Thursday, December 31, 2009

Catholics and Chanukah

Kristi has been asking me some interesting questions about celebrating Chanukah as a Christian. I can address this a bit more specifically as a Catholic.

Let me start by saying I am not a historian, theologian or scientist. My statements are based solely on my personal beliefs within the framework of the Bible and the Catholic church.

For several years now, I have hoped to commemorate Chanukah in our home. I would like to emphasize to my children that Chanukah is not the "Jewish Christmas" as many erroneously believe it to be, that instead it celebrates the triumph of Judah the Maccabee and his brothers for their victory over foreign armies and the return of the Temple to the Jewish people. The miracle culminated when there was not enough oil found to light the lamp in the Temple but the lamp burned for seven days and eight nights.

Why would a Christian, or more directly, a Catholic want to celebrate Chanukah? For me that is answered by Paul in several of his epistles. Paul identifies Christians as spiritual descendents of the Jews. Paul was unique in his time in that he converted not only Jews, but Gentiles as well. Before Paul, many saw Christianity as a branch of Judaism. As a spiritual descendent, I feel it is important to honor my spiritual heritage by celebrating many of the traditions that come along with it. Technically, I celebrate Passover every week as that was the meal Jesus was presiding over during the Last Supper.

The problem we run into as Christians when we decide to celebrate the traditions of Judaism, is doing so respectfully. When I was in high school, Adam Sandler first played the Chanukah Song on Saturday Night Live. While it certainly gave Chanukah a fresh face, it also played on stereotypes and played up the non-religious aspect of gift giving ("eight crazy nights"). It is one thing to have the symbols, it is quite another to say the prayers and teach the significance of the dreidel and it's characters. My advice is to seek out any friends you may have who happen to be Jewish or contact a local temple or synagogue and ask for guidance. We are blessed in our town to have 3 temples, at one of which is a rabbi who seeks to find unity amongst religions. In fact, after becoming close personal friends with our previous priest over (of all things) a viewing of The Passion of the Christ at behest of the local paper, this rabbi has done a Passover sedar meal each year as a fund raiser on Palm Sunday.

As for the question as to whether Jesus would have celebrated Chanukah, again not being a scholar of history, theology or science, I believe he was a faithful and practicing Jew and would have participated in all of the traditions and religious ceremonies associated with Judaism. Yes, he would have celebrated Chanukah.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wii Wish You a Merry Christmas

So, for Christmas this year, Jeff and I asked for a Wii from his parents. We expressed an interest in playing the Wii sporting games and I said if I had the console, I could just get the balance board to do Wii Fit. So, on the second day of Christmas, two Wii items entered our home. We were given as a present together the Wii Sports plus and I was given Wii Fit Plus.
And I LOVE them! Bowling is fun and I'm good at it. I practice the tennis training. I used the Wii Fit Plus for the first time and did step aerobics, hula hoop (which is exhausting) and some torso twists. The best work out though...boxing. My delts are a little sore from KO-ing my opponent in less than 3 rounds. And I have a mean right hook. That was what took him down!
And like all good things, more was to come, including that Wii Resort Sports was onsale at Target after Christmas with a free Wii Motion Plus addition included. I threw the frisbee to a virtual dog while Jeff did archery, cycling, and some kind of flying (as he described it to me). And I am hoping to get the new dance Wii disc for the whole family.
Probably the best thing about this gift is that it fits in with our family goal of being more active and healthy this year. (Notice I didn't say resolution :)!) I am hoping that my other tool in this, joining Weight Watchers online, will also extend out to other members (read: Jeff) of my family's health as well. Yes, I have weight and inches to lose, lots of them, but most important is to be healthy. I am one of those people who no matter how many endorphins I had, hated exercise and sports, but I love the Wii products. I especially love how when I did the tennis training it told me to relax and have fun and just to do my best to return the ball. As a co-worker told me, it's really amazing just how far these systems have come and how many people they have helped.
If getting active is a goal of yours for mental or physical health, I highly recommend the program. Especially if you're like me and hate to work out and claim you don't have time.
Merry Sixth Day of Christmas!
I hope six geese lay you golden eggs of health/wealth!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William- Will went back to the doctor today for a follow-up appointment after his procedure. While he was fully healed from that, turns out he has his first ear infection. He had not been fussy almost at all beyond the normal when he wants to eat and gets tired. In fact, my in-laws commented this weekend they had never seen a happier baby. He enjoyed Christmas morning immensely, especially the wrapping paper.

Joseph--Joey made a new friend. His name is Chance and he jumps and barks and tugs. Chance was being puppy-sitted for by Uncle Ben who brought him to Gigi and Papa's house for Christmas. Joey especially enjoyed taking all of Chance's toys away from him and putting them up (he's never seen anyone take a toy away from a dog and put it up high lol). His big gift of a basketball goal turned out to be a little too big but we'll hope he grows into it. His funniest Christmas day moment, finding the mother-lode of bags of leftover Christmas candy at his grandparents house and proclaiming, "Oh WOW!"

Shelby--Shelby enjoyed Christmas quite a bit this year. She got a doll house similar to the one she plays with at school and really plays well with it at home too. Her Nan and Poppy got her a portable DVD player which is truly a Godsend! She really engaged all of her family members this holiday season which is wonderful for us to see and them to experience.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Humbling Reminder of Angels Among Us

I debated about posting this and finally decided yes, I should.

On Wednesday, the 16th, Jeff came home from picking Shelby up at school and placed a large black trash bad on the table. I came in and asked what it was. He replied, "Shelby's Christmas presents." I gave him a look and asked, "What?"

Shelby had been, unbeknownst to us, put on the school's angel tree. We believe this is because she shows on the medicaid and disability rolls but we had never even imagined that this alone would qualify her. We typically take an angel off a tree each year and Jeff had every intention of taking one off the tree at Shelby's school and had forgotton. We feel immense gratitude with what we are given and as such believe we should share with those less fortunate. And we feel so rich in love and health (recent events aside) and general good fortune in life, that we never had thought of ourselves as being candidates for an angel tree. We certainly had a reasonable budget for gifts this Christmas and felt our kids would have plenty.

But we were truly humbled by the angel or angels who gave Shelby her gifts. It reminded us that God looks out for those who need it the most. That there are rewards for living a good and righteous life. The generosity of the angels has allowed us to give our kids a Christmas beyond what we could have before.

I was mildly embarrassed at first, but as a good Christian friend pointed out, that embarrassment is pride. So I decided instead of being embarrassed, we would accept the gifts in the spirit they were intended, to bring our daughter a merrier Christmas and to practice gratitude.

Merry Christmas to everyone and their families. May angels touch your heart this year as they have done ours.

Tiny Treasures-Merry Christmas Edition

William--We are up on all fours and rocking back and forth now. We are also doing the slug scoot on the tummy. Crawling is sure to be right around the corner! How can this be that he is almost eight months already. He is holding his own now when Joey takes toys, but big brother usually still wins. We are also seeing an increased interest in the dogs. It is too early to tell if this is good or bad.

Joseph--Joey told me today that Shelby was kicking. She wasn't, he was. Kicking is a new word, that is good. Tattle-taling and lying, not so much. He also practiced sitting on the potty, but still no action there for him. He loves our garage so this week has been tough as he has not been allowed access while Christmas presents are afoot. He is, however, expanding his movie viewing horizons. New favorites are "MoMo" (aka Finding Nemo) and Toy Story. He also loves Shelby's new baby doll. He carries it around like a baby and tried giving it the real baby's bottle. The real baby was not amused.

Shelby--Shelby is enjoying a week off from school. She signed "more" three times during her class Christmas party last Thursday and was a real trooper for her H1N1 booster and seasonal flu mist. The Santa from the Sertoma club in Wilmington brought each of the children at Shelby's school a present and she got a baby doll. She is showing a lot of interest in dressing and undressing him (he came dressed all in blue, so we're assuming it's a boy). Shelby is making considerable progress with hand washing and I'm hoping we can get her started with tooth brushing soon. The daily wrestling match rarely results in any teeth being brushed. Here's to hoping 2010 will bring progress in this area!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiny Treasures--Holiday Decoration/Nativity Scene Edition

William--We have entered the "festival of lights" in more than one respect. As Chanukah began last week, we also put up our Christmas tree and trimmed it last Saturday. Will is infatuated with the lights. We really enjoyed his joyful reaction. He is getting up on his hands and knees more and plays peek-a-boo. He initiates the games! Watching his little face light up at each new decoration and tradition is a true festival in our book!

