Monday, April 28, 2008

It's Just Not the Same....

I have noticed some major differences between being the mother of teenage girls and the mother of teenage boys.....

Every year our homeschooling group has a homeschool prom. It is usually pretty awesome.
They include all high school age students because it helps to have enough people to help pay for everything. Our family rule is that you can go freshman and sophomore year with no date, but you can go with someone your junior and senior years. Beth went all four years. She was always excited for weeks before. Her senior year, she and her best friend, Alicia, planned and organized the prom, which means we had a major mess at our house for weeks and Mom had to go out and help buy the food and front money. We also spent the day of the prom getting the hall ready and Mark and I had to help chaperone.
Anyway, to put it mildly, prom was a big deal around here for four years.

Now I have a 15 year old son who is a freshman in high school.
For a long time, he couldn't decide if he wanted to go. He would have to wear his suit (horrors!).
Last week, he finally bought a ticket.
"I guess I'll go" he said one day last week. I reminded him that he had already bought a would be a shame to waste it.
The prom is this coming Saturday.
I reminded him of that fact today.
"Oh yeah." was his reply.

Somehow, it's not quite the same.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Child in Me

I've been thinking about something I've discovered in myself....
About two years ago Mark had to have a colonoscopy. I had dropped him off early in the morning, and then I had to take my mom to the doctor while Mark was having the procedure done. I gave the nurse my cell phone number in case there was a problem, but since all of my siblings and their spouses work outside of the home, taking my parents to their appointments always falls on me. So I had my boys with me, and after I took my mom home, they called and said that Mark's procedure was over and I should come back. It had been over three hours, so I expected Mark to be all ready to go when we got there. However, when we arrived, Mark was still in his hospital gown and the "twilight" medication they had given him had not completely worn off. John, who was 12 at the time, was visibly upset. He kept stepping back away from Mark's bed and wanted to go out to the waiting room.
I was fighting the same impulses and I didn't know why.
It wasn't until later after we arrived back home and I had a few minutes to think about it that it hit me what was wrong with John....he didn't like seeing his dad in a situation where he was showing "weakness". Dad was supposed to be strong and in control of things; Dad was his protector. He felt vulnerable.
I realized that I was suffering the same type of feelings. I thought back to the times when my own dad had been in the hospital and he seemed so frail and vulnerable and I didn't like it. I always found myself wanting to sit as far away as possible. Even though I was an adult, I still found myself subconsciously thinking of my dad as my protector. It made me uncomfortable to see him in any other way.
I realized that day that I think about Mark in that way too.
The other night when I was afraid that Mark was having a heart attack, my first thought was "Lord! I'm not ready for this....I'm not ready to lose him." On the outside I was calm, but on the inside I was momentarily afraid. I immediately felt His presence telling me that He was with me. It would be all right.
Those comforting thoughts helped when I went outside to tell the boys that we had called 911 for their dad. Michael was immediately upset. He kept saying to me, "I don't want to lose Dad! I'm not ready." My same thoughts just minutes before. It was such a blessing to have family around because Mark's brother went in the house to stay with Mark and Beth, and I had a few minutes to talk to the boys; to try to reassure them before I had to leave. It's so amazing how people can react so differently...Michael was visibly upset and voiced it; John once again held back.

And the child in me understood.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Unexpected

