Monday, September 19, 2016

An evening adventure at Pioneers Park

Zac Brown's song "Chicken Fried" comes to mind when I look through these pictures.  I think my favorite evenings always happen organically with our kids.  "Hey, let's take the kids to Pioneers Park to tromp around and pick up fried chicken at Lee's Chicken on the way out."  "Yes, let's do it."  They always turn out wonderful 100 percent of the time.  The weather was gorgeous and we truly just tromped around the grounds. 

Damaris is at the age where she is constantly bringing me flowers all the time.  It must be a passage that children must go through because they all have done it.  Sometimes, my counter is covered with little glass jars with all her flowers from the day. 

One of Dominic's greatest dreams is to travel to New Zealand to explore the grounds where "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" were filmed.  In the meantime, he is constantly searching for land and places that resemble his beloved Shire.  This might be the closet we've found to-date.
I was up at the top of the hill watching him walk further and further into the sunset.  It is really painful to love them.  He is a freshman this year.  He has been a joy to John and I his entire life.  What a gift he is to our family.  

We had to stop at C &  L Dairy on our way back home.  One of the my greatest memories as a child was going with my father up to Glen Elder lake.  We would stop at a little dairy store and get an ice cream cone on our way back.  For some time, there was a little zoo with about 2-3 animals across the way.  It was enough for me to be completely enthralled as a child.  I didn't know BIG zoos existed.  I loved it. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The beauty of each individual child

I read the following quote this evening by G.K. Chesterton that resonated with my soul so deeply.  I've discovered the words on written paper that flow through my heart so strongly regarding each individual child.  I've felt this since I was young.  My mother said I was Anne Shirley with a million interests, but nothing compared to the thought of motherhood and marriage.  I knew that each new baby was a whole new world to come into this world.  Each of my siblings was not just another person, but a whole NEW person that the world has never known.  I loved school.  I loved the beauties of this world, but A BABY?  Nothing compared to a new baby.

A breakfast must.  Lions and Tigers assisting the process.  He searches for them in the toy box before eating and positions them accordingly to accompany him while dining.

Chesteron said,
"Babies remind us to be in awe of the world.  We should never stop being in awe of babies.  Each time a baby is born, it is as if a whole new world has been created, because the world is being seen for the first time by a new soul as if it were the first day of creation; inside that little head, there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea.  

A literary man who cannot see that a baby is marvelous could not see that anything is marvelous.  He has certainly no earthly logical reason for regarding a movie vamp as marvelous.  The movie vamp is only what happens to the baby when it goes wrong."

 How can Kapaun see the wonder in the flame of his candle, but we don't in ours?  I am not sure how many minutes clicked by, but he stared as long as he could.  Holding a candle was new to him.  I've watched 8 children hold a candle for the first time and every time it is wonderful and filled with wanderlust. 
 There are approximately 12 leaves on our lawn, but it was determined by Damaris and Kapaun that they indeed must be raked to build a pile to jump in.  And they did.  Over and over and over.  How do you have fun in 12 leaves?  They see the beauty in the ordinary.  Our lives have become so filled with ideas greater than the ordinary that we are missing what they see so clearly.
 Every night in her bath she dumps water over and over and over.  Every night she watches it fall from the cup into the tub and repeat.  She will do it the duration of her bath.  It never gets old to her.  She is even more amazed when I pour the water and she tries to grab it.  She can't figure out why she can't grab it.  One of my favorite baby traits.  I've done it now for nine babies. 
 Hours upon hours upon hours.  The stage right before they read fluently, but are living in the literary world and the pictures are so real to them that analyzing a picture book is enough entertainment for a little 4-year-old girl to do every day...even the same book over and over.

That is what I see in each person God has given to us. A whole new person with a whole new world to explore.  This new child of ours has never seen the sky before.  This new child has never licked a lollipop.  I will watch again for the 10th time a precious 9-month-old begin to crawl and walk.  WE will teach this new child to read about the fourth year of his/her life and it will amaze us.  We will all squeal and delight at his/her first steps.  It never gets old.  It really is wonderful.  Each baby restores in me that gift of wonder at the ordinary I've gotten use to . What a beautiful design God has!

 She brings me flowers everyday.  If they are available to pick, she proudly presents.  "I love you, Mama."  See it.  Don't miss it.  See the beauty that they see.

 Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.  The way they dress-up so sloppily, but so passionately is a sermon in and of itself.  I have watched these phases come and go.  I see them ease into each phase and suddenly the phase ends. Dominic dressed up everyday.  I don't even remember when it stopped.  New interests take the place of the old in the minds and hearts of each child.  

What I see most clearly is the absolute honor it is to watch these children first discover the world!  The first time they open their first workbook for school.  The first time they taste ice cream.  So many things in life lose their luster, but what a wonderful honor it is to be with someone experiencing luster for the first time.

