It has been a year of transitions at the Zoo. The children are growing up; it is hard to believe the “babies” are going to be teenagers in a few short weeks. The time has flown!

Since 2014, I worked as a Legislative Aide for a local County Council Member. When he chose not to seek re-election, I stepped up to run for the office. However I lost the election and the incoming council member chose not to keep me on as the Legislative Aide. I took the opportunity to focus on completing my Master in Public Administration degree which completed last month. I have also stepped out and up and opened a home based business which I am enjoying getting off the ground.

Now the challenge is to refocus where I want to spend my time and efforts.

Stay tuned as we explore this together.

Meet the family

Richard and I met at George Mason University.  I was in my final semester and he was one of the campus police officers.  Since I was a student and the campus police strongly discouraged the officers from dating students, we had to wait until I graduated to officially start dating.  We were married about 18 months later in May 1987. Here we are 26 years later.

Richard and I

Richard and I

In 1991, we welcomed our first-born child, Elizabeth.  In 1994, Amanda joined the family. Then in 1998, our first son, Douglas, was born.  According to society we had pushed the limit.  Now that we had our boy we had to be done. I would say I honestly agreed with the sentiment at the time. I returned to work about six weeks after Douglas was born.  We quickly realized having three children in daycare was expensive! My entire monthly salary and then some was going to cover the cost.  Richard and I prayed and decided I would come home to take care of the children for the next few years.  Once they were all in school I planned to re-enter the workforce.  We decided I would go back to school and get my master’s degree once Douglas turned two and daycare rates went down significantly. We figured the new degree would cover up my time away from work.

Mandy, Liz, Douglas

Mandy, Liz, Douglas

Once I was home and taking care of my husband, my children and my home I realized I was enjoying myself, much to my surprise.  I was a product of the feminism movement which led me to believe that I had to work to be fulfilled.  I began to seriously consider that I may not want to return to the workforce at all. I was enjoying my children, and the overwhelming stress I had been feeling was gone.   I realized I wanted another child and enjoy a pregnancy and the newborn period without the thought of having to return to work looming over my head.  It is amazing how once you take yourself out of the world and do not listen to the mutterings of the people who say children are burdens, you become more open to them as blessings. Richard and I talked and prayed about the decision to have another child and decided we would welcome another addition into the family.  In August of 1999, we were overjoyed to find out we were expecting a baby.  Our first sonogram about a month later showed we were expecting triplets.  God certainly has a sense of humor.  We were expecting to have one and God decided to bless us with three.  Talk about a shock. In February 2000 we welcomed Rebecca, Emma and Patrick.

Emma, Patrick, Becky

Emma, Patrick, Becky

With these blessings we figured were done.  Six children in today’s world are just too much.  It wasn’t our fault that we had triplets, so it was somewhat acceptable for us to have six children.  The comments of course started.  “Are you done now?”  “Are you getting fixed?” “Do you know what causes it?” We tended to agree we were done.  But we all know God throws monkey wrenches into human plans.  In August of 2004, we were surprised to find out we were once again expecting.  Since this wasn’t a planned pregnancy, we both had some mixed feelings about becoming parents again.  Comments began again about getting fixed, etc.  How easy it would have been to just follow the world with these types of thoughts because of our feelings. Andrew was born at 25 weeks in January 2005.  We had known he was going to have birth defects, but we were not aware of the severity of them.  The intestinal atresia left him with about four inches of small intestine, which is not enough for the body to absorb enough nutrition.  IV feedings cause the liver to failure, which lead to his death in July 2005.  The family now had a personal saint in heaven.  This thought  provided us with some comfort, but overall we were devastated.



I was feeling like a failure as a mom.  We were left with empty arms and hearts with huge holes.  I selfishly did not want my last child to be one that had passed away. Richard and I once again talked and prayed. We decided to remain totally open to life.  We were blessed to find out in April 2006 on Good Friday I was expecting.  Two weeks later we found out we were once again expecting triplets.  We were totally shocked!  We never figured on another triple pregnancy.  Liz looked up the odds of two triplet pregnancies.  She said the odds were 1 in 64,000,000,000. Thankfully this second triplet pregnancy was a little easier since we knew what to expect.  Abigail, Margaret and Marian entered into the world in October 2006.