Joseph-- So, this year, as we have a real, full-size tree, Joey is into not only the lights but the ornaments asking us about many of them, pointing out shapes like hearts and stars that he knows. To try and distract the kids from the tree (there are globe lights on it that look suspiciously like balls) we placed a hope chest in front of it and I set up the Little People Nativity scene on it complete with the shepherd boy and his sheep, the little drummer boy and the innkeeper and his wife. The wise men are a short distance away with camels. My parents bought the kids the Little People Nativity scene so they would have a touchable way to interact with the figures in the birth of Jesus. We christened our nativity "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Joey enjoys all of the figures although he dislikes the donkey being hooked to a cart. His favorite though, is the "Bee-da Jee-da" or Baby Jesus. He gives the Baby Jesus kisses and asks us to kiss him as well. When Daddy moved "Bee-da Jee-da" someplace out of the manger scene to another part of the town, Joey quickly corrected him. Joey loves the scene so much that Lightening McQueen and the Hudson Hornet visited and parked in the auxiliary stable. We're learning about better places for the "dor-dees" to park.

Shelby--Shelby has no use for O Little Town of Bethlehem. She removes it with one swipe and is up on the hope chest attempting to remove ornaments and unscrew lightbulbs. This tree has something for EVERYONE! We're really working on this. She especially enjoys the stockings which can't be hung by the chimney as we don't have one, but are hanging in our front windows. Unfortunately, with Will being in the hospital that weekend, I didn't get to have the St Nicholas day festivities I had planned but Shelby seems to get the whole stocking thing and looks in hers each day to see if anything came (on Christmas Bucky Badger will hopefully be there for her).

All three kids are enjoying Sirius/XM's Holly station. It plays more updated versions of Christmas classics. We often play it (we get in through DirectTV) during the day and the kids have a favorite Christmas song...Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC. The kids have also watched A Charlie Brown Christmas many a time. It is wonderfully refreshing to see them enjoying Christmas and not caring about the material aspects.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tiny Treasures~ Miracles Edition

William- Yesterday Will was seven months old. Last Thursday I arrived home from work to find out that Will had, since waking, refused to eat, thrown up bile and had blood in his stool. I turned right around and went to the pediatrician. My worst fear was confirmed: bowel obstruction. We were admitted to our local hospital for him to be stabilized and receive IV fluids and then Will was airlifted to UNC-Chapel Hill Children's Hospital. I followed by car. Once there, Will was given an enema of air that straightened his intestines out. My normally cheerful, talkative baby had mostly slept and just been lying still. Once the obstruction ceased, his personality and vigor returned! We stayed overnight for observation, and were released the next day. Prayers for protection from St Nicholas, St Christopher, Our Lady of Guadalupe and our family patron The Infant of Prague, were answered. Will is home recovering beautifully now.

Joseph- Joey is really into terrorizing his baby brother. Will loves Joey's colorful hotwheels cars and Joey knows it. So, what's a big brother to do but pretend to give them to the baby and just when his little fist closes pull it away and say, "no, no, no!" We are really trying to discourage this, despite knowing it's normal. Joey still gives Will kisses good night though, so we are hopeful this phase is short lived.

Shelby- The wrestler. This little girl comes up behind Joey and grabs him by the waist and pins him to the ground. (To be fair, he started doing it to her first.) It is their favorite way to play and it is nice to see them interacting, just hoping it doesn't dissolve into fighting...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Have you ever been caught up in a wave. Something that seemed great and rewarding and good for you soul, only to be let down?

It's even worse when someone is trying to use faith to let you down like that.

Years ago, several of the Catholic members of my family were swept up in the Left Behind book series. Before LB had become popular, I had read Bud MacFarlane's Pierced by A Sword series and was moved. So, I was considering the books too, at the end of my semester when I didn't have so many school books to read. Then, just as I was ready to pick up LB, I came across some interesting information. Tim LaHaye, co-writer of the series, is anti-Catholic. In his own words from his 1973 book Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain, he writes "(the Catholic church) is more dangerous than no religion because she substitutes religion for truth." I was shocked and angered. How dare he claim to be saving people when he had this type of falsehood in his doctrine? And there is supposed to be a leader of people in the apocalypse who looks and talks well but is evil, well to me, this might as well fit the bill. One member of my family was somewhat dismissive of my anger, which made me extremely sad. I did find it interesting how some other members of my family showed waning interest in the series of books as they wore on and did not make it to final book in which it is never outright said if the Pope was raptured or not. I am not as angered now as sad that people like Mr. LaHaye use Christianity to divide us. I am sad that impressionable people may be getting the dead wrong image of the church.

But mostly I am more aware that among some of the flock, there are wolves who are biding their time and waiting for oppurtunity to destroy it from within.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

True Mom Confessions 2

This might, quite simply be the greatest "Christmas carol" ever.

Do not get me wrong, I love singing carols at church (my two favorites being Hark! The Herald Angel Sings and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear) but these funny ones when I feel like the stress of the holiday season is getting me down help me smile!

Trust in a time of Autism

It seems that everyone I know with a two-year-old's two-year-old is speaking in complete sentences. Everyone except me. Joseph babbles, he says actual words and points, he even has a few phrases down. But no sentences, not even close. My husband had difficulty with annunciation as a child, so we were sure we'd see that in at least one child and Joseph does slur some things together. The pediatrician tells me there is a wide range of normal and that Joseph is still within that acceptable range. I try not to make it worrisome, but I won't lie. I worry.

The sibling of a child with autism is 50% more likely to have the developmental disorder than a child without an autistic sibling. That means, say if the autism rate is 1 in 150, for the sibling of an autistic child's chances are 1 in 75. The numbers don't tell the whole story though. There is still no clear genetic link in this disorder. The causes could very well be environmental as the children often grow up in the same home from conception to birth, consume the same foods, and are exposed to the same toxins. More research is needed.

No one ever told me that when I got pregnant with my second child when Shelby was six months old. Of course Shelby had not been diagnosed then, but looking back, we saw signs very early on. As early as two months. The crying jags that could not be soothed and were more than just purple crying. A stronger than normal aversion to strangers. The need to ALWAYS be tightly swaddled even when most babies had outgrown that phase. The bizarre reaction to sensory stimuli. Regardless, it would not have changed my decision to have another child. And when I did hear this statistic after Joey was born and Shelby had be diagnosed, a month after she was diagnosed, I became pregnant again with Will. Because what do I really have, if I do not have trust in God that He is in control and everything will work out for the best? If God knows we can handle another child with a developmental delay or a physical disability or even a mental or physical illness, He will send that child to us. By the same token, if God feels our arms can hold more children but our hands are full with special needs, any other children will be normally developing.

So, back to Mr. Joseph. Today he said a new word, "duck" and quacked like a duck. I was afraid to tell the pediatrician that he does not imitate or make animal noises, but she said that's mostly an interest thing with kids and not to worry. We have a well-child exam for 30 months scheduled in May and I won't be surprised if I get a referral for evaluation with the CDSA. I was actually surprised we didn't get one in September. I have to trust that whatever the outcome, God knows better than I do what to do and we will be taken care of. In the mean time, I am trying everything I can to help him learn language and be a successful person.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tiny Treasure Tuesday

William--Little man is cutting two teeth on the bottom and it is no laughing matter. It's, in fact, very much a crying one. And where are the Zwieback toast? We can't find them anywhere for a kid who loves these kinds of biscuits! He has pushed up on his hands and knees a few times and scoots on his tummy fairly well these days. He has a big brother to catch up to and he's working to catch up!

Joseph--Joey has recently started saying book (as book-ee for some reason) and has started that toddler phase of repeating EVERYTHING. So when Mommy dropped a pan on her foot and some less than Christian things came out of her mouth, they came out of his mouth too. He loved our trip last weekend to Atlantic Beack/Emerald Isle. He did very well with holding my hand in parking lots and walking independently but staying close by. He's changing right in front of my eyes!

Shelby--Shelby LOVES school. She can't wait to put her bookbag on and get in the car with Daddy to go. They are making great progress with object exchange during meal time as a way to communicate her needs as well as with pulling her pants up and down to sit on the potty (still not "going" on the potty but steps in the right direction). Shelby loves her teachers especially Miss Krysta, the lead teacher, who just graduated from college and is young. Shelby's other teacher, Miss Cheryl, is so calm, nothing phases this mom of teens who has worked in classrooms like Shelby's for eleven years. When I mention that Shelby was being very self-directed and not minding at home, Miss Cheryl knows it's just a phase! Miss Mary, the speech therapist, is steadily getting into Shelby's good graces but is a wonderful and patient woman who is a long way from giving up! Miss Michele, Shelby's OT, is also slowly finding ways to engage Shelby. We are so thankful to have this wonderful support system for her!

