Wednesday, August 30, 2017

You're Gonna Miss This

Today was a day I have been dreading for a very long time! Kate starts full day Kindergarten.
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It amazes me that our "bonus, bonus" baby is old enough for school. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was cooking in the kitchen, calculating days in my head, when Jay asked what I was thinking about. When I told him that I thought I was late, his eyes lit up and, in true "Jay fashion", ran out the door to CVS to get a pregnancy test. He bought the more expensive box because he didn't want to wait a whole 5 minutes to know the results!

I am beyond blessed to have a husband that celebrates new matter what the number!

So I guess I blinked..because Kate went from being an early Christmas gift, to a very loved baby, to a very opinionated toddler, to a super cute and sweet preschooler, to the little girl that I dropped off this morning to spend the whole day learning and playing. You would think by now I would be used to this since I've been through it SEVEN times before! I can honestly say, that it's so much harder "letting" Kate and Luke grow up then with any of the other kids. (And I say "letting" because obviously I have no choice in the matter!)

This morning, I woke up with the Trace Adkins song, "You're Gonna Miss This", playing in my head. I haven't listened to that song recently, so I know my mind is trying to work through this exciting new chapter in my life...which also feels like a loss in some ways. With Kate starting school full time and no other little ones at home to care for, I've been praying in searching for God's plan for me in this time of change.

Kate has not been overly enthusiastic about starting Kindergarten. She liked preschool and is a smart cookie, but she isn't thrilled to be a "whole day friend". To be fair, neither am I, but I have kept my feelings to myself(!) and talked up how much fun she will have and how fast the day will go by. Kate was still more nervous than excited this morning, but there were smiles for her pictures and no tears.(At least not from Kate!)

This year, I did great not crying in the school building! (I hate crying in front of people!) I kept thinking of the scene from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2:

To distract myself today, I'm taking Sarah, my only child not at school or work today, out to do a little back to school shopping.

My Kate needs some clothes for Fall, too. So, even though I don't have her with me for the day, I can still do something for her! I am very grateful to God for the gift of our "bonus, bonus baby".

Now excuse me while I go grab some tissues....and indulge in some Retail Therapy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Plethora of He Said/She Said

Even though I haven't been blogging much lately, I have been saving a lot of the he said/she said moments that I didn't want to lose! I email them to myself when they happen otherwise I would completely forget them! My memory is not the best...please pass the Ginko Biloba.(Is that still a thing?!?)

Anyway....without further ado, here are some of our noteworthy notables from the past few months!

~We visited The Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge this past October. It's a beautiful shrine, surrounded by mountains and trees. At one point, we were walking down a path to another part of the shrine, and Kate was singing a little song she made up herself.
Note: insert the tune of The Farmer in the Dell.
Kate: "We're following the path. We're following the path. Don't get lost because there's bears in the woods.

~Kate LOVES lasagna. She would eat it! Sarah was also a lasagna lover until she developed a lactose issue about 2 years ago.
Kate: Mom, can you make Sarah lasagna?
Me: That's a nice thought, Kate, but she can't eat it because it has dairy.
Kate:(pondering) I love lasagna! I love Sarah! We need to fix this!

~After several acts at Luke's School's Spring Concert:
Kate: Are we just going to sit here and stare?
Jay: Yup, pretty much!

~Sarah had tried curling her hair overnight and it didn't come out exactly right..
Sarah: Well, this isn't the look I was going for!
Andrew: You look like an 80's Glamour Shot...

~We were having one of our deep family discussions...the battle between Tostitoes vs Tostitoes Scoops...
Kate: Scoops rule and chips drool...that means that girls are made of scoops because girls rule!

~After getting one of those cheap toys with the tickets he won at Dave and Busters..
Luke: These are my most prized possessions!
Luke: (momentary pause) Mom, what's a prized possession?

~Mike took Kate and Luke bowling by himself and they had a couple of funny moments:
Kate:(who was losing) Mike, will you switch points with me?
Mike: No, Kate, that's not how it works.
Kate: But I'll switch points with you!

~Kate had to use the bathroom but there wasn't a family bathroom at the bowling alley so Mike had to bring her in the Men's Room.
Kate: I can't go in there! It's a Men's Room!
Mike: Kate, I can't take you in the Ladies' Room.
Kate: Fine...but I'm not peeing in a urinal!

~On our trip to Disney over Christmas vacation.(I need to write a whole blog post on that but it's taken a while because I have a little PTSD over the trip...I will write it soon!)
Kate:(after a little disagreement with Luke) Luke, I'm not having a magical day now that you yelled at me!

