Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pray, Hope & Don't Worry -Padre Pio

                                                       Paul's Surgery    Dec. 26th, 2014

We have been wanting to update everyone, but it has been more than a little crazy around here. We've had daily visits with some wonderful doctors and have been waiting for results from a lot of tests. The emotional roller coaster hasn't really been from fear, but more from love. I can't tell you how often we've cried over the outpouring of love we've received during just the past 2 weeks. It really has been beautiful! Paul and I can never thank all of you enough for the outpouring of prayers, masses, sacrifices, blog posts, calls, texts, messages, cards, grocery gift cards and contributions you all have made to support us during this time. I don't know that Paul has ever felt so loved- thank you! Its almost impossible to be fearful when we know that we have an army of prayers behind us!

Paul's surgery on December 26th went well. It took longer than we had anticipated due to the tumors in Paul's lungs. They were worried about his breathing during the surgery, so he was intubated, but that was the only "hiccup". My cousin Will's amazing wife, Bre, works there at the hospital and came to sit with me in the surgery waiting room for a while. The somber air of the room was quickly changed as Bre regaled us with her own, humorous stories of her cancer surgery. It was such a blessing to be able to laugh that day!

                                             Bre & I cutting up in the surgery waiting room.

Paul came out of surgery ready to run a marathon! He has been so sick since Thanksgiving that he came out of surgery feeling more rested than he had in a long time. You've got a love a good pain killer every once in a while. By the time we got home he was pretty tired, but in good spirits.

We were blessed to have Uncle John Coakley and "Uncle" T.K. visiting for the next few days to keep the kids entertained while Paul recouped. They hiked around the farm searching for buried treasure, jumping in puddles and playing up at Paul's ropes course.

                                                           Uncle John & Caeli Grace
                                             "Uncle" T.K. and the kiddos on the tire swing.

Physically, Paul had a rough week. The tumors in his lungs are just really painful. The percocet only works for a few hours and then he has to wait to take the next dose, so he's in a good deal of pain and losing sleep. The pain has also made him lose his appetite (not that it was big to begin with!). He's lost about 10 pounds, but we think at least 5lbs of that came from him trimming his beard. ;-)

 Early in the week he was coughing up a lot of blood, but, Praise God, its lessened a bit. He ended up going in for his CT scan early because of the blood and they found pretty much what we already knew was there- innumerable masses in both lungs.The three largest currently measure 6.5cm, 5.3cm and 5.7cm. It was a huge blessing that his heart, bones, abdomen and pelvis all appear clear of anything according to the CT scan.

Yesterday, Friday Jan.2nd, we were headed to another doctor appointment, but on the way they called us and said that the pathology report was not back still, so we had to reschedule for later in the afternoon in hopes it would be done. Luckily, they came back a mere 30 minutes before the appointment. Our wonderful doctor was very positive, but also very blunt that Paul's cancer is very serious and very aggressive. As we understand it, Paul has a non-seminoma biphasic choriocarcinoma type of testicular cancer. Try saying that 5x fast! While the results of most of his tumor markers weren't bad (for all the doctor friends who've asked: WBC 10.3, AFP 1, LDH 860), We had really been hoping that after his surgery his beta- HCG levels would drop. Instead of decreasing they increased from over 232,000 to over 303,000. I only put all this out there because several friends who are doctors have been asking. To the lay people like me, Paul has cancer, no cancer is good, but God is and He will be carrying Paul and our family no matter what! How awesome is that? :-)

Because the pathology came back so late on Friday, the oncologist office wasn't open. Hopefully they will have a clear date for the start of Paul's chemo. He will have 4 rounds of chemo (BEP) every 21 days. After that they may have to do a final surgery to clear out anything remaining in his lungs. Who knows...W are so blessed that friends are coming together to finish work on the house. Paul's immune system will be really compromised so he and I will hole up there during treatments to keep him healthy. For those who don't know the situation, I am the oldest of 8. 5 of my siblings are married with families. Currently all 5 of those families are living between to farms. By June my parents will have 13 grandchildren living here! Its awesome, but all these kiddos are carriers of all sorts of fun germies and we need to keep Paul away from all those germies.

We have been reading about Blessed Margaret of Castello. She is such an example and inspiration of redemptive suffering. We are so thankful to those who have joined us in saying her novena or any of the other many novenas people have been saying. Our pastor came out last Sunday and brought Paul communion and he also received the Sacrament of the Sick. Shortly after, we got a phone call that a friend of mine was allowing my aunts to bring a first class relic of Blessed Margaret for Paul to be blessed with. I can't tell you what a blessing its been! Paul holds it to his chest whenever he is in pain.

