Joan Moira’s Birth Story

Joan’s Birth Story

I love writing up my babies birth stories as soon after as possible – before all the details get fuzzy and my mom memory kicks in (aka blocks out all the details!)

Disclaimer: it’s a birth story so it’s about, well, birth. Also, its long. Also, it has pictures, so if you aren’t into that kind of thing: ClickAway!

Last night was Sunday evening (I wrote this on the day she was born! – and edited it later), it was a bit of a long and boring Sunday. I couldn’t think of anything I was up for taking the kids to do after Mass, so we stayed around home and tried to make it as “restful” as a Sunday could be at 38 weeks pregnant. Finally at about 4pm we went stir crazy being home all day and so we took them to the local spray park for the first time this summer.

They aren’t actually a fan of getting sprayed with water at all they are not the biggest fans of the whole spray park idea, but they stayed at the playground for awhile and I waddled around when I absolutely had to and then we came home and ate hot dogs. The glamorous pregnant life. It was a late supper and the kids were going squirrley So I told Brian I would give them all a bath and give him a chance to clean up the kitchen.

It was the hardest bath time ever, I was having contractions pretty frequently (as I have been for the past few weeks) but during the bathing 3 wild slippery kids process the contractions seemed a little more bothersome, but I was also wrangling very uncooperative kids into diapers and PJs so it was hard to tell what was the cause.

I told brian to take over once the bums were covered and I laid down about 8 pm. He did bedtime all on his own and I stayed laying down trying to relax and see if the contractions would go away. In my mind I was trying to be prepared to survive up to 4 more weeks of being pregnant, so my strategy was ignore contractions as much as possible, as long as possible. But I have also had extremely fast labours and scared it would happen again, so I would rather call the midwives for 20 false alarms than catch my own baby.

I texted my sister Emma at 8:45 complaining – first sign these contractions were different than the previous braxton hicks.

At 9:45 I warned dad (my child care person for the other kids) to keep his phone on during the night.  

I stayed in bed til brian came at about 10:30 after putting the kids all the bed and doing dishes because HE’S AMAZING.

At around 11 we timed contractions just 3 or 4 but they were clearly fitting the “call-the-midwife!” pattern, even though they still weren’t painful or anything more than not ignorable. Just given my history (see Hugh’s birth story) we called the midwife pager line just “in case” and my FAVE midwife was on call who knows me well and wanted to come and check things.

Our house as the Doula pulled up

She came around midnight and offered to check me and I was completely expecting a “false alarm – get some sleep”  but instead, BEST NEWS!!! I was at 7cm, she said the best words a overly pregnant lady can ever hear: “you are having this baby tonight!”

I wasn’t quite mentally ready, but hearing that pushed me into gear.

I told the doula to come at 12:30 and she rushed over as well as my dad to come be on call for the kids.


I stood, swaying, staring outside the window at the beautiful full moon and wondered if this was real labour, contractions were uncomfortable but I was still talking through them. Julie suggested moving to hands and knees to try to help baby shift a bit more center because she was off to the side

Clara and Hugh each woke up for a few minutes but thankfully went back to sleep easily with  my dad’s help. Brian and the doula were working on filling the pool andI wondered secretly if it was even worth it and there would be time to get in.

I did move over to the room next door when the pool was full and climbed in and really enjoyed the relaxing effects of the warm water. First time ever trying labouring in water.


The contractions seemed to be lightening up and I was able to completely relax, maybe even fall asleep between them, a lot of prayer and internal dialogue happened in my mind as I tried to get ready to meet this baby. I was in a sitting position and at one point asked if I should switch to a more hands and knees position and Julie, the midwife, teasingly answered “do you already know what will happen if you turn over?” she expected pushing the baby out was imminent, although it was still very peaceful and I was wondering if the mythical group of “don’t feel pain, only pressure!” birthers were about to have a new member.  


The painful part was my feet falling asleep or my legs cramping from trying to stay in certain positions. It became clear to Julie that something was not quite right, even after my water had broken and I was asked and been told to try to sustain a push through a whole contraction things were just not quite intense enough. I remember telling her that I knew “it has to get worse than this.”

So she checked me and found there was still a bulge of waters and babies head was not really pressing down on my cervix so I was still a 7 or 8 and if she broke it it may help. And we tried a few more contractions in the pool in a few more experimental positions, and she thought I might be getting tired. No signs from baby of any distress, she thought perhaps the head was turned a little or chin not tucked or for whatever reason just not applying pressure as needed to my cervix, and still moving up and down with contractions so not really engaged enough to get the job done.

The passage of time during all this is still very fuzzy to me. When I asked once it had only been 20 minutes since water breaking. Julie suggested that I get out of the water and try to lie down and rest for a bit which I did because I was at the point where I just wanted to be told what to do to get the baby out!


As soon as I laid down and tried to “breathe through contractions” the awfulness of labor came back to my memory and reality like a roaring lion. To “just” breath all of a sudden took ALL of my focus and effort and probably even more. There were no more than 10 minutes of laying on the bed that alternated between unbearably awful contractions and then complete rest and respite between, if I wasn’t falling asleep I was so close, half dreaming, singing celine dion songs to myself in my head (probably “Alive” one of my birth motivations songs) and praying to be able to make it through.

