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.



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!!!



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.




(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.



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