Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Decor Link-up!

I am SO excited to participate in this link-up hosted by Katie over at NFP and Me! Thanks, Katie, for hosting this really fun blog hop! Without further ado, I present to you Dempsey Christmas 2012:

Welcome to our home! (Gotta LOVE Costco's cheap greenery!)

Christmas flowers for Our Lady

One of our living room radiators

Our Advent Wreath on our dining room table

Our beautiful nativity set given to me by my mother as a Christmas gift 3 years ago.

Close-up of The Holy Family

Our stockings

  The tree (yes, it's real!)

One of our kitchen counters all decked out!

Don't know why I love these trees, but I do! We've had them forever.
Made it myself with dollar store items (couldn't tell, could you?)
Close-up of Advent Box on counter

Santa guards the cookies!

Kitchen table

Nativity set in basement family room

Jesse Tree when it was still awaiting ornaments.

Ok, now jingle yourself over to NFP and Me, look at all the awesome decorations people have linked up and then add yours!
Peaceful Advent and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange

Breaking my loooooooong blogging hiatus, to send you over to Jessica's blog so you can participate in this very cool ornament exchange!

I've always wanted to do a Jesse Tree project for Advent, and this one makes it easy and fun!

It has also inspired me to do a post on some of our family's Advent traditions. I should have that post up in a few days.

Bated breath, right?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

May I Be Honest?

Here's the thing, my peeps...

I've been a mother for 17 years and a female for a leeeetle bit longer than that, and I still don't understand something:  why can't women just be honest with each other?

Or, perhaps, more clearly stated: wouldn't women be better off being truthful with each other?

Mothers, especially, share so many of the same issues and concerns in common, and, yet, I find that we all tend to gloss things over. Are we afraid of appearing weak? Do we think we won't measure up? Are we frightened of making ourselves feel and seem "less than" because we open up our hearts?

Surely, if we look logically at ourselves and others, we can see that not one of us is perfect. Some of us may be better than others at some things, like baking or crafting, but we also lack in areas in which others excel. It all evens out, right?

However, it seems that all of us feel the need to hold back some parts of ourselves (concerns, failures, bad habits) from these equally flawed people. From my experience, depending on the group of mothers you're dealing with, these things you keep hidden change. If I'm chatting with a group consisting mostly of working moms, I tend to hide the fact that I haven't worked outside the home since I was pregnant with my oldest. Worse, I try to downplay the very important work I do as a wife and mother because I feel that I must look lazy to these women who try to juggle both worlds. But, if I'm visiting with a bunch of other stay-at-home moms, I play up the various ways I "over-work" myself  by being the best Suzy Homemaker in the world, all the while trying to hide the fact that my laundry room is over-flowing with laundry and, out of sheer grumpiness, I ordered pizza for dinner the night before.

With the birth of our beautiful William Luke this past Winter, my "less than" days have increased and   I've been hounded by feelings of confusion ("I am eating sensibly like that new mom over there, so why is she losing weight but I am staying fat?") and a real sense of "no control". Post-partum depression? Probably, yes, compounded by the fact that Will was a preemie who stayed in NICU, followed by my re-hospitalization for DVTs, then three months of injecting myself daily with blood thinners, topped by the fact that Will really struggles with weight gain. I'm sure all of these things have made me question my abilities and, at times, my sanity. 

But, I still cannot stop comparing myself to others (a very bad idea, I know) and feeling so discouraged when I come up short. Other people, women especially, make it seem so easy to do all the things I can't seem to do no matter how much I try. Weight loss? Just eat sensibly, drink water, and get some exercise! OK, I cut out most sugar, don't eat processed foods, drink nearly a gallon of water daily, and go for a walk with the baby and toddler 5 days a week. The frappin' scale has not budged. I hear/see other new moms who seem to do the same things (or, worse! Eat ice cream every night and never go outside!) and are reporting weight losses from 5-20 pounds! They look happy and healthy and TOGETHER! I keep re-tweaking what I'm doing to the point of confusion in an effort to achieve similar results and nada.

