Annie's Big Day

Annie knew this was going to be an exciting year when she started her first day of second grade back in August.  Second grade is the year when children in our diocese make their First Confession and receive their First Holy Communion.  This is big.

Having gone through these sacraments last year with Thomas, I knew that we were going to be doing some special things with Annie as we did with Thomas.  I was thrilled when my good friend Lindsay found this idea in Faith and Family magazine last summer and shared it with me.  I knew this was something that I wanted to do with Annie before she made her First Penance.  Get her ears pierced.  You may wonder what getting your ears pierced has to do with making your first confession?  Let me tell you.

You relate the pain of sin to the pain of getting your ears pierced.  It will hurt, just as sin hurts and destroys your soul.  After going to confession, your sins are wiped away, gone forever and your soul is left sparkling clean, just as it was after Baptism.  Once the pain in your ears is gone, you are left with these sparkling gems in your ears.  Seeing the earrings in your ears is a reminder of the beauty of confession and that once we confess our sins, God wipes them away and our soul is beautiful again.  At least that is how I explained it all to Annie.

She has maybe asked once  before about getting them pierced, but other than that, she really never mentioned it.  Instead of waiting until she was begging to have them done, I wanted to surprise her and make it more of a gift to her.  We planned a special day together the week before the big day.  She knew we were going to the Pink Sisters to pray and practice and then out to buy a new dress.  

When I asked her if she would like to get her ears pierced, this was the look on her face.  I want to remember her shock and excitement forever.  She couldn't believe it!  I explained everything to her, about WHY we were going to get her ears pierced and I think she got it.  But honestly, if she only ever remembers that she got them pierced for her First Penance, that's alright!  It was a beautiful event that we shared together and I'm so grateful that I got to surprise her.  It was so worth it!


She was so darling.  She climbed right up into the chair and answered all the questions the woman was asking her in her shy voice.  But the cutest part of it all was watching her look at herself in every mirror she passed by.  I don't think she stopped smiling all day!

And so, one week later Annie made her First Penance.  It was a beautiful day.  I was so proud of her as we sat in the pew waiting for the service to begin.  All of a sudden she seemed so old.  How could we be here already?  Second grade, ears pierced, and going to Confession?  

Another milestone for Annie.  Another step on the path to adulthood.  Another big event to document and remember.  My prayer for her is that she will love this sacrament as much as she did today.  That she will desire to go to confession as often as possible to wipe away her sins.  After we left church, we were driving to go out to lunch.  While we were in Sherman she asks me if she had sinned yet or was her soul still clean! 


Be My Valentine

Pink and red hearts just make me smile.  And you know, practically anything can be made into a heart!

Hearts everywhere...

This Valentines day, instead of TJ and I going out to dinner alone, we made a fabulous meal together with the kids...with a twist.  We've done this a couple of times now, where TJ and I team up with either Thomas or Annie.  One group has the challenge of making the appetizer while the other gets to do the dessert.  The first time we did it the challenge, the rule was you could only use ingredients that we already had in the pantry or fridge, and it had to be relatively healthy!  The kids had so much fun making their food and even made up sheets so the other group could score the dish.  It was judged on presentation, taste, and how good it was for you.
Tonight, when we teamed up, Thomas and I had dessert while Annie and TJ made the appetizer.  TJ and Annie served Gouda cheese on top of crackers and tried to shape them into a heart on the platter!  Thomas and I made my new favorite dessert.  They also helped TJ make salmon and tuna steak on rice.  It was a lovely Valentines meal.  We're mastering the art of taking ordinary circumstances... dinner at home with five kids, and making it a bit more extraordinary!

Beautiful flowers from TJ!  Thank you, honey!


I Found It!

About an hour after delivering Pete in the hospital, the kind lady who brings the dessert cart around to each room, paid me a visit.  Pick anything you want... she instructed me.  I assume from the work it took to deliver a baby and the fact that it was nearly eleven o'clock (my normal lunchtime) was the reason that I was ravenously starving.  I devoured a piece of carmel cheesecake within a minute.  From that moment on, ALL I want to eat are sweets.  TJ fueled the fire when he brought me home a huge piece of chocolate cake from Lazlos the first week we were home from the hospital.   I thought about that cake for days.  But now I'm realizing that I better pull myself together and begin to wean myself off of sweets.  Not completly, for heavens sake. Maybe just not having chocolate after lunch and dinner....every day.

