Wednesday, January 26, 2011

high-five.

Thanks for letting me vent a little girls. I appreciate all your positive comments and advice. I hear the first step in recovery is admitting the problem. I woke this morning feeling like a weight was lifted already. I dressed before breakfast (a rarity...and yes, still sweatpants), got my bathroom cleaned right after the kids were out the door, and even recruited the young ones to help with some vacuuming and dusting. (So it wasn't perfect...but it felt good to be on my game before 9am.) I shared a little mommy and babe time with Annie while the others played. And today, when my mom stopped by for coffee and chat, I asked her to watch the kids for an hour while I snuck out for a haircut and some groceries. We didn't really need much from the store, but I picked up a few of John's favorite things. He's been going straight from work to bus driver recertification classes this week and getting home late, and I wanted to do something nice for him too. The icy trees were gorgeous outside, by the way...something I probably hadn't noticed if I'd stayed holed-up all day.
It's true, when mama's happy...we're all happy. God is good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today an egg exploded in our microwave....blew the door clean open. There were egg bits EV-ERY-WHERE!!! God must have noticed the rut I was in, and decided to shake things up a bit here. Don't get me wrong, I'm still wearing sweatpants, and a bobby pin to hold back my much-in-need-of-a-trim hairdo. But we've got something egg-citing to talk about here this evening.

Did I mention I'm in a rut?! Physically, emotionally, spirtually...I'm a mess. I know it's the post-partum thing, combined with the fact that my entire closet of clothes (besides 2 pairs of sweatpants) are for a woman that weighed 35# less than the one posting here now. Uggh. Oh, and nursing little Anne is going wonderfully. It really is. That means, I go nowhere...except to the grocery store and doctor appointments for the kids...oh and church on Sunday. But I get very little out of Mass these days with baby wanting to nurse and 3 other little ones wanting to poke at her and fight over her the entire mass...while I'm trying to nurse. Ugg.
I'm not complaining though...it's all good...and when I get too far into the funk, a good shower and leg-shaving does me good. Oh, and I offer it up. Small sacrifices in the grand scheme of things. And I know soon that spring will come around. Stroller wheels will be turning, and the breeze blowing through my hopefully-trimmed-by-then-hairdo will feel like heaven on earth. For now though, I'm grateful for egg-splosions in the microwave to keep me on my toes; wonder at the endless possibilities of another crazy day in the life.

(yes, I know...11 healthy beautiful children...wonderful hubby...warm house...food on the table (well, except for the eggs)...get over it Jamie. I'm just sayin. I'm in a rut.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

100% recycled material.

The oldest girls and I had a nice chat the other night about my recent visit to St. Sebastian, my prayers for Emma's healing, and all the events surrounding my visit there. It was nice to be able to share with them how God wants to have a relationship with us, and how He is there for us always. He comforts us when we need it most, and showers us with blessings.
As we chatted, it reminded me of another story I'd written/shared long before this blog ever came to be, and involved my oldest daughter Alice. It was my first attempt at writing anything since college days. A little lengthy, but hope you enjoy it.

My Angel Story (written December, 2002)
I’ve read several books about angels lately. You know the kind...people giving personal accounts of their experience with the heavenly hosts. ( Easy reading to help pass time working the night shift.) Over and over the books tell me that all of us have probably experienced the presence of angels, however may have not allowed ourselves to notice or accept their true identity. I wondered about this. I racked my brain and still could not come up with any past experience in which I’d mistaken one of these Divine beings. Although, while pregnant with the twins I was sure that the Schwann’s man, delivering that chocolate chip cookie dough I so loved, was in fact a messenger from God! But no, I had no solid evidence. Anyhow, I made a mental note to try to be more open to the idea that I too, could one day be graced by their presence.
After reading the passages in these books, I began to think more and more about my angel and how he or she would appear to me. Would I wake up from a deep sleep to be greeted by some glowing, winged beauty? Maybe while I was driving along the road to work one night, I’d pass some stranger standing in the side ditch who would wink at me and I would just know this was a signal that my angel’s there watching over me. I started looking for an angel peering over my shoulder, or standing in the corner of the living room as all 3 kids were screaming “Elmo!”, “Pee!”, “Bah, Bah!” The cries come out in unison. No angel. Apparently they too have a sense of humor.

