Tempered Class

I love It occurs to me lately that there are many experiences we have in life that can be occasions to learn things that will carry us through our lives, help us survive our reality…

For instance, my daughters (12 & 14 years) had the opportunity to be in a play, and it was a blast in many ways, but when we really got down to the brass tacks of it, they HAD to memorize their lines. There was just no way around it, but, I found that because of their experience “performing” in soccer games for years and years, they had the ability to PUSH themselves to finish well. It was cool to watch them be successful. It made me think, man, am I glad my husband is a coach and has kept my girls active and involved, but also about so many ways that I had been prepared for what I do now, being a mom…


Firstly, one really great thing was that I have a good mom. She was always cooking us nutritious foods and letting us help and reading to us, singing to us and with us, and letting us be children. I am very thankful for her role in my life. She is a wonderful Grammy, too, always sending cards and gifts, and pictures, calling to talk- I am very blessed. Since yesterday was Fathers Day, I would like to take this moment to thank her for not only being a great mom but also for stepping in and taking on the role of Dad after my folks divorced. You are really special, Mom! And Beautiful too!!


Secondly, I had lots of opportunities to witness good mothers, of all different genres throughout my life, and was even able to spend time helping or babysitting. This is an incredible gift you can give to a young woman, if you have little children, and need occasional help:  consider asking a preteen/teenage girl to assist you one or two days a week and train her. This will bear fruit in your life (look, the laundry pile is shrinking), but in hers as well. She will see the way you do things and how you make life work, and this will be inspiring to her, she will glean your little pearls of wisdom, and if she pays attention, she will be able to apply these principals to her own life down the road. I am eternally grateful to the families that allowed me to work for them, and taught me things about babies, cooking, playing with children and caring for them! A note for parents who are yet to hire babysitters: you need to teach the young ladies how to do what you want them to do. Tell them what you expect of them, and reward them financially when they do a good job. There is no reason that after she puts the children to bed she can’t do up the dishes and vacuum the living room floor. But she may not be intuitively a cleaner so you may need to make her a list, or talk to her. Usually, if there is monetary gain, the babysitter will oblige your ideal scenario: coming home from date night to a tidied house!

When we have people and experiences in our lives that can train and teach us to do things in a certain way, we become another generation of people who know how. This is a gift. Not everyone knows how to plant a garden, sew a patch onto a pair of jeans, get laundry white, teach children to potty train, etc. Despite having a good mother I am still learning on the job quite often! I wish that young people were being taught how to care for a car, how to cut hair, how to cook- simple and yet important things that not all of us know about. This is two fold, Not only would the next generation feel a purpose in their life having the ability to help with aforementioned tasks, but they then could teach others- paying forward that knowledge to their friends, siblings, and eventually, their own children.

FAll 2014 201

With all the craziness of this day and age, marriage being pushed into a term that means anyone who loves someone, and families being anyone who hangs out together in the same house, under the same roof, childhood being a thing that moms can choose to participate in….It’s pretty scary trying to raise a family. How can I be a parent who teaches my child about the importance of each child having a mother and a father, and that those genders: male and female are necessary, without creating homophobes? It’s important to stretch our hearts out enough to realize there is more than one type of person, and we can’t all be the same, and others who may be different than us are still loved and lovable. It’s hard to say, this lifestyle is not ok, yet we must be accepting and embrace the person. If you’ll notice, I thanked my mom for standing up and taking on some traditionally father-type roles in my life- this wasn’t an advantage for either of us. She only did these things because she had to…Those things that my dad should have been there for, but couldn’t or wouldn’t- only made me crave a stable father figure for my own children, it did not lead me to believe that we can be whomever we want to be. I feel those of us who are in this time right now have a very distinct calling to be like a tightrope walker, find the balance of love and doing the right thing, and hold on to Christ for dear life, because the mainstream is watching, and there is nothing more exciting to the masses than failure….

But I must remind myself, failure is how I learn. When I fail, I learn what not to do, which is a huge part of how I’ve gotten good at being a mom. I’m by no means perfect, but I do have more confidence now, after these years doing the mom thing, I can understand quicker and with less uncertainty what I should do next. The rhythm of my day is running smoother, I know what a healthy child looks like, and acts like. I can diagnose many ailments. I can conjure up a dinner with just a few staple ingredients, I can pack a bag and a bin for the lake in less than twenty minutes, including food and cutlery, I can pack my children’s suitcases for a trip in one day, and have enough changes of clothes, raincoats, swimsuits, and snowsuits in there to accommodate any sort of climate we may experience here in the Great Lake State. These are little tricks I have picked up on through time and watching professional mothers that I am lucky to know, and failing….a lot! There are certain things that may never really make sense…..

Like, when there are puddles on the kitchen floor from the children running inside to grab water from the water and ice dispenser and they each spill a little bit, creating a mess of muddy footprints, not to mention a major slip hazard, just laugh to yourself, throw down some towels, and install a soap dispenser: kill two birds with one stone! The children are now hydrated and clean and shine like the top of the Chrysler Building!

Or, when you live in an older home and there are plenty of windows full of non-tempered glass and you have had incidents with children and spouses falling through said windows and the kind folks at the ER begin handing out frequent flyer miles for the number of times you show your humbled face there, yet again: get smart!! Get rid of the darn glass, and buy a bloody needle and thread! Sew those darn children up and take the frequent flier miles and go to Austria for a cup of tea and chocolate with your bestie, shoot it takes the same amount of time as the emergency room….

Or, like when you’re tired of being tired, the world is miserable and the neverending list of things you “should” be doing to maintain your environment and yourself and the family  seems to fly up and cloud any notion of joy, do like Pharrell and be happy, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof!” Pretend like you’re looking down on yourself from way up high, the first thing you’ll notice is how much stuff you have, then, how blessed you are, if you pan out and look at your whole neighborhood, you may see there are women who would like to be doing EXACTLY what you are sitting there in a slump about, day after day, taking care of wonderful little people!!! Ask yourself these basic self-care questions: Am I getting good nutrient rich food? Do I drink enough water? Do I take my vitamins? Vitamin D? There are many of us who are very deficient. ALSO, what is my exercise plan for this day? Even if it’s fifteen minutes, you will notice a difference in your energy and mood if you can carve out a bit of time to care for your body. I’m not even going to ask you if you get enough sleep. JUST DO IT….when you can.

