Sunday, April 19, 2015

Miss Belle Turns 5!

I can't believe you are 5! Everday you amaze your father and me with your kind heart and unfailing love. You will often randomly come up to me and give me a big hug and kiss for no reason at all. You are the first to offer help so that I "don't have to do all the hard work" myself. You are incredibly independent and capable of doing tasks far beyond what children your age normally can do. In my time of illness, you have been the one that will hold my arm to help me to my chair, ask if I need anything and refill my water whenever you see it is empty. It is humbling and amazing to be served by you, and you do it with such sincerity of heart.

You are such a wonderful sister, both to #1 and your younger sisters. No matter how many times #1 wrestles with you or how often you fight, you always stick by his side and don't want to do much without him. You are mother-like to #3, letting her follow you wherever you go. You teach her everything you know in the gentlest way. If #4 is awake you want to hug and hold her. While you have a tender and compassionate heart, you are also as tough as one of the boys. You will wrestle, hike, play crazy, run hard, and keep up with just about any kid that comes your way. Your spirit is fierce and your heart is gold.

So often you will come up to me and ask a question or pick up a conversation that we had days before. You process things internally, think about them long and hard, and then come back to me to discuss your thoughts. I sometimes will think that you didn't understand or really hear something I have taught you, only to have you bring it up in conversation later in a way and with an understanding that amazes me.

These five years have been such a joy watching you grow and discovering who you are. It is an honor to be your mother. You are truly a gift to this world and a gift I do not deserve. I love you Belle.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Jules Turns 2

I didn't get to sing happy birthday to you on your 2nd birthday. There was no cake or special dinner or guests. I lay in bed that day, 3 days out of the hospital from my brain clot and cried because you deserved so much more than I could give you that day. You toddled in and out of my room several times that day with a huge Tweetie Bird balloon in your hand that MiMi had bought for you on your special day. You climbed up on my bed hesitantly and hugged and kissed me. You weren't used to seeing your mom like this, and I could tell it almost scared you in a way. With eyes full of tears, I told you Happy Birthday and exclaimed how much I loved you.

Jules, you have the sweetest and most sensitive heart. When you get hurt you need a hug from someone. If you can't find an adult to hug you run to #1 or #2 and hold on to your brother or sister for comfort. You dry your tears with the bottom of your shirt, as if you are trying to be bigger than you really are. These days you walk around trying to do everything your siblings do. You don't realize that most of the time you aren't actually playing with them. You are perfectly content running ten steps behind them, trying to be a part of it all with a huge smile on your face. You have not shown one drop of jealousy towards #4. You constantly want to hug, kiss and hold her. Hopefully someday you two will be not only sisters, but great friends.

Your tiny feet pitter patter around the house in the cutest way. It is a noise that brings a smile to everyone's face, every time we hear it. I wish I could lock that sound away in a box and open it every time I'm having a bad day or want to remember you this small, because I know the days are coming way too soon where that pitter patter will stop.

You love the people close to you with all your heart and say so by exclaiming, "ov ooo too!" when someone says they love you. Your language grows everyday and it's so amazing getting to know you more and more. You love to sing and dance and try your hardest to keep up with the choir at mass. When a song starts, you open the hymnal and "sing" and then close it promptly when the song is over.

You bring so much joy, light and laughter to this family. We all adore and love you so much. Next year, God willing, I promise you the cake, candles and singing you deserve on your birthday. I love you Jules bug, and am blessed beyond measure to be your mom.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Birth of Sarah

In the coming weeks/months I will be writing many entries on the great changes and events that have recently occurred in our lives. But today I am writing about our 4th child's birth. If birth stories make you squeamish, you may want to come back another time.


It is January 19, 2015. We have spent the day at the park with friends. The past week I have been so impatient to have you because you have stayed in almost a week longer than your big sister (#3). I was so ready to meet you and start our new "normal". Little did I know that the next weeks and months would bring nothing but more lessons in the virtue of patience.

