Thursday, April 28, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Blessing of our Pascha Baskets at Church.
My Favorite Flowers for Easter


My gang, after Liturgy on Easter


Melanie with her pretty flower head band, asking for more peeps.


A few days after Easter, my flowers are mimicking my energy level.

One of our failed attempts at a group Easter photo. Baby wouldn't cooperate, not even for peeps.

check out Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pretty, happy, funny, real posts.

Friday, April 22, 2011


The family and I just returned from the Matins Service of the 12 Gospels - Into the framework of Matins are inserted 12 readings from all the Gospels relating to the suffering, death & burial of Jesus. Each reading is followed by antiphons reflecting on His Passion. During the service the Cross is placed in the midst of the church for veneration

John 13: 31 to 18:1
John 18: 1-28 (Arrest of Jesus in the garden of Olives)
Matthew 26: 57-75 (Jesus before the Sanhedrin and Peter disowns Jesus)
John 18:28 to 19: 16 (Jesus before Pilate and Jesus crucified)
Matthew 27: 3-32 (Death of Judas and Jesus before Pilate and the way of the Cross)
Mark 15: 16-32 (Jesus is crowned with thorns and crucified)
Matthew 27: 33-54 (The way of the Cross)
Luke 23: 32-49 (The way of Calvery)
John 19: 25-37 (Jesus' last words and Jesus is pierced)
Mark 15: 43-47 (Burial of Jesus)
John 19: 38-42
Matthew 27: 62-66 (The guards at the tomb)

Here is a prayer, part of the service called the Ikos, that was particularly touching to me. Our priest has a most amazing voice, and is also quite touched by this prayer. When he sings this, the emotion and grief are so rich and so real, it takes you straight to Calvary:

"As she saw her own Lamb being dragged to slaughter Mary, the Ewe-lamb, worn out with grief, followed with other women, crying out, ‘Where are you going, my child? For whose sake are you completing the course so fast? Is there once again another wedding in Cana? And are you hurrying there now to make wine for them from water? Should I go with you, my child, or rather wait for you? Give me a word, O Word; do not pass me by in silence, you who kept me pure, My Son and my God."

The grief pierces the heart, no?

Monday, April 18, 2011

What I am Making This Week

I am making this marvelous soup today, to share with some other families, and to prepare for Holy Week, when we spend so much time at church. If it helps any of you, I hope you enjoy!!

Fast friendly Veggie Soup

This recipe makes a large amount ~ plenty to freeze or to share. It also is great the day it is made, but even better the next day.

1 large head of cabbage, chopped into small, edible sizes
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped into small pieces
2 1 lb bags of mixed frozen veggies, your choice what kind
1 15 oz can black beans
1 package of frozen, chopped spinach
6 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 small zucchini, cut up

1/3 cup Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Gr. Pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
3 TBSP chili powder
3 TBSP dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 48 oz can vegetable juice
2 28 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
enough veggie broth or water to cover all vegetables (I use vegetable bullion)

Put vegetable juice and chopped tomatoes in a large pot (like a stock pot, I mean a LARGE pot).

Add all seasonings and bring to a simmer.

Add all solids except frozen vegetables.

Add broth or water to cover solids

Bring to a boil

Add frozen vegetables and spinach. Add more broth or water to cover all veggies.

Bring to a boil, slightly cover pot and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.

Test the cabbage and carrots to make sure they are done to your taste.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Greatest Fear, Met, Survived, and the Lessons Aquired Therein

It never fails, when my husband is out of town, something comes up that I wish I didn't have to handle on my own. But I have managed to do just that most the time. It also seems that each time he leaves, one of the kids gets sick. Again, usually I handle that fine, with a few nights of worried sleep and lots of darkened fever checks or fitful worried internet symptom searches. Usually by morning, things are better, and the day goes on.

But this time, when morning broke, things were not better. The tummy ache just kept getting worse. And more localized. Lower right quadrant. Hmmm. I really I kept trying to tell myself I was probably over-reacting out of fear, hormones, lack of sleep, whatever. But a wise lady told me, "It is better to feel stupid than to be stupid", so I decided to head over to our local walk-in care clinic. Plus, the mom-sense that I now acknowledge as powerful, was in full alert mode. So off we went.