On the 3rd or 4th contraction I could NOT stand it and involuntarily started pushing during it no matter how I tried to relax. I told them and was probably crying and completely at my breaking point so I stood up and hung my arms around Brian’s shoulders. Standing there they asked if I wanted to go back in the water and all I  was in no state to be making any decisions.

I just stood there at the end of the bed, holding onto him and another contraction came, It was awful and I completely just had to push and push as hard as I could and make it end and get it over. I remember thinking in the water when I was supposedly pushing along with my urges “when did transition happen?”  Tip for future labourers – if you can’t identify when transition happened – it hasn’t happened yet.

It was bad now, and I pushed for 3 minutes and she was born, along with apparently another whole deluge of water, where did all this water come from?!?!! I looked down and saw more blood than I ever remember seeing before but i was too scared to ask if everything was ok, (a little blood mixed with lots of water looks like lots of blood – everything was ok!)

I felt her head and then her body be delivered and I just hung on Brian. I think this is when they were untangling her from her cord (which was what had been holding her back so much, wrapped one and a half times around her neck and shoulders and literally harnessing her back from pressing fully on my cervix.


Julie told me to reach down and hold her, and then moved me back to sitting at the end of the bed.

She was very very purple, and although she had a breath and one little sound, she wasn’t taking regular breaths even after 20, 30 seconds, so I started rubbing her and trying to help her breathe, Julie aspirated her, but still her breaths weren’t regular, so they used the a respirator for a few breathes to help fill her lungs all the way up, and also aspirated her nose and deep down her throat (later they told me that she has aspirated a little bit of blood which was difficult for her to clear)

I think it was after all that that I finally checked to see that she was actually SHE.

She was now breathing quite regularly, pinking up slowly, and such a mess, everything was a mess. I had another contraction and they wanted to move me a little so I could deliver the placenta and cut the cord and everything.

Some people offer their labour pains up for other people’s intentions, which is such a beautiful thing, but I wanted to offer all the pain and struggle of birthing Joan up for HER, and for the ways our family will have to grow and adapt to fit this new person.

I prayed for her, not knowing yet who it was, but in acceptance and gratitude and love and anticipation to be a part of her life and see what God has in store for her and our family and the ways in which she will add to and enhance our family in ways I can’t imagine. She’s coming to us because we need each other. Our family needs Joan. she needs us. I need her, I need the gifts and challenges that she will bring as the unique individual who she is.

Some other memories from my internal dialogue and prayer during the labor and delivery are praying in gratitude for feeling her movements within me. I think we will probably have more children in the future, God willing. But at that moment I just knew that this was my limit right now and this may possibly be the last time I feel a child within me and I held my hands on my belly and felt her squirms and was so grateful and enjoyed every one.

I am so grateful to my doula Cheryl MacLellan who is also a birth photographer and captured these pictures of the experience. I am also thankful to my midwives Julie and Tiffany.

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Two (almost three!) weeks with Joan – twin cousins up date

The fast rundown version. Typed one handed on my phone. For posterity sake 😂

We hauled the kids away for a night to be able to meet my sister Emma’s new baby son who was born exactly aweek after Joan. 

Emma’s other son is exactly a week older than Hugh. Crazy. 

We also saw my cousin, the original twin cousin, who was born the exact same day as me (but we didn’t manage to get a picture together!) and her daughter who is 3 days younger than Clara. So many almost twins! They spent the evening running around wildly having a grand old time. 

And my parents with their 6 grandchildren! 

My sister’s (Missing Rosie, the 3 of us were never together at the same time) and I with our babies in and outside our bellies. 

Trying to get a picture of all 4

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Postpartum Partying

You know all those awesome lists online of helpful things to have? Yeah this isn’t exactly that same kind of post. I was texting with my sister – the one who is 37 weeks with her first babe – talking about what baby/postpartum/birth things were really worth it and heck, I am a minimalist! I told her there were only a few things that were truly worth the hype and this is what I recommended, half joking but also kinda serious so, glean what wisdom that you can.

  1. This silicone milk saver device
    I am realllly not a fan of pumping, although I do it when I have to, which wasnt too often since I find it’s usually easier to just bring the baby everywhere. Anyway that being said I knew in the past that I usually have plenty of milk if not too much and so I tried out this little “saver”, while baby is nursing on one side, this just gently suctions on and then collects the excess from the other side, I didn’t know how much it would get but it turns out for me, it collects a whole heck of a lot! So shes a week old and I’ve already banked and frozen I’m guessing about a litre of milk? So date nights here I come!
  2. Advil and Tylenol combo
    I was nervous about how intense I remember the “after pains” were from last delivery, and luckily they didn’t stay very bad for long this time, but a steady flow of these were certainly something I made sure I had with in reach before baby decided to pick their birthday!
  3. Strongbow cider/Beer
    because, duh.
  4. Amazing diaper cream
    My aunt first gave me this, a natural cream developed by a friend of hers, and every baby’s bum that I have had has since been slathered in it and we have never had much of any rash issues on our newborns, coincidence? Maybe. But I’m still going with it!
  5. Staying in bed for a week after baby is born. This idea comes directly from Blythe’s brilliant advice on how to  “postpartum like a boss” and this was the second time I tried to put it into practice. During my pregnancy on the really hard days I would sometimes remind myself at least I had my week of “mom vacation” to look forward to. But when it actually came time for it, lesbehonest it’s not vacation at all. It’s barely an adequate start of recovering properly and taking the time to physically and mentally and spiritually process what just happened and what adaptations and changes the whole family is going through to live out the new normal that a new baby joining brings. This time it was literally harder to stay “in bed”, my hip was hurting so I ventured out to see the Chiropractor, Brian came with me and Joan, and we also got lunch and him glasses. And that was probably “too much” to do so I reaffirmed my effort to be back in bed for the remaining days as much as possible. I also came out of bed a lot to help the other kids work through their little “issues” with the big transition. I spent time with each of them as I could and tried to still be involved in their bedtime and other routines. So it’s definitely a balancing act. But I worked hard to spend some time writing (the birth story, other thoughts and memories of these newborn days) and thinking and praying and just BEing with Joan. So I can always remember that. And beyond that it is literally a full time job to keep a days old person and a just given birth person fed, and tended to with the necessary processes that go along with such delights… You know what I’m talking about. And its not just baby diapers. As long as things like peeing are an ordeal requiring special bottles and tinctures and accoutrements then we should definitely have no guilt as mama’s for staying in bed.

