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.


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.


This blog is coming back. Stay tuned.

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…

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


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.


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.

7QT: The Bright Side. Memories of a Family Weekend Getaway and the worst kind of Two Hour Delay

1. Managing to make it out of the door, into the car, without forgetting a single essential item or suitcase and thereby finding no reason to turn around the overstuffed vehicle should have provided my anxiety more comfort. Yet, the suspicion only welled, leaving me to wonder when, where, and how the difficulty of traveling in a crowded airport with three kids, a nervous mom, and a super calm dad would occur. With barely a hiccup at the check in counter, and strangely obedient children agreeing to hold my hand and carry their own things, I began to prepare myself for what had to be the worst security line experience of my life. Yet, we were “family of small children profiled” and put into the line that no longer demands the removal of shoes, laptops, breast milk, or requires a rather intimate feel up. Even if I was unwillingly participating in a TSA research experiment, only one of my kids ran around the metal detector and it caused more laughter than tasing, so again, seamless.  Personal experience then led me to discover that a fearless toddler, overly cautious and rather clumsy 4 year old, and a jumpily anxious mom in the middle is perhaps the worst combination for a ride on an escalator. We still had several minutes before boarding and enjoyed a happy and considerably quiet family airport meal during which the kids ate the cheese and chewed the turkey before they managed to spit it back out almost undetected. Then, the difficulty came. The evening flight, scheduled perfectly for a bedtime arrival, delayed by twenty minute increments for a total of two hours. The first delay was spent setting up and refereeing relay races in empty gates leading me to finally experience a bright side of my city’s airport losing major airline hubs. Next, we ruined an entire restaurants meal at TGIFridays and ordered the most dissipointing $7 ice cream dessert I have ever seen. With chocolate on my pants and ice cream in my hair, I begged the good Lord to get us on a plane, as the kids jumped along empty gate seats chasing planes taking off saying, “WE MISSED OUR CHANCE AGAIN!” indicating zero understanding of the process of airline travel or plane destination. At two hours past beditme we boarded and were asked to seek refuge in the last two rows of the airplane, also known as the baby ghettos, where all children under three who could potentially throw a tantrum or freak out when they can’t figure out how to pop their ears are forced to sit and repeatedly smell the altitudes effects on bathroom users. The bright side of landing 5 hours past bedtime? No matter how poorly behaved and bitey a baby is, several passengers will comment “she did so well!” And when we finally rent a car and make it to our destination slightly past 1:00 am, the kids sleeping in the back will be so knocked out that they wake up the next morning positive that it was magic that put them in their Florida beds.




Rita tampering with a stranger’s luggage.


And in hour 2, the parents just take pictures when their baby grabs a knife on the table of an airport restaurant.

2. No matter how exhausting a travel experience is, even when a trip is only three days long, after 7-12 minutes spent in the sun, playing in sand, together as a family, while Rita and the birds run away from the waves with almost the exact same scamper, every delay, cold weather day, and recent annoying experience, will be forgotten and feelings of rejuvination will overwhelm. Even if the kids begin purposefully throwing sand in each other’s eyes at minute 13.

3. The Brightest Side: Without a doubt my favorite memory is the flawlessly planned night away given to me as a birthday present by my husband, and favorite dinner partner. As I nervously explained needless details to the kid’s babysitter, their big cousin, he whisked me away and gave me so much quality time my love tank almost exploded. First, a stop at a coffee shop where even the ice is made from coffee making every sip better than the last. Then, all my dreams came true as he pulled over at Nordstrom Rack and gave me free reign. One pair of Kate Spade heels coming in at pennies later, we arrived at our hotel and stuffed our faces with delicious food, more food, and more food, because, apparently, what parents do with a night away is eat like there will never be a tomorrow. There was a tomorrow, and we ate again. It was our first night away from the children in a few years and it was truly wonderful. I thought for sure I would be welcomed home with an open armed hugged from the baby I’ve never spent a night from. But, instead, she gave me an open palmed push to the face and ran to Daddy with excitement and cheering.