So, thanks to my new found interest...Pinterest, I stumbled upon a dessert blog.  And it's healthy.  Healthy ways to make desserts.  I'm in heaven.  I found this recipe .  It is the perfect dessert for me to make.  It's a single serving.  Tastes like a thick piece of chocolate cake without all the fat and calories!  I made it with applesauce instead of oil so this little gem is only 2 grams of fat and 140 calories.  ALLELUIA!  However, I did add dark chocolate chips both in the batter and on top...Baby steps.  Baby steps.

Try it!

Sweet Sweat

Oh, to be running again feels so good.  To move my legs, drip sweat and push myself is oddly addictive.  But whatever the reason, be it time alone, burning calories, good conversation with friends, or clearing my head, I crave running.  I'm no die hard runner, mind you.  Just a jogger who enjoys a three to five mile run.  It's been five weeks since I had Pete and just started back slowly into running this week.  It works out great to be members to the gym just down the street.  I can nurse Pete in the morning, lay him back down praying that he goes back to sleep and head over to the gym. When the weather warms up, hopefully I'll be joining my friends to run outside. 

I did get signed up for the Half-Marathon this spring however, and I like the fact that I have a goal to work towards.  13.2 miles is crazy long for me, I haven't ran a half since before TJ and I were married!  It doesn't matter if I end up walking half of the race, I'm going to work towards this goal and enjoy running with friends.  TJ is also running it which is so awesome.  Even though we won't be running together... he'll be way ahead of me, I love that we can share this together.  One small matter to think about is nursing.  Pete will be four months old and still nursing.  Haven't really worked out the details of feeding him...but be assured my girls will be bouncing along full of milk as I run, especially by the end of the race!  Would it look funny to have my sister meet me along the route, hand me Pete, and I feed him along the way.... hmm.


One Month

Oh lovely little boy.  You're already one month old.  One short month ago you slipped out of me and into a big, bright, loud world.  You just fit in so well.  It's like we've had you forever.

You are very patient and kind...a gift that newborns possess.  You don't complain or whine...thank you.  You wait your turn, watch everyone for a while, get held and squeezed, and finally when you are done with all that, you sleep.  You love to eat, just like your brothers and sisters.  Getting baths are a big event, especially with your sister Evelyn who loves to scrub your hair.  Thank you for letting her do that, especially when she is not so gentle.

It's funny how different things seem in only one month.  The first few times of taking you out after being born are such an event.  I record the places we took you in your baby book as if they we were on a vacation.   The first time we picked the kids up from school, we all cheered as we drove away from school shouting it's the first time Pete picked us up....yay!  Now, I grab you and go when we leave the house. 

Your newness has long since rubbed off.  Your once wrinkly dry skin is now smooth and plump.  You are beginning to fill out nicely.  You are staying awake during the day a bit longer.  And I love how George has turned you into an excuse to get out of bed at night.  But mom, I just want to say goodnight to Pete...I didn't get to hold him today.  Very cute the first couple of times and I totally fell for it until I figured out his sneaky plan...

Thank you Lord for the gift of this child and for all the love, joy, chaos, sweetness, and messes that having a newborn brings.  I wouldn't want it any other way. 

I love you sweet baby.


So Much Goodness

I am truly humbled.
My list of thank you's to write since Pete's birth is a gazillion pages long.  We have been helped by so many friends and family members that my heart is about to explode with gratitude.
It's been one month since Pete made his appearance, and not a day has gone by where someone hasn't called, made a meal, cleaned my bathrooms, brought the kids home form school, watched the kids, or sent a gift to us.  Seriously.  In this one month we've experienced bringing home a newborn, the family flu, and my birthday.  With all of that, our family and friends have outdone themselves in generosity.

My friend Janel made this beautiful, warm car seat cover for Pete.  I was so touched when she gave it to me!

Kim made this fleece tie blanket for Pete.  Each of my children except for Thomas, have their own tie blankets that they sleep with every night!  I love that she made this beautiful one for him.  She has also been so gracious in watching my children for me.  Countless times she has brought Thomas and Annie home from school so that I wouldn' t have to get out and pick them up, thus giving me more of a chance for a long nap!

