The good life

This week Joe and I celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary.

goodlife1 The good life

What we were doing around this time in 2003.

We also found out recently that we’re expecting baby number six! (For those of you who need a refresher, we have an eight-year-old boy, and four girls ages 6, 5, 3, and 15 months.)

We’re so busy and tired, I’m not sure if we’ll even do anything to celebrate. Between homeschooling, dance class, soccer, scouts, general chaos management and me feeling astoundingly exhausted and vaguely sick all the time, I think that what we’d both like for our ninth anniversary is the opportunity to get 12 straight hours of sleep (that is the traditional nine-year gift, right?).

This is not the easiest phase of life I’ve ever been in. The baby spends about 30% of her waking hours yelling at the top of her lungs (which is a huge improvement from the six-month period she spent yelling at the top of her lungs for 90% of her waking hours, otherwise known as THE LONGEST SIX MONTHS OF MY EXISTENCE and OH MAN HOW AM I STILL ALIVE). Depending on the whims of the Insurance Fates, which are even more temperamental than the poop fates, we may end up spending more than our mortgage payment each month to get Lovenox to treat my clotting disorder during pregnancy. Our three-bedroom house is crowded, with people as well as terrifying arachnids, and we somehow have both an extreme night owl and an extreme morning person among our children, which makes it feel like there is someone who needs something from me 24 hours a day.

I forgot to get an anniversary present for Joe, and was looking through old pictures so that I could print one for a makeshift card (look out for my tutorial about how to print a photograph on office paper and fold it in half to be the next hot thing on Pinterest!). I laughed out loud when I saw some of these old shots. Ah, yes, there was the time we swung on down to Argentina to tour the vineyards of our favorite winery…

goodlife3 The good life

And that elegant weekend in San Francisco…

goodlife4 The good life

And that time we sipped champagne and watched the sun set in Florida…

goodlife2 The good life

We were seeking the good life, and we thought we had it. Yet even at the time, we felt a sense of emptiness. We wouldn’t have labeled it as such — we were so convinced that we were doing everything that we needed to be fulfilled, we never stopped to ask ourselves if we were actually fulfilled. But the emptiness was there, and it manifested itself as a carrot on a stick. There was always “just one more” thing we needed to own or achieve or do, and then we could rest, then we could be happy.

We put most of our energy into thinking about ourselves and what would bring us most comfort and happiness. We created a museum life, and said that we liked it. After all, we would have seemed ungrateful to have all that we had and say that it wasn’t doing what we thought it would do. But the truth was that our museum kind of started to feel like a prison. Thomas Merton captured it well when he said, “To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.”

It would take us a few more years and a profound religious conversion before we realized that the way to be happy isn’t to amass nice stuff or go on awesome vacations or even to think about yourself much at all. The way to be happy is to love. And real love always involves self-sacrifice; in fact, love and self-sacrifice are basically the same thing.

It was scary to take that leap from a philosophy of “happiness via self-focusedness” to one of “happiness via self-sacrificial love.” What if all this Christianity stuff was wrong? What if we underwent this massive lifestyle change, stopped chasing dollars and material possessions, lost our condo and our nice car and our ability to travel, and ended up with a lame and boring life?

It didn’t take long to see that there was nothing to fear. Immediately upon our conversions, our marriage experienced an explosion of life: we became open to life, which led us to see children completely differently than we did before. Not only did we start having more kids, but we were surrounded by the people of our parish, our diocese, and the entire Body of Christ. Our new suburban house suddenly became a hub of activity, with kids and friends and neighbors in and out all the time — none of which would have ever happened in our old life. It was loud. It was chaotic. It was messy. It was more work than I’d ever had to do in my life. It made us wish the original owner of our house had not installed white carpeting. But, interestingly, we never yearned for our old way of life. Not once.

One day we looked around and saw that our museum was gone. All the stuff that we’d arranged so carefully to suit our tastes had had to be rearranged to accommodate other people’s tastes. The hustle and bustle of so many other people running through our lives meant that things got knocked down, broken, and moved. Life was no longer about just us anymore; we had to consider other folks’ comfort in addition to our own. And it was a wonderful feeling when we realized that our museum was no longer there…because it had been transformed into a home.

Tomorrow night Joe and I will probably celebrate our nine years of marriage with a quick toast, in the approximately four minutes we will have between when the last kid goes to bed and when one or both of us falls face-down on the floor from exhaustion. And when we do we’ll toast to the good life, and thank God that we finally found it.

New here? Come say hi on Twitter at @jenfulwiler!



Enter the Conversation...

136 Responses to “The good life”
  1. Leila says:

    Oh my gosh!!! Congratulations!!!! (And, I love the old pics!)
    Leila recently posted..When even the Pope is concerned about American freedom, it’s time to stop being silent

  2. Cynthia says:

    Congratulations Jen! I have loved reading “from the sidelines,” watching your family grow. I’ll make sure and offer up many prayers for your new life unfolding! Happy anniversary as well. My husband and I were married this week, four years ago…and are newly pregnant too!

    (There’s a lot of random similarities I’m throwing out in this comment, just a disclaimer).

    ALSO, just this year, I found out I have a type of clotting gene as well…although my doctors haven’t found cause for concern yet, so I’m praying and trying not to worry, which is never easy. It’s so good for me to read your words on the subject and see that if I ever had to take Heprin, etc that it’s doable and manageable. Is this TMI for the comment box? I think I need to go to bed ;)

    Congrats to you again! Lovely post.
    Cynthia recently posted..Will They Ever Know How Much I Loved Them?

