7qt / two's company

When Amby was a baby and Joe just two years old, we had neighbors with two boys ages two and four. Those boys were inseparable--always scaling trees or piles of junk in their backyard or running around with dress-up fireman clothes on allllllll the time. I'd hear their mom near-constantly shouting at them to come in for this meal or that nap, for one to stop hitting the other, for the one to just leave the other one alone

I stupidly (and un-observantly) asked that mom once, "So it gets easier, right? As the kids get older?" And she paused with a very "Oh, honey" pitiful look on her face and told me that no, it wasn't really easier for her, at least not yet. 

Her honest answer has made me feel less guilty about...everything I'm prone to feeling guilty about by 8:00 p.m.

Joe and I are washing our hands in the bathroom sink. He grabs the towel to dry off, then hands it to me. 
Me: Thank you Joe.
Joe: Just doin' what I can, Momma.

The best blog ladies have written recently about being sick and having their husbands take care of them. I'm in the opposite boat. Sean took a nasty fall on some ice the day after a snowstorm and both feet flew out from under him. Good news: His left shoulder broke his fall! 

One urgent care visit and a fractured rib later and I have one patient in bed and two snotty-nosed minions all under the same roof. It could be worse. I'm the first to admit it. And I can imagine 100 different scenarios (98 of which involve the words "stomach flu" or "empty the contents of one's stomach") which would vastly increase our suffering. But I'm having a hard time keeping all the balls in the air. I kept my game face on until 7:30 p.m. on the day he fell, then I began sobbing face-down in my bed next to Sean. He patted my back and said, "Hey, I'm surprised you lasted so long!" 

Back to the inseparable boys. Playing hide and seek with Amby is my favorite. 

Favorite blog post of the week: "Ass of the Year" by Heather at Mama Knows, Honeychild: with an epic takedown of Govenor Andrew "Get Outta My State" Cuomo:
Oh Andrew. I don't know if anybody ever told you this before you became governor, but there are all sorts of different people who live in any given area. These people have actual opinions that differ from yours. I know, Andrew, I know. It's CRAZY.... 
Did you know there are people who live in New York State that don't like Sandra Lee's cooking and find it disgusting? Yes, these people exist! Shocking as it is, there are living, breathing people out here who don't like dumping five different cans of soup together to make one big soup, even if they hate cooking. Some of these people are even poor and they still like making actual soup from scratch, despite their poverty.
We gave up cable last year and that came with a few sacrifices, but one huge benefit was never again having to stumble upon an episode of Semi Homemade and those madwoman-decorated "tablescapes." 

I don't always watch American Idol, but when I do, I like Harry Connick, Jr. to dance

CJ Jones - Stand By Me - American Idol 13 by IdolxMuzic

When everything's going wrong in life, there's little I can do to stop it.

Except do the dishes.

Clean countertops are my love language.

Linking up with Jen.

Go Hawks!


Hobbes sightings

You know why I appreciate having Hobbes in the house (or in the car)? He's always got that sincerely happy grin on his face. I just read Ana's post on resolving to smile more with her kids. I'm going to suggest she get herself a Hobbes, which would increase the smiling in house by 1/6 with very little effort on her part. :)

Here's the tiger himself, involved in tower building:

and playing race car (in which he unfortunately serves as vehicle):

and riding shotgun (at Joseph's request):

No longer having to squeeze yourself in between the carseats, Hobbes. Well played.


pretty table flowers / five favs

It's January, and it's cold, it's bleak, and dare I say--it's a little ugly outside. So, for those who are able to still use their city's roads and get to a store, I recommending a little (affordable) winter pick-me-up for every table across the land.

(counter-clockwise from top left: mine, source, source, mine, and mine!)

1. Roses
Sean has brought roses home to me so many times, and every time he does, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. They're not always the cheapest flower around, but around St. Valentine's day, they become as common as daisies (and almost as cheap). To help keep them fresh, give them a good fresh cut (goes without saying for any flowers going into a vase) and remove the lower leaves and stems.  This helps to keep the water clean and clear.

