Tuesday, February 17

Valentine's Week

Well, I've been out for a week or two.  Caeli and Jack seemed to have gotten over their illnesses but this mama is still tired.  Jack was down for about 4 days with a throw-up/nausea bug, and it took Caeli a good 8 or 9 days to start acting totally like herself again.  But as of a few days ago, her snotty nose is back with a vengeance!  She's mostly acting like herself, but with a cough and runny nose.  Which means she doesn't sleep very well... Which means mama is sleepy!

She did manage to have a few good days in between colds though.  This was on the Monday before Valentine's Day, after a little get-together with other homeschooling families for a quick Valentine exchange.  The weather was an unusual 80 degrees and the afternoon was gorgeous.  I had to take my babies to the park.

The next day was also nice, a little cool in the morning but Beth had science class at the museum so I took the boys and Caeli to the zoo.  Caeli got a little too close to a chimpanzee for her comfort, and the boys had a great time running around with their two friends.

Thursday we had another Valentine exchange at co-op, then PawPaw stopped by for a quick visit!  He was in Texas for business and chose to spend the night with us before flying home.  When we got home from co-op, the kids dragged him outside and they played games with him for a couple of hours.  

Friday we had Pickwick and Blue Knights.  Beth was the last girl left sewing a red heart to give away as a gift.

and the boys had a lesson on St. Valentine at the park.

And that night the kids had their first soccer practice!

Saturday morning, Jack's game was at 8 am.  Caeli had a rough night the night before so I stayed home with her, but they all came home bearing good news of Jack scoring a goal, and they also brought Uncle Dan and Cousin Evan!  We were able to visit for a couple of hours before going out to Beth's noon game and Luke's 2 pm game.

After soccer was over we came home to get ready for our annual family dinner at P.F. Changs.  This was our 9th year to take our children their for a family date, as usual we all dressed up!  It was busier than normal this year, probably because it was on a Saturday, but we got in for dinner around 5 pm.  They stuck us in a huge corner booth, which is perfect for us!

The day didn't end there!  Around 6:30 we headed over to our family dance with some friends, and yet another Valentine exchange.   We arrived a little late and had to leave early- we were all exhausted!  Unfortunately we didn't get to stay late enough to dance, and the kids were disappointed, but Ryan and I could hardly keep our eyes open after such a long day!

It was an unusually beautiful weather week, which helped keep my February Blues away, but it was busy.  I've concluded that Valentine's Day, with the exception of PF Changs, is soooo overrated.  I'm happy to not cut another heart for a year!  And all the candy and sweets!  It's just too much for me!  But the kids enjoy it... sigh... the things I do for them. ;-)

Monday, February 2

Sick Babies and a Long Weekend

(Deep breath.  Another sip of wine.)

My poor Caeli got a snotty nose last Wednesday, the day I drove in to the city to visit our parish's home school co-op and meet with our priest.  I had lunch with a friend and she pointed out Caeli's nose- one of those "things" that drive me nuts is a snotty-nosed baby- and of course Caeli's was so gross!  She got worse on Thursday, and so I brought her in to our family doctor on Friday.  A swab confirmed RSV and a peek in her ears confirmed a double ear infection.  No wonder she had seemed so lethargic and miserable.  Her fever hadn't been too high but it was enough to make her seem so very sick. 

Dozing in and out of sleep.
 We treated her ears with ibuprofen to lessen the swelling and of course that lowered her fever as well, but her nose and cough continued to progress.  She and I stayed home from a birthday party on Saturday (the weather was a little too cool for a sick baby) while Ryan and the kids got to go have some fun!

Sunday was a big day for our parish- the consecration of the new chancery!  The day started early with Sunday school (we were late!), high mass with two Cardinals in attendance (super cool), then lunch and playtime on church grounds for the afternoon.  All week long the weather had been predicted to be rainy but it stayed dry!  At 4 pm we attended Evensong (evening prayer in the Anglican use that is sung) and processed to the new building to witness the blessing and attend a reception.  I can't even describe the great procession, led by Cardinal Levada and attended by over 30 priests, our church's beautiful choir, Knights of Columbus, and all of the laity.  It was spiritually stirring to witness Evensong,evening prayer similar to Vespers.  (I am learning so much about these traditions held sacred by Catholics before the schism of the Church of England, but reverently preserved through all of these years until being welcomed home by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.  It's very humbling to this cradle Catholic who thought she knew it all!)

Beautiful children from 3 families, 11 in a row.  They are such good children, we are so blessed to call them friends!

All Jack really wanted was to meet a priest with a "bishops hat."  Unfortunately we didn't get to introduce him to one of the two Cardinals in attendance.  Maybe next time!

