Gender Reveal?

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not to find out the gender of Thimons Baby #5 lately.  We have a daughter and three boys… and for the first part of this pregnancy, as I clung nauseous to the edge of my sofa, I told myself I needed the mental preparation if another boy was in store for us. 3 tiny tornadoes in one small house was already making my head spin. I would certainly need a good 9 months to brace myself for a possible 4th tornado.

Which got me thinking about the definite differences between boys and girls. Don’t get me wrong, I love love LOVE my boys, but in light of all the gender drama lately.. I’d like to grab the microphone and “Ahem, Ahem” address the crowd that gender reveals a whole heck of a lot about a person, right from the get-go. I don’t care what popular journalists and psycho-doctors want to say otherwise. I have lived it, baby.

Mia, my oldest, from the start was the easiest baby…great sleeper, great learner, earliest talker. By 16 months when our son Jack was born, she was toting around her baby doll, nursing her baby, nurturing Jack (who screamed constantly) and trying to help change diapers.  There was a distinct maternal instinct, from that early age that she was expressing as a little girl.

The boys, while sweet and caring brothers, greeted newborn babies differently. Taking risks by trying to ‘leap’ over them during their tummy time, or see how quickly they’d react to a bop on the head from a Lego. One time poor Max was littered with a pile of their toys, in their attempt to make him stop crying. I saw the distinction between how guys nurture and how girls nurture. Guys, ‘here, do something, just stop complaining and work it out’.

And now, as they are all growing older… the distinctions are broadening like never before. Mia pouts and gets sensitive if you ask her for the thousandth time to please clean the 79 books off her bed and re-shelve them.  She sulks when you reprimand her but she also writes us dozens of notes for every silly little thing that flutters into her almost eight year old head. Shopping lists, thank yous, reminders, and of course, “Sorry my room is clozed for repairs. Come again later!’. In the mornings, she likes quiet and she’s reached the point of exasperation with her brothers for ‘busting into my room when I’m trying to read’.

The boys on the other hand, wake up swinging from the chandeliers. They compete over everything: who can get downstairs first, who can eat more, who has more Legos, who can push Mommy over the edge by asking the same thing over and over again. They start their day on loud, fast paced energy, and crash at the end of the day like a Mack truck. When they get punished, they shrug it off… sometimes a little too quickly, but they don’t take it… or much of anything personally. All three of them don’t sit still for books. All three of them are super picky eaters. All three of them never want to ‘chill out’ or slow down.

I see clear differences, from the start, between boys and girls. And perhaps the differences are more exaggerated to me since I grew up with only sisters.  Just my observations though! All too frequently incidents happen where I find myself thinking, “girls would NEVER” or “boys would NEVER”.

Point in case, as I mounted the stairs one afternoon in search of my laundry basket, I came upon it. It was perched, teetering on edge of the top step of the staircase, with Charlie seated in it, tightly gripping either side of the basket. Practically flying up the steps, flailing my arms to ‘catch’ the prospective accident I was about to witness I screamed,


Completely unphased, he looked up and responded

“Going down.

(Duh, Mom. I’m GOING DOWN, can’t you SEE THAT?)

“In the LAUNDRY BASKET?” I asked/shouted/panted

“It’s a boat.”

Um, Mia would never, ever ever ever attempt to fly down my 15 step staircase in nothing but a laundry basket. Nope. No siree.

What Mia does do is quietly get out scissors, and fabric, and dolls and sit intensely working on the floor of her bedroom. By the time I notice the extreme lack of chitter chatter in my house, all of my scotch tape has disappeared….and my Sharpies….and I hear her triumphantly entering the kitchen with a basket (my bathroom basket that she swiped) piled high with…. garbage? No!

“Look what I MADE, Mom!” She’s giddy and proud

“Are those your new socks I just bought you?” I’m blinking non stop and sifting through the garbage pile   fabric creation she’s bearing in her basket.

“Yeah! I cut up my socks and made headbands for my American Girl Dolls! Look!”

I freeze in that frozen Mom face you get when you realize how no body ever has socks that match, so after weeks of forgetting, you finally remember to pick up a brand new 12 pack of socks… only to find them snipped to smithereens the following day by a very creative child.

The boys would NEVER. They wouldn’t even be nurturing enough to care to brush the dolls hair let alone redesign all their socks into accessories.

See what I mean? Big differences… even from little people.

So for this baby I was going to find out the gender, because quite frankly, it does reveal an awful lot about the tiny person I’d be charged with soon. But I opted not to.

Instead I thought about it and realized that my daughter and my sons have all done things very differently, but each peeled away a different layer of my selfishness…that only they could do. When I put it in that light, I reasoned, they were each sent to me not for me to form them, but for them to form me more… they were exactly what I needed to chisel away at my vocation and aid my spiritual growth. So with that in mind, I think boy or girl… this baby is the next perfect stepping stone that God wants me to take. And I’m super excited to meet him or her when our journey is set to begin!