So these are my must have/do’s for the first few postpartum days. Hope it helps anyone else looking forward to the arrival of a new little one!

And a pregnant sisters update; one week after I had Joan, my sister Emma had a little boy!  We like having babies a week apart from each other apparently. (Hugh and her other son are exactly a week apart as well!)

Anne is next! Let’s see what the stork brings her in a few weeks!

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The Wait is Over – Birth Announcement for Joan

Last Sunday morning we sat through Mass together as a family. A friendly parishioner came up to speak to us after Mass to let us know she was SURE we would have a boy. We wrangled the kids up and down and in and out and I wondered how (HOW!?) we would manage a fourth in our crowded laps and arms. Something about the routine and regularity of Mass every week always makes me wonder at the end of pregnancy, will I be pregnant next week at Mass? Will I even get to Mass next week? Is this Mass the last of the ones we will experience in our current phase… And turns out that it would be!

Later that evening my labour began and by midnight thirty it was Game On.

A sweet little lady was put in my arms not even 3 hours later.

We named her Joan Moira. Joan after St Joan of Arc and Moira is an Irish version of Marie/Mary in honor of Our Lady.

I was 38.5weeks the day she decided to arrive, and even with her healthy size the midwives thought she looked maybe even like a 37 weeker. She seems young and precious and tiny (to me – smallest baby I’ve ever had!) But still, I am so glad she decided to come early! I was definitely ready to meet her and be finished being pregnant. We are both doing very well – shes nursing and sleeping and occasionally being awake for awhile so we can see her little eyes. By Thursday she was back up to 8lbs 2oz and I am sure by now she has surpassed her birth weight, although I may have to put the bathroom scale to the task for proof.

I am working on the full story and all the details, and a few other posts (as I like to do it, in fits and starts – either a desert or a deluge of posts) but this one of course had to be first.

Many thank yous to everyone who was praying for us!


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A Day in Our Life

I remember writing a post like this awhile before Tesssa was born, Nope it was from 2014 when Clara was 2 and Hugh was 6 months old. (See this blog IS my memory for me.) There’s just no other way like it to capture just what life is like, a little snapshot of these phases of life that go so quickly and it’s hard to remember once they are past what all the little details were really like.

At this point, I am 38.5 weeks pregnant. Clara is 5, Hugh is 3.5 and Tessa is 22 months.

I knew today would be pretty “regular” in some ways, although at this point in life/pregnancy/summer we really don’t have much routine and lots of days are different. But it also gave me a lot more purpose to try a little harder, snap a few more pictures than I normally do, and not so easily give into my excuses.

7:30 Brian woke me up and let me know he was leaving for work, he had gotten up and got ready and made pancakes for all of us and was feeding Clara and Hugh because he is just flat out incredible. He does this A LOT. He turned on a show for the kids so I could take a shower and headed to work.

7:50 I came down and found Clara and Hugh watching one of those super annoying kids shows where the characters are telling the kids to move and jump and be active and really they are just sitting on the couch staring at them and ignoring their futile cries to “mmmm mmmmm mmmm move it!!”

So much movement.

8:00 I wake up Tessa and keep encouraging the kids to eat, turn off the show and make myself Raspberry Leaf Tea to try to get this uterus toned and also brew my very last tea bag from my trip to London (*tear*) for iced tea for later. I scribble out some notes for this blog post.

8:30 My day planner is totally empty for today besides an offer from my dad to have the kids come visit his house this afternoon. I try to decide what to take on for the day, aka where to clean. I decide on

  • trying to find all the library books to return,
  • vacuum and maybe mop the floor and
  • clean the newborn baby carseat.

I did end up getting the TV room vacuumed before 9, So that is awesome! The kids are oh so helpful.

I even moved furniture around because that is the only thing that makes vacuuming worthwhile. Gotta move the comfy nursing chair into the best TV viewing spot. Bask in those glorious carpet vacuum lines.

9:00 in my cleaning enthusiasm realize I can empty the front hall closet if I finally move the winter coats down to the basement. oops. watch it snow tomorrow.

Start a load of laundry in my trips up and down stairs .

Remember there is story time at the Library at 10:15, I wonder if we can make it. Clara dresses herself but Hugh and Tessa and I all need some work.

Randomly decide to put out the August feast day Saint peg dolls. The kids helpfully add Ariel and Donatello.