2. Alstroemeria
This hardy-stemmed bloom will last for weeks--seriously, weeks--with a fresh cut and a cool spot out of the sun. Plus, they require basically no loving care--no recuts, few wilting petals or leaves, and no awful stamens. And with white, yellows, pinks, purples and deep red hues to choose from, they can fit many occasions. My sister has been known to have no fewer than four mason jars full of alstroemeria about her house at all times. Whenever I see a bunch, I think of her. A bouquet of 3-4 stems often runs no more than $5.

3. Daffodils
Does everyone know about the cheap spring daffodils at Trader Joe's? Only pay $2 (or less) for a bunch of 10 stems, then savor that happy yellow for days. People in fashion use the term "price per wear" for expensive garments, reasoning that the long-term use of a $2,000 dress makes it oh-so-affordable. I say that one daffodil bud costs a max of 20 cents, and if they bloom for seven happy, little-yellow-trumpet filled days? Well, that's like... dirt cheap.

4. Daisies and Mini Chrysanthemums (a twofer!)
In small seasonal bouquets, these two will often be paired since they're inexpensive and colorful. I've only one thing to say about daisies, and Kathleen Kelly said it first and best:

Kathleen Kelly: I love daisies.
Joe Fox: You told me.
Kathleen KellyThey're so friendly. Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?

5. Sunflowers
Just like daffodils, sunflowers tend to be cheapest in the late summer months. Someone gave me a bunch with 3-4 stems last summer, and I was totally surprised by how long they lasted and how cheery they made my little kitchen. To make them last longer, put them in a tall vase with lots of water. This helps support their thick stems and will prevent wilting.

Head back to Moxie Wife who is recovering from Scarlet Fever. Mercy!


a magnificat night

we sing for all the unsung saints
that countless, nameless throng,
who kept the faith and passed it on
with hope steadfast and strong
through all the daily griefs and joys
no chronicles record,
forgetful of their lack of fame
but mindful of their Lord.

so we take heart from unknown saints
bereft of earthly fame,
those faithful ones who have received 
a more enduring name:
for they reveal true blessing comes
when we our pride efface
and offer back our lives to be
the vessels of God's grace.

- hymn, sung to the tune of I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

After putting the boys to bed, Sean and I cleaned up the toy hurricane, did the dishes, then made a pot of Sleepytime tea and sat down with books.

This almost never happens at our house.

But tonight, for whatever reason, on Holocaust Memorial Day, it did. Instead of plowing through more of Mansfield Park, I picked up the January Magnificat. That hymn above followed today's reflection, written by Father Alfred Delp, a German Jesuit condemned to death by Nazis in Berlin.

"We are today--individually and collectively--fainting from want and loss of blood. 
Things have gone so far that no one can help us any more... Our last resource is to turn to the creative Spirit, the Holy Spirit, which is ready and willing to pour on us the healing power of our Father, God.

The worst wounds that can be inflicted on humans... are those of evil. When faith wavers, hope disappears, love grows cold, adoration ceases, doubt nags and the whole life is shrouded like a winter landscape in snow... 
That is the time to get into reverse, and let the Holy Spirit work from within building up a new life. 

If I had tried to cope with all this mountain of trouble unaided I should have reached the end of my tether long ago. Natural logic keeps forcing its evil conclusions, like poison, on one's consciousness. 
To counter them one has to apply the logic of healing, of guidance and submission, on which decisions can be based when they have been patiently arrived at through prayer.

The Holy Spirit constantly helps me 
over my hurdles in the small hours."

How many "small hours" must Fr. Delp have endured before going to his final reward. I think about the things I consider to be "mountains of trouble" in my life. Compared to Fr. Delp's, they are mere pebbles. Heaven must be full of these unsung saints, who bore their trials without fanfare, without blog posts.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.


what I wore sunday / grayscale edition

I'm sensing a disturbing trend in my Mass apparel: It's all roughly the color of ash. Ash with pattern, texture and layers, sure, but man.

Vest: thredup
Skirt: old Merona
Modesty: high
Practicality for wrangling toddler all Mass: very high

I practically match the environment. If my tights were the color of dead twigs and my boots the hue of frozen soil, I'd be invisible.

