5 (favorite) Reasons to Rent the Runway

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

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


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

5 Reasons Why I was scared:

1. I won’t find my style

2. It won’t fit

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

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

5. I’ll hate not owning it

5 FAVORITE Reasons Why it’s my new Favorite

1. Designers at a Discount

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

2. Dresses for Everyone

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

3. Delivered to your Door

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

4. Easy Return and Easy Refund

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


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

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

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








A few of my favorites:


Missoni: Real Price $1900, $RTR 30


Herve Leger RTR $80, Retail $1950


Nicole Miller, RTR $90, Retail $485



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


Tibi: RTR $30, Retail $475

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


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



Five (sort of) Favorites: Maternity Clothes

Finally linking with Hallie again!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my five forced favorite finds so far:

1. JCrew Pant

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

2. Lululemon No Limits Tanks


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

3. Maxi Dress Via Shopbop

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

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


5. Hatch and Rosie Pope


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

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

To my husband, Jim, the cupcake stealer.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Three confessions for a Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Happy 3rd Birthday Josie

To Josie, 14 days into her 3rd Year

Sweet Josephine Marie,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.

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!!!!