  3. Candice O. says:

    I’m a regular reader of yours but suffer from anti-social tendencies that have resulted in never commenting… until now! I couldn’t resist congratulating you on your new pregnancy and 9th wedding anniversary. CONGRATS! I hope you know how much of an impact you have on your readers… even the ones you aren’t aware exist. :) We’re out here… and so proud to have you as a resource in the Catholic community!

    Blessings,
    Candice
    (Mom to 3 kiddos ages 5, 4, and 19 months… praying for a fourth!)

  4. Jenny says:

    Congratulations!

    I just have to add that I can sympathize. Our new little guy has an aversion to sleep and at his recent baptism, he impressed the priest so much with his crying that the priest said “I have never heard anything like that in all my years of baptizing babies”!
    Jenny recently posted..A Little Extra Something

  5. Chris says:

    Congratulations on both your anniversary and your new baby! I follow your blog and it makes me chuckle often.

    I, too, need to take Lovenox during pregnancy. Since my last pregnancy 4 years ago, a generic has been approved. I’m taking it for this pregnancy. It is still expensive, but half the cost of Lovenox–just wanted you to know it existed in case you didn’t!

  6. Adam says:

    Congratulations on blessing #6! Our families have a lot in common. We just celebrated 11 years of marriage in June and have #6 due in February. There is always worry on how we’re are going to manage or afford everything and it’s not always easy to let God handle it. It is nice to know we’re not alone in all this. By the way, we’re still waiting to even get out to celebrate our anniversary a mere 4 months later.
    Adam recently posted..A Sense of the Sacred

  7. Congratulations, both on the new little one and on your anniversary! Your 5th anniversary post still inspires me.
    Mary @ St Henry II recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday – Wake Me Up When September Ends

  8. Sara says:

    The boy has his own room, right? FYI, when I had #6, I was all set to turn the master bedroom into a dormitory for the boys if we had a 5th.

    Congratulations on your beautiful life and your new baby!
    Sara recently posted..Combustible Quick Takes

  9. Congrats, Jen! I am so happy for you :) You know I want baby details now! What do you know? What have you been hiding?

    Also, just to comment on the overall message of this post: you couldn’t be more right. Real love is about self-sacrifice. That is something I think all moms know very well. However, I find it hard to love this way when I don’t feel like anyone is making sacrifices for me. I guess what I mean by this is, I am not very good at self-sacrificing without getting some love back in return…which negates the purpose of self-sacrifice. It’s something I am working on :) Thanks for the reminder!
    Jenna@CallHerHappy recently posted..Catholic and Pink

    • TRS says:

      Jenna – you are not alone.
      I am a single woman who, as I read Jen’s post, can affirm that I’ve got a good degree of self-sacrifice down pat.
      I go out of my way to make sure my friends are cared for. From sleeping on a gurney in a cramped hospital ER room over night just so she wouldn’t be alone, to dragging someone out of their apartment and on a hike when I can see depression setting in.
      Like you, I don’t do these things to get pat on the back for being a “wonderful friend” – it’s just what I do. It’s who I am. But in the end, I see so many of my friends turning away from me and I don’t understand it. How can you know how much I have loved you, and not give me some love in return?
      Not that I do this for the reward – but if in order to have good friends, be one – I have.
      I know it sounds pitiful, but I think I deserve one friend like me.

      • Catherine says:

        TRS,
        I have a natural inclination similar to yours, to notice what people MIGHT need or want, & to go WAY out of my way to give it to them. However, I too have experienced the strange phenomenon of people backing off, leaving me sad, drained, and feeling very much neglected when it comes to my own needs being met.

        As I am older now, I’d like to share what I have learned – & what I now do – with you. ;-)

        I have learned that, just because I think I am a good friend to them, doesn’t mean that I am. Let me explain. Each person has their own idea of what constitutes ‘helpful’ or ‘considerate’ treatment. Some people feel vaguely resentful when the feel as if someone is watching them so closely, that they step in to do what THEY THINK the person wants. They back off because it does not feel good to not be in control of their own lives, choices, decisions and so on. By ‘helping’ or ‘sacrificing’ for someone without being asked, one puts the receiver in an untenable situation. How can they tell you what would ACTUALLY be best for them, when you have already ‘sacrificed’ and tried to be kind? Well, they can’t. It would be unseemly of them, ungrateful of them, & unkind. Due to tension involved, they stay away. They do not know how to speak honestly without hurting your feelings.

        I find, now, that it is best to ASK THEM if they would like ________ from me. Often they appreciate my caring thoughtfulness AND my hearing “No thank you” equally! I have let go of overdoing for others, & now let the do for themselves. Making my WILLINGNESS to help, if they tell me they need it, is the best. Only THEY can decide what is loving behavior from me! And the result is that we give and take, with no alienation from me on their part.

        This was hard to learn; for me, it has made100% of the difference!

        • TRS says:

          Thanks. This is part of what I have realized lately – that maybe I’m loving my friends in MY love language and not theirs.

          I knew I wouldn’t want to be in a hospital alone over night on my birthday reflecting on how I’m single with no prospects and any chance of reproducing whittling away.
          I knew that when I was unemployed and found it too much trouble just to shower and leave the house, that it would have been nice if someone cared enough to give me a reason to leave the house.

          I certainly didn’t feel like I was forcing myself on them. And every time – I would say, I’m doing it because i know how it feels when no one did it for me.

          You’re right, “What do you need?”, “How can I help you?” is so much more effective. But no one ever did that for me either.

