Friday, November 30, 2018

Dear, November...Thanks For The Memories!

November has just sped by way too quickly! I've meant to post at least three different times but there has been lots of life being lived around here! And what better way to catch up than with a 7 Quick Takes Friday! (And I apologize in advance if the 7 "takes" aren't so quick!)

#1 The Path To A Wedding

It seems surreal that two of my children will be married within the next 18 months! Since they got engaged in May and September, we've had lots of fun conversations about wedding and reception ideas. And two weeks ago, I got to be a part of not only one, but two(!), exciting pre-wedding moments!

In the morning, Marisa invited me, Sarah and Ellie to join her mom, sister, and grandma in her very own "say yes to the dress" adventure. It was sweet of her to invite all of us and we were so excited to share in such a special moment.

The whole group started the day with breakfast....nobody wanted to be hangry during such an important moment!...and then we all arrived at the dress shop to start the search. The store Marisa made the appointment at clearly adapted their own "say yes to the dress" flair to the popular tv show. The bridal section was huge...two of the three floors of the store...and we had our own private blinged out area filled with white and hot pink furniture. Marisa had a few ideas of what she was looking for, but has watched enough "Say Yes To The Dress" episodes to know that she should be open to trying different styles.

Marisa tried on about 10 dresses. They all looked beautiful on her, and with each dress you could see her narrowing down all the specific details until she got to "the one". The dress that Marisa chose was the last dress she tried on. She looked stunning-so classy and elegant. The salesperson helping us added a veil and handed her a bouquet and Marisa was all smiles as she said "yes!" to her dress!

I'm not sharing details because Marisa wants the dress to be a complete surprise for Jon, but let's just say that the open mind she had was important for her final decision because there were several elements to the dress that she chose that wasn't what she thought she wanted!

It was SO much fun to be a part of that special moment. It was a lot to take in- how beautiful Marisa looked, the joy and excitement of her mom, grandma, sisters and future sisters-in-law, all the beautiful dresses. So many thoughts were going through my head! It's just amazing that we are entering this season of life. That beautiful dress Marisa chose is for my son on the day she becomes his wife! It sounds like such a stupid sentiment when I write it out, but honestly it's!

The store had a fun picture wall which we took advantage of!
The Happy Bride to Be

Marisa Having Fun

Marisa and her mom

Marisa and her grandma

Sisters and future Sisters in law having fun

#2: The Path to (Another) Wedding

After all the excitement and emotion of the morning/early afternoon, I just needed to go home and take a quick nap.

And then....

It was time to take some engagement pictures of Andrew and Liz for their save the date cards. We went to a nature reserve right in our town and I took about 350 pictures in multiple settings of the park. Andrew, to put it mildly, does not enjoy taking pictures. Or dressing up. So I knew the photo session would be somewhat tortuous for him. I think the photo session...and the haircut for Andrew and trip to the mall for a new dress for Liz and a new shirt for him the night before...proves that he truly loves her!

The photo session went better than I thought it would! Out of the 350 shots, Liz narrowed it down to 11 favorites that she emailed to her parents. I think she had a favorite in mind, but she wanted to sleep on it. Liz's dad is a graphic designer and is helping her create the cards. There were a lot of shots that weren't perfect for the cards, but were cute shots to save as memories of a special day. And there were plenty of shots with closed eyes and ridiculous faces that made us laugh...and made Liz delete very quickly! :)

Here are a few of my favorites...

How Andrew really feels about pictures! lol

I love that they make each other laugh!

Andrew is smitten...
...and I think the feeling is mutual <3

So much joy...and so much to process..all in one day!

#3: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was SUCH a nice day with family. We started the day with Mass, watched a little of the Macy's day parade while I made some stuffing, then headed to my aunt's house with the chocolate chip cheesecake, apple pie and chocolate cookie dough brownies I had made the day before. It was great to see most of my extended family. The food was great and the company was even better! Luke and Kate had a great time playing with two of their cousins!

On the way home, we stopped by Jay's parents house to spend a little time with them.(and have a little more dessert!) Then we met up with my parents again at their house. It was a full day with family and great food!
Jon and Marisa ran the Turkey Trot race Thanksgiving morning

Luke with his cousins, Ryan and Paul

Kate and Pa

Kate with my Uncle Jim and one of their two dogs who Kate spent much of the day loving on!

Everyone hard at work!

My cousin, Karen, her husband, Mike and their son, Paul

#4: Black Friday

On Black Friday I always go shopping with my mom and sister. We do not head out until around we aren't the hard core shoppers that end up on the news! We got some good deals and lots of names crossed off our list. Most importantly, it was a good opportunity for time shared together.

Every year I have a goal to finish my Christmas shopping before Advent starts. Usually I get pretty close. Well this year, I have broken all my previous records! Not only do I have 97% of my shopping done, I even have at least 2/3 of it wrapped! I have to go over my list one more time tonight, but other than a couple small things I plan to order on Amazon tonight and one store I need to go to tomorrow because my "Olympia Bucks" start on December 1st, I am pretty much done! I even have stocking stuffers wrapped! 

