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We met over 8 years ago at church as Shaun was walking in and I was walking out. The few words exchanged sparked an interst that kept Shaun coming back. When we FINALLY began dating 4 years later we soon knew there was something special here. Our first year quickly flew by and we both decided we never wanted to spend another year with anyone else or without each other. We married in the place where it all began on January 1, 2011 (1/1/11) and gave birth to our beautiful daughter Ava Marie on September 22, 2011 our next little one, Clara Rose came 16 months later on February 11, 2013. This blog began with our preparation with our wedding and has entered into recording the days and events of our newlywed life and new motherhood.

The Happy Couple...

Daisypath - Personal pictureDaisypath Anniversary tickers

Ava Marie

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Third Birthday tickers

Clara Rose

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Second Birthday tickers

Gabriel's ticker

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Twins ticker

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Pregnancy tickers

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guess who needs to be strapped in?

Ava's really learning how to sit up. 

She's been pretty strong, but when I see her doing ab crunches just to reach her toes, I realize it's time for me to finally do more excersizing!  I kept placing her back into a reclined position, so she wouldn't fall forward and she'd just push against me... hard... and sit back up.  I know I should have been doing it all along, but she definitely needs to be strapped in now.

Guess what came in the mail???

I never shop on QVC... well I shouldn't say never after this post, so I'll say "once".  But honestly, I don't even think to turn on that channel, but Shaun & I have been without a good working vacuum (one that uh... sucks... you know... in the good way) for quite some time now and because I'm home all day it's gotten to the point where it literally was driving me nuts.  It's all I could think about.  Ok, not ALL I could think about, but I thought about it... often. 

I wanted to get this vacuum and was saving for it when low and behold it was ON SALE on QVC when I was flipping channels the other day.  Ok, I know everything's on sale technically, but this was cheaper than I'd seen it anywhere.  Hopefully it works and lives up to all my hopes and dreams!

I'll letcha know how it all works out!

P.S.  Yes... I guess this officially means that I've become a domestic homebody.  It's ok, though... there are worse things, right?

Monday, January 30, 2012

What inspires me...

(here with his wife, AnnMarie)

Our dear friend, Joe came to visit us this weekend.  I've mentioned Joe in the past.  He's been such a good friend to Shaun & I over the years and was even in our wedding party. 
 (here escorting my Maid of honor, Katie with Shaun's good friend, Bob)

(Joe is on the far right)

Before I knew Joe as a friend I remember him from church.  I have a strong memory of singing in the balcony and looking at the church below.  I remember this man who would sit off to the right with his son and would literally drag himself up to communion using two braces.  I was always moved by this.

  Joe and I eventually became friends and Shaun and Joe also separately befriended each other.  I'm sure part if this is also because Joe is a "social butterfly".  We often joke that Joe knows everybody.  People joke the same about me, so it was inevitable that we would meet and "hit it off".  Joe even acted as a bit of a matchmaker for Shaun & I.  I remember he would call & invite me for dinner and then when I'd accept would say in a low voice, "...and Shaun's coming too"

A few years back, Joe recieved a miraculous healing through the intercession of John Paul II.  He took the opportunity after many years of being unable to walk to witness to anyone and everyone of God's goodness to him, walking everywhere.  He always said that he never asked God to heal him.  He just asked to be able to have peace in God's will.  (He had been previously been struggling with being unable to provide for and care for his family due to his lack of mobility.)

He had always been a man of prayer and took the opportunity of his healing to really "get out there" and "live life" getting involved in the church in many different capacities.  I even recall him walking with our youth group on our annual Pilgrimage walk the year of his healing and being so moved thinking about how he just a year before would have never been able to do this. 
 (Joe is at the top behind Shaun)

 (Joe is on the left in the Vikings hat)

(Joe is at the top left with his son David sitting at his feet)

I would often cry when at Mass I would see him WALK up to recieve communion now and kneel before taking the host. 