St. Clare, St. Philomena, St. Dominic, St. Helena, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Ariel and Donatello

9:35 three people are dressed including me!

I find a basket of “clean” laundry that needs to be washed again, Gross.

I remember today needs a plan for dinner. and lunch. UGH! Didn’t I just do this yesterday?!

Defrost some ground beef for tacos and concede that lunch will probably be pathetic.

9:54 We finally made it into the car after some massive tantrums and being *this close* to taking away the whole library trip because it’s just not worth it. The kids scramble and realize they really really really want to go and start to cooperate.

10:05 We made it. I love being out of the house for awhile when a room is clean, just knowing that no one is messing it up and it will still look tidy when we return is so consoling to me.

We stay at the library way longer than I planned, the kids are enjoying it and being really good. The librarians and volunteers have some new activities and things to show the kids and Hugh and Clara both make a friend they want to play with for ever and ever.

Look how dirty her feet are!

My dad offers to feed Clara and Hugh lunch if I bring them over at quarter after 12, SWEET!

12:30 I drop them off and take Tessa home for her nap. We pick up A&W on the way home because I know I probably won’t eat if not and I have a coupon! I hope Root Beer doesn’t have caffeine because I shared with Tessa to keep her awake on the drive home

1:00 I pull into the garage and see a mouse just hanging out right in front of me. Waaaaay to brave and comfortable.

In the house, I run around a bit and switch the laundry, wash breakfast dishes, turn on the good professor and watch some of my lectures while getting the taco meat in the crock pot and giving Tessa a bottle.

1:30 Tessa happily goes down for her nap, a few snuggles and renditions of “Happy Birthday to Mommy and Daddy” (her current lullaby request) and she is just the easiest kids I’ve ever known to put down for naps some days. So lucky! (bed time is not the same… why!)

I bring in the carseat and take it apart to wash the pieces.

Its tempting to do ALL THE THINGS because I theoretically could. No kids to interfere, but I know I should sit down so I do. Stop, drop, and scroll. Work on this post a bit, watch more of the lecture which is really just background info on the actual lecture. #nerd and look at laundry that I should probably fold.

Million Dollar question: Should I nap?…..

I realized by accident that my phone connects itself to our smart TV, so I can watch these lectures from YouTube on something bigger than my phone or tiny laptop and it’s been very very exciting to my little brain.

3:45 I   think I maybe did nap for a little while but now it’s time to get up and get moving, wake and change Tessa, give her a snack, move along some laundry loads and check on dinner and go pick up the Bigs from Grampa’s house.  Oh yeah and finally drink that tea that I made this morning and never got around to drinking til now. Carseat nearly cleaned.

confession: I got the chairs up like that but never did end up sweeping. Brian did when he got home because he’s the best. #teamwork

THanks to my dad for being awesome and keeping Clara and Huey all afternoon, they walked the dog and had lunch and otherwise exhausted themselves. We see a ton of bumble bees on the flowers

And they throw massive hissy fits that they have to leave and Hugh is SO tired, so I promise them a bike ride with daddy as a sugar free bribe for when they get home.

4:50 We get home at just about the same time Brian does. I tell him about my bike promise and serve everyone a quick burrito as a “snack” to ward off the Hangry before they head out around the block.

5:30 Tessa and I sit and scroll and watch the stupidest show ever (Candy Crush… what have game shows come to!?) while we wait for them to come back.

6:15 Clara and Hugh and Brian get home for second dinner. Then some negotiations about what to do with the evening. We spend awhile cleaning up a very messy kids room (searching for more library books that need to be returned) and baiting/threatening to take away watching “Amazing Race Canada” together if little people cooperate and get jammies on.

7:30 People have cooperated a little and so we sit down to watch together – don’t know how this has some how become a thing, but they call it “Amazing Grace” and we fast forward a lot but they like it. Hugh IMMEDIATELY falls asleep on the couch and gets moved to bed.

Tessa and I half watch and half reassemble the Carseat. She’s STOKED about the “New Baby!!” and brings some of her own to come test it out, then she herself has to make sure it’s “tooo little” and when the episode ends we put the girls in bed.

Brian and I have some time to talk,  discuss some topical articles we’ve come across through the day, and I fall asleep sometime during the episode of Grey’s Anatomy he starts to watch. Probably way too late (11:30?)  But there’s the day!



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Before Baby 4 Comes

I want to try to record a little of what life is like right now, before it majorly changes with the new little ones arrival. I am 38 weeks pregnant today, so theoretically it could be “any day” but that also means it could be pretty much a month (of eternal days) from now, so I am trying to get through one day at a time.

It has been one of the hottest summers ever (4th hottest July in recorded history I think I saw) for this area, which hasn’t made it much easier to be giant pregnant, no AC, and hauling 3 little ones with me and belly everywhere we go. So we have stayed around home and the lake for much of the past month.

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The kids don’t seem to mind but it is a little hard on me. Being home all day for days on a row is a bit disheartening for my extroverted needs. But I have truly felt at my limit, physically, trying to manage them all without being able to bend over, pick people up, carry them etc., so close to home or places we know really well is where we have stayed and I have tried to just accept it as reality for a little while more. I am curious to see if taking all 4 (!!) of them out gets easier or more difficult, I am hoping I can manage it but also realize it will probably take a long while before that feat is successful.

We did find a new vehicle and retire the old commuter mobile. The kids were very sad that dad had to give up his “fancy red race car” although I think Brian doesn’t mind at all being upgraded.

