Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Juggling act

So today I had my checkup with Dr. G, my OB/GYN.  I can't say enough about this man--instead of the rote 10 or 15 min. IN/OUT, he sat and talked to me for almost 45 minutes.

He asked me all the right questions to prod me enough to open up to him about the stresses in my life.  Basically I have to get the kids to be more independent, no if's, and's or but's.  I cannot continue to be responsible for everyone else.  Taking care of myself is a lot of work as it is!!  He told me that I must do this for my own good.

Now, how do I actually do this?!  I need a plan and I need to stick with it.  It is so hard to formulate a plan because things are just so disorganized lately. 

I've got 4 kids who are old enough to drive, but I'm driving them everywhere.  (John is, too, when he's home.)  I don't really know how to fix this, though...if they had their licenses, they would have to pay for insurance and have a vehicle.  We couldn't afford to do this for them. 

It's something of a catch 22.  When I was 21, I was married.  My two oldest are 21 and 24, and they are still muddling along like high school kids.  I honestly don't really know how to fix this. 

Well, I guess I'll need to mull it over for a day or so.  Then I'll sit down with them and put it all out for them.  They absolutely must start making some decisions in their own lives so as to take some of the pressure off me.

Prayer for the day:  Dear Papa,

I'm so tired.  Nothing in life is easy.  I can't find a way to fit in the things I need to do for myself.  Everyone looks to me for everything.  I don't know how to correct this.  Please help and guide me.  And...please guide my family, too.  Your child, Annie

So long for now.  I need to go put a roast on for dinner...

HUGSxxxAnnie  How about an extra big HUG?  I think I need it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Open eyes

Waking up this morning at 3:30, I started watching the all night news.  They were reporting breaking news about the huge earthquake in Japan.  One of Maria's best friend's mothers came here from Japan and her family still lives there.  I don't know yet how they might have been impacted with this terrible catastrophe. 

I just turned 47 this week, and I've never seen anything like the crazy things I've been witnessing over the past few years.  It really is like 'birth pangs', as it says in the bible.  Having given birth numerous times, and recalling the pains of labor, they start off as little twinges and are far apart.  As time goes on, the pains get closer together, extend in length, and the peaks grow from twinges to awful pain.

As the time for the child to be born gets nigh, the pangs come almost one on top of the other, and each one is a tightening, then a building until the peak, where the pain is almost impossibly uncomfortable, then it begins to ease and fade away.  Just as the mom- to- be catches her breath, a new tightening comes upon her.  It is almost dreadful if there was not the promise of new life on the horizon. 

At the very last part of labor, before the baby's head crowns, the pain is a chaotic, yet rhythmic, completely overwhelming experience.  In my own experience, this is where any semblence of inhibition or modesty is abandoned.  There is a sensation of complete vulnerability and a desperate succumbing to nature, which proves to be more powerful than anything in the human will.  The only thing left for a lady in labor is to let nature fulfill its purpose. 

Humans beings start life as vulnerable and dependent, but as we mature, we learn survival and independence.  Labor throws us back to that primitive state of vulnerabilty and dependency.  There is a point of no return and when the woman fully gives in, the fruits of her labor come forth, and the pain comes to a sudden halt.  The child enters the world and all the agony is erased as she pulls the child to her breast.  Kissing the sweet head, nursing the baby, caressing and examing this little bundle of love and joy makes it clear that all that pain has resulted in the highest degree of bliss a woman can know.

So, what can all this suffering and pain around us mean?  I think it serves to take each one of down to utter humility, where we only be able to cry out in dependency to our Heavenly Father.  We may be able to fight it for some time, but as the pangs increase in number and in frequency, there will come that point where we can no longer resist and will be on our  knees.  This is the moment before 'life' will come forth.  What will happen at the end, at the climax of all this calamity?  I don't know, but scripture hints at this bright future.  So, don't be afraid.  Stay in the present moment.  Breathe through each tragedy, as a laboring mom does.  Know that these things are happening because God has something wonderful in store for us.  When it comes, the pain will stop!  Ecstasy, joy, love, peace will make us understand the meaning to all the suffering.

Learn that when there is a break between pains, rest, do not run about and waste your energy on the wrong things.  Rest in prayer and fasting.  Do your daily duties with a good attitude.  Reserve your energy so that when another pain comes, you'll be prepared.

This is the time (especially because it is Lent) to really open the door to your inner self.  Examine it.  Go over it with a fine tooth comb.  Do you worship things instead of God?  Do you turn to alcohol or drugs, or (gluttony) food, or illicit sex for your comfort?  If so, these things do not bring peace, but rather, they will cause the pains to intensify.  We must be honest with ourselves and recognize that a clear conscience is the best remedy to all our ills.  Scripture talks a lot about planting, sowing, and reaping.  Have you planted bad seeds that have taken root?  Once a sin takes root, it begins to dictate what we do, and we become enslaved to it.  It does not happen overnight, so we don't always recognize that.