He would say to us that his physical pain had never been taken away from him, though. In some ways he was MORE in pain now than before he could walk, but he would say it was as if he was being "held up". Some days you could see the pain on his face. Still, he was filled with gratitude.

Recently, Joe came to visit us.  Something had happened.  We ushered him into the house and he told us that on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe he had woke up without ANY pain!  He was in disbelief!  He walked to Mass at a nearby parish and told his good priest friend, "LOOK!  NO pain!"  He jumped up and down and in playful spirit showed how good he felt!  He continue to thank God and later when he went to Adoration a friend of his found him in tears of gratitude. 

He prayed telling God how much he loved him.  He then felt very strongly like Jesus said to him in prayer, "No matter what?  You love me no matter what?" and he replied back, "Yes. No matter what."

The next morning, he woke and could not walk without assistance.  Everything had gone away.  Yet... this weekend he still managed to drive himself in his scooter over to visit his mother and then to visit us with peace in his heart.  He is praying for his family and for all those who need his prayers and trying to accept that somehow God was permitting this to occur at this time.  He continues to love him, "No matter what".  ...And the thing to remember is that God also loves Joe, "No matter what".  Walking or not.  Able to serve him actively or only able to offer up this condition... no matter what.

I watched him hobble down our stairs, legs wobbling, cane in hand and crawl into his scooter, Shaun helping him on his right side.  I thought for just a moment of all those who had not been inspired by Joe's healing and instead had been jealous of him that God chose at that time to heal him ...and maybe not them or those who didn't believe in his healing.  I've since been thinking of how God sees SO differently than us and that at times it is difficult to understand his will.  I thought of a story that I heard years ago about a tapestry.  It compared our lives here on earth in the "Church Militant" to those looking at the underside of a loom, the strings seem a colorful mess, with no beauty evident while the weaving continued. 

And God sees from his side the front of the tapestry.  The beautiful image unfolding itself to his loving gaze.  In the "Church triumphant" we will see as he sees and the image of our lives will make sense.  All the things that we didn't understand while looking at the "underside" will then reveal themselves to us.

I gazed after my friend as he drove away and thought of all that he had done with the time he could walk.  I was inspired to use my time better and thank God for all his blessings... even those things that didn't seem like blessings.  Thank you Joe for your life... it inspires me still!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's all part of a grander plan... that is coming true.

A friend sent this to me recently.  It was Shaun & my song that we danced to on our wedding day.  As I sat there in front of my computer with Ava sleeping in my lap and Shaun's arms around my neck, I couldn't help but think of how appropriate it was!  I cry ever single time I hear it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baby Ava's First Snow!

On Saturday, the day before her 4 month birthday, Ava, Daddy and I went out for a snowy morning walk down the street (and breakfast) to experience her very FIRST snow.  She was bundled up nice and warm but the flakes fell all about her, some clinging to her eyelashes and eyebrows.  She looked like a little snowbear ornament.  Daddy took these pics from our porch.

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick takes Friday

(stealing this idea from my friend Colleen from "Martin family Moments")

1. Ava found her feet today.  She's been stretching and kicking up a storm and biting on everything she can get her hands on,

but finally all that stretching paid off and she can do this:

2. Shaun's working nights and we've been like two ships passing lately, but I'm so grateful for him & how hard he works so that I can stay home with Ava.  Here's the proof of a hardworking man:

and a great dad

3. I love that Shaun's the type to go in to the Market for bread... and come out with these instead. 

4. Recently visited my Aunt Priscilla & Uncle Joe.  Here are some shots of our great visit!

5.  Last night it finally snowed!  One of our neighbors must be concerned about me falling with the baby because they thoughtfully salted our sidewalk and path leading to the house.  I was so excited last night that I had to take a picture

6. We recently enjoyed a visit from  my dear friend Christina and her brother Tim.  Was great to see them!

7. Pellet stove is working out GREAT! The temp in the house right now is 75 degrees! And it's only on medium. Usually we average between 70 and 74 degrees. The house is so nice and warm and it's great to not be using oil. Sometimes we just sit downstairs and watch the fire. So glad we made the change!