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(More) God’s Food

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Since some people were asking, I wanted to share some shopping lists and meal plans that we’ve been using over here. Hopefully this helps cut down the process of transitioning your lifestyle eating. I know it’s been a huge transition for us over here, but very, very worth it. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits are priceless. I say lifestyle choice because that is really what we’re talking about here. Not a get thin quick diet, not a fad or food shaming philosophy (Good grief!) but an actual lifestyle change. One which, I know for us, is a constant evolution of learning and growing. It’s never changed then done and over with, it’s a deliberate, ethical, constantly adaptive choice to sustain our bodies in a way that glorifies God.

A very powerful thing, in this regard to lifestyle change, happened actually during the beginning of our ‘conversion’… while I was on retreat with the Sisters of Life. At the end of the retreat, I sought out the ‘kitchen sisters’ who were in charge of the meals for our time there. I wanted some recipes, because I was completely blown away by how delicious the food was (they provided an abundance of gluten free options at each meal) and also how little of it left me feeling full…for a long time.  Sister quite simply informed me that, as an order, they started thinking about how someone cannot be spiritually nourished unless they are physically nourished, in the best way possible. So for their 25th Anniversary, they made a commitment to pursue more nutritionally dense meal options to provide to their retreatants. What about this struck me? It was that as an order, they saw the need to make a commitment to change their nutritional lifestyle, as a direct connection to spiritual growth. I don’t know about you, but I strongly admire the Sisters of Life, and they are some seriously holy women. That nugget of information left me walking away in great admiration.

Before I share these lists, I want all of you to know I am by no means an expert in any of these areas. I have however, been under the guidance of a well-seasoned nutritionist who is not only an MD but who’s been practicing for well over 40 years. He’s lived a life on both sides of food perspective. So, suffice to say, I do consider him an expert because he’s got way more experience, education, and wisdom in this field than I could ever dream of. I am also super lucky to be surrounded by some seasoned ‘Mamas in the field’ who are kind enough to share their tips and recipes with me! That being said, I am just merely passing on positive information that has impacted my own life with you. As I think I usually do ie: books, movies, products. Generally, when something is awesome or great, don’t we HAVE to share the news with those we love? See this as just that. I also hope that all my research and experimenting saves YOU any extra work!

I leave you with some encouragement from Saint Augustine:

“Treat your body as if you were going to live forever, and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow!”

Click Here: Sample 2 week meal plan

Click Here: Shopping List

Click Here: Meal options

:::Favorite Recipes:::

Homemade Parmesean ‘crackers’ (gf)

Paleo Pancakes (my kids cannot tell the difference between these and regular pancakes!)

Devils on Horseback

The Best Pumpkin bread ever (gf)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding (tastes like Jello!)

Sweet Potato & Onion Quiche

Butter Buttons

Pie Crust (GF) you can’t tell the difference! Just add 1 tbl vinegar to the mix.

**This just shared with me** Jesus’ Bread 🙂 Check it out! 

         My Top Ten Pantry Must – Haves


Beef Gelatin Powder, add this to smoothies, soups, sauces, everything! It is odorless and flavorless but oh so good for your intestinal health.

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Canned pumpkin, huge source of Vitamin A… easily mixed into a variety of dishes to ‘beef’ them up. Even Mac & Cheese!

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I like to use dates to sweeten breads & muffins, they melt when they bake but throwing them through the blender makes them impossible to detect for picky eaters

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These I always keep on hand, it’s just veggies and fruit with no added sugar in a pouch. My 6 year old loves them.


Organic, Extra Virgin, Unrefined Coconut Oil. Use for cooking, or for your face, or for…treating warts like we did! (no joke! they never came back!)

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Nature’s miracle food. Also, 2 of these bad boys in a blender with cacoa powder, some butter and vanilla… instant chocolate pudding.


Voted best pickle in America! And they’re lacto-fermented, so taking your pro-biotics was never so tasty!

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Mmmm raw cacoa powder! Sometimes, we mix it into plain yogurt, too.


Loaded with essential amino acids and B vitamins this stuff is delicious. Use as an alternative to soy sauce or just for general seasoning.




Raw honey. It’s so thick, you need to scoop it out with a spoon. Never heated, strained or pasteurized leaving you with all the beneficial pollen and propolis from the honey that keeps your immune system on the up & up.







God’s Food

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It’s been 3 months now since Tom and I made the decision to cut the added sugar, coffee and gluten from our lives. As well, we eliminated foods containing artificial ingredients. We reasoned that we need real food to make real people.  Artificial food is good for making— well you know what I mean.

Now, before you fall off your chair and start making harsh judgments in your head, please continue reading.

No one loved coffee more than Tom, and no one loved carbs and gluten more than me. So if I’m sitting here, feeling so impassioned as to share this transformation with you…please consider that it may be worth it for you and your family.

