Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Been a Year

Since Sweet Baby left our home. She's 3.5 now and we've not been able to see her in six months. 

A sad day, a hard day, a day I am grateful I got to be her first mom. 

I love and miss her every day. 

Decorating the Christmas tree this year was full of happy/sad moments as we unpacked ornaments she made. 

Through the tears, I pray she is happy and safe today.  

Perhaps time heals all wounds, but I'm just gonna go ahead and wear my pajama pants today. 

A blessed and merry Christmas to you all. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nothing to Say

Lately, I've felt like I have nothing to say.  Nothing I want to share. 

Families have been welcoming new babies, announcing pregnancies, and then there's just been me.  Sitting here.  Not pregnant. 

Someone recently overheard me discussing pregnancy with my friend (herself about 7 months) and just overhearing a piece of the conversation, asked if I was expecting. 

"No.  I'm not.  I'm the very complete opposite of pregnant.  What's more opposite than just not pregnant.  A man?  Whatever it is, I'm that."

It wasn't a very charitable response to an honest inquiry, and I tried to make a joke of it, but no, I'm not pregnant.  Pregnancy is no more likely today than it was 6 months ago.  Than it was 5 years ago.

But, there, in my brushing off of the question, a kernel of honesty sticks out to me.  I compared myself to a man with my lack of pregnancy.  In that wording, I found a piece of honesty.  Not being able to conceive feels as if it's a robbery of my feminine nature.  I feel devoid of what makes me intrinsically woman.  My fertility, my ability to bear children.  But I'm (obviously) not a man either.  I'm stuck in this void that feels like nothing.

People generally don't want to hear about how awful that void is, so I don't say anything.  I congratulate others on their pregnancy announcements.  Then I go home and cry.  Even when I'm truly, deeply happy for them, I cry.  The happiness for a friend seems to float along the surface, disassociated from the deepest parts of my soul.  I'm happy for them in a way that I can't connect the happiness to my entire being. 

Because deep down, there's an emptiness.  And the happiness won't fit inside.

It makes me feel terrible.  So then I cry about that.  It makes me feel ungrateful for my two girls.  So then I cry about that.  I get tired of crying and eat ice cream.  Then I cry because I'm overweight and that adds to my infertility. 

I never know what to say when people ask how I am.  Which answer do you want?  Would you like to comfortable one where I tell you only the fun and light things in my life?  Or would you like me to tell you I can't even bring myself to make a meal for friends welcoming a new baby.  That holding that baby is equal parts torture and hope-filled.  So much so, I can't decide whether I want to hold the babe or run away.

Would you like to hear about the days filled with a deep peace when I truly believe my days of babies are not yet behind me and there's perhaps one or two more left for us?  Or are you ready to hear about the days when I fuel my workouts with the rage and frustration that coats my heart?

So, really, I have nothing to say.  But I'm saying it here.  Because this is my space to say anything and nothing.  And because maybe someone else just needs to know today that someone else goes home and cries when they hear someone else's good news. 

If you know someone suffering a similar pain, there are some things you can do for us:

  • Pray.  Pray for our hope.  Pray for our hearts.  Pray for any children we already have.  Pray for our marriages.  Pray for family.

  • If you have the chance, share your good news privately first.  Please give us a chance to regroup.  If we don't handle it well, please forgive us.  We truly love you.

  • Ask us how we are when you're really ready to listen, and when we're somewhere we can take a moment to share.  If you ask in a crowded drop-off, we're going to say "fine" even if we had more to say.  If we say "fine" even when you've given us the opportunity, please know that we just might not have the emotional stamina to go into it right then. 

  • Please don't tell us that we have it "easy" with no (one, two, x) kids.  Please.  Just don't.

  • Forgive us.  We're bound to be less than gracious along the way.  Please, please forgive us.

  • Show us your joy.  We need to know we yearn for something worth our strife.  The world is constantly telling us children are a burden and unimportant.  Show us they're more.

Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for picking up a piece of my cross and walking along each time you read here.  God bless you.

And now, completely unrelated photos, to leave you with a smile :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dear Mom of Many

Dear Mom of Many (and all the rest of us moms too),

Maybe today you're wondering as you fish for a pair of shoes under the bed or find a clean shirt for Mass, whether this, all of this, is worth it. 

Maybe someone is screaming while someone else loudly proclaims their dislike of *insert dish they liked yesterday*. 

Maybe it's been a really hard day and you'd just like someone to tell you that what you're doing is amazing. 

You are. It is. Even when it feels more like a practice in repetitive motion than a vocation, it matters. 

I am not a mom of many. But I have one. My parents raised nine of us. 

I am telling you as you find a clean pair of socks for a toddler from the unmatched sock bin that what you are doing today is awesome. 