      • BDM says:

        I felt the same way for many years as I persevered in trying to do God’s will and be as loving as I possibly could to all my friends and family,but only experienced rejection and loneliness. Except for the love and support of my wife, I felt like we were an island. Our loving Father knows what we need and when it will help us to grow in our love for Him, He provides. Now I have a family full of beautiful children,many friends and a deeper faith in our Amazing Lord. Do not despair, God is preparing you to see the how amazing the true friends He has prepared for you are. We deserve nothing, as the only thing we bring to God is our sin,all virtuous acts are a result of His generous grace. Yet, God has much more in store for you than you can even begin to imagine. So pray that Rosary daily, take advantage of the Sacraments as frequently as possible, and keep on smiling for life just keeps getting better. OBTW do not dwell on the good things you have done for others as those were things God did through your willing hands,but thank Him for using you and ask Him to quadruple your effectiveness in the future. Peace,

  10. Congratulations on your anniversary! And congratulations on the wonderful baby news! I truly hope that you get a good night’s sleep! :)
    Sarah Scherrer recently posted..4 Cheapish Things to Do With Young Kids

  11. Laura says:

    Congratulations! I was just wondering last week when this would be happening again :)
    God Bless you and your family.
    Laura recently posted..Dressing for the Day

  12. Patricia says:

    Congratulations!! May God bless you & your littlest one with good health! Children are the crowning jewel of marriage…what a treasure you & your husband have! Thanks for all your wonderful posts! ICXC+NIKA

  13. Ann says:

    Congratulations on baby #6! We just had our third little one six weeks ago. I am currently going through the breaking of having my museum life taken from me. It’s definitely a more difficult transition than expected. Thanks for sharing your joys and struggles as a mom. It helps me in those moments when I think “I can’t do this anymore!” and I feel like I am going to loose my mind if I here my toddlers yell “mine!” one more time :)

  14. Erin says:

    Congrats on both counts! I’m guessing that toast will be actual toast, due to the queasiness…
    Erin recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday, Chapter 9

  15. Susan Mathis says:

    Congratulations on both events, and for walking the walk while talking the talk about NFP.
    Susan Mathis recently posted..With 35 Days to Go…A Chestertonian Perspective

  16. Bridget says:

    Many congratulations to you both as you celebrate your anniversary and as you prepare to welcome another beautiful baby into your home! You are so richly blessed. May God continue to bless you in the years to come.

  17. Congratulations on Baby # 6!!!! I see you are trying to keep up with Hallie ;) And happy 9 years with your sweet hubby.
    Colleen @ Martin Family Moments recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Future IT Guy (He’s Even Got the Shirt)

  18. Bonnie says:

    Congratulations to you and Joe! Prayers for your pregnancy. There is no way Travis and I can ever catch up to you now!

    This was touching and funny – thanks, Jen.
    Bonnie recently posted..maybe this is why God let me have children

  19. TheresaEH says:

    Happy Anniversary from, CanadaEH!!!
    I have been going thru the real estate listings on line and as I look at the houses for sale something was bugging me and you hit the nail on the head for me…i am looking at “museum investments” not at HOMES.

    CONGRATULATIONS on # six blessing. On a selfish note, this pregnancy will be good blog fodder as you generate very humerous posts on being pregnant with 5 kids in tow and how you answer (with charitable humor) the comments from this narcissistic society…….eh

  20. syd says:

    Congratulations on 9 years of marriage and baby #6!! Wishing you guys another 99 years of awesomeness! What a wonderful legacy you are building :)

    Sincerely,
    ~ A devoted reader in KY

  21. Grace says:

    one of my favorite posts you’ve written … and you have many to top!

    Congrats to you guys!!!
    Grace recently posted..Not opposed to organic, just opposed to lunacy

  22. Congrats on the new little blessing!! Prayers for a peaceful pregnancy. And Happy Anniversary. I loved the pics. You have been on quite the journey! God Bless
    Jamie Salvucci recently posted..Heartbreak, Disappointment, and Square One

  23. Meredith says:

    Congratulations, Jen! I love the last two lines of this post. So true, and true to your sense of humor.

  24. Francine says:

    Congratulations Jen! So happy for you! And happy anniversary!
    Love this post, too. People who don’t have kids yet don’t know what they’re missing.

  25. Kris says:

    Congratulations on the new baby!! What a great post for your anniversary. And so true.

  26. Joy says:

    Wow!!! Congratulations on baby and anniversary!! This was a great post!
    Joy recently posted..Veggie Cooking: Mission… Possible! (Part 2)

  27. Brandon Vogt says:

    Woohoo! This morning my wife saw the Big News and rushed to tell me. We’re both so excited for you guys.

    • Candra says:

      - Why do the guys always get to relax on the wdideng day while the girls have to scurry around getting ready?? XD Oh well- I guess that’s why the girls take the day for being so gorgeous!! Wonderful job here, well done!

  28. Anna says:

    Aaaaaaaaa! I can’t stand it! Congratulations! You AND Grace AND Hallie?! I’m in blog baby Heaven!

  29. Jeanne G. says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary and your pregnancy!
    Jeanne G. recently posted..Bishop Paprocki on Voting

  30. Many congratulations! Yes, I think a baby and a good night’s sleep is the perfect way to celebrate 9 years.

  31. Happy Anniversary! And congratulations! And what a beautiful post.

  32. Christina says:

    Congratulations on nine years of marriage and to another new baby. What wonderful news. I’ve just learned I’m expecting #3 in May and I can definitely relate to the exhaustion – solidarity, my friend. Hang in there. :)

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Most of my friends with two children are “wrapping things up” and making a scene out of giving away their baby items. In many ways, I feel like we’re just getting started. It’s the “good life” indeed and I wouldn’t have it any other way (stained white carpets and all).
    Christina recently posted..I’m Only Saying This Once: Catholic Myths That Need to Go Away

  33. Congratulations on the anniversary and the new baby!

    a bit of advice- with each new baby it gets harder to take it easy- but it is more important than ever to take your vitamins and get some rest (maybe with a mother’s helper’s help?)
    priest’s wife recently posted..Wordless Wednesday- Park Day Fun!