Or, what about housekeeping? People! I have 6 mobile children who have daily and weekly chores that they perform under protest  quite nicely, and my house still looks like a bomb went off in a junkyard. I'm trying to remain available for near-constant breastfeeding for a 5 month old who still hasn't broken ten pounds, while trying to throw a load of laundry in or fill the dishwasher. With all the help I receive, this should not be such an insurmountable task. But it is.

The other day, I realized that, perhaps, while I'm glossing over the unpleasant parts of my life, that I may be giving other women a reason to feel badly about themselves. That stopped me in my tracks. I don't think of myself as an influential person, but I suppose that just by the fact that I have been a mother to many for a few years, that some may look to me or my behavior (or, my kids' behavior! gasp!) and start playing The Comparison Game. Maybe something I've said has made another mother feel like she was inadequate. Honestly, this made me feel terrible. 

So, from now on, I will use my example to live as honestly as I can and hope that I can also remember that comparing myself to others only serves the purpose of making me feel "less than".

What do you think? I'd love for people to weigh-in on this and talk about their experiences on either side of the Are You Honest debate!

Monday, July 30, 2012

If Cari never did Snapshots...

then I'd probably never post! Thanks Cari , for saving my blog!!! Now, go check out  Snapshots from a Sunday!!

Friday, June 8, 2012


I remember the feeling of warmth upon my head. I remember lifting my tear-stained face to feel the warmth. I remember sitting as still as possible so that the warmth would seep into my very cold body. Finally, slowly the dark, ice-filled places in my soul began to thaw. I remember being afraid to move, as if it would break this magical, healing spell. I remember a small smile finding it's way to my lips -- lips that could not speak of the pain. I remember the words, "Thank you." quietly appearing in my warm head. Finally, slowly she had found away to allow God to begin healing my heart.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

11 Things

The brilliant and lovely Jessica over at Housewifespice (go check her out! Among other delights, she gives a weekly book review of books for all ages!) tagged me in an "11 Things" post over the weekend. I could pretend to be upset, but who am I kidding? I love these things!! So, without further ado...

1.  Post these rules.

2.  Post a photo of yourself and then write 11 things about your life. 

3.  Answer the questions for you set in the original post.

4.  Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.

5.  Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you have tagged them.

This was my 1st attempt at figuring out Instagram. For some reason, that makes me sorrowful.
11 Things about my life...

1) Second to Jesus, coffee is, once again, my savior.
2) I'm back at Weight Watchers.
3) I want to eat an entire Portillo's chocolate cake every day
4) I want to wear "normal" clothes again. No more maternity clothes or huge sizes.
5) In late March, I was hospitalized for 1 night because I have some serious blood clots in my right arm. They were probably caused by a combination of pregnancy bed rest, my c-section, and the eleventy-hundred IVs that were placed in that arm (and infiltrated a vein).
6) I am self-injecting blood thinners daily for three months because the fun of child-bearing is never-ending.
7) I just discovered that the blood thinner I inject is derived from "porcine intestinal mucosa".
8) I just decided I will stop reading inserts from medications.
9) I repaired the lace on the 170 year old family heirloom christening gown all by myself!
10) I don't have any real hobbies.
11) I am not ashamed of or worried by #10.

Now, to answer Jessica's questions...

1.  If you were a saint, what would you be the patron of?

Oooo! Good one! I'm assuming the Catholic Church would never let me be the patron saint of cussing, right? So, that leaves impatience or humor. And, since the impatience thing would probably be on the "no-no" list, too, I'm going to with humor. St. Mary Kate of the Giggles.

2.  If you weren't Catholic, what religion would you be? Me likey this one, too! Kyle and I have had this discussion and I really think I'd be an Orthodox Jew. Love the beautiful traditions, the strength of belief, and the latkes.

3.  If you could only eat one kind of animal for the rest of your life, what would it be: beef, pork, or poultry? Easy. Beef. Medium rare.