Anyhow, I’ve recently discovered that angels don’t always appear to us as something witnessed in a beautiful Michelangelo painting. Sometimes God sends us a messenger of hope in the form of someone we already know, who happens to be in the right place at the right time, comforting us with answers we desperately needed to hear, making it all to easy to believe that it must have just been coincidence. I don’t think this was. This is my angel story.
I think the fear that a mom experiences when her child is sick or hurting is one unlike any I’ve ever known before. It intertwines the same selfish fears we have for ourselves, with worry for the health and safety of this miracle you’ve given birth to. It can be difficult to maintain the strength it requires to keep the household running smoothly without letting everyone and everything become affected by what’s going on. I mean if mom “loses it,” how can anyone else be expected to keep it all together.
This was my situation when just weeks before Christmas 2001, we found that our nearly 2 year old daughter was spotting blood in her diapers. This was something she’d gone through earlier in the year, and something we thought had been resolved, when in August she had surgery to remove a cervical polyp. The final report then had been “benign.” Doctors had told us that this was a “fluke” thing that would not recur and gave us no reason to worry any further, until now. Suddenly holiday planning was put on the back burner, so we could go through all the same tests and more, to determine what was causing the bleeding this time.
The same surgery was planned to determine if there was in fact another polyp, and to remove it if necessary. Our doctor’s office staff made all the necessary arrangements, but unfortunately scheduled it for the wrong hospital. While her previous surgery had been done at Kettering, we thought from our heart, that she would receive much better care at Children’s, where they were more in tune to kids. (While at Kettering for the first surgery, the nurses seemed quite unprepared to deal with a baby. They admitted to us that they were expecting an 18 year old instead of an 18 month old. They had trouble getting her vital signs with the equipment available to them, and even fudged a few numbers to get there reports completed prior to surgery.) It wasn’t a problem to schedule it at Children’s, we were told, as our doctor did procedures at both facilities. On Wednesday before Alice’s surgery, I called the office to see how the rescheduling process was going. I was shocked and very disappointed when I was told by the nurse that, without reason, the surgery had to be done at Kettering. The doctor insisted it be done there. I hung up the phone.
Angry, confused, disappointed, baffled really, I didn’t know what to do next. Did I trust this doctor enough to keep our appointment at Kettering? We’d only dealt with him a few times, and had no personal referrals to him. He was, after all, a urologist and we weren’t even sure if this was the best place to be for this kind of problem. (Originally doctors suspected Alice’s bleeding was kidney-related, which led us to this man.) All the worst scenarios of what could go wrong kept spinning through my head. All the self-doubt and fear that we weren’t doing the best thing for our daughter just tore me apart. So while the kids were napping and John was at work, I finally lost it. I sobbed and prayed for what turned out to be an hour or better. All I could do was ask God to let me know we were doing the best we could. Should I insist on Children’s Hospital? Should I look for a new doctor who understood my concerns? Should we be seeing a different kind of specialist all together? Is there such a thing as a gynecologist for children? I kept thinking that sometimes we only get one chance to make the right decisions, and I didn’t want to look back on this years from now and say we should have done things differently. I didn’t want something to go terribly wrong and feel like we could have prevented it.
I can’t say I had any revelation as to the right answer. I never became completely comfortable with our decision to stick it out as scheduled at Kettering. Nevertheless, we kept our appointment and hoped it was the right thing to do. Looking back, I realize that when you give things up to God, he always comes through.
Alice went through her surgery as expected. (Kicking and screaming the whole way!) The nurses tell me that she was awake from the anesthesia before she even arrived in the recovery room. I’m not sure how they expected her to act when she woke up, but she was immediately hollering for her “Momma” and “Daddy” and would settle for no less. They allowed me in to hold her and try to calm her wild screams as she slowly became oriented. While rocking her, I was surprised to see a very familiar face coming our way. Dr. Lisa (Bohman) Egbert had heard Alice’s screaming and thought she might be able to help. She too seemed quite surprised to see us. We chatted a little about what brought us in, and she apologized that she had to meet with a family about one of her patients.
Back in the outpatient surgery department, and finally out of the recovery room, we were pleasantly surprised again to see Lisa, this time with our doctor, when he came to discuss the outcome of Alice’s procedure. Lisa had sought out Alice’s doctor, consulted with him about the case and his findings in her surgery, and confirmed his opinion about what he had found. After our doctor left, she stayed a few more minutes and gave even more insight into Alice’s condition, reassuring us that things would be ok. How lucky, I thought to have a second opinion in the case.
It wasn’t until our ride home that I realized it was much more than luck that brought Lisa to us. As we drove home that evening in the dark and rain, it hit me like a brick what a miracle had just taken place. This was the angel I’d been waiting for. Although Lisa might disagree, I have no doubt in my mind that she was there in that recovery room, at that exact time, by the sheer grace of God. She was there to answer every prayer that I’d asked of Him on Wednesday. How else could it be explained that we would run into a doctor friend, someone we trusted, an OB/GYN no less, at a hospital we weren’t supposed to be at. And that she would, unbeknownst to us, seek out our doctor, consult with him, and provide such comfort to us with her words. The diagnosis would have been the same whether she had been there or not, but it was the reassurance she provided that is what God knew I needed. Many would say it was good luck to see Lisa there. I might have thought that not so long ago too, but I know in my heart that God’s ways are not so mysterious, if we allow ourselves to be open to them. Some might call it coincidence, I don’t think so. I think this is my angel story. Thank you Lisa for following your heart to that baby’s cry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

how do you spell success?