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But now we can all fit comfortably and even bring things! and other people! with us when we go somewhere, so #spoiled. And why did we wait so long? I will never know. The odyssey designers sure know where its at.

We celebrated Clara’s 5th Birthday with 5 of her sweet little friends in the middle of July.

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And then she got ahold of one of our phones and took pictures of all her new presents and a few selfies and it just cracks me up so much when I find these little surprises in our photo galleries.

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The four pregnant sisters are all hanging in there so far. I am the one with the earliest due date – and then by January the number of cousins will be doubled from 4 to 8! It will be babyville like crazy at our next few family gatherings which should be fun? for bystanders at least 😉

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We definitely should have planned better (not that it was planned at all) and staggered out these babes a few months apart so we could actually be helpful to each other – and being able to share and swap newborn things instead of needing 3 or 4 of everything woulda been handy – so now you know for your own planning purposes. So far there’s one baby girl and 3 baby mysteries in those tummies, so we will see how it all shakes out! But I miss having my sisters be able to come by and help me out and I would love if I could be helpful to them during this time… so the cute pictures of nearly triplet cousins at the end of the month better be major worth it!

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We had a fun “Circus Train” adventure in July –  the kids even got to sleep at the campground with their gramma and grampa and brave aunties – I was not feeling up to any camping this summer, although I usually do like it. But Brian, Tessa and I went out for the day and rode the train and got to see the balloon artists (look at the Ninja Turtle balloon this guy came up with! Impressive) and face painters and train “robbers” and all the other adventure which was lots of fun. 2017-07-12 14.31.132017-07-12 13.48.502017-07-12 14.29.19

More memories from the days at the Lake. We are super lucky to have a lake in our neighborhood (this a very dry – lakeless area, so it is totally man made but it’s still beautiful and very clean and well kept!) so we just show up for the morning and then come home for naps – surprisingly easy once I finally figured out how to pack and bring just the bare essentials. I used to lug SO much there that the prep and clean up felt barely worth it, but now I have a little system of grabbing 3 towels, 3 outfits, 3 swimsuits, a bottle of sunscreen, a bottle of water and a sorry excuse for a “lunch” and it doesn’t seem like too much work at all and basically I arrive home with a load of laundry and a bunch of sandy tired kids and we all enjoy it!

And – throwback to the 4th of July

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And one other free family activity that I (hah. Brian does it all) can manage are these casual concerts in the park one evening a week. This picture of Clara – always dressed up – tossing her stick unicorn so she can go dance in front of the stage just cracks me up. The weird smogginess is from forest fire smoke that’s been blowing over the city. That night was REALLY strange – the sun was totally blotted out and very eerie.

Anyway, we are pretty much ready for baby to arrive. Psychologically maybe not but I am hoping that surprises me by showing up when it is needed, but practically we have got everything ready that we can and now we wait.

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Girls Week in London

You may have noticed in May if you follow me on Instagram that I had a seemingly sudden trip of a lifetime to visit my dear friend who lives in London, England. I wanted to record a few more details of the whole experience for my own failing memory (#momory) and also for any curious blog stalkers who may be curious why and what was going down.

One of my dearest lifelong friends, the Maid of Honour at my wedding, Mary, moved to Europe a number of years ago. Since her family lives in my hometown she was always coming back occasionally to visit me (and them, I suppose) but in the past 6 or so years, we never had more than a few hours together each year for a lunch or tea, or her wedding.

Mary and her husband and their beautiful daughter live in central London now, and since we both turned 30 this year we had talked more than a year ago about arranging a trip for me to come visit her. The plans fizzled out when she and then I got pregnant, but then suddenly were re-kindled when her husband so kindly and generously asked me to come spend a week that he had to travel for business and he wanted someone to come keep her company. My own wonderful husband stepped up to the plate of taking care of our 3 for a full week, with lots of help from my Mom and Dad, so plans were finalized and I had a few weeks to prepare, get a new passport, worry and wonder if the kids and I could make it apart from each other for so long, and then finally head over the ocean.

Taking the kids to the park before we headed to the airport

The goal of our time together was for me to help Mary take it easy and maybe even make her life a tiny bit easier by being around to help with her 4 month old. But we snuck in a little bit of walking the city and seeing some sites from afar and filled the rest of the time with the most wonderful food and conversation.

In front of Buckingham Palace

It just so happened, and I only found out about the coincidence after my tickets were booked, that my older sister Katelyn had an overnight layover in London while I was going to be there. She was on her way home to Atlanta from the Holy Land. It turned out to be another incredible gift of the trip to get to spend a few uninterrupted hours in conversation with her catching up and hearing all about her pilgrimage.

I tried to keep a little journal note of the places we saw each day, and I will share that along with some pictures of the highlights  (Sorry it’s LONG!) But I also wanted to share some of the other reflections that having actually some time to think and reflect gifted me with.

I was really blown away by how needed and enjoyable it was to have time to think. I guess I hadn’t noticed just how thinly I have been stretched the past few months, but it was so wonderful to get time to organize my thoughts and think about bigger and better things than the immediate and urgent, and it inspired some of the longer lasting efforts I’ve maintained to keep up with things (such as youtube lectures) that keep my mind active since the trip.

