Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kaput on the way to Stuttgart

We stopped the Autobahn on the way to Stuttgart.  The Autobahn was a parking lot as our car burned to the ground people.  Our IRL friends and family were not surprised by this occurance- weird stuff usually happens to us.  Most of the time, it's our fault. This time, it was most definitely NOT our fault.

The couple we were staying with has a son who was playing in a baseball championship in Stuttgart. The dad of the kid, the kid and our kid (AJ) went ahead to Stuttgart for practice and warm ups.  Guitar Man, my friend A and I followed a day behind in our rented van- the van we were planning on traveling in for a week. Guitar Man drove and he, with all due respect, isn't the smoothest driver on the road.  He is safe- never been in an accident, but just a little jerky on the brake and the steering wheel.  I'm used to it and have his rhythm down pat and can totally roll with it.  It's like a dance- he leads and I follow.  

We were jerking along just fine for a few hours until the car went a bit haywire.  The dash started blinking and Guitar man couldn't put the car in gear.  We found a shoulder to turn off on and called the insurance company. While we were calling, white smoke started coming out of the engine- we thought it was steam and just stayed put.  About 5 minutes later, the smoke turned gray.  We got out and Guitar Man emptied the luggage onto the shoulder.  I thought he was over-reacting.  Soon a few cars stopped to help.  They called the fire brigade and the police.  After about 10 minutes, flames started coming out of the engine compartment and in less than 5 minutes the entire car was engulfed in flames.  Pops and explosions and rolling debris were frequent.  For every explosion, my friend A and I jumped out of our skin. The jumpiness wouldn't leave until the next day.  I'm sure it did wonders for our adrenals.  We moved farther away and finally the police and fire brigade showed up.  They put out the fire (it seemed tricky to put out).  From the time the fire started to the the time the car was engulfed in flames was about 15 minutes.  The car burned for another 20-30 minutes before the firefighters put it out.

The fire chief took us the nearest town where we got on a train to Stuttgart. On the way he told us the fire was electrical and we were lucky.  We were worried about liability and how we would get home and what would happen to the rest of our trip and we were trying not to think of what could have much worse it could have been.  We were very, very thankful that the kids were not with us.  We just sat with stunned, dumbfounded looks on our faces and made jokes to lighten the mood.

We had to board the train without tickets- evidently the Germans don't usually check tickets.  The ticket machine was broken and we didn't have time to walk to the station to buy a ticket.  Of course, they decided to check our tickets- the tickets we didn't have because they USUALLY don't check tickets! When my friend tried to explain what happened, he just looked at us dumbfounded and let us ride for free. We smelled like fire so I guess he believed us.  He kept saying, "Kaput?" and we kept saying, "Kaput!"

The silver lining in all of it was that the driveway down to the villa we were visiting in Tuscany was completely treacherous and had one hairpin turn that our replacement car barely made.  We had to burn the parking brake and make a 5 point turn to get the minivan down (and then back up) the villa drive.  The van we originally had wouldn't have made it to the villa since it was much bigger and longer.   Another example of how something bad really turns out for the best.

Here's some video of us going down the villa drive.  I'm the one giggling and ignoring AJ as he keeps trying to talk to me.  Mother of the year.  The video doesn't seem to capture the fact that we are bumping along two strips of concrete through the Tuscan mountains with a steep drop off on one side.  The video stops at the hairpin turn.  Wish I would have kept it rolling:

Here's my rendition of a hit song whilst viewing our van burn to the ground:

Thank you for humoring me and reading our car fire story (if you made it this far!).

God Bless You!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


The longer I didn't update, the easier it became to not update.  Lots of negatives in that sentence, huh?  Jen's revelation that she needs to write struck a chord with me.  I need to write for the same reasons.  I often go back over old posts to re-read them and they help me process my feelings and memories.

