Graffitti in the Girls’ Room

“Chantal, if you are comfortable sharing this story again, I think that many of the children would really appreciate that”, my principal gently urged me after an intense day of professional development.  I was working as an Educational Assistant at the time and I had just shared with my staff Team a story of when I was a teenager.  My team members appeared astonished and overall intrigued that I was once such a struggling teenager who acted out in direct behavioural opposition to the system. 

The truth is, that despite my steady straight A grades, I struggled a lot in middle school.  My parents would be called in to the school for meetings monthly, and I was suspended a lot.  During those middle school years, I had just moved to the city from a childhood of country living.  I was struggling to connect with my true identity and those years were overwhelming for me.

Somehow, me and a friend of mine concocted an idea to graffiti the girls’ bathroom. We did eventually follow through and act this out.  We bought some spray paint and during school hours, we went into the bathroom and graffitied the walls.  Eventually, of course we got busted.  I felt that our vice principal at the time truly had a soft spot for me and he did present us with what I felt was a veryfair punishment.  He did not suspend me again, or even expel me.  Under the supervision of the janitor, we had to sand and repaint the entire girls’ bathroom.  I knew that the consequence was fair and I respected him. We went to work with zero opposition.  

To be honest, I felt bad for the extra expense we had caused the school and the extra work we had caused for the janitor.  The janitor was a man of very few words and as he helped us get the job done, I felt that he never once passed judgement on us.  He gained a lot of respect from me during that ordeal.  

And I had the utmost respect for the vice principal, Mr. Dagenais.  I remember his gentle and understanding eyes.  He was a truly impactful Gentleman.

I know that I gave some teachers a really hard time throughout those years.  I am sure it irritated some of them to no end that I was so oppositional, yet I continued to effortlessly achieve straight A’s.  It isn’t much of a wonder though how I ended up in a profession of teaching children and counselling families.  Throughout my profession as an Educatinal Assistant, then a teacher, a special needs worker and a Child Protection worker for Children’s Aid, I always held a soft spot for those kids that seemed to be struggling most and crying out behaviourally.  I held a soft spot for them, just as someone once did for me.  

Belle Isle Rocks

“I don’t want to be here anymore” I finally broke down to Pat.  “I want to be home in Canada where we have changes of seasons and the French language and maple syrup”.   This was about two weeks ago now that I finally broke down to Pat what I had been bottling up for days.  I must have sensed something changing in my body as I had an immense urge to get home.  He let me vent and cry and he listened to me go on and on.  He assured me that we could go back anytime during the Fall to see the beautiful colours of Gatineau Park and again to experience the sugar bush in the Spring.  But mostly he just listened and let me cry it out and that was what I really needed.

Sometimes such simple words or gestures can have tremendous impact.  When I had gone last week to my follow up with the doctor to make a decision on my missed miscarriage, he kindly walked us out to the parking lot.  The doctor, Pat and I stood there together about to depart or ways.  Pat and I were heading to the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Mothers and babies to check in with Triage.  The doctor shook our hands and searched for words to express to us.  Then he said the most perfectly comforting words that I needed to hear at that time.  He said, “I really hope that Orlando offers you more now”, and he gestured in a hopeful way with his hands that there were blessings awaiting us here.  I am sure that he couldn’t know how much those simple words meant to me as I had almost lost hope in this city.  It really made me feel a reenergizing hope.

The day after surgery when I was home recovering, I was laying awake in bed enjoying the quiet house.  Our nanny had the kids at the park and all I could hear was the humming of the ceiling fan as I rested my eyes intermittently.  Gradually, I could hear the putter patter of the kids’ feet coming into the house and down the hallway.  They entered my room and were trying to respect my rest but obviously bursting with excitement.  I opened my eyes and said hi.  They giggled and Bella and Rolles were holding something in their hands.  They told me that they had found special rocks at the park!  They went on to provide the details of each discovery…. Rolles had run over to a tree and looked down to find a rock shaped and painted like a football in the grass.  Bella found a cupcake, which so happens to be exactly what she wants to dress up as for this coming Halloween!  They were ecstatic!