For more Tiny Treasures, check out Lerin!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tiny Treasures: Thanksgiving Edition

Will: I am thankful for your sweet dimples and big smile. For your laughter, your insistance that you will crawl, your demands that your brother's cars go into your mouth.

Joey: I am thankful for your obsession with cars and dogs. Your ability to "accessorize," your absolute belief that every bald man is your father and every woman with dark hair is mama, the kisses you give your brother, the wrestling you do with your sister, the way you love to snuggle in Mama and Daddy's bed but know you want to sleep in your own, the fact that you imitate, evey when it gets Mama in trouble.

Shelby: I am thankful that you accept life and puzzle it out in your own way. That you trust us absolutely even though Daddy and I often have no idea what we are doing. That you jump ecstatically for Elmo and Spongebob but can accept Cars or Ratatoiulle if Joey insists. That you jump on the bed and rub the baby's feet when he is upset.

I am thankful God has allowed me to be part of your lives and trusted me with the responsibility to raise you as children of God.

True Mom Confessions 1

I have a favorite celebrity mom. Her name: Tori Spelling.

This weekend I caught a couple of episodes of a marathon of Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. And I learned I have this in common with Tori:

1) We named our children normal names: for me: Shelby Clare, Joseph Patrick and William Christopher; for Tori: Liam Aaron and Stella Doreen.

2) We both felt after our first two children (one a boy and one a girl) that our family was not yet complete and wanted more children despite the world at large telling us we have the perfect set-up.

3) We both love creating the tradition of a family dinner.

4) We both fold our own laundry (gasp!).

5) We both enjoy creating family time.

6) Both of our sons are in love with the movie Cars.

7) We both see family as the #1 priority.

8) We both have incredibly stubborn husbands

9) We are both writers.

10) We both view many of our close friends as family in a very special way.

Now, obviously, some of those many women have in common and obviously there are some differences in our lives, but to me, Tori is a real "Mom." She juggles how to balance work and raising her kids. She struggles to balance life as a mom and life as a wife. I love watching her not for the Hollywood factor, but the mom factor. Watching her teach her son to brush his teeth, that sort of thing.

So, yes, I am truly feeling the sisterhood of mommy with one Victoria Davie Spelling McDermott.

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

I have to confess I am a HUGE Seinfeld fan. That show about nothing? Count me in.

I think one of the funniest episodes deals with Frank Costanza's made up holiday "Festivus." The holiday causes Kramer to lose his job, Jerry to break up with his girlfriend, Elaine to confront the men at the other end of her made up number, and all kinds of mayhem for George, Frank's son.

I think what I love the most about this episode though, is that it addresses what is fundamentally flawed with this time of year. Christmas is a holiday to celebrate Christ's birth. It is not an occasion to give presents first and foremost. Far too many in our world are caught up with material things year-round so why should Christmas be different.

Today, my husband asked his mother for her "Christmas list" and I cringed. Since I have only been back to work since August and he has been out of work nearly a year, I had planned on possibly pictures of our kids as presents. Something we could afford that we know she would want. After my husband asked, I heard my mother-in-law start to rattle off a list of about ten items. My heart sank. A couple of things would be big ticket for us and the others weren't to be found in the dollar store either. My husband could see the look on my face and said, "why don't you narrow that down to one or two and mail it to us." When he got off the phone I sat in silence and pretended to read the paper. My mother-in-law has unfortunately failed to grasp what unemployment means in these times. "We'll find a way to work it out," he said, "we always do."

My mother-in-law is not the only member of my husband's family who still has a Christmas list as an adult, neither is she the only adult I know period who does this. Each year we try to tell my husband's family that the two of us neither want nor need anything and to please spend that money on our kids. With the exception of his younger brother who has a child as well, they all ignore us and a couple downright badger us for items. While I will say, there is a certain spirit involved in gift giving, isn't it supposed to be about the people around the Christmas tree not the presents under it? And call me Scrooge-mommy, but is it wrong to try and encourage my children to understand the real meaning of Christmas not see it as a time to hand out a wishlist?

All of the materialism and secularism surrounding Christmas leaves me wanting...wanting a festivus for the rest of us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Very Simple Pleasures

Finding Mountain Dew Code Red (yes I know it is evil) in a 12 pack.

Snuggling with my boy Joey

Will's smiles and giggles

Getting in and out at the DMV (true story, happened to me on Friday)

Planning to meet up with old friends

Going to a favorite family spot for Thanksgiving weekend

Feelin' It

Already people are asking what I will do for my New Year's Resolution. And already I am thinking of skipping that whole tradition altogether.

I really admire the wish to do better in the new year, but besides weight loss and quitting smoking, I rarely here the resolutions I know people need to make: to spend more time with God, to become better spouses and parents, to enjoy a few minutes of quiet, to read the Bible, to pray the Rosary.

So, I resolve that next year I won't make New Year's Resolutions. Rather I will take to task some of the areas of my spiritual life that are lacking in a quiet and reflective way. I will be accountable to God and myself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William Christopher:
Say it ain't so, can it be? He is six months old! Tomorrow he goes for the big 6 month check-up and shots. And cutting our first tooth. It can't really have been six months, can it?

Joseph Patrick:
Joey is working on gentle affection. He is a little rough with his love for the baby, so we are toning that down. He is playing better with Shelby though.

Shelby Clare:
Shelby has taken notice of her baby brother. She will cup her hands around his face to kiss him. She bounces in front of him and laughs when he does. This is such a pleasant surprise!

Late Start

Things I am thankful for (5 each day!)

1) Cold spaghetti-- I can't explain it but I love it

2) Play-doh-- my two-year-old's new obsession, but we only get to play play-doh when we do something nice for our sister or if we are exceptionally well behaved

3) This recipe that I hope tastes as good as it sounds

4) Stauffer's Family Meals especially for days when I am super exhausted and barely got a nap

5) Family who come to help take care of the kids

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Motherhood in more ways that one

In the recent discussion of finding out a baby's gender, one friend of mine spoke in a really quiet voice that made me think. She simply started to say, "If I were able to have a baby..." she concluded with her feelings on finding out the gender but the beginning of that statement caught my heart.

My own struggle with infertility has colored my view on things such as large families, birth control, and even finding out the gender of a child, but being that I have children now, I sometimes forget those things.

However, this friend is a mother. Her one reason for living in this life was to have a baby. She married her high school sweetheart and after years of not conceiving she was given a reason. Unfortunately it was at that moment the marriage ended. Her husband did not want to try any type of reproductive technology (they are not Catholic) and also ruled out adoption. He only wanted a sure thing. She struggled through the next few years with the knowledge she we would not be a mother but also that she was no longer a wife.

But then, something happened. She met another man and was married and became a mother. No, she was not able to suddenly become pregnant and they did not adopt, but her new husband had children from previous marriages and she bore the title of step-mother and step-grandmother proudly. She was careful not to overstate her position, but her step-children and step-grandchildren love her dearly. She is Grandma "C" for the little ones. She has become good friends with the mothers of her husband's children and while it has always been an easy road, it has been fulfilling. As she told me, "I have the children God always wanted me to have, just not the way I had imagined having them."

I recently read similar sentiments from actresses Sandra Bullock and Betty White that experiencing pregnancy and birth were not necessary for them to feel fulfilled in a mother's role. That the gift of their step-children filled their hearts with love and helped them to feel complete in their role as a mother. I think this is a beautiful gift we tend to overlook because of the circumstances that put these women in their roles.

Divorce is an ugly, ugly thing. I married into a divorced family and the whole "walking on egg shells" bit was new and extremely unpleasant to me (after 11 years it's hardly new anymore, but still unpleasant). And the loss of a spouse the "natural" way is painful beyond words. For children going through these traumas, it can hardly be expected that they will trust a new person in their mother or father's lives. However, there are some men and women special enough to open their hearts to these children and love them without condition no matter what the circumstances. And for those suffering from infertility, a step-child can be a ticket into feeling a love only imagined before.

My husband's step-mother does have a biological child (my husband's half-brother) but that never has changed her loving my husband and his brothers. She introduces them as her sons not to diminish their mother's role, but because that is how she loves them, as if she had carried and birthed them and wiped their runny noses and kissed their boo-boos. So I have witnessed this love first hand.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Does this seem over the top to you?