Unfortunately, I'm a perfectionist and I don't have a lot of time to blog.  By the time I read everyone's blog and comment (sometimes) and check facebook, my internet time is over.  Now that I'm friends with bloggers on facebook and in the IF group, I have even less time to blog.  Plus, I'm a teacher and am very hesitant to share certain things on a semi-private blog.  I'm also in a new phase of infertility.  When I started this blog, I thought our chances of having a baby were over 50%.  Now, I think they are under.  Way under.  I'm not totally okay with it, but I am consoled.  So, what to do with the blog.  Not sure.  But, I need to write.  So, it will continue with short posts that will not be heavily edited.  In other words, posts written very quickly!  We'll see...

Missed you guys although, I've been reading your blogs for the past 3 months!

This summer was one of bearing fruit.  It was much needed after a difficult season.  Our trip to Europe was fabulous.  My sister visited for 2 and 1/2 weeks and then the friend we were visiting in Germany visited for 2 weeks.  Our summer was non-stop visiting and hanging out.  Then, Guitar Man released his self-published novel at the end of August. That will be another post in an of itself.  He worked on it for 3 years- carving little bits of time from our overburdened schedule.  Saying I'm proud of him is only the beginning.  To top it all off, our god daughter was born and baptized.  She was prayed for and wanted for so long.  

Here is a video of our trip.  It's long- I'm putting it here for my reference so no pressure to watch!  Although, if you start it, you'll see video of our car fire on the Autobahn at the 20 second mark.  Yes, we shut down the Autobahn as our van burned to the ground.  St. Christopher kept us safe and we had plenty of time to evacuate the car!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Hormonal Pilgrim

Beware: Poorly written, let-it-all-hang-out blog post ahead.  Way to many 'I's. Read at your own risk.

Ladies- the past 3 months have been a hormonal roller-coaster hell.  I did HCG for 3 months and it gave me anxiety.  At least I'm almost positive it did.  Evidently, I'm the only person my doctor knows of who has this side effect.  Since I stopped,  not one horrible heart palpitation, not one day of a knotted up stomach, not one day of deep breathing to no avail.  Then a month without any meds ended in a total fatigue nightmare.  I crashed about three weeks ago in the middle of the last few weeks of school- horrible timing.  I crawled across the finish line that was the school year.   Last week, I was post-peak and called the doc and they gave me plain old progesterone which is what I was on before the HCG.  After a week of incrementally feeling better, I'd say I'm functioning at 90%.  I am not sure what my future holds with these meds.  Peak +7 bloodwork?  Taking a different route with a nurse practitioner in town that said she'd work with me?  A serious email to Sew?  Who the heck knows.  The last few months were a good reminder of 2 things:

1- So much of life is circumstance (see number 6).  If I had to function at any length of time with how I felt, I couldn't do my job.  The brain fog was constant and severe.  I walked around like a zombie not able to concentrate, prioritize or enjoy.  My anxiety and subsequent fatigue effected my marriage, my friendships, my prayer life, my housekeeping, etc.  Note to self: don't judge others- you just don't know their particular circumstances and don't be so hard on yourself- your circumstances are sometimes such that you can't DO IT ALL.

2- Thank you, God for Napro and the fact that I can make one phone call and a healing prescription is immediately ready at the local pharmacy and it's covered by good health insurance.  I am indebted to Dr. Hilgers and all the ladies who have already gone down this path.  Ripple effect?  I think so!!  Praise Jesus!!!!!

I'll have to make those decisions in a few weeks because......

We are going to Europe!!!!!!

And we are going to Pope Francis' audience next Wednesday!!!!!!!!

After two years of saving and making the tough decision to forego some much needed cosmetic home repairs because of increased airfares, we are going.  My very close friend moved to Germany last year.  She also has an only child the same age as AJ.  God's perfect timing has worked out a dream trip wherein we drive all together in a VW van through Italy to Slovenia, Guitar Man's family homeland.  I say God's perfect timing for many reasons.  One, our friends aren't believers and the fact that they wanted to go with us to Rome and are attending the audience with us is very moving.  Two, my hubs is very much an introvert and I never thought this type of trip was ever in the cards for us.  He's beyond excited and he's worked very hard to save money for this experience.  Three, my cousin is in Tuscany the exact time we are driving through the region.  I only have 3 cousins on this planet and one of the beloved three is staying in a freaking villa on our route through Italy.  You guys, this kind of stuff doesn't happen to me.  We are staying with her for a night and touring Florence together.  I haven't seen her in 3 years and she's gone through some rough times and I can't wait to chat with her face to face and give her lots of hugs.