“Perfect” I smiled…. “just perfect”.


I love how they cleverly have “Belle Isle Rocks” written on them too… Because they are literally rocks, and, well, Belle Isle RoCks, I guess!!

Lean Not Into your own Understanding

After my surgery, I was at home recovering and I decided to go out for a neighborhood walk with the dog.  I deliberately chose to wear a vibrant colored shirt to put forth a mindful effort to elevate my mood.  We live nearby a beautiful park with tennis courts, green space, plenty of mature trees, benches and gazebos.  As I walked up the shady path, my ears captured sounds coming from all over the park.  I could hear an intense exchange at the tennis courts as the ball would bounce off of the racquets with a purpose.  I could hear children’s squeals and laughter very faintly in the far background and then right beside me to my left about thirty feet away a woman’s voice distinctly commanded my attention.  She was leading a group meeting and she asked everyone to “please stand for a moment of silence”.  It was a small gathering of less than twenty people and they all stood together gathered under the gazebo.  I was only about twenty feet away and I felt uncomfortable continuing my walk as they stood there still with their heads bowed down in silence.  Since I was in a state of mourning myself, I was intrigued.  I couldn’t help but wonder what they might be gathered together for.  I noticed a banner hanging across the gazebo, but I was not able to read it from my angle.  I sat down at a nearby bench with the dog and the lady began to sing, what I assumed was some type of a hymn. Their gathering ended and the small group quickly dispersed.  I continued to sit on the bench wondering where they were from and what they were gathered for.  I contemplated walking around once again to at least read the banner to know what group they represented.  Instead, I decided to stand up and walk back towards home.

My curious nature has often created a habit of asking lots of questions in my mind and trying to figure things out as to why things are just so at times.  I have come to know that answers will be revealed when the timing is perfect and that sometimes there is just no explanation for why things are so.  I have made it a practice of mine to take responsibility for my own actions and stop racking my brain to try to figure things out all of the time.

Several years ago, I was seeking guidance from a spiritual advisor.  This individual helped me tremendously at the time and, to my knowledge, continues to be a great source of light and healing to many others.  One afternoon, I was sitting with her in her cozy office and somehow our conversation led to her expressing something to me.  She said that the one thing that she had a difficult time grasping was when bad things happen to children.  Of course, I empathized with her, as most people could.  She used a very specific example about a tragic death of a toddler that had recently occurred in our area.  She continued that angels are living among us that have the ability to stop a bullet or lock a door, so why she asked would they have not stepped in at any point for that little toddler.   I concurred that angels are living among us and can offer supernatural assistance in times of need.  All I could express was that there are things that happen in our world sometimes that we just can not explain or fully comprehend.  There was a long pause in our conversation and then she snapped back into her leadership role and said that if she had the time and energy to get a hold of a complete file of their history, that she would be able to grasp clues or hints as to why this tragedy had to occur karmically.  And right there is where I slammed on the brakes to a screeching, rubber burning halt!  Even though I did agree that she might be able to gather some pieces to the puzzle, I did not believe that she could figure out all of the answers to the world.  Regardless of one’s education, beliefs or background, there is no person walking Earth with all of the answers.  There is some mystery left in this world and it is our duty to believe that there is a Higher Power in control of things and that His plan is nothing short of perfection.  For now, we are all a part of a bigger, perfectly oiled machine and I personally believe that if we continue to serve the Higher Power that is in control, that all things may be revealed to us in perfect Divine timing.  For truly, we are all children here.


My Little Secret

The great thing about blogging is that I have the advantage of sharing a piece of a story and I am in full control.  Just like taking a photograph, I can adjust the lighting and angles until I feel comfortable enough to take the shot and finally hit “publish”.  