Now comes the "anti-climax"

So a couple of nights ago when Shaun went to work and Ava was put snuggly to bed, I began my "anti-climax".  Instead of sneaking around the house filliing it with surprising decorations to be found by a hard working husband and observant little baby.  I began to take it all apart.  Christmas was officially "over" and it was time to put it all away till next year.  This was a little sad because it marked the end of our very first Christmas as a family. 

Still I found joy in one last jaunt through the memories.  I particularly LOVE Christmas ornaments.  In fact up until he met me, my "minimalist" husband was all for no Christmas tree (or at least a fake one... we did compromise on that point).  This was almost a deal breaker for me and honestly I was SO flabbergasted that someone could be so "anti-decorations".  We ended up getting into a big discussion about it and I guess he realized how much it meant to me because before we got married, he showed up one night with a little smile and a little box.  Inside was the prettiest red glass ornament in the shape of a bell.  I realized this was his way of conceding and when I hung it this year I thought of that "comprimise" and how part of love is really about seeking to make the other happy.  My little red "wedding bell".  I tucked it away in it's little gold box and packed it away thinking of how much my husband loved me.

I touched the glittering balls we'd made as our wedding favors and thought back on that blessed day last January 1st when I walked into my great big reception hall decorated beautifully by so many who loved us and had helped us prepare for our wedding day.  We had been so blessed.  I thought of all those who had helped me make these favors and hoped that when our friends and family had hung them on their trees this year, they said a prayer for our new family.  I wrapped each one in tissue paper and packed them away thinking in wonder how quickly our first year had flown by.

I carefully wrapped up the collectors porcelin "Lenox" ornaments given by my dear friend Amy who had thought they'd be a lovely wedding gift.  They were!  And as I cautiously placed them in their boxes and put them away, I thought of how generous everyone had been to us to help prepare us for our new lives together.  All our needs were met, down to the tiniest details... even down to the Christmas ornaments.

I packed up every ornament given to me by my students over the years and thought of each of those precious children I'd been given to care for ...before I'd been given Ava and how much they'd all taught me during that time.  I thought back on how last year one of the parents came and took each of the children from my "last class" aside to handpaint a beautiful ceramic ornament adorned with their name and photograph on the backside and what a wonderful thoughtful gift that had been.  One of my favorites ever.  I looked at each photograph and thought of all the hundreds of children that had made their way into my heart.  Each new year as I would hang their little ornaments on my tree, they would be one year older and wiser and though they may not remember me years from now, I'd never forget them.  I packed each one carefully away as I wanted them to last forever.  I thought of how I'd loved teaching all those years and was grateful I was now to be finally able to pass the same lessons on to my own daughter.  I said a prayer for all my children and their families hoping they were well.

I took down the Santa ornament I'd bought for Shaun last year.  There was jolly old St. Nick adorned with his leather belt and tools ready to work hard crafting toys to give joy to so many children, thinking nothing of himself.  I had immediately thought of Shaun when I saw it.  I thought of him at that moment, working hard in some garage doing back breaking work to provide for our family.  I said a prayer that he would be protected and know how much I loved him... then I packed it away.

I packed away the beautiful handblown glass ornament made by my friend Liz who reminded me so much of my younger days spent dreaming and in whimsy trying to experience the world and gather so much of it into my hands before the years passed quickly away.  I thought of her and wondered how she was, my dear artist friend who's passion for glass blowing brought her all over the world.  I said a prayer for her as I hadn't seen her in years.  As I wrapped it very carefully I thought of how quickly time passes and how easy it is to lose touch.

I packed away the ornaments my mother had given to me over the years and thought about how much God was doing now in our family to bring her and I closer through the birth of my daughter.  I thought of how often she'd tried to show her love for me in ways that were different than mine and how only now through Ava, I was beginning to see how much she loved me all over again.  I thought with happiness of how Ava will love her as she gets older and how she has so much to learn from my mom. 