Me darlin' husband decided last night that my blood pressure wasn't high enough.....
After dinner, I was upstairs taking care of laundry and Mark and the boys were outside working in the yard. Mark comes in and tells me he's having a hard time breathing. He's standing at our dresser, leaning on it, and panting for breath. Then he says that it feels like his stomach is pushing up into his chest. I start getting nervous...
I google his symptoms and come up with possible heart attack. I call Beth from her room and she comes and sees him, and gets nervous too. We wait a few minutes and it doesn't stop, in fact he seems to get worse.
We decide to call 911.
This is one of those times when living on the "family compound" is awesome. My Dad was working in the garden so he comes over; Mark's brother lives next door (he decided that he likes my family's compound too and bought a house next door). I told the boys that we called 911 for Mark, and Michael gets very upset. I don't think John quite understood...
After the ambulance arrives, Mark's sister (who is married to my brother) and lives behind us, pulled into their driveway and comes running. My brother comes home and joins us. My sister's son, drives by and sees the commotion, and stops too. It was such a comfort to be able to leave the boys to go with Mark, knowing that there was so much family there to stay with the boys.
I rode to the hospital with Mark (ambulance rides aren't exactly the most comfortable ones!) and Beth and Steve followed, along with Mark's sister Kathy, and my brother Chuck.
Fortunately, he started feeling better on the ride to the hospital. They gave him oxygen and put him on a heart monitor. At the hospital, they ran blood tests, did a chest x-ray, and ran another EKG. Everything came back normal, so they released him and told him to go to his doctor for a stress test. We arrived home about midnight.
So today, Mark is calling the doctor for an appointment. Neither one of us had gone to this doctor for almost 2 years, now we're both making extra trips.
When they were getting Mark ready to go home, Beth (it's nice to have a daughter who's going to be a nurse) stuck the blood pressure cuff on me and had the automatic machine take my blood pressure, twice, and one time it said 134/74 and the other time said 137/78. So I'm hoping that the machine is correct, though the nurse there said that they're unreliable. (so why do they keep using them if they're that unreliable?) So now I will be able to tell my doctor that next week, and hopefully, my pressure will be lower there too.
I'm feeling a bit better today....a lot less congestion....and my cough is much better. My eye is a bit better too, so the old medicine is doing it's magic.

I am amazed at how strangely calm I stayed last night. I felt like I was just living a dream or was strange. Our dear Lord at work, I suppose.

A blessed Friday to all....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Good and the Bad

I've been battling a nasty cold for two weeks now. I ended up going to the doctor today. The last few days my face has started to hurt under my eye, getting worse, and this morning I woke up with what looks like pink eye, so that was the final straw.
I have sinusitis which didn't surprise me and the eye is irritated because of that, he said.
So I have a nice antibiotic to take for the next week. I actually don't feel that bad...just some pain and pressure in my face. He gave me a heavy-duty antibiotic which he says should clear it up rapidly. That's the good news....
The bad news was that my blood pressure was high....160/80. The nurse took it three times.
The doctor says that it could be a bit elevated because of my infection, so he wants me to come back in a week and have it checked again. Then if it's still high, we'll discuss medication. Yuck...
Think I could lose 20 lbs. this week?
Ironically, I had decided this week that I'm going to make a major effort to lose some weight. This is definitely going to be motivation to work on that more.
Right now all I can think about is that all of the people I've known who have taken medicine for their blood pressure are/were old and that idea isn't exactly appealing...
Perhaps the dear Lord used this old sinus infection to get me to the doctor.
God is good, always....

A blessed Thursday to all....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Some Things Never Change

I was raised on a farm that has been in my family for almost 120 years. My great-grandfather had 130 acres which he split between his two sons, so my grandfather had 65 acres. My father (an only child) grew up there during the Great Depression. He always says they had enough to eat, but they barely had anything else.
During the 50's, city water came down the street and my grandfather was assessed $20,000 that he didn't have. In the years that followed, 20 acres were sold to pay for this. My parents built their house on the farm and my five siblings and I all grew up there. We raised food in the summer and sold firewood in the winter that paid for our Catholic educations.
Dad always had two other jobs to keep things going and my mom always worked hard being a housewife and a farmwife. We kids grew up working on the farm.
Now four of us have built our homes on the family land...the family compound, we kiddingly call it. Dad picked which lot we each would have and mine was given to me with the stipulation that he could garden our front yard (literally, our front yard!) as long as he wanted. Mark and I didn't mind, so 18 years ago we built our Victorian style house with a wraparound porch, on one corner of the farm with a strip of grass in front and a cornfield in front of that. It's always made it easy to tell people how to find our house.....the gray and red Victorian with the garden in front. Not too many of those around! That cornfield was also a great barrier between the yard and the street when our kids were little and playing outside all the time.
Every year, during the summer Dad tells us that next year, the garden will be smaller. Last year, he did shrink down the garden in front of our house so that we now have a yard that goes all the way to the street in front of half of our house. It was sad, in a way, because I knew that it was a sign that Dad is getting older.
Last year we had a dry, hot summer and the garden suffered terribly. We didn't get much and Dad was frustrated. All of our work for nothing. He said that he wouldn't plant a garden this year...he wasn't going to put himself through it.
He's 87 now, and will turn 88 in August, and I was sad thinking about no garden this year, and my brothers and I decided that we would at least do some of it on our own so that we would have some fresh veggies for all of us.
But the days this past week have been, for the most part, beautiful and Dad is out in the garden. He's been plowing the fields and planting seeds at home for transplanting. Today he and my brother are going to plant a field of potatoes.
It's in his blood, a part of himself that he can't let go of. His cardiologist always tells us that he's a "tough old bird" and though he has slowed down considerably these last few years, the springtime, the land, the warmth, the budding of the trees calls to him to do what he has always done.
So for another year, the garden in my front yard is about to be planted and I can have the comfort of knowing that at least for another year, "some things never change".

