"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Monday, July 25, 2016


"No, no, honey: you can't feed the baby your popsicle!"

"Did you give "Sam" a bite of your sandwich?  He can't eat that honey."

Monday, July 18, 2016


 My husband and Gimli won the tournament this past Sunday.  We're celebrating around here.

 (All photo credits to Arwen.  Some pics are dark because there was some cloud cover for part of the game.)

I'm so happy for my guys...and now I'm free to kick back, relax, and enjoy a nice free schedule for the rest of the summer.  Well, minus the football my husband just signed Aragorn up for...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

"Too Much Talking"

(7 am, sitting on my couch, drinking coffee)

Bilbo:  Mom?

Me: "yes?"

Bilbo: Are you going to get any skinnier than that?

Midsummer Daybook

Outside my window: beautiful beautiful summer days.  

Little Pet Shop on my front porch.  About four houses and 30 "pets": my sister gifted me the collection her big girls outgrew.  The neighborhood girls have played for hours upon hours with this set of plastic animals and their homes.  Very sweet little girls.  

We have a mini baby pool off of the front lawn.  Today the girls floated the "LPS" .  They grabbed firewood logs to make boats for the "babies".   More hours of fun.  So cute. 

Clover all over our front lawn.  Must mow.  Probably should have fertilized...  maybe just unleash the bunnies and let them graze?!

Back-blogging:  I owe you a little story.  This is where I last left you: covered in blood, with a bandaid on the head.  Ouch.

 Well, after a glorious Baptism we all went into the church hall for a reception provided by my amazing mother.

The grandchildren (there are 19 now) ate, held their new cousin "Sam", and did what they do best: play!  The ten-and-under crowd began to play a game of tag.  We told them to stop running.  They slowed down.:) They went up on the stage that is at one end of the hall.  We told them to get down.  Most of the kids listened.  Legolas...delayed obedience.  He was behind the stage curtain.  He walked straight towards the edge of the stage with the curtain in front of him, draped over his face.  I was chatting with my sister-in-law, back to stage, totally unawares that there were even kids on the stage (do I get a pass for being 6 days out from having a baby? No? #momfail.)   Aragorn was actually watching Legolas, and thought that when he paused at the edge of the stage that he was getting ready to JUMP (which he could very easily do)...but he didn't.  Legolas didn't see the edge of the stage and he simply took one. more. step, and fell flat on his face.
I was opening a baptism gift from my mom (a miniature miraculous medal pin for Sam) when I heard the cries.  I looked up and saw Legolas running to me with blood flying everywhere.  Thankfully, my youngest brother grabbed Legolas and held him until my husband could come.  I was honestly afraid to look!  

In the end, it wasn't so bad.  One huge bandage later, we were ready to head home, get the kids to bed, and get Legolas to Urgent Care.  A week later? Stitches out!  One black eye from the drainage.  Cute Star Wars bandaids make it all better!  (sorry for the blurry picture, couldn't get my phone to focus).  Glad that injury is behind us!

Remembering:  Speaking of injuries, it occurred to me that we are a year out from our summer of surgery with Galadriel!    Last 4th of July was our final hurrah before our week of surgery and recovery.  This picture still makes my heart ache:
Last 4th of July:

 This 4th of July:  better.

And the old ice crusher?  This summer the kids pulled it out again for FUN (not recovery) purposes:
they get unfrozen freezer pops from the neighbors and pour in the syrup to make slushes.  Much happier this time around!

Repurposing:  The video collection we were given by a compassionate mom who had gone through tonsil/adenoid/ear tube surgery with her daughter?  Pulled some of those out again when I gave birth to Sam this summer.  Now we are on a "screen ban."  We developed some very screen dependent habits around here, and we need to detox.  

sharing Mom wisdom:  I have long been grateful for the wisdom shared by elizabeth.  I was thankful for her recent post here:

She was talking about what's in the news lately, about how it's pretty unsettling, and while I don't engage in on-line forums at all myself, Elizabeth was saying they aren't good for her.  In my case, it's enough to read a headline and bring the latest events to my daily Rosary, praying for peace.   Elizabeth wrote:
I knew it was time to click away. It’s just not feeding me anything healthy for me.  I just have to agree.

In the same article, she wrote about the life and goals that exist in her "overactive imagination" vs. her real life and real accomplishments.  I so resonated with the sense of failure that comes from feeling like I'm not accomplishing some goal I have for myself.  I feel defeated at the end of a day simply because I didn't do something I wished I had done (quilt a blanket, learn to crochet, write the newest great American novel) when all the while I had done so many worth-while and necessary activities for the sake of my family and vocation as wife and mother.

Elizabeth said:
As soon as my goal shifted, I felt myself relax into chores around here. It’s the same routine and I have the same responsibilities. And they still take all day every day, but now, I don’t feel like I’m fighting them, hoping to get to something else. I’m just doing them and doing them with all my heart.