 Paul with my sister,Peggy,and my cousins,Valera and Theresa, who drove Blessed Margaret to us!

Once again, we can not thank you all enough for rallying around us during this time. We have been so encouraged by all the blessings and graces we've been seeing in our life. Paul's favorite quote right now is from St. John Paul the Great, "Life in Christ is a wonderful adventure"- its not easy, but its not meant to be either. We have good times and bad, but we rejoice in the opportunity to grow in strength, faith and trust in the Lord. "Our Hope is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth"!!!! Paul's wedding band is a crown of thorns. The man is ready and willing to take up this cross with joy and hope in God. There is nothing else. Just continue to pray for us that we will be open to God's Will and fortified by grace. WE love you all and thank you all for standing by us during this time.

God bless!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dear Cancer, You are about to get your butt kicked. Sincerely, The Coakleys

Dear friends, family and loved ones,

My amazing husband, Paul, could really use your prayers. Mr. Invincible hasn't been feeling well recently. We saw a doctor in September, but things didn't seem like they were a big deal and our new insurance hadn't kicked in. Over Thanksgiving Paul got a cold and was really not doing well. He finally started coughing up blood, so after work last Friday (Dec. 19th) he went to a walk-in clinic. An x-ray of his chest found "Innumerable small, moderate, large, rounded bilateral pulmonary masses, highly suspicious for mailignancy." The walk-in clinic scheduled him to see a pulmonologist yesterday (Dec. 23rd). We were at the hospital from 9:30am until 5pm. The result: Testicular cancer that has metastisized to his lungs. The doctor believes its probably in his abdomen as well and that with the chest/arm/shoulder pain Paul's been experiencing he may need to have a later surgery on his lymphatic system. My Superman will go into Maury Regional Hospital at 7am the morning after Christmas to have surgery to remove the testicle. They will run more test and start developing a game plan from there.

Paul and I have felt an incredible amount of peace and grace that we know comes from all the many prayers we've alrady received in this short time. The doctor (who was wonderful and a strong Christian!) said that he wasn't going to sugar-coat it. Its really bad. But he was really positive and thinks that, with prayer, Paul's going to cope well.

Its pretty scary and crazy, but we are happy to be able celebrate the birth of Our Lord, who has already conquered death, together with our beautiful children and family. We left the hospital and drove straight into Nashville to pick up Paul's brother, John, who has already been a huge help playing with the kids and keeping them distracted while we deal with other things. We are blessed to be at my parent's house where the kids are distracted and have the best babysitters in the world so Paul and I can be together for doctor appointments. This morning our well pump went out, so we are with out water, but my dad and my brothers went straight to work fixing it. So many blessings!

Yesterday, while waiting for the doctor come in, Paul got to feel our baby kick for the first time! This miraculous baby, who was conceived shortly after the loss of our twins this past spring, was a reminder of how much God is watching over us. The doctor warned us, barely 15 minutes after baby's little karate demonstration, that we may not be able to have more children when all this is over and done, so yes. This baby is another confirmation at how much God is watching out for us!

We love you all and pray that your Christmas is beautiful and miraculous. Please keep us in your prayers and know that we are offering our sufferings up for the intentions of our loved ones. We are blessed to have several people offering novenas up for Paul's full recovery and we are doing a novena to Blessed Margaret of Castello asking that she interced on behalf of Paul to Our Lord and that his healing be a move towards her canonization. This is the novena we are using if you'd like to join:

We can not tell you all how deeply we've felt everyone's love and concern. We apologize if we can't personally respond to everyone right away, but we really appreciate knowing that you all are lifting us up in prayer. God bless you all!

Merry Christmas!
Paul, Annie and the kiddos

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Princess and a recipe!

I realized the other day how much I miss blogging. Mainly because my blog is basically my journal, so if I'm not blogging my life whirls by undocumented which is fine except that my kids are killing my brain cells! I want to record the sweet little things they say & do. I want them to remember how many wonderful, fun things we do as a family. Plus I think it will be good "Mommy" time to stop and process my life and recognize the beauty in the ordinary. So, hopefully, this means I will really be returning to blogland for real this time!

