Moving forward

It’s been almost a year since we welcomed 2016. As I get older, time seems to be going by faster! I used to make a resolution every year on New Years Eve, but last year, instead of a resolution, I chose to focus on a word to give me a vision for change.

My word for 2016 was STRENGTH. I picked it after careful consideration for several reasons and found myself going back to it on many occasions. 2016 has had some challenges for me as I continue to take on the role of guardian for my aging (and ornery) mother. She had two major accidents this year that resulted in extended hospital and rehab stays. I found myself needing spiritual strength to get through the trials and continue to, as our relationship is complicated. I also prayed for strength this year as I shared my personal story in front of audiences of strangers, on radio and TV programs. During this past year, I also focused on my physical strength as I embraced several new fitness routines and saw the benefits on the inside and out! I have relied on my physical and mental strength to be the best mom possible for my four teenage sons. More recently, I have needed strength as I have returned to teaching and have a challennyeging group of students.
I’ve found that having a word to represent what I hope God will do for me has given me comfort and hope during difficult times.

I encourage you to try it and let me know what your word for 2017 will be!


Red, White and Blue (A 4BOYMOM Adventure)

The 4th of July is one of our families favorite holidays. We have a tradition of buying fireworks from a local stand and setting them off in the yard at night. One year we were at my in-laws beach house on the Chesapeake Bay for the holiday weekend. The day was filled with fun events including a local parade, playing in the water, and a picnic on the beach.


As it got dark that evening, my husband began to set up the pyrotechnic display in the yard. Our 2nd son was about 3 1/2 at the time and was scared of the loud sound and ran inside to watch from the glass door. We oohed and ahhhed as the colorful display began. A few minutes later my mother in law exclaimed, “Oh my gosh….no…” as she was looking towards the house. I glanced back to see my little blonde cherub standing with a small American flag in his hand watching from behind the glass. “What?” I asked. She couldn’t respond as she was gagging and retching. I looked back at my son again and couldn’t imagine what had happened. I stood up, walked to the door and asked my son what happened and he just waved his little flag at me and smiled. I looked at my mother in law again and she was wiping tears from her face and trying to form words between gags. Annoyed I begged, “What happened?” At this point the show was finished and my husband joined us on the deck . Between gags, my mother in law explained what she has seen. My son, my bubbly, adorable toddler, had pulled his pants down, put the flag stick in his bottom and then curiously had put it in his mouth!

Horrified, the only word I could form was, “Why?”

The following week the same son developed a sore throat and ear infection. As I often did, I had to take all my kids to the appointment. As the doctor looked in son #2’s ears and throat my cherub said, “I think I know why I’m sick.” Dread filled my body as I began to pray (beg) silently, “God, please, don’t let him say it.”

The doctor said, “Oh? Why?”

I begged to be swallowed by the Earth as I heard my son begin, “Well, on the 4th of July I had this flag…”

Once my son finished the story, I couldn’t bring myself to look up at the doctor and the room went silent. My oldest son sat with his mouth hanging open, stunned that his brother just admitted (to a doctor) what he had done. After what felt like an eternity of silence, the doctor proceeded to tell my son(s) why we need to keep our hands and other objects away from our bottoms and as he left the room I was sure that our file folder got a big red slash drawn on the font.

Many years have passed since that incident and that doctor has retired, but something tells me that he hasn’t forgotten that story!

Encouragement for dads on Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there! Know that what you’re doing everyday makes a difference. Your children look to you for wisdom, guidance and love. Show them everyday what it looks like to work hard while finding balance. I hope that you can enjoy this day with your family!

I am honored to be able to share my article on this amazing site that provides encouragement for dads!


Adventures from a 4BOYMOM: Chapter One?

Now that my husband and I are “seasoned” parents, I love to look back at photos and share stories with our kids from when they were little. This is a memory from our first days of parenthood, 19 years ago.

