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.

Monday, January 19

Caeli's First Birthday Party

We celebrated Caeli's first birthday party with at her Godparent's house along with her buddy T. who was also turning one.  Ryan and I were burnt out after hosting our New Year's Eve party so we felt very blessed that our friends were willing to host a joint birthday party!  We agreed on a Peter Rabbit theme for the big one-year-olds and invited just a few of our closet friends.

During the party I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, telling the kids to pay close attention.  I was sure they'd all heard it before but I had planned a game using some images I bought off Etsy, which were story images printed and cut into circles (supposed to be cupcake toppers, I think).  We divided the kids into teams and gave them each a set of circles, which they had to put in the correct order of the story.

After the game we sang happy birthday to our babies and had someone quickly cut the cake before the rowdy mob of kids pounced on it!

I was disappointed that I left Caeli's birthday bib at our house.  It was the same bib that Beth had worn on her first birthday, and I had saved it all these years for another girl. :-(  Ryan bought it for Beth before her first birthday so it was sort of special to me!  Caeli enjoyed her cake, oblivious to the fact that she was not, in fact, wearing a bib at all.

We opened presents and Caeli received a couple of books, dolls, clothes, a puzzle, and an egg game.

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!

Friday, January 2

New Year's Eve Party- Welcoming 2015 with a Party!

We like to throw parties.  It had been a good 9 years since our last big New Years Eve party (back in our childless days!) so we thought it about time for another one.  Since Josh and Ramona were still in town, they helped me kick it up a notch by preparing some decorations and pretty but delicious appetizers!

 The boys and Beth waited for guests by watching our neighbors pop firecrackers.  They all got a little dressed up for the party, though Jack insisted on tucking his button-down shirt into his windpants. :)

 We planned for the party to go to at least midnight and knew we'd have a few friends stay even later, so we put Caeli down to bed and sent the big kids upstairs to work on a Nativity play that I'd downloaded.  I printed off several scripts, handed them to some of the older kids, and told them to get to work!  A few hours later, after the lines were rehearsed, the choir practiced, and the costume designers worked their magic, we had a full-on performance by the kids!  It was super cute and we were all so proud of them!

 We had sparklers for the kids too.  There were a LOT of children in our backyard with sparklers.  I wasn't out there at this time or else I seriously might have freaked out.  That's a lot of kids and fire.  I heard that some of them were talking about how cool Mr. Ryan was the next day, so I guess the sparklers were a hit!

We had a few guests make it with us all the way till midnight!  We toasted and cheered with champagne while the kids had some sparkling grape juice!  The party lasted until 2 am or so, even the kids stayed up playing with their friends!

Our nephews had already gone to bed by time the other kids did the sparklers so Ryan saved a few for them.  They had to get up pretty early the next morning (considering we'd gone to bed only a few hours earlier!) to get to the airport, and it was raining, so Ryan lit some sparklers for them in the garage at 7:30 am the next morning.  It was a special way to end their long visit to Texas!
Yes, Beth, Luke, and Jack were awake too- of their own choosing!  I wish those kids would sleep in!

  While Ryan took them to the airport, I stayed home and got started with the aftermath.  Yeah, it was pretty bad, but oh so worth it!

7 Quick Takes: 2014 and 2015 (in two parts)

Part One: Looking Foward

2014 was a good year for us!  Another baby, new friends, a big trip, and some deep conversations about God's plan for our family.  Everything moved us forward, so I'd say that's been a good year!

My word for 2014 was "quiet," and thanks to an amazing baby and some hormones that also weren't so crazy as they had been in the past, I'd say I did a pretty good job.  I definitely felt better about myself as a person and mom this year than in previous years!  Caeli changed my body.  I don't know what happened, but there was some sort of hormonal shift that made me such a better person. Everything I'd been fighting in the past was somehow healed.  She has been such a gift in so many ways!

One of my goals was to be up 45 minutes earlier than the kids in the morning.  That hasn't happened yet, but I didn't expect to be bed-sharing this long either, because I didn't expect a baby who would sleep so well at night!  So that will be a new goal for this year. :-)

I managed to make 51 posts in 2014, 22 more than in 2013!  I'd say that's a little success.  This blog is so important to my memory that I don't want to see it neglected, which is why this year I will dedicate a little time every week to adding more. I'm looking at numbers from previous years- 244 posts in 2009?!  When did I find the time?

Looking ahead into 2015, I'm expecting a great year!  We have a few trips planned throughout the year, we'll have a big #35 birthday for Ryan in August, and I hope to feel a little more like myself and a little less like a recovering postpartum mama.  I'd like to get my creative juices flowing again by blowing the dust off my sewing machine and learn how to knit.  Oh, and there's always more exercise!  Maybe I'll run a couple of 5Ks this year.  I have no desire to do anything more than that, at least not in this moment!

One big change for me is that I'm going to take a step back from being a doula for awhile.  If we're being honest, I'm burnt out.  After a rough end of last year for various reasons, I'm in need of some space and some time away from being "on call."  I will miss being present to support mamas during their birthing time but everything else that it entails is just too much for me right now.  I hope that, in the absence of this away time (on some evenings and during births), I can spend more time being wholly present to my family by not having to carry my cell around 24/7 (this is seriously taxing on me).  It will open up my evenings so I have more time for working out, being creative, and planning our school days.  I will certainly miss the extra income but the mental stability I hope to gain will hopefully more than make up for that!

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