Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday Morning Daybook

Outside my window...a gray sky that looks like one giant cloud; trees with no leaves, naked and vulnerable; the remnants of my garden which appears abandoned and forgotten. I am glad to be inside where it is much warmer in temperature and spirit!

I am thinking...about all the last minute things that need my attention.

I am thankful family all together!

From the lesson plans...some time off and we have earned it! We just finished week 14. The lesson plans from CHC have Christmas break scheduled at the end of this very week!

From the kitchen...baking, baking, and more baking today! I doubt I will need the fireplace on today. I need to make bread, 4 batches of pizza dough to freeze and take to my mother's house for dinner one night while we are there with everyone (which is 20 people this year!), and of course cookies!

I am wearing... my pj's and warm cozy slippers.

I am creating...a mess in my kitchen! Also, two hooded towels like this, without ears though, for two special little people in the house!

I am reading...Christmas stories to the kids. Thank you to Tomie DePaola for such wonderful stories!

I am hoping...for safe, uneventful travel to my parent's house. And may there be peace in the back of the van (we will be seven people in a seven passenger van, with three in carseats)!

I am hearing...Therese's soft breathing as she drinks her bottle in my arms. (I am getting better at one-hand typing). Footsteps above me tell me that I will soon have company down here.

Around the house...a beautiful tree, a manger waiting for the arrival of our Savior, garland on the stair railing, and other decorations reminding us of the season.

I am be in the kitchen ALL DAY!

One of my favorite baby's smile and sweet cooing and babbling as she tries to tell me about her day.

I am praying for...all those on my list of special intentions.

A few plans for the rest of the week...enjoying my family!

A picture thought...I wish I could share one, but our computer crashed last week, and now I can't figure out why my camera only wants to load all the pictures (500) instead of just the ones that haven't already been downloaded. Argh.

If I figure it out, I'll add one later!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Life is not a bowl of cherries...

Sometimes, life is like a lemon. Sure it is pretty and sunny and yellow on the outside. Inside? Not so much. Lately I have felt like a lemon. The holidays can do that, you know. I have been fairly sour inside, and when the pressures of the day get to me, that sourness comes out in my words and actions. Sad to say, but oh so true.

I think we all can put on a good show for others when we are out and about, or blogging for that matter. But what about when we think no one is looking? I don't feel like I have done much to prepare my heart or the children for the coming of Baby Jesus. What is it called when you only do the absolute necessities and ditch the rest? Oh, yes, survival mode. With a new baby of our own, survival mode has been the speed around here.

I'm not even sure where I am trying to go with all this except: Tonight my family was gathered around me, enjoying a movie and one another. It was lovely and simple, sweet and delicious. I think I might have a glass of lemonade.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Word of the Day

reneckerize-v. to identify as something previously seen

as in: Mom, do you reneckerize this picture?

Friday, December 10, 2010

View From the Sink

After noticing that about half of the blogs I enjoy reading had posts of their sinks today, I decided to jump in now that the kids are settled in for the night. To see what I am talking about, go over here.

So many things drew us to this house. The kitchen was not one of them. You would think that would be important, since that is where I spend the majority of my day. If not for the half wall between the kitchen and the den, it would be a galley kitchen. But from my dish-washing spot, I can see my family and I do appreciate that.

Originally, there was a bar that extended into the den and took up an extra foot of space. We removed that and put in a simple piece of wood to cap off the wall. To me, it really made the space much more visually appealing.

I do like order in my kitchen. The dishwasher is to the left of the sink. All dirty dishes are stacked just above the dishwasher. They are rinsed and loaded and then the hand-washed items are cleaned and put in the right side of the sink to dry. To the right of the sink are the cabinets that hold the dishes, so you can quickly put everything away.

As for pretty things, I work best in an uncluttered area. To me, pretty is clean lines. One of my friends once called my decorating style minimalistic. I'd say that is an accurate assessment. She also taught me the beauty of cleaning up as I cook. I could actually write a separate post of all the things she taught me!

Only a few things are allowed to reside on my kitchen ledge. This poor plant is one of them. I just can't seem to water it the correct amount. Every time my mother visits, she gets my house plants looking wonderful. She hasn't been here in a couple of months and my plants are proof of that! But I do like having that plant there. It was given to us at Ben's funeral and it reminds me not only of him, but also the dear friend that gave it to us. Beside it is one of my favorite pictures of the first three kiddos.