I was just so overcome with elation when I read these words this evening.  What a gift we have to see the world for the first time over and over through the gift of a new child.  



Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I don't even remember how to upload pictures.  I don't even have the words to put together for a blog post.  I think I worked on that for about 30 minutes.  Geez.  Time clicks along as time always does and before you know it, over five months have passed since I've written anything.  Before I go back into random blogging, I thought I should gently ease my way back in by giving a brief snippet of each child and a few other random tidbits.

I am a little over 27 weeks with our newest babe.  The ultrasound was slightly nerve-racking to say the least, but everything is progressing right along with our sweet baby.  We didn't find out the gender and that just makes me so excited.  John and I truly love not knowing.  I love analyzing the heck out of every thing the ultrasound tech says, comparing previous pregnancies, cravings, and the what not.  We have a boy name we both just love, but still can't nail down a girl name. 
Lourdes is almost 19 months old now.  Oh my!  Where do we start with Miss Personality 2016.  Every inch of her is funny, talkative, and mature beyond her baby years.  She knows exactly her position in our family and uses that to her advantage.  She has six mothers who so willingly lay their life down for her.  It is getting ridiculous.  We were at the chiropractor last week and she was wailing away during her adjustment.  Her mothers were fretting and stroking her head and the moment she was done, they all grabbed her and consoled her through her trial.  She is talking so much and very clearly.  What a goon!
We continue to do blood work for her every six weeks to monitor her AFP levels for cancer.  Additionally, she has an abdominal ultrasound every three months to monitor for cancer also.  We are 18 months into this regimen and I'm still not use to it one bit.  I hate waiting for the phone call for her blood work.  I hate waiting for the phone call for her ultrasounds.  We have many years to go with these screenings and it can be quite nerve-racking wondering which scan isn't going to be good. The center for Beckwith-Wiedemann foundation sent a reminder to all parents of the necessity of the screenings stating the importance as children with this syndrome have a 600 % increased risk of getting cancer during their childhood.  600% !!! Most tumors will present in her abdominal region, but they have found many children to have brain tumors, blood cancer, and a certain cancer specific to the child's muscles.  Oh man!  I feel like I'm back to Pre-school in my spiritual life.  It takes a total reliance upon God to trust that He has a specific plan for each person and He knows what is best.
She is just so, so, so darling and loved.  It is often hard to watch her and wonder all that could be in her life.
Kapaun.  Our only child.  John and I both are just completely twitterpated with him.  He is as precious as good be.  He potty-trained so easily this summer I can hardly believe it.  We took him out of diapers and that was it.  He even stays dry at naps and nighttime.  He loves sports so much and practices dribbling whenever he has a spare moment in his busy schedule.  He still eats like you've never seen and will eat anything put in front of him. 
Each year, I always have a child that pulls at my heart more than the others.  This year it certainly is Damaris.  Her quiet and happy ways often lend itself to her reading and playing so well by herself that the days click along and I just have such a desire to sit with her while she pours over her books, but often I'm tending to the other wheels that squeak.   She is a content little gal and I have to make a concerted effort to be with her only because she has so many interests in her day. 
Clairvaux and Vianney have been working very hard all summer on their school work.  We didn't take the summer off so we could get ahead before the new baby arrives.  It will be nice to take a break around December, but I really do like the structure our school days provide.  The kids are so use to doing their work in the morning that I half think they enjoy the structure too.  Clairvaux certainly is a math whiz which makes teaching her very nice each day.  Vianney is so filled with stories each day I think her ears are going to pop off in her storytelling abilities.  No detail is left unnoted and her sweet, sweet heart is almost too much for my mother's heart some time.  When I think of Vianney, I always think of the word "soft."  She is such a gentle, little one.  So, so, sweet and kind. 
We do believe Lourdes believes that Zellie is her real mother.  Although, she loves each of her sisters very much, Lourdes certainly prefers "Dada" for comfort, errands, snack-getting, drink-fetcher, book reading.  Poor Dada is clamored at all day by Lourdes, but what amazes me is how Zellie is so sweet to her every day, every time, all day.  She loves Lourdes so much.  The Olympics about did our family in.  The dream-o-meter was off the charts and Zellie couldn't dream enough about being an Olympic gymnast.  She practices for hours trying to mimic what she saw. 
If I could wish one thing for every mother it would be that God would give them a Rose.  Rose is everything I hope to be as a mother.  Her ways are heavenly and instinctual.  My sister and I joke that we take notes while watching Rose handle children.  She is a natural.  She is such a wonderful daughter and friend always aware of anything anyone has done for her.  She is drawn towards goodness and beauty. She has been bitten by the baking bug and wants to bake all day.  She is amazing in the kitchen which is so wonderful to have such an efficient helper.
Although Lourdes favors Zellie a bit, Lillie certainly favors Lourdes over almost anything in the world.  She loves Lourdes so much that she will tear up talking about her. She takes her everyday to retrieve the mail and will wait until she is up from her nap because she knows how much Lourdes loves to go with her.  I have about a million photos of the two of them outside together.  She loves to push her in the swing and her little riding car. Lillie started Algebra this year and is doing quite well which I am so thankful.  Math can certainly be an emotional subject to teach so I am always grateful for when it goes smoothly.   Lillie certainly is a lover of life and has such a wide-array of interests that I am quite afraid the world cannot match the excitement Lillie has to experience it.
My first love.  Dominic will always have my heart no matter where he goes.  We are like peanut butter and jelly.  He has grown so much physically this year.  I can barely stand it and will certainly burst into tears if anyone mentions that he is a freshman.  I can say with complete honesty that he has been 100% joy to raise.  He is a wonderful son, brother, and friend.  He works so diligently on his school work and we just couldn't be more grateful for his leadership in our family.  God has touched his soul at a young age.  Out of all the many blessings God has given to our family, Dominic is one I thank him for over and over.  He really is a dream come true. 