It is one of the toughest things to pull out the roots and be bare and humble.  We all have to do this throughout life.  No one escapes the terrible reality of sin.  I have offended God and fallen prey to my own temptations.  I have found myself in a spiritual tug of war plenty of times.  We all have the power within us to turn away and abandon sin.  The catch is that we have to give ourselves over to God.  That is the only real way to break the power of sin.

Won't you all join me this lent in weeding your 'garden'?  Fast with me today.  Say a rosary or read scripture, even for 10 minutes.  Sit down and talk to God about all your worries, failures, sins.  Or do something you really don't feel like doing for someone else--shovel a neighbor's walk, call a friend, say a prayer for the Japanese.


Sunday, March 6, 2011


Today's gospel reading was about building one's house on a solid foundation and how it will stand through storms and wind.  I know I've built my 'house' on a good foundation so I have hope and trust in this.

Sometimes, though, it feels like the raging storm is about to topple me over and crush me.  That's kind of how it feels these days.  Maria and Therese didn't go to church, which is probably a first for both of them.  They have both been hit hard with whatever this sickness is.  The two empty spots in the pew beside me were so bare looking.  I felt tears welling in my eyes; I am so overwhelmed right now. 

The kids have been sick, and it feels like there is a spiritual heaviness surrounding us.  There have been some big time spiritual attacks on our family, and it feels like we need to break out the heavy artillery.  St. Michael, defend us! 

I'm not sad, these are tears of pent up worry, pain, exhaustion.  It's a good think I know that God is there, or I'd not know where to turn.

My mom and dad wanted to surprise me today.  I'd kind of got a feeling they wanted to do that.  My birthday is on Ash Wednesday, and we fast, so today they came over to celebrate.  John had a boston creme cake for me and my favorite pizza: Tony's w/sausage.  At 3:00 we said a family rosary  in union with our Nigerian son, Danny, who promised to join us in prayer.  I felt a great deal of peace wash over me during the prayers.  Mom and Dad praying with us felt really good.

Tonight I helped Maria get caught up on her homework since she's been out of commission for several days.  She has been really overwhelmed, too.  It felt good to lend a hand to my darling daughter.  I think the Lord is carrying my cross and letting me hold onto one little splinter.  The splinter feels pretty bad, but I have to say it's better than trying to carry the whole thing.

I'm glad, too, to have a husband who really loves me.  He is such warm and supportive guy.  He knows my struggles and he does what he can to ease things for me.  Together, we somehow make it through these things.  Marriage really is a beautiful gift.

I thank and praise God tonight for His grace and mercy, healing, and comfort.  I know He will take me through these rough patches.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Feet, freckles and talents

John and I both have Celtic blood.  His ancestors came from Scotland and Ireland primarily.  I'm half Irish, with some German and Swedish thrown in.  As you can imagine, most of our kids have pale complexions and freckles.  I'm brown eyed, and John is blue eyed.  Three of the kids are brown, three are blue!

John has flat feet.  I have high arches.  Some of the kids have his feet, some have mine. 

I have always loved to sing, and Maria has inherited that trait from me.  She has a lower voice (I'm a first soprano), she's an alto/2nd soprano. 

Yesterday I wrote about the kids taking the stage.  There's another thing they do (each one of them) that amazes me.  They all love to write.  We actually have a family game that is about writing.  We sit around together (we do this with my mom, too, because she is a writer) and concoct the very beginnings of a story.  Then we set a timer for 10 minutes and we all expound on the idea.  When the timer goes off, we take turns sharing our stories.  We have had so much fun doing this!  It is really funny to see how many directions we all go.

For Ian's senior project, he wrote an entire fantasy novel.  It was fantastic!  He got an A on it.  He and Jacob scored off the charts on their SAT's in the writing area and were invited to take honors english/creative writing their first year at Penn State.  Jacob writes all the time.  He is dedicated more than anyone I know.  I hope he submits something for publication one of these days!!

Jacob and I belong to two local writer's clubs: one is statewide, so it has more benefits that the one based in the valley.  We meet to share, critique, and encourage one another.

Even at the age of nine, Therese is a very good writer.  As soon as my kids were old enough to hold  a pencil, they all took up this hobby.  I have stories that they have written that are spelled completely phonetically because they were too young to know proper spelling. 

I grew up thinking it was commonplace to sit and write for hours.  I always had meetings with my mom in the kitchen.  While she washed dishes or prepared dinner, I'd perch myself on a kitchen chair and read my latest adventure to her, asking for her opinions. 