The medical professionals there concurred with my worries regarding the symptoms pointing to appendicitis, but couldn't diagnosis it there, so off my little charge and I went to the ER. There they ordered a CT scan, and my little girl (the newly minted 11 year old) started to get afraid. She drank the contrast liquid, and waited. Then had the CT, then waited. Then the diagnosis was confirmed: acute appendicitis, surgery was needed ASAP.

(Waiting for the surgeons visit)

Now we get to the part I had been refusing to think about all day. Surgery, one of my children, me alone. Oh my.
(Waiting to go into the OR)

Lesson number one:
the people at hospitals are nice, want to take care of the patients, and try to be as comforting as possible. At least that was my experience. Everyone we encountered was kind, helpful and professional. Nothing scary about any of them.

Lesson number two: Even when I felt alone, I wasn't. Not even close!

Lesson number three: Sometimes, it is awesome to live in this era. I am so grateful for the technology that kept my daughter from getting seriously ill. I am so grateful for my iPhone, that kept me in touch with friends, family, and most importantly, my husband.

Lesson number four: I can count on so many people for help and support. I always know that, but when push comes to shove, and to see it in action, is such a gratifying and heart warming experience.

Lesson number five: I am able to handle more than I thought. It was such a relief that I was also brave, when I really wasn't certain I would be. Yay me.

Lesson number six:
Not everyone thinks I am a weirdo for my counter cultural, large family, home schooling life style. Actually, as I had to explain over and over to the different people I encountered at the walk-in clinic and hospital regarding our family size and what not (it kept coming up), I didn't even get one negative look or comment. Not one.

Lesson number seven: Dread is far, far worse than the actual event, at least in my experience so far. God helps you when you are encountering real challenges, but not so much when you are imagining just how terrible something will be.

Needless to say, the surgery went fine, I survived alone, my daughter and I were well taken care of, and my friends and family truly are a huge blessings to me. What more could I ask for? I now know what people mean when they say, "I felt the power of prayer holding me up." And truly, it was. And is. And will.

(The day after surgery, sitting up and reading)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Why things get broken in my house

See the big red ball?

See the children having fun?

See the mom in the background sitting on the couch, reading a book and ignoring the children?

(Note: no actual breakage occurred in the making of this post. This time).

Thursday, April 07, 2011

March Redux

Well, we have had much to keep us busy around here. In backwards order, we had the famous double birthday, the girls now being 11 and 15. We had a very nice, quiet at home birthday, with loads of cake and ice cream.

(here they are in 2006. Wow.)

We had a play, and our girl (in pink, front right) was busy for months preparing. Another of our girls was on the crew that painted the fabulous sets, so lots and lots of driving back and forth for rehearsals. A big thanks to eldest son, who did much of that driving for me. I knew that day would come, but I had no idea how marvelous it would be. (Any guesses on what play it was?)

And of course, as previously noted, little Melanie had her second birthday on St. Patrick's Day.

I still can't really believe she is two, but her vocabulary is really picking up lately, so she is acting more two. She is also asserting herself a bit more, but mostly is very sweet and cuddly.

So March has already come and gone, and we are in mid-April already. We are spending much more time outside, but it is still brown and cold and dreary. I am so ready for real Spring!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

My Two Careers

After reading Betty Duffy's latest post, titled Changing my mind, I attempted twice to comment and relay my similar experiences. Both time they were "eaten" by Google, so I took that as a sign I should make my own experiences a post on my own blog, and leave poor Betty's blog to the hearty congratulations she deserves.

I was a physical therapist prior to my marriage, and worked during my first pregnancy, quitting the day before my eldest was born. I loved that profession. It fit me like a glove. I loved learning about the human body, watching it in motion, finding the dysfunction, and using my skills to help function return to normal, or at least to its maximum potential.

The profession was perfect for me because each patient was different, each diagnosis required solid scientific knowledge merged with creative energy to devise the treatment program perfectly suited for each individual patient.

The seriousness of my job did not escape me. I was dealing with the quality of people's lives, both in function and attempting to decrease pain and weakness. In some cases, my involvement with patients meant the difference between them regaining independence or not.

I loved the social interaction with the patients and other health care providers, and going to continuing education classes, writing new programs and marketing them to physicians in my area.