I feel like anything I could write is just a cliche statement about time, life, motherhood, and the what not.  It is all going too fast for my liking.  I am so very grateful for all that God has given to us namely our children.  John and I are so aware of the preciousness of their lives and truly enjoy our time with them and each one as if they were are only one.

Also, a few have asked about my mother.  She is home and doing well cancer-wise.  She will have screenings every three months for a while so as we say, "Cancer keeps you on a very short leash."  You can't get too comfortable as the screenings come up so fast.  We try to just be grateful for our time together.  Thank you for asking about her and for prayers offered on her behalf. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Not my PICTURE, but you get the PICTURE

Little 8 week person

I know it is not proper to type out a post and then abandon ship for three weeks.  I promise we have a really good reason!!!  The best of all reasons!!!!!!!!!!!!  I promise to address the post before this post.

We are over the moon to announce the news of our newest child due December 8th...the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  We are so grateful for this child whom God has put into our trust and care to bring to the waters of Baptism and hopefully many years of laughter and opportunities for sanctity so that we may all be together in heaven for all eternity.

We have great peace about the life of this child that God has known about from the beginning of time. I am not nervous after a miscarriage because God is the author of all life.  He already knows the plans.  He already knows how long this child will live and when he/she will die!  All Jesus wants is our YES!  You have our hearts, Lord. 

Who are you?  What adorableness will you bring to our family?  What lessons will your parents learn from your already irreplaceable life?  We trust HIS plans, but in the meantime cannot help but be delightfully giddy about who we get to meet in December.

Thank you for this precious child!!!!!!!!!!! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

About Blogging

Blogging seems peculiar these days.

I have a plethora of emotions that go through my head at any possible blog topic  and I am struggling to  write in good conscience right now.  It is probably part scrupulosity and part an actual question that really needs to be examined in the blogging world.  Anyone care to shed any light on the subject would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

1.  On Marriage:

Why would I write about marriage?  Why would I write about and show pictures of John and I (especially in an intimate setting) for the public to see?  Aren't those shared kisses and hugs between us only?   Even if one has a beautiful marriage and you view a picture of another couple enjoying a movie night by the fire, isn't that replicating a scene that is not authentic?  Fred and Jan go on date nights and have the time of their lives together.  So should we.  Why would I show us laughing and enjoying each other for the world to see?  Yes, those times are a plenty, but why blog about our marriage goals, our hopes and dreams, our personal conversations, and especially all the compliments and heartfelt acts of love we show each other?  For the majority of marital cases, women are the dreamers.  Usually.  They read something, see something, especially if it involves our children, and we MUST HAVE.  Why?  What is being accomplished?  Why would I share all of John's wonderful traits and habits?  Isn't telling HIM enough?  Isn't that called bragging?  Look what I have and you don't.

For the majority, most women write that THEIR MAN is so supportive of their dreams.  What if he wasn't?  What if his work was so consuming and by the end of the day, he was done.  He had nothing left to support THE DREAM.  Where does that leave you if my man supports my dreams, and your man doesn't have it in him to support yours?  LEFT BEHIND.
 What about those couples who are struggling and are dedicated to each other through the sacrament of marriage, but for one reason or another, they just don't get each other.  I have a friend who attended a wonderful conference on motherhood, marriage, and life in general.  She came away with so many ideas and was so eager to implement them into her home.  As she presented the idea to her husband, he nicely said, "That is not me."  She was crushed.  Her dreams of a blissful family life were met with a resounding "NO!"  So when my friend hears about other marriages or husbands who so excitedly embrace new ideas or whatnot, it really leaves her feeling LEFT BEHIND and thinking "My children will suffer because he won't lead the family rosary like so and so."   What accountability do I have towards her and others on the internet?  I am doing her NO favors by plastering John and his ways.