I'm going to say it.  I haven't said it to anyone.  But, I think it all the time as I pack and shop and talk about the trip to friends.  You are safe and you will understand.

I would give up this trip in a heartbeat if it meant I could have a baby.

There I said it.  It's the elephant in the room and we can look at it and acknowledge it.

Then I think, we could have used the money to save for an adoption or treatment.  What do I do with that?  All I can say is that we are making the best of the gifts God has given us.  I'm not feeling called right now to adoption.  I can barely manage the treatment we do now much less more tests and procedures.

So, this is the plan.

I am going to soak up this trip.  The friends.  The family. The pilgrimage. The beauty.  I am going to live in a state of thankfulness.  After the toil of the school year, the anxiety, the fatigue, the longing for another baby, He has given me a beautiful gift all wrapped up with friends and family and fun.  I certainly don't deserve it based on all my whining and complaining.  This is the gift God gave me and it's not second rate.  It's perfect.  He knows just what I need and I trust Him.

It is my hope that I return rested and restored so that there is less of me and more of Christ.

All of you will be in my prayers during our trip, especially at the Holy Father's audience.

Love to all of you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Dream

For the past few years I've been giving up another dream besides having another child.

It's my dream of being a classroom teacher.

It's so hard to type these words because they've only been in my mind- racing incessantly round and round.  I've spoken them only to a few very trusted people.  Thought them and spoken them so much that now I'm ready to make them a bit more real by putting them in writing.

Right now,  I am following my dream of being a classroom teacher.  That is what I do and what I am.  And, I love it.  I work in a beautiful school with beautiful children and beautiful families and beautiful colleagues.


It's just not working anymore and it will only get harder.

The system I worked in used to be good and positive and full of common sense.

It still has many of these aspects because of the people who work so hard each and every day.  But, the federal law and high stakes testing have infiltrated our little district out here in the heartland.

I used to believe in major initiatives and was enthusiastic.

Now my class size is 28.  It used to be 20.  I work in a high poverty area so having 8 more kids is a huge difference.

We are adopting the Common Core Standards which for many reasons, I can't seem to fully embrace.

In 2016, my evaluation will be tied to how my students perform on a test that is linked to these standards.

I want to ramp up and rise to the challenge.  I want to fight.

But, I think God is calling me in a different direction.

He's whispering to me that the fight is not mine to fight.  It's meant for someone else.

He is not being loud and clear like he usually is during tough decisions.

But, I think he wants me to make this decision for myself.  Because I'm strong enough now.  I've died to myself enough that I can see the strength in it.  I still have more dying to do- obviously since this post is all about me, me, me, me.

I'll probably be in my position for another year or two.  I will probably move into a special education resource position.  Still a challenging position, but one with a bit more flexibility and more suited to my God given talents.

I will very, very, very sadly say goodbye.

It was a good run.

The plan was to change jobs if I had a baby.  Now, I'm looking to change anyway which just seems to pour salt in the wound of not being able to get pregnant.

God, help me accept your will and hear your voice among the sadness and grief.  Give me strength to BE NOT AFRAID.  Help me remember that my value is not measured by my position or my marriage or how many children I have.  You love me and want what is best for me.  I love you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Learned my lesson...

I just assumed.  I assumed that I didn't have to send the letter this year since we have the same pastoral staff as last year. Unfortunately, the blessing was off the cuff by the priest and all the mothers had to stand and it was the standard 'all mothers are a gift blah, blah, blah.'  I was pissed and my face showed it.  How can a church so open to life, so easily marginalize those in pain?  Thank God the homily was about how we are Jesus' arms and legs.  And, if we are wondering why someone doesn't do something about a wrong, that's probably God prompting US to do something about it.  Of course the priest didn't mean any harm.  Of course mothers are a gift- a beautiful gift.  It's just a reminder that I have to keep an open dialogue with my priests.  My anger melted into prayer...a prayer for all of you in pain today.