SO really our good and bad experiences are valuable if we use them well. We may not have lives that we love one hundred percent of the time, we may suffer more in certain areas because of our own limitations, but if we temper ourselves to the task, ask God for help, and delegate as often as possible- we may just push on through to the end of the race. Shoot -we may even win heaven.


The Traveling Life For Me

superior-travel-trailer-1A long while ago Abel and I rented a movie from the library that we really enjoyed. It was about a family with nine children who drove around in a 25 ft. camper, all over the place teaching people to surf. The family was Jewish and had strict views on eating healthy and exercise. It was inspiring, to say the least. Of course, some problems arose because the children felt thrown around, never knowing what city they would be in, not able to have any friends…It makes me wonder what my kids will one day come to me and complain about…Lack of personal space, homeschooling, flaky mother??? It will be something. Just bracing myself for that, but not dwelling on it. They will one day realize I did my best. Probably when they have their own kids. http://www.magpictures.com/surfwise/ Ever since I saw this film with my husband we have been sort of searching for a house. By sort of, I mean not aggressively. We have looked at a thousand houses, but everyone has not been BETTER than our house…So we stay here complaining about the little details that are a nuisance. We tell ourselves that we can live with the little annoying quirks because we love the location of our house. We can walk to Mass, ice cream, parks, and the Farmers Market. We are close to groceries, highways, and about a thousand other wonderful places. The only way we could ever move is if we could afford something better. That place has not come along. So here we are happily crowded in our one bathroom three bedroom (the third bedroom is so small it shouldn’t even count), and we wait. And save. So far we haven’t had any debt, and we sure don’t want to start now. If we buy a house we want to pay for it outright, or a least be confident that we could pay it off in our lifetime. There is this inside joke now that we’ve seen “Surfwise….” “I found a cool house today, honey…” I say to my husband who can’t help but have the ‘I’m getting ready to roll my eyes’ expression on his face, especially since I’m obsessed with house hunting, and he knows this. Then I proceed to tell him about the house, “it’s really neat, it has a shop and it’s in our price range!” To which he points out the obvious flaw, “Sweetheart, it’s in Timbuktu!”  And then we both laugh and comment, “we should just buy an R.V. and travel the world!” ……..”Good idea,” we both say! family hikingIt’s a joke, sort of. We do love to travel! It’s so nice to shut off the phone, pack your bags, and hit the open road until it’s not….Then you come home and really appreciate your house, yard, family, all of it. There are a lot of things to learn on a road trip, seeing the town of Williamsburg, for example, was really cool and educational, the natural phenomenon like lakes and mountains and caves, and even better: lakes inside of mountains that you can jump into! These are wonderful and memorable ways to spend time with the family. And I do wish we could do more of it. We found an awesome camper this past year, it was old and needed repair, so we spent a good bit of time gutting it, removing some water damaged parts, and getting it all prettied up. It was really fun. We have already taken it to a music festival, and we’re gearing up to go again soon! What are your plans for the summer? Do you regularly go to the same spot, or do you like to try a new place? Do you have any tips for keeping kids busy on long trips? I sure do! Here are my favorite ways to keep kids still and quiet without resorting to movies! 1. Goody Bags: These are just little bags that have a collection of toys that ‘go together.’ For instance, I will bring five fairy dolls, a handful of fairy food, and fairy furniture, and a colorful cloth all wrapped up in a shoe box…see what happens with a little one’s active imagination! Another idea is to do the same thing with an art collection, some watercolor pencils, small jar of water, and a paintbrush. A lego bag, a bunch of ponies and a couple tiny hairbrushes, a few story books that YOU like to read over and over again. You get the idea. I try to bring a minimum of five of these to pass around when the driving feels long. Flower-Fairy-group-new 2. Playaways or Books on Tape: Kids can listen to awesome literature and color or rest….need I say more?! 314dDI9IiLL._ 3. Lunch Boxes: This took me by surprise. My kids love lunch boxes! I forget sometimes that my children haven’t had all the same experiences I have had, and to me, lunch boxes are old news…but to my socialized homeschoolers, a lunchbox is a treat. I try to go all out and cut up fruit and tiny sandwiches to make it fancy and fun. If you’re feeling uninspired, check out this wonderful website:  http://www.veganlunchbox.com/index.html planetbox 4. Excellent Singable Music: My Favorites are quite diverse, anything from Putumayo world music to all time favorites of Gemini, and Joe Reilly! Also, love love love Chris DuPont these days! What are your families favorites? Reggae-Playground-Re-release-WEB_5001-450x4503-411798_769x250img_homeDupont-album-art 4. Whole Family Games: Our undisputed all time winner is Sequence, but we also love Pictionary, cards, Scrabble, charades, the Alphabet Game, and I SPY! thAFQ1VSHD SO, that’s all I’ve got when it comes to traveling, we make a lot of stops and we eat out of our fancy lunch boxes, and we even watch movies when we can’t stand it anymore. I sure am looking forward to driving all over the map with my crew this summer, and I would love to hear your vacation stories & ideas for how to keep the little ones occupied…. Happy Trails!

