Wednesday, April 30, 2014


First up, a baby photo:

Here's Declan at 2 weeks old, laying on a beautiful blanket gifted to us by Aimee, isn't she sweet?.

I just started Weight Watchers, again.  I love the accountability of it, and also that you can eat whatever you want, within reason.  I am just no good at diets that are too strict.  Plus, I get 14 extra points for breastfeeding.  That's a whole meal!  I have been eating like crazy to get ready for my weigh in last night, and it showed on the scale.  Blech.  Am I the only one who gets more hungry breastfeeding than while pregnant?  I always seem to gain weight while nursing and can't lose it all until the baby is weaned.  It makes it difficult to dress for work when none of my work clothes fit!

In less vain news, moments like this occur every half an hour or so...

I think Declan and Xander look so much alike, and call Declan "Xander" every day.  I would feel bad, except that my parents messed up our names all the time, and we still turned out sorta ok.  Most of us ;)

Oh, big news! Phil finished up his second Master's degree last week!  Somehow he has been taking these courses in addition to all the other jobs and volunteer stuff he does, and it's over!  His first Master's is in Theology from Providence College, and his second Master's is in Administration from the University of Dayton.  So I suppose now he can be a holy principal :)  Anyone know a good Catholic high school that's looking for one?

What else?  Ooooh, my friend Aubrey started blogging again!  Back in 2009 when there were only a handful of blogs (kidding) I was able to "meet" Aubrey and will forever read anything she writes.  

I'm off to scour the internet for some Baptism party ideas.  If anyone has any good sources (especially cold food ideas), let me know, because my little baby will be becoming a Catholic on May 17th, which just happens to be Phil and my 12th anniversary.  12 years of marriage and 6 kids?  Sounds about right :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Props to All the SAHMs

Whew, school vacation week is over!  That was a tough one!  Between the rainy days and the lack of mobility that is life with a newborn, we were housebound a little too long for everyone's liking.  And now my remaining 3 weeks of maternity leave has begun.  

Six little monkeys

Back when I was at home with the kids, I would dream of having a job that would allow me to "get a break" and make some money.  And now that I'm a working mom, I dream of one day striking it rich so that I can stay at home, and not miss out on any of my kid's firsts.  The grass is always greener, amiright?  

So obviously, I was very excited to have this maternity leave from work.  I could be at home!  Enjoying my time with the toddler and baby, cooking dinners, cleaning the house, picking up the kids from school, and getting everything done that there just never seems to be time for when I'm working full time.  

But guess what?

Turns out this whole SAHM thing is HARD!!  I had forgotten just how hard it truly is.  Although toddlers are my favorite age group, they are a handful!!  At least Xander is, or as his pediatrician puts it, he's "developmentally appropriate" - yeah it's called "naughty" in this house.  Any time I try to clean or straighten up a room, he's in another room making an even bigger mess.  Just when I get the baby to go to sleep in the bassinet, Xander is banging on his drums next to him because he's "feeling the beat".  When I sit down to nurse Declan, Xander sees that as an opportunity to get into something that's typically off limits.  During Holy Week, I went to morning Mass with both Alexander and Declan.  I must have gotten extra time out of Purgatory for all the sweating and bargaining and manhandling that was required.  

I've had to ease up on my half hour of tv rule, because putting Xander in front of the tv is the only way I can nurse and put Declan to sleep in peace.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I find myself counting down the minutes until Phil and the older kids get home so that I can have their help...and God help him if he has a late meeting ;)  I think I've cooked exactly one dinner on my own, and the house is never as clean as I would like.  Phil is still the one picking up the kids from school because I can't get both the toddler and baby to sleep at the same time.  And it's easier to put a pull up on Xander than potty train right now.  My dreams of doing it all have become a reality of just getting by.

Although I am only a SAHM for a few more weeks, and I do not want to leave my newborn ever, work will definitely be a welcome break from the crazy toddler!  His random acts of sweetness and "I love you Mamas" are what are keeping him alive at this point!  Mad props to all of you moms who handle multiple kids all day everyday.  Especially single moms, military wives, homeschooling moms and moms of many littles.  I tip my career hat to you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life and Pants Adjusted

HI!  I feel like I've been away too long, and I miss this space.  I get disheartened with blogging whenever life gets extra busy and crazy, but I know that I truly enjoy the fruits of it later when I have this scrapbook to look back upon.  So I'll plug away with a little life update.

