Saturday, August 19, 2017

Family Movie Nights

I am constantly looking for movies for my is very difficult with 11 kids living in the house, ages 5-22 and a busy one year old.

Some of these we have seen others we are working our way through.

My favorite on this list is PERFECT GAME.

I found most of these movies and great reviews on Common Sense Media. We use it for books and music also.

I would love your favorites also!!!

Family movie nights…
The Lamp---age 8+
A Walk in My Shoes---age 8+
16 Wishes---age 8+
The Secret of Moonacre--age 8+
Space Warriors---age 8+
The Odd Life of Timothy Green---age 8+
After the Wizard---age 8+
Mirror Mirror---age 8+
Perfect Game---8+
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life---age 8+
Spy Kids---7+
Amazon Adventure 3D---age 7+
Dream Big: Engineering Our World---age 7+
The BFG --age 7+
Batkid Begins---age 7+

Thy Will Be Done!!! +JMJ+

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Budgeting Advice...

Practical Financial Tips
When it comes to spending money, I think to myself…
take a deep breath… S.A.M.!
S: S is for:
A.   Simplify- needs vs wants, declutter & donate
Pope Francis reminds us to have an attitude of the heart when it comes to living simply.
1.  Declutter-keep what you love, would I buy this again?
2.  Donate-find a local easy place for quick drop off
B.    Self-Control-learning to sacrifice
C.    Sales- learn to be thrifty, garage sales, discounts, consignments, and looking for bargains
Food: Aldi, quick sale, meal planning around what you have and what is on sale, freezer, simple meals, and not wasting
A: A is for:
A. ASK: Ask God for wisdom and help when making decisions about spending.  Ask others, before I buy something I usually ask my network if they have one…” pushy broad”. Pope Francis reminds us to “Help one another, this is what Jesus teaches us.”
Mt. 7-8 Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.
B.  Be assertive
Lk 18: 1-8 Persistent widow
A) I tell my friends, I am giving them the opportunity to get graces by serving and helping others.
B) Build and support through community, church, family, friends, town. Ex. Freecycle & FB, etc…
C.   Be appreciative and thankful to others and God
A) Thank you notes
B) Calling and letting them know how much you appreciate them

M: M is for
A.  Make a Plan
B.  Motivate yourself and others
C.  Minimize stuff and activities

D. Make do with what you already have

There is so much you can do to budget and learn to save money but I find the simplest ways are the best. Each person and family is in a different state in life and all have to do what is God’s plan for them. Don’t get overwhelmed and keep praying for wisdom and clarity in all you do.  


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chicken and Broccoli

My dear friend Chrissy Halligan made this meal for me many, many babies is one of our favorites. Good comfort food and very creamy so serve with bread or rice on the side.

Chicken and Broccoli

1 large family pack of chicken breast: boil for about 15 min till no longer pink
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 large can of cream of mushroom soup (or one small can of cr. of mush and one can of cr of chick)
1/2 cup of mayo
1/2 cup of butter (original recipe says 3/4 cup but I think it is too much)
1 pack of Italian seasoning ( I think this is the secret ingredient)
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (of course I accidentally spill more in)
1 large bag of frozen broccoli

I cut up the chicken and then mix all ingredients together (butter last because it is melted) and put in one huge dish or two small- one to freeze or give away or if you have a big family eat it all. Serve with bread for dipping in the yummy gravy and rice is good too!

Thy Will Be Done!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Being Open to Life...

This is an updated repost from the past...

Being Open to Life:

I guess I should start with the way I was conceived…I was the product of a date rape, my birth mother choose to live at Ann’s Infant home in DC to conceal her pregnancy from her family and I was placed in my currant home at 12 days old.  I grew up surrounded by so much love and very proud that I was adopted into such a wonderful family. So my life, my husband, and my children, all are affected because a young single mom said YES to life!

When my husband proposed to me…
First of all we started dating when I was 16 and he was 19. Yes, my parents were desperate to marry me off. I mean come on, I was the baby, the ninth child, and the fifth daughter. We dated for almost two years. I was ready to get married at age 18 but he decided that he needed a break…and I got the break…it was in my heart! A week after I decided I never wanted to see him again and I would move on, he came by my house to visit. I looked shocked and he said, “I am going to marry you some day.” I looked him and thought, I don’t even like you right now. Almost two years passed and we started to date again. After just a few months we went to Sugarloaf Mountain for a hike. Up on a very high peak, he proposed to me. I think he was as surprised as I was at his question. I looked at him in shock and he said, “Who else will give you 10 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence?” I thought for a moment and realized that was pretty accurate. In 1988 finding a guy who wanted to have kids at all was a bonus. So I said, “Forget the dog, make it 11,” and I then said yes!