On the evening of January 19 we went to sleep and I felt pretty crampy. Around 12:30am on the 20th (39 weeks and 3 days pregnant) your dad woke to the sound of me moaning through contractions. He tells me he doesn't care what I say, that he is setting up the birth pool and if labor stopped he could just take it down the next day. I try to argue with him, telling him that maybe this isn't the real thing, but lose the battle. While he sets up the birth pool I walk around to see if contractions pick up. They are very short but very intense. At 1:19am Max calls our midwife, Jaymi, to let her know what is going on. We finish setting up the room for the pending birth. The lights are turned off and the room is lit with flameless candles all around. I'm still insisting that labor could still stop, but Max doesn't believe me.

At around 1:30am I ask for the birth pool to be filled and tell Max to call Jaymi again. She says she is going to take a quick shower and will be at our house in 30 minutes. As contractions are getting extremely intense I decide to sit in the birth pool for some much needed relief. After only two contractions in the birth pool, I can feel you moving down into my pelvis...fast. I try to find a good position because I know pushing may happen soon. Max starts to hear my moaning turn into grunting and immediately knows what is happening. With the next contraction I HAVE to push and reach down to feel your sweet sweet head descending very quickly. I rub it thinking it might give you some sort of comfort through what must be hard for you as well. I'll never forget that feeling or that moment. I am calm and quiet and realize that I must do this with great self control if I don't want to have a major tear. I gently and very slowly push your head out. Just then I hear your dad say, "Don't push if you can help it!" To which I responded, "Sweetie, her head is already out!"

Max grabs a flashlight to see what is happening in the dark water and calls Jaymi. I tell Max I think the shoulders are taking a little long to come out (although I was probably just in between contractions). Jaymi instructs him to gently push you towards my back and you come slipping out into the water at 2:01am. You dad hands you to me and as I place you on my chest I see you are sleeping soundly. As we try to wake you, you give the smallest cry and we know you are safe.

Your birth was my dream birth: at home, in the water, delivering you with my own God given intuition. Sarah you are more of a blessing to this family than you will ever know. I love you.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Teachers

I am often amazed at how much my children teach me everyday. It's no wonder God loves little ones and calls us to be like them. Have you seen how qucikly these little people can make friends? It takes 5 minutes at the park and my kids have friends they think they have known for years. When they see another child playing, they don't worry about how their personalities will fit, or where he/she came from. They see every other child (and adult for that matter) as just another human being deserving to be treated kindly and one worthy of play. At what point in life do we lose this awesome view of the world?

As we were returning home from a much needed vacation last week, we stopped at In n' Out to have dinner. The kind staff gave my kids sticker pictures to work on as we waited for our food. As we sat there and #1 finished his picture, a little boy came up to him from the table behind him, looked at his finished picture and said, "Wow! That looks like a really bad picture!" My mommy defense instantly kicked in and I waited for my son to have his feelings hurt and respond as such. But before I could say anything, #1 simply said, "Yeah! Yours is much better than mine!" The little boy thanked him and sat back at his table. I was still upset that someone insulted my little boy's picture that he worked hard on. I was about to tell #1 that he shouldn't let people insult him like that and he should be proud of his work when I had to stop myself. This wasn't a teaching opportunity for me to have with my child, it was a teaching opportunity for my child to have with me. I instantly wanted to instill pride in him and have him not admit that anyone could do better than him. #1 on the other hand, in his childlike humility, saw things for exactly what they were. The other boys picture was better, and he could admit it. His first thought was not to defend himself, but to look at the evidence and hand out a compliment. How different could so many situations in my life be if I could respond that way? With my first honest reaction being one of charity instead of defensiveness and envy and pride? I hope he can hang on to that charity and humility his whole life; and I hope it's not his mother that teaches him he should be any other way.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Changes

Yes, I know it's been a while as it always is these days. But there are leaves turning over here so I have an excuse. I'm trying to cut my computer time to a minimum while my kids are awake because who wants to remember their mom with their back to them pasted to a computer screen? I got off Facebook for a whole two months and I actually felt somewhat freed from it all. No more worrying about who is posting what and what I should and shouldn't be responding to. No more getting bombarded by political news stories at the very beginning of my every day. The weirdest thing to be freed from was the strange desire Facebook leaves you with to be checking it all the time for no reason. Even though I'm back on Facebook for the sole purpose of being able to contact a few people who I can otherwise not, I've resolved to spend no more than a few minutes on  a day, if even that. I also had the children watching no kid's shows at home (which was HUGE), until I got pregnant and first trimester fatigue and nausea hit. I HAD to have that nap. Maybe it's something we can go back to in the near future, but I'm still pleased that their time in front of a screen is so much less than it used to be.