I also was so happy to get to focus on my friendships and benefit from the incredible gift of wonderful friends. Truly, friendship is such a gift and should be fostered even when it entails sacrifice. It was hard in some ways to leave the kids and trust that they could survive without me (spoiler alert – they did fine, as did I) but it was very worth it!

Riding the Tube

Day 1

Mary suggested I take NoJetLag to help with the flight, and along with frequent walk/stretch breaks, lots of water drinking, and trying to sleep instead of WATCH ALL THE MOVIES, the flight went really well and I didn’t have any tough jet lag when I got there. Or maybe I just had no sleep routine/habits to get out of so I didn’t notice much difference.

Mary met me at the Gatwick airport and we tried to find the best train route to the city – Whew!! there are a lot of trains and options! I was so grateful to have her there to help me figure it out. There were some train delays but we eventually got to London Bridge Station and walked around their old flat, near the Tate museum, had amazing sandwich and tea in a sweet little cafe and talked constantly as we walked through Borough Market (traders have been trading here 1000 years) and got flowers, coffee and bread, passed the Globe Theater. Walked toward the Shard building, stopped to nurse baby, took the metro to their stop walked through gorgeous park to her flat for bath and dinner and endless chatting and catching up of all the things.

I was so amazed by the old and new architecture meshed together, the little gardens and very Un-grid-ed streets of flats and row homes. Kids walking home from school along the canal streets and riding their scooters in their uniforms, the beautiful park, the small space living, watching Mary be a mom to her sweet little girl. Amazing buckwheat crepe with emmental cheese and ham and fried egg. {These really are the best and I will share the recipe in a separate post because, the kids still eat them and we love them and they are gluten free (if that’s a concern for you) and so good.}

Day 2

We took the tube to Buckingham Palace, walked through Green Park, walked to Fortum & Mason (the Queen’s Grocer!) luxury goods, hats and scarves and their fancy nursing room, Gotta trust Mary to know all the posh places to stop and nurse a baby! Then we walked to Liberty to explore and see the Loewe collection and Carnaby shopping area. Had chicken pot pie (on my food London Bucket List!) at Le Pain Quotidien. I really wanted to see Selfridges (after watching ALL the shows and documentaries on them) so we walked through and but mostly check out the Selfridges food court (tried Tsuki Mochi– YUM!) and ambled through Oxford Circus, the Mayfair shopping district and then headed back to the tube and home during rush hour. Skyped the kids, Mary made a delicious supper, (again, I prove just how helpful I am) Then movie night; Bridget Jones Diary obvs.


Day 3 Thursday

Sleep in til 1! 1 pm! SERIOUSLY!!! So much for me being helpful with Mary and the baby. We leave at 2 to walk through the City Farm and get to the dock for a water taxi along the Thames past all the sights visible from the river. Tower bridge, London Bridge, Tower of London, the Eye, the Houses of Parliament. Walk up past Westminster Abbey, stop in at a department store (House of Fraser) and find the pink and blue tea room and have tea and scones there before heading to the Westminster Cathedral for a beautiful Holy Mass sung by their famous boys choir. Explore the cathedral, walk across the river and down past Mary’s old flat to meet our friend for dinner at a cute Italian restaurant. Take the bus home late. Skype kids and Brian and stay up too late.

Day 4 Friday

Woke up 9:30. Read, visited, headed out at 12 to walk through Mary’s area and meet her friend (and my friend now!) Marie at a cafe. Amazed at the beautiful old gorgeous winding lanes, canals, parks. Had croissants in the park beside the cafe and visited with Marie and her 3 kids for a long time, walk more through the Rotherhithe area, saw site of the launch of the Mayflower, Brunel Tunnel site, king Edward manor ruins, townhomes Mary’s wants to move into, and beautiful parks. Ended at Marie’s and have tea of course, then walked more to a great restaurant for fish and chips and then home, house and hours of GREAT discussion and conversation, and staying up in extroverts delight til 3am.

This little cafe just blew my mind!


Headed to the National Gallery walking through Trafalgar Square, also saw Bob again and met Coco the Parrot, we walked through Convent Garden marketplace, and then Bob and I headed to Heathrow so I could meet Katie and brought her to Mary’s for the night, very good conversation, hearing about her trip to the Holy Land and catching up for the first time in probably 5 years without being distracted by babies.

Van Gogh


Wake and leave early for Mass at the Farm Street Church (Jesuit parish, Immaculate Conception) BEAUTIFUL Latin sung Holy Mass. Get lunch at Pret, walk Katie though Fortnum&Mason to see the glamorous shower caps that millionaires must wear and saw glimpses of sunshine in Green Park, Londoners coming out like ants for the first Sunny day of the whole week. Took Katie to the train station. Katie went to the the airport for her flight home and Mary and I headed toward home and enjoyed walking in the sun along the canals and got tea at The Pear Tree Cafe and talked talked talked.  Mary made her wonderful buckwheat crepes again and Marcos arrived home from his trip and had the sweetest reunion with his baby again, I think around now I start to miss my babies. I give them some alone time and finish watching the Rubin and Jordan Peterson Interview and talked to Brian.


Marcos accompanied me on the trains to Gatwick and we had a wonderful discussion, got to know him much better and looking forward to the visit to Canada that they will have this summer in August.

Side note – in browsing the fancy shops I found the perfect perfume if I ever win the lottery. Jo Malone Rare Tea  Darjeeling

All in all it was such a great trip and I am so thankful to Mary and Marcos and Brian and my mom and dad and everyone else who made it possible, and if I have it my way at all, this won’t be the “trip of a lifetime” but just the first of many!