The boys don't seem to have this problem, though they do look as if Scotty is partway though beaming them up.

Both of the boys have colds which apparently means we must all wake up every two hours at night and howl at the moon with runny noses. So I'm tired. To rejuvenate yesterday during nap time, I did the second-best thing to taking my own nap: I went shopping.

I'll repeat what I told Sean when I got home with a bag full of goodies from Gap: Few words have ever stirred such passion in my heart than "take an additional 50% off sale items."

Note to self: wear the pink sweater to Mass next week.

Now back to the other much more colorful ladies at Fine Linen and Purple. See? Purple. Color even in the name.


7qt / francis, march, trains, chicken.

First off: Were you ever this cool as a kid?

I certainly wasn't.

On Saturday, my Dad will be boarding a bus with a load of fellow pro-lifers bound for the Walk for Life in San Francisco. I so wish I could be marching with him, or that I could have been with the human popsicles who marched in the snow and cold D.C. on Wednesday. One of them was Iris, the fine photographer and blogger from Country Girl's Daybook. I'm so grateful to people like her--the people who live close enough to D.C. to go, then make the sacrifice to be there all day, and then write about their experience. Head to her page to check out some great images from the event. 

Speaking of writers, today's the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and journalists!

Francis was born in the French border region in 1567. As a young man, Francis became profoundly depressed when contemplating the possibility of his soul being predestined by God to hell. After weeks of barely eating and sleeping, he finally prayed before a miraculous image of Mary, entrusting his life entirely to God's merciful love, with no care for reward. This experience formed the basis of both his pastoral work as a bishop in post-Reformation Geneva, and inspired his influential writings. His masterful Treatise on the Love of God influenced Saint Therese of Lisieux and Saint John Bosco. 
- Magnificat, January 2014

And wouldn't you know, even Ms. Fulwiller has a little to say about this doctor of the Church, and how he helps us place ourselves in the presence of God. St. Francis de Sales, pray for us. 

Changing tracks--ha. With full credit to his train-obsessed older brother, three of Amby's 15 current words are:
*(not technically a word but more an onomatopoeia but whatever I'll take it)


Tonight, dear friends, tonight's the night for man-pleasing chicken. Last night was supposed to be the man-pleasing chicken night. But when the man calls at 5:25 p.m. to say he's just now leaving a client in some God-forsaken small town 2 hours away, then the woman is far from pleased and is not about to start making man-pleasing chicken for a man who ain't even home. So. Pizza last night. BUT TONIGHT! 
(Note: Found the recipe through Laura's awesome post on best meals to bring a friend/new mom, check it out!)

Before the aforementioned 5:25 p.m. call occurred that cancelled the chicken-making, I loaded everyone back into the car after naps to make the much-dreaded second trip of the day to a grocery store to procure grade a maple syrup for the recipe. 

That little red cart is, in my opinion and at this stage of life for the boys, BETTER THAN A STROLLER. Seriously, they never let go of it, never walk away from it, and help me throw stuff in it. Granted, a loooooong stroll through the frozen food aisle could not be completed without a box of those mini ice cream cones being thrown in for Joe, lest a meltdown occur. When caving to my preschooler only sets me back $2.99, I'm prone to caving. 

What, your day doesn't end with a rousing game of Tackle Mom?

I'll do a little dance in one more week when football season is over and we move on to a much more civilized sport being demonstrated on the telly. Baseball.

Head back to Jen's for more. 



I'm often caught unaware by how much my boys look alike, especially when I'm perusing the ol' iPhoto albums from the past few years.

the first smiles phase

the too-cool-for-school jacket and ruffled hair phase

the chicken phase

God help us if I start doing split-screen splicing and pose Joe in an outfit in our living room today, then wait two years for Amby to be in the same outfit and pose him in the same place.

I think I need to get a hobby.

All the cool boys and girls have more at Cari's for Theme Thursday.


the hands of God / five favs

Well, there's no getting around it: it's a sad day. Today's a day for repentance and prayer.

