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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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday meets Real Life

It's 1:30am and all are sleeping (that "sleeping through the night" thing with Clara? ...yeah, that was a fluke, but 1:30 is better than 4:30am, so we're improving at least and that means no complaints here).  I'd like to head to bed myself, but have been thinking about our Good Friday this year and would like to share it with you before I head up (and it's one of those memories I don't want to forget).

Shaun usually takes off Good Friday and unfortunately this year he announced on Wednesday that had to work.  We talked about it and decided if at all possible, in future years we could do all we could to make it a family day together and that way Ava and Clara would be able to see from a very young age that this day was different than any other and we would remember that we treated it as such.  I expected him to be gone for the day, but yesterday he told me when he arrived home that he found a way to take it off and I was delighted as this was a surprise. 

It was a quiet day at home and the plans that we had to finish a few things we needed to do at this house and the other fell by the wayside as we enjoyed the time together as a family.  We attempted to put Ava down for her usual morning nap (she still takes 2 most days... but don't hate me, as she's weaning of the 2nd soon I think) and for some reason she fought it like crazy today.  Not with screaming or crying, though... that's not usually her way.  I laughed to Shaun later that we could never use her crib as a "punishment" because she loves her crib.  She laid in there singing and talking (with us checking in from time to time and trying to rock her/sing her to sleep) for a good two-two and half hours.  Eventually I gave in as she'd now been up there longer than her normal "nap time" and I figured if she was going to sleep, she would have.  She came downstairs and kept me company in the kitchen until it was time to go to the 3pm Chaplet of Mercy/Veneration of the Cross at our parish.  As she's been quite noisy and active in church lately, we expected a nightmare on this solemn day due to an overtired 1 1/2 year old (sorry parish family!).

Upon pulling into the parking lot she pointed to the church and excitedly exclaimed "Je-ji!!!" (her nickname for Jesus).  I was planning on singing for much of the service and had asked my Mom if she'd join us, in case we needed an extra set of hands.  As soon as we entered the church, Ava was delighted to see "Nana".  I headed over to practice a bit with the organist, Clara awake and humming away in my arms.  Ava yelled "Mama-mama-mama" all the way to the pew.   I looked up while practicing to see our pastor talking to Shaun.  I soon realized he was asking him to do the readings.  I wondered how this was going to work as he'd be up in front doing the readings and I'd be in the back of the church singing the psalm and responsorial acclaimation and couldn't help but think... well... who was going to watch the babies if he was reading and I was singing???  I knew my plan of having two adults and two sets of hands was changing at that moment, but couldn't do anything now, so I'd just roll with the punches.

Upon arriving in my seat, my usually sleeping infant was wide awake and very hungry (I think she's going through a growth spurt... for all those of you who have nursed, you know what that means in regards to how much she's nursing)  I tried to discreetly nurse her without flashing the parish and hoped she'd finish and go to sleep by the time I had to head back to sing.  Ava was busy crawling under the pew over and over as she liked to pop up on the other side.  I tried to breathe and pray knowing I couldn't grab her if I needed to as I had an infant attached to my breast and was essentially glued to my spot.  I tried to fight back the urge to say something to the two adults sitting beside me along the lines of "A little help here???"  Deep breath... keep praying... feel better.

The time came for me to sing and as I walked back to the rear of the church and Shaun headed up to do the readings I could hear the voice of my firstborn nervously exclaiming "Mama?  Mama?  Mama?  MA-MA???" over and over from her enclosure in the vestibule of the church (my Mom had taken her for a walk).  I could also hear her opening the doors in order to try and get to where I was.  I knew she was in good hands, though and while rocking Clara in my arms, sang "Father into your hands I commend my Spirit".  I thought of the trust Jesus had in His Father and the very real image of my own little girls and the level of trust and dependance on me came sharply into contact with each other.  I listened with pride to Shaun's voice as he read beautifully and was moved that I would recieve the word of God through my husband's lips this year.  It seemed the readings sunk in even more deeply than if it had been anyone else proclaiming them. 

I am so happy that our parish is pretty "laid back" about my singing and allows me to return to sit with my family in between.  It would be impossible if I had to be apart from them throughout the entire Mass and this way I can still offer my gifts.  We also talked on the way home about how I hoped that our children would be more likely to "get involved" and not be afraid to use their gifts, having witnessed their parents do so from a young age.