I loved motivating people to push themselves further than they thought they could go, and the thrill of accomplishment we would share with each mobility goal met. To see patients in the ICU, and begin passive range of motion, then move the the acute care floor, and start sitting up, standing with a walker, then moving to walking 10', the 20', then 100', then 300'. Then to see them as outpatients, working on higher level mobility and strength. PT's treat their patients, but they also sweat with them, cry with them, and rejoice with them. I couldn't think of a more fulfilling job for me.

As an ironic side note here, I used to work with quite a few elderly patients, and loved to listen to the stories of their lives. I was 22, 23 years old, but one tidbit I heard over and over from the venerable people I cared for was this: they wished they had had more children. I heard many versions of the same story. The things that arose in their life that made the idea of more children frightening had all resolved and were ancient history, but now they didn't have the family they might have. Over and over I heard that regret, that admonition of, "Don't be afraid". Never did I hear them say that they wished they would have had more money, travel, career. Never did I hear the regret that they had too many children. Only the lack of children came to their mind as they approached the end of their lives.

So, when I decided to marry and live my life open to the notion of having children, I knew I could not dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my job, and to motherhood. For me, one would suffer, and neither deserved anything less than my all. I was blessed to be marrying a man who was willing to shoulder the responsibility of financially supporting whatever family we ended up with, so my professional career came to an end.

Fast forward 8 years. I now had 5 children, and my husband was unexpectedly unemployed for quite a while. My license was inactive, but it would only take a letter to reactivate it. I had job offers coming to me for the last eight years, so I considered "doing my share", and getting a job. I began the process, and promptly found out I was pregnant once again. Thankfully, my husband's employment issues resolved, and that was that.

Fast forward again. Now I have seven children, but the youngest is 4. I could, in theory, get a job, and all my kids could be in school. It seems like my last chance, because if I get much older, the physical part of the job would be too much of a strain. So I contact the state, get the list of requirement to reactivate my license, and...

You guessed it. Pregnant again. At that time I was 42. And thrilled! For my regular 8 readers, you all remember my pregnancy with Melanie and the joy that accompanied it. It was a gift and a treasure to get to carry a life in me, and experience a newborn again, after being pretty certain I never would.

This time, since Melanie was born, the thought of going back to my profession hasn't really crossed my mind. I have had the experience, since finding out another baby is on the way, of longing for the affirmation my job gave me. I was talking with my mom, who is receiving PT now, and hearing about the owner of the clinic, who is my age with my professional background and interest, and the thought, "I could have been somebody" crossed my mind.

But reality corrects that notion, when I realize I have been Somebody to now NINE children, and a big SOMEBODY to my husband, and all the other people in my life. I am somebody, the somebody God apparently wanted me to be. My experience as a PT was awesome, and was not wasted. The knowledge and awe regarding the human body and it's formation has made my life richer nearly every day, and I have been able to care for those I love a little better because of this knowledge.

All in all, I am so very blessed to have been able to have such a satisfying education and career, followed by a very full and all encompassing life as wife and mother. I am truly blessed.

Friday, April 01, 2011

7 Quick Takes Post Ultrasound Edition

So, you saw the pictures in the last post, right?

1. As you can see, we're have a boy. This will be our 4th boy, and at the time of his arrival, the boys in this house will be 18, 13, 9, and newborn. Quite spread out.

2. So, we have seven children in 10 years. A five year gap. Then and girl and a boy in 2 years. It is like having two families. A big one, and a "normal" one. We get it all!

3. I can now focus my attention on attaining boy clothes, since everything baby in our house is pink and frilly. Although, since our announcement last night, I have had lots of offers for baby boy clothes, so I think we'll be well taken care of, again.

4. And wooden toys! I love wooden truck, planes and trains, and I had just about gotten rid of them, since our soon to be 9 year old is outgrowing them, but now, I can keep them, and maybe get a few more.

5. And boy names~ what fun! I am already enjoying the search for the perfect name. We have names set aside when the last two babies were girls, we have some new favorites, and probably some terrific ones I haven't even thought of yet. What fun!

6. And it was such a relief to me to see his perfect little self. His little heart beating away, his little snuggles and squirms. He was much calmer than the last two babies during ultrasounds. Almost as if he was sleeping.

7. Now I feel I can get on with this pregnancy. The ultrasound really did help, and despite what I am sure will be some lingering fears, I have such love for this little guy already, I can handle it. This is going to be so great! Thanks for your prayers. The help has been noticeable, appreciated, and such a great charity on your part. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

More Quick Takes at Jen's place.