I wrote last week on five ways to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade with your family, but today, my creative spark is gone and I'm in mourning mode, mourning the babies, mourning with the women who were pressured, coerced or forced at gunpoint into a clinic. Mourning with those who aborted because they didn't think they had enough money or support to feed another child. Mourning my own missed chances to support them.

In the face of such grievous suffering and sadness, I know that all is still in the hands of God. That's probably why a phrase popped into my head a few days ago:

"...Something something something... 
The rest is in the hands of God."  

Those words kicked around my head, driving me nuts because I couldn't place the movie, song or show from which they came. Internet quote searching commenced.

1. Maybe it's from Fiddler on the Roof?

[Hodel is leaving on a train for Siberia]
Hodel: Papa, God alone knows when we shall see each other again.
Tevye: Then we will leave it in His hands.

Close, but no cigar. L'chaim.

2. Was it the song?

He's go the whole world in His hands....
He's got the little bitty babies in His hands...

Close, but not exactly. But when taken in today's context, that song always makes me cry. He's got a whole lot of little babies in His hands--over 50 million.

3. Was it scripture?

Wisdom 3:1
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.

No, but quite apt for today.

4. Maybe St. Augustine?

"God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them."
- Augustine of Hippo, City of God

Not it, but so true.

5. Maybe framed in my bedroom?


A wonderful priest and dear friend who gave the homily at our wedding Mass framed this pre-Vatican II Exhortation Before Marriage for us as a gift. A short snippet:
No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God.
 In marriage and in life, I know this holds true. Being a pro-life person means showing "the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice" in our every action.

It means showing compassion and love. It means changing laws and donating diapers. It means sharing the truth that abortion hurts women and ends a life. It means mentoring young moms and providing free babysitting. It means doing everything possible to "care for life":

“All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth…to give life is to open (our) heart, and to care for life is to (give oneself) in tenderness and warmth for others, to have concern in my heart for others.
Caring for life from the beginning to the end. What a simple thing, what a beautiful thing..So, go forth and don’t be discouraged. Care for life. It’s worth it.”
–  from a homily in 2005 by Cardinal Bergoglio celebrating Aug. 31  feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus, patron saint of expectant mothers, newborns

The rest is in the hands of God.

/ linking up with Hallie.


what I wore sunday / how stepping in poop made me dress better

After trying on every article of clothing I own this morning in search of an outfit (in truth I guess I did skip my impressive collection of Gonzaga sweatshirts and bridesmaid dresses), I settled on what I call my first-trimester dress--or if worn now, when I'm not pregnant, my no-compression-undergarments-needed dress. Seriously, this thing is forgiving and merciful to the midsection.

Dress: Jones New York
Frost on every tree and bush in the city: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Coat: In the car
Necklace: Should have worn one

I always consider this dress too schnazzy to wear to Mass, and why? Because it's black, I guess? I heard once that you should dress for Mass as you'd dress for a wedding. Would I wear it to a wedding? Of course. So here it is. The only thing missing is a hosted bar and some layer cake.

Last week on Fine Linen and Purple, Sarah challenged readers to cast off their pajamas and sleepwear each morning and truly get dressed. I know that some moms do struggle mightily with this. I don't consider myself one of them. Pulling on jeans plus a nursing camisole and tunic when the boys were babies always seemed infinitely more comfortable to me, probably because I've left the house at least once every single day since they were born (ok, there was this one day I didn't).

But I do understand the urge to wear workout clothes or sweats with a fleece jacket and tennis shoes from time to time, even if working out isn't in your plans, because workout clothes can be so cute these days--the pinks! The neons! The January sales to suck you into it all!

I bought a dandy new pair of workout shoes a few months ago and resolved to use them solely for working out.

See? Pink. OOooooooh.

My other grungy pair I relegated to those sweatpants/fleece days. It was on one such day that I walked the boys to the park.

Within 10 minutes of being there, I solidly whacked my head on a low monkey bar. Then Joe fell off a tire swing. And while still recovering from said head whacking and rushing through the bark to rescue Joe from the offending tire swing, I stepped in a large, mushy, camouflaged pile of dog poop.