After being in this house for just over a year, my little kitchen has grown on me. It is cozy, yet efficient. It is where I provide for my family their nourishment for their bodies. It is where we gather together for food, and family games, and quiet conversations. It is in the center of the house, just as the heart of a home should be.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yarn Along 4

Wow! It is cold outside. In front of the fireplace is my favorite spot right now. It may not be a real wood fireplace like we used to have, but it is still cozy, inviting, and warm. So. Back to how cold it is. Poor Anna, the only gloves in her size are Ben's old ones that have baseballs on them. Therefore, I am taking a break from the blanket to knit up a pair of pink mittens for her. I made the first one yesterday, but I have not had as much time today. (We went to Mass* this morning and did our schoolwork in the afternoon.)

The books are from Anna's suggested reading for this week in her lesson plans. I am so grateful that our wonderful library had both titles available. They were both delightful stories to read to the children. I have not started anything new myself. I am barely keeping up with my Magnificat.

Go on over and visit Ginny to see what everyone else is knitting and reading.

*Note to self: Never, never boast to yourself that you managed to get three children ready for Mass on time. You will only discover that while you were driving, a certain 6 year old managed to entangle her hair in the round hairbrush so entirely that it will take you until the Gospel to remove the thing from her head.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Question of the Day....

is from Anna.

"Mom, which one," she inquired, pointing in her mouth, "is my sweet tooth?"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lost in Translation

What do you think this says? When Anna first taped this to the kitchen wall, I didn't really look closely at the left hand. When I did, I stopped. "I love my dumb mom bad"??? Huh? I asked her what it said.

"I love my mom and dad. Only I forgot the 'and' and had to put it over mom and dad."

The 'a' looks like a 'd' and 'u' because she likes to makes them fancy, with a curved line. Only she didn't connect the circle and the line. Lower case 'b' and 'd' are still confusing for her.

And the "tape"? We are out. Again. (At least this time she didn't use glue, like Jack did on my dining room chairs) So, my resourceful daughter raided the school supply box and found the hole reinforcers. Now we are out of those, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One of those days

The weather outside my window matches my heart today. Overcast, rainy, and sudden gusts of wind that blow the leaves every which way. My thoughts have been overcast in mood lately. Tears run freely before I even know I am sad. Bursts of emotion tumble me around just like that wind with those leaves.

I used to think that the "firsts" would be the hardest after Ben died. And they were. But now, it is still hard, yet in a different way. There is a fading of things: the sound of his voice, his mannerisms, his laugh. I feel them slipping from my mind. I try and grab them, but they fade like a dream upon wakening. I feel ashamed and angry that I cannot recall these things clearly. Each day takes me a little farther away from my boy and yet a little closer if you think about it. I will not live forever and therefore one day will join him in Heaven. The waiting for that day is not easy.

I have been thinking about this for a while now, but the words wouldn't come out right. They still don't, really. I wish I had even a few minutes to myself to sort out this jumble of thoughts in my head. Sometimes, just writing out the sad things is like a good cry. It doesn't change anything, but you feel relieved of a heavy burden.

Christmas shopping: I see things I know he would have loved to play with and it tugs at my heart knowing he is not here anymore.

At the commissary: A mother calls out "Benjamin" to her little boy and my head turns to see if he looks like my Benjamin.

At Mass: they sing a song he used to belt out with such enthusiasm and I choke up and cannot get out the words.

Meeting someone (who looks at the spacing of our children): they assume I've remarried and say "you have 2 little families". I want to chide them and reply, "No, my family was ripped in half." I would never do this, of course. I just smile and nod.

There. Heavy burden lightened for today. Tomorrow will be better. I have a cute story to share.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Fall Afternoon

Today is gorgeous outside! A perfect opportunity to try and catch some cute smiles from the kiddos.
Or thoughtful gazes.

Or kids just being kids.

The golden color lifts the spirits.

My gift from Anna before running off again joyfully.
Now I am going back outside to play. What are you doing today?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn Along 3

First of all, my apologies for posting two pictures instead of one. I could figure no other way to show details and show the book. The diaper cover is done and works wonderfully. I had started this blanket for Therese way before she was born, but I am not a fast knitter and am dreadfully fearful of having to correct mistakes, so I am still working on it. The yarn is so delicate and soft. Perfect for this pattern that I found on Ravelry. It is easy to remember, too, so I can take it in the car and knit while my husband drives!