4. With a promise of a boat ride and conditions much too windy and wavy for a sane dad to take toddlers on a boat, we went anyway. The pontoon boat, made for smooth seas and low speed, met knew limits and high pitched screams. As the children begged, “daddy why are you doing this to us??!! Please daddy save us all!! Go back, daddy, go back!!,” and the raging rapids of the ocean drenched us all over and over again, I do not believe either parent has laughed harder in months. It wasn’t so much that we found the paralyzing fear of our children to be that funny, but more the fact that we realized how dumb we are and were so soaking wet with a continuous flooding of sea water on a boat designed for turtle speed.  We turned around and survived with a few family member beach onlookers wondering why God ever decided to entrust us with children.

5. 3 days of sun later, it was time to return to the frozen tundra of Pittsburgh on the 28th anniversary of my birth. With several birthday treats already had, Josie was the first to greet me in the morning with “mommy, its my birthday, where is the cake?” and soon after James said,”did you get me toys today for the birthday?” A card signed by each with the ever special message of “thank you for feeding me lunch and wiping my bum when I poop,” made a mom feel extra noticed. While driving late to the airport amidst a baby/toddler/little boy brawl of the century carried on nice and loud, my patience was lost and out I blurted, “ALL I WANT FOR MY BIRTHDAY IS FOR YOU TO STOP FIGHTING!!!” Silence ensued and as soon as my guilt cued the internal soundtrack of, “Its my party and I’ll cry if I want to,” James broke it up with “Sorry mom, but we were already planning on getting you a flower so….I think we can keep fighting.” And when the return flight is delayed just as much as the departure in a much too crowded airport followed a much too turbulent flight for a crazy person like me to handle, the mile high diaper bomb was generously disarmed by my husband. 13 decades of the rosary later we safely landed and I began to breath again. Then some lady named Sophia Loren accidentally stole our luggage mistaking it for her own. Maybe a diaper fell out along the way to indicate it was not hers but just as we were finished filing a missing luggage form, she brought it back. Also upon her arrival, the continuous cries of James regarding his “favorite football underpants being gone forever and stolen by a mean person,” were quieted. It was the GREATEST birthday and the BEST trip. Back to snow.

6. On Wednesday, sweet Josephine celebrated her “beast day,” also known as the Feast of St. Joseph. To mark the occasion we froze them with ice cream and played for two hours outside at a park. Her excitement for simplicity and fashion sense flare will forever make a mom smile. To Josie: May you always find a reason to dump out an entire bag of tortilla chips to “celebrate the morning.” May your humor keep your worries light, and may your big brown eyes always continue to look to God with the very same wonder and delight. Thank you for teaching me how to have fun and open things.


7. This week I learned to never let a baby near freshly squeezed orange juice, a container of strawberries and that no marriage has truly been tested until the sink breaks. A very special thanks to my husband Jim for his dedication to solving the problem with the Walmart special bathroom faucet. While the kitchen has never looked better, I hope the only plumbing issue we attempt to ever again fix together is playing Super Mario Brothers.


Happy Snowy Spring. 

Sundays are for Resurrections

…Mondays are for making up lost time on this blog…

After 8 straight days of someone expelling stomach acids, one day off, and two days back to all family illness hell, it seems like finally, maybe, just maybe, the highly contagious sickness has moved from this house to the one next door, so say a few prayers for my sister.

After two bouts each person, we woke up yesterday feeling strangely better, and extremely grateful for an opportunity to spend time with my family that did not involve sickness, crying, or sleeping. Following Church, we got crazy and seized the heck out of the Spring ahead.  With 15 minutes before showtime the attempt to make it across town to catch Disney On Ice without tickets was in full “pile them into carseats!” as fast as we could buckle.

Questions on the way included, “where are we going?” and “why are we going so fast?” I dodged the first with “its a surprise!” after learning the very important parent lesson of never revealing the fun location unless absolutely positive it will work out. With no tickets, 12 minutes to spare and poorer than poor planning, I was less than convinced. I suffered the consequences of then being asked if every house/building/tractor/large truck that we past was the “surpwise??” but I’m positive it was better than the time we promised riding roller coasters only to find the amusement park was too crowded and I blamed it on the police.