New and exciting in our house is that there are now 5 of us! Our boys are very proud to have a "Princess" to protect and love. They are crazy about their sissy! Its really so sweet to watch them kiss her and coax her smiles. I am so blessed!

I really want to post a bunch of pics, but for some reason my computer isn't allowing me to.  I'll wait on my big posting until I can link the pics of my beautiful babies in at the same time.

Now I want to share a recipe I came up with last night and I'm kind of excited about. A few weeks ago my husband took the family out to a new local resturant as a very special treat. They only served Mac & Cheese! The kids were in heaven and surprisingly,  we were too! Paul and I split a bowl of Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Mac & Cheese! YUM! So last night I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner and decided to experiment. I've been trying to eat better since I've had some random health issues recently and I enjoy eating quinoa, but my family does not. This didn't make them converts, but it helped!  Please note that I was literally pulling things out of my cupboard and fridge experimenting last night. so adjust as you see fit. This is approximately what I did, hopefully it will work for you!

Cheesy Quinoa
1 Cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 block cream cheese
1/4-1/2 milk
4 oz (half block) shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp paprika
3 diced roma tomatoes
crumbled bacon

Cook quinoa according to package. Once cooked, pour in milk and add cream cheese in small chunks. Stir over low heat until smooth. Add garlic & paprika. Add cheddar and stir until melted. Stir in tomato & bacon.

I served it with steamed kale. So GOOD!

And on that note, I think I shall go indulge in the peach cobbler on my counter that is sitting next to the apple pie I made last night or maybe the carmel, walnut brownies...hmm, there is way too much sugar in my house right now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I should be mopping...

I should be mopping my kitchen floor, but I'm not. My house is half way decent and I just don't feel like mopping...or moving for that matter, sooo I figured I'd do a LOOOONG overdue blog post.

Speaking of overdue, guess who is pregnant? Ummm, yeah, that would be me! I'm not over due yet. I am due on May 19th. Its crazy because this page still shows my announcement of Damian's birth if you scroll down a little. Damian will be 2 in just a few short weeks!!! Its crazy that blogging has fallen by the wayside since I've had two energetic boys to chase, but I'm totally good with that. They are my focus. Well, them and far too often Pinterest, but at least I'm usually pinning good food for them to eat or activities for us to do. We keep ourselves busy.
I have been realizing that this baby will be here before I know it and I still have a lot to do to prepare. I am so excited to meet this newest miracle and to introduce him or her to the two sweetest brothers ever. My boys are seriously the best of friends and I can't tell you how much I love that. Yes, they squabble, but they truly love being together, playing together and snuggling together. There really is no greater gift you can give a child than siblings. I believe that with all of my heart. I'm so curious to know this child. He/She is already an active lil' one. I can feel the pressure of a little hand or foot pushing against me and I rub it and speak to my lil' one enjoying a bonding moment. Sometimes the baby doesn't move away, but stays and enjoys mama's caresses. Bliss.

I need to start refreshing myself on the Bradley techniques that Paul and I learned during the classes we took two years ago. I can't tell you what a difference they made with Damian's delivery. I never did share Damian's birth story, so I will share a bit of it here now.

Just as a disclaimer, having a drug-free, natural birth was important to me and was initially our reason for taking the Bradley classes, but we ended up not being able to have an intervention free delivery and that was also completely okay, because the only thing that mattered in the end was that our son was born safely. Everyone from the class was awesome and supportive. Even while taking the class we realized that the bigger picture of the class was that we were empowered by better understanding my body and how this whole crazy labor and delivery thing worked, so that my husband and I, working as a team, could do our best to work with my body to help bring Damian into this world as healthy and safely as possible. It was awesome because I felt in control because I had been given the knowledge, understanding and tools to know, as well as I could, what was going on and how to work with my body. I can't imagine how different things could have been if I hadn't been taught what was going on and what to do to about it.  My husband can tell you what a control freak I can be at times and this was the perfect way for me to be able to stay calm and work through all the craziness that was involved in getting Damian out of his watery-world and into our arms.

I began having regular contractions around 9:30 on April 10th, a Sunday night. I could not sleep at all that night and labored at home until the next morning. I went into the hospital the next morning, but was not as dilated as I wanted to be before checking in for good, so I went home to labor in familiar surroundings. By that afternoon I was exhausted and knew that I wouldn't be able to labor at home much longer, so I took a warm shower to get ready to go. I came out of the shower and collapsed with exhaustion on top of my bed. I was still dripping wet and wrapped in a towel, but my contractions had subsided and I slept for about an hour before waking to even stronger contractions. We rushed out the door and headed to the hospital. I had to kneel hugging the back of my seat all the way there because it was impossible to sit.