Only later in life did I realize that most other people did not share this experience!

My mom put herself through college and got her degree in English and Comprehensive Social Studies.  She has a certificate in writing and wrote for two newspapers for years.  She taught numerous writer's workshops, which I attended.  I learned the most about writing from her.  She's a heck of a good writer.

When I was a kid, perhaps aged 12 or 13, my class was assigned a paper.  We had to write a short story.  I have always enjoyed mysteries, suspense, scary tales, etc.  So, I did research on ghosts and wrote a story called 'Poltergeist'.  Sounds familiar?  Well, my story came several years before the movie!  (They must have copied my idea!!)  I had never heard the term 'poltergeist', but in my research, I learned this was the word for 'ghost' in German, and I thought it would be interesting to use instead of the common terms we are accustomed to.

JohnPaul loves to write comics.  A few years ago, he would spend every spare moment in school drawing and writing.  He began to collaborate with a few of his friends.  Now he is creating one on Facebook!  (It's really funny!)

I love watching my kids develop their interests!


Friday, March 4, 2011


A Chorus LineNext week two of my kids will kick up their heels in the stage show, "Hello Dolly".  I can't wait to see them shine on stage!!

When I was a tiny girl, one of the first movies I ever saw was 'Finian's Rainbow'.  I was three or four years old at the time, but I vividly remember how the movie drew me in, and the excitement of it all.  I especially took the the song, "Look to The Rainbow".  That is the moment my love for musical theater was born.  As I grew older, I was taken to the movie theater (at a similarly early age) to see The Sound of Music.  This movie touched me in a such a way that no other movie has.  I loved it instantly, and it is my favorite one to this day.

My aunt and uncle had an 8 track soundtrack to the The Sound of Music (movie) and I always listened to it when I visited them.  I learned the entire score by heart by the time I was 8 or 9 years old.  As I grew, I accumlated recordings of broadway musicals and movies.  I had Pippin, Man of La Mancha, Cabaret, The Sound of Music, Finian's Rainbow, A Chorus Line, South Pacific, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie...just to name a few...I preferred this music to anything on the popular charts.

Mom and Dad took us to see live theater as children at Buhl Summer Playhouse as well as professional theater at Kennelly's in Warren.  I remember seeing 'Annie Get Your Gun' and 'Oliver'.  I itched to be on the stage!! 

As an elementary student, Kennedy Christian High School would bring selections from their spring musical to our school as an assembly.  I recall seeing three girls, dancing in dated clothing, singing, 'Matchmaker' from Fiddler on the Roof.  I wanted to be on the stage, too!!!  It looked like so much fun.

I play the piano, and most of the music I own is showtunes!

I started acting and performing seriously when I was about 14 years old.  It began with a play in religious ed called 'The Singer'.  Surprisingly, I got the lead role when I auditioned.  I moved on to South pacific, where I didn't get cast, but worked on the costume committee.  (I was not in high school yet, which was a prerequisite for being cast.)  It turned out that I did not like doing costumes.  No surprise there.

From there, I went on to act in numerous musicals and non musical stage shows.  Not surprisingly, this is how I met John--we were both involved in the show, Can Can at Buhl Summer Playhouse, and that's where our love began!  We went on to act together in many shows, and were founding members of a mime troupe, Images.  When the group disbanded, we stayed together, studied mime (under former students of Marcel Marceau), and performed professionally for several years.  I taught Mime at the Valley Arts guild as well as at the Buhl Club.

When some of our kids started to show interest in the theater, it really didn't surprise me!  I knew a lot of stage mothers in my time, and vowed NEVER to be one.  So, I let the kids choose their own paths, and it led them to the stage!

Well, here's to Tony and Maria--Wishes for 'breaking a leg'!!!!

Love you both sooooooo much!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Love's Baby Soft

LOVE'S BABY SOFT Dana 1.5 oz Women's Body Mist UNBOXED
When I was a very young girl, my dad's annual Christmas gift to me was a bottle of Love's Baby Soft cologne.  I bet it gave him great pleasure to buy something 'girly' for me, being that I am the only girl child he has!

A few years ago, I stumbled across this fragrance in a store.  I had not seen it in years, so I snatched it right up.  The moment I removed the lid, a flood of memories filled me.  It was almost like the last 30 some years had disappeared in a moment, and I was a kid again.