  34. Denise says:

    Oh, congratulations and congratulations! You are an amazing couple!

    And, thank God for Yaya, yes? :)

  35. Brooke says:

    Congrats on both the baby and anniversary! I loved this post so thoughtful and such a good reminder of my good life!
    Brooke recently posted..I had a dream

  36. E says:

    At least (judging from the babies) you still have a great sex life! Congratulations, Jen and Joe!

  37. Valerie says:

    Congratulations on baby #6 and on your anniversary! God is so awesome! I can really sympathize with you on so many points. My husband and I have been married for 8 1/2 years and I am 30 weeks into my pregnancy with baby #5. The tiredness that I have experienced this time around is almost unbearable some days and I feel like I can barely survive the day if I do not get a nap. Homeschooling our kids that are ages 7, 5, 4, and 2 doesn’t make for easy daily naps to say the least! I will be praying for you! I keep telling myself that this is only temporary, but I know what you have said about self-sacrifice to be true. It is the only place that we can find true happiness and be brought closer to Heaven, which in the grand scheme of things, is really the only thing that matters.

  38. S.Mary Roberta Viano says:

    Congratulations and prayers for you, your family, and the new baby!
    In Corde Iesu,
    Sr. Mary Roberta Viano, VHM
    Georgetown Visitation Monastery
    Washington, DC

    LIVE+JESUS!

  39. Smoochagator says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! Holy cannoli, it’s a baby boom on the internet – or at least on my favorite blogs! Pardon me while I pat myself on the back for sensing intuitively that you were (or were about to become) pregnant. Of course, considering your track record of adding a new person to your household every eighteen to 24 months, it’s not like my preggo-spidey-sense was working over time. Still, I was rooting for baby #6 to come along.

    Let’s hope and hope and pray that your toddler soon downgrades to screaming only 3-5% of her waking hours and all of your kids go through a growth spurt at once and start taking three-hour naps at the same time every day until your nausea wears off :-D Oh, and that your oldest suddenly takes an interest in the culinary arts and decides to cook dinner every night :-)

    • Smoochagator says:

      Also, you look so incredibly beautiful in your wedding photo. I know you’ve joked about what a crazy wedding you had, what with the twelve-hour afterparty and trying to reinvent a centuries-old tradition, but all of that is okay because the two of you definitely did something right that day nine years ago.
      Smoochagator recently posted..Seven Quick Takes

  40. Congrats! I am so happy for you guys and what a wonderful Anniversary gift! The world will be blessed with another Fulweiler baby! Prayers and hugs too… I understand the daily craziness of littles :-)
    Katie @ Wellness Mama recently posted..Coconut Cream Recipes

  41. Bender says:

    Life is hard when all of your time is filled with doing things for and with other people.

    Life is harder still when all of your time is empty and alone, and you struggle to find something to do to fill that abyss in your life. To have what some might think is the ultimate freedom, the radical autonomy to be without any duty or obligation to others, is actually a taste of Hell.

    To be with others who have need of you, need of your love, need of your self-giving, is the more authentic freedom, paradoxical as it may seem, because it is more true to our nature as human persons — we are made to love and be loved in truth, and it is in such truth that we are set free. We are free to be who we are made to be, social creatures made for fruitful loving communion with others in one being.

    The further paradox, though, is that to fully love the other, to better love our spouse or our children, we must in a sense, put them second, not first. That is, we must love God first, before we love them. But in so doing, we do not love our family members less, but more. In loving God before we love them, God takes our love, multiplies it by His own, and gives it to the other in an even greater and fuller measure than we could on our own. In love, God is not a competitor, He is a multiplier.
    Bender recently posted..St. Thérèse and Our Relationship with the Lord

  42. Angie says:

    Congratulations on both counts! And I think 12 hours of sleep is the perfect way to celebrate anything and everything :)

  43. Kathleen says:

    Oh my gosh. This is beautiful!
    Kathleen recently posted..Getting real in the hood…

  44. Amanda says:

    Congratulations on your 9th wedding anniversary and the new baby too! Man I feel like a slacker with #3 coming soon at 5.5 years of marriage, lol! You are going to share details for all us nosy people though, right? like due date, gender hopes, and the kids reactions?

    On a more serious note, start praying about the living situation. We are pursuing an adoption while pregnant (don’t ask, yes we’re nuts) and prayed specifically for a newish 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with a modest yard in our price range (let’s just say ‘tiny’) to have space for our growing family to thrive after a tough few years. Such houses are like unicorns here in Pennsylvania….but I’ve still got 2 more months before I deliver and I am sitting here in our mythical, shouldn’t-exist, unicorn house :) Brand new, 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with a basement we can finish and a beautiful porch and yard and everything we wanted. And we had enough money after closing to buy a minivan so we can fit the baby in the car without needing to strap my 4 year old to the roof, lol! Don’t be afraid to get specific with God, ask for what you need and He is so so generous. He wants you to succeed in doing His work caring for those wonderful little people and ministering to others through the blog/book. I’m sure if you pray and discuss with your husband two intelligent people such as yourselves can figure something out.