As we pulled up and illegally parked, James shrieked in excitement about seeing the “Penguins!” and the “guy that looks like Daddy.” I let him down by building up the parts with Buzz Light Year. Still confused, he decided to hold my hand anyway. Hands down, we looked like the worst parents in the building when only one child had a coat and the others loudly cried about being freezing. In we walked to a bombardment of $30-45 pieces of plastic worth a maximum of pennies and thousands of children dressed like princesses. In an effort to evade a future money pit vacation, I hinted at “being in Disney world,” and somehow managed to escape the well placed marketing of spinning-light up pieces of junk with, “I’m so sorry, but someone would probably lose an eye at our house. Let’s admire the dresses!”

While walking past the concessions to our cheapest seats, Jim and I began to experience the natural consequences of skipping lunch to make a show with only 15 minutes to spare, and only had ourselves to blame and a few almonds in my pocket. Peanuts are sort of healthy? And also highly choke-able. Nasty popcorn for the lunch hold-over.

We made it to the seats only 9 minutes late. The memory of the squeals as they witnessed the Beast skate onto the same ice as the Penguins are gold to me. And the skit included all of my favorite Beauty and the Beast banter, so it was a win all around. Since my children, for the most part, only have a general understanding of “princess,” and tend to think that all of them have guns like their favorite Leia, there were many questions as the several Disney princesses skated in the scantily clad ice outfits. And James, in his most polite voice, wondered, “these pritty girls are nice, but when do the race cars come out of that castle?” As well, “will anybody be using a hockey stick?” It then took a whole family effort to keep Rita from jumping out of her seat and onto the ice as dozens of “Its a Small World” singing skaters were released from the castle and brought onto the ice in sparkling ice vehicles. Our cue to exit was 30 minutes past nap time when Rita began pulling hair and stealing other people’s slushies. Not only did we beat traffic, but also, a parking ticket.

The rest of the day was spent outside in legitimate sunshine. They wore costumes and begged to go trick or treating. They played “Ring around the Josie, let’s all fall on Rita,” and she hardly minded at all. Jim gave them blueberry pie and they all cried because “there is jelly on my ice cream.” Darth Vador and Superman found unity in stealing M&Ms. Rita learned to say, “what’s that?” and “give me banana.”

Thank you Jesus, for the break from Lent, and for such a wonderful day.

“…how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man, Jesus, overflow for the many.” 


The ticket seller was super nice when he said, “please sign this,” to which James began to write his name explaining “I thought that man would like to see my J’s,” and after the repeated screaming into the microphone because “I still don’t think he can hear me!”






Hopefully big sister can fill little sister in on the proper way to approach a selfie.




Instagram repeats.



This picture accurately depicts several reasons why I chose Jim as my husband. Abides he does.


Happy week’s beginning.

The Flu.

It began with the sound heard and most feared by every mom around the world in precisely the wrong place: the newishly carpeted hallway, far away from a toilet, bucket, garbage can, or any other surface or container that could be easily cleaned or appropriately discarded. This week, that’s what I’ve learned about the flu. Itprefers to lash out on things that can be ruined once every twenty minutes for 24-48 hours per child and husband.

The flu also has particular time proclivities. While it can strike at whatever inconvenient time it likes, its initial attack is best initiated between the hours of 12am-3am, approximately 10-15 minutes after the matriarch and patriarch fall asleep. This leaves Dad pretty much impossible to wake up, and Mom solely responsible, at no fault of his own naturally deep, and deeply envied, sleeping state.

Even if it is begged, the flu does not spread quickly so as to get it over with. No, it lingers in a way that just when it appears dormant, the baby releases its virus all over the dinner table. This occurs approximately 20 minutes before the parents made dinner plans with friends. Its ability to make the warning, “eat your vegetables!” meaningless, fully covered in bacteria, yet not entirely unwelcome by those seated at the table under the age of 4 is most impressive. And 20 minutes before a fun thing is about to occur seems to be its second most preferred time strike.

Ruined plans, full-blown isolation from the exterior world, and various pieces of furniture and carpets ruined is annoying. Yet, there are few things harder, in my experience at least, than refusing a baby water or a bottle, words she has just learned to use politely with ‘please’ attached, when she desperately wants one and has absolutely zero understanding as to the reason for her mean mommy’s refusal.