(An aside re: animal feces. In the three years since becoming a mother, I've built up my tolerance to poop that comes from my own children. But poop that comes out of anything other than a creature I've birthed myself? I SHUDDER. Spare me.)

I packed everyone back in the stroller and heaved homeward, swearing and cursing dog owners who don't clean up when their animals crap in public spaces, especially spaces that are designated for children and their easily-irritated mothers.

When we got back to our garage I kicked off my disgusting footwear. Already being winter, we had disconnected our garden hose, so I didn't have running water outside with which to wash them off--and I wasn't about to bring them inside. So I threw them. Here.

And there they've sat ever since.

POINT BEING: I no longer have shoes to wear on my sweatpant days.

And so? I get dressed every day.

Three cheers for that.

More outfits/less rambling at FLAP.


prayer at night: my last, and best, for God

I only made two resolutions for the new year: One I talked about here, and the other is praying a rosary before going to sleep each night. 

I used to think it poor form to save my prayers for bedtime, like I was sending one last hail Mary (ha!) pass up to God, saying "Hey, I've ignored saying any formal prayers for much of this day, but before the clock strikes 12, here's one drowsy decade. And a Memorarae. And maybe an act of contrition in case I die in my sleep."

This year I've realized two things that have lightened my guilt load regarding prayer.

First, just because I'm not saying formal prayers during the day doesn't mean I'm ignoring the Lord. Quite the opposite. Frequently--FREQUENTLY--I'm asking the Lord for more patience in parenting, or asking Our Blessed Mother to be with people who are hurt or in trouble (as an ambulance races past our house), or begging St. Anthony to help me find my keys. Again.

Second, I've let go of the guilt I felt about praying before sleeping. Prayer from my bed before falling asleep may actually be the best place and time for me to offer my thanks, praise and petition to God.


In the morning, I'm a grump. For obvious kids-still-freaking-wake-up-during-the-night reasons, as well as why-do-kids-wake-up-at-5:55-a.m. reasons.

In the afternoon at nap time, I'm working. Ok yeah, I know, writing posts about Hobbes isn't really "working." But washing dishes or scrubbing mac 'n cheese off the table is work, and I do it over and over during the day.

In the evening and after kids are down, I watch and unwind with Sean. (We often pray together, but I think every person needs individual prayer time, too.)

Point being: Like every mom, my focus flits around during the waking hours and I rarely have moments of solitude.

But when I climb in to bed and clasp my rosary beads, and the room is dark and quiet, I can finally give God my undivided attention and love.

No phone to check. No pre-school questions to answer. No sweet faces to wipe clean; no other better-dressed moms to compare myself to, no mirrors to show me how tired I look by the end of the day. Not even a counter to clean or a speck of cheese to sweep up. (I swear, because it's one of the three foods he ever eats, Amby sheds cheese.)

For a long time, my stumbling block with prayer was what to envision while I prayed. I finally gave myself permission to just picture myself in church, looking at the tabernacle--I need not think of anything fancier than that. Or, I meditate on the image of Our Lady Untier of Knots, because God knows, we have a few knots that are real doozies.

A rosary no longer seems like an insurmountable mountain of Hail Marys, the recitation of which will put me to sleep. No, a rosary is finally five decades of prayer, peace, and quiet--almost a luxury. I can attribute this solely to grace in my life. What a gift.

After keeping it up for two weeks now, I'm amazed at how much better I've gotten at saying it. Can that be possible? That someone gets better at praying? If I think of praying as flexing a muscle, then of course. I used to scoff at that comparison. Now I get it.

Every night, I'm giving my final 15 minutes of energy to God. It's not the leftovers of my day. It's the last, and in my case, the best.


the fine craft of pic collage

I'm on month six of having an iPhone and downloading the various apps that much more stellar bloggers use to create graphics. Thus far I've relied on Whitagram and Phonto.

Last week, though, I added a new gem to the mix: Pic Collage. And so I was finally able to craft the graphic I've been wanting to make forever now, the one that would show what I'm reminded of, every time Amby puts our firefighter's hat on his head backwards.