What about those women or men married to difficult to people due to broken childhood homes?  I think it very rare in the current climate that two people enter marriage without a load of baggage in some form. How does my attempted show of perfection help her?

Do we need more examples of happy couples (I think Hollywood does a good job at pretending they are in love)?  Love is tossed around so casually.  Commitment, dedication, fortitude through trial, endurance, and most importantly SACRIFICIAL LOVE (Death to MY needs, my desires, my wants) through life's storms, not so much?

What about those people clinging on to dear life in their difficult marriage?

 2.  On Homeschooling:

I have friends who want to homeschool, but their husbands or wives do not feel called to homeschool.  Where do my posts about our days leave them?  I know I have had numerous conversations with dear friends and it makes them feel LEFT BEHIND.  They read a small glimpse into our life and assume the fallacy of part to whole.  They see one thing, one nature hike and therefore the whole must be that wonderful all the time.  How am I helping her?

3.  On Children:

How do I write about their accomplishments without making a struggling mother with the same-aged child feel deflated?  If I post that our 3.5 year old is reading happily for hours on end at a 2nd grade level, who or what does that help?  Mothers are fiercely competitive and most will immediately look at their child that age, and feel BEHIND.  If I write about Dominic's academic achievements while a good friend confided that her son, who is Dominic's age, HATES school and actually confessed to them he has been addicted to pornography for 4 years now.  How am I helping her and other mother's battling for the soul of their child?

On the flip, how do I write about my own childrens' faults without doing a disservice to their future selves?  I can guess that they wouldn't want their sins or challenging temperaments plastered across the world wide web.

4.  On Style:

I really don't understand style blogging and what it achieves.  Doesn't it scream, "You are not skinny enough, not tan enough, wrong hair, wrong clothes, wrong shoes.  You are not enough THE WAY YOU ARE."   Am I all wrong on this?   I see you tired, worn mother.  I see your efforts and your attempts to be whole on the inside and outside. My beautiful friend just delivered her beautiful baby and sent a picture.  She said, "Please excuse my swollen face and pajamas." You just had a c-section.  You are beautiful.  Look closely on the inside.  You carried life within you for 9 months, throwing up most of them.  You are about to give of yourself the rest of his life.  You are enough the way you are.   Am I way off on this one? I had a conversation a couple weeks ago and my friend was commenting on certain styles certain people wear and how it is just not in.  I had a big question mark coming out of my head.  Who says it's not in?  Styles and fashion change with the wind.  In a world that SCREAMS, "BE YOU!!!"  Aren't clothing styles the epitome of NOT being you, but being what you are told is in?  If I like a certain pair of jeans, than why can't I wear them instead of wondering if they are in or not.  Don't get me wrong, I like style, but I like my style.  I enjoy dressing our family with dignity with the main attention of clothing to be the faces of the wonderful children God has given to us.  It is a rabbit trail, as it never ends and a world that cannot be kept up on. 

5. On Pictures:

Now, we all know that we only post pictures of ourselves that we like how we look.  Isn't that vanity?  Aren't I searching for compliments and my funny caption to the picture really is a cop-out of being out-right vain?  I have two sisters in college who have let me in on the game BIG TIME.   It is a game.  There usually is someone in mind when posting a picture of ourselves.  Is that true, good, and beautiful?  Have we made it about US, and not CHRIST by these games?  Isn't that disordered and what accountability do I have before God?

6.  On Suffering:

We all have many people in our lives suffering.  I have several friends right now carrying massive crosses.  HUGE.  The biggest you can carry.  They are barely holding on to life.  Very sick children, infertility, husbands without jobs for months, sick parents, depression.

I have witnessed first hand, the community that rally together to pray for each other.  My gratitude to those who prayed for my mother and Lourdes will only be measured in another lifetime.  I am so utterly grateful.  I see the fruits of grace and love.

It is easier to write about life's philosophies when life is well, but when the nails are being driven in, it hurts and not much makes sense. 

I seriously would love and appreciate any comments regarding what blogging accomplishes and how it promotes Christ.  I am not trying to be fiesty, I repeat, I am not trying to be fiesty.  I really would love insight.

 I start back at why I blogged in the first place.  I wanted to keep record of their lives and the times we shared together.

Thank you for your kind comments and insights.

