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?

Monday, August 2, 2010

pondering all this

"Indeed throughout her earthly life she found her joy in listening to the word of God and living it out in the sanctifying course of her humble daily routine" Lk 8:21. (from the Magnificat, p. 432, describing the front cover artwork for the month.)

As anyone who actually reads this little blog knows, I am not a great writer or thinker. I do, however, have a great desire to be closer to God. I have always felt a special closeness to Mary, our Heavenly Mother, though I do not think I have been able to explain why. The words above are a far better explanation than I could ever give. I wish to be able to live out my love for God in my daily routine. I often fall very short of this goal. I want to be that quiet example for my husband, my children, and those whom I encounter each day.

"Education is much, much more than the subjects you study in a formal way. It is the sum total of your family life. Everything you do as a family affects the children." - Rev. John Hardon

How true and how scary! Anna and I will start our school year today. Each year, I have all these lofty goals for us and our little homeschool. But really, all day, every day, they are learning from me in every response I give, either good or not so good. I am ashamed to think about how many times, in an effort to "get things done", I have spoken to my children in harsh, irritated tones.

Also, how my husband and I communicate between one another is often an example of what not to do. We need to be more mindful of how our actions affect how our children will relate to others. This parenting thing requires so much energy!

"Any system of education which fails to discipline the will also fails to train the character." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

As the new school year begins, I pray that I may keep my eyes on all these goals, not just completing the work. I want to put more emphasis on training the soul and the will. Not only theirs, but mine especially. Please God, be with us each and every day as we strive to do your will in all things.