As the others are slowly nursed back from pale, the last remaining child appears impervious to the flu’s peril. She runs, plays, all while laughing at the flu in the face of her older brother and younger sister for so long that it really does seem impossible that she will catch it, too. “What an immune system she has,” her mother brags. “It’s almost stronger than her personality,” she continues to her husband as she is about to fall asleep. The sound strikes again just as her eyelids close. This time, it’s from sweet Josephine’s bed. Favorite attachment objects and long blond curls are involved and very dirty. Somehow she still laughs when it’s over and immediately asks for a popsicle and milk. It’s a long night filled with a lot of “no’s.”

The next morning that proceeds zero sleep from either parents is welcomed fully by the recovered older brother with energy and a whole lot of Carpe Diem. “Could you go visit your (thought to also be recovered) baby sister for a few minutes?” the parents beg. “Sure!” he scampers. Approximately 30 seconds later he returns confused, bewildered, and apparently unfamiliar with the contents of vomit. “Um Mom? Rita did something in there. I’m pretty sure its paint or something. Like red paint, with some pink, a little bit of owange and some green. There is no blue. And she painted her whole bed. And it smells weal weal bad.” The description, though possibly concerning for his context clue reasoning, is clear. It’s never leaving us.

The flu is the worst and it comes to ruin at least 7 days and maybe the washing machine, too.

If the flu were a body part, I think it would be a raised middle finger.

Also, if money is promised for making it to an appropriate puking place, the kids count, and it adds up pretty fast. FYI.

May the Fat Tuesday Revelry be fun and stomach flu free.

Prayers all around for a Holy start to Lent mañana.

“Hey Kids, Where are you?”

Parenting has had a funny way of revealing the external realities of my behavior and likes to continually deliver it to my awareness brutally, honestly, and, most likely, pronounced incorrectly. For instance, before my son turned 2, I had little to no awareness at the frequency or the intensity with which I reacted to a mistake, mishap or mess by use of the exclamation “Damn It!” While I might have to spend a good amount of time with Pavlov’s Dog in a cage of my own before I officially break my reactionary bad habit, at least I’m aware? I’m sorry to James, Josie, Rita, and their future and current teachers, friends, and parents of friends for their frequent use of a word they really should not know, and my inability to break my bad habit and theirs. On a number of occasions, under the maternal wisdom of my big sister, mother to 6 non-swearing boys, my attempts to curtail its usage and convince my kids that what I actually say is “Slam it!” a phrase that just rhymes with the nonsensical “damn it!” has also proved fruitless. Please note that it has been successful in turning “moron” into “linora” (magic, i guess?) and Sh*t into “I quit!” Most of the conversations involving a much more frequently used ‘damn it’ have ended much more dismally for me with a convinced and confident James explaining, “no mom, it is definitely ‘Damn it.’ YOU taught us it.”

During today’s late afternoon, pre dinner hour of desperation appropriately coined “The 4′ O’clock Meltdown,” for all family members, especially Mom, my children began to play house as the parents with their invisible children. I learned a few new things:

1) Though it often feels like my children do not give a “damn it!” as to whether or not they flee the table before they finish their “wreckfist, wunch, or dinner,” bringing to the forefront of my psyche a sense of inferior disciplinary skills and presence, they do in fact experience a very strict tone, inflection, and the sound seems to come mostly from the throat.

2) As the title of the post indicates, I often lose them. And most often, they are found in the bathtub.

3) 10 minutes into their role play, the children received a visit from their grandmother. She brought presents and James and Josie, the parents, had absolutely no control over their contents or whether or not they could have them. Even after a stern warning from Dad, “eat your dinner first, kids” the apparent disobeying left him rolling his eyes in powerlessness and “I guess this is what’s happening.” Kids: this is your mother speaking. Your awareness is duly noted even though I can do nothing about it.

4) I ask the question, “were you playing in my make up again,” much more than I realized.

5) I think, as indicated by what appeared to be lots of refused hugging kissing and back pats from the invisibles, that maybe they find me a bit too affectionate.

6) They want a dog.

7) I have successfully communicated a love and enthusiasm for grocery shopping and bringing them along with me despite my true feelings.

Additionally, when I interrupted their play with “how many children do you have?” both of the capable of semi-coherent verbalization said “7.”

No, Kids, there are 3 of you. 7 is just what it feels like. Looks like I taught them that too. 

