Friday, April 10, 2020

Happy Birthday #5

I'm a little late on this, but better late than never!

Dear Miriam,
What indescribable joy you have brought this family! From the moment you entered this world you have been adored by everyone around you. You are not a docile calm baby but make your opinions known and "speak" your mind. There is no fear that you will be forgotten in the crowd because your strong and persistent spirit won't let that happen!

You are happy most of the time and if you aren't , someone is always ready to fix your problems. You love to sit and look at books and are extremely physically advanced. You climb on and in anything you find. Sometimes we see you next to an open box or container of some sort and you ALWAYS try to fit yourself in it! You love to be outside and walk around like you own the place. You have no fear of the chickens running around the yard and could sit at the fence for hours watching the neighbors' dog run back and forth. One of your favorite outdoor activities is to be pulled along in the wagon. Sometimes we find you sitting in there just waiting to be pulled.

You have a special affection for your brother. I always joke that you are trying to make up for not being a boy to him. Anytime he picks you up, you instantly lay your head down on his shoulder. You love to just sit with him and cuddle. You even let him put you to bed every night. You love to walk around the house with a baby doll in your arms, patting and rocking them as you go. You are extremely busy and like to get into everything around you.

You have brought so much joy, laughter, beauty and light to this family. We are forever blessed by your presence and can't wait to watch you grow!

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Year of the Cross and Finding Joy

One year. Those two words rang through my mind so many times in 2019. While Miriam's birth and entrance into this family brought more joy than we could ever have imagined, my body didn't respond very well to the stress of sleepless nights and an unplanned move just a few months after she was born. I fell deep into a postpartum depression that manifested itself through insomnia and anxiety. There were many days and nights where I thought I would end up in a mental institution because something had to be done! I clung to the cross, I clung to my husband and I clung to the hope that someday I wouldn't feel this way. I cried so many tears of mommy guilt as I looked into my baby's deep blue eyes wishing she would grow up so things could get better. Aren't we mothers supposed to tell our kids not to grow up? Aren't we supposed to mourn every time they move up a size in clothes? I couldn't do it this time. I stretched my imagination far and often looking for that time when she would be one year and things would get easier. I have carried some heavy crosses in my short twelve years as a wife and mother. Five years ago today I sat in an emergency room wondering if I was ready to die because death seemed to be standing on my doorstep. But even thinking back to that moment I can say with complete honesty that no cross has ever been as hard, dark and life altering as this one.

Miriam is a year now. She toddles everywhere, gets into everything and still brings buckets of joy to our days. She is perfect and pleasant in every way. She doesn't need to nurse as often and sleeps fine without me right by her side. But the truth is, we are two months past a year and I still struggle. Most nights I still don't sleep well and there are some days. though not as often, when I am still plagued by anxiety. And so I stretch my mind to the far future in hopes that I will heal slowly and someday this cross will be a distant memory.

During my pregnancy I had almost constant spiritual consolation. God felt near in every moment. His peace flooded my soul. Shortly before this I had three strong urgings by the Holy Spirit to pick up a devotion to The Sorrowful Mother. I did being a devotion, knowing full well that this probably meant a big cross of some sort was coming. Also during 2019, at the beginning to be precise, I was given the word "Joy" to meditate on for the year. I will admit that for most of the year this confused me greatly. How could my word be joy when I had never cried so many tears in my life? It seemed like a cruel sock to the gut when I was supposed to know joy but only felt sadness. While I'm still not completely clear on the true mystery of joy, I have found one thing to be true: Mary's greatest joys are amazingly close to her sorrows. The presentation of Jesus led to Simeon telling her how much she and He would suffer. Birthing the Son of God meant fleeing in the middle of the night for fear of His life to a land they knew not. Finding Him in the temple was preceded by three agonizing, anxiety ridden days of searching for her only son. Finally, only by standing at the foot of His cross and holding his bloody and mutilated body could she experience the joy of His resurrection. So if there is one thing I have learned it is that in a mysterious and beautiful way, all our true joys in life must be tied to heavy crosses; and while the weight of this cross has not been lifted, my eyes are set on the hope of the future. In the meantime, I am reminded every day that joy itself sits right in front of my eyes in the form of a babbling baby. Miriam is joy, and every sweet smile she gives me makes the weight of this heavy cross seem insignificant in the light of her eternal soul.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Number 1 Isn't Such a Peanut Anymore...