I have started reading the sequel to Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. Also, we have been reading about the first Thanksgiving with the little ones. We made it to the library today to pick up a slew of books on Firefighters, Jack's new passion. Tony had requested materials from all the different branches and there they were, waiting for us, along with our favorite librarians. I know I have said it before, but I love our library. I feel like I have stepped into my own little Mayberry each time I open the doors. Or maybe it's like Cheers, since they greet us with smiles and they know our names, without the beer. Whatever it is, I enjoy my visits to the library whole-heartedly.

I am ever so thankful to Ginny for starting this yarn along. Go on over and sit a spell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yarn Along

I want to thank Ginny at small things for hosting the yarn along. What with a new baby in my arms, I have not found time for reading or knitting and they happen to be two of my favorite things to do. I miss the needles clicking softly as the yarn makes nice neat rows of little hearts. It does my own heart good to see things so organized while my house is still so crazy! How are you supposed to fit all these baby gadgets in a room? We are definitely not going to be looking like anything in Better Homes and Gardens any time soon. Sigh.

The knitting is so close to being done. I could finish it within an hour or two, but there are so many other pulls on my time and heartstrings. I can't wait to lanolize the cover and see it on her little bum!

The book is so good! I did not think I would be reading this for quite some time, for I was number 43 on the wait list when I put a hold on it. But when I went for my weekly library visit, there it was, with my name on it, waiting for me! I look forward to Therese's feeding time so she and I can settle in on the really ugly and uncomfortable old couch. (A good place to feed a baby if that baby is prone to spitting up frequently!) I prop the book on my lap. I hold my baby close to me. Then I become a part of another world, another time. Not every book can do that, you know.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Don't you wish your towel had ears?
Jack and Anna do.
Maybe a good idea for Christmas!
If only I can find time for a little sewing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yarn Along

I really like this idea from Small Things.

The knitting is a wool diaper cover for Therese. It is easily my worst knitting project. Ever. First, I run out of yarn and have to add a second color. Then, while adding the short rows, I accidentally added the second one on the front instead of the back! Third, I somehow got one stitch off of the pattern so that the ribbing is weird. I am not finished yet, leaving me ample opportunity to mess up even more. But considering what the finished item will be used for, I am letting it go.

The book is Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. This is the first story I have read by this author and seeing how this book ends on an unfinished note so you have to read the sequel to see what happens, I will be reading the sequel. I liked the story enough to want to know the rest of the story!

A Child's View

During the long drive back from our homeschool co-op, Therese let me know that it was time to eat in a not-so-quiet, very persistant way. So, at the first exit, I quickly made my way to a gas station parking lot. As Therese ate, the kids and I watched a taxi pull in beside us. It was not a sedan but a mini-van type taxi. With an excited whisper, Anna declared: Mom! I think it's the Cash Cab!

Maybe, just maybe, we've been watching too much TV!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Early Morning

Lying in the darkness, I hear the soft stirrings and tiny squeaks from the crib signaling the start of my day. I glance at the clock. 5:55 am. She has slept through the night! Gently lifting her tiny body from the crib, I put her against my chest and whisper "good morning" as I breathe in that wonderful baby scent. We quietly make our way down the stairs and I change her diaper and make a bottle of "nutritionally complete amino acid-based medical food". Sounds delicious, doesn't it? Settling in on the couch, I chit-chat with her as she stares up at me with those big, round eyes that are getting more chocolate brown each day. It is still so dark outside, but the lamp gives us just enough light to gaze at one another. With a full tummy and a few sweet smiles, she drifts off to sleep some more in my arms.

I close my eyes too, savoring the moment, when I hear small footsteps above. Jack's face is suddenly right next to mine. I give him a big hug and now my chit-chat is with him. We read a story. Looking outside, the blackness has turned into the deepest dark blue and the outlines of trees and houses are visible. If there is a better way to start one's day, I can't think of what it would be.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

what would you do?

I am curious. What would you do in this situation?

The gastroenterologist wants to put Therese on an even more specialized formula due to the severity of her reaction to my breastmilk. He said that if I cut out the 5 major allergens (milk, soy, wheat, nuts, and eggs), we might, at some point, be able to try breastfeeding again.