A Snow Day

As the wife to an employee of a Catholic School, there is absolutely nothing more I look forward to than a 5:36am automated voice call that says “two-hour delay.” It is made better when that call is followed by an even more exciting 7:36am call that says “school is closed,” for seemingly little to no reason on this warmer than the recent average, bright sunny day. And since all boy Catholic schools tend to do mostly whatever they want, anyway, there is little to no threat of him having to make up this day some other day.  With Josephine awake and hall darting since 4:45am, and as a mother who seriously lacks any creativity so early in the morning, or at most times of the day, it was clear that the idea to pack the entire contents of her wardrobe into a suitcase and dream a wonderful adventure would only distract a girl of such rambunction for 2-3 moments or less. With that, it is with great gratitude that I went back to sleep for approximately 7 uninterrupted minutes, claiming his day off for my own. With Jim helping with breakfast duty, and three kids who don’t go to school on Tuesdays yet anyway, it is clear that there is no one in this house that appreciates, or benefits more from, a “snow day” than I do.

By 10 am, the number of times I called my husband’s name must have surely surpassed 10,000. It wasn’t even that I wanted anything, necessarily. Maybe it was a pursuit of some sort of married solidarity on a day I normally forgo alone. Some sort of “just look at what they do!” at 8am on a Tuesday when he is otherwise counseling young men to be better individuals and closer to God, surely an indispensable role of encouragement and wisdom that high school boys most definitely need.  Here I am waging a spiritual battle of patience and pre-coffee fortitude that needs counseling all its own. It’s just that the level of fix involved in a little partner-up is truly the saving grace of a stay at home mom, like me.  As if he has never seen the three-minute begging to end their juice withdrawal, followed by 20 seconds of chugging silence, then the what seems like an intravenous high indicated by barefoot kitchen island laps that inevitably end with someone smashing their face in the come down.  Its all just so much more entertaining when Jim is home, so thanks to the Big Man for the weather and the husband.

And since snow days should be had in the snow, like all other days of this winter, the activity before second breakfast involves 45 minutes of dressing in snow gear for approximately 17 minutes of outdoor play. Rita waddles with two boxing like mittens stretched out, her eyes mostly, but barely visible. James, with his snowpants missing, wears purple and is not happy about it. Josie, free as the snowflakes falling, dresses herself and spends most of her time flying down sledding hills face first and with no fear.

Perhaps the best  part is that on days like today, the kids only want what Grace has coined the “fun parent.” And I, most certainly, am not that parent.

Snowman? Dad’s got it.

Hold me? No mom, put me down.

Zip me? Would you mind if I asked daddy?

Hey, Dad? What’s for lunch? You making it? Yep!

And with that let me be the only one on the internet to say, “carry on with as much fervor as you like, Winter.”

7 Quick Mom Confessions

1) In another case of the younger sister using the qualities of sly and stealth to continually antagonize her older, quick to react and quicker to head flail in tears, brother,  Josie has once again proved herself the victor. Four long days ago, James came running to his momma unable to find, blanky, his infant attachment object. The house was scoured and it was perhaps mom who was the most upset. The determination to find it once and for all returned this morning to a serious level with a stern voice to match. In the 40th minute of search, a sweet, mildly antagonistic, and genuinely entertained voice indicated knowledge of its whereabouts.

“Maybe some little giwrl took it” she popped her hip and flashed her skinny arm.

“Which little girl, Josephine?”

“A little girl who likes to wear pink…a little girl like me” she said with her best version of a wink and a giggle.

“Do you know where his blanky is?” I said on the fourth day of frustration.

“No, but a little girl might.”

Up to her room I went.

Roughly 20 minutes of searching through backpacks full of shoes, most of them stolen from my closet and in the shape of stiletto, with a few mozzarella sticks mixed in, I found his most loved object hidden in her trunk underneath 7 stuffed animals and several blankets of her own.

It was, in fact, a little girl in pink. Purposeful, Impressive, Mean. Isn’t two years too little to know how to pull off such a long-standing prank?

2) Two nights ago I fed my kids broccoli with dinner. We moved on to dessert in record time. I was happy, full of pride and esteem for my children who crave healthy, nutritious vegetables, certain of their brain development, and maturing taste buds. Yesterday, as I began to tackle the dirtiest of the dirty laundry, I noticed some extra bulging  weight in Josephine’s pants. Their contents? Several uneaten broccoli stems successfully hidden and completely undetected from perhaps the most gullible mother of all time.