So, why keep a public blog?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I left early that morning to drive three hours to  Kansas City to be with my mother for her oncology consult discussing the results of the biopsy and CT scan.  After the biopsy, the nurse informed us that the tumors were highly suspicious.  Hearing that a new tumor had grown in a matter of a week and the biopsy looked highly suspicious really set the stage for the tone and manner of this day.  We all knew what was coming it was just a matter of the logistics involved.  What stage is she at?  How much time do we have?  Who will move home to help care for her?  These, and along with many other questions of the same nature, filled my three hour drive down in the conversations between my siblings and I.

I met her and my uncle (who is a physician) at noon mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel.  I slipped in behind her as mass had already started.  I could see her nervousness and her hands were shaking.  After communion, she sat by me, leaned over and said, "Why did you drive down?"  I told her, "Because I want to see the miracle today."

We left straight from mass and headed to the KU cancer center.  The nurse brought us to a room and took her blood pressure which was way too high.  The nurse acknowledged her nervousness and said they must repeat until it goes down.  They transferred us to the conference room for the consult.  My mom turned to me and said, "I don't like this room.  I always get bad news in this room."  In the cancer world, everything becomes like that.  You associate everything with something.

Dr. McGuirk walked in and we exchanged small talk. He asked me about my family and other bits about my siblings.   I thought it a bit odd as literally my heart could be seen pounding through my shirt.  My uncle had come from Kentucky to help us understand the medical side of her prognosis and to offer his advice on the next step for her.  He is just so wonderful like that.  Dr. McGuirk continued to talk and then turned to my mother and said,

"Damaris, it looks like you have a lot to live for. I HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR YOU.  It is NOT cancer.  The tumors are benign and your CT scan was clear."

What????? How can this be????

I jumped up and grabbed her neck to hug her and did all the inappropriate crying you can imagine.  I looked at my uncle and he was just as stunned.  We were all stunned.  For weeks our minds were heading in a complete different direction, and now he is telling us she is COMPLETELY CANCER FREE.

Dr. McGuirk kept talking but I was fumbling with my phone trying to text all my siblings who were waiting on the other end about to pass out from anticipation.  It was the best text I have ever, ever, ever sent.  My sister said she took a picture of it.  It was unreal. 

How can this be?????  For two weeks, our minds were wrapped around the news that her cancer was already back and spreading.

NOW, you are telling me that this is NOT CANCER!!!!!

He explained the tumors as being part of her new lymph system since her bone marrow transplant.  Her system is learning how to work again and likened it to a coffee filter that was clogged a bit.  He put a strong emphasis on the need to ALWAYS biopsy as you just never know.

We left there and drove straight over to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne church to make a visit and thank Him for his mercies.

I drove back to Lincoln and she drove to Beloit.  I called her several times and asked, "What just happened?  How is this possible?  What just happened?"

It was an absolutely unbelievable day.  Like none I have ever experienced.  We are still reliving it everyday since.  It was that shocking.

The doctors aren't claiming it a miracle, but for our family IT WAS.  It was miraculous.  Indeed, the amount of prayers and sacrifices offered on her behalf played a roll in this unbelievable day.

She will have a scan in 3 months again, and then will be followed with a yearly exam if nothing arises in between.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you for our continued prayers.

I have to post this video to describe what this day was like.   I told a friend it was like a Hail Mary pass being tossed in the air to win the game and it is caught and YOU WIN!!! Seriously.  Unbelievable.  I basically was #12 Ron Kellogg the quarterback running around like an idiot!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

God's Providential Delay

From my daily devotional this morning:

 "God in His healing mercy often requires PATIENCE from us, but we creatures of time want our comfort right away.  We would steal his lordship of time.  The Father is wise, and knows not only what to give but when to give.

It is a common theme in Shakespeare, PROVIDENTIAL delay.

He knows what will bring us the most joy, in the fullness of time."

I last wrote about my mother's scan showing a new tumor.  They planned to rescan that following week, but she developed pneumonia so everything was pushed back until this week.  They rescanned this past Monday and biopsy on Tuesday.  The biopsy showed two new tumors instead of the original one discovered a couple weeks ago.  We have all held out hope so much that the tumor was just scar tissue, but knowing that a new tumor has already grown pretty much rules that out.  We meet for the biopsy/scan report on March 9th.

My dearest, most wonderful friend in all of the world. How can we be here?  I have cried my eyes swollen so many countless nights.  I have thrown every last bit at God asking Him to please spare your life.

Shortly after this news, I began to count the costs.  I have every temptation to type out every cross that has come our way this year right here, right now.  But, I won't and can't.  It is not about me, it is about Christ.  I had forgotten that and I added it all up for my grand total of suffering this year.  It became about me.  It is all about HIM.  I had taken my eyes off the one I love most and looked at myself and began to drown like Peter.

