Friday, October 27, 2017

Thoughts on NFP: Fifteen Years and Seven Kids Later

 Oh Natural Family Planning... I have such a love/hate relationship with you.  Mostly hate if I'm being honest, and I especially struggled with it during the early years of our marriage.

You see, to me (and Phil) using NFP basically means abstaining for long periods of time, being vigilant in checking signs, testing hormonal levels, charting temps, and then still somehow getting pregnant while we were trying to postpone another baby's arrival.  Blame long, irregular cycles, blame faulty body signals, blame this gift of super fertility, whatever you want, just don't blame us!  We are really actually trying here!

So when those babies come so unexpectedly, they come with a huge dose of fear, shame, and uncertainty.  I wish I could take a pregnancy test and exclaim joyfully that we got the answer we were praying for, but I'm usually being comforted by Phil instead.  I hate that.  I hate that to the outside world, we are living totally open to life, but then when pregnancy happens against our will, we aren't exactly on board with this openness.  I hate that even though we got married wanting a huge family...I feel like we've white-knuckled our way through each announcement.  Why couldn't I have just rejoiced in the Lord's plan and timing.  We wanted lots of babies!  He gave us lots of babies!  Why couldn't I live more relaxed about it all?

I felt like I needed, no deserved, a better way.  I wanted the church to figure out a method that was fool-proof.  I wanted to feel supported, both physically and financially, from the church who proclaimed that being open to life was the only way to live a Catholic marriage.  I wanted like-minded moms to talk with openly about the struggles of raising a huge family.  I wanted to live in a way that encouraged younger couples to use NFP without scaring them away with all our unplanned blessings.  I wanted to stop being jealous of couples who made NFP look easy.  I wanted to stop viewing children as a failed result of NFP and see the blessings which they truly are.

Time has a funny way of settling down Type A folks like myself.  Years and maturity and grace have helped me realize some major lessons when it comes to NFP.  So I thought I'd share :)


God is in charge.

We may want to be able to control everything in our lives, but we can't.  And if we really think about it, who would want the responsibility that would come with that control?  Not I!  God already knows the bigger picture and knows what chances and circumstances we need to gain eternal life with Him.  That's all that matters.  I don't need to worry about another couple's family size or the perfect timing of my own.  It's freeing to finally feel this way.  Also...

Monday, October 23, 2017

Growing up in the 1900s

When my kids get to that age where they find it interesting to ask people's birth year, and all their siblings respond 20xx and then they ask me and I say 1979...and they say WHAT?!?!?!  You were born in the 19somethings?!?!?!  Yes, and proud of it!  Growing up in the last few decades of the 1900s meant...

~ Nobody had cell phones.  If you wanted to call someone, you had to use your home phone and have your Dad pick up and yell at you to get off because he needed to make a business call.  It was so embarrassing that you thought you might die!

~ When you wanted to talk to a friend on the phone, you had to call their house and risk talking to their parents first.  We had to learn polite manners and how to converse with adults.  "Hi, uh, Mr. Smith.  Is Sarah home?  Could I please, um, talk to her?  Thank you Mr. Smith!"

Friday, October 20, 2017

7QT: Stuff and Links to Blogs I Love

Linking up with Kelly and T'ing G It's F.


We've had a head cold and cough passing through the house this week.  I think all of the kids have been hit, some more than others, but so far Phil and I are still standing.  I've found through the years that the kids get something, we take care of them, and then we get it once they're better.  It's a very practical, if not depressing turn of events.  Mary's been through the sickies lately too.


Speaking of kids, one of mine told me that when he grows up he wants to have children, but definitely not seven.  It made me sad that he feels this way, although I do not believe everyone should have a big family (or a small family!), and that God uses our personalities, temperaments, and talents as He sees fit.  I just was sad that maybe he feels like his life, being one of seven kids, is not making him content.  That maybe the negatives that come with so many kids are outweighing the benefits in his mind.  Or maybe it's just a lack of maturity and he will appreciate it more as he gets older.  Jenny sure does.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Alexander the Great (and Wild)

Alexander is our wild one, and keeps us all laughing even when we shouldn't encourage him.

Enablers R' Us.  