    …oh, and I have a screamer too for my second, turns out he just had food intolerances and needs to have zero dairy or soy and he became a joy. Seriously he screamed for days on end as a baby but he’s the easiest toddler ever so long as we don’t give him any food with milk or soy in it. Hopefully you find a solution to your little girl’s sleep/quiet aversion too!
    Amanda recently posted..Finally…Our First Home

  45. Happy Anniversary! To many more happy years!
    Rhonda @ A Naptime Novelist recently posted..Linguaphile: Terpsichorean

  46. Christine says:

    Congrats! Now that my kiddos are older…PLEASE limit the amount of activities you think they might need when little. It matters when they get older like middle school and up.

    Or just limit one thing for the older son. Just a little worried about you that’s all.

    My dad comes from a family of 9..I LOVE BIG FAMILIES
    My mom comes from a family of 10…I LOVE BIG FAMILIES
    My step-mom from a family of 16…HERS IS SO AWESOME!

    I am an only child and would have loved to have that many siblings to love.
    you and your husband are blessed beyond words.

  47. Jesabes says:

    Happy anniversary and congratulations on the baby!!!

  48. Dawn says:

    Congratulations! And, congratulations! Great posts. (Read the linked posts too.)
    Dawn recently posted..thankful tuesday with butter, salt, and oregano

  49. Carl says:

    Wow! That is so amazing. Praise be to God and good for you and your husband that you have the courage of your convictions!

  50. elizabethe says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    whoops, caps lock was on, but appropriate in this case.

    Our anniversary was last week. We both forgot. We celebrated with a belated text message. It was great. =)

  51. Ele says:

    Congratulations! (i’m another of anti-social tendencies readers who never comment :-)) and by the way, now that finally I’m commenting, I absolutely loved your chapter in the style, sex and substance book!
    What you say about self-sacrifice is true and it’s something I have always intuitively known. The happiest moments in my life weren’t the champagne-sipping moments (though they were very good ;-)) but the ones I have spent loving and helping. I’ve been married for a year and a half and I have not been blessed with any child yet..but I have been blessed with a baby sister when I was 15 and I remember how I was full of love and how I would have done anything for her… In many ways I think that experience has prepared me for when I’ll become a mother.
    Regarding “the good life” It’s one of the sources of disagreement between me and my husband… He seems to enjoy confort, having a beautiful home, etc more than I do. He says he wants to live free from problems. I’ve never really been able to reply with the reasons this doesn’t feel quite right to me. Maybe I’ll use this post as an inspiration… Thank you Jen and congratulations again for the anniversary and new baby!

  52. Michele says:

    Congrats on your anniversary and on your new little one! The world is so blessed to have another Fulwiler!!

    Thanks too for your honesty about the hardness of motherhood. I only have one so far, but she’s almost two and we’re in a bit of a rough patch of growing…it’s reassuring to know that other moms are going through ups and downs, too. Misery loves company, you know?

    Prayers for you and your family!

  53. Marie says:

    Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! So glad you have found the good life and share it with all of us. :)
    Marie recently posted..Angel of God, My Guardian Dear

  54. Kim says:

    Oh, WOW! Wasn’t expecting that news. Your post made me tear up. Congratulations and I hope you get some sleep. At least one night. :)

  55. TRS says:

    Congrats and congrats!!!
    I think perhaps baby Joy is just so full of joy that it has to come out somehow – and it’s clearly audible!

  56. Congratulations! My baby is one day younger than your youngest, and I’m hoping to get pregnant again asap. I’ll be praying for you!
    Sheila @ The Deliberate Reader recently posted..31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 3} I Have Lived a Thousand Years

  57. Miles V. Schmidt says:

    Your comments are “spot-on”! As the father of 9 children (we still have a 15 year old at home), I can’t tell you how much I do NOT miss the SUVs and Disney vacations we have given up to support our kids thru Catholic schools and colleges. Lots of sacrifice but the benefits pay off each day – and it only gets better!

  58. Jenny says:

    Loved this all…but honestly, the favorite line had to be the bit about toasting your love during the 4 minutes before one of you falls face down onto the floor in exhaustion. Yes. Also, I think Pinterest will be heating up with your crafty goodness.
    Jenny recently posted..E-cards from a sitting President

  59. Wow! Happy anniversary and congratulations and may you sleep well soon! I’m super impressed at the coherence with which you wrote this post, considering the climate in which you write. Good grief. I can hardly manage to follow a recipe, let alone write a paragraph, when my 3 kids bring the 3 neighbor kids over. It’s deafening bickering wrestling shrieking mayhem. I said a prayer for you when I read this. Hope you start feeling better soon!
    Joy @ Joy in this Journey recently posted..Empower Women and Develop a Nation ~ Life:Unmasked

  60. HereWeGoAJen says:

    Email me, I have a good bit of Lovenox left over. Some heparin too.

    And happy anniversary! I just had my ninth too.

  61. Jen, I’m so happy for you. God bless you & Joe, and I’ll add you on to my intentions list while you’re pregnant. This is really, really beautiful, and I know I just did a Twitter Freak Out, but I’m just so moved by what God has done for you in your life.
    Christine the Soccer Mom recently posted..When You’re Paranoid About Packing

  62. Aileen says:

    Coming out of lurkdom to say congrats, Jennifer!!! God bless your sweet family and I’ll be praying for you! I love your blog and derive inspiration from it. As well as laughs! I try to catch you whenever you make tv appearances. Looking forward to your reality show!

