Friday, December 28, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Merry, Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Dearest Family and Friends,
This has been a year of marvelous accomplishments for our family. From potty training to working on the final phases of our new house, we’ve all grown by leaps and bounds. The most notable of these growing things is my belly, which is holding Baby Parris #4!
Mackenzie is 7, in the second grade and due to make her First Communion in May. She is really pulling for a sister this time around, but like the rest of us, she’ll just have to wait and see. She is an excellent speller (as she has decoded many a spelled-out secret between Nelson and me) and a terrific reader, but to my surprise she says her favorite subject is math. Where did I go wrong?
Aiden is 4 and in the stage of a thousand questions…a day. People think I’m exaggerating until they spend a few hours with him and realize that he really does end every sentence with a question mark. The amazing thing is that he listens and remembers the answers (and still manages to come up with more questions). He’s let me know in no uncertain terms that, “Uh huh,” is not an acceptable response to these questions. What can I say? Sometimes, I just run out of words.
Dawson is 3 and is smart enough to know that his reign as the baby of this family is just about over. In the last few months, I have had more requests for help, holding and kisses than in the last few years. It may turn out to be better than he thinks because when Aiden goes off to Kindergarten in the fall, Dawson is really going to miss him. They are the best of friends (most of the time) and always partners in crime.
Nelson is still juggling the four roles of husband, father, provider, and …builder. On occasion he makes it home to eat dinner with us and then it’s off to the house he goes. I am on a first name basis with the employees of Lowe’s and every other home store in town. Sometimes so much time expires between when I buy the supplies and when they actually go into the house that it’s new again when it goes in. “Wow, I really like that! Did I pick that out?” has been heard from me on more than one occasion.
In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, we managed to surprise the kids with a trip to Disney World in November. We made it to Magic Kingdom, Sea World, a petting farm and Arabian Knights. It was perfect timing for the kids. Everyone could walk, no one was in diapers and all were absolutely mesmerized. We figured it might be several more years until we reach this stage again and we took full advantage of it.
If you’d like to keep up with what’s happening with us on a more regular basis, feel free to check http://www.raisingangels.blogspot.com/. We hope this season finds all of you counting your blessings. And, we hope that sometime in 2008, we’ll be inviting all of you to count some of ours in our new home.
Yesterday Was a Busy Day Full of Joy
We began the fourth Sunday of Advent at mass followed by the baptism of our goddaughter, Olivia Grace. We are so VERY honored to be her godparents. Her parents are two of my former students, who now live next door to the house we're building. Her daddy is Nelson's office mate and quickly becoming his best friend. We are so excited that because she'll be right next door, she will always be a special part of our lives. We love you little Olivia!
After the reception for which I made four lasagnas, helped serve and clean up, we headed out to Nelson's parents' house to celebrate Christmas with his family. The kids thought it was great to get to open presents BEFORE Christmas with the cousins and family they so love.
One of the biggest hits with the boys were the binoculars they received. They immediately wanted to go "hunting" for something.
They also loved that they got their very own suitcases with Lightning McQueen on them.
Nelson's family is such a blessing. They have welcomed me with open arms since day one. And, as you can see from the photo, there is a lot of love in that family.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Three years ago at Christmas, Dawson was a mere 2 months old (Aiden was 17 months and Mackenzie was 4). It was an especially meaningful Christmas because I had an infant in my arms. I felt really in tune with Mary.
This Christmas, being pregnant has helped me do this even more. Whatever my pains, Mary had it worse. She was a teenager engaged to a man she didn't choose and pregnant with the Son of God. Imagine the stares she must have gotten around town. And you want to talk about uncomfortable, think about a few days' journey on the back of a donkey in the final days and moments of your pregnancy. Of course there's also the whole natural child birth thing...in a stable.
She must have been so scared. Imagine all the fears of a normal parent magnified by the knowledge that your son is the Son of God. What wisdom would you possibly be able to give Him?
It makes me grateful that in some small way, those of us who are open to life have the same opportunity to say yes to God. The circumstances are not quite as overwhelming but it's a yes all the same. God allows us the chance to be co creators with Him and every time, no matter how hard or easy, the result is a truly awesome miracle that we are privileged to hold in our arms.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I'm a Little Christmas Tree
I thought I knew every Christmas song there was until I heard Aiden sing this one. He sang it at his school Christmas party today. The video is not great but the song is very cute.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Some of the Reasons I Resonate with the Poem Below
I finally got our pictures for the Christmas letter in the mail today. I'm working like crazy to get them back in the mail tomorrow. As you can see from the stacks, this is no small task.
All three kids have their last day of school tomorrow complete with Christmas parties. For Mackenzie's class, I was asked to bring sandwiches by the dozen. For Aiden and Dawson, I was asked for dessert. I let Aiden choose what he wanted to bring.