Papal Galero for the WIN.

More craftiness can be found at Clan Donaldson.


five favs: marking roe v. wade as a family

If I don't plan on doing something, I rarely do it.

Spontaneity only visits this house a few times a year, and when it does, it's usually for emergency post-dinner fro yo runs in July.

So I'm making my plans now for next Wednesday, the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I credit the bishop of my home parish for giving me the little nudge to plan ahead; if a way-busy bishop can begin his preparations for this sad date months in advance, then a little SAHM can find the time, too. 

I see no reason to exclude my little guys from marking the import of this day. They are, after all, the smallest survivors of this modern-day holocaust. And if anyone can understand the importance of protecting life in that most comfortable and familiar of places, the womb, it's a child. 

1. Go buy diapers, wipes or formula for your local crisis maternity home.

Maternity homes and crisis nurseries almost always have an immediate need of these baby basics. Gift cards to grocery stores or Wal-Mart are always in high demand, too. Sure, just writing these life-saving homes a check would be just as useful. But kids will understand the necessity of diapers and giving them to moms and babes who need them so urgently. 

2. Attend Mass--and offer it up. 

I'll be honest here. I've only once attended Mass alone with both my boys, and man, it was a) a humbling experience and b) not one I'm eager to repeat. Even during Sunday Masses with Sean, I fret over my children's behavior. Next Wednesday, I'm planning on taking the boys to (a hopefully brief) noon Mass, sitting waaaaaaay in the back, and offering up any mortification for the pain unborn children suffer during abortion, and for their grieving, hurting mothers (and fathers). 

3. Say a rosary for all unborn babies and mothers. 

If you already say a daily rosary as a family, mix it up by praying the pro-life rosary, created by Bishop Richard Garcia, who served a while back in my home parish. I'm just saying... that's one fine diocese. :)

And if you're feeling brave, go say that rosary outside of an abortion clinic. It's not for everyone, and it's not even feasible for all moms with kids at certain ages. I know I cannot take Amby and Joe at their ages right now, since Amby's not content to sit in a stroller, and our town's abortion mill sits directly on a very busy road. 

But. There's nothing in the world quite like praying at the very place where children die, week by week. And there's nothing more powerful than bringing children--real, beautiful, vibrant, happy (or fussy, either will work) to witness to the reality of life, and to the reality that unborn children become life's best blessings.

4. Give up sweets for the day, and say why.

In that letter from Bishop Soto, he designates January 22 a day of reparation. When I think of all the reparation that needs to occur to atone for the sins of 57 million aborted children since 1973... I get discouraged. I want to don sackcloth and ashes pull a Jonah in Nineveh, running through the streets and shouting about repentance. 

But I'm a mom with two kids, and to do that, I'd have to push my double stroller while running and shouting. So I'm going to give up my Dove dark chocolate and mini cinnamon gummy Valentine's hearts for the day. I'm going to tell Joe and Amby that I'm sad that not everyone understands that every baby growing in its mommy's womb is precious. That this makes God sad, too.

5. Read Angel in the Waters to the kids. 

Few books have paired fetal development and theology as well as Angel in the Waters. Haven't heard of it or seen it yet? Take a peek:

Since we already own and cherish this beautiful little testament to the value of each life, I'm thinking of purchasing a few more copies and sending to friends and family.  

Have other ideas for marking this day as a family? I'd love to hear.

And head back over to Hallie's, my favorite hostess with the mostess.


what I wore sunday / Joe-vin and Hobbes

Linking up today with the FLAP ladies for my hastily-chosen morning ensemble. Wearing a black sweater to Mass always seems like a good idea, until I glance down at the opening prayer and see the dried syrup smears and waffle crumbs stuck to my left sleeve. AAAAM-BEEEE.

Sweater: Nordstrom Rack
Boots: Kohl's
Hair: Not washed this morning and frizz-tastic
Necklace: BaubleBar

Sundays always seem to bite me by 11 a.m. We manage to get everyone up, fed and ready for 9 a.m. Mass, but then we're home way before nap time with two cranky kids who just ate donuts. When I proposed a trip to places various and sundry in search of a new rug for the boys' room, Joseph replied that he wanted Hobbes to accompany him in the car. Sure, buddy.