Over at Faith and Family Live there was a discussion recently about finding out the gender of a baby before it's birth. Among all of the judgment free, this is what we do and why (the numbers were fairly mixed) was this response:

I am a firm believer in waiting to find out. That’s how God intended it. The joy of the reward is intended to be at the end. I actually don’t even think women should be allowed to find out the gender of their babies ahead of time. Finding out beforehand puts too much emphasis on gender, and will eventually lead to gender selected abortions since people feel entitled to mothering a child of each gender since so many people are now only having 2 children. Even if we have a preference one way or another, as Catholics we must trust that God sends us the baby we need. As Catholics, it’s imperative that we understand and accept this if we hope to foster a culture of life and a culture of Trust in God and His blessings. In a culture where the “ideal family” is so often viewed as 1 boy and 1 girl, women now feel entitled to one of each and go to crazy and even take immoral measures to make sure they’re able to have one of each…because they feel it’s their right. I am also the mom of all boys. Don’t spoil the surprise. Open your present at Christmas, which is the way God intended it when He created the mystery of childbearing and childbirth. Plus, it will be more exciting for all of us on the sidelines. ~R. (Childbirth Instructor and Mother)

I'm sorry but I am offended. Not because I am a person who has waited and also found out, but because I am a Catholic. I think it is hardly the place of one of us to tell the others that finding out is anti-Catholic. After all, I don't recall the Holy See sending out any directives instructing women not to find out the sex of their babies before birth. And in India, a country with one of the highest rates of abortion due to the sex of the baby, it has been outlawed for women to find out the sex. Although the author claims it is the way of God not to know, what do we make then of Sarah who was told by an angel, or Elizabeth, or Mary? It is quite a leap to assume that knowledge of the sex of a child in a culture that does not value one sex over another the way many in Asia or Africa do will automatically lead to abortions. Moreover, I have heard many in the pro-life movement state that not finding out the sex of the baby was contradictory to the message of the movement as it gave the baby a value in the eyes of those who are anti-life. Perhaps the author is unknowledgable to the fact that many of us trust in God while knowing the sex of our children. For example, I found out my son was a boy (I was the one who saw it first) at the same visit I was informed he had a possible congenital heart defect and knowing there was nothing I could do but have faith in God brought me great comfort. And my husband and I have always prayed for the child we were meant to have not a boy or girl. Knowing these things does not stop those prayers. In fact, I am unclear as to why this author does not come right out and advocate for no ultrasounds to be offered at all. People who do not find out the sex of their child have aborted for supposed birth defects after all.

I also find it offensive that the author felt the need to list "mother" as one of her credentials as if all the others who posted were not mothers. It was totally unnecessary and seemed to be the mark of a highly insecure person. If I am speaking of my children, and finding out their sexes, is it not implied I am a mother? Why would I need to put that in other people's faces as a reason why my opinion should matter? I am also not sure about including her occupation as a childbirth instructor. Does that mean she is better qualified than other mothers to make this determination about finding out the sex of the baby? She wants to be surprised only at the birth, so does she turn couples out of class who found out the sex of their baby at a 20 week ultrasound or by amniocentesis a bit earlier?

It's a personal decision. The Church has not directed any teachings on it. To tell other's that they are not pro-life because they do or do not know the sex of an unborn child is ludicrous. To flout one's personal and business credentials as proof of her authority on a matter such as this is outrageous. I pray for her that her heart may be lifted of her judgment of others.

Sorry, no comments allowed on this post and comments related to this post on other posts will not be printed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday!

to me!

I have entered a new decade and couldn't have spent it with better people!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William--every day is a new adventure in Will-world. He is superman of the exersaucer and is doing better in his crib although he rolls over in his sleep and HATES that.

Joseph-- This past week has been temper-tantrum city! I hope he grows out of this phase soon. The only solution, unfortunately, is isolation.

Shelby--Shelby still loves school. She is excited to go every morning now.

Sorry this is short and sweet...very busy week!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Photo Album Alternative

Last year I went on a "playdate" on the way to my parents at a friend's house who has two boys, one six months older than Shelby the other 3 months younger than Joey. I was newly pregnant with Will at the time. I was in envy of how "picked up" her house seemed but mostly with a small project she had completed.

On the wall of her playroom was a family picture poster where she had pictures of family members' faces so that her boys would learn the names.

A year later I am doing the same. We have pictures in frames in the hallway. For the reason that there is glass associated, they are not kid friendly. Shelby's shredding has made photo albums impossible. So I am getting around to doing this. With a twist.

Several of our friends live across the country and we rarely get to see them. So a chunk of our posters (yes there is more than one, I have a large family, remember) will be friends who we consider to be family especially to Jeff. I have printed off pictures mainly from facebook with the owners' permission. I'm nowhere near done and already Joey is learning names. I don't want the few occasions we meet with these people to be full of Joey figuring out who they are. So, in the boys' bedroom we are posting these so Joey will know this is "Aunt Sherri" or "Uncle Daryl" when he sees them and just go about the business of visiting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quick Takes---I'm caving to the Pressure lol

1) Whose Kids Are These Anyway?
It's a question I am asking myself more and more these days. I have always wondered why my kids won't eat the "kid staples." They dislike tater tots and macaroni and cheese to name a couple. But sometimes my kids surprise me. Like Joseph with his compassion toward his sister during a thermal-nuclear meltdown. Or Shelby during her playdate yesterday showing steps toward interacting with the other autistic child we had here. Always something new to learn in the Mommy-game!
2) Friends are Friends forever, a lifetime's not too long to live as friends
Recently some of my husband's high school classmates became friends with me. We became fast friends and for many of us very close very quickly. I often wonder if I was born in the wrong time and being around them rouses that suspicion even more. But as one pointed out, I was born in God's time, and although I am "late to the party" so to speak, I have caught up to speed and hit the ground running. Talking to some of these people it's as if I had been around all along and some even forget I wasn't. I am so thankful to God for putting them into our lives.
3) Variety is the spice of life
Joseph has always loved the movie Cars, but I could tell it was starting to wear just a bit so I had introduced 101 Dalmatians (the 1961 animated version) as well as Ratatouille and Finding Nemo. He is now enjoying a good rotation.
4) Oldies but Goodies
After years of searching, Jeff found Snoopy's Reunion on DVD at Wal-Mart. For those unfamiliar with this Charles Schulz animated mini-feature it tells the story of the litter of beagle puppies born at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm and how one, after being returned by a rich little girl who was no longer allowed to keep him, became the pet of Charlie Brown and named Snoopy. After returning to Daisy Hill to find it is no more, Snoopy invites his brothers and sisters from all over the country for a reunion. It's a warm and fuzzy movie that makes no apologies for being that way!
5) Farmville
I'd like to know who suggested to me to get this application on facebook. It is addicting, but very fun. You grow and harvest your crops, tend to your animals and build your farm. Very inspiring for those out there with brown thumbs, no land and little animal sense!
6) Work
Just a quick update. Still going well. 60 days down, 30 to go!
7) Recognition
This week I chose to recognize to management some of my co-workers who I feel do their job with pride and show exceptional teamwork. It brought a smile to my manager's face to hear about things that happen when she's not around and it won a small reward for those I mentioned! A little recognition in our world goes a long way still!
Check out Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Do I Remember The Gift My Faith Is?

It's a question that I realized this week we sometimes dont' think about, but should.

Lerin, as a convert, has been telling her conversion story. It is deeply personal and extremely moving. Her story reminds me of Paul's and although she avoided being knocked off a horse literally, her revelation is no less dramatic. This week, as I read the third installment, (read the first here and the second here) it occurred to me how as a cradle Catholic, I have had the luxury of always accepting what the Church taught as truth (I realize not all cradle Catholics are in this situation of faith and belief, but many, many are) and not having to reconcile the Church's teachings with ones from another faith background. It also occurred to me that cradle Catholics have their own conversion stories as well.

While I don't know that I have a specific conversion story as I feel mine is still going on each and every day of my life that I believe, I do remember stories of friends who felt like they had a solid faith life and believed until suddenly, life showed them just how much they would need that faith by testing it. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:11: When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

It is in this idea of personal growth and change that we begin to see conversion stories take place. It is in recognizing the gift of our faith that we begin to put childish ways behind us and walk as women and men of God.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William--Will is the happiest baby I have ever known. He giggles and smiles constantly. I don't know if that has to do with sleeping through the night or being content with food or both. Or maybe we just humor him. He is the first of our kids who really sleeps through the night already. And he's doing while sharing a room with a two-year-old! Another first for us. A rogue lymph node that had swollen on his head has started to go down. The pediatrician believes it was from some type of insect bite! Will is graduated out of the bumbo chair and into the exersaucer. He is starting solids. Rice cereal was a go. Peas, not so much. Did not like the taste. Carrots we started yesterday and I think he likes them so far! I am debating on our third veggie between green beans, squash and sweet potatoes. One part of me says go green again, the other says go sweet. Can this little one really be turning five months in a week?!