Also, from this point forward in this blog my children will be referred to by number. Peanut is our #1, Miss Belle our #2, Jules our #3 and #4 is yet to be seen, but on the way. I figure by being pregnant with #4 it's as good of a time as ever to switch over to the number notation for names. Max and I are still arguing about finding out the sex or not, so that is yet to be seen.

We decided to home school #1 for Kindergarten this year. To be honest, I was pretty scared to start, but all is going well. #1 is a very social, energetic child who needs social interaction, so for now we are taking it one semester at a time. If homeschooling doesn't seem to be working for him in the near future we will figure something else out. After reading about a dozen various education books, reading through many blogs and listening to people converse on the subject I decided there was one main thing I wanted to keep in mind while venturing out into the education of our children. I want to always remember that not every child can or should be schooled the same way. I hate the idea that some people have that if you are a good Catholic, you home school and if you choose to do anything different you are either wrong or just too lazy. The idea floats around everywhere in home schooling circles and it's suffocating. My children deserve the best education that can be found; and while that may be home schooling at the moment, that might not always be the case. I also dislike the idea the public schools are using that all children should be put on an education assembly line where everyone comes out with the same (really bad) education. End rant.

I know I have been away, but this blog is really to look back on our life, and a few month break here and there isn't going to seem like much in the grand scheme of things. That's what keeps me writing. #1 is growing into an amazing boy and his kindness and great sense of humor floor me every day. He is so eager to learn about anything, loves to read and sword fight with pretend bad guys all day long. He is almost six. I can't believe I'm even writing that. 6! #2...as always is hard to put into words. She continues to give her whole heart to whatever she is doing. Most of her day is spent trying to do what #1 is doing even if she is too young or not physically capable. During home schooling she has to be sitting right by us working on her letters, because if her brother is doing school, so is she. She will never get down until he is done. They both love to sit down and be read to and wrestle with each other constantly. #3 is REALLY making up for her calm babyhood. I call her stealth baby. She will be so quiet and calm and I will go to check on her to find she has colored herself from head to toe in my makeup in 30 seconds flat. She unrolls the toilet paper, squeezes out the toothpaste, dips her hands in the toilet and loves Sharpies (actually any marker). My older two seriously NEVER did any of that stuff. I know part of it has to be that I'm busy and can't watch her as closely as a single child, but part of it is her supersonic radar that can sense anything messy that should only be used by grown ups. But, at the end of the day she will grab my face, give me a big kiss and lay her head on my shoulder and it's all worth every single little bit of it. She is too sweet to be mad at for long. She tries very hard to keep up with #1 and #2 but that usually ends in tears. I'm so happy and feel so blessed that she will also have a sibling that is fairly close to her in age.

These days I am feeling so thankful and blessed by the graces, family and amazing children that surround me. I pray that I can be as faithful to Christ as he has always been to me.

I promise #2 really was having a good time. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Miss Belle Turns 4!


Dear Miss Belle,
About a week ago you turned 4. Your birthdays always bring so many thoughts to my mind, because no matter how old you turn I can only ever think, "she's always just been Belle." Even when you were a small baby, you were still so strongly yourself, that you didn't seem much like a baby at all.


 Even though we grow to know you more every day, you have always made yourself so well known and your personality shine right through you, that it seems that you have been you forever. You are unwavering and have always known who you are from the minute you were born. You are Annabelle, a child of God first. You are James' sister, Mommy and Daddy's sweetheart, BooBoo's only weakness, Mimi's heart melt and the girl that makes Juliana cry every time you look at her. 