Would you? Would you try to do this with no guarantee that it will ever even be a possibility?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guilt of a Mother

I'm not even sure how to begin this post that I need to write for the sake of my sanity. When I found out I was pregnant with Therese, I prayed first that I would not miscarry another child. Then I asked God to spare her from epilepsy. Then one more time I went to God to ask that she not have allergies. It is so hard to watch your children suffer. I did not want to watch another child's body be taken over by seizures. I watched as Jack suffered weight loss, bloody diapers, and skin that oozed from infection, feeling powerless and guilty. Guilty for somehow giving them the genes that made them suffer. Guilty because my milk, the supposedly perfect food for my baby, was making my baby sick. The doctors wanted me to put him on formula, but I fought them. I radically changed my diet in the hope that I could keep that wonderful bond between mother and child. For a while, it seemed to work. But as the weeks went by, the symptoms returned and Jack got sicker and began to lose weight. He was not thriving. Finally, after 6 long months of trying to nurse my boy, we started giving him Neocate, a very specialized formula. Within days, the change was remarkable. He no longer looked sickly, he started plumping up and his skin started to heal. Then I felt guilt over being so stubborn and fighting so long. (Though I need to remind myself that Jack fought too. He refused to take the formula for months, only wanting to nurse.)

About three weeks ago, I started to see the tell-tale signs of milk protein allergy in Therese. The red blotchy skin, the blood in her diapers. I have been dairy and soy free for 2 weeks now with no improvement. In fact, her symptoms have only worsened. I took her back to the doctor this week and she said she wanted me to immediately put her on the formula. She referred us to a gastro doctor, who we will see next week. I think the tears in my eyes let her know that I was upset about this, so she said to start pumping my milk and saving it in the off chance that we are dealing with something other than allergies.

Therese did not fight taking the bottle. She just did it. And so did I. And the guilt is back. I gave up so quickly. Is it because I saw Jack suffer too long, or is it because I am so tired? I want so much to just enjoy this time with my new baby, but I am plagued by guilt and anxiety over every little thing. I pray and ask God to take away these feelings.

So, I need some words of wisdom and of comfort. I want to hear that everything is going to be OK.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Old Familiar Path

I had been hoping that it was just my imagination. **WARNING** Poop description ahead! Therese's diapers have been steadily changing from the normal breastfed yellowish color to green over the last week. Tonight, I found two small spots of blood mingled with the green. Also, her beautiful complexion is gone. She now has red, blotchy cheeks. I am pretty sure she has a milk allergy like her big brother Jack.

Three years ago, I noticed this same set of symptoms develop in Jack. It was the beginning of a long road. I know it will not be an easy road, but God never promised the path would be easy, now did He? Believe me, I know that there are much, much worse things to be facing. In the grand scheme of things, this is small. But it is happening to my sweet baby.

Pray for me, will you? I will be eliminating all dairy from my diet once again for the sake of my child. Oh, how I will miss the cream in my coffee!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Baptism

Mary Therese was welcomed into the Christian Community on October 3, 2010. I am just now sitting down to write about it. We were so blessed to have so many members of our family join us for her Baptism. My sister and her 2 daughters came for the weekend. Tony's mom, his brother Jim and his daughter, and his sister Leah and her husband all drove down early Sunday morning to join us. But best of all, Sophie flew in from college!

The gown she wore is fast becoming a family heirloom! My mother had each of us baptized in this delicate white gown. All my children have also worn the gown, as well as most of my sisters' children. I love traditions!

Therese also wore something new--beautiful crocheted booties--a gift from her Aunt Suzy. Suzy also gave her the cutest bloomers to wear underneath, though you can't see those in the picture!

My parents are Therese's godparents, though they could not be with us. Sophie and my brother-in-law stood in for them.

Our priest had such beautiful words for us during the baptism. The point he repeatedly made was that raising a child to be a faithful Catholic is not a task to be taken lightly. This is serious stuff. And I believe him whole-heartedly.

Look at that face! I think she knows what a great day this is and her little heart is so happy.

My oldest meeting the youngest! It was such a tender moment.

Thank you, God, for this most precious gift!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life as I know it

Doesn't she look content? And sleeping? WRONG! I've given birth to an insomniac. There are no pictures of the mama because the baggy eyes are not pretty. In her defense, it is hard to keep a schedule when you happen to be baby number 6. If it weren't for funny stories like the following, I think I might just lose my mind for lack of sleep.