Yesterday morning, I was out for a walk with my dog and I noticed that just up ahead was one of my friendly neighbours.  She is a sweet lady who I really enjoy chatting with… but yesterday, I found myself slowing down my pace and even stopping to let the dog “sniff around in the bushes”.  I was just finishing up a ninety minute walk.  Physically, I was hot and sweaty and emotionally, I was drained.  I did not want to be delayed in my plans of returning to the air conditioned bedroom and curling up on my bed.  Above all, I did not want to answer her if she asked me how I was doing or worse how my pregnancy was coming along.  I succeeded in my mission and returned home to my bedroom without facing the “catastrophic event” that I had made up in my mind.

I’ve been finding myself up and down emotionally lately and resting up in bed often, which is something I rarely have had a chance to do.  It is a gift to have our nanny here and be provided with the opportunity to truly rest and be still.  I’ve been listening to lots of music, podcasts and sometimes just closing my eyes in silence.  Sometimes my mind greets those moments of silence and sometimes my emotions take over like a wave of panic.  When I’m feeling lost, I might pick up my phone and text a friend or reply to those emails that have been waiting.

The other day, a dear friend started up a dialogue with me through messenger.  She told me to check my email.  I scrolled back in my mail and saw the unopened mail sitting in my inbox.  She had graciously sent me a gift certificate to Starbucks.  The message urged me to spend it however I wanted… it was enough money to take out my whole family for one nice meal together, or, I could split it up into a bunch of little solo “getaways”.  Normally, when I receive a gift from someone out of town, I will take a picture with the gift to demonstrate my gratitude.  This time, I’ve decided to try something a little different….

First off, I didn’t even tell the kids that I received this gift.  I snuck out alone and I had a chai tea treat all by myself.  Did I go to the mall and have a shopping spree?  Did I grab my tea and head to a park bench?  Did I bring it home and sit on the dock by the water?  Or did I just stay at the coffee shop to sip and people watch?  It is like my own little secret that I am gifted with and it is truly exciting to think about where I could go and what I might see next…

On Loss and Overflowing Love

For me, it feels releasing and comforting to share my personal experience at this time.   The fact is that an overwhelming amount of women and families have experienced a pregnancy loss at some point and many have experienced several. Each and every individual journey is completely different. It has been a longtime practice for me to share stories of loss without comparisons flashing in my mind. For example, my second pregnancy (about eight years ago) was an early miscarriage at six weeks along and it was devastating and shocking. I went through that process naturally at home and it was both physically and emotionally taxing on me. But then I would hear a story of the mother who had to be induced and push out a stillborn baby and in my mind I would say “oh that would be way worse” and I would ease my pain by telling myself that since mine was so early and underdeveloped, it wasn’t so bad. I continue the practice of recognizing and dismissing any judgements or comparisons that may enter my mind and really practice holding a space for others with an open heart and mind. I have recently had many acquaintances and some being really close friends and even relatives reach out to me and share parts of their stories of pregnancy loss. I sense that we collectively indeed have a desire to share our stories about a subject that has been viewed as too painful to share. I also find it a true honor to hear other people’s stories as well. It is a privilege and honor to hold a space for another person in sharing their most authentic self. I am sharing our story here and a part of me feels nervous because I do not want to come across like I’m a “supermom” with super strength and the process has been easy. Truly the process isn’t ever even done, it is ever evolving over time.

For my first loss, I had always minimized it as an early loss and that it had never evolved to anything more than a piece of bodily tissue the size of a lentil bean. When I was filling out the paperwork at the OB/Gyn office just last week, I even contemplated leaving that miscarriage right off my chart completely. But after this recent pregnancy loss, my perspective has most definitely changed. I have been pregnant seven times and I have five children living on Earth and two children living in another realm. I feel like a mother of seven now with all of my being.

The intention here is to assure every woman out there who has ever experienced a pregnancy loss, whatever your journey has been thus far, that you are indeed, without a shadow of doubt, a mother. And, although it may be challenging to grasp in our physical world, being a spiritual mother most certainly does not make you any less of a motherly being.