I thought of the year that I had SO wanted a tree, but had no room in my tiny one room studio.  My mother knew that it "wasn't Christmas without a tree", so she decorated a little 3' tree with beautiful ornaments and bows on each branch and drove nearly an hour to deliver it to my door.  I still have that little tree and used it to decorate our nativity scene.  I thought of that gift and how much it had meant to me that year.  I looked at each one and how lovely they were made of beautifully crafted scallop shells and other fine materials.  They reminded me of my mother.  Elegant and beautiful... yet fragile and sometimes easily broken.  I'd have to treat them very carefully... and cherish them her.  I packed each beautiful ornament away and said a prayer for my mother.

I packed each new ornament away that we'd been given this year.  Beautiful "Baby's first Christmas" ornaments given by close friends and Ava's sister, Cheyanne.  I packed up the handprint and footprint ornaments I'd made with her and realized that next year her hands and feet would be SO much bigger... they already were!   I envisioned what she might look like next year and thought of next Christmas with eagerness... and then I halted and hoped it wouldn't come too soon.  I ran my fingers over those little molds and deeply sighed thinking of how blessed we'd been this year.  There was no need for gifts for we'd finally been given the greatest one of all.

I packed away each "religious" ornament.  Beautiful glass ones and exquisitely crafted.  Each one trying hard to echo the story of so long ago yet never to be forgotten.  Each one striving to remind me of the babe in the manger.  The love of Mary and Joseph.  The search of the wise men.  The love of a mother.  I thought of this story of God's great love for mankind ...and for me.  It simply musn't be forgotten like old decorations that we take out once a year and put away in hidden places when our lives continue on.  The message of Christmas must somehow find a way into our daily lives and never be forgotten.  As I placed the ornaments in their boxes and placed the bins downstairs, I realized that this year's  "anti-climax" was in some ways more special than I'd ever expected it to be.  It had reminded me of how unconditionally loved I am.  It had reminded me of how God is truly in the small hidded "details".  It had reminded me of how many blessings I'd recieved not only this year, but throughout the years and how easy it was to trust that there was hope for the years to come. 

I was thinking tonight as I sat down of how our lives are filled with seemingly simple events.  The kind they write about in plays like "Our Town" or movies like "Steel Magnolias".  Simple, yet "life changing" events.  Sadnesses, hopes, dreams, laughter and happiness, tears, anger and all that makes up the human condition.  Marriages and births. Tragedies and deaths.  So simple.  So everyday.  And yet... this is what God entered into.  Our "Story".  He chose to "pitch his tent among us" and dwell with us.  Even the boring geneology accounts of Jesus' lineage show us that he was born into a family of all kinds of characters... just like us.  He was surrounded by love in his family, but experienced poverty and tragedy, rejection, uncertainty, joy, happiness, friendships, promises made in hope, promises broken, temptations, fear, and even death. 

He experienced all that we experience and reminds us whenever we are willing to listen that he still lives on in our everyday "simple" lives.  He so desires to share our everydays with us!  God of all creation, of all the universe, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end that all creation and all the angels and all the saints bow down to adore... comes to us in the hidden "littleness" of our lives and makes himself present there.  And he manifests himself to those who are "wise" enough to seek him.  "You will seek me and you will find me, if you seek me with your whole heart"  His story... it's not just a story to remembered once a year and then packed away into a box.  It's to be continued and lived in our lives.  I think sometimes we silly humans think that we must look for him in something more fantastic, more amazing, more "God-like", but we miss him all together, for this so often is not his way.  Instead, he takes our simple lives, our simple human "ordinary-ness" and lifts it up to something so much greater when we don't close the doors of our "Inns" to him and instead open wide and take him into our lives... into our homes.  Amazing...

Then I hear a little baby cry... and when I lift her up and look into this child's eyes... standing in my ordinary little house on my ordinary street... I my simple "little" life... can almost see the face of God.