Sick of Being Sick

The dreaded winter is over, but the snot is still flowing, what’s a poor mother to do? There has been a lot of sicknesses this year, from chicken pox all the way to lice and back up again with fevers, cases of flu, and coughs! Throw in a sore throat for good measure! I bring up this topic because it’s spring, and there is hope for the future so I can start brainstorming for NEXT WINTER! I want to hear your best tested, mother approved ideas for getting rid of bugs. Here is what I do…….

homeopathic remedy The first thing I always try is a homeopathic remedy. This is a personal education project that is ongoing. I am not an expert, but I have some great friends who are, so I usually ask them or read up in books & online to try to identify the remedy best suited to the child. When assessing symptoms, homeopathy looks at all responses to illness, their attitude, and their “look.” For instance, I have a few kids who are Pulsatilla kids, just whiny and sensitive to the core. I often start those particular children on pulsatilla and then move on to other more specific remedies from there. It can be a puzzle figuring out which homeopathic remedy to turn to, but once you find the correct one- BINGO! It works fast. I have recently had success using Boiron brand Coldcalm. It really got me through some rough allergies I had been experiencing, which made me feel as if my face was falling off. Coldcalm is a combination of several different remedies, and so it has a good success rate.Do you use homeopathy?

herbsI follow with herbs and essential oils. I am new to the whole essential oil craze, but have used them with some success! I recommend using Young Living Essential Oils, as their purity and concentration are the highest quality I have found.  I have used thyme and Thieves oil combined with olive oil or coconut oil on the neck and chest to help with coughs or congestion. Peppermint and lavender oils can help out with many things! I use it for headaches, mood swings, and hormonal issues. I plan on reading up more on oils, as they seem to be really effective for many different ailments.

hot-tea Hot tea is fantastic for all problems in life. Have you ever given warm tea to your child and noticed how much it affects them? Maybe it’s just because they need to feel doted on, but the warmth really goes a long way. I give my kids Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra tea,  it contains the herbs: Chamomile, Tilia Estrella, Valerian, spearmint, lemongrass, hawthorn, and orange blossoms! I also give all of us echinacea tea and elderberry syrup during the cold and flu season. My dear friend Simone taught me a sore throat remedy for the ages! There is always gargling with salt water, of course, but freshly squeezed lemon juice with honey does amazing things to heal up the tissues in the throat!

steamHeat. That is what works. Steam with eucalyptus oil, breathed in, hot packs microwaved and resting on whatever hurts, hot showers, baths, or hot towels on the face. Hot soup. Hot tea. You get the idea. I have been known to call our local Vietnamese restaurant and order hot and sour soup if I’m not feeling well!

onions-Another Simone trick (love you, girl!), the onion is such an alkaline vegetable, that it actually absorbs any nasty stuff out of the air. If I have someone with a cough, in particular, I will chop an onion, put it into an old produce sack (you know the mesh kind), and hang it near their bed. It takes days off of the recovery period!I have also heard of using onion tea to help stop a cold and cough!  If you are struggling with congestion of any sort, avoid dairy, and drink lots of clear fluids! And if by chance you have a stuffy infant, my dear, run out and buy a Nose Frieda asap! It’s a Swedish tool used to suck the boogers out. Very effective. I can’t figure out why I didn’t have one before!

nose frieda

We have avoided tummy bugs so far this season, but my doctor recommended giving the children some good probiotics (we like Life 9 from Young Living) to counteract the effects of a bout of stomach flu. I also learned of activated charcoal. You can buy it at health food stores, in capsule form, and I give the kids some in juice. It stops diarrhea in its tracks! Yea!


That’s all I got. I will tell you that the research is ongoing, and nutritional science is uncovering many new truths. Our bodies are directly affected by what we eat. Everything that comes into our bodies has the potential to truly nourish us. It has been helpful to read Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live, and more recently, Super Immunity! He speaks about how the diet can build up our defenses…

“Food gives us energy and the building blocks to grow in the form of calories, but we have not fully appreciated the noncaloric micronutrients in food, including those that are neither vitamins nor minerals, but phytochemicals- elements that strengthen and support normal immune function.” – Joel Fuhrman

It truly is amazing how well I feel when I eat well. If only I could have a personal chef to spend hours in the kitchen getting all those vegetables chopped! Right now in my reality, with a bunch of hungry kids and a new baby, I am lucky if we all EAT something. We have been somewhat successful making ahead healthy meals to pull out of the freezer when days are crazy. I make it a goal to eat a “real” food, something that is unprocessed- a fruit or vegetable. My go-to snack instinct is salami and cheese, so I have work to do, I am trying to think more along the lines of carrots and bananas!

Please share your immune boosting secrets! And if you are ever beating up on yourself for not eating as well as you should, remember that awesome passage from Proverbs, and keep your attitude positive!

  Proverbs 17:22 

A cheerful heart is a good medicine,  but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.





Musical Beds and Michigan’s Own Multigravida

IMG_2433We were talking as a family on Sunday, trying to figure out room arrangements, as our older children had come up with some good ideas of how we could mix and match the bunk beds, to help not only with space management but also with sibling relationships, and we had a realization: the things that are good for us are often not what comes naturally, or feels good. We decided that even after flipping the house upside down and shaking it, we all wouldn’t be perfectly happy. We had to be frank with the children who wanted their own room: not in this lifetime, and probably not when your older, either…sorry…but then maybe that’s GOOD FOR YOU. Ok, so your sister rubs you the wrong way, does that mean it isn’t a good idea to learn to work with her? What about when your older and you have a job and you have to work on a project with someone you don’t get along with? It is a valuable life lesson for the kids to learn cooperation, and also when to give one another space.


We discussed preferential treatment…why does the oldest get more outings? Because she works much harder at doing what she is asked. So, yes, if you do all the chores on your chore chart and then aren’t shy about helping out on top of that, I may be more likely to ask your friends over….these are difficult ideas for young minds, and there is a part of me that doesn’t want to have to go through these growing pains with them. But, on the other hand, there is joy in knowing what they CAN do to help their situation, and also talking through their frustrations with their life. I can not change much of what is difficult for them, but I can listen and validate their feelings. I can acknowledge the sufferings of a child who wants her own space, I can try to make sure she has a shelf to put her favorite possessions, even though I may not be able to give her a room.