I keep telling people, it’s really is so basic. Although it is hard for people in our modern society to believe. what you eat affects EVERYTHING on both a physical,mental, and dare I say, spiritual level. Here’s the thing, I used to start yawning every day around 2 pm. I would need multiple trips to the pantry for snacks, chocolate, usually coffee, (always coffee in the morning) and here’s a big one. I always woke up groggy. Very, very groggy and grumpy. No matter what time I went to bed. This was just life. I figured this was par for the course as  a mom raising four active children.

I was blessed to have an excellent nutritionist that shared an office building with my chiropractor. I decided to meet with him, I suppose a prompting of the spirit nudged me. After relating to him about my strong religious convictions he said to me

So the food God put on the earth isn’t good enough for you? You have to buy manufactured fake food?

Me: ‘It just costs so much more

Him “But  if you believe He created this incredible machine called your body, and that He put everything on the earth for you to sustain and keep it running, why then are you trying to change what isn’t broken?

Then he pointed out that what’s really expensive is someone in the family getting sick and having to pay the those doctor bills or to have to take time off from work! Huh. Good point.

The nutritionist had my attention at this point. Soon, he probed my conscience further.

I started asking myself “Aren’t our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit? And doesn’t it only make sense if I consider myself a ‘religious’ person, that it should carry over into how I treat and care for my body… which is not only a GIFT but a TEMPLE to house of our living God?  If “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” does that only apply to our kitchens and bathrooms and to the outside of our bodies? What about our insides?  After all, they don’t call it junk food for nothing” and why would I bring “junk” into the one holy temple I was given dominion over by the Lord?

If the 5th commandment tells us to not commit bodily harm to ourselves shouldn’t that carry over to the way we eat? Can we continue to deny that eating poorly and cultivating poor eating habits in our children isn’t in fact doing harm? Especially in 2016 when we have so much scientifically proven facts that simply cannot be ignored. And importantly, since there’s a multitude of studies that show that good nutrition is one of the main pillars of physical and mental health?”

I honestly felt like a hypocrite. How could I prudently care for my soul and the souls of my children by carefully selecting nourishing, experiential influences in their daily life, while at the same time neglecting the REAL nutritional needs of our physical bodies? How could I put things into my body, that I know full well are not nourishing to it? It was all this that convicted me to try the experiment that was being proposed.

Part of me didn’t want to know the stats and the facts, I just wanted to run an experiment and see how I felt. But the thing is, thanks to my nutritionist and my own research I now know why the coffee, sugar, and gluten wasn’t doing it for me or Tom anymore.

The Turning Points:

1.Coffee is not your friend:

Because coffee mimics some of the natural hormones of our body, it does the job of stimulating the adrenal glands to produce a whole host of other activating hormones. When we bypass certain glands such as the pituitary and hypothalamus, which are normally responsible for adrenal stimulation, they get lazy and even atrophy. That’s why some people get so addicted to coffee. But coffee and caffeine are never as smart as the glands that do it naturally so the adrenals and all the others get confused and this leads to enormous emotional and physical stress.

It’s easy to get addicted to coffee and especially the caffeine portion of it. That’s why coffee feels so good but is so hard to get off of. The problem is when you try to fool nature you always wind up fooling yourself. If you do it routinely and often enough, your these vital glands may just decide they don’t need to bother producing those essential hormones anymore. This is a serious problem which may already be wreaking havoc in your body presently!

This explanation made complete sense to Tom, who was finding he needed more and more coffee everyday to make it through. He was up to 5 cups!  While we may not be biological geniuses, we know the truth when we hear and feel it. Remember God intended our food to be real food, quoting Genesis 1:29

“God  said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good

Now, please tell me how I could argue with that.

2. Sugar is Poison

Ok, but while Tom had become dependent on coffee, sugar was my drug of choice as it is for so many of us. I’m not talking about candy, but the cookies, granola bars, pop tarts, crackers. The added sugar that food companies sneak t into almost all packaged food can handicap your whole beautiful system of a body.  Did you know when they put cancer cells under microscopes and introduce sugar, it grows? Yes. Sugar feeds cancer! It also is largely responsible for the obesity and diabetes epidemic our country now faces. Did you know that a recent UCLA study indicated that 50% of all American adults are diabetic or pre-diabetic? At the turn of this century that statistic only applied to adults over 55, now it’s just flat across the board for all adults 21 and over. Does this get your attention!?

That risk holds for all of us and especially the future of our younger generation as numbers continue to skyrocket. The reason food manufacturers sprinkle sugar into everything, even soups, salad dressings, peanut butter and pasta sauces, is because it’s so addictive . They know for sure that you’ll want to come back for more and more and more. Food manufacturing is one of the few industries that doesn’t seem to care if it kills off its own customers! If you think I’m exaggerating about sugar please Google CBS 60 minutes IS SUGAR TOXIC hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Click here to view it now! This act alone might save your life or of someone you dearly love.

Tom is friends with a woman who successfully beat breast cancer. All through natural means. And  according to her, as a survivor, she won’t go near sugar ever again. That spoke volumes to me.

