/> Raising Angels: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baby Love

It's been a slow, boring, exciting, crazy, blessed week. So much has happened. I'm too out of sorts to discuss any of it. In the last two days alone I've forgotten one child in my carpool and didn't realize it until I was across town dropping Max off. I've forgotten about after school activities and tried to pick up kids at the wrong time.
Sheesh, you'd think I was the new mom.
Oh, did I mention I became an aunt for the fourth time on Tuesday?
 This is little 5lb. 10oz. Piper Hadley born on Tuesday evening to my brother and his wife.
She gave us quite a scare but is a beautiful, tiny bundle of pure joy.
We are all very much in love.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's the Little Things

"Mama," Dawson begged me today, "will you play Wii with me?"

"Um, buddy, I don't really want to play Wii," I told him.

"Please! I really, really want to play with you," he tried again.

Last week, we had come home to an empty house and I played one game with him on the Wii for about 15 to 20 minutes. I was curious as to why this had made such an impression on him so I asked, "Why do you want me to play with you? I don't know how to play those games and I'm not very good at them."

"But Mama, you beat me one time and you're the only one who doesn't throw me off the cliff."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Because My Little Brother is About to be a Daddy

My brother and his wife just found out that their first baby will be born on Monday (prayers appreciated). Her due date is February 9th but her fluids are low and the doctor said that the baby is measuring smaller than she had hoped. The doctor assured them that even though that sweet little baby is just shy of 5 1/2 lbs., there is no reason not to think that everything will be just fine. It's just going to happen two weeks earlier than they had planned.

That being said, I've spent the last two days helping them get ready. They did not find out what they are having which I love, so into the attic I went to find that one tub of newborn gowns I had that are all gender neutral. I found the gowns along with some socks, onesies and jackets that I thought would do the trick. I oohed and ahhed over those tiny little things, remembering each of my babies in them. Such sweet, sweet memories of such a precious time.

And just like that, I blinked and those tiny creatures grew in ways I could have never imagined. And now instead of tiny fingers and toes, I stare in awe of this...

 and this...
and this...
and this.

In those wonderful delivery room moments, staring into the eyes of these beautiful creatures God had given me, basking in the miracle of how one moment they were in my womb and the next they were thrust (and yes, my poor kids were thrust) into this big world, I never, not even for one moment, imagined I would be here.

It's been such an amazing journey. Every stage has its blessings and challenges, ups and downs, but none of that takes away from the miracle of life - the fact that before they were formed in my womb, God knew each and every one of them. He saw this moment and all the ones to come. He knew some days would be better than others and that I wouldn't do any of this perfectly.

And yet, He blessed me. He chose to give me these souls in spite of myself. I am a better person because of them.

Brian and Heather, your journey is just about to begin. It will knock your socks off. It will rock your world. It will make you feel a love that you didn't know was possible. It will overwhelm you and bless you beyond measure. It will make you better. It will be an incredible adventure. Hang on and enjoy the ride! You're going to do great.

And when you don't, call me. We'll commiserate together. Some days are just like that, even in Australia (I’ll loan you that story when the time is right).

I can’t wait!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Do you see that sweet man with his arm around me? That is my precious father-in-law: the one who has a knack for knowing what I need to hear at the very moment I need to hear it, the one who thinks I do a great job with the kids on the days when they have brought me to tears, the one who tells me I have the hardest job in the world, the one who calls my kids his grand blessings.

He tolerates my Catholic nudges with a smile. In fact, he is now sharing books about saints with me. I'm wearing him down ;-). Most importantly he loves the Lord and that's what matters.

He is also responsible, along with my wonderful mother-in-law, for raising my amazing husband and for that I will be eternally grateful. Rich, if you ever wonder if you did anything good in life, come talk to me. You did it right with Nelson.

I write about my own family a lot but this picture that Rich's cousin sent me from that massive family reunion at my house made my heart swell with gratitude. I love my in-laws. My in-laws love me and tell me so on a regular basis.