You are the girl who never says what she doesn't mean and never does anything she doesn't want to. You are unfailing in your kindness to others. You will be the first to give a helping hand and gladly take the last place in a line if it makes someone else happy. You are surprisingly the shy girl in a crowd of unknown people, but will give your whole self to the people you know and love. You will venture out on any adventure presented to you as long as you have your brother at your side. Your brother is your best friend and the person you are always fighting with. I don't always understand it, but I know you love him with everything in you. 



You are the girl running around dressed like a queen, because a princess just isn't good enough. You twirl your dresses, brush your hair, play make up, wrestle and get completely dirty all in one day. You laugh hysterically at "potty" jokes with your brother and think pre-school is just about the best thing on this side of heaven.

 You delight in pleasing mommy and daddy and will go great lengths to be a good little helper and earn a "marble". You throw fits occasionally when you don't get to wear an outfit you love and pride yourself very much on your strong and impressive independence in doing things. You value the ideal almost to a fault. If anyone, anywhere is doing something you know to be wrong, you shout it at the rooftops and often say a prayer for that person. You are never tired of giving hugs and kisses and tell me freely everyday how much you love me. 



I have loved every minute of watching you grow into the young lady you are becoming.  Though I will morn the loss of your "baby" years, watching you form into the sweet person we always knew was inside of you is one of the greatest joys in my life. I am truly undeserving to be your mother and hope that you can always forgive me in my shortfalls throughout your life. I love you Miss Belle. Happy 4th Birthday! 

Mommy




Monday, April 14, 2014

Salt

The days are good in my home, but it seems in many of my friends homes, that life is falling apart. There is no doubt in my mind that Satan is very hungry for one thing right now: families. Your family. My family. Some people I know are going through some very very hard times. Harder than I could ever imagine because, to be honest, my life is pretty perfect. It may not always be this way, but that's not today.

This morning while doing dishes I was praying for all these people, one by one, my friends that are each hurting so bad in so many different ways. I was thinking about how much humility it takes to be a Christian. Many of us go to Mass on Sunday, proclaim we love Christ, but can't manage to be kind or loving to the people nearest us. We can sit and pray and read the Bible, but when given an opportunity for humility, to let ourselves be pressed beneath our cross like Christ, we cry out in pride that it's just not fair; that we deserve better. That if X, Y and Z would just change, our lives would be perfect. I was meditating on how if we all lived like we were supposed to, the world would be a different place. As St. Theresa puts it, "When we are who we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze".

Then I started thinking about salt. "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless". (Matthew 5:13)

Too call something too salty is an insult. It's a ruined dish when all one can taste is the salt of it. On the other hand, if there is no salt in a dish, it is considered bland and without flavor. Salt is never the spice anyone comments on in a dish, but is the main ingredient needed to pull all flavors together. It is the necessary ingredient that never gets noticed. Salt is humble. I think we Christians have a spice problem right now. Either we are too salty and overpower the souls of this world by yelling in their face about all that is wrong, or we have lost our flavor all together and lie in our lukewarmness, too scared to be who we were created to be. To be salt takes a lot of humility.

Christ never states that we should seek comfort in this world; that we should make sure we are being treated right by others and getting just recognition for our good works. He never promises happiness in this life. Instead Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow Him; to forget ourselves, to treat others the way we want to be treated not the way we will be treated. If we spend even one moment contemplating the Passion of our Lord, all of life's questions seemed to be answered. We will know instantly how hard it is to truly be Christlike. Not just on Sundays, but in every day to every person we meet, and most importantly to our family. How many of us can get along with everyone around us, but struggle to practice our Christ-likeness to the most special and important people God has placed in our lives? It's me everyday. I proclaim Hallelujah on Sunday and yell at my children on Monday morning. I tell Jesus I want to follow Him and become a saint, but fail to stand up for my faith to an unbeliever. I ask for the virtue of humility, but when given the opportunity to practice it, decide it's easier to "stand up for myself" and make sure I get the recognition that is "due" to me for the work I do. I fall. But our loving God has shown us through his Passion how to get up. In humility, without grumbling and complaining and looking on to the task ahead.

This holy week I pray to be more salt-like. To serve without expecting anything in return. To be the unnoticed one who brings out the best in others and shines the light of Christ through her.