  63. ceciliamaria says:

    So much to celebrate! The anniversary! The little one! Congratulations all around! :)
    ceciliamaria recently posted..God’s little answer

  64. Barb says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary and baby number six!!! Blessings all around!

  65. Ashley says:

    Happy anniversary and congratulations on the new baby!
    Ashley recently posted..Last bit of summer

  66. Kara says:

    Congrats!! Yay!!

  67. Gina says:

    Congratulations, Jen!

  68. Jan says:

    “But, interestingly, we never yearned for our old way of life. Not once.”

    Really? Not even ONCE? You must be on the fast track of sainthood. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never really experienced that “museum” life that I sometimes wonder “What if…”

    I’m impressed. I hope I can one day be as selfless as you.

    Happy Anniversary!

    • Your comment made me think about that statement, and ask myself if it was really true, and I can honestly say: Yes. I’ve never missed it. It was just so HOLLOW and empty. It kind of gives me the creeps to think about my life back then. Not because I’m a saint, by any means. Just because it was an ultimately unfulfilling life that left me feeling incredibly stressed and restless all the time. Good question though!

      • Rosa says:

        I have been your fan for quite a while (I became hooked to your posts after I read your article named “Why I was a pro-choice vegetarian” in NCRegister.) Congratulations to your 9th anniversary and your pregnancy!

        Your post triggered me to finally leave a comment for you. In your post, you wrote: “What if all this Christianity stuff was wrong? What if we underwent this massive lifestyle change, and ended up with a lame and boring life?”

        I think you’ve nailed the root cause of people’s insecurities, it’s the fear of leading a “lame and boring” life. Especially in this age with social media, sometimes it makes me wonder if I am missing out if I have no vacation/adventure/engagement pictures to post. What if my life gets more “Facebook-worthy”?

        Your post (and your reply to the above comment) has once again reminded me that self-sacrifice is an essential part of living our faith.

        I love your blog.

    • Arwen says:

      Why should she? Fulwilers are obviously far from poor. And Jen is now a kind of Catholic celebrity …

      • Smoochagator says:

        It sounds like you are suggesting that being well-to-do and famous (if, indeed, that’s an accurate way to describe Jen’s life) are all it takes to be happy and fulfilled. I’m not sure that’s true. There are trials to be found in all walks of life, especially if we are looking for something to bring us down. Joy and contentment are, in my opinion, more of a chosen perspective than a situation we find ourselves in.
        Smoochagator recently posted..Seven Quick Takes

        • Arwen says:

          “Joy and contentment are, in my opinion, more of a chosen perspective than a situation we find ourselves in.”
          I cannot agree more!

          Well, I didn’t imply that money&celebrity status are all it takes to be happy and fulfilled. I only wanted to say that she didn’t lose so much.
          So many people I know lost their home/family/job because they became/stayed Catholics. And none knows of them, and nobody cares. These are grave temptations. Not the loss of luxury travels.

  69. Jan says:

    Oh, and I REALLY want to know how you find time to blog. Teach me this.

  70. Laura Nelson says:

    Jennifer,

    Double congratulations on your anniversary and the new baby! It sounds like this season of your life is physically challenging. At least you are spiritually grounded. So many in the world are not these days.

    I loved your point about trying to find happiness in things before your conversion. I have been there and it’s so easy to fall into that trap. Our society is so consumer oriented that it’s sometimes hard to keep your perspective. But truly, finding happiness in our faith and in God’s love for us helps us resist that trap. Not only does it give us a deeper happiness, consuming less stuff also makes us better stewards of God’s creation.
    Laura Nelson recently posted..Year of Faith-Year of Prayer

  71. Liz says:

    Congratulations!! Thank you so, so much for the honesty you put into these posts. You’re such an encouragement to me as a young mom. The beautiful image of not looking back longingly on what we’ve left behind has resonated with me today, especially with today’s Gospel (read in spurts via Magnificat this a.m. while my toddler threw cereal) being the one on the dead burying the dead/not looking back with your hand on the plow. Bad paraphrase, I know. But again, thanks for the encouragement to persevere! :)
    Liz recently posted..WordPress 3.5 Beta 1 (and a bonus!)

  72. Maggie says:

    Congratulations Jen!!! times two!
    Maggie recently posted..Naps: the Holy Grail

  73. Eils says:

    Congradulations Jennifer! Lovely post – wishing you a healthy pregnancy!

  74. PatJ61 says:

    Random thoughts—

    I’m so happy for you!!!
    Please add a “Donate for Jen’s clotting disorder drug” link on your page.
    I want to grin and shout to all my friends, “Jen’s preggers with #6!!!” but they don’t know who you are. Sigh.
    Still really happy for you and thankful your writings have caused a major growth spurt in my faith.
    Hugs,
    PatJ61

  75. nicole says:

    Congratulations! We also have six kids in a three bedroom house. It is doable. ;)

    Happy anniversary! This is a beautiful post about the realities and joys of this life we’ve chosen.
    nicole recently posted..What I Wore Wednesday

  76. Cassidy says:

    Congratulations!!

    I have to take Lovenox during pregnancy as well for a clotting disorder, though not the same one. It costs a small fortune!
    Cassidy recently posted..God is so good.

  77. Cassidy says:

    Congratulations!!

    I have to take Lovenox during pregnancy as well for a clotting disorder, though not the same one. It costs a small fortune! I’ll be praying for a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby. :)
    Cassidy recently posted..God is so good.

  78. Mary Creger says:

    Congratulations., You are truly blesssed and I wish you many many more years of God’s richest blessings.