It's so true.  And I'm glad to be reminded.

Finally, this one resonated for very obvious reasons, and it's so nice when someone speaks something beautiful without knowing how close to home it might hit someone unknown and far away:
 I love baptisms. In the last month, I’ve been the grandmother at a baptism and the godmother at another baptism. Every time, that liturgy speaks into the core of my soul.  It is so, so full of joy and hope. And the grace of a summer morning spent holding a sleeping baby while she becomes a new creation in Christ (all while inhaling chrism)? Is there anything sweeter on earth? I think not.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Is there anything more heavenly than the scent of Chrism oil?  Judge me if you will, I didn't wash Sam for four days after his baptism--I wanted to smell that oil as long as I could.  Sweet Galadriel was there when I finally gave in and bathed him.  Both of us took about ten "final sniffs" of his little head, desperately trying to inhale all of that sweetness.  Now he's clean and fluffy...and still smells pretty sweet!;)

My in-laws flew in for "tournament week" of baseball.  Every night my husband takes the crew to the ballfield for the game(s).  Eowyn and Legolas and Rosie bring balls and toys and hit the playgrounds and come home filthy dirty and exhausted at the end of the games.  I, however, have enjoyed hours of peaceful evening "alone time"...and it has been very therapeutic!  The downside? I missed the games this season, and I do love to watch my kids play.

Who is that cute coach?!;)
Don't look if you're blood sick:  Legolas and I are waiting to be driven home from Sam's baptism.  Legolas would get three stitches later that night.  Do I look like I'm trying not to faint?  I am.  A bit much for a postpartum mama...but I made it home and spent the rest of the night snuggling my new little Christian.

Much better!

And to round things out, a little photo-dump for you: 

those cheeks!!

pinecone hunting!

I'm going to get a picture of this guy's black eye--the bruise drained from his forehead and left him with quite the shiner.  The safety goggles? A reward for being brave at the Urgent Care.  He and Eowyn spent the afternoon "fixing" our playset with his new tool kit.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Claimed by Christ!

 July 9th, 2016

Thank you, Jesus!

proud daddy

this boy will try to "upstage" his Baptized brother by falling off of a stage at the end of this night's party in the church hall. Story to follow.  3 stitches and a wild end to the day.:)

mother's blessing

yes, my niece is hiding under her mama's dress! haha

Friday, July 8, 2016

Final Birth Remarks

So he was born!  My husband and I tucked into the king-sized wooden framed bed (I emphasize this so as to mark the difference from a hospital gurney), and we fell asleep as dawn rose on the 4th of July.

 Here's the bed, and the fiberoptic panel of twinkling stars--there is a panel above the birthing tub as well.

We had settled on a first name, but the middle name was a hang up.  I had so many patrons I wanted to honor!  How could I choose just one?  As the days of birth drew nearer, and my need for heavenly assistance grew dearer, I honed in on one word: Mercy.  (You probably got that by now:)).

"O Clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary", I would pray at the end of our family rosary.

"Clement".  It means "merciful".  The Year of Mercy, the hour of mercy.  In honor of His Mercy and all of His merciful saints.  Deo Gratias!

"Two much Talking"

Eowyn:  "I love him"

(baby fussing)

Mom: "I think he wants to nurse".

Eowyn:  "I think he wants me."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Birth of my Mercy Baby

When you're the 9th child in a family, you have NO personal space issues!

I asked my husband to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet with me as we drove to the birth center.

We arrived at the birth center at about 1am.  I was ushered with smiles to the birth room of my choice.  The rooms all have large, state-of-the-art jacuzzi tubs with "ozonators" that changes the ph of the water from 0-two to 0-three, which prevents bacteria from even being able to form.  The rooms also have fiberoptic panels on the ceilings that twinkle like stars, which serve the scientific purpose of helping the cervix dilate as your eyes dilate in the dim lighting.  Cool.

I was given a birth ball, a large glass of ice water, and a "pager" to call for anything I needed.  After checking vitals, I was left to labor in peace with my husband.

After about...30 minutes?...I was in heavy labor and ready to get in the tub.  So I got in.  I hoped it wouldn't slow things down.  My midwife said (with a twinkle in her cheery eyes) that she thought it would speed things up.  Alone again, my husband helped me labor.  I get back labor every time, so he pushed on my back with each contraction, and put a cold washcloth on my forehead after every contraction.  I asked my husband to pray the rosary with (for) me.  30 more minutes?? I was ready to push.

I usually get my babies out in two or three pushes.  Well, I pushed.  I pushed harder.  I focused and really started doing my best pushing.  I just didn't feel the descent.  I didn't feel crowning.  What the heck?!

The midwife got me handles to hold onto and push on with my feet (they suction to the tub).  Still no.  She got a rebozo blanket and had me pull against the student-in-training (bless that girl!), but my feet would slip from the handles...so, she had me turn from length-wise to width-wise in the tub (placing the foam back support behind me).  I pushed the side of the tub with my feet and I pulled with my arms against the rebozo--now he was coming!