And I think it’s important to say, there is a shame or lack of understanding for large families (as if you hadn’t noticed).The world says we shouldn’t have more than the children we can perfectly provide for. I have often been asked, “How do you afford it?” and I would like to clearly state for the record: it’s not about that. Do you know someone who has whatever their heart desires? My new response to these questions is: How can we afford to have more people who don’t know what it feels like to work for the good of someone else? Why do we want more children who believe good things should come their way without hard work? Should we expect big things to come from a generation who doesn’t have much expected of them? What benefit is it to create a world for our children where no hardships exist, only to toss them into a world that is full of competition, and difficulties? I think the real question is: “How can we afford to have children without a strong family to support them?” There will be challenging circumstances for all of our kids at one point or another throughout their life. Who will they fall back on when you are gone? I think we sometimes have a blinder on as parents, we feel that if we do everything a “good” parent is supposed to do, our child will turn out well and be able to muscle through life by the force of some inertia we created because we did all the proper things in good order!


I take great comfort in knowing that even if I mess everything up, or die unexpectedly, my children have not only a wonderful father, and Aunts and Uncles who would be there for them, but they have one another. They may fuss about not having their own room now, but believe me, when the harshness of life rears its ugly head, they will have something much more reliable than a trust fund…they have a built in support system that cares for them like no amount of money ever could. People, GOOD HOLY LOVING people, that is the business I am into. I don’t think it’s important to enough of us. Maybe I will start to say something altogether unexpected to the naysayers: “What you see here is difficult, and expensive, but not everyone can do it, so that’s why I am doing it….Someone has to raise the next generation of GOOD HOLY LOVING people!”

And to the wide-eyed stares: “Having children who can spread the gospel to the nations with their life, that is my goal.” It makes a lot of folks feel uncomfortable, and I’m getting less and less concerned what others perceptions are, and more and more compassionate towards the good hearted people who simply do not understand how beautiful and good my life is. My hands are full as the old saying goes but full is what life should be: full of joy, love, and lots of wonderful little children. When did a woman’s worth stop including her number of children? There are 24 references to breasts in the Bible, comparing the nourishment, and satisfaction the Lord supplies to his people with a nursing mama. Shouldn’t I be proud?


Most families in the US have about two children. I understand why this is and how many factors contribute to this choice people are making. I understand even more on days when I stubbornly try to fit one more bunk bed into an already crowded room, or when we need to add another shelf in our family closet in order to contain all of the clothes! But I never (yet) wish I hadn’t had all of these kids. I never wonder if my life would be better had I thought more “responsibly” and chosen a smaller family size. I know it isn’t the easiest path, but I’m really okay with being one of the few who keeps our beloved country above replacement level.

“But if fertility rates continue, then within a few decades the population of the United States and Europe will begin to fall. This is already happening in Russia and Italy. Some statisticians have estimated that were it not for illegal immigrants, the population of the United States would be falling today…” check out this website for more information on fertility rates.


At the end of the day, there are many many things to be thankful for….Not just for the people themselves, who have taught me about temperaments, personalities, and how to appreciate individuals for who they are. But also for the many tiny ways, this life has opened my heart to be a better person. I am very much a work in progress, but I see hopeful glimmers – He is working on me. And he is working on all of us by putting us with the families we are with….

May we ALL have the ability to demonstrate loving kindness and good communication to our children, and may we not be afraid of having children. They truly are a blessing…

Eyes Wide Open


IMG_2248The birth of my newbie, Ezra Abram Nicolai, was an adventure, and after a month of getting to know him, I feel even more blessed than I did when I found out we were expecting! When you know what you’re getting yourself into, the anticipation of a new baby can either be a source of joy or worry.

I know for myself, being a generally relaxed person, I have probably changed in both respects. On the one hand, I worry more than I did with my first or second born, because with time I have learned of all the things that can go wrong with pregnancy, birth, and babies. But, as he is our eighth, I have also gained some better perspective on what to expect, like for instance: a baby is a baby until they are three or four. This is a source of joy:  The children grow up so quickly that knowing they really need me- for that long, and even after that, is a good feeling. The older children need me too, just in different ways. The nine year old wants me to watch, the twelve year old wants me to listen, the teenager needs me to approve of her and challenge her ideas, I’m not sure what the adult child needs: if you have some insight into that, please comment below :). There really isn’t a time of life that the child can “do without” a mother’s attention and love. This is a good realization. It may not be something the world recognizes, but I know it for myself, for sure, and that empowers me to want to improve myself in order to raise strong, healthy, and holy kids.

IMG_2634I was ‘in labor’ on and off for the entire week….I would have jabbing crazy contractions and then slow melty ones that seemed to pull my back muscles down to my ankles. I could always count on one thing throughout these episodes: the contractions would stop, just in time for me to get all worked up that today was THE DAY! After several days of this I even went to the hospital only to get sent home after my intense, painful, breathe-through-them contractions came to an abrupt halt once they hooked me up to the monitors. How frustrating. The kids cried. They thought we were playing a prank on them, and when they got home from Auntie Elsa and Uncle Jaime’s, they were like- where’s the baby?! You would think that after having SO MANY CHILDREN I would know when I was in labor. Right? Wrong!…… Always count on motherhood being an opportunity for a good lesson in humility!


That was Thursday, when we took a “spa day” at the hospital, joining our wonderful Doula, Janet Holtz, for lunch, and Mass, and a nice long nap! Two days later was Saturday, and I was very uncomfortable the whole day. I had strong but inconsistent contractions throughout…. I remember debating about wearing my ugly slip on crocks or bending over to pull on my boots…and going for the crocks! By evening I couldn’t sit because if I did I felt like I was going to lose my mind with pain. The poor kid had dropped into my pelvis! I tried to just WALK WALK WALK and did dishes and laundry because I couldn’t stand how lazy and useless I felt. I kept praying for the handicapped, realizing that being restricted by ones own body is such a vulnerable place to be. I bow to my wheel chair bound friends!