For my birthday my friend Kimberly crochet this purse for me!  The girls that I work out with met at Scooters for coffee to celebrate my birthday, along with Lisa and Mary who also have January birthdays!  We also got cupcakes and mini cheesecakes to start off our day! 

The food that we have been given since Pete's birth is ridiculous!!  Dinner delivered to my door three days a week!!   I have such a wonderful group of friends who all have signed up to make our family dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for weeks.  The best gift EVER I tell you.  My friends have been so generous with making these wonderfully filling meals for our family.  As a small way of thanks, we always pray for the family who made us the meal as we say grace.

Our community of friends that we have surrounded ourselves with is so supportive of having children.  All of our friends know the demands and stresses of having children and are so good at doing what they can to help, not because TJ and I can't handle our children, but because they all know very well what it is like to bring home new babies and understand what is helpful. 




My friend Janel even brought me over my own boxed lunch one morning.  I can't tell you how special I felt that day.  It was all packaged up so beautifully.  There was chicken salad sandwich, soup, crackers, muffins, cuties, and yogurt with fruit.  It was darling, and delicious!!  She even had two Lunchables for George and Evie to eat.  They thought she was the best, and rightly so...I mean getting a Lunchables for lunch...way cool!



What I have been craving the most is breads and desserts.  My friend Staci brought us a blueberry bread and I devoured the entire thing!  It was so yummy and satisfying.  I hid it from the kids so I could eat it all. 

When Pete was one week old, Laura and Jarod came for the weekend.  Laura and the boys stayed a few extra days to help out.  She was such a big help and it was nice to have her company.  She did my laundry, picked the kids up from school, had made meals at home and froze them for us.
She also bought us the BEST cinnamon rolls in the world from a local bakery.  For some reason, these rolls are the most scrumptious right after having a baby!  I look forward to eating these hen I get to the end of my pregnancy.  Thank you Laura for being here and for all your help!

The week we had the flu, TJ's mom came over at night to take him to the ER.  She brought us soup, Gatorade and made us dinners.  She has such a giving heart, her gift is taking care of people.  She does this so well.  No matter what, she will be here and help us out, especially when we are sick.  I have learned so much about caring for others from her.  Thank you Tonja.
It truly is a blessing to live in the same town as your parents.  I can call my mom any time and ask for her help.  She always picks the kids up from school one day a week, and even came and cleaned my bathrooms for me!  She and my dad even came to watch the kids one evening so TJ and I could go out with friends since we hadn't done much together since having the baby.  We stayed out until 1 am and my mom was happy to stay at our house so we could have a fun night. We are so grateful for the help that we get from our parents.

Thank you again to each of you who have prepared meals, watched our children, sent cards and gifts and prayed for us.  You all are very dear to our hearts. 


The Day You Were Baptized

-The Morning-
The day before your baptism we were hit with a huge snow storm that dumped lots of heavy white snow all over us! 

-The Baptismal Gown-
This gown has been worn for baptisms in our family since 1923.  My grandma Becky was baptized in in, my dad and his two sisters wore it, my two sisters and I wore it, and finally your brothers and sisters and cousins have now been baptized wearing it as well.  It's a beautiful piece of family history.

You also wore these beautiful hand crochet booties that my friend Lisa made for you.

-The Ceremony-
I love that your brothers and sisters were right there at the baptismal font watching Monsignor baptize you.  I love that we chose our good friends Craig and Kim Vacek to be your godparents.  We know they will pray for you every day.  We couldn't ask for anything better for you.  They will love you and you will always have a special bond with them.

-The Party-
We decided to go down to the Marion room for our celebration afterwards.  With all the snow, we knew it may be difficult for everyone to drive in our neighborhood. 
I had made boxed lunches for everyone with a chicken salad sandwich or turkey sandwich, bag of chips, carrots, fruit slush and chocolate crosses.  We had sugar cookies for dessert!

A truly glorious day.  The sparking white snow that covered the trees and ground was a beautiful reminder of what your little soul must look like now after being baptized.  Bright, white, and sparkling. 

*Thank you Janel for taking all the beautiful pictures!