When I was engaged to my husband, Rob, we did what most Catholic engaged couples do when they are engaged. We took NFP classes with the diocese; I was shocked to learn how intricate and fascinating women’s bodies were.  The many different types of NFP that are available were so interesting and yes for some NFP can be very stressful and others a true gift. After the class I started charting and taking my temperature and being watchful of other ways my body would change during my cycle. I did this for about 3 months and learned my ovulating pattern. 

One night I attended a pro life talk with a guest speaker named Joan Andrews (now known as Joan Andrews Bell). She spoke of the responsibility Catholic couples have to follow the will of God in their lives. This may be using the gift of the church, NFP, or letting God be in total control.
Since I had dreamed of being a mom since 2nd grade, was very healthy, and had a fiancé who also was willing to have a big family, I started to reconsider why we were even going to use NFP right away.
Rob too, after spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, felt as if God was asking us to be open to life and trust in Him completely. After sharing our experiences with each other we decided to put away the thermometer and prepare for our life together letting God take control. 
It helped so much that we were surrounded by wonderful couples who mentored us in spiritual, as well as married life.  Many of them used NFP and some just depended on God’s planning. One night at a prayer meeting, before our wedding, the women prayed over me. One of the women said, “I am having a vision of you being surrounded by children.” Ha, ha, she laughs even now seeing me with my 13 kids.

After about a year engagement, on May 11, 1989, I got my period. We were to be married on May 20th and I knew right away that I would be ovulating on our honeymoon! I laughed at the thought that God was really asking us to trust in Him from the start. I told Rob and he too found it humorous that it looked like we were going to be blessed “right away!”

Rob and I did get pregnant on our honeymoon. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. Then when my daughter Alex was about 4 ½ months old and nursing fulltime, I got pregnant with Joshua. He was about eight months old when I got pregnant with Francis Jude. I then miscarried at about 8 weeks. Then two months later I got pregnant again, thanks to Our Lady of Guadalupe’s intercession, with Caleb Michael. When he was about 10 months old I got pregnant with Elizabeth. When she was about 8 months old I got pregnant with Barbara Philomena. Then came Joseph, Robert, Dominic, Mary, Cecilia, Eric, and Kolbe. All about 18-22 months apart.
Being 41 and wanting another baby, I weaned Kolbe at one year so I could try to get pregnant again (I know I am crazy).  Kolbe was almost 3 when I got pregnant with Hope Grace- I didn’t know I was pregnant. I was going to the doctor because I thought I was going through menopause as I kept spotting and thought I was having short periods.  My doctor suggested that I go for a mammogram and sonogram to check if I was really going through menopause or not. The sonographer asked again why I was there and when I said to find out why I wasn’t able to get pregnant, she said I was 6 weeks pregnant! Shocked, excited and very scared because I had been spotting, I texted my husband a photo our new baby. A couple weeks later we found out Hope didn’t have a heartbeat and again my heart broke. 

At this time, I begged God for a baby (again). Little did I know God was hearing my prayer and in another state my little Ray was being conceived by an unwed mother. Later she would find herself at the Gabriel Network unwed mother’s home. I was called by an employee at the Gabriel Network asking if my family would be willing to take in a 12 week old baby while his mom tried to get situated. On April 12, 2013 Raven Gabriel came into our lives. When he was six months old, we got legal custody of Ray. To this day we are still praying to finalize his adoption. 

Little did I know I was about five weeks pregnant with Steven Thomas when we got Ray. After lots of doctor appointments and tests we found out all was great and I was healthy enough to deliver this baby. It was a dream come true! At 17 weeks I was feeling fantastic and on top of my game.  Unfortunately, my water broke out of nowhere and my world crashed down around me.  I was given no hope of my baby's survival and was told I should terminate the pregnancy since it was impossible for Steven to survive. I was given better advice by my second opinion, which was to go home, be with my family, and wish for the best. After 2 weeks of bed rest, and asking people all over the world to pray for a miracle. Steven went back to his Father in heaven at about 20 weeks, to intercede for our family. I got to deliver him myself in the hospital and he was perfect in every way. His tiny nose, ears, and fingernails were so intricate, I had never been more pro life in my entire life than I was that day holding this perfectly created human in my hands. My husband and I got to spend time with our son holding and crying with him.
The nurses were fantastic taking photos and footprints of Stephen just as if he was alive. Their care and attention to detail will never be forgotten. With a little persuasion and a wonderful funeral home worker coming to the hospital to get Stephen, they let us take him home to bury him in our parish cemetery.  This time more than my heart broke, it felt as if it was crushed and my thoughts of ever having a baby again were pretty unbearable.  If it wasn’t for a very close friend and mentor, I might have had a nervous breakdown do to the grief I was experiencing. I was told by my niece who is a counselor that I was not only mourning the loss of Steven but really the loss of my fertility. Which was very accurate.  I guess I figured that when I got older I would just naturally stop wanted to have children. It didn’t happen that easily for me. For some crazy strange reason God has given me this desire to have and be around children. I guess it’s a good thing and I am very blessed that my husband shared in my desire to have a big family.