After putting children to bed and taking a bath, thinking the contractions would stop with the warm water, as had been the pattern, I realized the contractions were only getting stronger! I laid down to sleep anyway, at this point strongly doubting my own ability to distinguish real from false labor! As I lay there feeling the traveling electric sensations of the uterus gathering itself into a work force of power, I realized this could no longer be ignored. The words of my mother stuck in my head: “don’t wait too long!” SO, reluctantly, I woke Abel at one o’clock to say: “this is it!”


He was so sweet, so excited, I really thank God for him, because I felt like I wanted to call in for this one, I was suddenly in so much pain with wild ripping pressure rising up in my lower back and moving to the legs in a kind of pulsating stretch…..I was pacing and unable to sit. When we got to the hospital I was 7 centimeters dilated, and shaking….They offered an epidural, and for the first time, I accepted! I have never even considered using pain meds in childbirth before, it just wasn’t something that even occurred to me.

I think because I was so exhausted, the pain wasn’t as manageable this go-around, and I am very grateful for modern medicine! The labor progressed very quickly, the body was numb, I could feel pressure and the intensity of emotions rising as Ezra moved towards the light. The look in my husbands eyes, the glow of the snow falling outside my window, and the wondering: what will he look like, who will he be? It was a shining moment of pure joy, when he finally came out and announced his presence with a loud cry! We were in heaven looking over his tiny body, so perfect, so new. We touched his wild unruly hair, and counted his fingers and toes! We laughed and cried, and kissed him, and each other…We did it. God blessed us…again!


As time passes, we are matching each others rhythm and I am surprised at the familiarity I feel when I look at my little baby. It’s as if he were always here, always a part of our family. He somehow fits, feels normal, feels like home. The poetry of a new baby is kind of like trying to describe a dear schizophrenic friend…One moment you’re all singing sweet songs, and letting the other children love on him, and then the next minute your breasts hurt, you’re hungry- so hungry you could cry, and you yell at the kid who clearly hasn’t washed his hands since last Christmas. It’s a rush of hormones, full blown sleep deprivation, and turning your body into food for another person, all while managing a couple of months of bleeding. Not an ideal time for most new moms- there are moments of joy and outright bliss…and then there is the reality. I think you should know, just in case this is your first time, this reality does change. If you can make it through the first three months, you have it in the bag- you will survive! Babies are only babies for a short time, so try to enjoy it….right?

IMG_2441 The night Ezra was born will be forever referred to as “The Snowstorm of 2015,” when we went to the hospital it was just starting to snow. As the night went on we accumulated over twelve inches! This meant that little Ezra and I got to spend an extra night at the hospital because our family vehicle ended up in a ditch! And my husband and kids got to spend the night at their cousins house! They will never forget that! It also meant that the hospital staff was stuck in knee deep snow, and it was quite a sport to get all those cars out of the parking lot…So, while I was getting the pleasure of staring at my baby, there were people getting stuck and towed all over Michigan. It was a funny little addition to an already amazing day, and it still makes me laugh- you can’t plan this stuff! Thank you, Lord for all the good things you give us, for keeping us safe, and for growing our hearts with these experiences.

My heart is so full, it could burst.

Unraveling Resolutions, and Monogramming Towels….

IMG_2148It was a lot of fun to write down New Years Resolutions with my kids! I was surprised by their awareness of what they needed to work on the most. I felt inspired to dig a little deeper and write more than: walk and do yoga every day, eat more leafy greens, and go to daily mass. I could’ve added on drink less coffee, but that would just be setting myself up for failure! The kids wrote things like: be kinder and less harsh to my sister, share more, stuff like that, so impressive! They also all mentioned something about the stress of electronic devices, and trying to not spend so much time playing on them.IMG_2183 I had the fabulous idea that if we bought all the girls something electronic for Christmas, there would be less bickering and competition regarding my old iPhone that I gave my eldest daughter when I got upgraded to a new phone. Boy was I wrong. I was essentially giving myself a new job: regulating the new devices. What a headache, and not to mention, how can a kid who is still learning to exercise self control going to get anything done when there is Pandora, YouTube, and so many free games!? I had an awakening (thank you, Inez) it’s my house, and I can just put those darn IPhone/tablets/computers away for awhile, and bring them out for special occasions. It has been so quiet here this week. In a good way. These little inspirations happen in such a timely way! It really was ME that needed a conversion, it was really me who spends way too much time staring at my phone. I disabled Facebook, and all my other apps that are not essential to everyday life, Pinterest: goodbye, kids games that I don’t want them to use on my phone anyway: see ya later, and all I kept other than the PHONE, and TEXTING, was EWTN…I’m not sure how long this media vacation will last, but I can only hope that we find the space in our lives to do all those fun things that the electronic devices keep us from, like…..monogramming towels! IMG_2151 In a nesting frenzy the other day, I went to Target because I realized that I didn’t have all the basic necessities, and I wanted to be prepared! I bought the worlds tiniest diapers, some of those really cool gauze swaddling blankets, and of course, a baby hat. Then, I got the blur- this is a scientific term for rationalizing any purchase in the store, based on how long one has been in any given store, this can be quite a problem for the pocket book. I had full-on blur…I bought two birdfeeders (I had birdseed at home, but no feeders)! I also bought eight utility hangers, on sale, but still 25$ worth of hardware! I had this glorious idea that if everyone had their own towel, and their own hook to hang it on, we wouldn’t waste so much time/money/soap on washing what are essentially clean towels! So, then I had to figure out how to specify whose towel was whose. We already have “colors” for each member of the family, which helps with things like: drinking cups, toothbrushes, and the infamous chore chart…but I didn’t have towels in every color of the rainbow, so I laid all the towels out on the living room floor, and everyone got to pick their favorite one. Then I monogrammed them! It was really fun. Towels are kind of like leftover food at my house. If someone else has touched or even breathed on it, it is rendered “dirty,” or “used!” And therefore, unfavorable. I have had apparently starving children presented with a perfectly clean piece of food from a younger siblings plate, only to have my child refuse, based on this idea that there must be something tainted about the food, it having come in such close contact with that disgusting person. It’s incredible really, the commitment they have to this theory, and it makes me want to take them all to a third world country where people survive on trash and unsanitary water sources. IMG_2150 NEEDLESSTOSAY…as we anxiously await the arrival of our eighth child, I was feeling like anything I could do to stop washing essentially clean things would be a boon to our already full laundry pails. So, like the used food, we had used towels, and now we have your OWN used towel, which hopefully will be used again and again…. Thank you to my wonderful husband for installing said hanger-upper hook system. I know that was not your favorite job of all time (screwing a hooky holder thingy into a window), but I do appreciate you giving it a try. I will let you know the outcome of this…. so far it is untested, and unapproved! IMG_2185 Do share any organizational/time saving techniques you may come up with, I am ready to become even more efficient! And if you have the nerve to go wireless for a week, comment below on how it went, I think it is good- even if it’s only temporary….like a little retreat. And if this isn’t good timing for your family to attempt such a feat, no judgment at all, really! I get it, and I have had several Facebook relapses since..