Joseph--Mr Joey. Whoo! Two year check-up. The finger prick for the lead test, you would have thought they were torturing him. He got blood EVERYWHERE. He is healthy and growing and no abnormal speech issues. So we are thrilled. He is also making a lot of progress on sharing. He takes every oppurtunity to share his toys with the "bee-da" as he calls Will. He is also interacting more with Shelby. One of the techniques we use to calm her is to do joint compressions and apply pressure. We are needing to do this less and less but as it was rainy and the kids were sick last week, a meltdown was sure to follow. As Shelby was lying face down on the floor crying, Joey calmly walked to her and gently lowered his weight on her back. He was lying stomach down on her back and talking gibberish to her and rubbing the back of her head and neck. It worked. When he got up and she sat up, she was full of smiles. So was Mommy.

Shelby--Shelby is really liking school. She now gets out of the car waits a quick second for me to kiss her and takes Mr. George (an admin assistant)'s hand and goes to class. No tears or dramatics. She is showing real love of painting and makes art almost every day. She is using a paintbrush which is showing her use of tools. She also attempted to "feed" her Spongebob cuddle pillow. We are so happy with the dramatic change in just a few weeks. Having her in school is a wonderful change for her and doing so much for her delays.

Finally: as Catholic mothers we all struggle to believe we are doing what's best and not compare ourselves to others. For some this comparison leads to disparaging talk and negativity. One Hollywood mom offers this advice:

"I've learned that you cannot judge the way another person is raising their kid. Everybody is just doing the best they can. It's hard to be a mom. I can relate to the anxieties of having other people tell you what to do."
- Maggie Gyllenhaal, on Maggie Gyllenhaal: ‘It’s Hard to Be a Mom’

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William- has moved out of Mommy and Daddy's room. Since he started sleeping 6-8 hour stretches at night he has graduated to the boy room. So far it is a great arrangement!

Joseph- is 2! His second birthday was yesterday! Mommy got him a big boy twin bed and Daddy got him a lightening McQueen car. We enjoyed Carvel ice cream cake this weekend in celebration and had Chinese food for dinner last night.

Shelby- had a great week in pre-school and seems to be adjusting well. She especially enjoys painting.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One of Those People....

Gave a really nice thirtieth anniversary part for her parents last November.
They had a wonderful time with family and friends and were very appreciative of her efforts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One of Those People

That's what I am.

One who helps out when asked, sometimes without asking and usually regrets it either way.

Now, I will admit that when I help off my own volition, if the person didn't ask for it, I'm putting myself out there for complaints or down right ire of the person I was helping.

What does bother me is when someone specifically asks for my help and I follow through only to hear complaints and anger. I don't even expect thanks at this stage in my life. I'm helping because I want to or I know it's the right thing to do. Not for recognition. If I majorly screw something up, I can understand someone being upset. When results are as expected however, it is annoying to say the least to be where the anger and resentment are targeted.

So why do I keep it up? Because somewhere deep down, I believe the best in people. I believe I can make someone's life easier. I believe I can make a difference and be a positive influence. It would be a sad day if I don't feel that way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William- Will had his four month check-up on Friday. My chunky monkey weighs 15 lbs 1 oz.He is healthy and very happy.

Joseph- Joey is a little helper. Always first to tell Mommy when the baby or dogs need something. Unfortunately he did not do well at Will's check-up. You would have thought he was getting the shots! He will be 2 years-old next week!

Shelby- Shelby has completed one week of school. And already had her first sick day. Monday she had a low grade fever and was not eating. Just a minor virus luckily. She is making small gains each day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where I Confess To A Guilty Pleasure

Last night was the series finale of King of the Hill.

Over the years it has become one of my favorite shows on television. I root for Hank's commonsense approach to life. I admire Peggy's confidence and I love Bobby's spirit and optimism.

It was an animated series but it never resorted to the controversy grab that was South Park or Family Guy. Smart writing and strong characters were its hallmarks. It confirmed to me that Mike Judge, its creator, has comic genius beyond just Beavis and Butthead.

I will miss this series having new episodes but I enjoyed its 13 seasons and will love it in reruns on Cartoon Network and Fox.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William: Will was 4 months on the 7th. He is still practicing rolling over and moving to rice cereal.

Joseph: Joey is turning into a cuddle bug. When I rest during the day he loves to snuggle. He and Shelby are getting along better.

Shelby: On the 8th Shelby started Pre-K at the Child Development Center (CDC). Her first day was a huge success.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tiny Treasures Tuesday

William-- Mr. Will is growing bigger before our very eyes. He will be four months old on Monday. Unlike many moms, I will start him on cereal. I did with Joey at the same age. Due to Shelby's size I waited until 6 months with her. I enjoy exclusively breastfeeding, but as I am working now, even with pumping I am seeing a small dip in my supply. This was much more dramatic with my first two. The cereal followed by vegetables and fruits will help us much more than hurt.

Joseph-- Joey is parroting lots of words and phrases. His annunciation leaves something to be desired and as he is turning 2 later this month, I will consult with the pediatrician and see about possibly having him evaluated for speech therapy. It is not a delay but we'd like for him to be understood when he speaks.

Shelby-- Shelby will be starting pre-K soon. We have another meeting this week to finalize where. The univeral symbol associated with autism spectrum disorders is a puzzle and as we are finding, navigating both the disorder, the therapies can be quite puzzling at times. Does anyone know a patron saint of autistic people or neurological disorders?

So, How's It Working Out?

It's a question I get a lot lately.

Whoever is asking is referring to my returning to the workforce and specifically working 3rd shift and watching the kids at home.

My answer is complicated. I love staying home with the kids. I am usually tired, occasionally exhausted. My house is definitely NOT cleaner than it would be if I were not working. I love that we can have family dinners together. I am usually out of time when it comes to blogging.

It is what is best for our family. For now. I'm in the unique position of making the sacrifices that most of us are used to hearing fathers making to provide. I think of pro golfers and NASCAR drivers. Not the Jeff Gordons or Tigers. The unknowns who leave their families for most of the week, most weeks of the year for their families to have a modest home and food. They aren't living the glamorous life of professional athletes, they are eeking out an existence doing something they do well, but many do as well or better.

All in all, I consider myself in a better position than those men and women. Whether I sleep at day or night, it's in my own bed. When I hear my children's voices, it is in person. Jeff and I have the luxury of being able to have a disagreement now and then not thinking that one of us will be gone for the next five days.

So, it's going well. I have a job in a bad economy. I'll have benefits in about 60 days. I am at home to hear Joey repeat lines from Cars and see Will smile and monitor Shelby's therapy. Am I tired? Of course! I have 3 kids in diapers I'd be crazy to think I wouldn't be job or no. But am I blessed beyond my wildest dreams? Yes and then some.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Number One Birthday Wish

No on has crossed this one off the actual list yet...
although Kristen hasn't seen it, and Michael said that he'd follow suit if one of the other Guys took the lead.

The forever gift:

For all of my children and grandchildren
to be faithful servants of God,
praying daily asking forgiveness for failings,
petitioning for special intentions,
and offering honor and
Glory to God in Praise.

Forgiveness, Thanks, Petition and Glory- yep all covered.

Can't wait to open it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Memorial of St. Monica Patroness of Mothers

Prayer to St. Monica

Holy St. Monica, I know that your life on earth as wife, mother, kind grandmother and wise friend
to many women and men made you a saint when you stood before the Throne of God.

As I pray for your intercession, I pray for the courage to overcome fear and to find the Lord in the face of my friends, my neighbors, and especially in my own family members whom I remember in a special way today.

Saint Monica, help me when I grow discouraged in prayer. For you lived in the knowledge that, even in the darkest moments, Our Lord never leaves us. he knows our needs better than we do, and loves us more than we could ever imagine in this world.

May your example help me to bring my prayers to the Lord, ever confident of His tender love and concern... even as I pray for these special intentions today.
St Monica,
Pray for us.

O Lord, in thanksgiving I pray for the gift if my husband,
My daughter , my three sons, my granddaughter and my two grandsons.
I also give thanks for my son in law and daughter in law.
Please bless and keep them always in your tender care and protection.
Please provide for all of their needs in this world,
Grant them the faith and grace to live lives pleasing to you
that together wwe may spend eternity with you in joy and light.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bless Your Home

I was quite moved this week by an NPR News interview of a California woman
who escaped a wildfire as it approached her home.
She said:

" I gathered important papers, and I few personal things,
then I paused in the threshold, turned around, and thanked my house for sheltering me."

Giving thanks.
How old, yet prophetic?
Giving thanks amidst escaping a devastating wildfire in 2009,
and facing enormous loss of worldly belongings.
in my humble opinion,
My dear friends, under the same sun and moon,
in the place where we dwell,
lives a prophet of the Lord.
May God bless your homes abundantly..