It really helps that I LOVE to shop. And, since I haven't managed to grow a money tree in our backyard, I only get to shop in volume at Christmas. I love making lists and trying to figure out gifts people will love! 

So, if anyone wants help, I would totally love to be a personal shopper! I think it would be my dream job!

#5: Pierogi Fest

This was the 11th annual pierogi fest! It started when Jay's Babi was still alive and feeling sad that she was forgetting her special family recipes. The weekend after Thanksgiving, Jay's mom brings over cabbage filling and Jay makes potato and cheese filling and pierogi dough. Most of the kids join in and they make dozens and dozens of pierogis. This year was a record! They made 28 dozen!!(We have bags in our freezer!)

Love my mil's apron!

So nice to have 2 extra (almost) daughters join in!

Jay being silly

Jon looking devious!

#6: Looks Like The Grinch Visited

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had our kitchen and living room ceilings redone. Our house was built in the 70's and had popcorn ceilings.(don't even get me started!) Since we got some new lighting in the spring, we had several holes in our ceiling. Plus, there were spots of our ceiling that were cracked and peeling. It was also in desperate need of painting. 

I convinced Jay that it was time to replace them.(not an easy task for a man who doesn't like change!) My parents were very generous and helped us move ahead to get the last piece of our kitchen reno done.(Only took 5 years lol) 

On Monday, we emptied our entire living room. It reminded me of the scene from the Grinch when he empties the Who's House! It was several days of chaos but I know it's going to be worth it! I love our flat ceilings!!

#7: No Signs of Christmas!

Since we had to empty our living room, all of our Christmas decorations are still put away. Jay has to paint the ceiling, but we have to let them dry all the way. I was hoping he could paint on Saturday, but they aren't dry yet. We aren't getting our tree until next weekend when Jon comes home from grad school because he still wants to be part of the tree picking/decorating process.(which makes me happy) But poor Jay will be painting ceilings after work this week so that we will be ready to decorate next Saturday! Until then, I need to wait (somewhat) patiently...but I'm anxious to get our holiday on!

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

God Can Even Bring Good Out of Poop...Literally

Some days start really well and then slide off the rails really quickly. On a recent morning, I woke up a few minutes early, got everyone's lunches put together quickly and efficiently, and even got an exercise video in before hopping into the shower right on schedule to get myself to work on time. That's a great morning...

Cue foreboding music!

Halfway through my peaceful shower my husband, Jay, came into the bathroom. It turns out that when he took our dog out to do her "business", he stepped in her "business" from the previous day that one of our dear children failed to clean up. The bad news was that he didn't figure out this problem for about half an hour and he walked all over the house with his shoes on! The good news is that because there were so many leaves on the ground, it appears that the only affected area was right by our sliders. "But", he said, "you should probably wash all the floors later on today just in case." (sigh..another big item added to my to do list for the day. Double sigh...I never wanted a dog.)

Keep this dog poop incident in mind because it emerges again momentarily.

During this "ruin my peaceful shower visit", Jay also had to tell me that Luke just mentioned he was presenting his saint project that day and needed his costume.

Giant sigh...and there went all hope for leaving the house on time.

I did not panic immediately. Luke had just worn his St. John Bosco "costume" on All Saints Day the week before, which consisted of his black dress pants and his older brother's black button down shirt with a piece of white duct tape to mimic a priest's collar. When I got out of the shower, Luke had his dress pants in hand but had no idea where the shirt ended up. I had him look under bureaus and in all his drawers, and I looked through Peter's room and the clean laundry. Despite all our shirt.

I started to get very frustrated. One of the worst things to feel like is an incompetent parent! Luke's costume had been easy and perfect and half of it was just gone! And I was running late...and the clock was ticking.

But wait, there's more! (Kind of like an infomercial, but not about anything you want to buy!)

Jay was going to a retreat that weekend...the first he's gone to in a very long time. I was asked to have his family write encouraging letters to him as a surprise to receive at some point in the retreat. Several of the kids and I wrote letters and my daughter, Ellie, was supposed to give them to one of her friends whose dad is helping to run the retreat. Please note that I said "supposed to"....

At the same time the "costume incident" was occurring, Ellie texted me because she forgot all the letters that she was supposed to deliver. My frustration bubbled to the next level. So I had to go to plan B and send the letters in to school with Luke to give to Ellie's friend's younger sister. The same Luke that misplaced his costume my confidence was not very high that this task would be accomplished.

By that point, I was running extra late for work, trying to figure out a backup costume, putting the retreat letters into a manila envelope for Luke to hopefully deliver, and yelling at Luke for not being more organized and planning ahead and I completely lost my patience. Not a pretty moment.

But wait, there's more!