My husband and I are only children and although I had babysat a lot, I had never been around babies, and neither had he, so when our first son was born we were both very nervous. We had read books and done our best to prepare, but really had no idea what we were doing. Reflecting on those first weeks makes us smile and laugh.

I remember getting home from the hospital and into the house and we put the baby down and then looked at each other as if to say, “Now what?” My husband was able to stay home for a week and by the time his parents arrived, we were exhausted. I was nursing and had read an article about using pacifiers and how they caused “nipple confusion” (seriously?) and was adamant that we wouldn’t use one.  After a week of litPacifiertle sleep and what felt like non-stop nursing, I was a wreck. My mother in law suggested that we try a pacifier (WHAT?!) She explained that the baby just wanted to soothe himself and wasn’t really hungry, which explained why he kept falling asleep at the wheel. So reluctantly, I popped it in his mouth mid-wail and BOOM, it worked!


We were very excited to give him his first bath and, being the firstborn, it would be videotaped and photographed to keep for all eternity. We lived in Massachusetts and although it was May, the weather was still cool. So before anything could happen, we had to be sure that the kitchen was warm enough (bring in the heater). Next step was to remove all items from the counter, sterilize the area, and get the perfect water temperature. My husband filled the small tub in the sink and did the “elbow test” to be sure that the water temperature was perfect. (Of course I had to test it too). We were ready!

My mother in law was standing in position with various cameras and caught everything on tape…

Baby bathAs soon as I started to undress the baby, he started to cry. I did my best to soothe him and tell him how much fun he was going to have in his first bath. (We even had a rubber ducky). I carefully lowered him into the water whereupon he howled. My blood pressure rose and I accused my husband of making the water too hot. I lifted him out and we quickly did the elbow test again. My mother in law suggested that we proceed with the bath….I lowered him back into the water and my husband proceeded to wash him as we had been instructed at the hospital, using a different washcloth for the major sections of the body (?!) The baby continued to scream and I quickly looked at my husband and saw sweat running down his temple. We surveyed the naked body and determined that he was clean. As I proceeded to lift him out of the tub, I noticed a weird yellowish color in the water and yelled, “WHY IS THEIR MUSTARD IN THE TUB?!” I looked around the room frantically and saw my mother in law laughing behind the camera. She said, “I think he pooped.” I looked into he camera with a desperate wail and asked, “Now what do we do?”

After wrapping the poopy screaming baby in a towel, emptying the tub, refilling it with the perfect temperature of water, we proceeded the cleaning process again.

When it was all over and the baby was clothed and swaddled, my husband and I collapsed on the couch and agreed that he wouldn’t be having another bath until he was 5.

I share this as a funny memory and also to encourage and cheer on any new moms out there. You are doing a great job! Having babies and raising little kids is tough and it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers. Go with your gut and remember to lean on your friends and family for help and LAUGH at yourself once in a while. When  you feel yourself slipping, pray and ask God for help.

Your baby WILL sleep through the night, learn to walk and talk, and go poop on the potty. You will blink and your strong-willed two year old will be heading out the door to Kindergarten.  No phase lasts forever, I promise.

Best wishes,






Tissue Damage (another 4BOYMOM adventure)

This memory started out as a very scary incident. It began as a wonderful summer day at my in-laws cottage overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Our day had been full of splashing in the small waves, digging in the sand and looking for sharks teeth. My husband and I were on the beach talking with the neighbors and our sons were playing happily while his parents were up at the house. Son #3 (4 years old) wanted to get a raft and asked if he could go up to the house to get it from the shed.