~And last but certainly not least! Jay was recently talking to Kate about some of the differences between men and women: how girls are made with lots of love in their heart and are really good at understanding feelings. A day or two later, Jay was helping Kate get her jammies on and Kate was upset because he was trying to put a nightgown on her and she wanted to wear her favorite pj's that were shorts. I was called in amidst tears and frustration.
Kate:(still crying) Why was Daddy trying to put on a nightgown on me instead of my favorite jammies?
Me: Oh, honey, Daddy just didn't understand that it was so important to you.
Kate:(still sniffling) Yeah, Dad doesn't understand feelings AT ALL!
Everyone in the house: hahahahahahahaha

Monday, August 21, 2017

Transfiguration Moments

At Mass on the Transfiguration a couple of weeks ago, I got some interesting insights that made me think of this particular event in a brand new way. To be fair, other parish priests may have explained the Transfiguration more fully, but it's been many years since I've heard more than just small bits and pieces of the homily because of life with little ones! But that's a whole other blog post.

Our parish priest talked about the Transfiguration as the time "where Jesus got His apostles ready to face His death." I guess I always considered the Transfiguration as just another time when God revealed the identity of His Son in a really special way. I didn't consider this moment as a time when Jesus showed His glory to prepare and strengthen Peter, James, and John for the difficult experiences that would soon be upon them.

Then he asked, "What are the times when you had a personal transfiguration---when God felt closest?"

I think that all of us feel God's presence in different ways in our every day lives. It might be opening to a random Scripture verse and having it answer a question or give us comfort...or a friend that happens to say just the words we need to hear...or a song that comes on the radio just when you need to hear it. However it manifests, we just know it's a moment where the Divine touched our life in a special way.

When I thought about the question that our Pastor asked, a specific memory came to my mind....
It was in late October, 2003, and I had been at Mass at a local parish on a Wednesday night. That was my quiet time in a very busy season when we had 6 children that ranged in age from 6 months-10 years. I had been struggling with severe burnout and depression at the time, and getting some weekly quiet time was a very needed reprieve from the "normal chaos". This one particular night, I felt God's presence in a very personal way. It was like God drew me up and wrapped me in Himself. I felt His presence and love in a way I had never felt it before. 

The moment didn't last long. I really didn't understand it. 

The following week I was at daily Mass at another local parish and I was going to speak to a priest we were friendly with about my experience from the previous week after the Mass. While I was waiting for him after Mass, an older woman walked up to me and said, "I know you don't really know me, but I was watching you with your children. I noticed your little boy and he has a lot of characteristics of my grandson. My grandson has autism but it was all diet related."

She was talking about my son, Peter, who was two and a half at the time. He was severely speech delayed and I knew something was wrong, but we hadn't had any official diagnosis at the time and I had been praying for weeks to understand what was going on with him.  I had been praying endlessly for weeks to St. Peter that Peter would start to talk. I would have dreams that Peter would just start speaking and I would feel so relieved! Then, I would wake up and feel that horrible feeling deep inside that I knew something was really wrong with Peter but not knowing exactly what it was.

That woman's words left me in shock. I can still remember exactly how I felt all these years later! I was emotionally numb and struggling to process her words...but I knew that they were truth. 

I barely spoke to the priest about the experience I had in prayer because I was so numb from what I had just been told. 

Thinking about that special time in prayer all these years later, I believe that was a "Transfiguration Moment" for me. When God reached down to prepare my heart in a special way to face a great cross in our life: the death of the dreams we had for Peter to be a neurotypical child and the death of our expectations for the family life we hoped to have.

I think that God gives us all kinds of "Transfiguration Moments", and thankfully they aren't always that extreme. 

~When God pulls on our hearts to give us the grace to face death to sin, that's a Transfiguration Moment.

~When God comes close and shuts a door on a path we thought would lead to our dreams, that's a Transfiguration Moment.

~When God shines His Light on the brokenness we hold deep in our hearts, that's a Transfiguration Moment.

~When God gives us the knowledge of His presence but strips away all of our artificial comforts, that's a Transfiguration Moment.  

God comes close to give us the grace to go through death to self, death of dreams, death to expectations, death to brokenness, and death to holding on to self made comforts.

I also heard a great talk by Chris Stefanick on the Transfiguration. He mentioned that in the Transfiguration, God reveals Himself as a loving Father. "This is my beloved Son." 

We are in the hands of God. We are in the hands of love. If I could just trust in that on a regular basis, the ups and downs of life would be so much easier to navigate!

Chris also spoke about Sr. Josephine Bakhita. She was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child and eventually was bought by an Italian family who set her free. She became a religious sister and was known for her gentleness and love. Despite the incredible difficulties she faced so early in her life, she trusted God with the path she was on and saw all the good that came out of the suffering she endured. 

"I am definitely loved. 
Whatever happens to me, I'm awaited by Love."
~St. Josephine Bakhita

She believed in God's love for her and I find her simple words so beautiful...and her immense trust in God so inspiring. 

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