Even if it doesn't feel big, know that these little building blocks are creating the foothold for your children. 

Today, all nine of my siblings will be in the same place together. We will be celebrating 40 years of marriage for my parents. 

And we come together with great joy in seeing each other. The height of our joy is found in each other, in being together. 

We were children who picked at each other, called names, and the like. Constantly. But, through it all, we were told, fight the world if you must, but God gave you these siblings, love them. 

The message took years to sink in, and it permeates deeper every year. Love these people. They are the bearers of a shared childhood, a shared history, a common understanding. 

So, we love each other, differences, faults and all. 

The years were hard and long, filled with sacrifices (some by us, most by our parents). But, now, we all stand as adults, coming together to celebrate our parents.  We are doing so excited to embrace each other, to be together, to celebrate together. 

Mom stopped matching socks after number 7, a pretty fair concession to the craziness of the days. 

But to you, still struggling in the moment, I just want to say, hang in there, hold on. It's can be great now, but it's going to get even better.  

And from one of those kids, I just want to say. Thank you for loving through the monotony of laundry and dishes. Thank you for loving through your openness to life. 

Thank you for giving the best gift possible, a sibling to love. 


The cranky teen who complained loudly when they broke my stuff but who wouldn't trade any of them now. 

Happy 40th anniversary Mom and Dad. Thanks for the 8 greatest gifts I could ever have. 

My girls, loving each other now, and hopefully even more in the years to come.  Prayers for our infertility struggles are always very appreciated. God bless you and your families. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

{TT} Prepare


Good Friday morning!  Playing along with Clan Donaldson.  A day late on my Theme Thursday, ironically enough, it's about preparation.

This time of year is all about preparing.

I've been working on handmade Christmas presents feverishly.  I'm trying to get the bulk of Christmas shopping done before Advent so we can relax and really focus on the actual reason for the season.

My look at Prepare:  a Christmas project nearly finished.

Other ways I'm preparing this year include participating in a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap.

I made Esther's tiara and am looking forward to the designs of others that should be showing up on my doorstep soon!

Another big thing we are preparing for right now is (one of) my little sister's wedding.  One daughter is a jr bridesmaid, the other is the flowergirl.

We've been practicing her wedding hair (and paying for it in candy).

And glittering shoes (a very fun new project!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Defense Rests

I saw a post floating around Facebook in support and recognition of mamas who have needed a c-section.  The post spoke to the censure that decision can have....and about how we should stop apologizing for a medically necessary surgery.  Because sometimes, it is necessary.

But rather than embarking further into the controversy of birth, it got me thinking about choices we all need to make from time to time that are outside what might be popular.  Pretty much any parenting decision has a counterpoint that holds the opposing view with fervor.

It got me thinking about my tendency to hedge such choices and even apologize for them.  To apologize for non-choices as well.  But you know what?  The world hasn't earned an apology from me.  It hasn't earned one from you either.  Do God's will and you'll find the world would like many, many apologies.  But reading that post, it just struck me how much of myself I directly or indirectly apologize for or hide for the comfort of others.

I'm done....or at least working towards done....apologizing. 

I homeschool, I let my tots cry it out, I had a c-section, then an induced VBAC.  I only have two kids, and they're pretty great.  I've spent eight years of my life trying to conceive, and some days I feel super done with ever timing my life around that endeavor again.  That is, until I read this from Dwija and then I feel like maybe, just maybe I can hold on a little longer. 

My decisions are different than anyone else's.  That's really as it should be, seeing as how God made me to be me.  But still, the struggles I face make me feel like apologizing over and over again.  When I show up with two kids at a Catholic homeschool event and another mom is talking about being exhausted by the constant stream of children they've been blessed with?  What did you say?  I was watching my 9 y/o help the 2 y/o while I sit here feeling guilty that life isn't harder. 

But my life is different hard.  As a friend with a similar struggle pointed out after mass the other day.  We walk with a more hidden cross.  It isn't the exhaustion and overwhelmed weight of that mama carting six kids to seven locations, it's quieter.  It's having no one to nurse where I feel the weight of my cross.  It's my oldest having no close-in-age siblings where I feel the weight.  It's knowing that my 2 y/o is likely my last where I feel the weight.  And it is weighty.  The guilt I feel for not bearing the same burdens as everyone around me is crippling when I add it to the weight of my already heavy cross.  Because that weight isn't supposed to be there.

I need to stop the defense, put down the weight of guilt.  It wasn't meant for me to have the burden you carry. 

A lifelong defense has been my weight, how I look.  I am reticent to post full-body shots very often, and even in that, it's an inward apology of how I look.  Since contemplating this defense, I've mindfully posted full head-to-toe shots the last two weeks Sunday. 

