of people and hopefully allowed them to forget about all the times she threw missiles and hymnals too close to their heads.

This week and all weeks I hope to remember that it’s not about me or even the other people in the pews. Taking my kids to Mass is a chance, frustrating as it is, to offer my kids an opportunity to hear and experience the voice of God in their own lives. Sure, the homily probably sounds just like Charlie Brown’s teacher. And the readings never have any pictures with which to follow along. But God is much more powerful than all of these things and I refuse to limit his power by keeping it in the tomb of my desire to control. So next week, God willing, we will fly by the seat of our amateur parenting pants, break dozens of parenting rules, hoping for the best but expecting the worst and annoying dozens of Church goers in the process. And in all of it, each of my babies will spend time in the presence of God, gaining access to his secrets and mysteries, his adventures and stories in ways I’m much too faithless to understand.

Happy Lent.

A Recipe: Honey Espresso Banana Muffins and A lot of Pregnant Excuses

This post is for Britt from one of my favorite blogs TheFiskFiles

Let it be known that on today, March 31 2014, the sun shined for the first time in ages upon ages in Pittsburgh, PA. With the healing power of the sun while I wrangled my people into the grocery store sans cart (I think someone likes to hide carts in the parking lots from moms and watch the chaos for entertainment) I began to feel a little more committed to feeding this new baby something other than crap. So I bought almond flour and decided to attempt healthy baking. My resolve weakened each and every one of the six times I inadvertently walked past PopTarts, and I most certainly picked up a box and stared at the strawberry filling on more than one occasion. The only fake sugar to make it home, however, was contained in the Peanut Butter cups that Josie managed to either shoplift or tricked me into purchasing without my notice.

I’m seriously hoping Spring can give me more motivation to eat better because not even Lent has saved my appetite from wanting much else other than Frosted Flakes with a side of Wasabi Peas and guacamole or a Salmon salad followed by a dessert of 7 cookies and fried chicken (true life: i have disgusting pregnancy cravings). For the record I have never had pickles and ice cream but who knows what will happen in the next 26 weeks.

Rambles aside, I am going to try and be better because the sugar is helping nothing, especially not my veins, swollen face, or extreme tiredness. Yet, I have full certainty that my cravings are going nowhere.

Years ago in graduate school, I became certified in a mega hipster nutritional counseling program where I learned that cravings are a sign that my body needs something specific. The craving might be physical, emotional, sometimes even spiritual. For instance, I read about a dieter who tried to eat carrot juice because she hated vegetables. After said nasty juice, she wanted crunchy potato chips than anything and usually ended up binging on them. The craving came from what she missed in eating the whole carrot: the crunch. PopTarts probably look so F-ing good because they are sort of loaded with things my body actually needs but in a super distorted and unhealthy way. Baby #4 wants more calories, and my body needs carbs for energy. The indescribable desire for strawberry filling is still a mystery. The dependability of a daily 2pm craving indicates a natural sugar and energy crash because moms tend to not have very much time to make a healthy and filling lunch. Its also one of the most stressful times of the day because I’m very tired and my older two children no longer nap, allowing for very little rest time. Sugar is what I want when I’m stressed probably for a myriad of psychological issues and if I ever earn my doctorate in psychology, I’ll be sure to do plenty of research on emotional cravings and stress eating 🙂

And as for the nutrient dense avocado and salmon: its my body being good and wanting omegas because little one is stealing them 😉 The desire to eat them in combination with extremely sugary crap is still really weird and usually makes my husband want to barf (his version of sympathy morning sickness).


I sort of made up a relatively fake sugarless espresso banana muffin recipe because I know I’m gonna need something to get me through the sugar cravings and a touch of espresso is just a fantastic thing for a pregnant coffee addict like myself. I originally found this recipe while scrolling yahoo last night and ruined its intentions this afternoon. and if you have anything else healthy and reminiscent of cookies and would like to pass it along, help a hungry mom out.

I made these two ways because my husband is a normal eater.

The trying to be healthy pregnant girl version:

4- 5 very ripe large bananas (1 1/2 cups), mashed well (I used frozen ones because I think they get sweeter)
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
The rest of the morning’s coffee (about 1/4-1/2 cup which is MUCH more than I was supposed to use BUT I’m REALLY tired)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (probably more actually, I’m liberal when it comes to coffee intake) ground coffee
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter)
Honey: (wish I could tell you how much I used but i just put a bunch in and I think it really helped balance the lack of elasticity in the almond flour but I could be making that up.)  I used local honey because we bought a whole bunch of it with the hopes of protecting ourselves from allergies and its taste is only suitable in baked goods. Use whatever honey you like, and I hope the bees that made yours had access to pollinate plants other than Western PA weeds.

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


I have zero baking ability so I just mixed all the wet ingredients and then put in the dry ones and it worked. There is probably a more skillful way of going about it, but I am entirely too impatient to read directions.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Be sure to keep an eye on the kids during this time because if they are anything like mine, they will be eating mud and they will be doing it too close to the road. 


Taste Test: In all honesty, I really very much enjoy them but they are not nearly as sweet as a PopTart, which is a little bit of a dagger in my pregnant heart, but they got me through the afternoon in a big way. Honey butter makes them much better. I’ve had 4. 


For Jim or someone who wants something sweeter. Add some butter (1/4 cup??) and some sugar. Use normal flour.


If you hate them, you can be like me and blame everything on this pregnancy.

Happy Spring! I think for real this time!!!!