Declan is awesome.  I am so thankful for him.  He is adorable and easy and sleeps great and eats even better.  He is doing all the baby stuff right.  I thoroughly enjoyed my babymoon with him, that's right, enjoyed...past tense.  Because it's over.  The kids and Phil are all home this week for April vacation, and it seems like everything should be back to normal, except that I'm not.  Our life is different now, we have another family member!  One that needs Mom and gets up at night (though not very often, thank God!) and makes it difficult to go do anything as a family.  We are a family-on-the-go under normal circumstances...always heading out for a walk, or bike ride, or to a pool or beach, or running errands or playing at a park, and Declan is changing all that because he needs to eat so often and it's a little chilly to bring him outside with us to play, and turns out he can't actually do anything yet ;)

So I'm feeling a little flush with cabin fever and the kids are trying to adjust to this new normal.  Don't get me wrong, they loooooove the new baby, we all do, it's just they get sooooo bored and soooooo hungry when we stay home all day.  Yesterday, Phil looked at me and said, "Do you want to go for a jog or something?" because it was a little obvious I needed to get out.  And then I got upset that he suggested I run when I-just-had-a-baby-less-than-3-weeks-ago-and-I-know-I'm-fat-but-I-don't-think-I-can-physically-even-run-yet-because-I-just-had-a-baby!!!  Maybe I should lay off the hormones :)  

My Exercise Buddy
So I went for a walk instead, and it did do wonders to clear my mind and remind me how much my mental health craves exercise.  I don't care what anyone else says, if I am fit and healthy and feel comfortable in my own skin, I'm a happy person.  This maternity clothes limbo is no fun, and while I will try to be patient with my body (9 months on, 9 months off, right?) I need to clean up my eating habits.  Starting as soon as the Easter candy is gone :)

But of course, when I look at my sweet Declan Kolbe and give thanks to God, I would gladly sacrifice anything and everything I have to keep him happy and healthy.  Every day is a gift, and I'm not sure if I'll ever have a newborn again, so I'm trying to soak it up.  This is our season right now, this is our life, this is our new normal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

7QT: Things I Want to Remember About These Days

Since I am currently riding my 6th newborn rodeo, I thought I should record what life is like right now because I know all too well that this is going to go by way too quickly and all seem like a blur. 

 Joining Jen and the gang because it's Friday, and I love numbered lists.

I want to remember...


How big the toddler always looks when you bring home the next baby.  

SO BIG!  And what strikes me every.single.time we've done this homecoming routine, is the size of their bum.  You get used to changing a little newborn's diaper at the hospital (though I prefer to let the nurses do their job) and then you come home and have to wipe your toddler, and it's like bordering on inappropriate because he practically has a grown man's bottom.


How many friends we have.  

Seriously, it's overwhelming to this introvert...but in a good way!  When I gave birth to Maggie, I did not get one single meal brought to me.  I didn't know many people at all back then, because I had dropped out of my Mom's group the year before when I had started working part-time.  We also went to a parish that did not have any other young families (really, none) and I only had one co-worker in my office at work.  Fast forward to Declan's arrival - I work in a great place with tons of wonderful coworkers, we are in an amazing parish with so many young families and friendly moms, and have really felt like we have established our roots here and made so many strong friendships.  The Meal Ministry at our parish has set us up with TEN meals over the course of a few weeks, and even more friends and family have offered us a meal as soon as we're ready.  

I have received so many texts and phone calls and emails over the past weeks of waiting for Declan's arrival that I can't even get back to everyone!  And I'm not complaining, I love having so many supportive and prayerful people around us, I can't tell you how much it does for a mother's soul to feel embraced in a giant bear hug.


Newborns are boring.

They are cute and cuddly and smell delicious and so sweet...but they are boring.  All Declan does is root and nurse and poop and sleep, which makes him a perfect baby.  I just seem to forget how much they want to nurse at this stage, I am honestly nursing him every hour or more when he's awake, and then he'll sleep a big chunk of time, which leads me to my next point.


During that big chunk of sleep, I know I should be sleeping.

But 2 things always happen:

Either A. As soon as I lay down I think about all the things that I could be doing, and I can't fall asleep.  I feel lazy and not accomplished and so I get up and start doing stuff.

Or B. I get so excited at the prospect of sleep that I can't wind down enough to actually sleep.  So I get up and start doing stuff.

Then I regret it when he wakes up for a marathon nursing session and I am so tired, but it just keeps happening!


Hygiene is important.

I posted this picture on Instagram showing how pregnant I still look at one week postpartum.  So many of you commented on how amazing it was that I had showered.  But I have to tell you something I've learned the hard way through the years...keeping up on hygiene and getting dressed and putting on makeup/brushing your hair/whatever makes you feel pretty does a world of good for one's emotional state.  I know we may feel like crap, but when we at least look decent, we can trick ourselves into having a better day.  When you pass by a mirror, you can say "Hey, that woman has it all together.  HEY!  That woman is ME!"