3. Modern Wheat is Nothing like Jesus’ Wheat

I used to think ‘But Jesus ate bread’ but no. Different wheat. So much better for you, (search: einkorn wheat)

My nutritionist turned me on to the book WHEAT BELLY in which the author Dr. William Dean explains that

the original ancient wheat had 14 chromosomes, but now wheat has over 40 chromosome. That’s why some people refer to it as FRANKENwheat. The radical alteration of modern wheat and the gluten it contains makes it so much harsher on your digestive system, causes intestinal inflammation ( bloating, gas) and just as importantly inhibits your immune system and unnerves your nerves leading to increased risk of depression and anxiety.  People with Crohn’s and Celiac disease usually respond very well to a gluten free diet. And oddly enough, IBS, Crohn’s, Celiacs, Diabetes… these are all 1st world problems. You aren’t seeing these cases in countries that eat mostly vegetables, fruits and meats or grains that haven’t been altered by a “better living though chemistry” philosophy that we’ve been duped into here in the United States. So, essentially between the gluten and the sugar and the caffeine and the added artificial ingredients the American diet is just Yuck and it’s reflected in the fact that America has been rated by the World Health Organization as the unhealthiest of all the industrialized nations

Huh. So all the evidence leads me to believe, ‘shockingly’ that the food God gave us is in fact NO DOUBT the best we can put in our bodies.

4. If it wasn’t in Eden, don’t eat it.

Your pantry should be empty compared to your fridge. The fridge should be stuffed to the gills with fresh fruits, vegetables, REAL yogurt * , butter, cheese and fermented foods. Other than some rice and canned tomatoes, maybe dried lentils.. get the heck away from that pantry! And no cereal for breakfast! Those carbs just activate our bodies in a similar way as does caffeine, by spiking blood sugar. Then by noon of mid afternoon comes the crash, then more carbs then another crash. Having a breakfast loaded with healthy nutrients, including good protein, fats and a small amount of complex carbohydrates gets the day off to a good start. People who don’t eat breakfast are much more prone to obesity and diabetes. And kids who eat a healthy diet perform much better in school.

Grass Fed butter... liquid gold! Literally.

Grass Fed butter… liquid gold! Literally.

Probiotic Sauerkraut

Probiotic Sauerkraut

Eat more eggs!

Eat more eggs!


*whole fat, grass fed Greek yogurt. Not pretend sugar loaded cultured milk. Yoplait or Dannon should not qualify as yogurt. Ever.

5. Transform your mind

It does take a total re-look at the way we approach nutrition. I mean we were all raised with that crazy Food Pyramid thing that says ‘GRAINS GRAINS GRAINS!’… of course I don’t have to go into that here. But if you read the book ‘Wheat Belly’ or “Grain Brain” by a leading neurologist, you’ll learn why the big pharma companies want you to eat more grains since it keeps the dollars from diabetes treatment flowing. I really love how Dr. Josh Axe puts it in his book ‘Real Food’,

” America’s Standard Food Pyramid recommends eating six to ten servings of grains a day. Umm, ok. Have you ever actually eaten 10 servings of bread in a day and not woken up in a coma or ten pounds heavier?? Eating six to ten servings a day is like eating 3 slices of pizza, 2 sandwiches, and a giant bowl of pasta all in one day! Does this really sound healthy to you?”

(To hear more from Dr. Axe listen to this free podcast here.)

But even with all the evidence piling up I still wasn’t convinced that a change in diet would really result in obvious changes to my family, but there was only one way to find out. That was to have the open-mindedness and courage to swim against the tide and make the changes that were recommended to me.

So now it’s 3 months later, and I’m totally loving how I feel. Perhaps I sound like an info-merical but the fact is, I can honestly say, I have never had this much energy or lack of anxiety in my whole life. My head is clear. I wake up ready to start the day. My previous lack of energy used to be very scary for me, especially on the days I got very little sleep and had a full day ahead for me. But now with my dietary changes in place I feel like I can manage and hold my life together even if on occasion I should get inadequate rest. Says the wise man, “A car won’t run if you put cement into it!” So now the fuel I put in my tank is high octane natural food with no fuel additives.

Lunch time. Sue me over the salami.

Lunch time for the kids. Sue me over the salami.

 I don’t get cravings throughout the day or need a pick me up in the afternoon! I’m really stunned by this one. But the key point I learned is that if you are sustaining your body properly on health oils, fats and proteins, you stay full and it gives your body the stamina it needs to perform your daily duties effectively.

Isn’t that only a great way to  honor the body God gave you?

I owe it to the Lord, who didn’t have to create me, but He did. I owe Him the honor of caring for this incredible machine, to the best of my ability.  And I think you owe it to Him to at least do some research and run a little test of your own.

So for me it’s sort of a scientific thing but mostly a religious thing. I think morally and ethically speaking, I am obligated, as a practicing Catholic, to nourish my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. It has made me happier. It has brought me more peace between myself and my Creator. And I don’t even care how prosaic that sounds. I literally have more joy in my being, and it does help to FEEL awesome.

