Friday, June 15, 2018

Reflections From a Little Bird

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my grandfather at his assisted living complex. Before getting to the main doors, you walk through one of two openings that bring you to a covered two story entryway. The entryway is extra bright because the second story of the entryway has a few windows that let in lots of natural light.
view of one of the entryway openings from outside the building

view from the inside of the entryway looking out

On that particular day, as I walked into the covered entryway, I heard very loud chirping. Looking up, I saw a panicked little bird that kept flying up against a closed window trying to get back out to the clear blue sky. Clearly, this poor bird was very distressed. Multiple times it flew up and around only to come back to rest on the sill of the window. The bird thought it was trapped! In reality, all the bird had to do was fly down just a few feet where the two large openings would give it the freedom it sought.
Poor bird on the windowsill longing for outside!

How close it was to actual freedom!
I wish I could have found a way to lead that little bird out of its self inflicted prison!
The good news...I returned later that day to bring my grandfather his pills and the bird was gone.
Hopefully it didn't take it too long to figure out how to escape!

What an amazing visual example to something that has happened over and over again in my life! How many times have I "banged my head" emotionally against the closed window of circumstances in my life? How many times have I been so caught up in my feelings of being trapped in a particular struggle or situation and unable to figure it out myself? How many times have I struggled unnecessarily for longer than I needed to because I kept trying to get through that closed window when God had a perfectly good doorway for me to go through?

The answer is way too many times!

If you find yourself completely stuck in an area of your life right now and feel like you're trapped, give yourself an emotional time out and take a moment to pray. You never know, God might have a totally different doorway for you to walk through....

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My Baby Is Growing Up!

For weeks, Kate has be SO excited to get to today! Graduation Day for Kindergarten! Honestly, this year has gone by so fast and I'm not sure that I'm up for yet another milestone for our family. Particularly because this is the last Kindergarten graduation for our family. Every "absolute last" is always bittersweet..especially for this mama! No matter how much I try and try to slow down time, it just keeps on going!

A few cute "she saids" re: graduation:

This morning, Kate woke up extra early and ran into my bedroom saying, "Did you forget what today is?!?" To which I assured her I remembered and was very excited for her big day!

Yesterday she told me that her graduation started at "9am sharp!", which included a finger wag and a very serious expression.

Before she left for school this morning:
Kate: Make sure you sit on the aisle!
Me: Why?
Kate: You want me to give you a hug when I walk in for my graduation, right?!
Me:(Heart Melting) Of course! (and yes, I did sit on the aisle and she did stop her very cute, exaggerated 'right, together, left' walk to lean over and give me a big hug!)

Between dropping Kate off at school and the graduation time, I was able to sneak in a very short visit at adoration. I spent the time thanking God for Kate and the blessing that she is to our lives and praying for her future. This surprise bonus, bonus baby...and that's not a typo since Luke was our first surprise bonus baby...is just such a spot of joy in our lives. And though my heart breaks just a little at all these lasts, I can truly say that we are "ending on a good note" with this special little girl.

***On a side note, all the Kindergarten students' graduation caps were made by our beloved parishioner Mrs. Ledoux, who turned 101 last month!!! Mrs. Ledoux has been making the graduation caps for 65 years...35 years as the Kindergarten teacher at St Francis(my teacher,too!)  and every year after that. This amazing lady still stops in at the school office about once a week to lend a hand!
Kate the graduate!


All serious in the procession...and right before my hug!

Kate, Luke and Sarah

Daddy and his little girl

My parents with Kate

Jay's Mom with Kate

Kate with Mrs. O, the nicest Kindergarten aide ever!

Kate with her teacher, Mrs. Jason. She had a great year!

The happy graduate

Group selfie with my baby
Bring on summer!


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Goodbye, May!

May has been a month just chock full of milestones to our family! My heart is full....but my mind is very tired and I could truly use a couple of "do nothing" days to recharge! I definitely need to fit that in very soon!

I haven't joined in with 7 Quick Takes for a while, but it felt like a great way to wrap up May and jump into a new month.