When he saw these, there was no turning back. I thought they'd be easy enough. Have you ever tried piercing a peppermint patty and Reece's cup with a pretzel stick? Not an easy task. Hopefully, they will impress the 2-4 year old crowd tomorrow and be a great memory for the boys (since I will NEVER do them again).
Well, back to stuffing envelopes.
For All You Busy Moms Out There
Aiden's teacher stopped me on Monday as I signed him in and asked me to read this poem. It stopped me dead in my tracks and extracted a tear or two. She said she knew how much I would appreciate this. I'm just guessing I'm not the only one.
Like the mom in the poem, I'm too busy to retype it. If you really want to read it, just click the image for a larger version.
Monday, December 17, 2007
The first Sunday in Advent I was sitting in the church prior to mass staring at the Advent wreath. I was desperately trying to get into the spirit of Advent when it dawned on me that I was already there. After all, Advent is the season of waiting is it not?
God told me something that brought me to tears that morning and has given me an eerie sense of peace about things since then. What He so clearly reminded me of was that time is inconsequential in His eyes. What's two...or three...or six more months of waiting for the house to be finished in the grand scheme of things? Who's to say I'll even be here next week? After waiting for so long what's a few more weeks or months? A few years from now, it will all be a distant memory.
This perspective has helped me over the last two weeks as I try to juggle Christmas preparations, new house preparations, current house packing, raising three kids, growing one and having a new goddaughter thrown into the mix. I was completely overwhelmed at first but then I had to let go. I can only do so much these days and if I don't know when to stop, my body very clearly does the deciding for me. I do get frustrated, but I've given up on being worried.
Then came the third Sunday in Advent. As I went over the readings before mass, I noticed a clear theme - waiting. Okay God, I get it. But this Sunday something different caught my eye. I'm not supposed to be just waiting, but PATIENTLY waiting. Unfortunately for me, this is something God has tested me in time and time again only to see me fail. Consequently, He keeps giving me more opportunities to practice.
So Sunday the pink candle was lit. It was Gaudete Sunday, a time of joyful hope for the arrival of the Christ child. This hit home for me before Father even spoke. Isn’t it just like God to know that in the midst of a season of waiting, we need a little reminder of exactly who we’re waiting for? It was perfect for me as the baby practiced his or her kickboxing skills on my bladder.
I’m happy to say that I’m not just waiting anymore (although I am counting the days remaining until my due date), I’m patiently and joyfully waiting. I think of poor old Simeon sitting on the steps of the temple holding the Christ Child in his arms. He waited his whole life for that moment. Surely…surely, I can wait twelve more weeks for this baby and I can wait however long I have to for the house to be finished. I can wait because I know there’s an end. I know I don’t have to wait forever. I also know that whatever time I wait now, no matter how long it is, is really very, very inconsequential in God’s time.
O come, O come Emmanuel (and baby…and house). REJOICE, REJOICE, Emmanuel shall come to you O Israel .
Friday, December 14, 2007
Happy Birthday Dad!
I hope you know how much you mean to me. I don't know what my life would be like without you (okay...for starters I wouldn't even be here). I am so blessed to still have you be such a big part of my life.
Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a parent. Thank you for showing me how to put your family first. Thank you for being the example of a servant, teacher, coach and encourager.
I love you!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
This Year's Christmas Pageant
Tonight was the Christmas Pageant. Unlike last year's program, this year you were in among the crowd. Regardless of the role you play, I was every bit as proud of you this year singing with your class as I was when you did your solo.
I loved watching your face in full concentration and your cute mouth opening wide to let the joyous songs burst forth. I also loved seeing your sly little grin after every song you sang. I can tell how much you love it.
I hope you always love music like you do now. I hope you always love to perform and let your gifts shine. More than anything else, I hope you always know how proud I am of you, just for being you.
Great job tonight! Of all the angels I heard tonight, you are the one closest to my heart. I love you, Mom
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
People have been asking me to post some pictures of the house progress. In the spirit of Christmas giving, here are the biggest strides we've made lately.
Last year at this time we were in the process of framing and that, my dear friends is what thrilled me and got me into the season of Advent. I was assured we were a mere 6 months away from being finished.
Now, here I am a year later and struggling through this pregnancy. But, God in His wisdom is trying to show me that there is an end in sight. Neither of these "projects" will last forever. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, what's a little time anyway?
Pictured on the left is the tile in the master bath. I love the design and I love the tile. Although, when I looked at this picture, all I could see was how badly it needs to be cleaned.
To the right is the beginning of the kitchen backsplash. I was thrilled to see this going up. It is everything I hoped it would be.
This is the kitchen counter that was delivered Friday. It's always hard to judge the bigger picture from a thumbnail sample but it too is just as I had imagined it. I love the dark brown color and how it ties into the backsplash and makes such a striking contrast with the white cabinets.
And this is the beginning of the flooring process. Pictured here is the living room and dining room. It is the same floor that will be in the kitchen to match the counters and bring out the backsplash.