I keep the bottle on my dresser and look at it from time to time.  It is still almost full because my tastes in fragrance have grown over the years.  Once in awhile I spritz it on for old time's sake.  :)

My parents gave me this awesome fragrance called Annie Oakley that they found out west in their travels.  I love the scent!  And I am partial to Chantilly, which is an old standby, but one of my top favorites.  I also have White Linen, which John gave me for Christmas.  It is expensive, and quite strong, so I wear it less frequently.  Probably the best smell for me is Vanilla with brown sugar.  It is a nice soft scent for everyday. 

Maria wears Midnight Pomegranite from Bath and Bodyworks.  Ian gave it to her for her 16th birthday, and it is HEAVENLY!  I love it, but it has become 'her' signature scent, so I'll have to refrain from buying some for MOI.

Chantilly By Dana For Women. Eau De Toilette Spray 3.5 Oz.
Bath and Body Works Midnight Pomegranate Body Mist Splash
Did you ever notice that the sense of smell can transport us to another time or place?  When I was a little child, my mom's choice of hand lotions was Jergen's.  To this day, the smell of Jergen's (cherry and almond) brings me a sense of warmth and comfort.  Mom never wore perfume because she is allergic to it, but she never went without hand lotion.  She also went through a phase where she wore something called Rose Milk.  I never see that anymore, so I guess it no longer exists.

Some of my favorite smells:

Chocolate chip cookies baking
Christmas trees
Lilacs (heaven on earth!!)
The ocean
Peanut butter
Freshly laundered sheets
Baby lotion
Dove soap


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feng shui

I'm not a suscriber to Far Eastern philosphies so much, but this 'feng shui' thing kind of helps to explain my circumstances.

I feel BOGGED down.  I think I get why Christianity stresses that we not be attached to worldly things, they can cause such a heaviness to life.  Mother Theresa died with so little earthly possessions--a worn bible (or was it a prayer book?), sandals, a rosary, and two saris.  (One to wear while the other was washed.)

When my kids were all younger, I used to feel overwhelmed, but didn't dream that it could be much worse as they all grew up.  But, IT IS!

You see, somewhere along the line, they began to take charge of their own lives, their own possessions, their own time.  And that's where it all fell apart. 

Let me start by saying that our house is about 900 sq. feet with no storage.  The cellar is suitable for two things only: spiders or prisoners in shackles on the walls. 

The crawl space (attic) is something I've never looked at in 25 years of marriage.  I don't even want to open that Pandora's box of dust and who knows what else.

We have a total of three very tiny closets.  No garage. 

I think to sum up how I feel, is to say that I've completly lost control over my own house and my own life.  I don't know how to get it back again.  I've talked to the kids and explained how I feel, and they are most sympathetic.  They do care about me, but I think they all feel overwhelmed in their own ways.  They can't find a spot to keep their stuff, so they leave it all lying around.  I cannot really clean the house anymore.  Every surface becomes cluttered.  When I look at my surroundings, I want to cry or go back to bed.

Every so often, I get into a mode where I throw stuff out.  I'm working up to that again; I can feel that familiar itch coming on.  The  problem is, I hit a point where I don't know what to do with stuff.  90% of the things in this house do not belong to me.  

I realize this isn't the worst thing in the world, but it gnaws away at my mental peace.  

My schedule is the equivalent to the state of the house, too, which is another 'feng shui' thing.  I crave a regular routine, but every day is a chaotic mix of trying to fit 8 people's things into 24 hours.

Ian works different days and hours each day.  I usually do not know what he works ahead of time.  That drives me up the wall.  He and Jake are on different school schedules, some days there are night classes along with day classes.  Tony and Maria are currently in rehearsals for Hello Dolly and come home very late each night.  Dinner is an ongoing thing from 5 to 8 each night.  As soon as I put the food in the refrigerator, thinking we all ate, someone comes home and wants to eat.

John is going into work at least an hour early lately, and coming home at least one or 2 two hours late.  He's overwhelmed there, as well.  

Every weekend, the kids have all these *&%$#$ (sorry) school projects to do.  All their teachers continually assign projects that overwhelm ME.  I already did my time, why am I still doing schoolwork?!  Now, I'm not doing it for them, but it infringes on my time.  It infringes on my money (gasoline useage, ink cartidges, supplies).  It infringes on my sleep.  (The kids are up all night, working, and asking for my and John's help.)  When I say this is continual, I do not exaggerate.  As soon as they turn in a project, a new one is assigned.  This on top of the mountains of regular homework.  I remember when weekends were a time to get reaquainted with each other and to relax.  SIGH.  Oh, did I mention Study Island?  This is something the kids have to do online as well. 

I just don't know what to do about any of this.  When I try to tackle just one issue, it quickly falls by the wayside simply because something else jumps up and 'trumps' that.  It is to the point where I don't want to try anymore.  But, I'm not a quitter, so I can't stop.  That makes me feel annoyed, too.