How the siblings react to new baby.

Maybe my kids are weird, but we've never had any of the jealousy issues that some parents talk about when bringing home a new baby.  I think it's because we had so many while they were so young that they don't know any better.  They are oblivious of our plan to take over the world, mwahahaha!


The way Xander calls him "Baby Dec-a-lan" and sings him "I love you, a bushel and a peck" when he starts to fuss.

How Maggie was not disappointed at all that she got another brother, she was just so happy to have a new baby.

The way Eamon rushes home from school, washes his hands, and then asks to hold Declan.

How excited Andrew was that Declan had dark hair and dark skin and weighed the same as he did at birth.  Twinsies.

How John-Paul is practically brought to tears every time Declan cries in the car, and we can't soothe him.  So sensitive.


We are immensely enjoying our babymoon, and if I could ask a small favor, could you all please pray for Baby Rebecca and her family?  Thank you!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Birth of the Sixth Baby, Part Two

{Part One is here}

So around 9:30 on the morning of April 2nd, Phil and I set out for our walk.  As soon as we left my parent's driveway and headed towards the beach, my contractions started picking up.  It was a chilly morning, and the contractions were coming every 4 to 5 minutes but were not strong or painful enough to make me stop walking.  

By the time we had reached the water, I started getting a little nervous that we still had a 25 minute walk back home.  But we eventually made it back, and I hopped in the shower while Phil called the midwife to let her know we were going to head to the hospital.  She said she would meet us there in half an hour.  While in the shower, I realized I wasn't having contractions nearly as often, but decided to go to the hospital anyway because if I was due to be induced in two more days, maybe she would just do it today instead.

We got to the hospital and checked in while shocking everyone along the way with our response to "Is this your first baby?"  My midwife showed us to the room, and helped change me into the gorgeous hospital attire while asking me how labor was going.  I sheepishly told her that the contractions weren't regular anymore and I wasn't sure if this was the real deal or not.  She said she would check and see if I had made any progress since the last time she had checked me, the week prior, when I was merely one centimeter.  So she did, and I was a pathetic 2 cm. with a "thick cervix" whatever that means.  She told me that if it was my first baby, she would send me home, but because I had been down this road a time or two, I got to stay.  Phil snapped this picture of me at 11:40 am and as you can see, I was way too happy to be in real labor (I had told Phil in the car that I needed to act a little more serious so she would keep me):

The nurse monitored me for 20 minutes and I watched as my contractions were barely visible on the screen.  There were two sweet nursing students doing their internship who had never seen a real birth, and were so excited that I had come in on their last day.  They were only going to be there until 1:00 and I informed them that today was not going to be the day for them to see a baby born, since I was sure I wouldn't give birth until that night.  I had actually started thinking that they were going to send me home, and as soon as I could get up from the bed, I began pacing all around the room to pick up the contractions again.  It worked, and as long as I was walking around, I was getting them stronger and more regularly.   The cafeteria called up to the room asking what I wanted for lunch, and I told Phil to order what he would eat since food was not a high priority for me at the moment.  Then the sweet nurse suggested a bagel and cream cheese, and that suddenly sounded delicious!  She went and toasted it for me and I ate it in disbelief that I was eating during labor, something I had never done before.

After I had stuffed my face, the contractions started to slow me down where I had to lean over on the bed and sway to get through them.  My midwife came in as I was having a hard one, and suggested I get in the jacuzzi.  I love the jacuzzi in labor, but had wanted to wait until things were really bad to go in.  However, when she suggested it, it sounded like a better plan than this swaying and leaning over dance I had been doing.  I got in the tub and it was sooooooooo nice.  Oh my goodness, I love that thing.  Phil put some lavender oil on some gauze and had it beside my head.  It was so relaxing that I was practically sleeping in there.  

And then I realized that my contractions had stopped altogether.  I teared up while telling the midwife that I wasn't having contractions anymore, and she said "that's ok, honey, it's nice for you to have a little break!"  As soon as she said that, I felt a contraction.  Ahhh, I was in good hands.  I was in labor!  Things were going great!  I was relaxed and peaceful!  And then she asked if she could check me.  Sure!  So she did, and said "You are nice and thinned out, labor has really started now." I asked her how dilated I was, and she replied "Three".  THREE!?!?!?!?!  What the what?  She could see I was depressed at the news, and assured me that there was a chance I could be having the baby in an hour, things move fast once I get to three centimeters and active labor.  It was 1:00 pm.