Don’t be intimated by it, it was so much easier than I originally anticipated. You can do it! I promise you the difference in your life, in your mental state, in your spiritual life is TOTALLY worth it. I won’t go back. I swear to you, it feels way too good. I will say though, all of this was done with the support of an excellent, knowledgeable nutritionist. If you have someone in your area that you know of than I highly recommend doing this under their supervision. Especially if you want optimal results. Obviously most of us are not that familiar with the foods we should and shouldn’t consume. It really helps to consult someone who’s an expert in the field but if you think you can do it on your own more power to you!

Look, you don’t need to settle for a fake Jesus to nourish your soul on Sunday (I hope not!) you go for the body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.

So too, you shouldn’t settle for fake foods to nourish your gift of a body. (Which is only on loan to you!)


Do not conform to this world…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..” Romans 12:1-2

The Mass Box!

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You all are going to love this! There is a new product out their for all you Catholic Mamas who don’t have the time but really, really would love to do crafts with the kids that follow the liturgical year.

I know over here I never remember to get the right supplies and it’s usually so last minute, and someone has an accident.. and oh well.. guess we won’t be doing that feast day craft anymore!

Fear not!

The Mass Box to the rescue!311a69f68e6548d28e37025a67a86365-2

For a fair rate of only $16 per month, you receive a box loaded with craft supplies, templates, coloring pages AND a Magnifikid for each Sunday in that month! All delivered to your doorstep. (Maybe you don’t have room in the budget for a subscription…well guess what? They have gift subscriptions available, so let Grandma & Grandpa know what would really be awesome to get their grandkids for Christmas!)

If you can open the box, and put on the free weekly webisode “Catholic Crafts with Clare” then you are good to go! That’s as much work as it will take to add in some extra catechetical enrichment in your kids’ lives.

A butterfly symbolizing transformation, after Jesus reminds us all to cast the first stone!

A butterfly symbolizing transformation, after Jesus reminds us all to cast the first stone!

It really is that easy! (Click here to watch their brief intro video)

Over here we got to test run the Lenten Mass Box subscription and it has been so awesome. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to get that box, and essentially lesson plans that had already been done for me. The kids eagerly anticipated each new webisode of ‘Catholic Crafts with Clare’ (she is such a cutie pie!) to see simple how to steps for their craft, which of course, corresponded with the Sunday Gospel. family-tree-clare-holding-up-with-logos

It is a fantastic way to prepare your little ones for Sunday Mass and a help to those of us who may not have the time to prepare 52 weeks worth of crafts in time!

Our box came with felt, glue, googly eyes, templates, tissue paper, construction paper, beeswax candles, popsicle sticks, paints and all the instructions for the months worth of crafts. Also included was a corresponding Magnifikid for each Sunday! Easy peasy!

I really encourage you to check out their site, and most importantly spread the word far and wide about this phenomenal company. This busy homeschool mama is certainly giving them 2 thumbs up! (And a big toe, too. If I could! Woo hoo!)



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Alotta Frittata

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Several weeks ago, on a Friday morning God gave me a teensy weensy insight into His love as a Father for me.

This is what little kids are best at, giving their parents perfect little lessons straight from heaven. So much we have to learn from them! Through their innocence and in training them as parents, we are blessed to have windows of insight from an eternal realm.

I knew exactly what Charlie wanted for breakfast that morning. I always know before he asks.

Every morning goes the exact same way.  Corral the big kids downstairs, quietly so as to not wake the baby, then start preparing eggs, bowls of yogurt, pouring ‘green juice’ and fielding the ten thousand questions that are plaguing their brains in the 10 minutes they’ve been awake.

It’s a constant ‘yes, yes, I know, uh huh, ok, not now, it’s coming‘ marathon.

This morning was different. I wanted to make a frittata with all my gloriously roasted leftover veggies from the previous’ nights dinner. You know, just whisk some eggs, milk, salt, pepper, veggies…pour in a pan and bake @ 350. No biggie. Quite easy actually.

But I knew Charlie, as every morning goes, was deliriously hungry. And he remains quite impulsive and impaitient.

Yet, as his mom, I know him better than anyone, and I knew he was completely capable of waiting.

At the moment, a frittata was more of a pressing issue to get in the oven since it had a longer cook time than prepping Charlie’s breakfast. Which could easily be done, just as soon as I slid the frittata in the oven. I could see how this timeline would work out perfectly. It made sense, I had a plan, a plan that fit Charlie’s needs and also, accomplished other good things.

However, Charlie did not understand this plan. He did not think he was capable of waiting, of trusting, the plan. Oh he tried to ‘pretend’ to understand the plan and leave the kitchen several times, only to stroll back in the other entrance, coming right back up to my hip tugging on my shirt. He whined, he begged,

‘Did you make my eggs yet?” “Did you hear me, Mom” “Mom? Mom?” “Mom, do you hear what I want?!” “Mom did you forget?”