Therese had to go to the audiologist this morning, since she failed the hearing test at the hospital. Thank goodness Tony was able to go stay home with the little ones. I came home and was greeted at the door by Anna, who informed me she was hungry and wanted breakfast. I asked her what her Dad was doing. Without missing a beat, she replied: Not getting me breakfast.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking Turns

Therese is a little spoiled. Nobody wants to put her down.

The pictures are grainy because it is dark outside,
but the flash makes everything too harsh.
Any suggestions?
I love Anna's face on this one.
They always ask me to put her in their arms so they can see her face.

Did I mention that my husband is a foot taller than me?
Well, he is. Thus the reason for the angle.

This last photo is of my mother holding me the day she came home from the hospital.
I think Therese looks a little like me.

The lightbulb came on

I have been trying to keep things simple around here while we adjust to a newborn's schedule or lack thereof! Meals have got to be quick and easy and hopefully still nutritious. So while Therese was laying so sweetly in her Moses basket, I decided to go ahead and prepare the chicken for roasting. Anna, who has seen me do this many times, had a lightbulb moment today.

You mean they kill birds? To eat?

I confirm that this is indeed what happens. I inquired if it bothered her that we ate animals.

A little, but it sure tastes good!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life with Jack.....

is never dull. This week, he has made me laugh out loud so often.

He was watching me change Therese's diaper and was worried about the umbilical cord. I explained that that was how she received food from me while she grew in my tummy. Anna then walked into the room and he wanted to share his new knowledge with her.

"Anna, this is the invisible cord."

But what really made me giggle was this: (this will probably only happen in your house if your husband's occupation is 'tuba player')

Jack put the Boppy pillow around himself and lifted one end to his mouth. He then proceeded to "play" Seventy-six trombones into his own sousaphone while marching around the living room. He's really quite a talented musician and entertainer.

I knew I needed to write these little moments down before they were lost forever in my sleep deprived state. But I am joyfully making the sacrifice. Did I mention that we are all in love over here with our little Therese?

P.S. I had to add a quick update. While patiently waiting for her lunch today, (I was feeding someone else), I asked Anna to bring the towels out of the dryer and put them on the couch for me. Not only did she do that, she folded the entire load of towels without being asked and had them stacked neatly to take upstairs! My heart nearly burst at the act of kindness. I am SO blessed.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Mary Therese
(we will call her Therese)
born on September 8, 2010
The Feast of the Nativity of the Blesssed Virgin

8 pounds 10 ounces, 21 1/2 inches
We are in love with our precious little girl!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fancy Nancy Tea Party

Long ago, when there were only 2 kids and I was much, much younger and energetic, I used to like planning birthday parties. Somewhere along the way, I turned into an old fuddy-duddy, and there would be cake and ice cream and presents, but that was about it.

A few months ago, Anna checked out this book from our library. The book ignited a long extinguished flame in me to create this party for Anna. Enjoy the pictures. It was a lovely afternoon, darlin'!

Anna and I made the placemats and decorated the silverware.

Jelly filled (gasp!) white store-bought bread.

"Tea cups" on doilies look ever so fancy!

My first attempt at homemade cake. The guests added sprinkles galore!

"Tea" is apple juice with ice and apple slices. The guests were very thirsty.

The hostess with her company.

Working on our tiaras was such fun.

So was wearing them!

Aren't they lovely?

Then, on to the refreshments. Don't forget...pinkies up, ladies!

The singing of "Happy Birthday".

Parfaits can be quite messy. Thank goodness for napkins!

Now here is a young lady who came prepared to be fancy!

It is always good to enjoy the outdoors on such a fine day.
These young ladies were exceptionally polite and lifted my drooping spirits yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Random Randomness

My little counter on the sidebar says 10 days and counting. These nine months have gone by much faster than I wanted. I love this time that I get to myself with the baby. It is a time for bonding that no one can share but the two of us and God. She is with me every minute, wherever I am. I am reluctant to give that up, yet at the same time I am so eager to hold her in my arms. I look at the crib and smile as I picture her resting peacefully in the place I have lovingly prepared for her.

But there is the anxiety that I try to keep at bay. What if? I know that tragic things can happen, do happen. Is it possible to ever not think about the potential heartache after losing a child? Every little elbow jab, I say a little prayer of Thanksgiving that she is still OK.


