Monday, September 30, 2019

The Third Trimester of Parenting

A couple of weekends ago, we went apple picking as a family, except we weren’t all there.  My two oldest boys had to finish up some schoolwork before they headed to their grocery store jobs, and so it was just a party of seven for picking.  Later that week, we celebrated a child’s birthday, and again, the teenage boys were noticeably absent.  The eldest was volunteering at a pro-life event for service hours, and the second son was at a soccer game.  This feeling of having them home, but on the verge of leaving home, reminds me of the third trimester of pregnancy.

That first trimester of pregnancy is always a blur for me.  The surprise/shock/elation of finding out a new baby is on the way and all of the hopes and worries that come with that, combined with morning sickness and extreme exhaustion, make me grateful just to survive until week 12.  It’s the same with parenting newborns.  I love my babies, but sleep deprivation is torture, and having to get up and function at work after being up all night breastfeeding is not for the weak.  I always look back on the first couple of months, like, how did we get through that?  The next few years of raising toddlers can be equally demanding on parents, many needs with little independence.  Although it can be so much fun, nobody can deny it’s trying and tiring sometimes. 

But then!  Then comes the second trimester, the most glorious of all!  Both in pregnancy and in raising children, that middle stretch is a wonderful relief from the physical demands of the weeks/years before.  The kids are more independent, they are all school age with more reasonable demands, and life feels a little more comfortable.  Everybody is sleeping better, feeding themselves, and enjoying time spent together.  There is excitement about the future and room to just breathe and enjoy.

Then comes that uncomfortable third trimester.  I am so empathetic to pregnant mamas in the final stage, reminding them that a pregnancy has to get uncomfortable enough so that they can mentally feel prepared ready to do anything to get the baby out.  If there was no discomfort at the end of a pregnancy, a mother would never be willing to go through the pains of labor.  By the ninth month, I’m always like “I don’t care how much it hurts, I want this baby out now!”  Not sleeping, heartburn, waddling, frequent bathroom trips, multiple doctor appointments, back aches, contractions, oh boy, it’s not pretty.  But it is necessary. It’s the body’s way of getting ready to let go.

The teenage years are the third trimester of parenting.  They can stretch us to grow in many ways, and are preparing us to learn to let go.  Though they still live here, as evidenced by their dirty laundry and our grocery bills, they often have one foot out the door.  While I am not ready to drop them off at college anytime soon, my heart is growing more accustomed to them being outside of my home.  DO I miss the days when we were all together all of the time?  Yes.  But do I begrudge them their time to experience life on their own?  Nope.  I have to go through these years with them, aching, growing, preparing to let them go little by little.  Have I taught them well and loved them enough to watch them take their first steps in the real world?  Probably not yet, but hopefully both they and I will feel ready when it’s time to face the big day.  For now, we’ve still got a few more years in this last trimester, thank God.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Another Teenager in the House!!! (Eamon Turns 13)

Our third kiddo turned 13!  Guess what he got for his teenage birthday?  BRACES!  I know, so mean, right?  Somehow *somebody* scheduled the braces appointment without remembering that it was Eamon's birthday.  That *somebody* claims he/she scheduled it that day because I had a physical that morning and knew I would be heading into work late anyway, so why not add on another appointment.  I can see the reasoning, and all in all, it worked out great because Eamon and I took the day off work/school which was nice.  Plus, that *somebody* is really handsome, lucky for him (and me).

The orthodontist's office is the most wonderful (he is seeing a different orthodontist than our two older sons did) and made a big deal of his birthday, handing him an electronic toothbrush and a pint of ice cream as he left.  We drove home, stopping to get some lunch and do a few errands, I let him play video games for hours, and then some family members came over for dinner.  Eamon chose "football food and ice cream sundaes".  So I made taco salad, pigs in blankets, strombolis (one with ham and cheese, and one with pepperoni and cheese) and soft pretzels with a cheese sauce.  Yum!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Movie Review Notes: Downton Abbey

I'm a big Downton Abbey fan...not huge enough where I could remember all of the character's names and storylines going into this movie, but big enough where everything came back to me as the movie played out.

It was like seeing old college friends and wondering why you didn't stay in closer touch for all these years, they're just so great!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Apple Picking 2019

We only had an hour and a half to spare on Sunday, in between Mass, Religious Ed, and a soccer game, so we headed to a close apple orchard with the youngest five kiddos.

Toddlers make everything fun and new.

Somebody please remind me to dress them better when we go apple picking.  That would have been a cute color-coordinated photo.  Oh well, can't teach an old mom new tricks, I suppose.

We were there early so we practically had the place to ourselves.  The place was small, but the trees were full of apples and it was clean! Another local orchard always smells like hard cider from all the rotting apples on the ground.