  79. Moey says:

    Dear Jen: please move to Ohio and buy my house. It would be perfect for you, your hubby, your soon-to-be six children (with space for at least 4 more) and with plenty of space for chickens and gardens. No scorpions, I promise. :)

    Congratulations. I know just how you feel. Ha ha. :) It’s all good, it will be worth it in the end. Always enjoy your posts. xx
    Moey recently posted..Yarn Along on a Misty Moisty Morning

  80. Congrats, that is such fabulous news! Many blessings to you and your growing family!
    Amanda @ worthy of Agape recently posted..rewind, start Over.

  81. Congratulations!! I was struck by your dress in your wedding picture-it was a visual example of how much your life really has changed over the years. So glad you’re living the good life!
    Kaitlin @ More Like Mary recently posted..Quick Takes

  82. tom faranda says:

    So when, exactly, did you have time to conceive #6?

  83. Janet says:

    Happy everything!

    Every so often I think, it’s been a bit since Jennifer has announced a pregnancy. And within a month, you do! :)

  84. Marcy K. says:

    SO, SO happy for you all. Congrats!

  85. Laura M says:

    What exciting news!!! Conratulations a million times.

  86. Nine years is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing the journey with us, and congratulations! May your love grow deeper and may you experience grace even more fully in communion with one another in the years to come.
    Christine Dalessio recently posted..Supplanting Empowerment: Women Deserve Better

  87. Fernando says:

    Jen, I’ve been an avid fan of your blog for four months now, and almost never missing a day without reading your posts. Today I read your post with a big smile and I just want to say, Congratulations! What a great blessing!

  88. Barbara MacLellan says:

    Dear Jen,Congrats on your anniversary and your new baby coming and your wonderfu lfamily–crying and all.I only have 4 grownup adults now and 10 grandchildren but I can relate to all you posted. I only wish I had home schooled!!1
    I just said a Rosary and Chaplet and included you all with my other intentions and I do have many. However rest assured you are in ALL my future prayers. May God bless you and Hubbie abundantly. Barb Nova Scotia

  89. Shauna says:

    Oh, congratulations Jen! I am also 10 weeks along with baby #6! It is so exciting and scary all at the same time :) This was a beautiful post that made me tear up. You captured in words what is real…love and family and an openness to life that only God could put into our hearts. God bless you and your growing family :)

  90. mary says:

    Happy Aniversary Jennifer and Joe! You have a beautiful love, life and family! You inspire me to embrace my good life, too, with all the ups, downs & tremendous self-sacrifie. With our eyes and hearts centered on Christ, who perfected self sacrifice, or LOVE, there really is no other way! Thanks be to God!
    mary recently posted..Begin Again

  91. Kevin Roche says:

    Congratulations! God continues to bless you.
    I enjoyed listening to your comments on Relevant Radio yesterday.

    From a father of 6.

  92. Susan C says:

    Congratulations! Hang in their sister!! We homeschool and I had 6 in 8 years in a tiny 3 bedroom house…and it was a wild ride! IT really pushed me physically and mentally. Please take care of your self!! Lean on your Mother in Law next door.. consider eliminating the extra activities…they are only the norm for tiny families; we big families can’t (and don’t need to ) compete with that.
    I have been a reader of your for years and after reading your post today I felt compelled to reply. We are all out here praying for you because we have been right where you are in some way or another. You can make it through with your amazing hubby, your friends, family and of course the grace of God.

  93. Jane says:

    Another lurker coming out of the woodwork to say congrats on the baby news and wishing you and Joe happy anniversary.

  94. Catie says:

    Jen, congratulations! I can relate to this post on so many levels :) Incredibly happy to read this post!

  95. Fanoffoucauld says:

    You and your husband could not be more beautiful people from the inside out. Congratulations for knowing where true joy lives.I will continue to pray for your perseverence! God bless you.

  96. Margaret Mary says:

    Wonderful news all around! Congratulations and thank you for sharing!

  97. Bender says:

    Congratulations again, Jennifer. And thanks for the opportunity to play off this recounting of your faith journey as we try to figure out the “how tos” of the New Evangelization.
    Bender recently posted..The Good Life of Gift-of-Self in Love to Others, but Loving God First

  98. Lisa says:

    This post makes me tear right up. Many congratulations- on your anniversary, your pregnancy, and most of all on your joyful life.

  99. Donovan G. says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Aha! I think I have finally found a way to circumvent the laws of the Blog and post a comment.

    Congrats! We are a homeschooling family of six from Austin, Tx, and have been moved by your conversion and now witness to Christ.

    Our Children are ages 8, 7, 5, 3, 15 months and newborn 6 days old. The most recent once coming via a Homebirth which is, oddly enough, why I have time to post.

    My wife and I tag team with the Homeschooling can absolutely understand the trials, challenges and rewrads of The Good Life.

    We also live out in Volente and have become accustomed to living with Scorpions, Tarantula’s, Lizards and Insects straight out of Nat Geo.

    Our fourth child has never quite lost his great talent for blood curling screams and nuclear meltdowns, yet we Praise God that he is a healthy 3 yr old in spite of being born w/o a Rib.

    Please let us know if we can help your family in ANY way.

    If our e-mail address does not show on your end, please feel free to look us up in the Diocese Directory.

    Blessings,
    Donovan and Brood

    P.S. We are Parishioners of St. Louis

  100. 4beans says:

    Jen

    I follow your blog and love your writing. And I just happen to be reading this post 5 days after having our 4th baby (in 6 1/2 years). I too needed to take lovenox and Heperin throughout the pregnancy.