In the midst of the confusion of packing up the car in the wee morning hours, we missed several things. We were probably not very quiet that morning and maybe, someone noticed that suitcases were going in the back of the van. As we pulled out, however, one thing we made sure happened: that the garage door closed. The week before, when we left for the beach, we accidentally left it open and our neighbors who feed the cat closed it for us. So, we watched the door come down and pulled away.

Two days later, we returned from Ohio without Sophie. As the garage door opened, we noticed that the side door to the garage was ajar. Strange. We must not have locked it. I had a bad feeling, but after looking through the house, everything seemed in its place. It was late and we went to bed.

One week later, Tony had worked hard to put the finishing touches on the garage. He called me out to see the fruit of his labor. I scanned the garage carefully. Everything had a place and looked wonderful. Except. There weren't enough bicycles. Tony's bike is gone and I feel violated. Someone knew we wouldn't be home. Someone came into our home. Someone took our belongings. It is only a bicycle, but the idea that someone was watching us disturbs me.


There is a hurricane approaching. Did you know that? It should arrive overnight tonight, though I haven't been particularly worried. Until I realized that Olivia wants to go to a concert tonight in Virginia Beach. Which means travelling across that darned bridge/tunnel. Have I mentioned my irrational fear of bridges? She has only mentioned how excited she is about this concert on an hourly basis. You can see the spring in her step and the joy in her heart when she talks about going. I will watch the forecast throughout the day. I pray that I don't have to make a decision that will crush her spirits.

I don't think you can get much more random than that! Have a blessed day, my friends.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Anna is 6!

August 31, 2004: Tony is at PLDC, which are letters that mean "My husband is not around and I am about to have a baby"! Actually it is a leadership course for the Army. He was still on the base, but out in the woods somewhere.

What was supposed to happen: I would call someone in charge when labor started and they would release him so he could be there with me.

What actually happened: I called just after midnight. They told him the next morning at breakfast. She was born at 4:30 am. Thank goodness my mother was able to be with me. It was a special memory for both of us.

And here is my birthday girl a few weeks ago, soaking up the sun in South Carolina. She loves everything pink, frilly, twirly, fancy, or shiny. Yet she is Jack's "best buddy" (their own words), and will play happily with him for hours. I am so blessed to have the honor of being her mama.

Today, we will celebrate with the family. She has requested Chinese takeout for dinner. But we are planning a "Fancy Nancy Tea Party" for her and her girl friends. Hopefully this weekend if another little girl does not decide to make an early appearance.

I love you, Anna Rose!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Seven Quick Takes

I made this for a friend who had her baby last week. I love how it turned out so much that I might just have to make one for my own baby, whenever she decides to arrive!

Anna and I finished our second week of homeschooling before lunch today. I am enjoying spending one-on-one time with her. She is eager to learn, and our mornings are such a blessing right now. Jack is paying more attention than I thought he would. He can recite her "memory gems" even though he doesn't sit still at the table with us.
There are hints that fall is just around the corner if you stop to notice. There is a crispness in the air that has replaced the oppressive humidity. It was darker outside this morning, when I awoke at my usual time, and the coffee somehow tasted better.
One more sign of fall's approach: the Army Band had their last outdoor summer concert last night. They ended with the 1812 Overture complete with live cannons. The kids loved it and so did I. It was a wonderful evening sitting on the grass with my family around me and enjoying the music.
After the concert ends, Tony has to stay and tear down the equipment. I walked back to the car with Olivia and Anna, for Jack always wants to stay with his dad and "help". Now that the concert was over, we could park much nearer the gazebo. It was such a lovely evening that we decided to stay and walk along the seawall while Tony worked. Just as we reached the wall and the salty sea smell filled my nostrils, I looked out and saw the most spectacular moon just above the horizon. It was pumpkin orange and it might have been my imagination, but it even seemed to have a smiling face.
I keep hoping for that "nesting" thing to kick in, but alas, all I feel is tired this week. It took every bit of my willpower to make the bread dough today and to work on the laundry.
Olivia will finish her first week at the High School today and I am looking forward to picking her up so that we can talk on the way home. It fascinates me to hear her perspective and to find out what stood out for her as she enters this world so foreign to her.
Stop by Jen's, the gracious host of 7 quick takes!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Magic House

It may look like she is doing something she shouldn't, but she is actually doing her schoolwork and following directions quite nicely!

Jack can't quite believe I am not stopping this madness and am photographing the moment instead.