Mary Had A Baby, and I WILL Get It Together!


Every year there are so many things that we have to DO to get everything ready for the holidays….You know, you like to minimize it in the coming months, you laugh at the holidays as they patiently sneak up on you….and then every year you make a solemn oath never to let it be that crazy ever again, and then it happens all over….

Well, this year, I had a plan. I have a new baby coming in the next six weeks, give or take, and my ‘baby’ is a very independent three year old. So, I thought I could “get it together,” with no problem…what I wasn’t expecting, was, um, the end of pregnancy. I got so high on life in the second trimester, finally having energy and all, that I over estimated my prowess for the finishing of important tasks….like baking for Christmas (my dearest husband did that, thanks Sweetheart)!  And my big ideas about putting away meals in the freezer….those are yet to be seen. For some reason, when I think I’m cooking double, we actually just eat the leftovers the next day, and nothing ever really gets stored up….have you found that preteens and teenagers can easily eat you out of house and home?! They can literally eat DOUBLE what I eat, and still need more food. Its nuts. Now, given, they play sports and are growing and all that good stuff, I just FORGOT how much food needs to be consumed, I guess. SO, I’ll keep cooking and maybe the trickle into tomorrow effect needs to be good enough for now. Plus, I make them help me all the time, and for the most part, they are cooperative, so I am hoping they are able to assist with cooking when the newbie finally makes his appearance.

Next on my long list of Advent preparations, is of course: the gift wrapping. We have found that each year we go way overboard, not intentionally, its just so easy to do, when you love your kids, and you want to surprise them, and you know what they like…..ok, I’m making excuses. We do go overboard, truly, so this year we decided to set a limit, and each kid wrote their top five things they wanted, and my husband and I decided to only buy one another a few small things, and we would save the money for a trip this summer…..it was a great motivation. I love to give gifts, but I enjoy DOING things as a family even more. This pregnancy, partly because of my thyroid pooping out on me and an overall feeling of being T I R E D…. I have so appreciated going out to eat. And actually, it doesn’t even matter where, it could be pizza or a nice sit down place, I don’t really care. I just don’t have it in me to cook. The creative energy is all being put elsewhere? MAYBE?!  I have never before been so thankful for restaurants! So, whenever I thought of wanting to spend more money on gifts, I would think, if I can resist the urge, I could have that cash for a trip to Wendy’s! Ha! That sounds crazy, probably, to those of you who know how much I love food, and healthy eating! I have two words:   LIFE  HAPPENS. It’s not going to be ideal all of the time, and sometimes a little Junior Bacon Cheeseburger will just have to do. SO, don’t beat yourself up. And, just for the record, when you do allow yourself simple luxuries, your attitude and the overall peace in your world may improve. And all my gifts are wrapped. So there….. I’m pretty proud.

On the agenda for this week was getting the house ready for a new baby. Well, ever since we cleared our living room of toys to fit our beautiful Christmas Tree, we have dispersed our toy collection to places where it didn’t really fit, and the house has felt like a Barbie Emporium and a wooden toy exhibition combined, and I could really do without another day of trying to keep it at bay. So, today, Monday, day of all days, I got it in my craw that we would move unused toys either a) OUT OF MY HOUSE or b) down the basement. We did a good job, washed and put away the baby clothes and diapers, rearranged the little kids room, put away the kids kitchen for a season, and moved all Barbie related paraphernalia into a restricted area we call the Hidey Hole. It’s like this tiny half an attic room in the little kids bedroom that usually has a combination of art supplies, Doritos, and dress up clothes crammed into it. I must have been deluded in my fragile state, because I convinced myself (with a  little persuasion from my eldest, although like her mother, not particularly spatially gifted daughter), that the hella huge Barbie house was going to fit inside of the Hidey Hole. No.Can.DO. And believe me, we tried. We tried a couple different ways, and that thing is so big and bulky, there is no WAY without disassembling it, that we could ever fit that house in there. Damn Barbies.

Anyway, if I can figure out how to use the screw driver and get the thing apart, I will GET IT IN THERE, but until then, I feel pretty satisfied with our progress. We were able to get a couple of bags of toys and trash out of the upstairs, and the kids always find something “very important,” that they have been missing for quite some time during these cleaning escapades, so all were happily playing and thrilled about life.

Needless-to-say, with Christmas two days away, I feel ready. It’s not absolutely perfect in everyway, there are the usual family ups and downs that happen with everyone during the holidays. There is the usual annoying waiting that drags on towards the end of pregnancy. There are the kids emotional upheavals from being stuck inside the house too much….But generally, it’s merry and bright, and all the Christmassy things are turning out alright. I hope you too are able to feel blessed, and enjoy your Christmas! And God Bless your last minute preparations!