3) When the grocery store with which I am accustomed rearranges and goes under construction, I apparently take it personally, need two hours to find the applesauce, and somehow find myself searching for lemons in the spaghetti aisle. I thought it would be acceptable for my daughter to still be in pajamas, since we made it there before breakfast at 8:30 am. When we checked out at 10am with little to show and a cart full of chocolate almond milk, new lip liner, and shoplifted pretzels, the experience begins to look much more nutritionally and fashionably irresponsible. To my credit, there were fewer tears than 2 million, and no one jumped out of their cart and into the arms of an old woman wearing a bird hat. Please put the yogurt back where it belongs!!!!

4) While completing a blogging profile, I asked my husband, “how do you think a person would describe my blog in less than 200 words?” “How you deal with your not quiet life of sh** and piss.” When I began to gently berate him for his indifference to my poorly written sentences and posts about mostly nothing, he responded again, “if you were a queen, you would have killed 800 messengers by now.” What do your husbands think of your blogs?

5) Recently, I sat tired on the couch as all three kids jumped from the ottoman onto my head, and I really didn’t mind the neck jolting, because it was the most still I had been in hours. After jump #4,476,895, a feather flew in the air, because hand-me-down couches aren’t actually made to be used as gymnastics equipment. As it was spotted fluttering, James, in a moment of pure childhood magic, caught it in his hand. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. “MOM! We have to find the bird that lost this feather!” Before I began to correct him and explain the feather’s origins, I realized and seized the precious opportunity and for the next 25 minutes, I scored myself 5 emails returned in stillness and to the sounds of “here birwdie, birwdie, birwdie..”

6) We seriously interrupted some lady’s chance to work quietly, and some other large book club meeting, at Panera when I met two other moms and their kids for lunch. At the 37th dirty look, I decided, its Panera bread at noon on a Friday. Trying to work quietly and participate in a conference call or discuss a short story printed on a paper brochure while seated next to 7 kids under 4 is just as, if not more of a fruitless pursuit to my kids and their friends’ effort to pretend the recycling whole on the garbage can is a voice portal while Rita licks cookie off the floor. Our macaroni and cheese was delicious.

7) You know those days when you forgo the bra and embrace the sweatpants for early school drop off?  That is the exact day my sister runs out of gas in the fire lane and has to request assistance from the same maintenance man who once prevented the same car from exploding when she tried to jump her car incorrectly and also the same man who was called by several neighbors when her husband tried to host a kid friendly bonfire with a 9 month old Christmas tree. She will forever be the mother I most look up to in this life.

Go to Jen for bunches more. Happy Friday, folks.


The Day that Crosby came to visit.

The title of this post may in fact be misleading if a reader is hoping to hear about a visit from a superstar hockey player. This story is about a two-pound Yorkie named after said hockey player in perhaps the worst, most gender confused, and most glaringly disappointing pursuit of namesake anthropomorphism. If it’s any consolation for readers hoping for my husband’s Doppelganger, I am writing while watching hockey and The Mighty Ducks in between periods. 

Dogs: I have nothing against their dignity as dogs but I begin to grow annoyed when they are treated as people. Crosby, my parents two-pound female dog whose only similarity to the game of hockey is her approximately equal size to a puck, believes itself to be human, and is treated mostly like an incarnate deity. In the car, she sits only in the passenger seat. For dinner, there is a seat at the table and a plate of pasta prepared, ice cream for dessert. In the master bed it sleeps and also poops whenever it wants. It growls and it bites but insults against its nature are handled similar to a new mother hearing “your baby is ugly,” or something else equally absurd. But with my nest full and growing its hard to say what I won’t do when its empty, so carry on parents and enjoy your 6th baby.

Children: they challenge each and every characteristic about their parents, not by calculated intention, but by their nature and love anything contrary to their parents desires, mostly for their parent’s good and definitely for the salvation of their souls, most especially their mother’s particular distaste of a yipper dog.

Crosby was desperate for food and shelter and my sister got out of it because her kids are allergic.

The first notice of her four paw pitter patter, ears flopping, appearing extra  weighed down and floppy due to a few too many gourmet cheeseburgers, sent shrieking excited squeals through each of my children’s bodies and out through their mouths at a pitch that Crosby probably heard better than me. Before either parent could explain the terms of agreement of Crosby’s one and only overnight visit, each child spoke.