(4th place Emma, 3rd place Alice, Champion and 2nd place spellers)
My two oldest girls did their momma proud tonight when they competed in the Minster Middle School spelling bee...and fared quite well. Competing against the top spellers in 4th through 8th grade, they finished 2nd and 3rd runners up. Alice will be moving on the the County Bee in Wapak later this month with the other two winners, while Emma stands ready as an alternate. Alice joked she'll plan to sleep with one eye open for the next couple weeks ;)

What an exciting evening to see not only one but two sisters wind up on top!

Way to go Alice and Emma!!!

imagine that

Yesterday I watched two little boys (Charlie and Frank) entertain themselves for nearly an hour with nothing more than a broken plastic slinky and their imaginations. I was in awe of how they went from one story/character/circumstance to another, and when it broke into more pieces, they had more ways to use it. I can't wait to see what they come up with for entertainment today...the world is at their fingertips.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

humbled by her invitation...

Monday was shaping up to be "one of those days." There was a scheduled trip to Celina in the morning for Anne's immunizations, and an unanticipated appointment in Dayton mid-afternoon for Emma's orthopaedic consult. Throw in lunch for the kids at home, a baby who still wants to nurse every 2 hours, a stop to gas up the van, and a few e-mails/phone calls to keep John and grandparents in the loop, and my head was starting to spin.
As I was returning home from Celina with my sweet Anne sleeping soundly in her carseat, I was reminded of a recent dream I'd had about a sweet parish in sleepy St. Sebastian, OH. A tiny church in the middle of farm country. Population... a dozen or so? I had thought about visiting that church several times since, but really never had the time or energy to swing by...mostly the time. Today for some reason, I couldn't resist the urge. I argued in my mind that today was NOT a good day...too much to do, too little time. And yet, for some reason before I could resist, my van was pulling into the church parking lot. I gave myself 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes wouldn't throw me too far off schedule. It was as if I could feel the Blessed Mother calling me in.
As I entered the quiet church (one I've never visited before, by the way...except in a dream...weird, I know) I was surprised to find the Monstrance on the alter, Christ present for Adoration. In our area, with clustering of parishes, and so many small beautiful churches often closed for lack of priests...I couldn't believe it. There was one other woman there, praying quietly and she welcomed me with a smile as Anne and I entered. I sat quietly in prayer for those 10 minutes, humbled that Mother Mary should think to invite me in to spend time with her son. Who am I?
And yet in those 1o minutes with thoughts of the recent gospel readings still fresh in my mind, I realized that we are all invited in, aren't we? Through the waters of Baptism we are each personally invited to a closer relationship with Him. Yet, somehow in our crazy busy lives, we tend to put that relationship on the back burner. At least I find that I do. I had called mom to tell her about Emma's appt, texted my Dad, e-mailed John at work, called school to let them know I'd be taking her out early. Did I ever stop to ask Jesus to be with her? I'm not so certain I did, aside from prayer before mass on Sunday. I feel so blessed, and grateful for the gift of our Mother in heaven, who took a moment to pull me aside, invite me in, to help me remember the relationships that are most important...the One who wants to share in our daily burdens...her Son. I am most grateful for the time, even just 10 minutes of time spent solely with Him. It was beautiful and encouraging and uplifting. A blessing. I bet you got your invitation too...have you RSVP'd?

Friday, January 7, 2011

parents, don't let your kids try this at home!

Snow fell in our area today, leaving a nice white coating on everything...just enough to have the kids begging to go outside and play. (Of course you can!)
We spent what felt like an eternity getting them all bundled into snowclothes and out the back door, only to have one of them trekking back in just moments later.
Turns out Emma, too anxious to wait for the local snowhill, attempted snowboarding down the slide of our swingset in the backyard. Reports indicate it was a beautiful ride until she got to the bottom and failed to anticipate the drop off, at which point she crash landed onto the frozen ground. Yep, she stuck the landing alright.
Four hours in the Urgent Care, confirmed she indeed broke her wrist. They splinted it for her, and we'll follow up with an orthopoedic surgeon early in the week.