 

This is our story…

 

I had completed about three months of morning sickness and extreme nausea. I had been vomiting sometimes six times a day and so I believed my pregnancy was progressing healthy. There was one day I was driving down our narrow street and I had to pull over with all of the kids in the car to be sick on the side of the road. Another day, I was hurling in a parking lot when I dropped of the boys at the OWC for wakeboard training. Each time I experienced the horrendous nausea, I also sent gratitude at what my amazing body could do and reminded myself that it was all worth it. On the morning of my sonogram, I woke up excited to greet the day and it was also the very first day in months that I woke up and I did not throw up! I also didn’t feel too nauseous. To my surprise, I even took out the garbage without being sick. I reminded myself that I was officially in the blissful second trimester. The second trimester is also the famous marker for many people to make announcements of the pregnancy if they kept it secret. It is a huge sigh of relief for most people because a majority of miscarriages will happen before ten weeks gestation. I had gone out a few nights prior to celebrate this milestone with baby’s “take home outfit”… however, I just couldn’t find one that was perfect enough for our special unborn baby. I did however initiate a conversation with someone from Etsy to make a custom one of a kind white baby onesie that said “Gift from God” on it in a gold font.

 

At the doctor’s office, I had just finished filling out all of the paperwork and I anxiously awaited meeting my new doctor. Back at home in Canada, I had the same doctor care for me and see me right through all of my other pregnancies. We had recently started an immigration process to the US and so here I was in a new country with a very different medical system and very little support nearby, outside of my immediate family. But I felt comforted that a recent friend from here in Florida had recommended this doctor and he appeared to have good reviews and years of experience. Besides, I had very smooth deliveries with all of my other children and I felt quite confident in my body and what to expect. After the blood work and physical examination, it was time for the sonogram. The last thing that I said to the doctor as I sat there in my examination robe reaching for my clothing was, “this is going to be the best part”. He sensed my excitement for the viewing on the sonogram and instantly smiled at me with reassurance “yes it sure is”!

 

I had already confirmed permission with another staff member to pile the whole family into the sonogram room. However, I sensed that the technician was somewhat apprehensive about having seven extra bodies in the tiny room so I carefully arranged all of the children out of the way behind the chair and explained to them all to give her the space she needed to do her work. I whipped up my shirt to expose my belly and before she put down the device she explained that if she couldn’t get a good picture she may need to proceed with a vaginal device. In my mind, I thought “no need, everything will show up loud and clear and vibrant”. The moment that she placed the device on my belly there was the sac and the baby clear as day, just as I confidently suspected. Renzo instantly said “huh, I don’t see anything” and I immediately responded to him, still with every ounce of hope and excitement, “oh I do!” But just as fast as those words left my mouth, they instantly stopped short because I knew something wasn’t “right”. The baby was not moving. At all.

 

Mostly, I stared at the screen, but I also glanced at the technician a few times as she prodded and stared into her screen. The room was completely silent for several minutes. As I stared at the screen at the motionless baby, a lot of things passed through my mind. What does the technician see? Did the baby have a noticeable disability? …I told myself that I would welcome whatever God had given us and I would love it and we were a strong family that could persevere through anything. Anything would be a gift. I also told myself that even if the odds were slim, I would carry that baby in my womb and deliver it right up until the end. Finally, the technician put down the device and explained that she could not find a heartbeat. She instructed me to go ahead and prepare for a vaginal sonogram and went to get the doctor for confirmation. When she left the room and I undressed I told Pat that he could leave with the kids. I assured him that I would be just fine. He absolutely did not want to leave and so he stayed there with all of the kids. We were all completely quiet as we waited for the doctor.