Until finally after total exasperation I hissed,

“Of course I heard you! I told you several times I hear you! Don’t I feed you every morning? Have I ever not met your needs? Have I forgotten yet? Then what makes you think I would forget now?”

Light. Bulb.

How I stood there stunned realizing I’m Charlie. I’m Charlie waiting for breakfast every day in prayer with  God. I tug on his shirt, follow him around the house,

‘ Hey, Dad! Did you HEAR me? Are you listening? What’s going to happen? What if? What if? What if?”

And He’s all like,

“You’re capable of whatever the plan is, because I’m your Father and I made the plan to fit your needs and take care of you. You need to trust me. When have I EVER not taken care of you?”

Touche’ Holy Spirit.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us so, so loudly through our kids. Heck, all of the time. These kids just keep chiseling away at our sinfulness, perfecting us, teaching us. Each and every one of them in a different way.

Now I’m working on that trust thing after it was put in perspective so blatantly for me. He always hears us, he knows before we ask. Just calm down, take a chill pill, because sometimes He’s just got a whole lot of frittata to take of of first.



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Archived: A Tale of How to Travel Awesomely (with 3 kids)

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{{I just stumbled across this story again, and oh my. Had to re-share. Do you all remember when this happened??}}

This is Pin-able. Do you hear me? PIN THIS. Pin it now. And tweet it. Because I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about having an amazing, easy, germ-free trip with your family. This is of course, complete sarcasm. Because that of course is never, ever possible.

But, we traveled from Wisconsin to New York by plane, train, taxi, and car with three little kids, 7 pieces of luggage, no naps or baby wipes.

And we are still alive.

One child might have E.coli, but for now, we’re still alive.

Want to hear my awesomely easy secret? It’s this: Share your story. Laugh about it. Because if you can’t laugh about it you will be dead by the end of your trip.

That is if most of you have travel days like the one we did. Which if you have kids under 18 I’m going to guess you have. Or you will (heh heh heh)

Here’s what happened.

We were leaving for New York on Friday morning. At 6am. On Thurdsay, our mini-van was declared totally incapable of driving to the Milwaukee airport (3 hours away). So we rented a squishy full size car for the trip. Everyone woke up around 5:30 am central time.

Things were looking good on our morning drive to Milwaukee. No traffic. Squeaky clean kids in coordinating and very cute outfits. Everything packed into the car the night before. Banana’s and waffles in the car. Beatles music on.

At this point in our trip we were smiling and anticipating the train ride up to our hotel, and some New York pizza by the pool with the grandparents. The kids were almost chanting “Hotel! Pool! Pizza!”

We nailed our check-in at the airport, breezed through security, and enjoyed the sparkling clean play area while we waited for our plane.

Still fresh as daisies!

Still fresh as daisies!

The first thing that happened was a delay with the flight. By an hour. We laughed it off. A delay? Psh! At least no one is melting down.

Then we got on the very teeny, tiny, plane. The one with the super grumpy stewardess. The one that had extreme turbulence for almost 30 minutes. The turbulence was so bad in fact, that Princess starting getting motion sickness, I started weeping silently, Camera Guy was practically frozen in disbelief. Oh, and the LOST plane crash scene was running through my head on hyper-speed. Did I mention we were flying over a  huge body of water at the time? It was easily the most scared I’ve ever been in my life. Aside from that time I found two spiders dancing in my hair.

Well, at least the plane ride came to an end on time. Er, sorry, it hovered over JFK Airport for an hour trying to land because there was so much air traffic. And we were the family trying to restrain our 18 month old who had pretty much lost all his patience with the  “table in upright locked position” rule.

After we landed in glorious JFK airport, and we dismounted the plane on the tarmac, in the pouring rain. With all our carry-ons and children…we proceed to make our way over to Avis to pick up our rental car which only took 45 minutes of dragging suitcases, children and ourselves, up, down all around the airport terminal.

Necessary stops had been made at the filthy airport bathrooms. Hands had been sanitized. So far, we were a little tired but still nailed it. In two hours we’d be “Hotel! Pool! Pizza!”

After Camera Guy stood at the Avis counter for the better part of an hour. The kids began to get really tired, and really comfortable while waiting. So comfortable they starting chasing each other without their shoes on. Then I started chasing them. Then one of them knocked over a sign. Someone started screaming, the baby pooped his pants and I realized we had no wipes. Also, the baby with the poopy diaper suddenly realized that he had been restrained long enough all day and angrily refused to be held or coaxed to doing anything aside from running.

This is when the fun began. Apparently you can’t rent two cars in the same day on the same credit card from Avis. That was a big pickle. So next option was to call the grandparents. Ah, but then travel tradgey numero uno happened: the cell phone was dead. And you guessed it: someone forgot to pack the charger. (Ahem, I say someone because this part of the argument has yet to be solved who the guilty party is)

In any case. We only had $1 on us to use a payphone to make a quick call for help. When we waited for them to call us back, of course, each time we picked up we couldn’t be connected probably because we had run out of quarters.