Marian, Maggie, Abby

Marian, Maggie, Abby

The comments continue on to this day about being done. We tell people we are totally open to life and would accept any child God would choose to send to us.  Once we lost a child, we realized how much of a miracle each child happens to be.  We  have not been blessed with any more children as of now, but you never know when God will choose to bless the family.

Now you know a little about my family and how we came to be.   I invite you stay awhile and see how I go about Managing Mayhem and Multiples.

Slowing down for Lent

This past week has been very busy. Early in the week, my brother and I met with the attorney to figure out what we need to do for Mom’s estate. Then there were several doctor’s appointments. We had the usual taking of girls back and forth to school. Plus we managed to fit in some homeschooling. Finally, we had Bea’s memorial services on Friday and Saturday.

Today has also been a run around day. We were out of milk, that is almost unheard of here are this house. I try not to do a lot of shopping on Sundays as I feel this should be a day of rest for everyone. However, since we were out of milk and Mandy and I had have had much mom and daughter time, I snagged her after Mass and we went out to lunch and the needed shopping.

We had lunch, ran to Walmart and then headed over to Wegman’s to pick up the milk. While we were trying to figure out something for dinner; we ran into Mandy’s IB coordinator from high school. We all had a great chat. Plus she even gave us a great, quick recipe for dinner using porch chops. We are trying it out tonight.

With Lent starting on Wednesday, so I am hoping to take the time and slow down and refocus. I plan on going to Eucharistic Adoration tomorrow and “chill with Jesus” for an hour or so and ask Him what he wants me, personally, to accomplish this Lent. One thing I plan on doing is deactivating my Facebook account. So if you would like to stay in touch, please let me know or follow this blog.

Overall the family needs to talk and make decisions. We have several opportunities open to us which we are exploring. We had originally planned to sell the house as quickly as possible and leave Maryland. Richard and I are now thinking it may not be a good idea. We want to talk to the older children and get their opinions too.

I hope you are having a peaceful and enjoyable day!

Pax Christi!
A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework
~~St. Francis of Rome

Logging off of Wastebook

Over the past month I have taken a long hard look at how I spend my time.  I realize I am wasting a lot of time during the day on the computer. I looked at where I was spending the bulk of this time and I decided to log off of Facebook. I have been drawn more and more into conversations which I shouldn’t have been. My views and beliefs are quite conservative, so many times I am forced to defend myself and my views. I have been called a bigot, ignorant, and stupid. I just don’t need that drivel and negativity in my life.
I started playing games on Facebook a couple of years ago to bury the pain of Elizabeth’s trials with her vision, my father’s illness and death, and my mother’s declining health.  The games were a quick and easy way to take my mind off of the trials of my life.  While in and of themselves, most of the games are harmless and don’t take long to complete the “tasks”, most of them require you to come back several times a day to “harvest” or “collect” items. If you don’t, the bounty is lost and you have wasted all the time and “money” so you are compelled to come back. More and more of these games were creeping into my life. I found I was easily spending three hours or more just playing games, not to mention responding to posts.  Plus the blogs I follow and the message boards in which I participate were adding another hour or two to my screen time.

When my children started to say I was always working on the computer, I realized I have more important things to do with my time. My house always has something that needs to be done, laundry is always in the works, my husband and my children need my time and attention and most important of all I found my conversations with God not happening.

Monday I decided now was the time. I could use the impending holidays as the reason I was taking a break. I do not plan on returning in the New Year. At some point in time, I will deactivate my account. My oldest two daughters do not think I can do it. My 18 year old gave me two days. She lost the bet; I haven’t been on it yet and today is the second day. My oldest gave me a week. I am taking these as personal challenges and whenever I have felt tempted to log on, I recall their skepticism and it keeps me off.

I have also greatly pared down the blogs that I follow on a daily basis.  I deleted my membership in several message boards, so now I only participate in four. One is a Christian woman’s board that focuses on the family and frugality, the second is a Catholic Moms board which challenges me to grow in my faith on a daily basis.  The other two are homeschooling boards where I can go and ask questions and talk with moms who understand what it is like to homeschool larger families.