I carried a sleeping Clara up to venerate the cross and placed her hand on it and Miss Ava who had fought her nap so hard, finally had given in to it by this time and was out in her father's arms. It seemed that her skipping it had become a blessing in disguise.  I headed back to sing "Were you there" and returned afterwards to sit beside my husband, who now had tears in his eyes.  Shaun has always loved my voice and has given me the genuine encouragement I need to continue to offer it. 

Upon recieving communion I again walked to the back of the church and began to sing the song I honestly believe my voice was made for as it is the one that began my singing (a story for another day) and the one I tease that my husband fell in love with me over.  It's the strangest thing, but still now every time I sing it, I feel almost surprised when I open my mouth and the sound falls out... I still can't believe it's me making that noise!  I sang each verse of "O Holy Mary" and Ava was now awake and looking for me.  Shaun walked her towards the back of the church in an attempt to find a quiet place for her and just before he walked into the vestibule, she broke away from him and found her way to me.  He knew he couldn't catch her and carry her away without screams of protest breaking the silence of the church, so he let her go and we both hoped she wouldn't shout "mama-mama-mama!!!" into the microphone. 

She didn't.

She stood beneath me looking up and then turned and leaned into my legs with her back so I could stroke her face while I sang.  I knew the song by heart, so I put the book down and placed one hand on the face of my oldest, while rocking Clara in my other arm and tried with every fiber to contain my emotion as I sang about Our Lady.  "...with joy beyond all measure, she cared for God's own Son, and pondered in her heart, the new age now begun..."  Each verse took on new meaning as I thought of the love of Our Blessed Mother, now from my own heart as a mother.

Then came the verse that I always struggle to proclaim without my voice cracking, "Exquisite was your sorrow, unequalled was the loss... you suffered when your Son... was raised upon the cross... O Holy Dwelling place of God, O Holy temple of the Word, O Holy Mary... Holy Mother of God..." 

Upon finishing the song I quietly made my way to my husband's side with both of my babes.  I pondered the gift I'd been given this Good Friday to see the love a mother has for her children and the strong bond between them. 

I thought of my own children and all I would do to protect them from anyone trying to harm them. 

I thought of how deeply I wanted them to grow to love Jesus and to know his deep love for them. 

I thought of the hopes and dreams I had for their future which was so bright and open and full of possibilities and purpose.  ...and then I considered Our Lady. 

I thought of the love she had for her Son. 

This same love I had for my own children...

 ...and more. 

The same desire to protect Him and hope for him and dream of what would become of Him...


...I thought of how deep the bond was between them...

...and I pictured her at the foot of the cross.

When the service was over I told Ava it was time to say goodbye to Jesus and she quickly walked right up to where the cross was laid in the front of the church, bent down and kissed him right on his face.  Tears welled in my eyes.  There, behind the cross was a magnificent statue of Jesus laid in the tomb right at the level she could see and reach, placed directly in front of the altar.  She put her finger in his bloody hands, in then in his side and looked up at me wondering... but what do you say to a one year old to explain?  Then she caressed his hair and stretching on her tippy toes kissed him again right on his face.  I fought back tears.  I knew we had to go, and tried to encourage her repeatedly "Ava, we have to go", but she sat down beside him with her hand on him and refused to leave.  Immediately I thought of Mary Magdelene and her childlike faith and love of Our Lord that made it so difficult to part from Him.  I almost wanted to let her stay as long as she liked.  I eventually bent down whispered to her, "He loves you SO much, Ava" and finally she came with us, but not before blowing three more pronounced kisses in his direction.

When we were driving home, Shaun and I were talking and I asked him if he ever thought all those years when he would watch me sing "O Holy Mary" if he ever imagined I would be his wife singing it with his babies in my arms?  Later I thought about it again and realized that even if Shaun didn't imagine it and I had no idea... Jesus did see it.  He saw into the future and He knew that if we were open to his will for us we would see this day when I would sing that same song but with my arms full of our children.  It's something to think about and how none of us see the future clearly or what God has planned for us.  I didn't, Shaun couldn't and neither could Our Lady, but if we walk forward open to and embracing his plan for our lives ...even when the cross comes... he will fill our lives with far more than we could ever imagine.  Our Lady stood suffering at the foot of the cross and her suffering was real and it was great... she didn't see that when she said her "fiat" BUT on Sunday we will remember what came after the suffering... and He saw that too.