Next year, I will send the dang letter...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


On this St. Joseph's Day, the day our new Holy Father was inaugurated, I turned 42 years old.  His love of the poor has given me strength as I live and work among the poor.  His example has taken some fear, some shame away.  Thank you Pope Francis for being an inspiration and sharing your simple, yet orthodox spirituality with us.

God Bless Pope Francis!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I am a freak for Jesus.

Why else would I subject myself to conversations that defend the church's teaching on contraception and ART while I can't conceive another child?

Conversations that are so difficult to have because the topics, words and vocabulary I use are so very foreign to the listener.

I look like a complete freak.

I get the feeling that the people I speak with (which are only a few) feel sorry for me because they perceive me as a sucker for belonging to an oppressive church.

Then, I think of the Litany of Humility.

And, the Sorrowful Mysteries- particularly the crowning of thorns.  Jesus gave me a supreme example of how to love and suffer and be humiliated.

Then I think of all of you.  And, I know I'm not alone.

Do you ever feel like this?

Thanks for having my back.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Being a Catholic Work-Outside-the-Home Mom is not a Second Rate Life (Neither is a life being a Work-at-Home Mom or a Single Person or a Widow or .... you get the picture?)

When we reverted to the church in 2000, I had only a vague notion of the Church teachings on birth control, had never even heard of the Theology of the Body and had no idea that there were happy, large Catholic families, much less homeschooling families.  After reverting and having a child, I started learning about our faith through different media.  Relevant Radio and different Catholic blogs became my Catholic community.  Somehow, I started to believe that the ideal Catholic family was large and homeschooling or at least sent their child to a Catholic school.  My family certainly didn't match the ideal.  So, how was I going to reconcile this supposed contradiction?  I started by believing that my husband and I were doing something wrong.   I looked around at my life and saw the fruits and they were rotten.  The mess. The disorganization.  The fatigue.  This was indicative of my poor choices.

 But, there was always this confusion because I believed I had followed God's path for my life.  Even if I wasn't always connected to the Church, I was always very connected to Him (more precisely, He was connected with me).  Always talking to Him.  Always listening.  And, one day, as I was opening up my apartment door, He gave me an overwhelming, palpable peace about the decision to marry the man I married.   And, when that man asked me if I wanted to quit my job to stay home with our baby and I said, "No," that "No" came from my heart and He was written all over my heart.  Both of these decisions were like stepping off of a cliff because they meant my life would be hard.  Marrying an artist/philosopher and being a work-outside-the-home mommy is hard (I say this with full knowledge that many of us have hard lives- just hard in different ways) .  But, the decision was very, very clear. 

I ended up in a fight with myself.  I was living this life that wasn't ideal.  I believed that because I was on the wrong path to begin with as far as following the teachings of the Church, that somehow, those decisions resulted in my current life being second-rate.  In the deepest part of my heart, I believed that if I knew all of these teachings 20 years ago, I would have a brood of children and would be homeschooling in a large, beautiful home.  But, God gave me this second-rate life.  It didn't make any sense since I followed what I thought to be what he wanted me to do along the way.  Enter, Mary, Untier of Knots.  She sent my Catholic therapist and the chapter on Mistaken Beliefs in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne.  The big question Bourne has you ask in challenging your beliefs is:

Is that always true?  

So I put this belief to the test: The ideal Catholic family is large and the mommy stays home to care for the children.  And, if you are in line with God's teaching, you will end up with this life.  

Is this always true?  
No. It's not.  

There are tons of examples to choose from.  Priests and Nuns.  Many saints. Widows. Sick mothers. Single women. Infertile and subfertile women. All the women throughout the centuries who died young leaving children behind.  Refugees.  Women in abject poverty.  Illiterate women.  The list could go on and on.

Did I believe their lives were second rate?  Absolutely not.

So what really makes a life ideal?  