We beg you to visit this house
and banish from it
all the deadly powers of the enemy.
May your holy angels dwell here
to keep us in peace,
and may you blessing be upon us always.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
From Christian prayer
Liturgy of the Hours
Night Prayer

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So here we are...

I started a new job working 3rd shift 3 weeks ago. Jeff is back to school today, so it's my first day flying solo while working. Not as rough as I had anticipated, but hey, we're at day one. Which will explain my lack of blogging. Too much to think about too little time, but I would like to share a story of prayer.

Our good friend K is sending her son off to the NC School of Science and Math. Her son is 16. On the 9th she had a going away party for him and he was scheduled to move in on the 15th. Except that at 2 am on the 14th he woke up screaming, unable to walk and doubled over in pain. They rushed him to the ER. He had appendicitis and required immediate, emergency surgery. Then, overnight, he spiked a high temp, had a dilated bowel and his lungs collapsed, although with no pnuemonia. I quickly devised a plan that would have one of us at the hospital in Greenville with K and her son while the other had our kids at her house and held down the fort there. But K refused saying she didn't want to risk any of us picking something up in the hospital and bringing it back to the kids, especially the baby. But she just asked that we pray. And pray hard we did. It helped my confidence level to know that when Jeff broke his neck way back in 1980 he was treated at the same hospital. Around noon, a sudden and dramatic turn of events took place. K's son's fever disappeared as did his other symptoms. And by 4 pm, he was sent home. Today, pending a doctor's approval, he is scheduled to join his classmates at NCSSM.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Word of the Lord...

in any language, is The Word of the Lord.
Last weekend we came home from vacation on Sunday.
We had a Sunday to Sunday rental, so I decided to go to
Mass at 5pm on Sunday, the Spanish Mass.
It's not the first time I've chosen to do this because of weekend scheduling.
I just read the readings of the day as usual before I went.
While talking amongst some Catholic friends, the issue came up.
The consensus was generally:
"If it comes down to the Spanish Mass, we skip because we don't get anything out of it."
I don't judge, because Jesus tells me not to,
whether remembered in Spanish or English,
He suffered, was ridiculed and died on that cross
It went down that way because that's what it took to get my attention.
If I could be a daily communicant it would be my joy of joys.
To me, missing an opportunity to attend the sacrifice of the Mass is forsaking grace.
I go to Mass- English or not,
joyfully and with thanksgiving,
to pay homage and offer worship to the
Holy One of Israel.
My Savior.
My Redeemer.
My Lord, My God.
I am always received with love by His faithful ones,
and in spite of any language barriers,
I "get" a lot out of it.
Grace beholds me.

Peace and All Good.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tiny Treasure Tuesday

William--This week we had our first family vacation as a five-some and Will dipped his baby feet in the ocean for the first time and loved it. On our last day (Sunday) I awoke before the rest of the house and fed Will. Since everyone was still asleep I walked down to the beach with him to watch the sunrise. We had an awesome time! We were joined shortly thereafter by my parents, my brother and my brother's girlfriend (oh and my parents' dog). We enjoyed a walk down to the pier and I got some special Mommy and Will time!

Joseph--Joey showed us he does not like sleeping when away from home last week! And he is scared when F-16 fighter planes fly overhead at intervals overnight. On the flip side, Joey loved watching Cars with his uncles and one uncle's girlfriend.

Shelby--Miss Shelby was liking the beach until Daddy dove under a wave with her. Now she doesn't like baths anymore either. Oh well, we're working on that! She and my brother's girlfriend really hit it off at the beach. Uncle Ben's girlfriend is hoping to become a speech-language pathologist/therapist and knows sign language so she was able to communicate with Shelby a bit. Shelby also sought her out and came to her and it was the first time Shelby had seen or met her which is major for a child with Shelby's diagnosis. Especially since Shelby was in a place she had never been before either!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William--Will is just a smiley, fun-loving baby. He laughs now at his brother and sister. He is also learning to soothe himself to sleep.

Joseph--Mr Joey was a ring-bearer this weekend for his Godmother's wedding. (She is the "Mrs" in Mr and Mrs Armstrong .) He was a relatively well behaved little ringbearer for the entire mass. Pictures were another thing though. And he didn't make it to the reception...but one can only expect so much from a not-quite-two-year-old!

Shelby--Miss Shelby is increasingly learning sign language and toured a possible pre-k site this week. She was very well-behaved and seemed to love the environment she was in!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

If there is anything that can show promise for the future like a baby it's...

a couple on their wedding day!

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Small Successes


1) I have started heavy-duty planning for my 30th birthday party which will be a joint party with 3 others.
2) Miss Shelby is starting to potty train!
3) Preparing for our first trip with 3 next week...won't be here for small successes then, but hoping all is successful for our Emerald Isle trip!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tiny Treasures Tuesday

William--Mr Will is having a slightly stuffy nose. Bring on the saline nose drops! Which he hates, but he tolerates. Lots of smiles and very alert. He is starting to sleep more at night...we're routinely seeing six hour stretches now.

Joseph--Joey is a biting machine :(. Last week he bit Shelby twice in one day and then Jeff. We are hoping this is a short lived phase for little JAWS. His teeth have been bothering him, he is an agonizingly slow teether and refuses teething gels or teethers. We don't want to overdo the ibuprofen either. On the upside, he is still in love with his little "bee-da" (his word for baby now) brother. If Will is fussing in his bouncy seat, Joey is bouncing him gently. If Will is nursing, Joey is gently rubbing his head. If Will is cheerfully enjoying his infant gym, Joey is lying next to him pointing to the different things. We are truly hopeful that they are best friend big brothers!

Shelby--The self-potty training continues! Today she pooped on her potty but not in progress. We keep her in overalls most of the time to minimize accidents that we find out about later! Shelby has continued working with her new speech therapist. She really enjoys the sessions. She is also starting to engage with Will. She is making eye contact with him which is huge. Hopefully this will be on an increasing trajectory.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Small Success

My second loaf of the week: Honey Wheat Sourdough...recipe to follow!

By popular demand

Here is the sourdough recipe I used. We went without the onions this time, but plan on trying them because they look REALLY good!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Word-LESS Wednesday

My first sourdough bread.


for the family of this man who leaves behind a wife, two elementary school aged daughters and two very young sons. His wife is a close friend of mine. The specifics of the story are not as important as the loss of this man to his family. May God hold them in the palm of His hand.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tiny Treasures Tuesday Volume 4

William--Will weighed 13 lbs 1 oz at his 2 month check last week! He is almost double his birth weight now. He is bright-eyed and social. Especially with Joey.

Joseph--Mr Joey had fun with just Daddy at the beach on Sunday. They watched the surf contest and Joey found an Our Lady of Guadalupe Rosary in the surf. We are still encouraging nice and loving hands with Shelby especially.
Shelby--Shelby got through her 3 year check last week. As we expected, gross motor skills are on target but she is delayed in all other areas. She did an outstanding job though at the visit. It was not without tears, but was a vast improvement over past experiences. She is also encouraging potty training by removing her diaper herself when it is wet which is good and bad. Good because she is recognizing when she is going. Bad because, well, at night Mommy and Daddy don't know it's happened and then there are some spots to be cleaned in the morning!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Small Successes

1) We survived the 2 month old shots! Will weighs 13.1 oz. Almost double his birth weight!

2) I made 4th of July dinner! Unfortunately, my husband was not in the picture taking mood, but the salmon cooked perfectly and my parents were all compliments!

3) I applied for a 3rd shift position I think I will really like. So, I'm praying it comes through!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Word-FULL Wednesdays volume 3 part 1

So, yesterday, in case you missed it on ALL the major networks, was Michael Jackson's memorial service for the public. I really wanted to stand on my roof and yell, "ENOUGH ALREADY!" but Jeff wanted to watch, so I grudgingly went along with watching it.

I pretty much could predict all that was going on until the end. I was moved by Jermaine and Marlon's brief but heartfelt eulogies but I broke down in tears as Paris-Michael Katherine gave her loving and brief expression of grief at the loss of her father.

Jeff and I marveled at her beauty and her poise under such a horrible time in her short life. I was struck that this child that her father had protected so vigilantly her entire life chose in his death to publically show her face and share her feelings and an insight into her world. Much like Bindi Irwin, Paris made us know her father's love for her through her love of him. As she collapsed into her Aunt Janet's arms, I found myself praying for her peace in a time of such upheaval.

I did not get the magic look into Jackson's life that would show him to be more like me than different, but I did find confirmation that he did want what was best for his children and that love for them, was the center of his life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tiny Treasures Tuesday volume 3

William--Will is a cooing machine! And he especially loves talking to his big brother Joey. He is following our movements and voices even more and our dogs as well. And he has rolled over exactly one time in his crib. That might have been a fluke though. Big two month check-up tomorrow. Lots of shots.