Friday, April 18, 2008

The End of an Era

Today marks the end of a phase of our lives....
The guys are outside right now, tearing down our playset. Mark built it back in 1990, the year we had this house built and Beth was a darling little three year old. It's starting to become an eyesore, and our baby is 14, so we made the decision to take it down.
It was my idea, I admit, but I still feel a little sad knowing that time in our lives is over....

A blessed weekend to you all....


We had an earthquake this morning and I slept right through it...
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my darlin' daughter came home very late last night and even, after she was home, I couldn't fall asleep. At 5:37 AM, I was finally peacefully sleeping...

Our Johnny

I've been struggling with writing about our experiences when we brought John home and everything that happened, especially that first year. I had started writing and posted it up here and then decided to take it down. Partly, I think, because it's not just my story, but John's story, and I feel uncomfortable writing the intimate details of his early life for everyone to read.
He didn't get a good start in life, and trying to deal with all of the baggage he brought with him was not easy, and more than we had bargained for.
Suffice it to say, however, that I am forever grateful that he came to us as Beth's First Communion miracle. Knowing that he was Michael's biological brother, and knowing that he was the answer to Beth's prayer, got me through those difficult times. I knew that he was meant to be with us; I knew that this was God's will for his life and ours. He was meant to be our child.
Adopting a newborn, and adopting an older child who has been neglected, are two completely different experiences. We also didn't have a social worker who was experienced in an older child- special needs adoption, and she made things worse for us.
But the dear Lord got us through; I prayed for love and patience and He gave them to me. Not instantly, but He taught me that love is a choice, not just a feeling; that patience is learned by practicing it.

One thing does stand out in my mind that I feel comfortable sharing.
Because John had been severely neglected, he had attachment disorder. He had never been attached to anyone and it resulted in some unusual behavior for a little one. I struggled with feeling attached to him because of it and other circumstances, and I begged the dear Lord for some guidance on how to feel attached; to feel like his mother.
He did not like for me to hold him. When we brought him home (at age 21 months), his bone age was about 7-9 months and he weighed around 16 pounds. So he was very small and it seemed natural to want to hold him. He didn't like it for too long. I kept thinking that one way that we become more attached to our babies is by holding them so much.....that physical contact helps the attachment strengthen. It came to my mind that I should try holding him more. Once he had been at our house a while, and was being well-fed, he became a little bundle of energy. The only time he would let me hold him was in the evening when he was getting tired.
We had a habit of saying a family rosary in the evening. We decided that the best thing would be to say family rosary right before bedtime. We would turn out the lights, light a candle, and I would hold John on my lap while we prayed.
At first he fought me, but I made him stay on my lap a little more each night, rubbing his arm, or his back, or his leg and gradually he stopped fighting me and relaxed. The soothing prayers, the darkened room, the candlelight, his tiredness worked their magic. Soon he would automatically come up to me to be held during our rosary time and he would fall asleep in my arms.

Those blessed family rosary times helped me become attached to my Johnny and him to me...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Being new to blogspot, I can't figure out how to add a blogroll to my site. I know, I know. Some of you are probably snickering right now. I'll admit I'm computer-challenged, but hey! I'm 50 years old and nobody had a PC when I was in high school or college (so no computer classes) and my darlin' husband has bad computer karma so I only let him near my laptop when absolutely necessary. I've gone through blogger's help section but can't find it there.
So if there's a kind soul out there who would explain to me how to add a blogroll to my site, I would greatly appreciate it.
Hope everyone is having a blessed day.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our Adoption Story Part 2