So, without further ado....

#1 Celebrating Sacraments
Within a four day span, we celebrated two Confirmations and a First Communion!
Ellie and Peter

Luke

#2 Engagement!
My son, Jon, got engaged! We love his fiance, Marisa, and are super excited to enter this new stage in our life! The wedding date has been set! May 24, 2020! I share my thoughts on growing our family in a whole new way in this post. If you want the scoop on the details of engagement day and the surprise party we threw that night you can find that here!

Jon and Marisa

#3 Graduation Day
The day after Jon got engaged, both Jon and his brother, Andrew, graduated from college! Andrew graduated with a degree in computer science and has a full time job starting as soon as his background check goes through at the Underwater Naval Warfare Center, which is a great opportunity for him! Jon was fortunate to get an internship position and is pursuing a Master's Degree in ocean engineering from UNH come fall. 

Jay and I are very proud of both of them and can't believe that two more of our children are launching into adulthood!




#4:Mother's Day
The day after the graduation, which was the day after the engagement/party was Mother's Day. As you can imagine, I was pretty exhausted after two crazy and incredible days back to back. After a very nice, laid back potluck brunch with both our mothers and two of our sisters hosted by my sister-in-law, the only thing I wanted was to sit on the couch, take a nap, take a walk, not do any dishes all day and get pizza for dinner.  I'm happy to say that all my wishes came true that day and I was truly spoiled by all of my kids...and my hubby! 
Image result for cartoon about mothers day
#5: Catching Up With Friends
Some good friends that moved to Tennessee about 12 years ago came up for a visit. They have family in the area, but we haven't seen them in four years. It was great to catch up and the hours passed way too quickly!

Kate and Luke with Kolbe and Julia, who are also my God children:)

#6 Birthday Girl
Sarah turned 19 this month! I still have no idea how that could be possible! Poor Sarah, by the time we got to the 19th we were partied out and "caked" out. Thankfully, Sarah enjoyed her more low key birthday and asked for homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert.(She loves biscuits!) Andrew's girlfriend, Liz, came over as well as Marisa and the night was spent with our teens and young adults playing lots of games together. I do love a full house!
Happy Birthday, Sarah
We also celebrated the Anniversary of Therese's birth. It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since we held her in our arms for those brief 16 days. We went and picked out flowers after Mass to make a bouquet and asked our pastor if we could place the flowers in a vase under the Divine Mercy picture in our parish. A very simple thing, but it made me feel good to honor her memory with Jay and some of her siblings.
Image result for picture of an orange rose

#7: World Travellers, Field Trips, and Baseball games (oh,my)
My parents took Sarah and Jon to London and then a 5 day cruise that made stops in France, where they took an excursion to Normandy, and then Cork, Ireland. The cruise was a gift to Jon for his graduation and Sarah was invited to tag along! (Andrew is not a cruise type of guy so he got a different graduation gift!) Sarah LOVED the macaroons in France and they were both really moved in their visit to Normandy. (My grandfather was in a supply boat during the D Day battle, so there was a special connection for them as they visited the Omaha Beach.) 
Sarah and Jon on London Bridge..I asked Jon is he sang the song.(He did:)

Sarah with her macaroon
My parents and Sarah fly home today, while Jon is flying to Ireland to spend a couple of weeks touring the country on a trip he worked all last summer to save for. Mike is flying out tonight to meet Jon in Dublin for 10 days. On the home front, all these travels from my older kids means I've had to do lots more dishes(Ellie, too), walks with the dog, potty trips with the dog, taxi runs for kids and staples I forgot/ran out of, and had a house that feels very strange. 

The month also included a rafting trip for Jay and the high school youth group he runs(that Ellie is part of), a retreat day Jay ran for the 6th and 7th graders at our parish school, a much needed date night with another couple, a field trip for Kate, lots of baseball games for Luke, and probably a bunch of things I can't even remember! lol
Kate's field trip at the ocean on a beautiful Spring day!
Luke got his first Little League hit and was given the game ball!