We agreed and continued playing and chatting. A few minutes later my father in law (who had been in the house) was waving frantically at the top of the stairs that led from the beach up to the house. I made eye contact with him and it quickly became apparent that he needed one of us to come up to the house. My husband went up the tall flight of stairs taking two at a time. My heart raced as I imagined that my mother in law had fallen and was hurt. Then I remembered that our son was up there and started to panic. I quickly asked the neighbors if they could keep an eye on our other 2 sons and ran as fast as I could up to the house. I quickly scanned the yard and shed and didn’t see anyone but did see the raft laying in the grass. I ran into the house and heard sobbing and a low grunting sound coming from the bathroom. As I entered the small bathroom, my nose was immediately filled with the smell of gasoline and I saw my 4 year old son standing in the shower dry heaving. I let out a cry and wailed, “What happened?!” He had knocked the gas can off the shelf and it has spilled on him, getting in his nose and mouth. I completely lost control and started shaking and screaming. I had no idea what to do and my husband directed me to call poison control. I went to the kitchen phone and couldn’t remember the number so I dialed 911. As I pushed the three numbers on the phone, everything was suddenly in slow motion. Fortunately, the dispatcher reassured me that we could flush out my son’s mouth and nose with water and that there should not be any tissue damage. She suggested that I follow up with my pediatrician. Once we all calmed down and my son stopped heaving, we were able to return to a fun day.

A few days later that same son developed a cold and sore throat. I wondered out loud if somehow it was connected to the gasoline incident. A few minutes later he came to me in tears, holding out a used tissue. I asked him what was wrong and he held the tissue out to me and said, “Look, it ripped.” When I didn’t respond immediately he wailed, “They said there wouldn’t be any tissue damage!”

Out of the mouths of babes…..

Fun memories

Can we all agree that being a mom is tough? One of the best memories that I have from those difficult, exhausting days with little ones was the playgroup I joined. A group of moms got together weekly and while the kids played we chatted, cried and wondered how we would survive 18 more years. As the kiddos unloaded the toy chest and drooled on each other, we moms would sit and enjoy coffee and real conversation. We talked about everything and quickly became fast friends. Sometimes met at a playground, park or the local zoo, but during the winter (in Massachusetts) we rotated houses. As the highlight of my weekdays, on playgroup mornings I would shower, get dressed in real clothes and put on mascara.

One of our favorite memories from our younger years was on a rainy Spring day. We were sitting at my friend’s kitchen table enjoying tea and coffee cake chatting and thankful to be out of the house. Mid sentence one of my friends asked, “why is it so quiet?” We all bolted up from the table to find that our toddlers were not in the house. We raced out the back door to find them all happily splashing in puddles at the end of the driveway. Once all the kids were accounted for, dried off and back in the house, we all laughed and thanked God that everyone was safe.

A few years later, just two weeks after I gave birth to my third son, our group met at a local park with a private beach. My mother in law was visiting to help with the new baby and joined us. The kids all lined up with pails and shovels and played nicely in the surf. My mother in law and new baby sat back in a shaded area. The rest of us sat close by and every so often we did a head count to make sure that everyone was accounted for (see previous paragraph). I heard my friend ask,” Where is C?” (My #2 son) My eyes scanned the edge of the water and then along the beach area. I yelled to my mother in law to see if she had seen him. She stood up and scanned the beach. Suddenly we were all searching and I could hear my heart pounding. He was a fast 18 month old and wasn’t on the beach. I looked towards the water and tried to remember what his bathing suit looked like. I said out loud, God, please….this can’t be happening. I had been a lifeguard as a teenager and instinctively walked into the water, frantically searching the surface with my eyes. I was having what I can only describe as an out of body experience when I heard my friend yelling something. I turned to see her holding my son’s hand walking from the parking lot towards the beach. As I exhaled I noticed that the lifeguards were all holding hands and walking in the water. They were dredging for my son! My eyes filled with tears as I ran out of the water towards my friend and son. I sheepishly apologized to the young lifeguards while dripping wet in my clothes (did I mention that I had a two week old?)

Seventeen years later I am still in touch with four of these amazing women and we have met up several times over the years and marveled at how fast the years have passed. This past weekend we were together at a cozy house on a lake in western Massachusetts. We celebrated Mother’s Day and enjoyed sitting, talking and relaxing together. I am thankful that God led us to each other and kept our kids safe all these years.