Numerous times when we were going through our infertility struggles, and even after we adopted Beth and Michael, people would tell us stories of how they knew people who conceived after adopting a child. I must admit that I thought that would be marvelous. Not just because I wanted the experience of carrying a baby full term and giving birth, but also because I always wanted a large family....lots of kids!
It didn't happen.
But my August 7th miracle gave me the comfort of knowing that our family was in God's hands....He would decide how many children we would have.
My faith become more important to me as we went through the struggles of infertility and after we became parents and I realized the importance of handing on the faith to my beautiful children. I felt the nudge to homeschool. Beth started kindergarten two weeks after we brought Michael home and then went to first grade at our parish school the next year. But she was bored, terribly bored in school and it showed up in her behavior at home. So after lots of prayer and talking, for Beth's second grade year, I found myself homeschooling.
It was an exciting year. She made her first confession that December and I actually talked Mark into going to confession for the first time in 17 was awesome. Our faith was becoming more important to both of us.
Spring brought Beth's First Holy Communion. We were eagerly awaiting it and I loved getting her ready to receive our dear Lord. An older woman at our church would talk to Beth, knowing that she was going to receive our Lord soon and told her that when she was a little girl, her grandmother had told her that anything she prayed for to our Lord on her First Communion Day, the Lord would give her. Beth loved that idea! I was a bit concerned, wondering what she might pray for. I told her that God would only give her something that He felt was good for her.

Her First Communion Day was a rainy one (just like mine!) but it didn't seem to matter, we were all so happy. I cried little tears of joy as we went up with her and she received the Eucharist for the first time. What a blessed day!
After Mass, our families all came back to our house for a party that lasted well into the evening.
After everyone had left, I did some cleaning up and then went up to Beth's room to read to her and talk before she went to sleep.
We talked about how wonderful the day had been; then she told me what she had prayed for after receiving Communion.
"I prayed for another little brother, just like Michael!"
Wow! I thought. She gave you a big order Lord!
I told her that we would have to wait and see if God thought that would be a good thing for us.
Then she added, "maybe Michael's birthmother will have another baby and give him to us." I told her not to count on that! I had been writing Michael's birthmother through the agency but we had never heard anything back from her.
We finished up the schoolyear. May flew by and now it was June.
On June 9th, exactly 40 days (a biblical number there) I received a phone call from our social worker. I had not spoken to her since Michael's adoption had been finalized (two babies were the limit). She told me that Michael had a 21 month old brother who was available for adoption and the family wanted us to have him. I almost dropped the phone. I couldn't believe it.
We said yes, of course.
Beth was so matter-of-fact about it. "That's what I prayed for!"

So the next week, we brought our little John home....another story in itself for another day.
I always say that John is our third adoption miracle, but most of all, he is Beth's First Communion miracle.

A blessed day to you all.....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Our Adoption Story

I've decided to write about our adoption story. For me, it is a story of three miracles....the blessing of my children and the gift of knowing that this is how our dear Lord planned our family to be.