I thought of how so often we think it's US who are supposed to teach the lessons in life to our children... but I think it's many times the other way around.  I thanked God that today, it was my children who were instrumental in bringing these lessons and reflections home to me.  How I pray that I will love Him in the same way Ava does, without consideration for time or convenience, or who is watching.  Without thought to what it will "cost" me or how it will "change" me or what others will "think of me".  She doesn't care about any of the things we worry about as adults.  She doesn't think of any of these things...

 She just loves her "Je-ji"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday in Images

I don't have time to write today (though I wish I did as this is one of my favorite days in the liturgical year), so I'll leave you with some images to meditate on.

Thank you for the Gift of yourself, Lord. 
Thank you for your example. 
Thank you for the Priesthood. 
Thank you for the Eucharist. 
Thank you for saying, "Not as I will, but as you will Father"...

Thank you...

Have a Blessed Holy Thursday.

Happy Birthday to the Priesthood! To all of the priests who have influenced my life over the years, all those who have given me Jesus in the Eucharist, all who have heard my confessions or administered the Sacraments to me... I am so grateful. My Mass will be offered for you tonight (and it should be "meritorious" as it looks like I'll be alone with both babies ;)

Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday-the "catch up" edition

1.  I know I'm totally behind the eight ball on this (what does that even mean anyway?), but I would be remiss if I didn't mention how happy I am with the choice of our new Pontiff.  It's wonderful to have a "Father" again!  I think we all felt a little longing when we were without one for a while.  It definitely was an interesting time in history, though.  To think that when Clara was born, she was born under Pope Benedict XVI.  When she was baptized, there was NO Pope!  And when she was just over a month old, we had Pope Francis!

When I heard the news that we had a new Holy Father, some friends texted me and I immediately felt a sense of peace.  Shaun & I both have a strong devotion to St. Francis (thus why Clara was named after his first female follower).  When I saw his face for the first time I knew right away I "liked it".  I liked the look of him.  He looked "kind" and "humble".  Then when I heard his voice, I cried.  I couldn't help it!  Were you this way too? 

I feel once again that the Holy Spirit truly knows the needs of the church and the world at this time and has chosen a good Father to guide us.  God is so good.

2.  Little Miss Ava Marie turns 18 months today!  One and Half... sheesh.  Where did the time go?  I have the unique perspective of looking at her "twin" all day long and thinking of how fast she changed from this little peanut to the beautiful little girl she is today.
My Ava... Oh, my Ava... She's a total "ham" and keeps us laughing all day long. She is super friendly when we go out into stores and waves to everyone she meets... everyone. She still has a side of her that takes a few minutes to warm up to new people though. She gives them the "look" and checks them out from head to toe first.
She has a mind of her own for sure. Since she's going through that "noisy/active" phase that every toddler does (but isn't yet old enough to know what "quiet" means), she often is the center of attention at church singing or talking at the top of her lungs. When Shaun "took her for a walk" last Sunday night (we went to an evening mass to be able to attend as a family... but it falls very close to her bedtime) because she was chatting away, she persisted in yelling "Ma-ma! ma-ma... MA-Maaaaa" the whole way out. I couldn't keep a straight face and found myself laughing, shoulders shaking, while trying to keep my head down. Glad to know it wasn't just me as I heard a ripple of laughter start to swell through the entire "full" church at every "ma-maaaaa". Oh my.

Ava has a super super sweet side to her and overall is still the very good little girl she's always been. She is helpful and compliant most of the time and love love loves her sister. She's very protective of her (if only someone would protect her from an overloving Ava... oh, that's right... that's MY job) and sings to her and covers her up, washes her feet and belly super gently when they take their baths together, brings her most favorite toys to share with her, and is overall another little doting mommy. She also seems very understanding when the baby needs more attention. If she hears the baby cry while I'm putting her to bed, she'll look up at me and say "baby!" and point towards the door. Though I usually rock her to sleep, when she hears Clara, she'll give me a kiss, crawl into her crib, lie down with her blanket and say it again "my baby" and point towards the door as if to say "Go take care of my sister, Mommy. I can go to sleep myself now." ...and she does. Without one complaint.