 

The doctor entered the room and respectfully suggested that Pat leave with the kids. She proceeded to do the vaginal sonogram and of course up on the screen there was our motionless baby again and I stared deeply at the screen. I felt a huge panicky wave of guilt coming from my unborn child. It was as though she felt vulnerable for being exposed there up on the screen and “facing” me, her mother. I could feel her guilt and she was saying repeatedly that she was so so sorry. But my eyes were still peeled to her little body and how could I ever be angry at such a wee little formed baby? I reassured her that she was always most certainly welcome in my womb. “It’s okay” I told her in my soul, “it’s okay”. The doctor stood at the screen as the technician held the device inside of me. He half reluctantly pointed to the screen and prepared to confirm the news. I could the see the years of experience and strength in his body language and his voice as he returned to his job as a medical physician. He confirmed the news, which I already knew. “This is baby’s head” he said to me. I nodded and he nodded back respectfully for I sense that he knew that I was already aware of that. “This is the chest” he continued and again I nodded back. “There is no heartbeat” he confirmed. The technician pulled out the device and he moved next to me as I sat up. He looked at me and said in a very genuine and sincere manner, “I am so very sorry”. I looked at him right into his eyes and I said to him “it’s okay”. In that moment, I meant it, just as I had said it to her a few moments prior in my soul. It’s okay. Up until this point, I had not shed one single tear. He put his hand upon my shoulder and he looked me back straight into my eyes and he said to me “No. No it’s not okay” he continued, “it is okay to cry” he said. And as soon as he gave me permission to cry, I did. I immediately burst out and sobbed deep hard tears.

 

I left that room and sat with him in his office and continued to cry as he explained my different options and advised that I go home and give it a day to think about it. He walked me right outside to return to my vehicle and family. Pat and I felt a bit lost as we aimlessly drove around the unfamiliar streets of downtown Orlando. It was well past lunchtime, but we went straight home and nobody said a word about being hungry. We explained to the kids in a very simple manner that the baby had died in the womb and there was a lot of silence and intermittent crying.

 

In my mind, I was hoping and praying for a natural miscarriage at this point so that I could spare Pat from the extra financial burden and for the piece of mind that I carried her all the way through. During the next 24 hours, I spoke with Pat, close friends and medical professionals. Since I was passed the first trimester mark, I was nervous about the risks of miscarrying naturally at this stage. We flew our wonderful nanny in from Canada with her teenage daughter for support (what a blessing she truly is for our family!). Two days later, I followed up again with my doctor. Physically, I did not feel pregnant any longer. My stomach had deflated a bit and the nausea was quickly easing up. I was not throwing up anymore or getting short with the kids. I didn’t have night sweats and I even slept on my stomach, which a pregnant mother would instinctively never do. We asked our doctor, hypothetically, if it were his loved one in this scenario if he would recommend the surgery and when he said yes, my mind was pretty much made up. We headed to the Triage at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. I randomly burst out crying as we checked in and I was quickly seated with a physician within a short amount of time. I was relieved to get another sonogram to confirm what I already knew.

 

This sonogram experience was much different because I knew what I would see. I cranked my neck to look at the screen and the nurse gently said “oh, would you like to see?” She tilted the screen and I relaxed back into the chair and gazed at her little body. She looked very different. She looked transformed from the first time I laid on eyes on her only 72 hours prior. She looked peaceful. And I know that this may sound a bit silly for some because obviously I could not physically see it, but I even felt like she had a peaceful smile as she lay there still. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her and at one point I saw a little perfectly formed foot very distinctly in the screen. I really thought she looked beautiful and at peace. I felt her thank me for welcoming her into my womb. She explained that she felt very content and safe in there. In a lighthearted way, she giggled at the overwhelming amount of love she felt from the very intense Team Cooligan family. She felt each time a sibling placed their hand on our baby bump. I felt that her soul had certainly left the body and I also felt at peace in my own heart with my decision to move on with the process under a controlled medical environment. I personally felt that it held the least amount of risk for my body and I have five other children and a husband who were counting on me. I received another very piercing message from her as I looked at her peaceful body. This message was strong and it was clear. She said “take care of yourself Beautiful Mother”. And it was most definitely not “mommy” or even “mama”… it was coming from an old and mature soul and she was referring to me distinctly and as mother.