5.  If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be? Well, that would be a nightmare, as variety of cuisines is the spice of my life (pun intended). I would probably choose "Italian", but in the broadest sense (all the different cuisines of Italy) of the word.

6.  What is the one movie that you are embarrassed to admit you've never seen? Well, there are certainly many movies that I am embarrassed to admit that I have seen. But, everyone seems to have seen "Citizen Kane" and I have never seen anything more than a clip of that movie. Spoiler alert: I do know, however, that Rosebud is a sled --- whatever that means.

7.  What is your dream vacation? Ha ha!! Well, as I get older and have more kids it becomes less of a "where" and more of a "what type". I would love to go with Kyle to some private island with warm (not hot!) temps, a full-time bartender and chef, and lots and lots of books (both favorite and new-to-me titles). Must stay for at least 2 weeks.

8.  Who is your fantasy dinner guest?  Must be a living person. I'm a "party person", so choosing just one person is difficult for me. So, I'll imagine it's a dinner party of my "usual suspects" PLUS someone with whom I'd love to have a long, one-on-one conversation: Pope Benedict XVI. Not surprising, I know, but I have a lot of questions I'd like to ask, and I'd love to hear how he would handle some situations that I've been in/am currently in. So, totally selfish, yeah. But, it's my party, and I'll use it to my advantage if I want to (totally doesn't go with the tune).

9.  Who is your fantasy dinner guest living or dead?  Can't pick Jesus or Mary, and can't pick the same person you picked for #8. Cary Grant. There. I said it. And, I'm not explaining.

10.   What was the best book you read or were read as a child? Toss up between the "Anne of Green Gables" series and "The Betsy-Tacy" series. The way that Hanna Montana and iCarly have (sadly) influenced many tween girls these days, is the way that Anne Shirley and Betsy Ray influenced me.

11.  If you had to emigrate to another country, I don't know, you're a fugitive from the law or something,  what country do you go to? Ireland. Sorry not to pull any surprises on this answer, either. I feel like I could easily blend in and I wouldn't have to learn a language. Plus, Guinness, Waterford, and the beat of the bodhran? Yes, please!

OK, now here are my 11 questions:
1) Favorite "guilty splurge" food and why?
2) Are Bucket Lists a good idea or not (must defend your position)?
3) Orange Sherbet or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough?
4)  If you had to give up one secular Christmas tradition, what would it be?
5) If you could choose to play any professional sport (you have been bitten by a radioactive spider thereby giving you super-powers), which one would it be?
6) What one phobia (diagnosed or undiagnosed) do you have that no one knows about?
7) Favorite childhood song?
8) What kitchen utensil/gadget/small appliance could you NEVER do without?
9) Obituaries: enjoy reading them or not?
10) You inherit 2 million dollars and decide to keep this fact a secret. Do you spend it slowly & judiciously or do you save it, planning on leaving it all to your family upon your death?
11) If there was one book you could go back and un-read, which one would you choose?

And, I choose Marie from Joy Beyond The Cross, because I'd love to get to know more about my prayer buddy, Christina from It Was The Best of Times, and the Worst of Times... because I always love hearing her perspective, Karen from Karen Edmisten because she is one of my favorite non-fiction authors, and my darling husband Kyle from kylepdempseyonlineinformationdotcom because I really am interested in how he'll answer #3 and #10.

Have fun!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lenten Buddies!

This past Lent, I was privileged and humbled to be a part of the Lenten Prayer Buddy program, wherein you are assigned a person for whom you are to pray throughout Lent. That person does not know who is praying for her and her intentions, but knows that all will be revealed after Easter (sounds so mystical, doesn't it?). AND, that's not all! Some other mysterious person is assigned to pray for YOU during Lent, too!

Today, I received a most awesome email from the wonderful Marie at Joy Beyond the Cross: she had been assigned to pray for me throughout this Lent! And, she had a HUGE job, what with this being the "Lent of William Luke and His Adventures in NICU". I "got the chills" when I realized that she had been praying for Will and our family during that entire time. Do you know that there were days where I knew it was solely the prayers of others that were permitting me to put one foot in front of the other? Now I have a name for one of those indomitable prayer warriors: MARIE! Marie brought me JOY and I didn't even know she existed until today!