Joseph--Joey is Mr Conversation although we don't understand most of it. He is trying to say Will or William and loves talking to and about "da-b" as he calls "the baby." We are still working on nice hands. Yesterday for Shelby's birthday we started talking about using nice hands long before the need was present and it seemed to work.

Shelby--Big girl is 3!!! She starts with a new speech therapist today. We are so excited for our big girl. She did very well at the NC 4th of July festival but we weren't able to stay for the parade. Maybe next year!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday Shelby!

Three years ago our hearts grew like we never could have imagined. Now, you are a growing girl and big sister. We love you Miss Shelby Clare.

Friday, July 3, 2009

***in which we reflect each week on one of the fruits of the holy spirit***

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.~Galatians 5:22-23

Kindness is the word of the day. Namely, the kindness of friends when you ask for advice.

I am loathe to ask for advice, in part because I hate doling it out. And I hate doling it out because I believe I am not qualified to make a decision for anyone else in their life. So having children has been a challenge for me, because there are a lot of times when a book or the internet just doesn't seem to have the answer and I am stuck asking friends how they got through the toddler hitting his sister or picky eaters. But over the past years, my friends have been downright gracious when I have asked advice about parenting, marriage or anything else. They have been clear that there is not necessarily a universal right answer (which I knew, but it's always nice to be reminded) and been willing to listen and share their experiences. For me, the fact that they are not critical and genuinely willing to help is the greatest act of kindness of it all because it shows a caring of others' situations.

Sorry for such a short post, but I plan on covering more on kindness next week...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thankful Thursday

1) Shelby's birthday
2) Easy recipes courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis
3) 4 consecutive hours of sleep
4) Perspective
5) Stauffer's Whales
6) Baby smiles
7) Baby coos
8) Baby birds flying the nest in our backyard
9) Joey's babbling
10) Keeping an open mind and trying to see the best in others

Small Successes


1) Will slept for 2 four hour stretches last night! Not really my success so much as his, but very exciting.

2) We transitioned out of the infant/toddler program and into the preschool program for Shelby. Her IEP has been written and now she is getting ready for school.

3) I have a new idea for 4th of July dinner and cake for Shelby. Can't wait to post pictures!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Word-FULL Wednesday

Over the last week, I have been challenged when thinking of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

Both were iconic images, both were legendary performers and both were flawed human beings.

Yesterday I told Jeff that Michael Jackson was a legendary performer, and I wanted to believe that despite all his controversy he had been a good father and perhaps that was the reason his mother Katherine took care of her grandchildren.

The same day I finally saw the footage of Redmond O'Neal visiting his mother while in handcuffs and shackles. His arrest and imprisonment was kept from her and his father Ryan advised him not to rattle the chains as his mother did not know. My eyes started watering as I heard him call her Mommy and tell her it was her son there.

How do we remember these people? Is Michael the young boy who sang with Diana Ross and his brothers, the man who slept in oxygen chambers on a glorified amusement park, a child predator? Is Farrah the girl in the red bathing suit, an angel, the abused woman from the Burning Bed, the confused woman on David Letterman? Or are they someone else altogether?

I wish I could have seen an image of Michael like I did of Farrah at the end. The image of her clutching her rosary and praying and crossing herself before an MRI. Something that showed me that underneath it all was a person, like me; a sinner seeking redemption, like me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tiny Treasures Tuesday volume 2

William Christopher--this little boy weighs 12 lbs 2 oz. He has gained almost 5 full pounds since birth with the help of Mommy's high octane breastmilk (as my ob calls it!). He is giving us real smiles when he sees our faces (including the kids!) and hears our voices. He is cooing and sleeping longer intervals (after another growth spurt!) and more often in his crib. I don't mind the co-sleeping, but he has problems nursing while lying down and usually prefers I sit up, which is hard for me. We are figuring it out though!

Joseph Patrick-- Mr Joey is working on keeping his hands to himself. We are trying to encourage "loving hands" which he uses very well with Will but not so well with Shelby. He is so sweet wanting to hold Will and kiss him and then he turns around and hits Shelby and pulls her hair! He does make every day an adventure though.

I blogged before about Joey seeing pictures of his father with hair and shaking his head no and saying "Not Daddy." Well, we have been working on this and I finally got him to say Daddy when seeing Jeff's high school senior picture, but then he went on to point to pictures of girls and say "Daddy." I think I am giving this up for now...

Shelby Clare--Shelby had her speech evaluation last week. She was, unfortunately, uncooperative, but the speech/language pathologist completed a questionaire with me to try and get a better picture of Shelby's abilities. In going through the list, I was surprised to notice some of the gains Shelby has made that I hadn' t thought about. It made me feel really good about her progress. I have accepted that there is the possibility that Shelby might not ever speak, but her achievements do give me reason to celebrate! And my big girl will be 3 next Monday!!!! I cannot believe it has been three years already since we rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night when my water broke for an emergency c-section. Who would have thought that 3 years later, she would have 2 little brothers and be getting ready for pre-k. God has truly blessed us.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Baby Names

Baby names are a favorite topic of mine, my husbands and at least one friend. We discuss names we like and dislike irrespective of if we are expecting, planning, trying or not for a new baby. I have to admit, I breathed a sigh of relief when they told me that Will was a boy because we already had a name picked out and we did not have any idea what girl name to choose.

Our first two children were not named until their births. With our daughter that was partly because we did not know the sex of the baby and with our first son, well, my husband was having a lot of difficulty coming to a name. We are asked constantly why we have chosen the names we have. I know that I have discussed Will's name on the blog before, but not Shelby and Joey's.

Shelby Clare--the name Shelby did, in fact, come from the movie Steel Magnolias. My husband loved the movie and the name fit. I had wanted a saint name for her middle name and we agreed we liked the name Clare and named her after Clare of Assisi, a saint we also loved.

Joseph Patrick--the name Joseph means "God will add another child" so it fit for a second child and of course we named him as well after the foster father of our savior. Patrick, first of all fit with Joseph, but is also the patron saint of Ireland, the homeland of Joey's Godmother.

I like naming my children after saints, however, I don't make it a pre-requisite and like to cover it in either a first or middle name. I am married to a non-Catholic who is very generous in naming requirements. That being said, he has opinions too. If I like a name I think he might not go for, I have to come up with my argument as to why he should like it. A good example is the name "Helena" which I love because of St Helena, mother of the Emporer Constantine. So, I appealed to his sense of family. His father's aunt's name was Helen.

So, have we discussed names since Will was born? You better believe it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fruitful Fridays

***in which we reflect each week on one of the fruits of the holy spirit***

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.
~Galatians 5:22-23

This week I am focusing on generosity. It has been shown to me in so many ways over the past week. I have wonderful, amazing friends who were willing to patiently listen to me and gave of their time to do so. I have one friend who created a Mr. Linky to help drive traffic over to my blog. She has many followers and was generous enough to share!

I also have been thinking of the death of Farrah Fawcett and how in her final days she was so generous with the public in letting them see her through the ups and downs and trials of cancer. It taught so many about suffering and dying.

In the death of Michael Jackson I have seen the tragedy of his life but also the generosity he showed in sharing his music and talent with the world.

Mostly, though, I have been focused on the generosity of my husband. We don't often remember that our spouses are incredibly generous in the fact that they are willing to share their lives with us. Their families. Their careers. Their hopes and their dreams. My husband is working toward becoming a teacher and has been generous in the burden of attaining that dream. I know, that kind of sounds like an insult but it's not. You see, my husband is a fiercely independent man. He likes acheivement and he likes to say he did it alone. So when he started on this journey to teach just over 3 years ago, I offered to help and he was initially quick to say thanks, but no thanks. That started to change slowly once he started into his course work. To me, his coming to me and saying, I can't do this alone, I need your help was generous because I needed to be needed in that way, although I didn't realize it all at once. It allowed me to share some of my strengths with him and feel appreciated for them. I know he doesn't realize it as generosity, but I do and I think that makes a difference in our marriage.

So, what about you? Has anyone been generous to you in a memorable way?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Okay, stealing again from Violinmama this time! Here are five things I am very thankful for this week. Now, the rules don't state they have to be profound, so not everything is!

1) Will is getting a more normal nighttime sleep routine. Which is awesome because it means we get to walk before it gets too hot and I have more energy both from sleep and walking to keep up with the toddlers!

2) After some personal drama last week, I have found out not only that I married a man who loves me, but respects me, my feelings and our kids. And much more than I could ever have known. I cannot put a value on that and know it was a gift from God.

3) I have found time to start blogging more regularly again. I don't know how or why, and I don't ask! I'm just grateful!