My parents gave Hobbes to Amby for Christmas, since I told them Amby's less interested in trains and machines and more about animals, tigers specifically, and anything that's larger than him. He's shown some interest in him, but it's Joseph who's love and affection for Hobbes runs pretty deep.

I have to say: I don't mind checking my rear view mirror and seeing my three boys.

At least he doesn't need a booster.


7qt / fibromyalgia, they say.

In various and vague terms, I've tried to write about the pain and crosses Sean endures each day (and night), pain that for over a decade went undiagnosed and still seems entirely unresponsive to medications. My resolution for 2014? Find a way to write about his (our) struggles in a way that feels less like like descending into the pit of despair and more like saying to good friends: Let us pray for one another.

Fifteen years ago, a family doctor called it growing pains.

Five years ago (right before Sean and I married), a rheumatologist in Washington called it ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis).  

Three years ago, two top neurosurgeons in San Francisco told us it was spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. Sean would be in a wheelchair by the time he was 40. 

Two years ago, a naturopath in California called it a body-wide infection. 

One year ago, a pain specialist in Seattle called it... nothing. And maybe Sean should try yoga.

Save for the Seattle doctors and the doctors from Sean's childhood, I've been convinced of each doctor's diagnosis at the time. After each diagnosis came some suggested treatment: prescriptions with horrendous possible side effects (like cancer); surgery with hazards (like early paralysis), allergen therapy with requirements to eat rabbit for three days (fun fun fun). 


Three months ago, Sean spent 10 days with specialists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. 

They called it fibromyalgia. And this time, I think it's final. I think they're probably right. 

This is my life's flip side; this is the non-photographed, non-mentioned-but-ever-present topic in my mind. Every single day, my thoughts swirl around three things: when we'll have our next baby, how and when I'll finally get to live near my family again, and how and where we'll find help for Sean and his pain.

They're all intertwined, bundled together like a 3-for-the-price-of-1 bargain in my thoughts and prayers and pleading with God. I know, how generous of me, making it so easy for God. See, Lord? I'm only asking for a medical miracle, a job relocation and more trust in your Divine plan for our family. That's all! 


Having a diagnosis, however, relieves some of the uncertainty in our future. In time, with much trial and error, we'll probably find the right combination of drugs that will lessen some of Sean's symptoms. But that means more time waiting, more time summoning the courage to try something new, more time waiting for it to work. More time not getting it right. More time enduring nasty side effects. More time weighing the pros and cons. More time spent working on a problem that has already consumed so many resources. 

In spite of all that, this story has silver linings, the extent and brightness of which I doubt I'll truly understand in this life. The prayers, the novenas and Masses, the fasting and sacrifices family--and friends like family--have made for him... it overwhelms us. And it fills me with more gratitude than I thought possible. Both people I know and love--and people I've never met--who heard that Sean is a young dad with two small boys who is in pain and needs prayers; they've all entreated Our Blessed Mother and her Son to be with us during this trial. 

In 2011, Sean went on pilgrimage to Lourdes--or as he calls it in the most reverent way possible, Disneyland for Catholics.

Each night during the good weather months, pilgrims gather and chat Ave, Maria by candlelight. 

Beats the Electrical Parade, ehh?

Going to Lourdes had been one of Sean's lifelong dreams. He bathed in the water and asked God for a miracle, if it be His holy will. His journey to Mayo was something of a pilgrimage too: Going to a secular place of healing, asking for an answer. 

We have an answer. Now we're praying for what to do with it.


Next steps? Seeing a new local neurologist who specializes in fibro. That appointment is next week. I'm praying for a doctor with good insight. For patience, endurance and perseverance. For gratitude that doctors and medicine are readily available to us, even if we haven't found the right ones yet. For the many other people who struggle with fibromyalgia, with misdiagnosis, with years of pain. I'm praying for our family's own little miracle. 

Let us pray for one another.

As always, the lovely Jen has more for your friday dose of the 7's.