Finally we gave up and decided to head back the 45 minute trek through the airport to hail a cab and somehow get to a train station.

By this time it was around 5pm eastern time. The time we were supposed to be having “Hotel! Pool! Pizza!”

Sooooo here’s what we did. We made our way to Penn Station where there were two trains heading our direction. By “made our way” let me be clear, it was more like trying to run a race with cinder blocks on our feet.

We had Little Guy on Camera Guy in a back pack. Then Camera Guy was wheeling two suitcases, and carrying a laptop.. Then followed Princess carrying her own backpack . Then Mr. Chubs had his guitar case on his back. I brought up the rear with a duffel, a backpack, a purse and a suitcase. We were like a tiny parade of sweaty people. Taking escalators, climbing on train shuttles, and getting in elevators (we even rode in one that someone peed in! Yum!) were excruciatingly panic-striken moments of “Hurry! Jump over the gap! DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING! Get over here or someone will grab you!”

So somehow, without having a child disappear, still hauling around a really stinky baby we found ourselves in Penn Station. With both trains we needed to be on completely sold out.

Hmm. Also, the hotel would not refund us our money so unless we wanted to loose $200, we had to make our way up to our destination somehow.

It was then 7pm and we needed to eat. So we got the best New York pizza ever and also thoroughly patroned their dirty bathrooms too. Little Guy let me change his diarrhea diaper in this bathroom which conveniently had nothing but a toilet, a sink and toilet paper. I’m not even going to describe to you what changing that diaper was like. Without wipes. Or a changing table. With diarrhea. Although we used 5 dirty bathrooms that day, I was proud that all of my kids did not have hand contact with anything in any of those bathrooms. Somehow, amidst all the annoyances of the day, that one little fact just made me so proud. At least we nailed that!

A New York Slice

A New York Slice

Mama Mia! That's a pizza!

Mama Mia! That’s a pizza!

Since Penn Station was ruled out, Camera Guy announced we had to catch a cab to get to Grand Central. So we stood, all five of us, with our 7 pieces of luggage in the pouring, and I mean pouring rain for a good five minutes until a cabbie was kind enough to actually pick us up. (One did stop to pick us up, but then changed his mind and sped away leaving me utterly shocked and very wet)

Yay! At last we got to Grand central station. We had to fall out of the cab, grab our luggage fast, and the kids and practically RUN across the street into the station because of all the rain. I was really proud of the kids because of the way their survival instincts kicked in:

ME: Chubs! Get the backpack! Princess you take a suitcase! GO! GO! GO! FOLLOW DADDY!

I ran behind them, lugging the remaining luggage (omg. I just realized why they call it luggage). And through blaring horns, pouring rain, tons of people, we made in into the station.

Princess was sobbing loudly “I AM ALL WET!” This was definitely a far cry from “Hotel!Pool!Pizza!”

Soaking wet Mia

She was kinda wet.

Jack giving us the thumbs up for making it to Grand Central

Jack giving us the thumbs up for making it to Grand Central

By the time we got on our train, the kids had been awake, nappless for 15 hours. Camera Guy was so soaked with rainwater and sweat he said that he couldn’t  even stand the smell of himself. I thoroughly agreed.

Our seat on our train ride upstate was the one next to the bathroom. And if the stupid college girls who missed their stop and pulled the “Emergency” brake weren’t enough of a cherry on top of our day..(Because you see, you can’t pull the brake unless it’s an actual emergency. So we had to wait a half hour for the police to arrive. That means the train was at a standstill for 30 mins. Which in precious baby-needs-to-be-in-a-bed-now-time it feels like a hundred years) I probably should go to confession for wishing all those girls to have triplets someday.

So if that wasn’t enough of a cherry…and believe me, it was…Chubs announced in loudly stressing tones:

“Mom! I have to really, really go poop. It’s coming!”

Inwardly I screamed “You have GOT to be kidding me!!!”

For those of you who haven’t been in a Metro-North Train bathroom. Let me inform you, that my husband, who pees on my toilet seat daily, purposely avoids using those bathrooms because of how filthy they are. They have a stench. They have a reputation. You have to be either really wasted or really busting to use that bathroom. It’s kind of like that outside bathroom at a gas station, but dirtier.

So, very, very, reluctantly… I escorted my son to the train bathroom. Still tauting my record of clean hands in my head. Even though I was exhausted I knew I had to be on my game for this one to complete my day of no gross bathroom germs.

As soon as we stepped in the bathroom, I picked him up and was placing him on the seat instructing,

“Ok, so just make sure you don—“

He stuck his hands under the toilet seat to hold on. UNDER. As in the sweaty, slimy part where thousands of people’s festering urine has not been cleaned! It’s like a petri dish of E.coli under that!

I gasped and shouted “JACK! What are you nuts?!!! Get your han—“

His knee jerk reaction, for reasons I will never understand and he will certainly never live down was to yank his right hand out from underneath the seat

And stick three of those fingers in his mouth.