Every day after school, we have the following conversation:

Me: How was your day?
Xander: Well, I didn't get spoken to!  Can I have a treat?

Declan was wearing a 24 hour heart monitor, and every time the clipped part fell off his pants, Xander would yell "He needs help with his phone!"

When we go to a party, I tell the kids they have to make a healthy plate of food to eat and then they can go back and get two small treats.  Xander always begs for more.  Nope, "Two and you're through!" I tell them.  Xander told me that his teacher from last year used to say "One and done".  I told him I should use that one instead.  He said "Nah, yours is way better!  Or we can say 8 is great! or 9 is fine!"

Friday, October 13, 2017

Seven Quick Takes on Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th!  Linking up with Kelly and you should too :)


Happy 100th Anniversary to Our Lady of Fatima!  

I feel like Mary's all "Just pray the Rosary already!!!  How many times do I have to tell you?"  :)  
Our beloved pastor who left us this summer has a great recitation of the rosary here.  I got it for free on Amazon Music so I can listen on my phone, it's a quick recitation with no music...perfect for our busy lives!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

If Only

If I'd only known then what I know now...

I would have rejoiced with every pregnancy test.  First reaction - gratitude and love.  I always wanted a big family, but somewhere along the way I got scared of my plans coming to fruition.  The added worry, the added expense, the added chaos of having a new baby were amongst the first thoughts floating in my mind when the test read positive.  I cried because I wasn't ready to go through it all again.  It being a pregnancy and delivery.  It being a natural, healthy occurrence for my fertile, healthy body.  It being the product of the love shared between my husband and I.  We said it with words, we said it with actions, and we were blessed with a baby from above.  I would have seen the blessing sooner, trusted more, worried less.  I was living the dream, why couldn't I see the bigger picture instead of white-knuckling through each addition?

If I'd only known then what I know now...

I wouldn't listen to all the baby advice.  I would have trusted my gut more.  I would have seen the amazing connection a baby has with their mama and just lived in the moment more.  I would have breastfed on demand and not by the clock.  I would have nursed in bed more often.  I would have sat on the floor and let the little ones climb all over me.  I still would have kept up the housework though.  Babies may not keep, but dirty dishes stay in the sink until someone cleans them.  I would have said yes more and no less.  I would have kept their sleep schedules sacred for as long as possible, because bigger kids mean less scheduled little kids. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

7QT: A Teen, My Team, and Ice Cream

It's Friday!  Linking up with Kelly and Crew like I do.


I'm not sure how it happened but we have another teenager in the house!  Andrew turned 13 yesterday and received the treasured teenager gift, a new phone!  

With his phone comes more responsibility (he can now start to babysit for short stints) and lots of rules for phone usage!  He was very excited, called his grandmother right away, then started texting people to let them know he was part of the group now :) Somebody asked him for his phone number, and he was like oh wait...what is my phone number Mom?  So cute.

We had already celebrated over the weekend for his and Eamon's joint birthdays...

11 + 13 = 24

 ...but went out to Friendly's on his actual birthday because we were running around after school with a doctor's appointment for Declan and basketball signups for Maggie, Eamon & Andrew.  Besides, the kids meals were half off (the teenager got an adult meal!) and Andrew had a free sundae coupon.  He couldn't even finish it:

Mint Cookie Sundae, takes after his father.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Whole Skinny on the Whole30

Well, it's October which means that our September Whole30 is finished!  All the angels sang alleluia and amen!  This was the first attempt Phil and I made with a Whole30 and I have a lot of thoughts about it.  Surprising ;)

If you are not familiar with the Whole30 diet, it's basically 30 days of no sugar, grains, gluten, dairy, alcohol, legumes (including peanuts) or preservatives.  There is a cult-like following of this 30 day cleanse/restart/elimination diet and many people are known to complete a Whole30 once or twice a year to reset their diets.  One of the biggest messages from the Whole30 book is that this is NOT a weight loss plan, it's a way to clean out your body and fill it with nutritious whole foods to figure out what food groups cause you issues when you add them back in.  It's not meant to be a way to eat for the rest of your life, it's a clean out, fresh start kinda thing.  The book focuses on NSV (Non Scale Victories) like feeling better, more energy, less bloated, sleeping better, cooking more, etc.