Our sweet first child, and only son, turned 11 a couple of months ago. The fact that he is the oldest and the only son makes this mama have a slight mental break down every year he gets older. I can't believe how fast he is growing and the wonderful young man he is becoming. Peanut's number one goal in life right now is to make people laugh. He will do anything to put a smile on someone's face. While he is still trying to figure out what kind of humor flies and what kind gets shot down, he succeeds most of the time in his ventures. He is incredibly witty, quick and smart. Sometimes his desire to make people laugh gets him in a bit of trouble (by me) at our homeschooling co-op as his desire to be funny overrides his desire to listen to his teacher. Lucky for him, he is smart and knows most of what is being taught already anyways.

He is growing everyday in virtue and tries very hard to become a better brother and more obedient son. He is great at playing with his sisters and especially adores #5. He asks to hold her all the time and cuddles her when she is sad. His sisters look up to him in every way and he is always successful in making them laugh.

This year Peanut shot his first deer and it was surely a moment to remember. He did a great job listening to the instructions of his father and making Belle feel as ok with everything happening as possible. I'm sure this hunting season will be the first of many in his life. On a daily basis at home, Peanut helps out a ton with the chickens and the two cows we have. He never complains when he is asked to do chores outside and is always willing to give a helping hand.

If I had to name one passion for Peanut these days it would be his love of the mass. He LOVES to serve mass. He cries when he can't. I can't remember a day when we dropped him off at church that he didn't literally RUN all the way into the church. He asks to serve daily mass as often as we are able to go and is always looking for ways he can be a better server. As he grows, I pray this love of the mass stays with him always. I am so beyond proud to call him my son.

Peanut, you are an incredible young man. Your love for truth and our Lord are inspiring to me and I hope that only continues to grow in you. Thank you for always being so willing to forgive me when I mess up. Thank you for knowing when I need a hug even before I do. Thank you for your constant love and sweetness and effort. I love you with all my heart and am so proud of you.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Birth of Miriam

On December 9th we attended a beautiful Advent devotion at the Bishop's cathedral. Grandma Valerie had flown in several days before and we tried to fill the days with distractions as we all awaited your arrival. We sat at the cathedral and listened to a choir that sounded like angels sing the old Psalms and heard scriptures read about Christ's coming. That evening, almost all seemed right in the world.

After returning home from the Advent devotion, I couldn't fall asleep. It was after midnight and was now December 10th. I was uncomfortable and tossed and turned. I decided to get up and use the restroom for the hundredth time and felt warm fluid drip down my leg. I knew my bag of waters was leaking. The time was 1:30am I woke up your father who immediately jumped out of bed (rare for him) and started putting things together. With my last two births happening very quickly, we knew we had to move fast if we were going to make it to the hospital. I had one real contraction and Max insisted on calling our doula and doctor. I hesitated, thinking that it was crazy to call anyone after just ONE contraction. He had no intention of listening to me, made two phone calls and told me we were going. Through the next three contractions I quickly put on some mascara, threw a few last items in my bag and complained about how crazy it was to be leaving so early. Max shuffled me to the car and we were on our way.

I rode most of the way with my eyes closed, breathing through contractions which were getting more and more intense. What I did see was several stop signs passed by and a few red lights passed. Max knew more than I did how quickly we needed to get there. When we finally arrived I asked Max to please let me wait for our doula to arrive before we went in. With the next two contractions, I started to make pushing noises and we both knew we needed to start walking, without our doula, or this baby was going to be born in the car.

Once inside, I made a beeline for the bathroom. In my primal state, I wanted to be in a tiny room where no one could see me. Looking back, and Emergency Room bathroom probably wasn't the cleanest place to choose. I waited there until Max told me a wheelchair was ready for me. Generally, I would have rather walked to the labor and delivery unit, but I knew that if I attempted that walk I wouldn't make it to the 5th floor with a baby still inside me. I was wheeled up to labor and delivery while Max made small talk with the tech pushing me. This annoyed me to no end, but Max is always polite and amiable, no matter what situation we are in.

