Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Drew!!

I always feel compelled to regale the story of Drew's birth year after year. It's lucky I don't look back and think of it as some overly dramatic/traumatic event that scarred me, leaving me never wanting more children - obviously that wasn't the case or we wouldn't have Josie; but, it does make me think about how good God helps us navigate those traumatic moments in our lives. At different points through the day, I thought about his birth and, in particular, the parts that were genuinely scary. The umbilical cord around his neck was a pretty big one, but even in the moment I didn't panic. I just acted on instinct and got the job done. The other scary moment was more for Neil than me. It was when he didn't know if Drew was breathing and called 911. I knew he was breathing because he was under my jacket and I could hear his short, quickened breaths.

He's come a long way and today was a low-key birthday for him. With Thanksgiving tomorrow and a pre-birthday celebration with cousins this past weekend, we opted for a brownie cake {at his insistence instead of an actual birthday cake} which he helped me make, an obstacle course that the older kids designed for him and a collection of 3s that the kids taped all over the house. He had a blast running around the house looking for all of the 3s and Jonathan had fun taping them in unique places. Here are a few pictures from his birthday for you to enjoy. :)

{Drew and Jonathan set up for dominos}
{not the game, though...}
{this was pretty much how Drew's day went - uncooperative and refusing to turn 3!}
{one of the few pics where he cooperated - unfortunately, it didn't last long enough!}
{our home made place mat for Drew's birthday}
{Josie enjoys some Bumbo time while we eat dinner}
{Drew's brownie cake that he helped me make}
{Drew got a football! It was perfect considering he loves to throw the ball all day!}
{does this mean we have to get him a car now??}
{I'm noticing a theme here, Gramma and Paka!}
{Josie - just hangin' around upside down with Daddy}
{Drew loves his new movie!}

Monday, November 22, 2010

A lesson in civic duty

On election day, the kids had an opportunity to witness a wonderful right afforded to all American citizens aged 18 and over. We are fortunate, in that our precinct is across the street from us at one of the local schools. I took Jonathan with me so he could see how our voting system works. I prepped him ahead of time, showed him a list of candidates I would be voting on, discussed what fuels our choices and how important this role is as Americans. I also informed him of proper etiquette while he waited for me to fill out the ballot and reminded him gently not to pepper me with his usual zealous eleventy billion questions such as, 'who are you voting for, MOM?', 'who do you think THEY'RE voting for, MOM?', 'I think everyone should vote for a pro-life person, MOM!' - you get the idea, lol.

This is a huge check in the "plus" column of homeschooling. Any time I've taken the kids with me to vote, they have been too young to understand or the older ones were in school and didn't get to witness it. This time, Jonathan got to help me place the ballot in the box and he took an 'I voted' sticker to put on his shirt.

When Neil got home, he headed over to the precinct taking Jonathan and Paige with him this time. Ashley opted out only b/c of laundry in the dryer.

Without being prompted, the kids went upstairs and made their own ballots and played 'Election Day'. Here are a couple of the "ballets" that Jonathan came up with.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Comedy of Baptism

{My own baptism gown - and now, all three girls have been baptized in it as well}

{she slept the entire time}
Although the title of this post is a bit misleading, the story of Josie's Baptism quite literally lasts for eleven weeks.
{our friends, the Spies, were kind enough to be our proxy godparents for the blessed event}
With each child, I have found an increasing desire to have our tiny babes baptized as soon as reasonably possible. After all, there really is no good reason to deny them the graces that God so earnestly wants all His children to have. And so, having spent the past two years working within the parish in various ministries and programs, I wanted to make sure that we had a clear path to Josie's official welcome into God's family. Before she was born, her godparents were chosen and all paperwork was filed. This allowed us to focus on the beauty of the sacrament. The final installment in the baptism process was figuring out the 'party' angle of it; the reception. After much deliberation we decided that the importance of the sacrament outweighed the party angle considering it would take longer to plan due to invites, location, food, etc.

We had the devil knocked out of her on August 28.
{Ashley and baby sister sharing a tender moment}

That's where the story gets interesting.
{family friend, Amy, and Jonathan with Josie}
Let me back up just a tad and explain this relationship. Brittany is a friend I met through a group that Ashley used to participate in, Challenge. I don't remember her role at the time, but we met a couple of times at {for lack of a better word} "executive board" meeting for this group. I found out through friendly chat that she had a passion for photography too. Nothing draws me like a moth to the light than photography or my kids or my Faith. We compared notes on equipment and talked about actions among other things. I always lament the fact that when family events come up, I'm typically behind the camera which, don't get me wrong, I love for the most part. But once in a while, momma needs to get in a coupla frames, ya dig? ;)