 

When you hold a newborn baby in your arms, they are in an immature body that relies on you for physical survival. Truly all infants, toddlers and children are wise and pure souls living inside of a tiny body. Yes, holding a warm and squishy newborn infant in your arms is a magical feeling and I really was looking very much forward to experiencing it again. But this experience has been quite magical and enlightening in a very unexpected way. Sure, it’s easy for me to say, as I have five healthy and beautiful children at home to help me through this. I have a very supportive husband who happily paid for the best care Orlando had to offer. I also have an amazing nanny that happily hopped on a plane in less than 24 hours notice to help us in our time of need… But look, there I go judging and comparing and justifying again! As I stated earlier, this is an ongoing practice of mine!

Here is the picture that I sent my mother moments before we all eagerly entered the sonogram room. We were all full of overflowing love and hope in this picture.  And I assure you, we still are…

This story was presented from the newest member of the Team Cooligan family, her name is Bex Victoria Cooligan.

 

 

Teach me to Walk in the Light

Teach me to walk in the light of his love;

Teach me to pray to my Father above;

Teach me to know of the things that are right;

Teach me, teach me to walk in the light.
Come, little child, and together we’ll learn

Of his commandments, that we may return

Home to his presence, to live in his sight 

Always, always to walk in the light.
Father in Heaven, we thank thee this day

For loving guidance to show us the way.

Grateful, we praise thee with songs of delight!

Gladly, gladly we’ll walk in the light.

Music and Lyrics by 

Clara W. McMaster

 

The Two Sisters

As one can imagine the chores, the dishes and the laundry never ever end around here!  It can feel very overwhelming at times, especially because I do not have the luxury of a nanny anymore since the move to Florida.  I do often try to include the kids in chores to encourage a team effort…

The other day, I was home with the two youngest sisters, Bella and Brandy.  We went for a stroll to the park and had lunch together and finally Brandy settled into her crib for a nap.  This nap time was where I had eagerly planned in my head to catch up on laundry and clean out the three bathrooms.  Right as I walked to go towards the laundry room to fold the clothes, Bella expressed that she wanted to paint. “Oh Bella” I began, “mommy just got Brandy down for her nap and I really need to do the laundry and clean the bathrooms”.  She tilted her head downwards and had a very sad look on her face.  I knew that she had been truly relishing in our time together all morning.  “Oh ok” she said, though clearly disappointed… Then that story of the two sisters Mary and Martha from the Bible popped into my head (as it so very often does).  It stopped me in my tracks.

Mary and Martha were blessed with the opportunity to host a dinner with Jesus. Mary sat at His feet during dinner to take in His every word….While Martha bustled about the house doing chores. At one point, Martha spoke to Jesus as though she was a victim being left with all of the chores while her sister did not contribute. He reminded her that her priorities were misaligned. This story really hits me deep as a busy mother and always reminds me of what is truly important.

In an instant, there was nothing else on Earth that I would rather be doing than painting with our little Bella… What a perfect opportunity to bond!  I steeped myself a cup of tea and we set up a painting spot outside on the sunny deck.  We shared some magical moments painting and creating together as birds chirped in the background…  She painted a watermelon and a pineapple.  For the green stem portion of the pineapple, we decided to get our fingernails dirty.  She dropped the paintbrush and we painted each other’s hands for handprints, which together made the most perfectly spiked topper!


Tell Me a Story

One of the most intimate things that we can do as human beings is share stories and hold space for others as they share stories.  Storytelling is one of the most ancient traditions and holds an integral part of our cultures.  Some stories have been passed on for generations and new stories are always taking shape. 

We have been focusing on sharing stories here at the Cooligan Academy as we continue with encouraging language development.


We are always trying to encourage the magic of reading.


As the oldest sibling, Renzo is a great advocate for a love of reading and he can power through books faster than me!


We absolutely encourage reading books as well as sharing stories with others.


We have been using these “Tell me a story” cards lately to inspire creative storytelling.  But you can get super creative and gather a few items and place them in a bag and pull one out to start creating a story… some items that I have used have been a pink feather, a straw and a rock…. pretty much anything can be used to inspire a creative story… just pull out something and start sharing!