I haven’t met many people who feel the same way as me about wanting babies ALL. THE. TIME.  That is fine, everyone has different gifts, talents, and desires.  I can honestly say that in the 28 years of marriage every time my husband and I have made love I have been open to life.  I am a sinful human and make daily mistakes constantly, I can’t imagine being in charge of when the best time to conceive would be? It is such a blessing to let God decide on that factor and to leave it in His mighty hands. THY WILL BE DONE, is my constant mantra! Even after my son Caleb was born in 1993, when I had to get a MMR booster shot. I was told by the doctors and my midwife that getting pregnant would be dangerous to the baby. That my baby could be blind and get other birth defects. I was concerned of putting my baby at risk but knowing that the chance of getting pregnant while nursing a 2 month old and not having my period yet was pretty slim. I also knew that I promised to trust God and let HIS WILL BE DONE in my life. So far at age 49 it has worked out perfectly. 

All of this may sound super strange to most people reading this but I have seen innumerable fruits from being open to life and letting God be in charge of my life and my fertility. Marriage is tough enough and having my husband and me not have to worry about if I am ovulating or not, and just let God direct our love and passion is so freeing.  I can hear my kids saying, “Ew  mom, you are so gross!” That’s when I say, “Isn’t it nice knowing not one of you were a mistake? All planned by the GOD of the universe?” Since my husband and I always pray before we make love, “Lord, bless this act of love and any baby you may give us.” It’s pretty awesome watching God give us so many blessings…I could write a book about all the miracles we have had by being open to life…the many people, gifts, and situations that God has directly took over for us is unbelievable. Ten months ago on August 1, 2016, exactly four years after I delivered Stephen. God blessed us again with a foster baby boy. We will keep him until his mom or grandmother can take care of him.

Well, it’s about five years later and I am still mourning my fertility, but loving God, and being grateful for my 13 living children, our foster son, and my pretty remarkable granddaughter and grandson, and one more grandchild on the way.  

I have been told by many people how they desire for another baby, but I have NEVER, been told by any living soul that they wish they DIDN’T have this or that child. I also know very wonderful and holy couples who for various reasons have used NFP and it has been such a gift to them. I am so thankful that we were always open to life and chose to never use NFP to prevent children. I know it is a gift of the church for many families for very good reasons, so believe me no judgment here; but I am thankful that we didn’t need that gift and are enjoying the 16 precious gifts He did give us.

My prayer for couples is that they too will come in agreement with each other as to what is best for their families. Marriage is hard enough as it is without the stress of not agreeing on what they will decide about children. They are a definite gift from the Lord. I look at my life and I am grateful that even being an unplanned pregnancy that God can create miracles through us.  

Thy Will Be Done!!! +JMJ+ 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pound Cake, and I mean "pound"

Pound Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened at room temp
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temp
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
·         Preparation
·         Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy (do not over beat);
·         gradually add sugar, beating well.
·         Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until combined.
·         Sift 3 cups of flour. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla
·         Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

      Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.
       Found this recipe here.  



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekend photos...

Babz turned 21

Caleb holding nephew Luca

 Big siblings take babz out for happy hour!

Eric had his first ever baseball game!

Eric has his first Baseball game!

Thy will be done!!! +JMJ+

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Birth Stories X17

I just saw this wonderful video by The Honest Company about birth stories. It just warmed my heart to see the many different birth stories and the joy that each one brings. It brought me back to my birth stories and the amazing miracle of life that God has given me.

My birth stories start in 1990 when I got pregnant on my honeymoon. My husband and I wanted to start a family right away and it was a huge blessing that I got pregnant right away. I delivered my first child, a little girl, at a hospital. When she was six months old I found out that, even though I was nursing her full time, I was pregnant. My son was born at home with a midwife. When he was about 11 months old I miscarried a baby at about 8 weeks.  Two months later I  got pregnant and had a beautiful baby boy at home. Things were busy but wonderful. I loved being a mom and learned how to adjust my schedule to meet the needs of three little babies.