To my husband on Mother’s Day

On this Mother’s Day I want to take a moment to reflect on the years that I have had with my incredible husband and father of our four sons.


An oldie, but a goodie!

We started our journey together in 1989 as freshman on a large college campus. First we were just friends, but quickly our relationship blossomed and we became inseparable. He was encouraging, fun, and very loving. I had never experienced the type of friendship and bond that we developed and as our love for each other grew over the next five years, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. We were married in 1994 and began our journey as husband and wife together.

My life before meeting my husband was full of shame and guilt as I was raised in a home that was far from normal. My mother was an alcoholic and my father sexually abused me. My life at home led me to have low self esteem and I never told anyone what my life was really like. I was good at hiding my pain and no one ever knew, including my new husband. The night I finally told him the truth was the best and worst night of our young marriage. I feared that his anger towards my parents would suddenly disrupt all my attempts of denying and avoiding the truth. As we clung to each other he promised to protect me and love me as I deserved to be.

Fast forward to today…almost 23 years of marriage together. We have been together every step of the way as we have navigated through many wonderful days and some storms along our journey. Our faith has grown as our relationship has and I believe it has brought us closer together. My husband supported me as I chose to forgive my parents and was there for me when I had to bury my father. He understands my frustration and difficult relationship with my mother and is always ready to listen when I need to vent.

He gave me the biggest joy of our lives, our four sons. It w6830a16418f573f5e701e02c93527f45asn’t always easy, but now that they are older, I am so proud of the young men that they have become. I know their kind hearts, strong work ethic and success is in part because of the wonderful father that they have. The daddy who took them to get donuts on the weekends, cheered them on at every game and worked hard so that they could have everything that they need. My sons know that their pancake maker, grill master and workout buddy will be there for them no matter what. I love my husband for being that father and for blessing me with the title, “Mom”.

I hope that this will encourage all the hardworking dads out there. Remember that you do each day matters. It matters to your kids and to your wives. Take time to enjoy your family and be proud of the kids who you are making into wonderful people.


The adventures of a 4BOYMOM

My husband and I have been on this crazy parenting adventure for almost 19 years now and it’s so much fun to look back at the moments (that weren’t funny at the time) and laugh. We have been blessed with four wonderful sons and are very proud of the young men that they are becoming. Since Mother’s Day is approaching, I thought I would share a favorite memory.

First, I must preface this with a word of advice for any young(er) women out there: I DO NOT RECOMMEND HAVING 3 BABIES IN 3 YEARS! With that said, please join me….IMG_2501

I had spent the morning in the pediatrician’s office with my 3 sons, ages 3, 2, and infant. My oldest had an ear infection and sore throat and needed an antibiotic. So for the second time that morning, I bundled them all up, got everyone in to the car and headed to the pharmacy. I knew I needed to hurry as nap time was approaching and I had run out of goldfish. I put child #2 and the baby in the double stroller and took the hand of my oldest as we headed down the aisle of the drugstore towards the pharmacy. Immediately I let out a groan as I saw a group of elderly people in line. I smiled and nodded as I took my place in line. Upon my turn, I handed my slip to the pharmacist and she said it would be at least 30 minutes. I tried my nicest to explain that my son had been up half the night crying because his ear hurt and really needed the medicine as soon as possible. She said that she would try to get it filled quickly but had several others as she motioned to the senior citizen posse standing behind me. As I pushed the stroller away from the counter, son #2 started to whine and fuss. He wanted to get out of the stroller. My oldest was holding his ear and started to whimper. I had a strategy: I would stand next to the counter and stare the woman down so that she would fill our order first. Five minutes later the baby started to wail and we were entering full meltdown mode. I decided that my strategy was failing and proceeded to pace the aisles. Child #2 was leaning out of the stroller trying his best to grab items off the shelves and I began to do what looked like a slalom course up and down the aisles. I quickly realized that this was not working and returned to the pharmacy counter to resume Plan A. The elderly group were entertained by us and I nodded as I heard the comment, “Wow, you have your hands full.” Yes, thank you, that is very helpful. As they continued to stare and watch me try to distract the squirming toddler and soothe my hurting son, I was thinking some not so nice thoughts. Finally, the pharmacist called my name and I quickly thanked Jesus and proceeded to move forward to pay. What occurred next replays in my mind in slow motion……I heard a sound and from the side of my vision, I saw things falling from the sky. I turned and saw son #2 holding on to a display, which he had pulled over and hated to die as I realized that it was raining condoms. I couldn’t bring myself to look towards the geriatric section. To make matters worse, the small packages were now stuck and wedged into every possible space of the stroller and in the baby carseat. The pharmacist looked annoyed and gave me a questioning look as if to ask, “Are you going to pay for those too?”