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Quick Takes of Summer

I might have to make this a Quick Takes (Good thing I am starting on Tuesday, and look at that – finishing on Friday!) Because I want to blog but don’t know/there is too much? To write about – which seems to happen when I post only once every 2 or 3 months.

  1. I have kept a list of all the books I started reading since March and there are 19 Titles! … the even more impressive part (to me) is that 8 of them are checked off as actually fully, cover-to-cover, finished. Some others are more of the longer Spiritual reading tomes that I will return to in time, and others of the unfinished bunch were non fiction types that I skimmed and took the parts that I thought might help and left the rest. Either way, I  am impressing myself in a tiny way.
  2. I have also been dedicating some time to keeping my brain from turning to mush by watching lectures on You Tube (homeschooler or what) but I am just enjoying it so much, having BIG ideas in my brain and not just the day to day mundane taking over and frustrating me. So far I have followed along with Jordan Peterson’s ongoing Lecture Series on the Psychological Significance of the Bible Stories. There are 5 lectures so far and they are each over 2.5 hours so it’s like being back in school pretty much, but it is very interesting stuff.
  3. I’m still super pregnant. (and so are almost all my sisters!) 33 weeks now, and people tell me I look small (thank you, kind people) but it sure doesn’t feel like that when I try to roll over in the night.
  4. I feel like I spent my energy on “Summer” activities in May and the beginning of June – which was so much fun, we did some weekend trips to see friends and sisters, trips to local little attractions etc. and now I am sparingly using my tiny bit of energy to get to the lake once or twice a week with friends and, that’s about it. The pool in the back yard and lots of Popsicles and I am hoping some nesting urge kicks in because I have got absolutely nothing ready for this new arrival.
  5. We did make a tiny bit of headway this past weekend on our biggest baby preparedness step we need to take – upgrading our vehicle. I wanted to really give cheaper minivans a chance and so we spent an afternoon trying to fit our 4 car seats into  something cheaper that the highly recommended for families (and now we know why)  Honda Odyssey. But it seems other van makers don’t really try to hard to accommodate more than 2 or 3 car seats with any real effort, so now in the next week or two we have to find an used one within our budget and snatch it up.
  6. Other things on my baby list of to dos is:
    1. wash some of the newborn clothes/blankets
    2. set up the baby room for a newborn baby, raise Tessa’s old crib up to baby level, put the change table back in there etc
    3. find and set up a bassinet in our room
  7. I am going to work this weekend on my London Re-cap post of my trip in May – adding in the pictures (since lots of it is already written) so that it my goal for myself. Lets see if I can meet the Challenge
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Rocking Motherhood

Awhile ago Jen tagged me in a Rocking Motherhood blogging challenge. Today I am attempting to fulfill it because it seems like the hardest thing I could blog about right now. Today’s been rough, and this whole week, and honestly the past few months, and in a lot of ways I know I dwell on the things that aren’t going well or have been total failures lately, so maybe some positivity would be good for my mindset. So here are some ways in which I’ve been “Rocking” it at motherhood lately.