You asked those dearest my heart this year.  I know we are made for heaven, but our time seems to have been cut short.  I have so many questions I need to ask her.  I want her to see our children grow.  I want her to see the fruits of her prayer and sacrifices manifested in her children, grandchildren, and all those she has prayed for.

But, that might not be God's will for her here.  The hardest part of accepting that which you fear most is knowing how to live day to day.  I place my life in your hands, but how do I radiate your joy to the world? 

I came downstairs this morning and just watched her.  She was sipping coffee listening to Lillie play the piano.  I was frozen. 

We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking together.  I finally tucked her in and looked back to see her smiling at me.  It couldn't help but blurt out, "I am going to miss you so very much." When someone you love is sick, you eagerly push all your feelings aside to be positive and soley focused on their emotions that any pain that you encounter is shoved aside because it pails in comparison to their pain.  I couldn't help but say it. 

This picture popped up on my facebook feed as a memory from two years ago.  She was in the hospital at the time for pneumonia.  This was before cancer.  This picture came the day after her scan.  I couldn't help but think how fitting to show her with that big heart.  She loves so deeply, specifically her children.  She has fought, battled, and waged war for our souls.  What a heavenly mother we were given to be so focused on getting us to such wonderfulness. 
My brother sent this video to all of us today and I thought it explained my good mother so well.
It is well worth the 6 minutes of your life to understand our mission here on earth specifically towards our loved ones.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Prayer Request for my mother

My mother had her follow-up scan last Thursday to see how effective her treatments were from the bone marrow transplant and chemo.  She last finished chemo in November and had her bone marrow transplant following.  The standard procedure after transplant is to re-scan 100 days post transplant which was last Thursday, Feb. 11th (which was the first birthday of Lourdes). 

Her scan showed two new tumors present.  It was just heartbreaking for our family to hear those results.  Seeing what she went through, but maintaining hope that it WAS FOR a reason, then only to find that it wasn't, is just devastating.  She was so anxious for the scan.

They want to follow-up with a higher resolution scan tomorrow morning at 8:00.  There is a small chance that the tumors are benign cysts (highly unlikely given her past history).  The doctors recommend a stem-cell transplant and chemo again which she is unsure what she will do.

Once again, I am asking you to pray for a miracle tomorrow morning for her.  Please pray that God will show off again and that her tumors are clear.  PLEASE and thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pink Stork Solutions

I would gander to say that most women encounter morning sickness to some degree or another.  I am certain the market would be quite profitable for some brilliant mind if they had the time, money, and resources to dig up the origins of morning sickness and more importantly develop a natural remedy.  I've researched this topic for hours and have come across many, many recommendations natural and pharmaceutical.

I wrote about the topic in this post: To Remember About Morning Sickness.  I had researched most of that after the nausea had subsided with Lourdes so I didn't have a chance to test out the theories, but I am sure they would help so much.

I wanted to pass along this new company that a friend introduced me to a couple weeks ago called Pink Stork Solutions:  Morning Sickness and Prenatal Health.  This is not a sponsored post, but I couldn't keep this information to myself especially given the topic of morning sickness.  I know how desperate I have been in the past for relief.  This company seems to have researched and gotten to the core of why women encounter morning sickness.  The reviews are honest with most claiming that it didn't take the sickness away, but reduced the effects of morning sickness tremendously.

They offer two plans.  The first being for mild symptoms and the second for severe.  The descriptions for each plan are clear and will guide you through which plan to buy.

I am assuming that you are wondering why I am passing along this information at this time.
We found out two weeks ago that God had given to us another child to love and hold.  We were over the moon.  It was the best telling our children that baby #10 would be gracing our family in October.  My due date was October 7th which is my dad's birthday.  John and I were just giddy about our new baby.  We had a series of ridiculous events that week and I kept saying to John, "I don't care!  We get to have another baby!  Those things don't even bother me compared to the gift of a whole new person."  Our kids cried with excitement when we told them.

That was when I learned about Pink Stork as I had texted my friend to let her know about our newest and she told me about this new company.  I ordered THAT night!

Sadly, the day the package arrived we learned we had miscarried our baby.  I am a selfish lover.  John's mom always says that it is so hard to give them back.  Man. I felt this HARD.  I don't know why, but my first emotion was ANGER.  We wanted so much to see and hold that baby in our arms.  We wanted so much to know who you were.  The moment we find out we are expecting LIFE shifts in a different trajectory.   We know that in 8 or so months a new person is coming which affects so much in our home from homeschooling, to room arrangements, on and on.  My mother heart starts immediately going and preparing my nest for a new person.  When that comes to a sudden HALT, emotions can go wild.  This is the fourth child we have lost to miscarriage.  It is comforting knowing those little souls are waiting for us on the other side, but humanly I cannot help but want to have known WHO and stare into that beautiful face a while on this side.