Once we were in our room, I tried laboring in the jacuzzi tub with Paul holding and supporting me. I had really been excited about laboring in the tub, but as it turned out Damian was posterior (sunny-side up) and I was having such bad back labor that I couldn't get into a comfortable position. Fact: the only place I was comfortable was sitting on the toilet. The nurses were initially freaked out because they were afraid I'd deliver in the toilet, but I promised I wouldn't. ;-) And, just for the record, my nurses were AMAZING. I am not exagerating! They were seriously so incredible and helpful. I am so blessed to have been able to deliver at a small Catholic hospital close to my home, to have Jesus present in the tabernacle downstairs and to have had such incredible women by my side. My mom and Paul were able to make me so comfortable and work with me through each contraction.

I never felt out of control. I was able to stay calm the entire time and work through each contraction, but by Tuesday morning and after 4 hours of intense pushing we were able to have a specialist come in to try to manually rotate Damian. The doctor tried three times to rotate him (still sans drugs), but Damian was stuck and would not budge. There was meconium in my waters by then and I knew we just needed to get my boy out. I knew I needed a c-section and I was fine with that. Once the spinal tap kicked in I was ready to just go to sleep. I kept staring up into the silver shade of the light above me trying to catch that first glimpse of my baby.

The magical moment came when they lifted him over the screen and the first thing I remember thinking was that he had hair and it was dark! All the babies in my family were all baldies and blonde from the get go. I don't really remember anything after they took him from my sight. I must have fallen asleep (I lost a lot of blood and they had to work on me for a while) because the next thing I remember was Paul waking me in recovery to wheel me up to a room and his saying that he thought we should name him Damian. I told him that we weren't naming him until I was no longer loopy, but Damian sounded good to me (I had been expecting us to name a boy Xavier). Paul later ran home to check on Lil' Man and checked online to see whose feast day it was. It turned out it was the feast of St. Damian, Bishop of Pavia in Lombardy Italy. It was meant to be! We also dedicated our lil' guy to St. Damien of Molokai since Paul and I both have a devotion to him. Gabriel was after the archangel, of course. We figured it was a good strong name and our little guy had some strong patrons to look up to.

My labor was not how I planned, but over all it went well and I got the most perfect prize for my hard work. Who could ask for more???? :-)

I am praying for a vbac, but as with all things, it is in God's hands. God has blessed me with a way easier pregnancy this time around and I've been able to exercise more this time, so hopefully baby will be in a good position for things to go smoother. We will see. Please keep baby and I in your prayers.

I will try to at least post once baby is here, if not sooner. Have a meaningful Holy Week and a blessed Easter!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Another Starry Night

Last night we took the boys out to the Athletic Field for a little star gazing and flashlight tag.

After we'd spent a while stargazing Paul hid while we searched for him with flashlights. Damian turned on his flashlight and immediately pointed it directly in his own eyes. Lil' Man yelled out, "No, Damian! You're ruining your nightvision!" Smart kid, right?

After a few rounds, the boys decided Mommy & Daddy should hide while the boys looked for us. Seriously, it was awesome! I wasn't sure it was a good idea at first, but Lil' Man insisted.  The boys were so cute counting, fumbling to turn on their flashlights, holding eachother's hands and looking for us. They aren't afraid of the dark, which is great! Seeing their bobbing lights coming towards us was precious. Especially when Damian tripped and Lil' Man had to help him up. Once they saw us, they ran towards us, arms extended and giggling "Boo, we found you!".

After being out on the frosty ground in 42 degree cold the only option when we got home was to snuggle with hot cocoa, or as Damian says, "hot toe-toe".

This morning we woke to our first snowfall! The boys are listening to children's Christmas music as I type. All Lil' Man wants to do is to go outside and ski. We don't have that much snow yet, but it won't be long now. No skiing for us today, but we will vote. Big Day!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Starry, Starry Night

Last night Paul had the first evening free in ages, so when he made it home from work shortly before dark, we loaded the kids on the bikes and went mountain biking around camp. Dusk was settling over camp, so we could hardly see the trails, but I think the boys enjoyed the ride all the more because of it.