“OH MOMMY I AM SO HAPPY, I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO HAVE A DOG FOREVER!” screamed a very ill-informed James.

“Wow, it is just so nice to have a yoggy, woofy woof woof woof, you are mine, all mine” Josie spoke in terms she hoped Crosby would understand.

“Squeal, ahhhh, squeal, yippee” Rita scampered and chased until she could finally grasp the dog’s excess neck skin just begging a one year old to clamp as accidentally aggressively as possible.

They fed her juice from their cups, eggs straight from their plates. Chocolate was stolen from the pantry’s top shelf and generously shared with the probably allergic dog. Petting was attempted, but grabbing and throwing was much more effective and seemingly fun. The dog had a lot to worry about being away from home, much more than just Pepsi withdrawal.

Though I will most likely never allow anyone in this family to own a dog, I’ll admit, kids and animals are pretty cute, and yesterday mine taught me that caring for an animal whose preferred pastime is biting my ankle.  I’m super sure Crosby is happy to be home, though.




Seven Late Quick Takes/Confessions

Fashionably late to Jens

1) There have been many, including when I drove to Target solo only to realize I left my wallet and returned home to realize my wallet was actually in the car only to realize my babysitting time was over. There was also the time I got legitimately beat in a game of soccer by a four-year old, and when Josie figured out how to open a sippy cup before me. But I have to say that the most demoralizing moment of the week was when baby Rita threw a box of macaroni and cheese at my head and it knocked me over.

2) As we ate my lazy crock pot creation of mexican chicken, James, attempting to gain the favor as favorite child, and since the main ingredient is cheese, declared, “Mom, this is my favorite meal!” Thankful and relieved, I replied in all sincerity, “thank you, I made it with love.” “What is love?” he asked. Both parents tried their best to offer intelligent, age appropriate answers, involving an emphasis on God and an appreciation of others. With confidence and pride in our responses, we, once lovebirds, and now parents, fully capable of addressing the existential roots of our four-year olds life, received a follow-up. “Thank you, that’s good. My second question is: what is a coffee filter?” Back to reality we went.

Other questions James, our four-year old, asked included:

“Do you have a headache because you have a hangover again, Dad?”

“Is there a real bone in my bonehead?”

“When is Jesus actually going to come for dinner? And do we only get to eat bread? Or can we eat some steak?”

“Um mom, I just checked the time on your phone and it says ‘dinnertime.’ Where’s my food?”

3) The pungent stench indicated squashed stink bug indubitably. I looked around, opened her hands to investigate, but was halted by her baby death grip. Then, as she giggled her way past me, proud of her escape, the evidence was slobbered on the floor. The bug’s remains were chewed to the crisp and seemingly enjoyed. And to anyone who believes stink bug stench is bad, its much worse on a baby’s breath and somehow lasts for hours.

4) Last week our newly repaired car was returned to us due to an incident involving a side mirror, a garage, and me. Tomorrow it will return to the repair shop for the exact same reason.

5) If I could adopt any of my children’s qualities for my own, it would be the ability to see the world as an imaginary wonderland in which side-walk salt is delicious rock candy, drizzled romantically on the ground beneath my steps just waiting to be tasted and enjoyed, because why wouldn’t a magical candy fairy surprise me with sparkling treats after a trip to the library? Although I squeezed Josie’s cheeks to release the toxic solid antifreeze from her mouth in record time and tenacity, I did feel a bit guilty about bursting her perceived magical experience.

6) Parent tip: If a new babysitter is coming to the house to meet the family and consider working, it is best to know the location of the children. After 15 minutes we found them in my closet underneath a pile of just recently organized clothing, but boy, was that embarrassing.

7) Do yourself a giant favor and Meet Shyla. She’s hilarious and Christ centered, beautiful and simple, talented and efficient in the kitchen, and God’s most recent gift to the internet full of mom bloggers. She has coined the phrase Motha Blogga and I will forever be eternally grateful. Follow her, like her, send her a line, tell her how beautiful her new haircut is, and how funny it is that she thinks she looks like Mrs. Hughes. And Shyla, you are welcome for the 2-5 visitors.


Peace, peeps.