I told a friend I have done, and she thought it was a wonderful idea and is joining me. Her husband has started calling Facebook, Wastebook. As I look back over the past three years; it has certainly created a wasteland in my life.  I am taking this final week of Advent and the rest of the Christmastide season to lead myself out of the wasteland and back the fertile ground of my faith and family.

Changing of the Holiday plans

This has been a rough month around the house.  Just about everyone has had a cold for the past a month.  Last week included an ER trip with Abby for a severe case of croup.  According to the ER doctor, croup has been really bad this year.  They are seeing 10 and 11 year olds coming into the ER.  My neighbor told me one of his friends, an adult doctor, even was in the ER with croup.  So we aren’t the only ones dealing with illness.

I can only guess my two at the community college brought it into the house.  I just wish it would leave!  Unfortunately, it has boomeranged back to me.  I thought I had dodged the bullet about week ago, but last night at 2 AM it hit me full force: sore throat, stuffy head and cough.  I have yet to figure out why illnesses most often hit in the middle of the night, at least for my family.

Today was spent mostly hunkered down at home.  Richard took the boys up to church to deliver the Boy Scout popcorn that had been ordered last month.  Everyone else was too sick to go.  I refuse to bring people that are hacking up lungs to church, myself included.  Once Richard was home, I headed back to bed.  Six hours later I was up and still feeling horrible, just not as horrible.

This illness has also forced a change in our Thanksgiving plans.  We were going to Virginia to spend the day with my mom.  However, she has severe COPD and I don’t want to risk her getting this cold.  I am afraid that we could lose her if she was to come down with it, as bad is has been for our family.

I have tracked a pattern for my family, at least for at least the past 5 years. The week of Thanksgiving seems to be peak time for the family to be ill.  We often have had to change plans because one or more of the children have been ill. I won’t subject anyone to sick children, although I have been told to bring them anyway a few times. I feel that no one enjoys the day.  The sick child because they aren’t home, Richard and I because we will be dealing with sick, cranky children that just want to be home, or the others at the dinner worried about becoming ill.  So we choose to stay home and it frustrates some people.

Since I keep a stocked pantry, it won’t be an issue to pull together a Thanksgiving dinner.  I have already bought three turkeys were sale (39 cents a pound!!). I can’t beat a 24 pound turkey for under $10.  Tomorrow we will take a bird out and start the defrost process.  Come Thursday morning it will be defrosted and ready to go into the oven.  I already have the rest of the fixings for the dinner, all we will have to do is put together the side dishes.

We will miss visiting with my mom and brother, but we still have a lot for which we are thankful. Hopefully everyone will be well by Christmas so we can spend some time with her then.

Still At It Sunday

We did get most of the “room dump” completed in the girls’ room.  We even did some rearranging of the furniture.  We are getting the room planned for when the five year olds will have to graduate to twin beds.  I think plan should work.

All that is left is to complete in the room is the top shelf of the closet.  It should not take long to complete.  Once their room is completed after lunch, I am going to do a “closet dump” of the upstairs linen closet.

That particular closet has become disorganized over the past six months because of MY inattention when the children are putting away towels and the health and beauty items (the shampoos, soaps, and toothpastes).  Time to pull everything out and reorganize it.  I am going to pull out some of the older towels we use for rags and cleanups to free up space on the shelves. Then I am going to group the mouth care, soaps and shampoos, cold products, nebulizers and asthma meds, not to mention our box of ace bandages and assorted braces (from my oh so clumsy family, me included) together.  Then it will all be put away in a logical fashion.

Once that closet is completed, I will be definitely working with those that put items away to make sure it stays that way this time.

Have a wonderful, blessed Sunday with your family.

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

Thankful Thursday

Today I am going post some things that I am thankful for in my life. I realized recently that I haven’t been vocal enough lately about our blessings. I do not count Our Lord and God in these, because it only through him and from him, I have these earthly blessings.

First and foremost my husband, Richard. He has been a rock the past few years with the turmoil that has been going on in the family and extended family. He has allowed me to stay with Liz at the hospital, run back and forth to Virginia to help out Mom when dad was ill and then after his passing. Most recently he has been so wonderful in allowing me to travel to Virginia to spend time with Mom and run her around to appointments that need to be kept.