We rode out to the marsh, or should I say "the area formerly known as the marsh" (oh Prince!). What two years ago years ago was a floating dock in the frog and minnow laden area is now firmly planted on solid ground. Between the drought and the masses of alder bushes that have taken root, nature is once again cycling through and creating a new eco system.

It was cold and dark by the time we made it home. We loaded the kids in their carseats and went for a drive down the "strip". All of the tourist traps slow down after Labor Day, so the traffic was free and clear and the kids thought it was Christmas with the swirling lights at all of the waterparks and resturants.

We snagged a pumpkin latte and a carmel apple spice and headed out to a large field at the state park across the street from home. We put down the tailgate and pointed out constellations to the boys. I even caught the last moments of a star falling from the sky. Eventually, we pulled a picnic blanket out of the car and spread it out below the expansive Milky Way. The boys were sandwiched between Paul and I, giggling and begging us not to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Light Star".

Lying there, looking up at the infinite cosmos, I had a moment of recognition- I am blessed beyond words to have the most amazing God who has given me so much more than I deserve in my husband and sons. Those three are worth more to me than all the stars in this galaxy and I thank God for His infinite love and for my little family.

Thank you Lord for a perfect start to autumn! Bring on the blessings!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My 1st Whimsical Washday! Black Friday DEAL!

Welcome to my first Whimsical Washday! I have been wanting to post about cloth diapering for so long because it has become one of the passions that I have acquired along with motherhood. 

A passion for poopy diapers??? Yes. I have developed a passion for saving money, keeping my boys healthy and protecting the gift of this beautiful world that God has given us. And, yeah, I am obsessed with the utter cuteness of a baby in a fluffy diaper with an adorable print on it!

There are dozens of sites out there with great information about cloth diapers and the intracacies involved in using cloth. I am not an authority, but I have been using and loving cloth diapers since January of this year. It never fails to be a source of curiosity and questions to anyone who has seen my children wearing a precious print, a silky soft minky or watching me snap together the screaming, solid color one size diapers my babies are always sporting. I have promised many friends, family members and even little known acquaintances that I'd be happy to share the information I have gleaned from hours of pouring over blogs, reading articles, drilling experienced friends and my own humble experience. Its so much fun to share and my blog is the perfect platform for declaring my love of cloth diapers!

By the way, some members of my family think I've totally lost it! Even a brother, whose own family has just started using cloth, thinks I have gone crazy for enjoying my diapering experience with the excessive amount of enthusiasm that he believes me to have! I remain unashamed and rather proud of the fact that I can enjoy making my family's life a little better in such a colorful way.

So, what does this mean to you, my dear reader (that is if any of you are still left out there after my brief hiatus from the virtual realm!)?

It means that, from time to time, I will share with you about my family's cloth diapering journey, my sources for information, links that I love, ways that I have made an already economically smart move even more thrifty, where and how to get a great deal and photos of my babes sporting all sizes, shapes and colors of fluffy goodness. As this endeavor grows, I hope to add some giveaways to bless others out there.

Are you excited? I am totally pumped!

I promised you a deal in my title and a deal you shall have! I found this one via a facebook feed this evening and I've already purchased several for my self. Here it is: Diaper Junction has Thirsties Diaper covers that normally sell for 11.25 on sale for only 6 dollars! Buy 3 or more and you are only paying 5.75 per diaper cover! I bought several diaapers and the shipping to my area only cost me 1.44! This deal can't be beat! And you can check ebay and other sites to prove it. They also have more styles of Thirsties covers selling for 8 and 10 dollars a piece. Check out Diaper Junctions site at to find lots of great deal!

 Good luck with your bargain hunting and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Many Thanks!

I am so thankful to everyone who has been praying for my mom and her recovery! I apologize that my lack of a computer has kept me from allowing me to share the wonderful news that her surgery was a great success!

After a very long and scary surgery, Mom was taken to the ICU where my Dad and two sisters were able to go check on her (several hours later) and then begin taking bedside shifts. One of my sisters ended up fainting when she saw mom lying there ashen and cold with catheters draining the blood from her chest. The doctors had removed a tumor that was larger than a softball. It had been wrapped around her arteries cutting of her circulation and around muscles and the nerves of her vocal cords.

They had to cut open her sternum to remove all of it, but they did an incredible job and, by the grace of God, she is doing miraculously well! It was unsure if she would ever be able to speak again or if she would lose the muscles in her face and limbs. Thanks to all the prayers, she made it out with out any major side effects! The tumor wasn't even cancerous!!!