A Shoot of Jesse, Will Bear Much Fruit

stumpThere is always so much more to find out about our wonderful Christian Catholic Church! The wonders never cease! I had the good fortune to be asked to participate in a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap, and man did I ever learn so much, it was truly inspiring! I wanted to share it with you all, because of the beauty and simplicity of the ornaments themselves, but even more because of the way God wrote these love letters to His people, throughout salvation history, so that now we can look back at the brilliance of His plan for our SALVATION!!

All you really need is 28 willing volunteer crafty friends (or less, if some are willing to make more than one), and a date. This is important to plan for a few weeks away, so that you have time to order your supplies, and then wait for the night before to begin the project 🙂 It would be ideal  to have the swap just before Advent, but not during Thanksgiving week…

The most critical part of this event is to have hot cider, and many delicious treats to share with your friends, and don’t forget to throw in the most adorable student you’ve ever had, I felt like a celebrity with the enthusiasm little Katie had to play a quick round of Candy Land, sorry sweetheart, we’ll have to do that another day!




IMG_1746 IMG_1745

It was so much fun to see old friends, and even meet some new ones while admiring everyone’s hard work, and snacking on some delicious treats! I will stop gushing now and show you each ornament!

These ornaments and Bible stories are the same as what is used in the Holy Heroes Jesse Tree DVD. If you don’t already know it- Advent Adventure will send a daily story/video/craft/activity for your children every day of Advent! It’s fun, it’s free, it’s easy for the mom! http://www.holyheroes.com

1. Creation (Earth) Genesis 1:1-23

Creation: Really cute & easy! A rubber ball with green yarn strung thru!

2.Creation Continued ( Man & Woman) Genesis 1:24-31

Creation of Man & Woman! Little painted wooden people with hearts to represent their innocence, and purity. Super sweet!


3.Fall of Man (Apple, Serpent) Genesis 3:1-15, 20-23

Fall of Man! A stick with a green pipe cleaner, and a tiny apple with a twine hanger- look at that!




4. Noah (Ark, Rainbow) Genesis 6:5-20, 7:1-23, 8:1-17, 9:1-13

Noah! A plastic bulb filled with blue sand, and a hand painted ark, with a nice little rainbow ribbon! How adorable, and unbreakable!


5. Abraham (Tent) Genesis 12:1-5,13:14-16, 18:1-10, 21:1-3

Look at this awesome tent made from plastic canvas and warm, earth tone yarn! So good.

 6. Isaac (Bundle of Sticks, Ram) – Genesis 22:1-147

Wonderful sticks, that help us think about the one who carried a big stick for us! Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice!

7. Jacob (ladder) Genesis 27: 41-44, 28:10-17

A spray painted golden ladder, with an angel attached!

8. Joseph (Multi-colored Coat) Genesis 37:3-4, 17-28

Isn’t this the best!? A soft white piece of felt, with authentic-looking yarn! I think this is what the real technicolor dream coat looked like!

9. Moses (Moses Basket) Exodus 2:1-10, 3:1-12

Nothing sweeter than this, a baby Moses in his basket all nice and snug!

10. Moses Continued (Stone Tablets) Exodus 7-14, 19, 32

Simple, and yet beautiful! The Ten Commandments!

11. Ruth (Wheat) Ruth 1:1-16, 7-22

Very easy to do, but very appealing! Wheat glued to a wooden heart.

12. Samuel (Crown) 1Samuel 3

This is the lid of some tiny jewelry box that I tied up for the crown, but you can be more creative and actually make one, too! Don’t forget to make it shiny!

13. Jesse (tree stump with shoot) 1 Samuel 3

Handmade from balsa wood, sanded and painted, with a nice little green leaf sticking out! What a great thought, that no matter what our history- God can redeem it!

14. David (slingshot, smooth stones) 1 Samuel 17, 19:1-2

This one really works! So watch out! I love how she put the five smooth stones in a little ziplock bag with some aromatic oils! the pouch is the bomb.

15. Solomon (temple) 1 Kings 3

A little wooden coin, painted with a temple! I like the gold!

16. Elijah (raven, manna, chariot of fire) 1 Kings 17 & 18

She used a wood burner, and an attractive image of the raven. Some ravens look so menacing, and this one is lovely!

17. Elisha (river or dove) 2 Kings 5

A solid white dove, so wonderful to look at. This one is very well done.

18. Isaiah’s Prophecies (cross) Isaiah 8:6-7

A wooden cross, painted gold, with a sheer ribbon wrapped over. It’s a beauty!

19. Isaiah (scroll) Isaiah 6

The prophecies are so pretty on this miniature scroll.

20. Daniel (lion) Daniel 6:11-17, 19-25

Best lion ever!

21. Jeremiah (fire) Jeremiah 31

Salt dough, with a hand painted fire! Genius!

22. Angels (angel or angel wings) Luke 1

Isn’t she sweet? I love the felt wings, embellished with gold!

23. Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist (tablet with chalk) Luke 1

Nice and easy! Love it!

24. Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary, lily, heart, Marian Symbol) Luke 1

The Immaculate Heart of Mary! This one is my fav!

25. The Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth, or path with hills) Luke 1:39-56

This one I made. I used a gold transfer paper to make it have more texture, and cut out construction paper for the figures. I painted on hair and stitched around the outside with embroidery floss.

26. Joseph (tools) Matthew 1

I love this Joseph! Hand painting gives him so much character!

27. The Nativity (Jesus in the Manger) Luke 2

What a classic Nativity Scene!
The reverse side of the Nativity ornament has this Novena prayer to help us prepare our hearts! Lovely!

28. Magi (Christmas Star, Three Crowns, Camels) Matthew 2:1-12

Shiny crocheted Star of Bethlehem!

There you have it folks! What a joy it was to be a part of this fun group….I hope you get a chance to have a Jesse Tree in your home! Maybe next year you could have your very own swap!

May the sweet baby Jesus bless you and your families this Advent!!