Thank-you to May for holding all of these wonderful memories! June..you have some big shoes to fill!

Have a great weekend!



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Engagement Day

As promised, I have lots of details and pictures of Jon and Marisa's Engagement Day!

About two weeks ago, Jon proposed to Marisa. They have been dating for a little more than 3 1/2 years and Jon has been planning to propose since November.  In January, Jon purchased the ring and met with Marisa's Dad on the sly to ask his permission to marry his daughter. (I LOVE this tradition!) Then we waited...and waited..and waited.. for Jon to determine the right moment to propose. (I may have been just a "tad" impatient. But I kept reminding myself that this is Jon's story to tell and I had to just keep quiet and wait! so.not.easy!)

Jon had a lot of different ideas for proposing. He finally settled on making the big moment on Second Beach in Newport, which is a beach Marisa really loves to go to. Thankfully the weather was good because I don't think Jon had a Plan B...we joked that he would have to go the the New Bedford Whaling Museum to propose since that was where their first date happened way back in August, 2014!

Jon picked up Marisa and they drove to Newport for a late lunch of chowder and salad. Then, they went for what Marisa thought was just a nice walk on the beach on a beautiful sunny day. They were holding hands and Marisa was a little ahead of Jon when he tugged her back towards him. When she turned back, Jon was down on one knee with the ring in his hand. Marisa was COMPLETELY surprised. When Marisa looked at Jon, she called out, "Shut up! No...I mean YES!" So Jon told everyone that she said no at first but then changed her mind! (Once a tease, always a tease!)

Thankfully there was a nice couple on the beach that took a picture of the newly engaged couple.
Jon and Marisa

I offered to Jon to host a surprise engagement party the night he proposed. This way, he could surprise Marisa twice in one day and celebrate with parents, grandparents, siblings and friends that would make up the bridal party all together in one place. Most of the people attending the party thought that Jon was throwing a surprise birthday party for Marisa. Since Jon will be in Ireland for Marisa's birthday, it was a good cover! So the surprise party was really a surprise inside a surprise!

None of my kids knew...though Sarah and Andrew were suspicious...so planning and decorating were challenging! I had several decorations that were engagement theme hidden away that I pulled out once Marisa and Jon came in and announced their good news. As part of the decorations, I had a bunch of pictures of Jon and Marisa developed and framed around the house. I even managed to get a picture of the beach engagement. Jon and I had a special code. When he texted me, "What's for dinner?", that was my cue that "the deed had been done" and that he had emailed me pictures. I quickly went to the CVS website, uploaded the pics, and Jay picked them up for me 10 minutes before everyone arrived! I love creating the little, special details!!

Ellie really had no idea the engagement was happening that day. I happened to pick a bottle of Coke at the store that had Family written on it. Before the party started, Ellie said, "We can't use this soda...Marisa is only a friend." It was SO hard not to blow the secret in that moment!
So, of course, I had to take a picture of it!

The party was really wonderful and it was fun celebrating Jon and Marisa with everyone and sharing their joy! So much happiness and wonderful memories with the hope of lots more happy memories to come!!
Sarah was our crafty girl with making the vases

Peter came home the day of the party with a heart string art gift for me for Mother's Day.
Instant decor!

We had to include a pic of Marisa with our dog, Josie!
Marisa loves Josie almost as much as Jon!

Triumphant entrance!

Showing off the ring hand:)

Happy hugs from Marisa's mom

Marisa with her parents

A very happy Kate! Kate LOVES Marisa and is very happy she is going to be a Hamel!

Marisa with her friends, Violet and Emily

Marisa with her sister, Bridget


Marisa and Peter

Future sisters-in-law


Jon with his friends

Some of the decorations that joined the party once the secret was spilled

I found this sign online and it became the theme of the night!


Jon and Marisa being good sports and posing for goofy shots:)


Another add on...special cupcake toppers! A very cool Etsy find!
Marisa with my mom and Jay's mom


Marisa with her future brothers-in-law

The future Mr. & Mrs.
Coming May, 2020