She is still in a lot of pain even though its been over a month since her surgery and the doctors suspect that it will take a few more months before the pain is gone (If only the hospital bills would disappear so soon! Anyone who has the ability to help can donate to mom's hospital fund at the website created by her friends ). She has sharp stabbing pains and every time she coughs she has to clutch a pillow to her chest. It has been rough, especially her inability to lift and care for her grandbabies, but she is just so grateful that God has given her more time with family and friends and that God allowed the tumor that had been growing for years to suddenly be discovered.

On behalf of all my family, thank you for your prayers and support. We are eternally grateful!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Emergency Prayers Please!

I am writing from the waiting room of the hospital in Tennessee.

My mom was rushed into the ER on Mother's Day with chest pain. They discovered that she had a substernal thyroid goiter that is wrapped around muscles and arteries. Its serious. They won't know if its cancerous until after the surgery.

They had to take a few weeks to find the three specialist that would be needed for her we are now.

She got to see all of her children and grandchildren in the past couple of weeks. She is at peace with what ever God wills to happen, but we are praying that God allows Mom to be with us for many more years (she's only 62).

The past several weeks have been very difficult. My parents don't have insurance and it has only added more stress to an already difficult situation.

We are doing a novena to Blessed John Paul II for a miracle. If you would like to join us in praying the prayers right now as she is in surgery, you can go to the website that one of her friends created

Thank you for your prayers!

Please keep my family in your prayers and especially pray that the surgery will be a success

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Three Years of Wedded Bliss

Today was Paul and my anniversary. I thank God for giving me such loving, joyful and holy husband. I am so blessed!

Monday, May 23, 2011

One year ago today

 One year ago today, Paul and I were here in Wisconsin. We had just quit trucking and taken off on our motorcycle for a trip from Georgia to Wisconsin so that Paul could interview for his job here at camp. We had breakfast with the camp directors (now our good friends and neighbors) and then drove to Indiana Dunes State Park to camp for the night.

It was late when we made it to Indiana. We were cold and weren't sure were we were going to stay. We got to the park and they were filled, but the ranger told us about a few primitive sites that were further away from where we were and he thought they might still be available. We searched in the dark and found a spot that was open. Before you could say, "Sweet Sassy Molassy!" we had the tent up and were chowing down on s'mores that my dear hubby had been able to get get the supplies for at a little store while I was building the fire. It was lovely.

The next morning we packed up the tent (which Paul is very proud of because it was the perfect size for us and it fit on the motorcycle so well) and headed to Michigan for our best man's "going away to boot camp" party.

What a difference a year makes!

A year ago today we were footloose and fancy free. Riding a motorcycle, camping and visiting friends because we felt like it.

This morning I sat on our front stoop holding my not yet six week old watching my husband fill up the kiddie pool while playing with our two year old. The stereo was blaring a greatest hits mix of my favorite vocal memories- Garth Brook's Callin' Baton Rogue (memories of trucking), Jack Johnson songs (memories of good friends), Rascal Flatts' Bless the Broken Road (one of Paul and my songs), Josh Goban's So She Dances (listened to while trying to push Damian out!) and on and on...I began to cry as I sat there and recognized all the ways God has blessed my life in the past year.

This Tuesday, Paul and I will not be staying at a hotel in Paris Texas or going anywhere too terribly special to celebrate our third wedding anniversary as we have in the past. We would need a babysitter and money we don't have! Its okay. We have two little gifts that are so precious and valuable that words cannot even begin to explain how unimportant trips and all the other things we used to be able to do a year ago are. I am happy to sit on my step and watch my boys in our yard.

Or, even better, to snuggle up next to them!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Damian's Pre- Birth Story

I have been asked to share Damian's birth story. I think it is important that I record my memories, because they are already slipping into a blur of diaper changes and late night feedings. It was incredible and emotional, but (Surprise, surprise!) not what I expected or planned.

Curious? Well, here's what happened while we waited for the Lil' Guy to arrive-

My mom drove up just before Damian's April 3rd due date. He seemed well on his way. Just after she got here, I had a long night of contractions (strong and different than ones I had previously had) leading into the next day, but they faded away and then there was nothing. His due date came and went. Days came and went. I felt like I would never get to meet my Jellybean.

I was HUGE!!!!

 Exhibit A

My Mom insisted that she babysit Lil' Man for a night so that Paul an I could take a "Babymoon". After all, we were becoming parents for the second time in 10 months!