We arrived at triage and I breathed through another contraction leaning up against the wall. I thought back to the sign on my mirror at home with a quote by St. Rose de Lima, "Pain is never permanent" and found strength and comfort in that truth. A nurse asked me to lay in the bed and get strapped up to monitors. I told her there was no physical way I could possibly lay in a bed. She didn't like this very much and told me for the sake of my baby's health we needed to check on her. I asked where my doctor was and heard her say behind me, "I'm right here." Relief flooded me. She told the nurses I needed to be checked right away as I had precipitous labors. At this point my doula arrived. Again, relief flooded me. I was asked to get on the bed to be checked and instinctively got on the bed on my hands and knees. I thought in my mind, "Whatever needs to be done has to be done like this because I am not moving!" With the next contraction I could feel baby Miriam coming down. Dr. L. checked me and said I was complete and ready to push, which I already knew. With the next contraction I pushed while placing my hand where I could feel Miriam coming. As her head emerged, I was able to feel every inch of it and control my pushing. With one more contraction, at 2:41am, her tiny body slipped from mine and she was lifted to my chest. She was pink and tiny and beautiful. Everyone in the room was shocked at the short length of the labor; 70 minutes from the first contraction to a baby in hand.

Miriam, you are a joy to behold and sweetness incarnate. I wake every day excited to snuggle you and behold the ways in which you will grow. I love you sweet baby girl.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Trust and Peace - A Much Needed Update

How has it been 11 months since I last posted? How have I not even mentioned here that this little one will join us in 6 weeeks?

Isn't he/she cute? I think so already. Look at that button nose. I sit here 34 weeks pregnant feeling sweet kicks all over my belly thinking about the year gone by. In February I went on a silent retreat where I felt God speak into my heart that it was time for another baby. And here I wait, with a swollen belly, ready for this little one to completely turn our world upside down. The word of the year has been "trust", and it has been tested for me over and over again. Trust that I would have a healthy pregnancy. Trust that I would find a good doctor and be at peace with delivering at a hospital. Trust in leaving our old homeschooling co-op to try something completely new. Trust that God would provide grace to become a better wife and a better mother. He never disappoints,  not even for a moment. Not only has there been abundant grace, but there has also been profound peace covering me like a warm winter blanket on a cold night.

The children are all amazing. They deserve to be written about every day, not once a year. Maybe the once a year writings will still mean something to them someday. Maybe it will help them understand just how much they are loved and cherished by this undeserving mother.

Peanut, you're not so much a peanut anymore. This year you turned 10. I had a mini breakdown over it. You who are my first born and my only can you be 10? You are not only an amazing child, but an incredible person and friend. Your social skills continue to amaze me. You can hold a conversation with a group of adults and make them all laugh with your great sense of humor. You are incredibly intelligent. You retain almost everything you read and can spit out facts about history and things of the world much more readily than I can. This year you became an altar server and there has only been a few Sundays where you didn't serve. You love it. One Sunday, we went to the Latin Mass parish and you cried because you wouldn't be able to serve. You work so hard to serve well and I'm so proud of you every time I see you on the altar. You are an amazing son; always quick to help me. If you see me upset or stressed you naturally come give me a big hug to try and make me feel better. You are a wonderful brother and your sisters all love playing with you. I hope you realize someday how much they look up to you.

Miss Belle, I don't even know how to put into words how much you have changed this year. You are a deep thinker and always striving to be and do better. You are constantly helping me around the house, not because I asked, but because you have the heart of a servant. You will probably never know how much this means to me and helps me until you are a mom yourself, but for now, know that I'm abundantly thankful for it. You love to have a to-do list and to plan and write things. You have the work ethic that many adults still lack. I'm amazed every day to watch you pull out your school on your own and complete tasks without being asked. You love to go to social things and be with friends. This year you struggled with a small attitude problem and I've never seen an eight year old tackle a problem with so much dedication and hard work as you did. At 8 years old you were able to pray about it, talk about it and not let yourself be ruled by your emotions. You taught yourself to change how you acted or what you said, even though you felt like doing something else. It's been incredible and inspiring to watch. I'm so proud of you and proud that you are my daughter.

Jules, you are 5 now and as sweet as ever. You are still a sensitive soul and think big deep thoughts for someone your age. You are so kind to everyone you meet and will often put yourself aside to make someone else happy. You love to give hugs and kisses and tell mommy and daddy how much you love them. I hope you never get tired of that. This is your first year homeschooling and you are doing amazing. You are eager to be doing "big kid" things and often get frustrated with yourself if you can't do something perfectly the first time. You don't like me to help you very much, but like to be independent when you work. Sometimes I call you Snow White because you have such a way with nature. One day you spent two hours catching butterflies in a jar, looking at them and releasing them. I've never seen so many different butterflies caught in one day. You catch other bugs and things all the time, only to be amazed by God's creation and then let it go again. I love watching you grow and hearing all the deep thoughts that flow through your mind. Thank you for loving so unreservedly and with everything you are.