{Andrew being his usual self at church - adorable with just a pinch of sneaky}
So, we were chatting on FB one day and I mentioned when the baptism would be and Brittany most graciously offered to come photograph our blessed event.
A week or so passed and she posted the thumbnails on her website and sent me a picture to post on Facebook. I was so excited to see the pictures that I could hardly wait for the disc to arrive in the mail. Life happened and it took a while for the first disc to get mailed out. I was so excited to know it would arrive in the mail soon! The day it arrived I opened up the disc all ready to upload the pics and realized that it had not traveled all. The disc was completely damaged. I had a disc mailer that I stamped and mailed via UPS - it did not arrive. We waited and waited for it to arrive and it never did.
It became a running joke.
This evening, in a surprise, Brittany was in town and stopped by to hand deliver the disc - complete with bubble wrap.
{Deacon Richard with Josie - of the six children baptized that day, she was the youngest}

{"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"}
Eleven weeks in the making and the pictures are finally and safely uploaded and ready for me to share.
{A very good friend, Theresa, who has become one of my many mentors of the Faith}

I want to send out a big THANK YOU to Brittany for her persistence when it seemed like this photo exchange would never happen. :)
{The oil of catachumens is placed on her chest using the sign of the cross to anoint her}
{The oil of chrism is placed on her forehead}

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Chinese Birthday, Josie!

{"Happy Birthday" in Chinese}

Three short months ago, we welcomed our sweet Josie into the family. Ashley pointed out that the third month is also celebrated as a Chinese Birthday, so I thought it deserved extra special attention. Today, she showed us a little bit of her personality in her pictures. In the past month, Josie has started talking to us, including squeals of delight and coos. My personal favorite is the sneeze followed by a kind of forced 'coo'. She loves to smile, laugh and talk and she loves it when we do the same for her.

One of the things that I've loved about having her most or, rather, enjoying that she's #5 is that there is almost never a shortage of hands to hold her. Everyone wants to lavish love on her!

Here are a few pictures from her 'photo shoot' today. I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so I am posting a few different pictures. Maybe you can help me decide which is her best "three month" photo? I had Ashley help me out as my apprentice. The very first picture is one she took that I loved. I am prepping her to take over as 'family photographer.' :)

{Ashley's practice shot of Josie before the shoot}
{Ashley refers to her baby sis as her 'mini me', so here they are together - a rare treat for Ashley to let me photograph her these days!}
{feel the love...and the slobber bubbles}

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The art of friendships and the faith

This is a departure from the usual pic fest I do. This post is more about a revelation I've been going through and subsequently been thinking about in my daily life more.

I remember as a kid we used to say, with genuine sincerity, who was our absolute number one best friend. There were first best friends, second best friends, third get the idea. We also talked in 'like' vs. 'like like' vs. 'like like like' to describe our friendships. The world of Facebook sort of brings that childlike {and sometimes childish} behavior in full view. I guess I haven't thought about friendships in varying levels of commitment or like or whathaveyou in a very long time. And I also suppose, because I've spent {minus seven months after my 18th birthday} my entire adult life online and involved in various chat rooms, going back to the old AOL days, to the now ever-so-sophisticated forums where I spend the majority of my time debating, discussing and sharing my love of Catholicism, I've never considered online friends really any different than my IRL friends {in real life}.

It wasn't until very recently that I decided the two should mix. It was born out of a need that some IRL friends had identified. Catholic support among moms is difficult to come by, particularly for those of us who live in areas that struggle with orthodoxy, or the desire and yearning to live in accord with Church teaching. Catholicism, in and of itself, may well be the only institution in the world that it is deemed ok {and even accepted as a 'good'} to criticize, persecute, ridicule and essentially spew hatred towards. When there is some religious affliction presented, it is almost always pointed back to our Church {and no, I won't be diving into the divine and human natures of the bride of Christ in this particular post}, but knowing how the world treats what we hold most dear, it is no surprise that it is difficult for Catholic moms to find genuine support when the rest of the world would rather see us give into the secular demands of life.

My online Catholic community has borne some of the strongest friendships I have. To date, I've only met one IRL and hope to meet more in the future. If I have questions about a particular topic, I almost always know who I can tap into for answers or advice, links to certain websites, or just to vent about the one-in-a-zillion daily struggles I have. Having spent all this time in my adult life online forging friendships and talking about the Faith {yes, I realize how nerdy this is!} in the past seven years, I've never really thought about how much moms might need that safe haven to talk about the Faith, right down to the lighter side of things. I don't think I could say I took it for granted, but maybe never thought about it all that much. I didn't realize how much of a need there was for it until I started to see Catholic blogging mommas talking about it.

Maybe it's time I start finding a way to converge the two in a way that brings even more Catholic moms together to be able to talk about things they may not be able to in their everyday life with the folks they know.