We checked into a nice place 10 minutes from our house and went swimming. It felt great to be weightless! I dipped my feet into the hot tub just enough for Paul to massage my feet while he relaxed in the steamy bubbles. Bliss!

We kept busy as we awaited Damian's arrival.

My mom painted the nursery blue. We didn't know if we were having a he or a she, but we figured blue and chocolate would be perfect for a boy or a girl. It was wonderful having someone around who had the energy to tackle the projects that I could not.

While mom painted, Paul and I took Lil' Man to a Maple Sugar festival where we learned about different methods of sugaring and enjoyed a beautiful day out and about as a family.

We were trying to keep busy and keep me distracted from the "joys" of  pregnancy. One of those joys was one of those unplanned/unexpected things that I previously refered to.

I hadn't had any stretch marks until those final weeks and then suddenly they popped out and I developed one of those special pregnancy induced conditions referred to as PUPPP. It's a rash that starts on your stretch marks and spreads. It feels like a cross between having poison ivy/oak and millions of mosquito and fire ant bites. Ugh! I was miserable. It was especially bad on my poor, swollen feet. Just thinking about it now makes me itch!

As per doctor's advice, I used cortizone cream, but it didn't help me. I had read that drinking V8 and showering 4 times a day with Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap would help. It may have a little. It was just one of those things you have to deal with, but I do think my mom was ready to stick socks on my hands to keep me from scratching!  I'm tempted to show the picture of the rash on my stomach, but I won't.

Finally, April10th rolled around. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday! We found out we were pregnant on a Sunday morning just before mass. I was born on a Sunday. It was bound to be a good day!

We picnicked down at the lake here at camp. It was so hot and I only had winter maternity clothes, so I had to make do. My feet were so swollen that I was wearing boots lined with shearling wool because they were the only shoes I owned that still fit! Luckily my friend, Lauren, loaned me her shoes.

Like the boots??? :-)

By evening a storm had come up complete with a lightening bolt display, gorgeous cloudy sunset and a torrential downpour. We took my mom and Lil' Man to walk around the Kalahari resort that is 5 minutes from our house. Its a great place to walk around when the weather is bad. Lil Man loves it, but he becomes quickly overstimulated by all there is to see, so we were all home and in bed by 9 or 9:30. By 10 o'clock  I knew that baby was on the way!!!

The last family picture before Damian's BIRTHday!
To be continued... ;-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Catholic Kiddies

Where to even begin??? So much has been happening that I've put anything and everything I can onto the back burner for now. 

My Lil' Snuggler was 4 weeks old yesterday. I don't know how it happened. It really feels like its been a week and a lifetime all at once. I do want to share Damian's birth story, but that will be another story for another day.

The week after Damian was born Lil' Man's Dad came to visit. He had always wanted Lil' Man to be baptized, but circumstances had made it impossible to allow him to arrange it. We had been trying to have him baptized for the past 10 months, but kept waiting for his dad to be there to present him. With his dad in town we finally had the chance, but it was problematic because it was Holy Week.

There was a huge snowstorm (yes, a snowstorm in April!) the night Lil' Man's dad arrived, so we weren't sure when he'd end up getting into town. The next morning Paul went to daily mass at our parish and asked our Pastor if it would be possible to have Lil' Man baptized that week (Father knew the situation already.). Father told us it would only be possible if we could do it that morning!

In less than two hours we had the Camp staff, my mom and our lil' family at the church. A miracle in its self!

Father explained to Lil Man that he was going to have a "church bath" that would make his soul clean. Lil' Man's response?

"I take baths in the big tub at home with bubbles!"

It was so beautiful! I couldn't stop the tears from rolling down as I watched my Little Angel become a member of the Church!

Damian's baptism wasn't far behind his big brother's.

Lil' Snuggler was born into life in the Church on May 1st- Divine Mercy Sunday, the day of Pope John Paul II's beatification and the feast of St. Joseph the Worker!!! Who could ask for a more perfect day???

He was a little angel and slept through almost the entire mass. It was beautiful and the priest who baptized him will be camp's chaplain for the summer. Fun!

Sadly, Damian's godparents, my brother Michael and his wife Ashley, weren't able to make it to the baptism, but several members of both Paul and my family were there. Paul's brother Matt stood in as proxy for Michael and my cousin Angela stood in for Ashley. I was so happy that some of the family was able to be there.

We've dreamed of this for so long!

God bless both of my Little Lambie-kins and keep them holy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Welcoming Damian Gabriel!