4) I had one super-productive cleaning day out of this week. I know, it was just one, but man did it feel good!

5) I (unlike some others in my family who shall remain nameless) did not forget Father's Day. We didn't do cards this year. We shared a day together and fun meals at home with the exception of running out to McDonald's for a quick Father's Day lunch (I know, we're vying for a spot on the most posh family list). Part of the Father's Day gift this year was letting Daddy know that about his Father's Day/Birthday present for next year here! Hopefully he will have as much fun with our kids as he did as a kid there.


Small Successes

1) Walking is now a daily activity at least once, sometimes twice! And that's with a record June heatwave!

2) Our garden is blooming! Despite some unfortunate incidences with wilt, mold and pests (among those being the 19 month old who enjoys pulling veggies LONG before they are ready) we have had delicious snap peas, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and LOTS of cucumbers!

3) Praise God Shelby's evaluations are complete and her IEP meeting set for a week from now. Despite all the worry and hair pulling, she will start EC Pre-K this fall!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Word-FULL Wednesday

In the world that brought us a reality show-cum-marriage destroying show of Jon & Kate Plus 8, last night I found comfort in Michelle Duggar.

I have some "Duggar issues" but Michelle has always been my favorite and earned a special place in my heart. Sweet, genuine and devoted are words that come to mind. And it helps that she's the one without a "J." She has truly taken to heart the idea of "judge not, lest though be judged" as witnessed by her refusals to denigrate octo-mom or Kate Gosselin and I can tell by her countenance when she speaks of them she is praying for all in the families involved. Soft-spoken, but firm and loving...what a mother should be regardless of family size and what I strive for.

What warmed my heart last night was Michelle and her family visiting a local public school. They were sharing their love of reading and authors with the students. Michelle shook the hand of each student ambassador and thanked them for inviting her family to the school. There was one awkward moment when the students, at their morning assembly, danced which the Baptist Duggars do not do. When asked about this, Michelle responded that it got the children moving and helped them to focus and concentrate and it was a strategy just like some she used to help her children. She didn't say anything pro-or anti dancing. It was what it was. When she described the children, she used the word, obedient which I liked as it was a mother's word, not an educator's (such as compliant) and indicated a motherly nature toward this large group of children. But what really set my heart right was when she described why their family homeschooled but then added she was not anti-public school and felt there was a well-warranted need for public education and some wonderful things happening because of it and wonderful teachers working with children. Wow, here was the woman many hold up as the home-school icon saying basically, "Do what works for your family." Jim-Bob corroborated this idea by discussing that some of his daughters wanted to become mid-wives and would need further education which he supported and that he had to trust that they had given these girls a solid foundation so that when faced with secular trials, they were ready.

What Michelle did in this episode was to empower parents with the knowledge, that as long as they were doing the best they could by their children, and that the best would be defined differently by each family, it was enough. And that at some point, you have to send your children off into the world and know what you taught them was right and let them stand on their own feet. She illustrated this by telling how when Josh and Anna was married it was "leave and cleave" and that together, Josh and Anna had to make their own way with the foundation that was laid by their families.

It warmed my heart to see someone of such high profile and strong moral conviction speak with common-sense.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tiny Treasures Tuesday

So, I'm stealing from Lerin here!

William---my big boy! He is getting so long I can barely wear him in the snugli now or any other baby wearing contraption. Unfortunately he is suffering from colic as well whenever we give him a bottle of breastmilk. I purchased some Playtex nurser bottles as a last resort. We hope they work!

Joseph--is a friend to the animals. We have some birds that made a nest in a small tree in our backyard and now have babies. Joey chases our bird dog Charlie away from the tree. Charlie is not going after the nest, but he makes the mama a nervous wreck!

Shelby--our big girl has a speech evaluation with the school system tomorrow for her to start Pre-K and sadly, her current speech therapist is moving across the country so in the mean time we will start with a new one!

Very short today, but I'm excited to get to post SOMETHING!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Small Successes


1)Ok, it was two Saturdays ago now, but I missed last week, we got baby Will christened. He was one of eight at the service and did well considering!

2)Jeff and I have started a daily fitness routine. Ok, it's walking, nothing special, but we are feeling the burn!

3)I have been helping Jeff with his class reunion plans. The two guys who are heading up the reunion committee have never planned anything more elaborate than byob barbecues and are overwhelmed, so Jeff, with his chef and event background has stepped in to help which means I am helping too mostly with emailing locations and checking with people who know they want to attend to see when next year is good for them to travel. This goes against all my class reunion feelings, but it makes my husband happy, so I'm trying!

4) (I'm on a roll here) We are trying new recipes and new meals! We still have our standbys but are loving a few new things we have been emboldened to try!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And on this Feast of the Most Holy Trinity...

we welcome a new Catholic Christian, William Christopher Herrett. Here he is being held by Father Bob with his Godparents, Matt and Gina and Mommy and Daddy. I'm holding Gina's daughter Jayla who was standing in in this picture for Shelby and Joey who were about to spontaneously combust after this "mass" baptism (8!) service.

"Go...and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

~Matthew 28:19 from today's Gospel

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Small Successes


1)Today we have a four week old! His last day as a newborn. He already has gained more than a pound over his birth weight and grown at least one inch longer. As I held him and his 20-month-old brother on my lap yesterday, I wished I could keep both of them just as they are now. But each day brings new growth and new gifts. And I am so thankful for that!

2)This Saturday, Will will be baptized! We are so excited to have our third child become part of the Church! I actually had some preparations made almost a month before he was born, which is major on my part. Today we start to finish getting the house ready!

3) We are having good progress with Shelby's speech therapy using computer games. They are helping increase her attention span and also she is also practicing pointing to the pictures. Another important step to speech.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Because the Holy Spirit inspired me on a Father's Day gift...

for my Dad but not a post for today :), here is a post from Mom's other blog.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Small Successes


1) We are now at three weeks with three kids! And no one has been forgotton or otherwise neglected. In fact, the love is still multiplying!

2)Our two year old is now opening doors like a pro, but we are on top of it enough that she has not escaped outdoors!

3) Our quest to limit toddler television time, despite being sorely tested by bad weather, is working! I don't know how or why, but our kids are watching less and less.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For Real?

On Monday, May 18 the Raleigh News and Observer ran an article entitled "Parents Nurture non Belief". The article explains that group gathers on Sundays to form community and support one another. The group is comprised of people who consider themselves atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, or people who just don't believe in organized religion. The purpose of their congregation is to support one another in nurturing non belief in their children.
For real?
There are people who put effort into teaching their children to not believe?
How hard is that?
Some of the folks report that they are disillusioned and distrust religious organizations because of corruption.
Well, hello folks!
Wherever there is an organization of humans,religious or not, there is sin.
It's in our nature.
There is greed, there is abuse, there is impropriety and sometimes even murder.
Look at what happened to Jesus.
I don't feel outrage, just sadness.
These people are exercising their God given free will.
I can't imagine my life without God.
Ironically, unbelief is a belief.
It just doesn't require faith.
Since the story ran there have been several heated responses in the letters to the editor representing both sides. One of the most critical was written by Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham. Ms. Lotz writes:
"If there is one true living God who created us to know Him in a
personal, loving relationship, then parents who nurture unbelief
in their children are guilty of committing the ultimate child abuse.
Frankly, I see her point.
But when I look to My Savior, Jesus Christ, I hear,
"Father, forgive them. They know not what they do."
I will faithfully pray for them whether they believe or not.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Let Us Remember

O Lord,
Today we remember and give thanks in a special way
for all men and women
serving in the armed forces for our protection.
We also remember with gratidude
those whom have retired and
those who have died,
especially those who gave their lives defending our freedom.
We ask you to bless, guide and protect those in this world,
and commit the faithful departed
to the peace that is forever,
in Your Awesome Presence.
For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are Yours,
now and forever more,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Small Successes


1) Today we have a two week old! We survived a week by ourselves as a family of five. Three of which are children. Our house hasn't fallen into neglect. Every child is being fed, bathed, dressed, etc on schedule. We have been blessed this time with a newborn who loves to sleep and boy does that help with two super-active toddlers!

2) My bathroom is somewhat organized. As organized as can be expected with all the newborn clothes in there, but that is where the organization started. We welcomed this newborn sans dresser, so we are using wicker baskets to hold his clothes. I keep them rotating and so far, we have not gotten out of control. Yeah!

3) I had a semi-date night with my husband. The kids were still awake but last night we watched Paul Blart Mall Cop, which is too violent for kids and inappropriate for them as well, (ours were watching their own movie in another room), but we enjoyed laughing at some of the silliness and liked the endearing relationship between the main character and his daughter.