Sarah Cat, I'm mourning the loss of you as the baby. For so long now, you have been the littlest and that's all about to change. You would probably be mad if you knew I called you little, because you are sure you are very big. You have social skills like Peanut, the will of Miss Belle and the sensitive heart of Jules. You never seem to meet a stranger and everyone loves you. You can say something so matter of fact and confidently, but when gently corrected you ball your eyes out as if the world crashed down on you. It's truly fascinating to observe. You are such a light to this family. Peanut and Miss Belle will still hold you like you are 2 and Jules is always trying to get you to play "mom" wherein you are the baby. You are so well loved and such a blessing to this family.

Now is the part where I would normally promise to write more, be more, and try more. But after skimming this blog in all it's years here, I realize that every time I write, it's completely worth it whether it's been a year or a day. Sometimes I let the fact that I haven't written in so long, actually keep me from writing (as weird as that sounds). So, I promise to write when I can and find peace in that.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Things They Say (14)

From the backseat of the car:
#1: "#3 what do you think marriage is all about anyways?"
#3: "Well we kiss on the lips a lot, then I put a ring on him and he puts a ring on me and then...well...what do I need to ask my husband to do?"

A neighborhood boy was interrogating #1 about homeschooling and meanly stated, "Your mom is no better than my teacher!" #1 replied, "Well then your teacher must be pretty great!"

#3: I'm not even going to say the 'S' word! Because I don't know the 'S' word.

#1 Pointing to where his back hurt: "Well...I was shot right there with an air soft gun. Except it was a little higher up and on the other side..."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

3 Years Old for #4

Dear #4,

Today you are three years old. While you are still little, something about three seems so big. I know you are no longer a baby in any way, but turning into a sweet little girl. Your personality shines a little brighter every day. You have both a strong spirit and a very sensitive one. You stand your ground for what you want, but if we say no firmly, you ball your eyes out. Sometimes it's a hard thing to balance. Tonight when we sang you "Happy Birthday" you were smiling in your chair, then suddenly you got up and started running away crying saying, "I don't want this song!!!" You kept running all the way to the hallway with big crocodile tears rolling down your cheeks. I guess being the fourth child, you aren't used to THAT kind of attention. Maybe it was to much for you. It makes for a very cute and funny memory.

 You have an incredible imagination. Anything can turn to pretend play quickly in your world and you are actually really good at playing by yourself. Your bed can be a ship, the coffee table a house and a chair turns into a bus ride. It's incredibly fun to watch you play. Most of the time you like to play with your baby dolls. You carry them all around the house, feeding them, wrapping them up in blankets, kissing them and sometimes putting them in time out. #2 and #3 often play "mom" or "honey" (as you call it) with you. They make you be the newborn baby who cries and needs help with things. As you get bigger, this gets more entertaining to watch as they try and cradle carry your three year old body around like a newborn. You don't seem to mind though, as long as someone is playing with you.

You love #1. You two share some kind of special bond. #1 really needed a sister who thinks the world of him and your love has been such a gift to him. You let him comfort and hold you almost as easily as you let mommy do it. In fact, sometimes you prefer him over me. In the mornings you love to go in his room, climb into bed with him and say, "nuggle me tames". I hope this relationship flourishes and stays as beautiful as it is now as your grow older.

You love to be read to. You are perfectly content to just sit on my lap and listen to stories for long lengths of time. While you are definitely growing more independent, at three years old you are still very attached to me. As long as mommy or daddy is at your side, you are perfectly comfortable talking to complete strangers when we are out. In fact, sometimes I have to stop you from talking when you have gone on and on for a while and we need to go. You love to tell people about your day, say hello and give random compliments. I know you are totally your own person, but in some ways you are a little bit of James, Belle and Jules all combined. Those three love you to death and probably spoil you more than they should. If you are crying, they are all trying to figure out how to make you better. And if you are being goofy, they think the whole world should be watching and laughing too.

You are such a joy to this family and a joy to this world. I am soaking up these moments of your littleness because I know they will not last much longer. I know with everything in me that you will grow to be a bright light in this dark world. I love you Sarah, and am so proud to be your mommy.