Second, is the blessing of homeschooling. Homeschooling has allowed us to separate from the strict schedule of the school system and allowed us freedom teach as we see fit and also allows us to have the flexibility to deal with life’s emergencies.

Third, my children. Through them I am learning so much, even while I am teaching them. I see them growing and getting to know each other and their new life as homeschooled children.

Finally, my friends, both in real life and online. Each community to which I belong to adds a blessing to my life. This happens either through fellowship with like minded moms of many, or growing in my faith because of discussions and pointed questions, or even learning how to get out of debt and stay that way! I thank God for each and every one of you.

What are you thankful for today?

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

The Ending of the Catholic Christmas Season — Epiphany

Today Catholics celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. This is the day the Wise Men from other nations came to worship and adore the Christ Child.  Now we know this happened much later than it is celebrated, but this is the day the Church chose to celebrate and end the Christmas season.

Father Jack’s homily about the importance of Epiphany really spoke to me.  The Feast of the Epiphany is the celebration of Christ coming for ALL men, the Jews and the Gentiles alike.  Having these wise men from other faiths and cultures coming to Christ symbolizes us coming to Christ and God’s love for everyone. As Christ told us, the greatest commandment is “To love one another as I have loved you”, so we are called to love everyone as these wise men loved Christ and as He loves us. 

He told us that we called to love the spouse that annoys us, the children that irritate us, the drive that cut us off, and even the Steelers fans (we live in Baltimore Raven country). We may not have to like them at that time, but we are always called to love them.

Have a wonderful Epiphany and remember to enjoy and love your family!

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

Fantastic Friday

Liz has completed her first semester back at college! Today is the “official” last day of exams, although she completed her exams earlier in the week.

She made some great friends, became involved in one of the service organizations and most of all learned her away around the campus and how to use all the tools that have been provided for her to learn. She figured out how to use her class note takers and test scribes for the greatest benefit. Having people to help out was a totally new experience for her and she had a difficult time at first. The most important thing learned was how to advocate for herself in a positive way to get her needs met. She has grown up and matured so much these past couple of months and her self confidence has really increased.

Looking back on the past two years with everything had she has survived, I have to say we are so blessed to live in Maryland. This state takes a very proactive approach for people who suddenly lose their vision. The state’s Department of Rehabilitation provided Liz with mobility training, teaching her how to safely navigate situations with her white cane so she can move about on her own. They provided training for many personal care type of things like how to set up your closet and dresser so you don’t wind up wearing red and orange (on accident), how to set up your immediate environment so that you can safely move about, and even how to set up medications so you know what you are taking. They also provided tools and training for the kitchen. She attended a two week confidence building seminar over the summer for teens with vision impairment who are planning on going to college.  She had a blast with the training which included a white water rafting trip and visits to local college campuses.  It was actually on one of these visits where she registered for college and set up her schedule.

After all of this training was completed, the Department of Rehabilitation provided the tools and equipment so she could go back to college and prosper. Things like a huge CCT screen that magnifies the print in her textbooks, a special machine for reading audio books (some text books can be provided in an audio format), special papers and pens for completing homework and taking her own notes, plus they provided a software program that will enlarge the computer screen up to 8 times normal.  It can also reverse the colors (white on black) which provide a better contrast for Liz to read.  To house this program a new laptop set up was provided. All of these tools and training allowed Liz complete her semester and realize that while she has new challenges to face and it might be more difficult, she can complete college and move into a career. I know we are all looking forward to the day she walks across the stage to receive her college degree.

I hope you have a fantastic Friday too!

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

Second Sunday of Advent

After a crazy busy Saturday, I am looking forward to a slower day spent mostly at home. We will head to 11 AM Mass, then come home for lunch. The weather is supposed to be in the high 50s and sunny so I am thinking an afternoon outside will be in the works.

One of the houses in the subdivision has a K’NEX train garden up and running. Douglas helped set it up this year (another benefit of homeschooling), so we will probably take awalk over there tonight, before the weather turns colder later in the week.

I hope you have a peaceful Sunday

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome