I hate winter. I hate the cold, I hate the snow, I hate the over-inflated sense of "busy-ness" that causes people to get crotchety for no real reason outside of "My to-dos are more important than yours, so get out of my way."
However, today was a complete departure from that, and it's all because of how much my son loves the snow.
As soon as we came downstairs, he bee-lined for the windows in excitement as he saw snowflakes dancing in the wind. He immediately wanted to run outside (in his pajamas) to begin making snowballs to throw at yours truly.
Given the snow was coming down pretty hard, I suggested we wait until the afternoon when it let up a bit. He grudgingly accepted that and we spent the morning cuddled on the couch watching TV, playing "elevator" with his Toy Story figures, and making random snacks that somehow all incorporated peanut butter (he's all his daddy, this one).
After his nap, I bundled him up and set him loose in the front yard. He helped me out with his very first snowman. I decided it'd be easier (and more fun) for him to use Mr. Potato Head pieces for the features of the snowman. Turned out to be a stellar decision because after he'd finished pushing the pieces into the snowman, he filled the actual Potato Head bodies with snow and used them to make snow-balls for himself. How smart is that?
So yeah - with all the fun Vincent was having, how could I not have a little fun, myself? Seeing winter through his eyes made me realize that this season isn't all terrible. Sure I still hated being in the cold and wetness of the snow, but I was in it doing ridiculous and fun things with my son. An hour or so of cold toes was more than worth it to hear him giggling and laughing at the wonder this time of year brings.
Kids - they will teach you how to be more thoughtful human beings whether or not you like it. I am grateful his joy chided my curmudgeonly self.
Anyone else tickled pink by the various posts detailing the travels of our 3 favorite wise men?
I'm absolutely LOVING the creativity involved with moving these fine gentlemen from one spot to another.
I'll admit that I've always wanted to do this, but with my husband being Super Grinch when it comes to Christmas, it makes things tough. I only decorate the living room so as not to leave him in fits of rage, and the small nativity I use for Vincent is played with by him throughout the entire season, so trying to hijack 3 of his favorite figures would likely end in a tantrum of sorts. Ah well. I am currently living vicariously through two wonderful momma bloggers and I suggest you do the same (if you're not already stalking their travel hardy kings)!Cam from A Woman's Place has documented her kings riding trikes, climbing mini-jungle gyms and getting trapped in shoes.Monique from Mountains of Grace Homeschooling has found her kings climbing garland, sneaking into libraries and checking out what's on TV.
In both of the links above I've connected to you their "Day One" travel arrangements. However, I strongly encourage you all to put them on your blog rolls to check them out in the coming days to see what sort of predicament they find themselves in next.
Who needs Elf on a Shelf when you've got the Three Kings, right?
Thanks, ladies, for making this advent season a little more chuckle-filled.
Up for grabs is an adorable Linda Dano nativity set, complete with the wooden stable to house the holy family.
I had originally purchased this set as a Christmas gift for my brother, I think, but either my Mom or he purchased another one almost exactly like it. This set has been sitting in my basement, forgotten, until I began retrieving things for Christmas decorating.
As such, I now have a pretty awesome give-away for one of you lucky readers! It's brand new. I only opened it to make sure no pieces were broken while it was stored away. Original packaging is mostly intact except where I cut into the tape. Yay!
You can see info on both the figures and the stable by clicking the pictures below. However, if you have any questions, you can feel free to message me. This set is completely FREE (so shipping is on me!). I just want to see this set go to a family that will use it and enjoy it.
My friend, Jay, and I looking super excited - or surprised. I dunno. I ran out of good pictures.
Also, heads up everyone!
Mandi over at Messy Wife, Blessed Life is doing an awesome giveaway that happens to feature yours truly and a litany of other small businesses. Go over and enter to win. I bet you'll find yourselves a few folks to purchase stocking stuffers from.
Click here and good luck!
John and I spent much of Thanksgiving in airports and on an airplane.
However, it was a great Thanksgiving.
John's father generously organized a family vacation down to Disney that took place through an extended Thanksgiving Day weekend. In total, 10 of us spent 6 days together in a combination of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
However, before we packed ourselves away on the airplane, I was able to make a quick stop at my Mom's house beforehand. Since she thought we were already Florida-bound, she was SUPER surprised to see Vincent come barging through the door.
That was probably my favorite part of the entire day. I love surprises like that!
We spent about 45 minutes there before having to leave. I hated having to go so soon. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the entire year, and I missed not spending it with my family.
But I did spend it with family, so I can't really complain. Vincent and I went back to Jersey to pick up John and then meet up with his sisters and their husbands for the trip to the airport. Surprisingly, everything went really smoothly. The kids were great on the plane and baggage was efficiently shuttled onto the conveyor for retrieval. John's father was already outside waiting to pick us up, and when we unloaded at the Ft. Lauderdale house, John's mom had already set out Thanksgiving dinner for everyone.
After cleaning up and putting the children to bed, the rest of us played a ridiculous card game together. John Sr, my father-in-law, won with a score of 10. I came in second with 8 and my husband, John Jr, caught third place with 6.
It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the interpersonal communication shared as opposed to contending with iPads and television screens. A family game played around a family table is a great way to share laughs and love (and terrible, terrible jokes).
We spent another day in Ft. Lauderdale before making the 2.5 hour trek to Orlando. That wasn't so bad as the kids were content to watch two Charlie Brown videos while I caught up on some reading. John and his father talked sports in the front seat while the other half of our party followed our SUV in a rental.
We hit up Universal as well as Disney. We did not do Animal Kingdom because, frankly, no one wanted to be bothered given all the other parks we were trying to cram into the three days we spent in Orlando. Universal and Disney were MORE than enough for us.
Vincent surprised me by going on several of the "big kid" rides that I thought would be too scary for him. Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Jurassic Park were among them!
He and my niece, Alliya, also had a great time playing in the swimming pools at both houses. Vincent is getting much more comfortable jumping into deeper water so long as Daddy is there to catch him. He began following Alliya's lead doing trick jumps into the water.
Alliya, for her part, is becoming quite the little fish. She no longer fears the deep water like she used to. I snapped so many photos of them swimming around together.
After they'd had their fill of zipping around the pool, they caught a quick cat nap while the rest of us took a mini-siesta, too.
Look at them holding hands in during their cat nap. Alliya was actually awake. She kept kissing Vincent's head and petting his hair. Ha ha. It was so sweet.
Of course, we have plenty of theme park photos, but for now, I hope this suffices. I also caught a few "3 King" photos in Epcot as we explored the various Christmas practices of other countries. But that, too, will have to wait for another day. I'm just glad to be back home. My feet were beginning to plot a revolt.
I hope your Thanksgivings were just as wonderful as mine. Maybe even moreso!
One of three wedding / parties that weekend
Again taking the cue from Mandi (and fulfilling the promise I made a few months ago), I am taking a moment to share the brief time I spent pregnant with Myla. In all things - pray!
I had my period in the middle of June. I conceived Myla over Independence Day weekend (a string of weddings has that effect, I guess). I noticed my breasts were super sore around July 8th. I was suspicious, especially when I realized that after coming home from work I'd instantly take a 2 hour nap. I love naps, but I never take them during the week. John lets me sleep late on the weekends (I love that man), but we don't have time to nap during the week.
However, I remember waking up from those naps and giving John kisses on the head for letting me crash. I was confused by my sudden, inexplicable exhaustion. Again, I suspected pregnancy, but I didn't allow myself to believe it for fear of jinxing things.
Finally, as the days progressed, I noticed all of the other symptoms I'd had with Vincent - intense thirst (for someone who never drinks, that's a huge deal), super sore chest (seriously, the girls were on fire), insatiable need for cereal (at midnight - always at midnight) and other bodily signs that I won't bother to discuss.
Point is, by the 15th, there was no denying I was pregnant. I knew it, and I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. Seriously. I must've had the biggest, dumbest grin on my face 24/7. I began devising ways to tell the families. I began looking up "Big Brother" T-shirts for Vince. I even began devising ways to hide my ballooning belly long enough to do a "big reveal" around Christmas.
I'd of course taken a few tests, but just as with Vincent, they came back negative. I didn't think too much of it because Vince's tests didn't show up positive until well after my missed period. My missed period wasn't for a few days yet, so I figured I'd have at least another week or two to wait for a positive.
Finally, that Friday, July 19th, I visited my friend, Mary. At first, I tried to play off my excitement. But I couldn't. She asked me what the dopey smile was for, and I said I was 99.9% sure I was pregnant. Really, I was 1,000% sure, but again, I didn't want to jinx things.
Fat lot of good my superstitions did me.
Mary promptly asked how John would react. I honestly wasn't too worried. I knew he'd be freaked out, I knew I'd be hurt by his reaction, but I also knew he'd eventually be fine and my happiness could not be tainted - even with such a callous response to news of our baby.
En route home, I also asked for prayers from two spiritual sisters I've grown to rely on. I shared with them my news and asked that they pray for a positive test so I could finally go forward with my "reveal" plans for the family.
That night, when I got home, I made the decision to tell John. I honestly couldn't hold it in anymore. I wanted to tell EVERYONE. But I knew it would be a shock to John so I wanted to give him time to process things.
You already know how well that went.But tell him I did and I was glad.
Unfortunately, the next day, July 20th, found me spotting. Implantation bleeding? I was hoping, but given I would be on the later end of the timeframe for implantation, I doubted it. I still hoped, though. I ignored the cramping and nausea. I put in a call to my OB (who I was scheduled to meet with on the 25th) and she suggested I just relax and see what came of it.
Sunday the 21st I knew for sure. All throughout the night I had been tossing and turning with terrible back pain. I was cramping and bleeding and fully understood what was happening.
It's odd. The physical act of miscarriage was my nail in the coffin. That was my final physical sign confirming what I'd known for two weeks - I was pregnant, and I was losing her.
In losing her, I fully gained her - and that might sound ridiculous, but it's the truth.
I went downstairs and told John. We had our niece's birthday party that day, so he didn't ask many questions. I didn't feel like talking, so that worked for me.
When we got to phase one of Alliya's birthday party (it was at a gymnastics place), I sat off by myself. I felt like crap and didn't want to be near anyone. I felt bad for seeming miserable, so I took a photo of my pink and sparkly flip flop to send to my friend, Theresa.
She had given me these shoes for her wedding (she's the one obsessed with pink). I jokingly wrote that I was wearing something pink and sparkly knowing it'd generate a chuckle and quite possibly an eye roll from her.
She didn't know about Myla yet. She didn't have to. I was just in need of some sort of friendly communication - something familiar to fall back on while I wrestled with the physical and emotional pain of what was happening. Everyone at the party was rightfully happy and excited to be celebrating Alliya. I felt terrible for not being able to feel the same. But I couldn't exactly go home without an explanation, and I wasn't ready to give that explanation. So I stayed, and I tried my very best to be social. However, when everyone was ready to go back to the house for the subsequent party and cake, I took a breather.
I dropped John and Vince off there and claimed I needed to pick up swimsuits from Walmart. In truth, I didn't need to do that at all. I could've easily brought them from home, but I didn't because I knew I'd need an out. So I spent about 45 minutes collecting myself and working through the physical pain of miscarriage.
By the time I'd arrived back, the party was in full swing. I got into the pool with Vince because I hoped the warm water would help me feel better. In truth, it did, but I was also having to catch Vince each time he'd jump into the pool. It was heavy lifting, and in truth, I was really angry with John who left to lie down because he "had a headache."
If looks could kill...Anyway, after the rain started, we thought it best to go home.
That evening, I sat down and typed out my feelings through a torrent of tears. That is where my "I Was Pregnant This Week" entry came from. I had just finished typing it when my Mom sent me a book entitled Cracks in the Sidewalk (great book, BTW, but a complete tear jerker).
She sent it with a message along the lines of, "I'm not sending this to pressure you or John about children - although I wish he'd reconsider. I'm sending it because it's a good book and I think you'd like it."
I read the first few pages and immediately realized what she meant. The entire first chapter deals with a woman only able to have one child and feeling guilty for being unable to provide more for her daughter.
I wrote her back that it was okay. She was just acting in the name of Divine Providence. I then attached my blog entry because I could not bring myself to say the words out loud.
In the coming days, I mostly felt numb. After the first day and a half of pain, I was fine. I just bled. I called my doctor and asked if I could just skip my visit on the 25th. She wanted me to come in so I could be checked, but I told her women miscarried without seeing their doctors all the time. Truthfully, I just didn't want to go in and be surrounded by a dozen other women with their full bellies and excited baby chatter. My heart wouldn't be able to take it.
She understood and simply said to call her if I developed fevers, increase in blood flow / cramping / etc.
Thankfully, I never had to call. I still haven't. Her office called me about a week later, but I never picked up and never returned the phone call. Terrible, I know, but I guess I just couldn't handle that.
About a week later, I no longer had any pregnancy symptoms. They'd all dissipated with the passing of Myla's tiny body. The realization that nothing was left almost sent me into a state of panic.
Again, though, God's grace abounded and cocooned me in mercy. Now here I am several months later. The emotional pain is still there. Sometimes my entire body rocks as I try to keep the waves of tears inside - especially at Mass when I know she's so close. Other times I feel elated and excited at the thought of having her up in Heaven to greet me one day.
In all things, though, I know I am blessed to have held her within me. Even for how tiny she was... how fleeting her soul was hidden in my womb... I am blessed.
Mandi over at Messy Wife, Blessed Life shared her personal miscarriage experience today. She, too, lost her child early on and as I read through her entry, I kept nodding my head in recollection of my own experience.
After reading her piece, I sent it to John with the a letter that basically said, "I'm sharing this because her experience is similar to mine. I want you to see this through the eyes of another woman - someone you don't have preconceived notions about."
I also was honest and said I was still hurt that he feels I tricked myself into believing my experience was real.
And it does. On so many levels, that bothers me. It bothers me in ways I can't even express.
A few hours after reading Mandi's experience, I came across this one by Sonja Essen. Vastly different from mine or Mandi's, Sonja's experience revolved around relief that the decision to keep her child was taken out of her hands. She miscarried early, too, just as Mandi and I. She, however, was grateful for the miscarriage because she felt unprepared to handle a new child.
Try not to judge her. I admit I recoiled a bit upon first reading it, but I can understand where she is coming from regarding the fear of being unprepared. Truth is, though, no one is ever really "prepared." But that's another discussion for another day.
Point is, her experience, I feel, somewhat mirrored John's. John was most certainly relieved that a child was no longer part of the equation. He, too, had fears and worries that stilled his desire to grow our family. For as much as I noted the similarities between Mandi's experience and mine, I noted parallel similarities between John and Sonja.
I very rarely bring this topic up between John and I because I understand it to be a sore spot for both of us. I don't like making him feel uncomfortable and I don't like the instant thickening of irritation.
However, I don't want to just pretend the issue doesn't exist. It does, and we need to deal with it, even if it's in little bits and pieces. I'm okay with that. These two articles today were beneficial in that regard. They both serve to broaden our scope of experience, even if that experience is gained through sympathy / empathy.
So I'm sharing both with you as well since I promised to chronicle my own experience for others. It is helpful to share these experiences - you never know who may benefit.
I had Vince try on some Spiderman pajamas on Saturday. At first, he loved them because he looked like Spiderman. Then he realized they were one-piece and he felt constricted, so they didn't last too long.
That made me a bit sad because I used to adore the one-piece PJs he'd waddle around in as a toddler. I guess those days are officially over, huh?
Anyway, he was playing with a tabletop bowling set for a while. He'd set the pins up and knock them down over and over again. I looked over at one of his layouts and had to snap a photo - it was impressive!
He'd set up the pins in a very unique pattern, and when I asked him why he'd done that, he said, "Bigger level, Mommy!"
Playing games with John, he's learned to understand that things get harder and harder as you beat previous levels. So instead of the familiar triangle setup most of us are familiar with, he decided this would be the "bigger level" for himself:
Seriously! How creative is that? :) Subsequent levels were more of the same. I was so proud of him coming up with these "levels" all by himself. Patterns... the kid loves patterns. Math of any sort is like Christmas morning. :)
Anyway, when he saw me taking pictures of his levels, he wanted me to take pictures of he and I, then his next level, then him again. Definitely a fun activity for a cold weekend.
That's right, everyone!
Thanks for all the prayers. Little Isaac is finally home. He still has two hernias and is awaiting results from an MRI to diagnose a bulging cyst on his fontanel.
Otherwise, he's home and doing very well. Thank God, right?
My sister is adjusting quite nicely to having him home. She could still use the prayers, though, so please keep her and Isaac in them.
His big sister, Arianna, is also adjusting nicely to her new role. For the last two months, she was only ever able to see him through the NICU window. Now? Well... see for yourself:
Go ahead and take a minute to recollect yourself from the overload of "Awwwww."
I spent a few hours with them while my sister's husband went food shopping. It was nice to spend time catching up with her while holding Isaac and watching Arianna play.
While holding Isaac. Wow. He's now 2 months old and he wasn't supposed to be born until later this week. How crazy is that???
Oh, but God is good, isn't He? Isaac might be tiny, but he's proof of just how much we're loved... just how miraculous each and every life is.
So again, I really cannot say "Thank You" enough. I have no doubt that your prayers buoyed the entire family through a very scary storm of helplessness.
I love the above etching. It depicts Christ the King upon His throne of salvation - the Cross. The words above His crown translate as "High Priest of the Loving Sacrifice."
His wounds bleed forth mercy. His Sacred Heart, pierced, still burns forth love. He's wearing the chasuble and crown which denote His Kingship.
His facial expression is regal. Regal and yet still gentle - merciful.
This weekend, the pastor of a neighborhood parish pointed out something fascinating. During the homily, he repeated the final words of Jesus read from the Gospel reading:
"Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Father pointed out that these were the very last words we hear during the liturgical year. Are they words of condemnation? Are they words of despair?
No - they are words of hope... they are words of mercy.
What's more, they are words of the King promising His servant access to His Kingdom as He sat upon the throne that would open that Kingdom to us.
What a reflection. What a mind-blowing reflection.
These words were directed at a sinner worthy to humanity of crucifixion. Yet to God, He was a child worthy of Heaven.
We would do well to remember that.