Real Gospel Living.  Listening to Jesus' words instead of the world's.
Being open to God's will whatever that means.
Trusting without knowing why.
Being kind and not judging another's path.
Loving others through your questions and pain.
Understanding that His yoke is easy and His burden is light because you are right where you need to be.  You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other in faith.  And, you can rest when the day is done.
Modeling your life after the prodigal son's father.
Accepting that He has left you His peace.
Know that you are commanded not to worry.  
BE NOT AFRAID!!!!!!!!!!

Jesus never said that if you follow his teaching you will be healthy and prosperous.  He never said your house will be clean and organized.  His fruits aren't material.  His fruits are spiritual.  And, boy oh boy, I had gone down the wrong path.  I was so good at listening to the Holy Spirit, but I was horrible at listening to the Evil One.  He was whispering right along with the Good One and I was buying his lies. Hook, line and sinker.  The battle is on sucker!!!!

The words you are reading in this post took me months to process.  I just recently made up with myself.  I am not going to apologize for my life or be embarrassed by it or be ashamed of it or AFRAID of it.  He gave it to me.  The crosses in it are perfect for me as well as the joys.

Dear Jesus, help me remember the gifts you give me are uniquely mine.  So are the crosses.  And the gifts and crosses you give others are made just for them.  Help me to love as you did and to always look to You as my Lord.  Help me love others without idolizing them.  I love you.

Please note:  Since I am not a professional writer and am limited in my ability to communicate super effectively through words, I just want to add that this post is in no way written with a bitter heart toward large, homeschooling families.  I love large, homeschooling families and they inspire me to no end. This post is entirely my thought process in trying to deal with not comparing my life to any others.  We aren't supposed to compare and judge.  But, how do we do that?  This is how I am coping.  I've benefited so much from reading the blogs of mom's of large families.  This post is about how I've rooted out some poor thinking habits on my end.  Please excuse my limits and the limits of this medium if in anyway it sounds bitter or unloving.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quick Takes- Updates

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends!  Our holiday was festive, fun and full of illness.  I'm pretty sure I brought the flu home.  I coughed for 3 weeks and for several days was on the couch achy and my skin felt so, so sensitive.  Does that ever happen to you?  I ended up on antibiotics for bronchitis and my asthma became tricky to manage.  I ended up working for 5 minutes and resting for 15.  All day.  For 4 days.  It kept the house running and kept me from going stir-crazy.  AJ had an ear infection, 2 rounds of strep and a head cold.  He's been sick for about a month on and off.  
Our handcrafted use-what-is-around-the-house advent wreath

The big one though was my mom.  She's better and home now, but on Monday, I got a call at work from my sister saying my mom was being taken by ambulance to the hospital.  She was unresponsive when they were trying to wake her that morning.  Long story short, she had become severely dehydrated from having the flu and pneumonia.  She was in the hospital all week, but now is at home. Since she's on chemotherapy, the flu hit her very quickly.  She was only sick for about 12 hours before she became unresponsive.  The good news is that she recovered as quickly as she went down.  It's been a long week full of lots of ups and downs.    They had 2 neon green signs in her room that read: Chemotherapy- Handle Carefully.  They were strangely comforting.  
Mom, on right,  with her sister who is also a breast cancer survivor

What I'm thankful for:
good medical insurance and sick leave

Two people who are included everyday in my prayers to St. Jude for a healthy pregnancy are pregnant!  One is the friend who had the miscarriage last spring so the news is (so hard to describe accurately) complicated.   Hard to parse out the sadness, grief, joy and fear.  But, joy, is at the forefront.  Definitely.  


I don't think I've mentioned that my sister moved to Brazil with her family this summer.  She lives in Seattle so having her in Brazil is much the same as far as the schedule of seeing her.  Actually, we've seen lots of her since she moved.  They came in October and again for 5 weeks in December.  It's been blissful having her here with her two girls.  We have a great relationship and she helps so much with my parents.  My parents don't really need much physical help.  But, they need cheerleaders and it's nice to have a partner.  

Also, one of my closest friends moved to Germany this summer.  She was also in visiting so I got to see both of my besties this holiday. 

After the shock of having Fr. James Martin comment on my last blog post (!!!!!!!!!!!!), I never returned to reviewing his wonderful book.  I will pick it back up though...I hear it calling.  

God is Good!