I have a gift that not many people have and I am aware of how very, very blessed I am.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Little Praise Goes a Long Way

Every night before the kids go to bed, Nelson prays over them. "Lord Jesus, bless _. May he/she sleep well. May he/she grow to be an incredible man/woman of God, always doing the right thing, loving above all else and putting others before him/herself."

Today when I picked Max up from his catechism class, his catechist told me that he had done something really wonderful today.

"Little _ was having trouble moving his chair and without being asked, Max walked over, picked his chair up for him and asked the boy where he would like him to put it," she told me with such a sweet smile.

I quickly knelt down so I could be at eye level with Max. If I've learned anything in my 12 years of parenting, it's that when kids do something worthy of praise, you praise them - right at that very moment. These moments can sometimes be hard to find, so when they come, you jump and jump quickly.

"Max," I said in my proudest mommy voice, "I'm so proud of you! That was kind and thoughtful. You put someone else before yourself, which is what Daddy prays over you every night. Good job!" I gave him a big squeeze and a smile and off we went.

I did not go overboard. I took pause, acknowledged what he did, told him why I thought it was so great, and that I loved him. I also told Nelson when we saw him and I may even share the story with his older siblings because it's good for them to see his example and also gives them a chance to congratulate him on his good choice.

In parenting there are sometimes hundreds of times a day I have to correct someone. It's hard, tedious and exhausting. I have to remind myself that children are not small adults. They have to be trained and we, as their parents, have to do it.

I'm finding though, that if I focus and look hard enough, I can also find reasons to praise them. Simple choices like practicing the piano without being asked or complaining will garner a, "Good job son. I'm proud of you for remembering to do that." Hundreds on tests get a high five, remembering to do a chore gets a, "Thank you," and moments like today that go a little above and beyond get praise and the occasional, "Guess what Max did today."

It's so easy to let this side of parenting slide. We get so focused on all the stuff they do wrong that we miss it when they do something right. To me, this is every bit as important as the correction. It's a chance to encourage as well as drive home the reason for that encouragement.

If you choose wisely and look closely, there will be moments you find praiseworthy. Praise them when you do. Don't save it for later. Don't file it away hoping they'll do it again. Praise them when you see it happen. Tell them why you're praising them.

This simple act, regardless if it causes your shy child to stare at the floor or your self-confident one to walk a little taller, can have lasting, positive effects.

Then pray like crazy...every - single - day...that they remember that moment. Pray that they make good choices. Pray they become incredible men and women of God. Pray, pray, pray.

One day, God willing, they will be adults, self-confident enough to make good choices even when no one else is watching, even if nobody ever praises them. They will do it because they will know that you love them. They will know God loves them.

And that? That will be enough.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To Tweet or Not To Tweet

Hi, my name is Amy and I'm technologically challenged.

There. I feel better.

Don't get me wrong, I can do things I need to do - text, email, blog, upload and the like. But if something goes wrong my first line of defense is a text to Nelson, who is a technical guru. He not only can make things work, he understands how and why they do.

This is information that my brain does not have room for. I need that valuable real-estate for things like remembering what everyone wore for their last portraits so they aren't all wearing the same thing for every picture. You know, the important stuff.

I joined the social networking scene way later than most because I thought this Facebook thing was for college students, not moms of four. My main reason for doing this was to keep in touch with my brothers who are all younger than me.

A few months ago I was coerced into joining Twitter for the same reason. I'm still figuring this out. I have burning questions like what thoughts go on Facebook versus Twitter. Since I have way more Facebook friends than Twitter followers, shouldn't I post to both? If I do this, will people who follow me both places think I'm boring? Do I really need to put this much thought into this?

That being said, I basically follow my family, one political site and ThePioneer Woman (her blog is full of great recipes, beautiful pictures and witty writing - love her!). Exciting right?

Tonight I jumped into a conversation between my brothers (well, at least I can say I am accomplishing my main motive of staying in touch with them). It went like this:

Bro 1: so...where are we staying?