I hope Pink Stork is able to help someone in the throes of morning sickness and I am hopeful that if we are given more children, this will help.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

No more Uncle Billy moments

I guess this is the time of year I'm supposed to write a post about what I've resolved to do.  It's always about weight loss and how this will be the year I will have a complete body transformation and finally win $10,000 from and humbly accept my award.  Also, my spiritual life will grow by leaps and bounds to the point of levitating on the daily.  In that order, of course.

Not this year.  I have two resolves this year.

First:  No more Uncle Billy moments

Let me set the scene: In Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, Uncle Billy is most famously known for absentmindedly misplacing the money that was to be deposited in the bank.  Although throughout the entire movie, he is best known for his fumbles, so much so that he must tie string on his fingers to remind himself of various tasks.  He is always rummaging around the Building and Loan, sloppily dressed with hair awry.  Always fumbling.

No More Uncle Billy moments.

So, this came about as I was spending time with my mother in the hospital.  As I was preparing to leave one evening and fumbling through my purse, half panic-stricken that THIS MUST indeed be the time I've lost my keys forever and will never be able to return home to my family, my mother says to me, "Hey, Uncle Billy, where are your keys this time?" 

I know it was a small detail, but it had mountainous meaning for me.  I was fumbling through my purse, a lot like I fumble through making dinner, a lot like I fumble through cleaning, a lot like I fumble through grocery shopping, and a lot like I do many things.

Honestly, since that day I've purposely said to myself, "Slow down, Uncle Billy.  Why are you in a hurry?  Why are you hurrying right now?  Slow down and look around.  Look at people in the face.  Look at the faces of your precious children.  Look at the apples you are picking out to feed those precious children.  Examen those oranges with pleasure in God's great creation.  Look at them.  Carefully cut that kale salad up for those little mouths to eat."

Hey, Uncle Billy, look at the bottom of your precious baby's feet.  They really are unreal, all those lines unique only to her.  Hey, Uncle Billy, Have you ever turned around in the car wash to watch their faces watch the automatic machine?  It is wonderful especially when in squirts the Tri-colored foam.  Who needs Disney when your car wash squirts Tri-color foam?  Hey Uncle Billy, have you noticed how darling two-year-old hands are?  Look at them.  Look at the dirt under his fingernails.   Stop fumbling around.  Hey Uncle Billy, slow down.  Your children and their simple ways are enough entertainment for a lifetime.  Stop fumbling around.

So, I resolved to not fumble.  Just today, in fact, I was striding into Hy-Vee and felt Uncle Billy coming on.  I purposely stopped, realized the mission at hand, and slowed down.  I was on my way to buy food for our Epiphany Party.  They were so excited back home.  What a pleasure I had to be buying food for our Epiphany Party.  This one action triggered a series of following actions.  Because I slowed down, I got out our fine china and gold chargers.  I got out our stem wear and let the kids have grape bubbly in the tall stems.  They loved it.

Hey Uncle Billy, Did you know Kapaun watches you make dinner every night?  Did you know that he stands on that chair watching you no matter how long it takes you?  One hour.  No problem.  He stands there watching.  Look at him.   Look up and no more fumbling.

Secondly, I am attempting to make a holy hour everyday or at least spend some time alone with HIM in the chapel each day.  I look forward to our date everyday although it takes a considerable amount of minutes to calm my inner Uncle Billy and focus on Our Lord.

Those are my resolves.  Here's hoping to 2016 being fruitful in this endeavor. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Teaching our children about sexuality

Teaching our children about their sexuality is something we've invested a lot of time preparing for.  We wanted to do a thorough job trying to understand every angle a child experiences when learning about sex.  I have asked countless individuals and priests their recommendations for preparing our children for a sexualized culture.   This is what we've discovered so far and I wanted to share the resources we've found and what we've experienced so far.  Please add any additional resources or ideas.  We would love to hear what you have found for your family.

1.  We decided that John and I would tell our children together as a couple about God's design for sex.  It is one of the most important topics we will teach them about so why would we not approach this subject together as a united team.  I AM SO GLAD WE DID THIS.  It certainly appears to have left out any uncomfortability as we are there sitting next to each other complimenting and validating each other while presenting the topic to our children.  NOTE:  We didn't tell our children all together as in everybody in one room.  We told Dominic separate from the age-appropriate girls, but John and I are there together while we are speaking to both groups.

2.  We very much intend to not just have ONE talk. We intend to have an on-going conversation reading different bits of material together mixing encyclicals with other great resources that I will list below.

3.  Most of our talks will be in the comfort and familiarity of home.  I've asked many friends about when they first learned about intercourse.  I received a variety of answers which included some being told by their parents, some went on special trips with a parent, many learned from kids at school, and far too many learned from their encounters with pornography at a young age.