I found that my dreams of being a mom were coming true. It was very challenging and I was tired and trying to find balance in my life but I was in my element. We moved into a bigger house and soon after my midwife delivered baby number four. With two boys and two girls many people commented that I had the “perfect” family. I realized that home births, although they aren’t for everyone, did work for me.

Baby five came 19 days late. After many sonograms making sure all was well my midwife decided my dates must have been wrong!!! After a long slow 17 hour labor my baby girl, was born! The next five years I delivered three very busy boys at home with no complications.

 My husband had a new job and our insurance didn’t pay for home births any more so my daughter, baby number nine was born in the birthing center where my midwife worked. It was a very different experience, but like all things new, we learn to adjust our expectations and make do with what needs to be done!

My husband’s small company had new insurance and the representative made a mistake and emailed me saying that we could have a home birth. With that in writing the company had to honor my request and I got to deliver baby number ten in a smooth home birth.

Now with five boys and five girls under 16 things were bustling around here like a three-ring circus. I was 37 and still daily trying to balance being a wife and mother by maintaining my home. My daily life consisted of keeping the house in some order, doing wash, and getting a meal on the table for dinner each night was challenging.

When baby number 11 was due the insurance wouldn’t budge, and would not let us have a home birth. So, our son was born in the birthing center weighing in at 11 lbs! It was pretty interesting delivering such a huge baby naturally. At one point my sister said it looked like I was a Gumby doll and my midwife pretty much had to flip him in the birth canal to get him out.

I was super excited when our insurance approved a home birth for my 12th child. Little did I expect that after 12 hours of labor my midwife and I decided it was time to go to the hospital because we were unable to get him to go down the birth canal. I had pretty much had it and as soon as we walked into the hospital I was ready for a c-section. The hospital midwife and my midwife assured me that my baby was not in distress and I should get an epidural to rest and prepare myself to deliver this baby vaginally. After a quick rest, I was still pretty “done” so I asked for a c-section. Not fully being “all together”, I regret my decision to not try harder to do a vaginal delivery. Not only did I not get to do skin to skin with my son, but I was unable to nurse him immediately. My husband stood next to me with our hungry newborn while they stitched me up. They did a pretty bad job at the entire c-section. My incision was very low, I ended up with a staph infection and some other issues I have had to deal with due to the surgery. Of course, the recovery period is more difficult after a c-section. I decided to sign out of the hospital early after a day. In case you didn't notice hospitals are not my favorite place to be.

I was forty-one now with seven sons and five daughters. I was very happy and many people would ask if we were “done?” I had just lost 37 pounds and was enjoying eating better and working out more regularly. Still in my heart I yearned for another baby. I went to the OB to check on my peri menopausal situation since I was getting older. My doctor sent me to get a sonogram and during the sono the technician asked me why I was here. I mentioned I wanted another baby and the doctor was checking on my physical status. She said, “Well, you are six weeks pregnant!” We were so excited but nervous because I had been spotting. Little “Hope” died when I was 8 weeks pregnant. It was very emotional for us but we moved on taking one day at a time and enjoying our 12 living children.

In late May, we got a phone call from a local pregnancy support network asking us if we would be willing to host a 12-week-old baby boy for about six months while his birth mom got situated. We said yes and due to God’s special blessing we have had him for five years. After a busy couple of weeks with this wonderful new addition I found out I was pregnant again. Again, due to me being 44 there were concerns. After lots of tests the doctor said I was doing great and I could try a V-back at the hospital with midwives who worked there. At about 17 weeks my water broke and I was on bed rest with the warning that there was no way my baby would survive. My wonderful midwife would visit and let me listen to our son’s heartbeat.  After almost three weeks I started bleeding pretty hard and the doctor let us know that he had died. I went to the hospital with my husband and we prepared for a different type of delivery. I delivered Steven myself in the bath room. He was almost 20 weeks and absolutely perfect. He had the cutest nose, little finger nails and stole my heart. I had a real hard time for the following month. My friend helped me get motivated to take care of my other 12 children and our foster baby. I am pretty sure the mourning I was dealing with was more the loss of my fertility and the beginning of this new season of my life.

Fast forward about four years and we again were asked to take in another foster baby boy. He wasn’t born yet and we waited for the day to arrive. It was interesting waiting every day wondering if this was the day. Even though I wasn’t actually giving birth, the day to day unknown was very strange. Our family wondered each day if this would be the one. Funny thing was that he was born on the August 1st the day I delivered Steven. We ended up getting this wonderful gift when he was one week old. He is now eight months old and we have been so blessed by him being part of our family.

Each person has their different birth stories. Some beautiful and some difficult. All different labors help us grow and make us the people we are. They let us become the best we can be and use the events in our lives to make us stronger.

Thy Will Be Done!!!