The rest is a blur, but I’m fairly sure that a bottle of wine was involved!

Oh Charlie!

Today I’m going to stray a bit and talk about motherhood. I became a mother almost 19 years ago to our first son. It was magical, scary and exhausting! Surprisingly, he survived our first time parent fears and freak outs and grew into a happy, healthy toddler. At the age of 21 months, our first born became a big brother.

Our second son is the star of the show today. His name is Charlie and I have his permission to share about him. He was the only one of our four sons to be born without induction and I swear he came out smiling. He was a cuddly, easy going baby and adored by his older brother. As Charlie became mobile, he didn’t walk, he RAN. (I’m not kidding). 17 months after he was born we introduced our third son into the world.

To say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement! I had three kids in diapers and Charlie refused to stay in one place for more than a minute. I remember leaving our oldest (age 3 1/2) with the baby so that I could run to chase Charlie. At the time, the movie “The Incredibles” had been released and we called Charlie “Dash” after the character who could run super fast. Charlie was happy, always smiling, and ready to offer a hug at all times. As he entered preschool I began to worry. Everyone said, “Oh, he’s just all boy.” We were restricted to playgrounds and friends houses with fences for fear of him running off. We had several near death experiences as he jumped in the end of the deep end of the pool, disappeared at the beach, and ran off in a busy parking lot. He got expelled from preschool for “using scissors inappropriately” and didn’t seem to fear anything. I would stay up at night worrying about the future of my adorable Charlie.  Every year on his birthday I thanked God for keeping him safe.

So imagine my pride as I write this today, just hours after his drivers license ceremony. My eyes filled with tears as I looked at him, listening to the judge talk about safety. He has grown into a wonderful young man who loves Jesus, works hard, and has a charismatic personality. Just last week we traveled together to tour colleges and he is looking forward to pursuing a future in graphic design. I am confident that he will do great things and am so happy that God chose me to be his mom!

“Love is patient, love is kind” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV).


Imagine Mary’s pain

My family attended a Good Friday service last night and before it started my youngest son asked me, “Why is it called Good Friday when it was such a sad day?”

It was a sad day and as we listened to the accounts of Jesus’ last day, I found myself thinking of Mary. Trying to empathize with her as a mother is heartbreaking. She had given birth to Jesus, nursed him, taken care of him as a child and watched him grow into the man that she had been told by angels that he would become.

Imagine the fear and helplessness that Mary felt as she watched the horror of her son’s death unfold. The overwhelming desire to want to protect him from the emotional and physical pain that he endured.

The disciple John was at the cross and recorded the scene as Jesus commits Mary into the disciple’s care: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27).

This tender moment between mother and son is painful and beautiful at the same time. I had the opportunity to see Michaelangelos Pieta in Rome and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sculpture.


In the statue, Mary is holding Jesus in her lap as she had done so many times when he was younger. She was no longer able to protect him, but must have been full of pride.

I imagine the darkness that consumed Mary for the next two days as she tried to make sense of what had happened….guilt, sadness, anger, loss. I imagine the conversations that she had with God.

And then there was joy on that third day. As Mary realized that Jesus’ sacrifice, her sacrifice, was for all of us. The day when everything made sense- the reason we call it Good Friday.