  1. I say Yes and No carefully.
    The kids have been in a few select activities this semester. Clara was in an excellent music program (that I did as a child – with the same teacher) and she and Hugh participated in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd which my mom was teaching and was SO GOOD. We also went to mothers group (which has a great babysitting/playschool program for the kids) and frequented Story Time at the library. It wasn’t too much and it certainly is showing its effects in what they are learning and talking about, so I think it was a pretty good job of selecting the right amount of activities outside of the house for all of us. And that took a lot of saying No to cool things and fun opportunities that for one reason or another might have pushed us as a family over the “too much” line, even if I personally would have enjoyed having more “Things” to do.
  2. The kids can entertain themselves, and each other.
    I find that the mornings we are at home, while I work on things in the kitchen, (meal prep, dishes, whatever) the kids will often come up with a fun and very imaginative game to play together, happily. And as long as I don’t sit down, make any sounds or do anything tooo interesting that they have to get in on, that they play happily with themselves for awhile. This morning the game was Clara was the aunty and Hugh was a kid but the mom had died (I was told I was the grandma) so she had “taken over” and she was taking her son Huey to Church and since he behaved well at church they go tot go to “the beach” so the game turned to Swimming so on went their swim suits (and they have been on ever since – its 7:52pm – it was a home day today).
  3. The kids are becoming literate
    We reached the age where Clara and Hugh are happy to listen to read aloud REAL chapter books for bed time. We have read Peter Pan and are on the 4th book of the Little House on the Prairie series which we are moving through really quickly! They will also ask for audio books on car trips and sometimes just while we are colouring or again working in the kitchen, so Clara and I have listened through some of the Anne of Green Gables series, and are in the middle of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as Wizard of Oz and shes listened to Dr. Dolittle twice… I love it and am getting to read some books I have always wanted to or barely remember and its fun to have stories to talk about that are more elaborate and not from TV shows.
  4. Reading Lessons
    Speaking of which, with me totally failing on any “formal preschool” if that’s a real thing, Clara’s picked up on so much with letter writing and showed great interest in learning to read, so we are moving through “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and she looks forward to her reading lessons and asks to do 2 at a time, so as long as I fight for the 20 minutes we need without other kids or things interrupting us each day, I hope we can finish before the baby comes so she can read him or her stories!
  5. We Eat Homemade Almost Everything
    I don’t know why exactly, but getting take out doesn’t really cross my mind as an option, so pretty much every meal every day is a home made something or other, usually decently healthy, despite the huge amount of work that is.
  6. Their Messes don’t Take Over
    Its so much work to stay on top of, but our house is usually generally tidy and things haven’t been really out of control messy in a long time. There are always things to be picked up and bathrooms that really should be scrubbed, but I never have to say no or be embarassed if a friend were to stop by and when we want to do a thorough clean its usually possible with out too much effort. I have my husband to thank for most of this because he is a saint and cleans the whole kitchen, no matter how messy it is, every night before he goes to bed.
  7. I’ve pursued a few of my “own things”
    Knowing the danger of having my kids be the be all end all of life, I have made time and sought direction in carefully establishing a few of my own things to make part of my time. Reading (which takes great effort for me) and finding a spiritual director and a few more things to feed my soul (like going on a 4 day retreat) as well as getting a little involved in local politics, organizing and hosting multiple Saint Peg Doll Swaps, and occasionally making time for some hobbies and catching up with old friends… It sounds like a lot but really that’s spread out a LOT and still 99% of my time and effort is probably spent at home, focused on my family and vocation, but still I am glad I have made the efforts I have and I really enjoy the but I am pretty sure they haven’t ever been too much or taken away from where my first focus should be, and that’s not always a easy balance to find.
  8. I’m not intimidated by glitter
    I let the kids get messy and do projects, even ones that involve paint and glitter. I enjoy crafts myself a lot, but its still hard to let them just go wild knowing I will have to clean it all up or even worse – have to walk them through cleaning it up “themselves” as a learning opportunity… But we still do it and have lots of beautiful “art” to show for it.
  9. I take care of myself
    I mentioned in my last post starting physio for some issues I suspected, it was really not easy to make that call and I usually can ignore my own little discomforts but I am glad I am learning to take care of myself and do hard things
  10. I’m patient and punctual
    I know it takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r to get the kids dressed or in the car or anything like that, so I plan for it and give us SO much time and am not usually surprised by anything that makes us late, in fact sometimes things go better than average and we end up places decently early, without any yelling on my part.

So that felt like a whole lot of needless bragging… but, Blogging a list of 10 or 100 ways I feel like I am failing at this whole things would have only taken a tenth of the time and thought, so Its good to focus on the positive. I know most of the bloggers I might have tagged have probably been tagged already, so if you have been tagged and have ignored it, consider this your reminder tag and get to it! We would love to see what you have to say!!


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Pregnancy #4 update – 23 weeks

I’ve kind of left this blog hanging since announcing our new baby on the way, and that was gosh a long time ago. Excuses excuses, we haven’t had a working computer in 4 or 5 months, but now we do so I will try again! Pregnancy wise, we are at 23 weeks now with this one, more than half way so its certainly time for an update for posterity sake!

2017-04-18 08.17.04

Now that all of them have made official announcements I can also add here that to build on the excitement of our baby due August 16, my sister Emma (the one who had  a son exactly one week before our Hugh was born) is due with her second on August 17! AND my sister Anne is expecting her first on August 30! Its the summer of #tripletcousins!
And there are even more babies arriving on my husbands side of the family, my sister-in-law had her second at the end of March, and another sister-in-law is expecting her first in June! Babies everywhere!

We are once again waiting til birth to find out if its a boy or girl (so are my 2 sisters – so much suspense!!) but we’ve had a few ultrasounds and gotten to see mostly the baby’s spine… since he or she decided to be very un-cooperative and not turn over, but either way, things are looking good. Baby is growing and moving and making their presence known, both visually and through the evening ritual of lovely heartburn and hunger.

I feel relatively well. Lets be honest, it’s pregnancy and a winter of eternal colds and sickness for the 1.5, 3 and 4.5 year old so its been  unbearably pretty tiring, but there are no major complaints so of course I am really thankful for that. And now lent is over so I can motivate myself to get through the day with jelly beans like I am a toddler, but hey, do what works!

I haven’t needed to go back to the chiropractor (yet) which I sort of miss (except the price tag and the unbearable hip pain – I really love the lady I was seeing!) I have started to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to counteract the effects of 4 pregnancies in 5 years and as awkward as that can be, I think its worth it and I hope I can do the exercise and improve my posture and hopefully fend off any serious damage. it definitely IS awkward, but not nearly as bad as I was dreading, if its something you’ve ever thought “hay maybe I should look into….” but stopped yourself because, AHH!! I say do it.

I am thinking of planning a few different elements for the babies arrival this time around; a doula/birth photographer friend of mine to capture the event, and maybe even venturing into the world of a birth pool/water birth, which I have never tried before, so we will see how plans continue to evolve. I think my subconscious wants to change it up to make it a little more of something to look forward to, as much as that is possible.

Of course I am excited to meet and get to know this little person, but the reality (of 3, let alone 4)  is still way overwhelming and as much as people keep telling me “three is the hardest!” its a little hard to imagine how that is possible while corralling 3 and it is a bit bewildering to attempt to work out how a forth will add to that without leveling up the difficulty, so we will have to wait and see! And keep myself busy with planning and mental nesting since the energy to actually do any physical nesting is nowhere to be seen.

Until we meet again!



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