It was a nice little Sunday Funday detour on the last official day of Summer 2019.  It was 75 degrees, so we honestly could have gone to the beach, but this yielded more fruit.  Hehe.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Notes From the Week


My mom and I are going to see the new Downton Abbey movie tonight!  I am so excited!  I'll give a little review next week...hopefully....if I make it through this weekend.


Saturday just might kill us y'all.  We have Maggie's soccer game at 8:15 and Xander's piano lesson at 8:30.  Then JP has to get dropped off at the high school at 9:30 for his soccer game, and straight to Declan's soccer game at 10.  Andrew needs to be brought to the high school for his game at 11, JP needs to get picked up at noon, Andrew needs to get picked up at 1:30, and JP has to be dropped off to work at 1 and picked up at 6.  Phil and I also have a charity event to attend from 5-8 that evening.  We have to call in reinforcements (grandparents and Haley) to help us get everyone everywhere.  I'm glad Phil and I have the event that night so we can actually see each other on Saturday after passing each other on the road all day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ode to My 40 Year Old Body

Not bad today, I say to my reflection in the mirror,
Grateful for the dust and smudges that don’t make it much clearer.

I remind myself that the belly which grieves me when dressing,
 Has housed and nourished my most wonderful blessings.

The wrinkles and lines near my mouth and eyes,
 Could tell stories of laughter and tears, life’s lows and highs.

Though I often wish they were a bit more thin,
Those thighs are crazy strong from hours in the gym.

My children marvel at my large biceps,
Though they’re less from weights lifted as babies schlepped.

The pants that were too tight today, the ones that raised my voice?
I can’t blame you body, you are just the product of a bad choice.

But then again, would I call a nice weekend “bad”?
Good memories were made, so much fun was had.

Suddenly the physical flaws become badges of honor,
This body has lived a good life and I’m not yet a goner!

A strong foundation covered in some soft layers,
From babies and for babies who need retreat from naysayers.

Scars and creases that give character to an otherwise boring existence,
Are things to cherish, not try to extinguish.

When I sat down to write this Ode to my Body,
I knew not how much gratitude I Owed to my Body.

So keep on keeping on, this body o’ mine.
I literally wouldn’t be me without you and you’re doing just fine.

Friday, September 13, 2019

TGIF with GIFs

I *think* we're settled into our school routines.  Some notes for memory's sake (because Lord knows I'm losing it fast!)...


We spend less on groceries during the school year because the elementary school kids get free breakfast and lunch at school.  They complain about it, but there's enough variety each day that I know they'll eat something, even if it is just a "meat and cheese sandwich" everyday (that would be Declan).  Every night, we pack two snacks in the lunchboxes and call it done.  Every morning, they whine and complain as they watch their high school siblings eat breakfast at home ("They're eating allllll the good cereal!") and make a real lunch to take ("It's so unfair!") so that's been fun.


I haaaaaate that the chunk of time I have with my little guys is also their worst acting time of the day.  I have them from after school until bedtime, which is roughly from 4-7pm, though we've been putting them to bed at 6:45 because they're so exhausted.  I know their crankiness can be cured with some quality time and food in their bellies, but I am busy making said food and employ the older kids to take them outside to play, or pull out a game during this time.  Then it's dinner, cleanup, bath and bedtime and I am left feeling like I barely saw them.  Tis the working parent's life, but it's still hard on them and me.

Monday, September 9, 2019

First Comes Marriage

I found this photo from our trip to Story Land in New Hampshire this summer.  Alexander was very persistent in asking me if he could take a picture using my "real camera" which is expensive and normally a no-no for the kids to touch.  But, I finally agreed, and showed him what to do, and he snapped this photo of Phil and I.  It's blurry, but I love it sooooo much because of that little boy sitting and smiling at his Mom and Dad.  He just looks so happy to see us together.

It was a good reminder for me that if Phil and I are working on our marriage, trying to make each other happy, serving one another, and keeping each other on the path to ultimately makes our kids happy.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Seven Students in School (It's Surreal!!)

School started for Brendan this week.  Brendan is our new three year old, and also "the baby" of our big, crazy, loud family.  He has been so very excited to start school like his siblings, and besides a few potty accidents on the first day, seems to be thriving!  Gammy gave him a "Baby Shark" backpack for his birthday, and we had a shark lunch box, so he's in oceanic heaven.

I loooooove that I have five kids at the Catholic P-8 school, and two at our Catholic high school, where both Phil and I work.  We are so lucky to have these schools available for our kids and I'm forever grateful.

I am also shocked that ALL of my kids are in school.


Nobody is away at college, nobody is at daycare, nobody is in utero (that I know of!).

(It's only taken us 16 years to get here.)

From L-R: JP is a Junior, Eamon is in 7th, Xander is in 3rd, Brendan's in P3, Declan is in Kindergarten, Maggie's in 6th, and Andrew is a Freshman.  Five kids in one school, two kids in another - all the same colors!