She's tolerating the pain tremendously well. Worst hurt seems to come from the disappointment in having to give up her Y basketball for the season...first game and team picture are tomorrow morning. Big bummer.

How many times do I have to repeat..." measure twice, cut once." (or maybe, "look before you leap."...or was it "A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush?") Not sure, but I think there was a painful lesson learned. (poor girl.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Grace!

Grace n. gift from God

(yep we think that definition fits just right.)
Happy 8th Birthday little angel!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas in the bigs

Had to chuckle at Grace (age 7) this Christmas.
Older sister Emma unwrapped a new gym/duffle bag from her Godmother. Without hesitation Grace blurted out, "Awesome! I call dibs on your old red one!"
It's win/win for everyone in a big family Christmas.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Annie-mation


Hello world!

(meet our little Annie...2 months old already!)

video

backtracking...

A merry Christmas morning...my still sleepy-eyed, jammie-wearing bunch. It's hard to get a picture with everyone looking anymore as someone's always keeping an eye on Anne. This time it was Lucy's turn to watch. (and poor John up front is just wondering "when can we stop saying 'Cheese' and start opening presents!)

Hope you all are having a blessed Christmas season!

Monday, January 3, 2011

I spent this entire morning on the phone. Yuck. I despise trying to make phone calls during daylight hours...and then to have a whole list of phone calls...ugh! I had seven or so calls to make and the kids at home were in rare form for sure. With the older ones back at school today, it was a new sort of free-for-all as the little ones regained their top-of-the-totem pole status. They tested all the rules again...from trying to swipe snacks before I even had the breakfast table cleared, to jumping on older siblings beds, climbing to new heights (atop the fridge) for access to dad's flashlight, and on and on. Of course Lucy is 3 now, and has to have at least a minor meltdown or two while I'm telephoning away. That's par for the course right? The nurse at the health department where I called to schedule Anne's 2 month immunizations surely scheduled us for his day off! And the secretary at church where I called to line things up for Annie's baptism beleived me when I said we really needed to get this scheduled (it sounded like all the kids were posessed as she kindly took my information...and probably sprinkled holy water on her phone when we were done.) Oh the lady at the hospital who needed some updated insurance information was very gracious when I firmly commanded "I can't peel an orange right now!" followed by a "Get down from there right now!" and "Oh my Lord, what did you do?!" (She probably suspects I have Turrets, and most definitely should not be in charge of a daycare.) I remind myself that the noise at my ankles is a good thing...it's the silence that I have to be most worried about!
I made it through my list though..and felt quite pleased with all I managed to accomplish despite the tugs at my legs for attention. I'm reminded often to enjoy these times, cause all too soon these little buggers will grow up and move away, and I'll be left wondering where the time went. Perhaps I'll give them a call, and hear the sounds of my screaming grandchildren and barking parents and smile remembering when...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I must admit, I've been very bad...


Even the man in red said so. Can you believe he left me nothing more than this Lump of Coal (and the griddle I purchased and wrapped for myself)?! And trust me...this Lump was aweful, just aweful. Blechk!!
I'd like to blame my absence from the blog on new baby, Christmas chaos, holiday overwhelm...but truth is I just haven't felt up to blogging. Period. So bad of me, I know. For lack of a better advent plan though, the silence for me has been nice. With several of our children born near Christmas and just after, I've enjoyed a special connection with the Blessed Mother over christmas' past, and found myself "preparing" right along with her. This year was a bit different though. Instead of preparing, I felt more in tuned to her "quiet years" in Nazareth. Those hidden, interior, ordinary times in her life when her days were spent keeping house, preparing her son, and building her marriage.

Many days over the last couple months I've felt as though I'd failed somehow in my spiritual life...making less time for prayer (aside from the frequent "Dear Lord help me!"), and getting from one day to the next without actually appreciating the ordinary. (shoot somedays it was an accomplishment just to get a shower!) Yet I'm reminded when I think of Our Blessed Mother, and her "ordinary" days here on earth, how she shows us that wherever we're at in life is exactly where God intends us to be. I'm certain I've shared before, a line (paraphrased) from one of my favorite books (The Imitation of Mary), that "Our current state is not a barrier to holiness, rather it is our pathway to holiness."
Certainly these past weeks of silence have helped me to realize what blessings I've been given, and allowed me time to appreciate my current wonderfully ordinary days, as I try to see one moment at a time as an opportunity to grow in holiness.
Thank you all for your prayers and patience as I attempt to share the good news of His works here on earth through the blessings of our beautiful, crazy, ordinary, chaotic days of raising 11 children.
Yes, I do commit to trying to post more frequently here. I've missed connecting with you all, and appreciate knowing that you've not given up on me totally.
Peace to all in this new year! ~jamie