We all have the ability, through Christ, to affect the lives of others for the better through the simple act of praying for them. Prayer is a beautiful and powerful thing!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

He's Here!!

William Luke arrived just 2 days after my last post -- yes, folks, he's a Leap Day Baby! People assure me that his unusual birth date will be "just a fun quirk!", but my OCD tells me differently. ;-)

While he was scheduled to be born early at 34 weeks (due to his sister's exciting birth!), Will decided that he didn't want to be "scheduled" and arrived at 32 weeks -- 8 weeks early! Our sweet preemie boy weighed in at 5 pounds, 1 ounce and was 17 inches long. He was as healthy as a horse and only needed a little help with breathing during the first 36 hours.

Will did spend 2 weeks in the hospital's NICU because they wanted to make sure he "knew how to feed and was gaining properly". The major problem with this was that there was no way for him to learn how to breastfeed when they would only allow him to take 2-3 feedings by breast (don't want to tire him out!) for a maximum of 30 minutes. Throw in some nipple confusion from bottle feeds, irritation from a naso-gastric tube, and an exhausted mama (c-sections aren't minor surgery, despite what some people may lead you to believe!) who can't pump enough breastmilk and, VOILA! You have just created a scenario that is ripe for failure-to-thrive in an otherwise-healthy baby and some nasty postpartum depression in a mother who, in 7 previous births (including a full-term stillbirth), has NEVER previously exhibited any symptoms.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: NICUs (and hospitals, in general) are great for helping people SURVIVE, but are absolutely lousy at helping them THRIVE.

And, for those of you who care to disagree with me, you certainly have that right. But, please spare me your stories of  "I have a friend who is a NICU nurse, and she says that...." or "My baby would have never learned how to eat if it weren't for the genius staff at our NICU.", That's nice. I have had plenty of  personal experience with several "top-notch" NICUs over my 17 years of "childbirthin'" and they all have 3 things in common:
  1. They truly believe they possess more knowledge than any parent or "regular" physician out there.
  2. This knowledge (even when proven to be incorrect) is 100% infallible.
  3. They will hold onto babies MUCH longer than is necessary and use fear to undermine parents' belief in their own abilities to care for their children.
While I believe that there are some truly dedicated doctors and nurses out there (my family and I have benefited  from their fantastic care), their numbers are dwindling. Over the last 10 years, I have personally witnessed an dramatic increase in the use of technology in the medical field. And, while the intention may be to streamline and improve care, that does not seem to be the major effect that it is actually having in medicine. What I am seeing is a complete absence of hands-on, look-'em-in-the-eye care being replaced by look-at-the-machines-and-computer-print-outs "care". I'm not exaggerating in the least. It's disturbing.

But, I will save that all for a later post. ::grumble, grumble::

This post is about Will and the increase in love and joy he brings to our family! With every baby, we marvel at how we didn't seem to be "missing" anything in our family, yet with each blessed addition our family now feels "whole" and we can't imagine life without this new person. Once again, through Will, God has given us this great gift and we feel so humbled and privileged. Despite what some people say or think, this never gets old or boring. How could it? Each person, each new life is 100% different from any that have come before or will come after him. We are adding a new chapter to our family's book and I can't wait to see what happens!

Welcome, welcome William Luke! You bless us every day with your sweet and gentle presence! How we love you so!

My 7 beautiful babies together for the first time 10 days after Will's birth!

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's time for another Snapshots!!

I'm over here at the Donaldson's today, participating in another terrific Snapshots from a Sunday hosted by the talented Cari!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Give It Your Best Shot!