This was only a tiny part of the procession- the Knights of Columbus and part of the choir.  My photos do not do it justice.
Part of the outdoor shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham, with the beautiful new Chancery in the background.

The reception included appetizers and desserts, wine and coffee, and of course our children running around playing in the courtyard, having the times of their lives.  They love this place, and most likely at this point because they get to spend mornings and afternoons with their friends.  But I think it's a little more than that too.  I have no doubt that this is the right place for our family!

We shut the place down as usual (they had to turn the lights out on us!) and we came home late and went straight to bed.  12 hours at church just wore them out!

Maybe we wore Jack out too much, as today he woke up at 6 am needing to throw up.  And he's been sick all day, not even able to keep down a few sips of water.  But since it's not respiratory, it's not what Caeli has been sick with.  Yesterday and today she has clearly been on the mend, off the ibuprofen and pretty close to acting like her happy little self.  But poor Jack spent the day on the couch, in-and-out of consciousness.  Ryan and I both felt a little off today too but I'm hoping and praying that tomorrow everyone will wake up healthy.  I'm exhausted from having a sick, clingy, nursing-around-the-clock baby, and I'm ready for a little bit of normal life!

Monday, January 26

Why Restless?

After feeling like my blog needed a change, I've spent a few weeks pondering and debating.  I was leaning toward some titles that dealt with motherhood because that's what seemed appropriate. I mostly write about being a mother, it's pretty much all I do all day!  The struggle of choosing joy and charity when I just want to yell, the struggle of doing my work with a grateful heart, dealing with jealousy of others who send their kids off to school when I just want to take a day off... Yes, motherhood is pretty much my life!

Being a wife is important too.  I think it's really even more important than my vocation as a mom.  I am sacramentally bound to my Love, and the state of our family reflects the state of our marriage.  I choose him again and again every day.

But above all, I realized, I am creature created by God.  As I flipped through my prayer journals from the years and years behind me (I found some the other day dated back to high school!) I realized that I have always been seeking to know Him more fully.  There is a real struggle to find my peace in the Lord instead of in other people, for it is in Him and only in Him that I will find my true meaning.  Sometimes I get caught up in life- which is pretty easy when there are four little souls who demand my attention all day long- and I search for happiness elsewhere.

I've always felt that God is calling me to something more, something greater.  It could be argued that my Catholic formation within a lay movement of the church as brought out this zealousness and fire from me (but quite a bit of scrupulosity too).  Over and over again I read and am told that my calling in life right now is first and foremost to be a mom.  I agree mostly; God has given me my children (these specific children) and I'm responsible for their souls, health, education, and well-being while they're under my care.  But I don't think that means I have to forget who I am as a woman- as God's child.

He wants me to seek Him too.  He's calling me and every day I need to say yes.  Right now He calls me in the form of a mother, as one who gives completely and totally of herself for the care of her children.  (Sometimes I think I missed a calling to be a cloistered nun!)  As I come out of the phase of early childhood and I can see everything in my life a little more clearly without the influence of hormones, I realize that I'm tired of reading books about motherhood, scheduling my day effectively, and just general "how to" books.  I miss being spiritually nourished. 

It's not that time for me right now though.  I can't leave my family for a week-long silent retreat, or even attend daily mass with them on a regular basis.  I have to find Him right here in my home, amongst the noise and the giggles.  He is in the giggles.

I chose "Restless" as the title for my blog because it reminds me of the God-shaped hole in my heart that I constantly try to fill with people and things- things of this world.  But our souls were not made for this world, they were made for God.  God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world... And be with Him forever in heaven.  I love that the simple things I'm teaching my children have such a profound effect on me.

I find peace in knowing that I'm following His will for me at this stage in my life, but I know I will always be restless for Him.

Sunday, January 25

Christmas photos are up

I finally added all of our Christmas pictures!  I posted them yesterday but I added them to December- here's the link or you could scroll down a bit to find them!

Tuesday, January 20

Reflections on Recovery

The first year after having a baby has traditionally been very difficult on me.  Mentally and emotionally only, I feel so very blessed that I've never had to deal with a painful physical recovery.  This is no secret- I'll openly talk with anyone about it because I want to help dispel the idea that postpartum baby blues or depression is something to be ashamed of.  It's not.

As I looked at the calendar and  planned for Caeli's first birthday, I couldn't help but be emotional and reflective.  That time last year I was SO done with being pregnant.  Overdue, tired, probably a bit grumpy, emotional, and full.  Full of child, full of anticipation, and full of excitement- would this baby be a boy or girl?  Who would s/he be?  What name would we give this child, our fourth to be born into our arms?  What would my birth be like- would I have an unplanned home birth?!