I think I blacked out after that.

But Camera Guy told me he heard me yelling in there.

Epic. Epic fail.

“At least we didn’t crash” we consoled each other around midnight, which is when we finally checked-in to our hotel…a whopping 19 hours after waking up.

Which is true. Considering the alternative of floating on a plane seat cushion in the middle of Lake Huron, I am easily glad to have had a disgruntled long day of mishaps and exposure to bacterial infections. At least we were all together and safe. Tired, sweaty, but able to hug each other at the end of the day. And sometime in the way far off future, when my middle child, my special son gets married- I cannot wait to give his lovely bride a piece of advice for traveling with kids.

“Forget the hand sanitizer, sweetie” I’m going to tell her, “Doesn’t do squat if they touch the train toilet seat then stick their hands in their mouth. The two most important things to bring with you on your trips are a sense of humor and extra quarters for a payphone.”

Happy Summer Vacationing!

Cranky, tired, and confused but alive and well.

What the heck happened yesterday? Is that normal?!

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Keep Swimming!

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I just got back from a silent retreat this past weekend.  It was so beautiful, and so refreshing and so wonderful I couldn’t help but think of how much I just wanted to blog, blog, blog while I was there and share all these fantastic moments which each of you! As if somehow, by my mere writing here, I could pass on the gifts and sprinkle the seeds of refreshment to all of you who stop by for a read and perhaps, need your inner wellspring tapped up a bit like I did!

It was a silent retreat and there was practically perpetual adoration. God is SO good. One of the nuggets of wisdom a very holy nun shared with all of us was what I wanted to share with you all here.

I think Lent is a good time anyway for me to share something a bit more edifying than usual!

In talking about maintaining peace and discerning what is truly of God and what is not, Sister challenged all of us women,

‘Don’t dialogue with disquieting thoughts’

Disquieting thoughts. It hit me so much, who of us doesn’t get those? Don’t they usually come as your trying to fall asleep? Or when your running late? Or sometimes the minute you wake up? Or when we’re visiting people’s homes? Or getting dressed to go out?

I know I get disquieting thoughts. And I know I often fall so far into the trap of entering into a dialogue with them.

Not talking here about temptations, but rather ‘disquieting thoughts’. Those thoughts that rip away your inner peace, that rip away the love of a Savior from our hearts.

Thoughts like when we replay arguments in our heads, and think of things we could have said better. Or when we hear those questions in our souls, about whether or not feelings we had in prayer were really God’s promptings or if we just made them up ourselves?

What about when we revisit memories of past hurts? Do you ever do that? Do you find yourself getting so entangled in that memory and feel those feelings so closely again that you could cry?

Are we ever offended by people? Are we bothered by what someone said?

Disquieting thoughts.

I love that phrase because it grabs that process by the throat and says, “I know what you really are“.

And I love Sister’s advice don’t dialogue with them because now we know what to do when we catch those thoughts bubbling up again.

This too, is the essence in progressing in our relationship with Christ. Harnessing those thoughts as a barometer for discernment.

In the Ignatian method of discernment there is a lot of reflecting on your ‘inner barometer’, namely, when you have a thought, or an urge in prayer or maybe in the midst of your day… deep down there inside your inner spirit how do you feel?

Do you feel more peaceful when you ponder the situation or idea? Or do you feel ‘disquieted‘ ?

Essentially, is this bringing you closer to heaven? Or farther away?

Do I feel more at peace from this thought/article/conversation or less?

How is this helping my vocation?

Maybe I’m being super basic here. But this is how basic I need things for my own prayer life. I’ve found these points to be so fruitful and so helpful for everything from what I’m watching, what blogs I am reading, conversations I am having, and even places I go to.

The surest way of discernment, at least for me, seems to be that simple quieting thought of

‘Where is this leading me to?’ ‘Is it aiding my journey at all?” ‘ Is it uplifting to my soul and truly nourishing to my spirit?’

These were all points that were made this weekend to me, and that really drove home what I needed to understand. Our need for nourishment. Good, real, whole, nourishment of our souls.

And disquieting thoughts are anything but nourishing. They only serve to distract us, get us all riled up over frivolity and change our focus point onto ourselves.

Sister Shirely Ann looked right at all of us with a big smile on her face, but a very firm voice and advised each of us to cut it off, whatever it may be that is junk food for your soul. Even if it’s just People magazine, even if it’s just a reality TV show… she practically shouted,

Don’t enter into that dialogue! Don’t do it! Because guess what? There’s no treading water in the spiritual life. You are either going forward or backwards.”

Which way are we going? What will it take for us to snap out of it?

It is moments like these that I am so grateful for the lives of Sarah Harkins and Paul Coakley, to further fuel that flame of desire and bring back into focus the things that really matter.

Let us use the remainder of Lent to encourage one another to stop treading water, whatever it may be… and instead nourish our souls with things that will truly propel us forward in our spiritual journey!





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