My Jesse tree is on a cork board, with tacks holding up the ornaments!
My Jesse tree is on a cork board, with tacks holding up the ornaments!

The Next Day After

IMG_1126What I have been mulling over in my mind is this idea that we can “over do,” and wanting so desperately to make it untrue. I would like to think that I can run around like a chicken with my head cut off, and just deal with it cause I am one tough mama!  Sometimes when random people like to tell me that I have too many children, I want to say something like, yup, it’d prolly be too hard for you. You shouldn’t do it, you’re not as bad ass as me. But that would be conceited and not altogether true, if I’m honest with myself….so…..I just smile and share what a joy and a blessing my family is.

But the question goes unanswered. How far can we push ourselves? There were folks who came across the ocean from Europe, my ancestors, with very little good food or water, and had to tough out many a difficult and trying situation, and if they even made it here to the states, they were lucky. Those people were amazingly strong, and must have died young from all the stress and disease they were exposed to! I wonder though, how much of it was a simple hard-nosed determination that got them through. You’ve heard the expression, “mind over matter,” right?! Well, I think about that a lot, I tend to be a very positive person, but there are days, like today for instance, the kind of days I am beginning to refer to as, “the next day after.”

I know why I feel like crap, because I totally pushed myself on the day before last, did too much ( meeting for homeschool co-op 9am- noon, schoolwork with kids, atrium session at church 2-5:30pm, took daughter out to eat, husband picked up other children, car swap, atrium meeting, fuel meeting for daughter, pick up other daughter from soccer, drop off daughters friend, go home, watch bad sitcoms until midnight because I’m so wired I can’t just go to sleep, wake up on the sofa with fuzzy teeth and a cat for a pillow). Its not that the day after that suffers, but it does a little, its the NEXT DAY AFTER, that really sucks, because as soon as my feet hit the floor, I realize how wiped out I am, and I want to crawl back into bed with a book, and possibly never emerge. I feel justified in being tired. I have neglected to eat well, rest well, and take care of my poor old grand multipara self….and so I slump a little lower and complain a little louder, and boss my children around in a not- very- nice way….. After the coffee kicks in, I apologize if I was too hard on them and try to cheer up by snuggling with the baby and reading her Zin Zin Zin a Violin, because she always makes me laugh when she points out the expressions on the cats faces, and what the different musicians outfits remind her of…..

So I guess my REAL question is: how much is too much, for YOU? What is your limit for outside activities? How do you handle the demands of older children wanting to do many things combined with the natural maternal feeling of pregnancy and babies that makes you want to hole up in your home and bake something?

I think it’s probably different for each of us, right? And there are seasons for going and doing a thousand things, and there are times for rest. Times to recuperate from busy schedules and demanding activities. And times to make up more craziness just because we can!

Sometimes I get down on myself because I wish I could do more, I have so much love to give, and like the Little Flower, Therese of Lisieux said, when she was himming and hawing about how she wanted her vocation to be everything: the missionary, the priest, the nun, the mother, and a martyr.  How wonderful it would be if she could do everything for Jesus….All those endless impossible desires ended up making her feel uneasy and stressed. We can hopefully find comfort in our individual vocation, and the calling of the moment.

“Then, beside myself with joy, I cried out: “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, Thou hast Thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! . . .”
Thérèse de Lisieux, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

I am clinging to her words and the thought that I can “just be”. “Just be” a homeschooling mom, and let that “be” enough. I am hoping and praying that you can have the same resolve today. Hoping, praying for an inward smile at the life He has given us, together with all of our unresolved questions. To peacefully accept the day with a sigh and drink more coffee. I mean water. Drink more water. Yes. Amen.

Hello? Yes you……reading……can you come up with a set of guidelines? A suggestion for where I should invest my time? What should I let fall away? Feel free to give me those directions, okay?! Great. No one will stop you from commenting. Thanks for reading my blog.

Thirty Five, Surprises, and Fun, Fancy NAILS!


There are many things a woman wants for her birthday. I know a many women, and really we all want the same thing- right? We would like to be spoiled and left alone at the same time. We want to sleep in AND have breakfast in bed, we want to read and drink coffee in silence AND spend some quality time with our kids. There really just isn’t enough time in the day to DO all we really want to do.


Luckily, my husband is very smart, he was thinking ahead, and managed to spoil me, and did all of the above. I woke up to fantastic birthday signs, which is a family tradition, started by my mom. Good job, mom, we all look forward to waking up on the day we were born to fun handmade signs! And the smells weren’t so bad either! Abel made us all breakfast sandwiches with croissants! YUM! Then we went on a surprise outing. We had no idea where we were headed- such a welcome surprise when we pulled up to Simply Sue’s Nail Spa! If you ever need a manicure or pedicure or just a special time with a daughter or friend, this place, girlfriend, rocks! It’s very cozy and cute with lots of things to look at. They were extremely accommodating of us, and experts in the way they decorated our nails, and-they kept conversation light and fun. I really appreciated how kind they were to my kids. They definitely earned the Big Family Friendly Reviews Five Stars Plus Award!


Simply Sue’s Nail Spa

995 N. Mill Street

Plymouth, MI 48170

(734) 455-7484

Sue says to book in advance if possible as they have regular clients they are working with as well as drop-ins, she would prefer a couple of months especially if you have a larger party, like a wedding or a birthday party! I’m telling you, it’s worth checking out just for the dag-gone massage chairs! By the time my feet were polished, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside from the excellent foot massage from Jennifer, and combined back massage from that chair! Woa baby! I feel like a queen!


So, if you have a husband that perhaps isn’t quite as smart as mine, kindly e-mail him this post and perhaps he will catch on! Bonding time with daughters, check! Relaxed and pretty at the same time, check! Wonderful, warm, and experienced staff, check!!


I am hoping that your birthday is as fun as mine was, and I’m hoping too, that even if you’re not really a girly girl (don’t worry, I’m not really either) it’s really a great mini vacation to spend a day a Sue’s!