Mark and I were married in 1978 when we were both 20 years old. I still had two years of college left. He was working full-time and going to school at night. We decided that we would follow the Church's teaching on contraception. I was uncomfortable doing anything else even though I didn't understand at the time why the Church taught what it did. I knew in my conscience I could not do anything else, even though I didn't know why.
Nothing happened.
Two years went by. I finished college and graduated with my degree in Elementary Education. I was glad that I had received my degree, but I was worried because no baby had come along in that time. Mark still had another year before he finished his degree, but we would have happily welcomed a baby.
A teaching job fell into my lap. I didn't apply for it....the principal from a small Catholic school had heard about me from a teacher at a school where I had subbed the month of May. She hired me simply on her recommendation. I taught second grade that year and loved it, but I was still longing for that baby.
Then in April my miracle happened.....I was pregnant. We were overjoyed, to say the least. Mark would be graduating from college in June, and I was due at Christmas time. Everyone thought that we had planned it that way, but we knew it was God's planning and it seemed perfect.
I quit my teaching job at the end of the year knowing I wanted to stay home with our little one.
I endured two months of morning sickness but it was worth it! Then at the end of July, I started spotting. I was put on bedrest and the spotting thankfully stopped.
In early August, my doctor sent me for a ultrasound. The technician was strangely quiet the whole time. Mark and I walked out in a somber mood.
The following Friday, which was August 7th, I received a call from a nurse at my doctor's office. He wanted me to come in at 2:15 that afternoon and told me to bring my husband along. I called Mark at work and he came home to take me.
At this point I was into my fifth month of pregnancy and had not felt any movement yet. The doctor listened carefully and could find no heartbeat. He then told us that the ultrasound showed that our baby had died.
We were devastated. I cried for days. The following Monday, I delivered our son. They would not let me see him. They had done a D&C on me, and when I awoke, I was in recovery with all of the new mothers with their babies. I laid there trying to hold back the tears. A nurse came up to me and told me not to cry because I would make all the new mothers feel bad. No thought to how I was feeling!
There's nothing like coming home from the hospital with empty arms.
I called the principal at the school where I had taught to see if she knew of a teaching job somewhere. I didn't want to stay home. Thankfully, she had a position open teaching middle school, so two weeks later I went back to teaching.
Once again, nothing happened.
A year went by and no baby, so I went back to the doctor again. He told me to relax...
I kept asking our dear Lord "Why?"
But no answer came.
Another year went by....I went back to my doctor and started tests for infertility. He sent me to a specialist. At that time, there was only one here in Cincinnati.
We also decided to look into adoption and applied at Catholic Social Services.
For the next 18 months, I went through two surgical procedures which turned up nothing and took fertility drugs, which did nothing except make me feel miserable.
The doctor wanted to do in-vitro fertilization. It was a relatively new procedure at that time and he thought I would be an excellent candidate, but I told him no and said that I was Catholic and it was against my faith. He laughed at me and told me that lots of Catholics were doing it. We decided to end our treatment.
After three years of being on the waiting list for adopting a baby, we received "the call". It was a Friday morning, December 5th, and somehow I knew that this was the call. We were so happy...we spent the weekend getting ready and telling our friends and family.
On Monday, December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a beautiful baby girl was laid into my arms....19 days old. Our Beth.
Our eight years of waiting to become parents had ended.
When you adopt, it takes a while for the adoption to be finalized. We had monthly visits from our social worker through the winter and spring into summer. Finally the letter came....the letter informing us of our final adoption hearing. It was for Friday, August 7th, at 2:15. The exact day and time of the doctor appointment 6 years earlier telling me that our baby had died. I couldn't believe it! I felt like it was God's answer to me.....this is how I want your family to be.
Our social worker later told me that she had put in for three final adoption hearings at the same time.....the two other couples received dates in October, but for some reason we had gotten this early August date. She was puzzled, but I knew why.
After Beth's adoption was finalized, we were allowed to apply to adopt another baby, which we promptly did.
Five years went by....Beth was an adorable toddler, preschooler. We enjoyed every minute with her.
I would call our social worker who told us that things were slow.....not many babies. It was 1992 by now and I noticed on the calendar that August 7th would be on a Friday again. I tried not to get my hopes up, but I would tell people about the August 7th date and wonder if something would happen on that date again. Mark worried that I would be upset if the date went by and nothing happened.
The last week in July, our social worker called to tell me that she was going on vacation and wouldn't be back until the middle of August. She also told me that there was no possibility of a baby in the weeks to come.
On Tuesday, August 4th, a call came. It was our social worker who was calling from home to tell me that, unbelievably, they had a baby boy for us. He had been born in a different part of our state, but this couple had read our profile and picked us. We could pick him up on Friday, August 7th at 12:30. We were amazed and overjoyed....I couldn't believe that our dear Lord had picked that date again. Our friends and family were incredulous. The time of day may have been different, but the day and date were the same.
I couldn't help believing that once again our dear Lord was comforting me....telling me that this was the way our family was meant to be. He took my day of mourning and turned it into a day of joy.
So on Friday, August 7th, 1992, we brought home our son, Michael Joseph, 11 days old. I fell in love the moment he was laid into my arms.

There is more to our story....but I will save it for another day.
I always tell this story when people are struggling with the question of why. Why did this happen? Why me? Because I know that our dear Lord answers all of our prayers. Perhaps, not the way we originally hoped; perhaps not in the time frame that we would like; but in the way and time that He deems best. We must simply put it in His hands.

A blessed Sunday to all.....

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I've finally decided to start a blog here.
I'm 50 years old, and married to my high school sweetheart, Mark, for almost 30 years.
We have three beautiful children all through the miracle of adoption. Our daughter is 21 years old and a junior in college. I homeschooled her through high school. We have two sons, biological brothers, who are 15 and 14. I'm still homeschooling them and planning to continue through high school.
My Catholic faith and my relationship with our dear Lord is the center of my life, or at least, I strive to make it so.
I hope to be encouraged here and to encourage you in your journey too.