I'm not counting on being finished any time soon. I'm not listening to move in dates anyone tells me. I'm just giving myself a few moments to relish in the fact that we're still moving forward. I'm enjoying the fact that the progress being made is visible to the eye. I'm excited that after all this time, I'm still loving everything I picked out.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Tonight I joined a couple of other families to do some Christmas caroling. Three moms with three kids each - two of us pregnant, one husband, one single man who played guitar and one single woman who planned it all.
The kids were thrilled when I told them of our plans but when we arrived, sans Nelson who is actually laying the floor at our house (hip, hip, hooray!), it seemed a little more challenging than I first imagined. First, doing anything that involves standing after 7 these days feels like an aerobic workout. Besides that, two of my three are wanderers who do not read, and do not know the words to many Christmas songs other than Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Not to mention that the decision was made to carol in the projects, after dark.
We went anyway. My boys, a few times at least, actually tried to sing along even though they didn't know the words. My legs held out for the hour we walked around. Mackenzie led a lot of the songs with her perfectly pitched voice. And, I didn't lose anyone!
However, the best part was the reaction of the people who came out to hear us sing. Most were single moms who brought their children out to sing along with us and often ended up in tears. All of them were surprisingly receptive to our less than perfect singing.
It served as the perfect reminder of what the Christmas season is all about. Beyond anything that goes under their trees this year, I truly believe that for most of them, the few minutes we spent at their doorsteps will be the most meaningful. These are people living in low income duplexes on a side of town that most people won't drive on, let alone go door to door singing. And yet, here we were with our young children singing to them about Jesus' birth.
It was an even better gift to me. I know I have so much to be grateful for but sometimes I don't count the most basic gifts of being loved and respected. I forget that not everyone has the support of friends and family.
My mom has told me throughout my life that to whom much is given, much is expected. Hopefully, tonight I returned a little of my abundance.
Just So You Know We're Not Perfect
Friday, December 07, 2007
I Am Raising Angels
I ran into Mackenzie's catechist at Target this morning. He pulled me to the side and said, "I want to tell you about something that happened at the Atrium on Wednesday."
My heart fluttered. Oh no, I thought, what went wrong?
"One of the boys in Mackenzie's class was teasing her quite a bit. I was just listening in to make sure she'd be okay. Finally the boy shouted across the room to her, 'I'm going to change bodies with you!' It was at that point that I stepped in. 'You're going to change bodies?' I asked them. Then Mackenzie came up to me and said in a very serious voice, 'I am NOT changing bodies with ANYBODY who gets their name on the board!'"
Proof That My Decision Below is Paying Off
Tonight was Nelson's client party for work. It's the one that I spend the night telling people I barely know how much my husband loves working with them. It's always a lot of fun and over the years, some of his clients have become very good friends so it's not all just schmoozing (is there really a spelling for this word?).
Luckily, I did my visiting from table to table where everyone always offered me their chairs and I accepted very graciously. From there we headed to the "after party" with his office mates. Here another kind soul offered me his chair and the owner, who works with Nelson, opened the door in front of me so I could breathe in some air that wasn't full of smoke and then brought me the most enormous white hot chocolate I've ever seen.
I hung in with best of them and was able to give Nelson his night. I am exhausted and a little frustrated with my inability to get comfortable enough to sleep. However, I'm still relishing the fact that tonight, the label I received most often was "one hot mama".
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
A few weeks ago I made a decision. I decided that this pregnancy is going to be hard. Not hard some of the time or some days but hard all of the time, every minute of every day.
I didn't do this to revel in my own self pity. Instead, I thought that maybe if I just accepted the fact, I might not loathe getting up in the morning, going to bed at night or just getting through the day.
Part of this decision was to answer people's questions about how I'm doing with a lie. Now, instead of my laundry list of my ailments, I simply answer, "Good." Okay, except for a few close friends and family members who are genuinely interested in how I am really doing, that's what I tell people.
Because of this simple little lie, something has changed. I don't feel any better. But, instead of people saying, "Wow, you look tired" or "Your belly has really ballooned out this week," they are saying things like, "You look beautiful." This has helped justify my little lies along the way. They don't seem to be hurting anyone.
Today marks week number 27. I consider this a victory. I am in the last trimester. I have only 13 weeks to go. The daily countdown is no longer three digits but two.
I am going to make it. I am going to continue to strap on my layers of support gear every morning. I am going to do my best to put on a good face. And, yes, I am going to continue to lie.
I can do all this because there is an end in sight. And...that end includes a brand new baby. And...I have a feeling that something about holding that precious little soul in my arms will make me say that this was all worth it in the end.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
A Little Something for the Nose
Today we had Little Sisters at my house. Nine little girls sat chattily around the table working on a Christmas gift for their parents. Christmas music was playing in the background and the conversation quickly turned to Santa.
From one little girl I heard the following, "I'm going to leave Santa cookies and milk and I think I'll leave Rudolph some carrots. Oh! And, I'm going to leave him some medicine for his nose too!"