Bro 2: We be chillin at the Holiday Innnnn

Bro 1: cool...I will be solo

Me: Ok, I'm curious. What you guys be doin'? (note my attempt to be hip with the language yo)

Bro 2: Doin' hoodrat things wif our hoodrat friends

Me: Trying to think of a super cool comeback...then I remembered I'm not super cool.

Bro 1: ha!

Bro 2: retweeted my tweet (how's that for techno savvy language?)

In which case, I'm not sure if I should be honored or embarrassed.

Sometimes it stinks to be the oldest.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Advent Vs. Christmas

We had a tremendously busy December. Oh wait, I think I've told you that already. But, I'm thinking that perhaps you may not understand that this was a different busy than your run of the mill regular busy Christmas season. It was SUPER busy on top of the already busy. Hmm, I may have already told you that too.

What I haven't told you is the little lesson God gave me along the way. I have these weird, emotional panic moments during the holiday season. They usually happen when I slow down for a moment and enjoy the tree or the Nativity set or some hot chocolate. Suddenly, I see how fast the season is going and I loathe to think that I'm missing it because I'm too busy preparing for it.

A relaxing holiday season during this time of my life is about as elusive as a good half marathon. I prep for it, see myself succeeding and performing well, but it rarely turns out that way. The problem is that I can't get that image of myself racing with great speed out of my head. Similarly, I have this picture of myself sitting in this huge ski lodge at Christmas time, watching the fire burn without a care in the world. I swear, one day, I'm going to make this happen. Ah, but I digress.

Back to the lesson.

So I'm in my normal panic moment when I hear this small voice remind me, "It's Advent, not Christmas."

Um, duh. I can hear you thinking. Really, I can. You're thinking, this is not rocket science. Crazy part is that I agree with you.

However, society, and well, most of the world beg to differ. The Christmas stuff goes up in the stores after Halloween or even before that. Then they spend the next few months shoving it down our throats. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas...just not before Thanksgiving for goodness sakes.

In the Catholic Church, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30) and lasts through four Sundays. It changes from year to year but is always around four weeks long. It is a season for us to focus on getting ready for the birth of Christ. In fact, our priests wear purple, the color of preparation, during this season.

If you walk into a Catholic church during the month of December before Christmas Eve, you will be hard pressed to find any Christmas decorations. Most churches don't decorate until the day before Christmas Eve. On the other hand, the actual Christmas season in the church doesn't end until the Baptism of the Lord, which is the Sunday following Epiphany. We Catholics love a good celebration!

It wasn't until this simple word this year that I began to understand the whole thing as I think it should be.

Advent is preparation. Preparation is not celebration. Preparation is the work it takes in order to make the celebration possible. When God reminded me of this, it allowed me to chill out a bit. I can do this, I told myself. I'm not missing Christmas, I'm preparing for it.

It's the weeks following Christmas that allow time to relax and truly celebrate the season. Doesn't that make more sense than the way we're told Christmas "ought" to be? I love that my faith allows me the opportunity to relish the wonder of this joyous season. It gives me time in the aftermath of all the preparation to enjoy the hard work I put in. I love that!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Christmas tree to take down.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Sweetest Thing

This morning, like every school morning, I dropped the kids off in the carpool line. This is usually a moment of chaos as my kids plus our carpool friends, climb over each other and tangle themselves in a multitude of book bags, lunchboxes, jackets and projects. It's all about who can get to their class line first.

But this morning, as is also often the case, Dawson was the last one out and almost forgot to shut the door behind him. When he turned around to shut it, he shouted, "Bye Mama! I love you!" and off he went.

Like most mornings, I watched him in my rearview mirror, lunch in hand, book bag swishing back and forth, as he trotted off. I giggled that melt my heart, oh my gosh do I love that kid, how did I get so lucky kind of way only a mom can understand.