In the last week, we have initiated a very new and exciting storytelling program that has been extraordinarily successful.  Each night, before bed, Pat shares a short biography about an interesting or inspiring person.  He has an incredible memory for details and a deep passion for history, which makes his story telling intriguing for the kids…. and for myself!  So far, we have been gifted with the story of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi and General Douglas MacArthur.  His intense passion and connection to the stories come out as he recalls the details and these moments have been incredibly special for Team Cooligan.  We are very grateful for the contributions that Pat offers to the Academy.


A quote from Ghandi, you must be the change you wish to see in the world.

The fighting pyramid 

I remember in high school a friend of mine was upset that her boyfriend at the time wanted to go away for a weekend.  She was not willing to grant him the permission to go.  I remember the conversation so vividly because the entire situation was very frustrating for me!  I had difficulty being a supportive friend to her.  I just could not wrap my head around why she would not let him go?  At the time, I remember casually saying oh come on, it’s just a harmless weekend of golf!  But she was persistent that she did not want to let him go.  For the most part, I simply bit my tongue on this topic.  Ultimately, the relationship between them ended and they moved on to other partners.  It was sad for me when they split because I really did felt like he was a great catch for her.

Now, I find myself with a husband who has created an entire business empire with his passion…  This comes with many sacrifices though.  Believe me, we have certainly been through our share of challenges, but I truly never want to deter him from pursuing his dreams and reaching his full potential.  I do feel that he feels the same compassion towards me.  After all, free will is a God given right that comes from the Ultimate source of Love.

………..

This is the fourteenth consecutive year for Pat to be in Los Angeles at the Walter Pyramid (aka Fighting Pyramid) for the BJJ Worlds.  


Last year, the birth of Brandy was stressful for him because he did not know if he could go to the tournament until the last couple of days.  Brandy ended up graving us with an early presence and he was able to go.  She was just 24 hours old and he was on a plane to LAX!!  


I was home with a newborn and four other children to care for…  One might think that this is perhaps unfair or strange, but I actually encouraged him to go.  I remember looking into his eyes and feeling the stress that he felt in the situation.  I could see that he was torn but  I knew in my heart that if I honestly said that I needed his help, he would have stayed… for family always comes first.  But I was also aware that the guilt of holding him back would just eat up at me!  So, I mustered up all of my poise and strength and assured him that I could do it… and gladly!


I just splurged on a great weekend with the three girls while the boys enjoyed the tournament.  Brooke and I have found a new passion for jewelry making and the boys continue to hone their passion for the sport of jiujitsu. 



Sure, I have to reel Pat in sometimes to put down his device and connect with me.    If you can practice spending ever present time with one another, then you don’t really need much of it (five minutes even).  It’s a daily practice and a common challenge, but this marriage thing takes work!  And we have a whole Team to guide now!…

Adventures Continue…

This morning, the two boys woke up before the sun to catch a plane to the west coast!  


They met With Pat in LA for the JiuJitsu World Championship!


I am so grateful that the boys are together safe and sound.  This is the Worlds 2017 and our team has several competitors.  This weekend is always sure to spark learning, passion and inspiration to the team!

So, since I’m here with the three girls, it’s all rainbows and unicorns!


We started the day with some shopping at Disney Springs!


A couple of days ago a little Gecko was seen in our van!  Me and the kids tried to get it out, but it was way to fast and slick! Every time we would go in the van for the last 72 hours, we would see him and he would scurry into some crack or crevasse and we eventually just succumbed to the Florida lizard and left him alone. 

Today, when we arrived at Disney Springs, I popped open the stroller and placed Brandy in.  Wouldn’t you know, that little lizard hopped off the visor and right onto Brandy (she didn’t even flinch) and he scurried off to the Disney playground.  Brooke and I giggled that the little guy was just waiting this whole time to be dropped off at Disney!  We laughed at the adventures he might have…


The girls convinced me to purchase a couple of lego sets from the lego store (they totally know that I have a weakness for books and legos)!

We grabbed some Menchies for lunch, at the request of Brooke.. 


Overall, we had a fabulous Girl Day here in Orlando!