Coming through the grief

This has definitely been an interesting year. The loss both of our mothers took more out of me than I realized. Grief is very tough thing. Not only was I grieving the loss of my mother, I was grieving the loss of my mother-in-law. It was a very hard process for me. In July all the feelings I went through with Andrew’s death 8 years ago came rushing back. I felt I was at the beginning of grieving process all over again.

I backed away from friends and activities because I just didn’t have the energy to deal with things outside of the house. Even taking care of things inside the house was difficult at times. It has taken me the better part of the last 6 months to work my way through it all. I am in a much better place now and am actually looking forward to Christmas Day, even though it is the anniversary of my mother’s death. We have decorated the house: the tree is up, the outside lights are lit and our Elf on the Shelf, Happy Red Fred, is making his daily appearances.

Soon we will start the Christmas baking, something we haven’t really done the past three years. Emma and I sat down today and decided on the cookies we will be making this year. We have picked some oldies the family loves: snickerdoodles, chocolate crinkles, peanut blossoms, chocolate chip cookies and of course, fudge. We are also going to add in some new ones: Russian tea cakes, candy cane cookies and basic sugar cookies.

Later on this week we plan our Christmas week menus and activities. My two oldest now have beaus and they will be visiting over the holidays, plus we will other friends and family coming to visit so I want to make sure we are well stocked with food and drinks for those people who will float in and out over the holidays.

This week I really need to get on the wrapping. All of the presents have been purchased, now I just need to wrap them. I really dislike wrapping! Richard is talking about taking the children out shopping tomorrow, so I probably use that time and wrap his presents. After his presents are wrapped, either of us can wrap when we have a free moment.

I hope your Christmas plans are coming together for you and your family. Mine finally are.


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.


I am glad that you have found the new site.  I decided to migrate the blog to WordPress, which will provide more functionality.   I was able to copy all the posts from the BlogSpot site, I have all the “old” content here.  If I had know how easy it would be, I would have done it long ago!

Pull up chair,  grab some coffee and some chocolate and stay around for a while.

Menu Planning Monday

I am getting back on the Menu Planning Bandwagon. Here are the menu plans for the week.

Cream of Wheat
Piece of Fruit

Peanut Butter & Jelly
Grilled Cheese
Cheese Quesidellas
Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Lunch Sides (Pick 2)
Ritz/Club Crackers w/Laughing Cow
Piece of Fruit
Cheese stick

Piece of Fruit
Cheese stick


Chicken Breasts
Herbed Noodles

Pork Chops
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Meat Loaf
Baked Sweet Potatoes

Thursday — Scouts
Fend for Yourself
Clean out the Fridge


Roasted Chicken
Alfredo Noodles

Easter Sunday
Spiral Ham
Candied Yams
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes

What do your menus look like for the week?

Pax Christi!


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

Self Evaluation

As you know, the Zoo has been going through extremely tough times the past few years. If I list them out it is amazing what the family has had to endure and live through:

  • Liz losing her eyesight
  • my dad’s illness
  • Liz’s shunt failing twice in the first year requiring two additional surgeries
  • my MIL’s diagnose of breast cancer
  • my dad’s death
  • Richard’s retirement from the fire department for medical reasons
  • mom’s COPD flaring up
  • multiple hospitalizations of Liz and my mom throughout the last two years
  • the death of my mom on Christmas Day
  • the death of my MIL a month after my mom’s

Now that the rush has calmed down, my anxiety and stress levels have gone through the roof.  I am feeling out of control in all areas.  I have done some reflection over the past few days and I think I have come to the conclusion about what has happened in my life and why I am feeling like this.  I have fallen away from the routines I used to follow.

I had a working schedule of schooling, chores, meals and errands which the family followed. The house ran relatively smoothly.  Schooling was completed, the house was presentable at all times, and the house felt more peaceful overall. Over time as I was needed elsewhere outside of the house more and more, these things slowly fell by the wayside. First the meal planning gave way to seat of the pants fixing of meals.  Schooling was fit in when I was at home. Chores were done when someone noticed mold growing in the tub.  And even as things have settled down, these bad habits have remained in place. It has ended up affecting everyone and everything in the house.

The schooling barely gets accomplished, and it is always involves a struggle with at least one child and often more of them.  The cleanliness of the house is the lowest acceptable level.  Meals are hit or miss because nothing is planned.  Errands are done almost on a daily basis because the monthly big shopping trips have not been done, so we run out of things unexpectedly and we need them NOW!

One of the major areas of my life which has been short changed is my prayer life. As life became more complicated, I lost the routine of prayer.  Last week I took the time to reboot my prayer life. Some days I only said a rosary in the car after dropping the older ones off at the college, but it was something. It felt good to be back in conversation with God and I felt a sense of peace slowly returning to my soul.  Prayer should be a large part of my life as a Catholic.  To get back on tract of daily prayer, I have decided to rely on the old standards for two months or so.  We will be praying:

  • The Morning Offering
  • A Daily Rosary
  • Reading the Day’s Gospel and discussing it with the children
  • Daily Proverbs Reading

This evening, I sat down planned out the menu for the week.  It feels so freeing to have the meals back under control. Home school has just been happening without thought or purpose for this year. Over the next week I am going to evaluate the home school schedule and get that moving forward again. For the short term, I decided to enroll the older four home schooled children in Time 4 Learning , to get an idea of where or if there are gaps in learning.  As I evaluate the home school schedule, I feel this program will help me plan to fill in their gaps.

I am also going to evaluate the chores which need to be done throughout the day and week then assign chores to the children.  I realized I need to become more proactive with the follow through when I assign chores. I will making sure they complete the chore assignments to my standards and if not, then I will make them complete them to the standard.

I have my assignments for the week.  What do you have planned?

Pax Christi!


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