I just wanted to quickly post a picture of my beautiful son, Damian Gabriel.

He was born Tuesday, April 12th  and weighed 8 pounds 11ounces. I was in labor with out any pain medication for 36 hours, but his head was cocked in a bad position, so they tried to manually rotate him (still with out any meds) three times before rushing me in for an emergency c-section.  

He was well worth the effort!

May your Easter be filled with blessings! Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever! Alleluia!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Making Plans (or not)

I was laughed at today, in a good-natured manner, for mentioning that I had given my OB a copy of my "birth plan" at my last appointment. The person's response, besides laughter, was, "I plan on having a quick, easy and pain-free birth!"

Wouldn't it be nice to write it down and have it happen that way because that's "the plan"?

I was a little hurt feeling that someone thought I was being naive to make decisions about how I wanted my baby to be born and expecting things to go that way. I'm not saying that things will go the way I would like them to, but I would like to try to make it as beautiful an experience as it can be.

Paul and I have been taking our Bradley classes and, even if we don't have things happen the natural way we would like, I would like to: A) Prepare and hope for things to be the best they can and B) Feel as though people I care about are respecting my decisions and believing that I have the conviction to try my best.

No matter what, the classes have been a blessing for Paul to feel more involved in our pregnancy and to help him know how to handle me and all the craziness involved in pregnancy. They have helped me know better how to take care of myself and the baby (even if I don't do as well as I should), to feel Paul's support even stronger than I had and to have a chance to spend with him talking about our baby and the changes in our life as we made the weekly two hour drive to class.

People have also given me a hard time about cloth diapering and saying that I won't stick with it. Why don't people just say, "Hey, that's great! Good luck!" and then if it doesn't work out, so what? It doesn't hurt to try. [Side note: Yes, I know many think cloth diapering is expensive and could result in people wasting their money, so they feel they need to "warn you", but our whole point of cloth diapering was to save money. We've bought and had people give us good, inexpensive diapers that practically paid for themselves in two months of using them. If things weren't working for us, cloth diapers have an amazing resale value. Plus, they encouraged Lil' Man to start going potty! Now we hardly use any diapers!]

Yes, plans don't always go the way we would like, but we all need encouragement.

When my husband and I got married "the plan", in our eyes, was to let go and let God decide when He wanted us to start our family- us knowing, of course, that God's "plan" would be to give us a baby ASAP. Well, God either didn't get a copy of our ASAP version of "the plan" or He has a way different idea of "the plan" that was not what I wanted it to be!

Funny how plans go, isn't it? Praise God, I knew that so many friends and loved ones were praying for us.

Looking back now I can see why God had a longer, harder version of "the plan" than the one we had come up with. It was hard and I had some times when I just wanted to throw a tantrum (and did!) that God wasn't doing things the way I thought they should go. Especially when I lost my little treasure, Paul Joshua, and felt as if everyone else around me was being blessed with one baby after another.

We, as Catholics, can understand the beauty of Lent and redemptive suffering, but sometimes connecting the knowing and the accepting are two totally different things.

Now I can look back and see how my suffering was needed for my soul and to prepare me for where I am now and the joy I am able to experience if I accept it. I have a new plan that I pray God will give me the grace to stick to. I plan on doing all I can to make this baby's birth as safe and joyful as possible, but I am prepared to experience the pain, the long time of apprehension and waiting and the suffering that will strengthen my soul and perhaps help others. I will offer up my suffering for my baby and for those who are mourning the disappointment of "plans" that haven't gone the way we would have liked.

Again, that is "the plan", but I know that plan will only be stuck to by the grace of God and the love, support and encouragement of people who believe in me and will respect me no matter what. I have complained during my morning sickness, my long nights battling indigestion, back pain and almost every time I've had the opportunity despite the fact that just a little over 9 months ago I "coveted my neighbors wombs" as they bore children I only dreamed of! I am SO far from perfect! But, I am blessed that I do have a God who loves and  forgives me, Paul to support me, family who will be here for us and a baby who will be incredible no matter how he or she makes it into this world. I am blessed.

Sorry for the rant. There is a lot going on around here right now and I am crazy hormonal, so I just need to get the minor stuff off my chest.

Did any of you have unique birth plans (or a birth plan at all?)??? Did you feel supported? How different did things work out from the way you wanted them to?

The sun is finally shining here! I hope it is where you are and that you have the chance to enjoy it.

God bless!
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