I did not believe her at all.  I was convinced I would be meeting this baby at night, and thought I had a long way to go.  With each passing (and painful) contraction I began saying that I couldn't do it, I didn't want to do it, and I wanted some pain medicine.  She had agreed in the birth plan to give me Stadol if I needed it, and I was trying to convince her I needed it.  Phil would remind me of all of your prayer intentions before each contraction, and I tried my best to offer up the pain.  She checked me again, and I was at 5 cm after having only 3 contractions.  She again assure me I would be meeting my baby within an hour, and I again thought she was lying.  Phil tried to give me an ice chip, which I vehemently denied.  He tried a cool washcloth, which again made me agitated.  The poor guy couldn't do anything right except to let me squeeze the life out of his hand.

A few more (even more painful) contractions and now I was desperately trying to convince Phil and the midwife that I needed the drugs, that I did not want to have this baby without drugs and I might die.  Finally, she called to the nurse to get the medicine, and told me I had to get out of the tub and onto the bed in order for her to give me the medicine, because it was going to make me sleepy.  I told her I didn't want to get out, and that I didn't feel good.  She said I probably didn't feel good because I was overheating in the water, and I needed to get out.  Again she tried to steer me away from taking the medicine because she insisted I wouldn't want to be groggy when meeting my baby for the first time.  I told her I wanted to be sleepy.  Sleepy was better than crazy with pain, right?.

She helped me out of the tub, and I told her I needed to go to he bathroom.  She had me sit on the toilet as she crouched down to dry off my legs and feet.  If that's not a Jesus image for you, I don't know what is.  She's so good.  On the throne, I had another contraction and yelled for Phil who came over and held my head up with a nice cool washcloth.  Oh, that washcloth did feel good after all.  As soon as that one passed, I made it to the bed where she told me to lay on my left side, and another contraction started.  I began yelling out "Oh my back!  My back!  Phil, my back!" and he ran around to put some counter pressure on my lower back which felt like it was breaking.  Then another contraction came right on it's heels, and I yelled out to my midwife to "Help me, please!" because oh mylanta, that one was a doozy!  I told her I needed to lay on my back and she checked me and said "I know you don't want me to tell you when to push, but the baby is ready whenever you are."  I told her I never wanted to push, and she ignored me and put one of my feet on her shoulder while the nurse tried to get Phil to hold back my other leg.  But the midwife told the nurse to let Phil be near my head, that I needed him up by me, and so the nurse grabbed my other leg.  With the next contraction, I pushed...took a breath...pushed...took a breath while getting (lovingly) yelled at to stop pushing and wait for the next contraction...and I pushed again because there's no way to get me to stop pushing when a baby is coming out of my body!!!  And just like that, he was born!  

It was 1:41 pm and I had only been at the hospital for 2 hours!  He was born 41 minutes after I was at 3 cm.!  Whew!  Just like my last two labors before, it was fast and intense and painful and amazingly awesome.  I never ended up getting that pain medicine after all :)  They wiped him off and threw him on my chest for an hour of skin to skin contact.  He was gorgeous:

Rooting already, and hasn't stopped since.

After an hour of nursing and snuggling, they took Declan Kolbe to get weighed and measured.
8 lbs. 4 oz. and 20.25 in. long (tied for second place as my biggest baby).

Proud Dad of FIVE sons!
My parents picked up the kids from school and got them happy meals on the way to the hospital, without ever telling them that the baby was born!  The kids thought they were just coming to visit me there.  Talk about excitement!!

Grandchild # 21

Big brother!

Bookend boys.

We named him Declan Kolbe after two saints.  Declan means "man of prayer" and Kolbe is for St. Maximillian Kolbe, whom I have had a special devotion to since having the man who's life he saved stay at our house when I was a teenager.

Declan was so thoughtful and left presents for the siblings:

We went home from the hospital on Friday, April 4th...the day I was supposed to be induced.  Declan's bili levels were high enough that we had to keep bringing him back to the hospital to get them checked a couple times a day, but he never got to where he needed photo-therapy like 3 of our other kids had.  What a (yellow) trooper.

We are so in love with this little one, and feel abundantly blessed.  All of the kids are so happy to have him join this crazy family (yes, even Maggie is thrilled with another brother!) and we thank God everything turned out so well in the end.  

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and well wishes you have offered me over this whole pregnancy, but especially at the end.  At a time when I should have been growing more and more anxious, your prayers allowed me to feel a peace I didn't think I could ever experience at that stage.  I am so grateful.