Baby #7 (shhhhhh! It's a boy!) is scheduled to arrive in less than 3 weeks! As with all of my other children, I'd like to mark his arrival with something unique and special. With each child, we've added on to the traditions that initiate a new member of our family, and I've run out of unique ideas (Give me a break! My brain has been doubly-fried by pregnancy AND bed rest!). I need your help!

As I just mentioned, we try to keep doing the already-established traditions, but add on a new one for each baby. So, here is the list:

Baby #1: We sang him "Happy Birthday" when he was born.

Baby #2: "Happy Birthday", plus we made sure to have a Baby Book ready and waiting to mark those first, few special days.

Baby #3: "Happy Birthday", Baby Book, and her brothers presented her with a special toy that they had shopped for and purchased just for her.

Baby #4: "Happy Birthday", Baby Book, Siblings' Gift, Special Homecoming outfit.

Baby #5: "Happy Birthday", Baby Book, Siblings' Gift, Special Homecoming outfit, Patron Saint medal.

Baby #6: "Happy Birthday", Baby Book, Siblings' Gift, Special Homecoming outfit, Patron Saint medal, Personalized baby blanket.

SO! What are some special "new baby" traditions are particular to your family? Have you heard of one that you'd like to try, but haven't gotten around to it yet?

What I like about our traditions is that they are nice mix of "things" and "actions", making them even more memorable. What are some easy ways that your family celebrates your bundles of joy?

I can't wait to hear your answers... and, HURRY!!! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The One Where I Am Once Again Enlightened to My Opression

Not that I haven't been down this road a MILLION times before, but I had to have the "talk" with my OB on Wed. Here's how it went (slightly paraphrased, but not much cuz I'm still riled):

Dr: "I know I've asked you this before, but I just wanted to make sure.... you are NOT interested in a tubal ligation, right?"
Me: "That's correct."
Dr: "Is this because of a religious thing, or????"
Me: "You could say it stems from that."
Dr: "Because you can go to your priest or minister and tell them it's for medical reasons, and then we can do it."
Me: "If a Catholic priest is giving "permission" for things that the Catholic CHurch teaches are ALWAYS morally wrong, then he's a liar and a really bad Catholic, to boot. Priests are people, they are imperfect. That's why I always verify my facts with the source I know to be correct."
Dr: "OK, it's just that this is sooooo dangerous."
Me:" Let me ask you this... Have I come across as uneducated, ignorant, or fanatical in any way during this entire pregnancy? Have I not asked some very educated questions and discussed things with you calmly and rationally?"
Dr: "Oh, yes! Yes! You're very competent!"
Me: "Have I also not made it clear that my husband and I totally understand the risks involved and that WE stand the most to lose if something goes wrong?"
Dr: "Yes."
Me: "And, knowing all of these things about me and knowing that I know how frightening this can be, don't you think that if I disagreed with Natural Law and the teachings of my faith OR if I felt there was a loophole somewhere, I would be exploring it? Wouldn't I be the FIRST to try that? It just so happens that I AGREE with the reason for "why not". I understand that you are concerned for my physical health, but I have to be worried about so much more than just that."
Dr: "OK, OK. It's just that, by law, I'm required to ask."
Me: "Really? By LAW? I've had other health care providers that never asked, so either they were skirting the law or that's not really true."
Dr: "Well, what I mean is that you'd have to make that decision NOW, legally, and not wait any longer."
Me: "Well, that's a completely different thing, isn't it? And, I think I was pretty clear back in September when I said that it was something I would never, under ANY circumstances consider. There are very few things in life that I can say are 100% no-going-back-on decisions, but this is one of them. Sorry that the law made us waste your time like this." (I did say this with a wink and a grin, but still...).

This is a conversation that I've had in several other pregnancies with various providers (OBs and NPs). To me, it represents how stereotyping happens even in the most professional of circles (maybe ESPECIALLY there) and how even when you present yourself as lucid, well-informed, easy-to-dialogue-with, and reasonable, people STILL cannot use one iota of their imagination to try and understand what you are saying.

And, I was wearing make-up and nice clothes, too!

*This is for my good buddy, Dwija!