I thought about that moment as I drove back home. The innocence and unadulterated love in his voice. The boyish sound it still has. His crater-like dimples and freckled cheeks. The hair that refuses to lay down on the top of his head. Precious! Absolutely, 100% sweet make me gush kind of kid.

And now I'm crying as I type. Because this is what it's all about. In the fury of our busy lives, in the yelling and irritation that these little people so often bring with them, what happened in those few seconds is what makes me so very grateful to be who I am.

I am absolutely relishing in the complete warmth of this moment. This boy who is eight and in the second grade will be a sophomore in high school in the blink of an eye and I'm guessing, even though I'm hoping beyond all hope for this to be untrue, that boys at that age don't shout out, "I love you Mama!" anywhere...at any time.

In the world's eyes a stay-at-home mom often gets zero respect. There are no salary raises or bonuses handed out in my line of work. No one offers to wine and dine me to win my affection (well, my husband totally does but he knows I already love him and he does it anyway). Nobody shoots me a text at five to ask if I want to hit happy hour before I go home. After people hear I have four children, it's not unusual for them to follow with the question, "So what do you do?"

I've lived long enough that I'm beginning not to let any of this bother me. I, as my sweet father-in-law often reminds me, have the toughest and best job in the world. Today I got my raise, signing bonus and vacation package in one fell swoop and it came in a package that still needs me in a hundred ways.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Little Project Turned Big

Oh my, my...a new year and no posts. The month of December was a wing-ding-a-doozie! Did I just say that? Man, I'm getting old...and slightly crazy. Hopefully it's endearing.

I am currently sitting at what may well become one of my favorite spots.

This is a little niche in my bedroom. It's right next to the fireplace. I know, right?! A fireplace in my bedroom is amazingly wonderful and relaxing and feels ever so indulgent...especially since it's gas and I can turn it on whenever the heck I feel like it. So cool, or rather, warm!

Because of the fireplace, we ended up with a weird little nook. I'm guessing Nelson probably planned it, actually WE probably planned it. The problem was that it was too tiny for any desk that I fell in love with and all we could find that would fit were those little roll top desks which I hate. Don't take this personally if you have one, they're just not my cup of tea.

Nelson came home with this little "antique" several months ago and it fit, which meant like it or not, it was a keeper. And, well, I must say, it's growing on me as the space evolves. I'm still debating whether or not to change the handles on the drawers (feel free to tell me what you think).

A few years ago, about this time, Nelson decided that the space would be better with some bookshelves and I whole-heartedly agreed. After all, I’m an English major with no space for books. What I didn't understand was that he wanted to design and build them. I think he goes into house building withdrawal every so often and needs a project. Needless to say, it took him awhile to get them finished as woodworking is not a previous skill of his.

He was oh so proud when he brought the cut wooden pieces back home - all 15 or so of them. "Here you go," he said as he plopped them down. To which I wondered, "Um, is that what they're going to look like?"

After he explained how they were going to fit together, which I must admit went right over my head, he told me to finish them. Dude, I paint. I don't stain and I definitely don't sand.

Guess what?

I do now.

In a nutshell, here's how my end of the bookshelves balanced against his one night of cutting them. I sanded each and every single piece. Then I cleaned them off. I picked out and bought the stain and other supplies begging the poor guy at Lowe's to teach me how to stain. I stained for hours and let them dry for a day. Then, get this; I had to sand them again. Then I stained them a second time. You know what? They had to be sanded and stained yet again. After that, I had to seal them...several times. A week or so later, they were finished.

The next stage of said bookshelves was for them to sit in the basement for many, many months until my wonderful husband hired someone to come and hang them...the day after Christmas.

Remember me telling you about that list of projects Nelson had for the reunion? Well, on that list was a mantel for the fireplace in our bedroom. Guess what was dropped off the day after the shelves were put up? That's right! More wood for me to sand, stain and seal...hooray.

That being said, you're beginning to get a small picture of what my December was like on top of the regular holiday activities. I think I'll use January to tell the tales. I'm hoping the farther I get from them, the fonder they will become.