Three more pushes?  So so hard.  So hard.

And he was out.

Then I could know: I had pushed out his arm and his head.  "Double presentation" is what they call it (and there can be triple, with both arms and the head, so it can be worse!)...and he was 9 pounds to begin with, and my kids have big heads.

But he was out.  And it was 3:28am on the 4th of July.  The Hour of Mercy.

This boy is crying now--I'll give my closing remarks in the final installment! xoxo

The Birth Story, Part I

I think the reason I needed such a "prep" to this story (see previous post) is because, like Ana, I dilate early, I dilate a lot, and I don't go into labor.  Another way of saying it is that I'm in labor for a month.   So, my story takes time to unfold (but is a fast ender).

This time I also had had a "false alarm".  I didn't blog about it (did I?) because I was totally discouraged, and of course, you kinda feel dumb.  But here's the thing--go read my #7's birth story--I've delivered at home, unattended because I had a baby so fast my midwife couldn't get here.  Fast, as in, within an hour of realizing I was really in labor.

It puts pressure on a girl.  I lay awake at night just wondering if that twinge, that hot flash, that contraction was labor.

Well, now you know it never was.  Not Saturday night when I was counting contractions 3 minutes apart for an hour before they quit and I went to bed.  And not that Sunday, either, when my sweet friend said I should try a pedicure (apparently, the pressure points on your feet are hit during a pedi, so it can really trip labor).

I was at my wits end, entirely in His Hands, and ready to call the midwife for an induction on Monday morning...except that was the 4th of July, and a holiday, so I'd have to wait until Tuesday...

except that I had begged and begged Our Lord, our Mother of Mercy, St. Maria Goretti  "Little Saint of Great Mercy", Alessandro her assassin, and then St. Anna, for mercy: please.  Please!  And I had a lot of family and friends praying for me too.

So the labor story is really short and sweet.

12:28 am July 4th, I am woken from sleep with a "popping" sensation--I caught my breath: "Could it be?"  "Oh please, Lord, yes! Please!"

I stood up--the tell-tale "leak" turned more "gush" as I tried to make my way to the bathroom.  I called breathlessly to my sleeping husband, "my water broke!"  I kept saying "oh yes, oh thank you Jesus! Thank you!"  I, cradle Catholic, made all of my born again friends proud in that moment.  I was all praise and worship!

My husband called the midwife.  I got myself as dry as possible and we hopped into the van!

Not-the-Birth Story

A Path of Mercy

Last October the major relics of St. Maria Goretti went on tour of the United States for the first time.  I blogged about that here.  I had just recovered from a miscarriage at the end of August, and brought my fertility as an intention before the relics, twice.  I didn't exactly ask for a baby, I just prayed for God's will, and the possibility of a new child, if it was His will.

The next week I found out I was pregnant.  I "knew" it was a girl, and I'd name her "Maria" in honor of St. Maria Goretti, "Little Saint of Great Mercy".   Until we found out it was a B-O-Y!  And then I was not sure what to name him!  (Alessandro? Alexander was a family name.  Something with "Maria" as a second middle name? I went around and around wanting to honor this Saint, while having a boy).

Thanksgiving hit at the peak of my nausea, and my sweet sister gave me a Christmas ornament with an angel holding a lamb, with the name "Philomena" written on the bottom.  I might have cried my way through that holiday.

Was I six or seven months pregnant when we journeyed to the southwest--a three day journey with 8 kids, our labradoodle, and this baby in utero!

My Mother-in-Law predicted June 24th, the feast of John the Baptist as the day I'd deliver.  I wrote about that here.  I thought I could use "John" as a middle name.

That day came and went, as did my due date, as did a week beyond my due date.

And I began to seriously beg God: For Mercy.  I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I meditated on the words "Jesus, I trust in You", and I tried (I tried!) to trust.

It's hard to go "overdue".  It's hard to have your membranes stripped, to try acupuncture, electronic stimulation, pumping and pressure points and walking, walking, walking, counting contractions only  to have them stop---It's all so emotionally and physically draining.  As I started in on my 42nd week, I began to lose what "cool" I had left,

In the end, there was nothing--nothing but to abandon myself to His Mercy.  And it came.  In small, beautiful consolations at first.  An encouraging word from a loving sister or friend.  A friend at church who had gone 42-weeks telling me to skip the breast pump and opt for a nap, a bath, and a pedicure (God bless that woman!).  And a text from my Mother-in-Law telling me that her priest told her to tell me to "pray to St. Anne, and be at peace".  I ran upstairs, grabbed my daughter's patron Saint icon from her wall above her bed, and lit a blessed beeswax candle, placing both on the mantle next to my statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Grace saw me through that final day.  My water broke at 12:30 am on the 4th of July.  Story to follow.