"Je-Ji & Mi-mi".  I've been trying to go to more daily Masses during lent and thankfully our parish offers one at 5:30pm during the lenten season.  As soon as I tell her we're going to see Jesus, she quickly complies with getting on her shoes and coat.  While walking up to the church she'll put both arms up into the air with with excitement exclaim "Je-ji!!!" She blows him kisses during the Mass and loves her "Mi-mi" (Mary).  She still comes into our room and kisses the image of Mary near the door every time saying "Mi'mi" in a soft whisper.  I was watching her the other day and she had gotten ahold of a rosary.  She was kissing the cross saying "Je-ji" with such affection it was just beautiful.  Then she'd hold the beads and say over and over "Mi-mi.  Mi-mi.  Mi-mi.  Mi-mi"  It was like watching the sweetest rosary prayed ever.  She melts my heart.  She is my joy and I cannot imagine my days without her.  Thank God for such a special gift.

3.  She was loving the Feast of St. Joseph!  I think these pics say it all...

(my sentiments EXACTLY!)

There were no "Zeppolas" at our local bakery so I had to get what was "close enough".

 These reminded me a bit of them with the cream and the cherry on top, but included a chocolate filling instead (sort of like little chocolate cream pies)... so there were no complaints here!

4.  We FINALLY finally got our permit to do our gutting on our "new/old" house!  It feels like it's been forever and there have been so many hoops to jump through (I can't even begin), but it's finally here.  I think I'll make a poster for it before I hang it in the window at the house.  Hopefully the house will be totally gutted by Monday and then we can put the new windows in. 

5.  Daddy's been working like crazy (every day for almost a month), but still makes time for his girls, no matter how tired he is...

...and still surprises me with beauties like these on a regular basis!

6.  Ava's favorite playmate!  She just LOVES her Nana!  ...and as you can see... Nana loves her. 

Honestly?  Thank God for my Mom, who lives just 3 streets away and has been coming over daily to help me.  I know she isn't spread thin with multiple grandchildren like some grandparents are, so we're a little... ok a lot spoiled. 

She gets spend special time with Ava in the morning and as she knows that I haven't been sleeping much, she gives me some "rest in" time in the morning when the baby finally sleeps, so I'm not a complete zombie.  She also is a bit of a clean-a-holic and I happily have let her loose on my home!  How lucky am I???  Ava helps out by reimbursing her with plenty of priceless memories.  I haven't heard my Mom laugh so much in years.

7.  Lately  Shaun and I have been like two ships passing.  If he gets home "early" it's usually just in time to spend a few minutes with Ava playing with her, reading her a story, saying her prayers, singing to her and putting her to sleep (it's their special time).  By the time he puts her to sleep, he's ready himself after getting up at 3 or 4am and heads up to bed himself for "not enough sleep ever".  This is usually Clara's "Party time" and she wakes up for the night until... somewhere between 2 and 4am (lately closer to the 4am end).  Because I dont' want to keep everyone up, I stay downstairs with her and end up sleeping on the couch.  Shaun gets up at this time and comes downstairs to give me a kiss before heading to work for the day.  See... two ships passing.

I've known it's "only temporary" till her stomach can hold enough milk to let her sleep through the night and therefore I sleepily cherish these times with her because even though I'm tired, I waited so long for my babies and was given such sweet ones that I cannot be upset about spending time with a little girl who wants nothing but Mommy right now.

Still... I was needing some more rest.

SOoooo Clara surprised me last night with... get this... SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!

At 9pm she was sleeping "like a baby" IN her bassinett and though I expected her to be up by 11pm I crawled into my OWN bed and actually got a great nights sleep.  She was up at 4am... glorious 4am!  And after nursing went back to sleep so I could actually spend a few moments with my husband before he headed out into the snowy, spring morning!  I found myself awake and refreshed... and ready to blog about it with delirious joy!  Thanks be to God that all is right in the MY world!

Happy Baby... Happy Mommy!