This is the house that Anna drew.

This is the magical part when you hold the picture up to the light.
Her family appears in the windows!
This was art for the day. The idea comes from this lovely series of books. They are so special, these books. Even more so because my dear friend has passed them along to us and I think of her each time I pull one from the shelf.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Leaving the Nest

I woke with a start. Through bleary eyes, I try to see the clock. 1:35 am. I can't sleep for I am thinking about the day ahead. I decide to get up and walk, but just as I roll over I hear a small voice from the next bed call out "Mama?" "What is it, Anna?", I whisper into the dark hotel room. "Can we go for a swim in the pool?" "No, Anna. It is the middle of the night." She pauses, but I can tell there is more on her mind. "Mama?" "What is it, Anna?" "Do we really have to leave Sophie here at college?" My heart breaks as I tell her that yes, we do have to leave Sophie in Steubenville.

Early that morning, I go to her dorm room to do what my mother did for me when I left home the first time. We organize her room and chat about small things. We can't bring ourselves to talk about much else. After everything is in its place, we go back to the hotel. We stand in the parking lot and say our good-byes. Sophie and I get back in the van and we drive up the winding hill to the campus that will be her new home. We embrace and the tears flow freely. She starts walking away, and I return to the driver's seat and try to compose myself. I look out the window one last time and I see another student come up to Sophie and hug her. They sit down on a bench and in that moment, I know that everything will be all right.

We are back home this morning, and in a little while, I will call her. I am already planning what to put in the first care package from home. I miss my baby girl.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Folly Beach

As I sit here in the still of the morning, smelling the coffee brew, with the kids still sleeping, I actually have a moment to breath. And think.

Last week, we went on our annual vacation to Folly Beach, SC. We go with my parents, my sisters, and their families. We stay in one big house and have a wonderful time catching up and enjoying one another's company. With all those people, it is not a quiet time. So I try to awaken early each day to have that quiet with God. I slip downstairs and tip-toe out the door to the most lovely ocean view. Usually, the sun is just peeking over the edge of the horizon and the beach is speckled with only a few other people. There are those who are setting up their poles to do a little fishing. There are people out walking their dogs. I even see a woman doing some kind of meditative thing while sitting in the surf.

I walked and walked and wondered. This year, the beach trip coincided with another annual event. The day Ben died. How could it be three years? How? My stomach would tighten at the very thought. Sometimes it would seem that he was right there in the midst of all his cousins, playing in the sand. But mostly it seemed empty without him. There was someone missing from all the fun. Ben. A quietness in the noise that no one could fill.

Even more daunting was returning to Georgia to finally have him all in one place. You see, when we lost Ben, they kept his brain for study. I can't tell you if they were able to make any discoveries or not. When it was returned to us, we decided to have it cremated. My original intent was to have it placed with Ben's body, but we were in the middle of packing up to move to Virginia and I had second thoughts. I thought I wanted part of him with us. And for a while, I was glad we did. But then I started listening to EWTN more and I came to know that really, we should have all of him in one place. On Wednesday morning, the family awoke early to make the three hour drive to Georgia from the beach. Not many words were said, knowing that tears would follow if we did. I hugged my parents and got in the car. We were back by dinnertime that evening.

For three nights, we all gathered on the back porch to gaze at the stars. The Perseid Meteor Showers are also an annual event that just happen to peak at this time. On the first anniversary, we were in a dirty hotel in a new town and the city lights made it impossible to even see the stars, let alone any meteors. On the second anniversary, it was a cloudy night with rain in the forecast. Tony and I drove away from the city, yet the cloud cover was so complete that there was nothing to observe except our disappointment. This year, conditions could not have been more perfect. The moon was just a sliver and no cloud could be seen. In fact, what I originally thought was a cloud was in fact part of the Milky Way! The brilliance of the stars against the black of night was spell-bindingly beautiful. And then, a flash across the sky! Some were so faint that I wondered if it were my imagination. Others were so bright that they cut a path across the entire sky.

There is more, but I am being called to my job as mom, so the rest will have to wait.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jack's Intellectual Look

A couple months ago, I suspected something might not be quite right for Jack. Sure, lots of kids stand right in front of the TV, but then he also always puts his nose inches from the books he is looking at. I called our pediatrician and scheduled an evaluation. He failed miserably and today we picked up his glasses. I think he looks cute. Don't you?