She eventually came... She had to one way or another, right?  Almost two long weeks past her due date.  I had to wait for one of the best gifts I've ever been given, this child who is so full of joy.  Full of smiles and happy squeals.  Full of love as she learns how to give us kisses.

She's been the easiest of my babies and I thank God for that.  This recovery has been the easiest for me, due to a combination of factors I think.  She's a much better sleeper than her older siblings, so I'm much better rested.  And I think the fact that she's my fourth baby has helped me relax and let go of the little things that have worried me in the past.  I also encapsulated my placenta this time and I can tell (in several ways) that this has affected my hormones in a good way!  She's helped me heal and she's helped me become a better mother to her siblings.  She is such a gift!

So now, almost a year later, what's different?  Our family feels right.  I won't say our family is complete- only God knows the plan for us- but for now it feels good.  But on the other hand, I can't imagine never being pregnant again!  Despite the aches and pains, it's the only time I truly feel comfortable in my own skin, maybe because I'm knitting a person together within my own body.   I don't have to worry about sucking in my tummy or if I have acne because... pregnancy.  I'm not expected to be perfect.

Sunday, January 18

Caeli Rose is One!

My Caeli Rose is one.
How did the time pass by so quickly?
I remember vividly the feeling of waiting for you to meet us.

But only you and the Lord knew your birthday.

You grew in strength, there was never a problem that concerned us.
You ate, you slept, you played, you rolled... all too soon!
You laughed at your brothers and smiled at your sister. 
Now you shriek with joy when you see them every morning!


You slept (and still sleep) by me all night.
(Well now you sleep sideways between me and Daddy.  You like to sprawl.)
I can honestly say I've enjoyed every night next to you,
my sweet girl.

It feels fast for me but I know it's your time.
You're growing, learning,
walking and talking all at your own pace.
I can't slow you down.  I don't want to.

I take moments slowly.
I sweep your hair as you nurse,
kiss your toes when we change your diaper.
I linger as you fall asleep,
smelling your sweet skin as your eyes flutter, not wanting to miss a second.


I pray that God keeps your mind and body safe and innocent.
That He blesses you with grace and wisdom to follow the road to heaven.
I kiss you again (sometimes I literally can't help myself),
and place you in your crib.

I miss you when you sleep for too long,
and I can't wait to get you to cuddle and nurse to sleep in my bed.
It's heavenly.  (Like your name.)
Sometimes your daytime naps are too short,
but I think it's because you just need some more time to play and learn.

You walk around the house, calling for your siblings.
They love you so much, you know, each in their own way.
Beth plays with you like a little Mommy,
Luke makes you laugh,
Jack cuddles you even when you want to play.

Daddy and I adore you.
Our hearts are so full!
Like an unexpected gift of a bouquet of beautiful roses,
You truly are our Rose of Heaven. 

We thank God for you, our sweet Rosie Posie!
Your life is sacred. 
God wanted you with us, and we wanted you here too!
You are such a gift!

Wednesday, January 14

Making Changes Here and in My Heart

I have 5 posts sitting on my dashboard right now, waiting on me to hit "publish" and share them with the world.  Two need some minor editing and photos, but three are just feeling too personal to share.  Why?  I can't figure out why this is bothering me so much.  I used to not really care what anyone thought.  I still don't to a certain extent, but over the past year or two I've become much more... personal I think.  Way more introverted for sure, but that's also due to the fact that it keeps our home school on task so we don't become too busy.

I've learned recently that I actually have some insecurity issues, which I know might seem like a joke to some people.  Apparently I come off as a pretty confident person!  Well, I am confident in most things about my life.  I have little doubt or fear about our decisions and choices.  I don't seek the approval of many people,  yet I still feel the need to be wanted and approved of by certain people, even to the point of sin.

Why do I need this validation?  I rarely feel like I get it so it's basically this hole that can't be filled.

I remind myself that God is the only one who can wholly satisfy the desire in my heart to be loved unconditionally, and that I don't need to seek His approval.  Because He already loves me.

The good thing about this desire to be wanted is that I feel that it makes me an empathetic person. I evaluate situations and needs of others and try wholeheartedly to anticipate and fill their needs.  I'm not always great at this, but it's part of what made me a good doula.

So I sit here and teeter on the edge of hitting publish, revealing more about me and my heart.  I crave approval yet it's so embarrassing to admit it.  I figure admitting an owning fault is the first step to overcoming it, so I'll claim it!

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