I am even working to take greater care and joy in my "look".

You know what, I've worked hard to look like this.  I'm not entirely happy with what I see in the mirror, but I know what that image has done, what it is capable of.  I regularly rise before dawn to do strength training, I reluctantly avoid carbs, I jog 5Ks.  All for the sake of losing weight.  Some of that focus is to feel better about me (although knowing the kind of intense workout I'm capable of makes me much less inclined to apologize for how I look), some of that is because I'm 17 lbs above the magic number on the scale that every time I have achieved, I've gotten pregnant.

I've worked hard to make the scale budge, but I'm letting go of the constant apology I feel I need to give for it not moving.  I don't want to be the role model of apology and self-recrimination to my daughters. 

Little by little, I'm going to work on letting the defense rest.  Because being defensive is exhausting, and I need no apology.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Short and quick! What I wore Sunday:

Scarf: Charlotte Russe 
Blazer: Sam's Club (for real)
Pants: gifted
Shoes: Rose Gold Toms (zulily ftw)

Hair accessory: Lilla Rose clip 

Check out more at Fine Linen and Purple!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Summer Recap {Take 4} Germany Edition!

Micaela commented that she couldn't wait to hear all about my trip to Germany this summer.  So, I took her at her word, and I'm going to inundate the internet with photos and stories from our trip. 

I kept it to about a quarter of the actual pictures, it's still an overload, you're welcome!

I work as an instructional designer.  Most of the time, I'm staying home with the kids and not working very much, but every once in a while, I travel a few days on business (once or twice a year).

This year, I had the opportunity to travel to Mannheim, Germany.  It's not a very big town, but we also visited Heidelberg, Mainz, and Wiesbaden.  I say "we" because Hubby came along.  The contract/work paid for my ticket, so we bought a second ticket and extended our trip.

Overall, we spent 10 days in Germany and traveling to/from.  The jet lag was more than I expected and it took Hubby and I a few days to get decompressed from his crazy work schedule, but after the work part of my trip was over, we did some sight-seeing. 

We saw castles, took a trolley ride up a mountain, visited the world's largest cuckoo clock and other fun adventures.  The two things that stick out the most to me were seeing a Roman aqueduct and a piece of the Berlin wall.  The Roman aqueduct powered a tram up the mountainside and the piece of the Berlin wall was just sitting on a street corner. 

Another noteworthy moment was seeing the Guttenburg Bible, you know, just chilling in an environmentally controlled room.  So cool.

I don't think I realized what a nerd I was until I went to Germany.  I loved a lot of things that Hubby rolled his eyes at me about - but it was fun :)

Taking Mommy and Daddy to the airport

A little too early for her

Waiting for our flight

On our way to Germany!
On our way from the train station to the hotel

Touring Mannheim

A Roman holiday moment

Gardens everywhere, and they were stunning - also my brother's German doppelganger (pun intended)

Play-land for kids in the center of the shopping center

Street musicians abounded

My parents - I work with my dad :)
Day trip to Heidelberg Castle

Amongst the beauty and history, I was stunned by the graffiti - everywhere

One of the English-speaking tour guides was outfitted for the part
German beds understand me - I like my own blankets

This giant beautiful building was the site of a concert - the blend of old and new was amazing

Town center holding a farmer's market

Then packing it up and it disappeared

This trolley took us on a tour all the way to Neroberg (mountaintop)

Feeling a little punchy on the trolley

Through the woods, past the prison and the Duke's house....

To a beautiful cathedral

Up the water-powered tram

With another tram on the way down

Looking out over the town of Wiesbaden

WWI memorial

Names of all the towns who lost soldiers in WWI

A vineyard down the mountainside
The world's largest cuckoo clock

The Berlin Wall

Der Dom, Mainz

An imposing confessional

A stunning choir loft

The altar

Now, I'll take a moment to explain this next picture.  As I stood in the Catholic stronghold of the Protestant Reformation, I was in awe of the beauty of the space.  There, as I stood in the silence, I saw a beautiful devotional.  I pulled a few euros from my pouch and lit candles for each of my children.  Then, I lit one for all the mamas and hoping-to-be mamas on my prayer list.

For all of you, this candle burned in the cathedral that survived the Reformation.  Because we will survive this.  In that lasting space, a flame burned for us.

By the time we got back on the plane, we were very ready to see our children, and to be home.  We had many, many mechanical problems, including an emergency landing, but we finally made it home.

Is the desperation to be on a functioning plane and home showing?

Met at the airport by these sweethearts

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I'm thankful my work allowed us to make the trip, and for those that took care of our kiddos while we were away.  It was memorable, amazing, and I'm not sure I ever want to be away from my girls that long will be awkward :)