    There were days when I was convinced we were crazy, days in the two weeks before delivery when I didn’t think “I’d make it” to the end, times on the day of my emergency csection when I didn’t think I could handle the pain and worries, times on the first two days of recovery post surgery when I didn’t think I’d make it to the next hour.

    And now I am on the other side of it. The baby is here, I’m better each hour, and I have 6 more weeks of Injections. And we made it. You will too. One day at a time. I pray you find strength and have an easy pregnancy.

    Congratulations!

  101. Katherine says:

    Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!!!

  102. Christy says:

    Just wanted to send my congratulations! So happy for you, hope all goes well with the pregnancy and the medical issues goes smoothly. Its a lot of sacrifice for those nine months I know! Love your attitude and word of wisdom Jen!
    Christy recently posted..Tell me you watched this Sunday…

  103. Christie says:

    Congratulations to you both, and thank you so much for sharing. I’m a literally crying.

  104. Meg says:

    Many Congratulations!

    Your blog is an inspiration to many! Thanks for keeping it real! : )
    Meg recently posted..Attack of the Barbabyian!

  105. Kate Wicker says:

    Congratulations on the baby, your anniversary, and on living the good life!!! God bless you all.
    Kate Wicker recently posted..A shadow of my former self

  106. Diane says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary and the new expected baby. Many blessings to you all, except the arachnids.

  107. Kerri says:

    Congratulations on baby #6!!
    Kerri recently posted..On Air Once Again Discussing Football

  108. Caitlin says:

    Happy anniversary and congratulations! Wonderful news! I love all the old pictures! :)
    Caitlin recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday (Volume 27)

  109. Stephanie says:

    Happy Anniversary, and congratulations!! As a semi-newlywed still, who had a lot of time on her hands while looking for a job during most of the first year of marriage, I can identify with the boredom that comes kind of quickly with having a museum life. Even with our faith though, I also struggled with wanting a perfectly curated, straight-from-a-magazine apartment and wardrobe, thinking those were some of the trappings of grown up life. I love your insights about remembering that it really is all about love and the memories you create; it makes me realize that all of the pretty, well-decorated lives I see on secular lifestyle blogs, while pretty and dreamy, are hardly worthy of my comparison in that respect.
    Stephanie recently posted..7 Quick Takes, Volume 5

  110. stlsmarty says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for this.
    We never did have a museum house, and now that most of our 6 kids are grown, we still don’t, because the grandchildren are here two days a week.
    Congratulations on your anniversary, and on the new addition to your family!

  111. Jay says:

    Congratulations on the happy news!! I think I was most touched by how you seem to nonchalantly say and we recently found out we are pregnant with baby #6! And not all capitals and OMG like I would feel. My first four children are similar ages as your first four and I had hoped to have baby #5 next year a couple months before our 10th wedding anniversary. I thought it would be be a wonderful 10th anniversary gift but sadly we miscarried in September. I love reading your blog and will be offering some of my small sufferings throughout the day of taking care of 4 littles ages 7-2 for a great pregnancy for you and safe, happy delivery for baby #6. Thank you for your joyful, honest witness to life.

  112. Tiphaine says:

    did you think about renewing your vows for your 10 years anniversary?

  113. Hevel says:

    Congratulations! I hope you’ll have an easy pregnancy and lots of joy in your new baby.
    Hevel recently posted..Elementary?

  114. Sarah says:

    Happy Anniversary, and congrats on #6!

    After almost 9 years of wishing for an end to our “museum life” we adopted our son. Other than a solid 8 hours of sleep, I don’t miss our old life either! Being a mom is way too much fun, and even when it’s not all kittens and rainbows, it’s a heck of a lot better than those sad days of mourning our infertility.

  115. Elena says:

    Congratulations!

    Add 10 years and your life will still be busy- in so many different and challenging ways. Just enjoy your little ones now – which I am sure you already do! ;-)
    Elena recently posted..7-Quick Takes

  116. Clara says:

    Congratulations!! So happy for you!

  117. Elaine says:

    Jennifer, I am expecting #6 as well, due at the end of May. I’m only a few weeks behind you! It was a bit of a surprise as I’m 42 and hubby is on medicine that usually renders one infertile, but as you know God has his own reasons and timing.

    Thanks for the notes on morning sickness; I’ve been nursing a fantasy that it won’t affect me this time. I’ve also had the intuition that I should be avoiding sugar, so I’m going to try that as well as avoiding the processed stuff. What about dried fruit or fruit in general? Do you think that might be OK?

    Congrats and God bless!

  118. LeAnn says:

    Congratulations! Wonderful news!

  119. Congratulations! I can so relate about the busyness and the craziness and the exhaustion. Our children are all almost the exact same ages, and I’m only about a month ahead of you with my baby number six. Today was a terrible day for me, but I’m still saying “congratulations!” because for all the struggle, we are getting to participate in the beginning of life for eternal souls. Wow. Could there ever be anything of greater value? I’m looking forward to seeing who this new little person is and what God has planned for your life as you embark on this next beautiful work.
    Andrea Parunak recently posted..The View from my Couch

  120. Cat W. says:

    I’m wayyy behind on my blog reading, but I just noticed you posted this on October 3. Which coincidentally is my anniversary as well. Only 3 years and one child so far for us, but your life sounds pretty awesomely chaotic. Hope you got to celebrate a little bit. Congrats on your marriage and the pregnancy!

  121. Elizabeth says:

    Congratulations! My husband and I are also due in Mid-April, and are expecting our first little blessing. We are also newly married, so this has been a big and amazing year. Prayers for a safe pregnancy and delivery, and here’s to having babies around the same time!