4.  While we stressed the seriousness of the sin involved with abusing our sexuality either with pre-marital sex, self-abuse or masturbation, or viewing pornography, we told them last night that our goal as a family is to stress the beauty of life and God's plan for each person.  We have a two fold goal.  YES, this is a mortal sin BUT Please know of this big, beautiful world God has created and how He has made you for a specific purpose.  It is a tricky thing in parenting because on one hand you want them to never put their soul in mortal danger so a parent can tend to pound and pound the subject out and then the child is left dulled by the repetition.  On the other hand, we don't want to neglect the seriousness by only portraying how wonderful life is.  I believe you must present both.

We've found these valuable teaching tools that I would recommend to invest in for your children.

1.  Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner

We've read this with everyone including Clairvaux (5 years old) on up.  It's a powerful 5-step plan to inoculate your children again the epidemic of pornography.

2.  Wonderfully Made!  Babies
A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies (for ages 9 and up)
By Ellen Giangiordano with Dr. Lester Ruppersberger

3.  The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Catherine Scherrer

Other resources that have been recommended to us:

1.  All Things Girl by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller and Monica Cops
2.  The Care & Keeping of You:  A Body book for younger girls
3.  The Story of Me (book 1)
4.  Before I Was Born (book 2)

I will add recommendations here that I receive from other readers.

1.  Listen, Son (Family Life Education for Boys) (Seton)
2.  Mother's Little Helper (Family Life Education for Girls)  (Seton)

I would certainly read everything before you present to your children just so you can sift what you deem appropriate for each child.  For example, while the last two books I've recommended are good, they are advanced for many children so proceed with caution.

All these books can be ordered through Gloria Deo bookstore at 888-420-1830.

I want to close with a few tiny tidbits we added and found helpful.

There certainly was an element of nervousness to begin this process for us.  We wanted to preserve their innocence while not neglecting a very important parenting duty.  We wanted to preserve the sacred while making sure they are prepared to encounter the world and all that it might throw at them.  Once we began discussing with them, all the nerves went completely away and we've had many beautiful discussions.  I know the grace will be flowing!

One night we focused on body safety rules that I'm glad we went over with them.  I wanted to add that here as a chapter of the whole picture regarding this subject matter.

I found this on pinterest and thought it was pretty thorough so we just used this.

We added to #2:  Even if an older child or adult asks you to.

We also taught them early warning signs that should trigger their brain to beware of such as sweaty palms, racing heart and a sick tummy.

We never keep secrets that are uncomfortable or bad; we only keep happy surprises!

Be strong, Be brave and Always speak!

Again, these conversations have unfolded over many nights and weeks.  We haven't presented everything at once and while the topics can be serious, we always stress God's beauty and wonder to them.

Friday, January 1, 2016

She came HOME.

My love came home. Our Christmas was wonderful because she was home.  We were told she would be in the hospital until after the beginning of the year, but here she is.  Nothing much mattered to me this Christmas but her.  She will have scans in February to check the effectiveness of her treatments.

I have always had an awareness of the swiftness of time, but my sensitivity to the sand slipping through the hourglass has heightened.  This brings about an ability to push aside all trivial matters and focus on the most important, but it also brings about sadness not knowing what the coming months will bring.

I keep telling her that we are together now.  We have today and we can do today.  I don't exactly know how to navigate through these times.

We are all so thankful for her being home.  I was able to be with her for her bone marrow transplant and last chemotherapy treatment.  I thank all who prayed for Lourdes to take a bottle while I was gone.  She actually never did, but John willingly handled her so I could be with my dear mother.

Tomorrow will be her one year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer.  Wow.  It seems like it has either been five minutes ago they told us she had cancer or that it was fifty years ago.  I'm not sure which.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Baby's First Christmas

She was afraid of the lights at first, yet mesmerized all at the same time. She wouldn't touch them initially. I could tell her little gears were turning and wondering what in the world were these sparkling lights. She had the same reaction to the fur on my coat this morning. She wouldn't touch it. I just adore these picture.  They were all so happy for her to be putting up her first Christmas tree.

Why is Christmas so wonderful?  I had the biggest lump in my throat most of today and yesterday listening to their excitement and glee.  I observed their faces while we drove around looking at Christmas lights and listening to Christmas music.  Our car was mostly silent except for the oooh's and aaaah's.  Why is the world are we so excited about Christmas?  I think it is so telling of the human heart and one of our greatest of desires which is to give, to serve, and to have hope. 
Why are white lights so enchanting?  I have nursed every one of our babies by the glimmer of the Christmas lights.  It will be one of my best motherhood memories.