So I just gave up and grabbed one of our male family member's suit jacket from our closet, threw it in a bag with his dress pants, told him(in a loud, impatient voice) that he would have to make due but it wouldn't look right, and started to grab my purse to leave.(very late)

And that's when Luke walked in front of me and I saw it..a six inch circular spot on the back of Luke's gym shirt. I yelled, "Wait!", reached in for a sniff, yelled, "You have sh%& on your shirt!!!" and promptly burst into hysterical tears. Definitely not a stellar mom moment. :(

I threw the shirt in the wash, had Luke put on his gym shirt from last year that has a few tiny holes in it from Josie's puppy teething incidents...did I mention I never wanted a dog...then grabbed the oatmeal I never had time to eat, told everyone through tears that I loved him, and walked out the door still crying.(and now very, very late)

As I cried down the road, I was feeling horrible about everything. I was trying to process through my thoughts and why I reacted the way I did. Why did I get so frazzled about the last minute need for a missing costume? Why didn't I handle it better? I could have used the incident as an opportunity for patient problem solving...and all I did was give my kids yet another reason they will need therapy some day!

It wasn't hard to figure out. It was pride...If Luke didn't have what he needed it makes me look like a bad parent. In the next second I felt in my heart, "So since you were afraid you would look like a bad parent, you ended up acting like a bad parent." Ouch...and yes, pretty much.

Still crying, I called Luke and apologized for yelling at him. And I texted Sarah to apologize for yelling.

And I got to work late feeling a little bruised on the inside.

Several hours later and hoping for an afternoon "do over"....

I made a brief stop at Adoration on the way home from work to ask for forgiveness and patience and fortitude and all the other virtues and graces I so desperately need(!). I swept and washed all the floors in the hour I had free before the kids got home. Josie the dog ate my last pair of sunglasses.(SO don't want a dog) Got the kids off the bus to learn that Luke had forgotten to deliver the letters. (big sigh but no yelling, so I consider it a #win)

And, best of all(insert eye roll here), Luke told me, "Too many kids were on the list to present that day at school so I got moved to tomorrow." (said with what I affectionately call Luke's muppet face(just like his dad) and a quick shoulder shrug)

So even though that black button down shirt is still MIA, Luke was able to borrow an alter boy robe that looks like a cassock...which was a way better costume than the shirt!

If you've had a tough parenting week, you aren't alone. Tomorrow is a new day! (Thank you, God!) This Bible verse is worthy of memorization for those tough parenting moments...

The Steadfast Love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning,
great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-13

p.s. And in case you're wondering how Luke managed to get poop on the back of his shirt...
While I was showering, Luke was goofing with his football and pretending to be Gronk, (as in Gronkowski from the Patriots), catching balls and rolling on the ground RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE SLIDERS where the poop incidence originally occurred and prior to Jay realizing he had stepped in it. If the whole costume incident hadn't happened I probably would have left for work without realizing Luke had poop on his shirt...and Jay wouldn't have noticed because, well, "men". So I did thank God that I saw Luke's shirt when I did. The poor kid already threw up in class a couple weeks ago. If he showed up to school with stinky poop on his shirt that would have just been so awful!

And this goes to show that God can bring good out of anything...even poop!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

For All Our Little Saints

*I just want to give you fair warning...this is a very emotional post. So you may want to grab some tissues if you continue reading.

I've felt pretty unsettled all day. I have a few reasons. It's been a really busy week, yesterday was a long day with all the Halloween excitement, Luke slept lousy last night so I'm really tired, I'm behind on laundry and dishes, Jay started painting our laundry room so everything that lives in the laundry room covers the dining room table....and the wall spackle sanding he did Tuesday night has left a layer of dust everywhere that a broom just can't handle and I haven't had time to deep clean.

Even though this outer world messiness makes me a little crazy, I know that there's a deeper meaning to it all. One that I try to contain but bubbles up threatening to spill over.

And spill over it did!

Today is All Saints Day. It's the day Catholics celebrate the Saints who have gone before us leaving us such incredible examples of holiness and sacrifice. At Luke and Kate's Catholic elementary school, the kids all dressed up as saints and walked to church. It's always a super cute sight...all these kids dressed as sisters, priests, brothers, and all types of saints that fill our Church's history. Luke was St. John Bosco and Kate chose St. Bernadette.

There's also a very heavy memory that's attached today for our school family. Today is the two year anniversary of the death of my friend's little girl, Victoria, who was also a part time student in our school's Small Wonders preschool program.

My heart has an incredible soft spot for grieving moms. Because I have gone through the experience of losing a child, my heart just bleeds for people that have to suffer through that loss. Grief is a long and difficult road. It's so hard knowing how much other people are going to suffer going through a similar experience.

Before I went to mass tonight, I went to visit my grandfather to give him his night time pills. He always has the tv on. Usually I go to see him during Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy, but since I had to go earlier to get to 7pm Mass the news was on. I have not watched the news for YEARS because it's always filled with such horrible, tragic stories. After 15 minutes with my grandfather I can tell you it hasn't changed a bit! In fact, in that short time the only thing they talked about were recent tragic accidents that happened to children. No word of a lie! I heard about all the fatal accidents regarding school buses that have happened in the last few weeks. Then about a SC woman being charged for involuntary manslaughter for the drowning death of her 14 month old because she went onto a road that had been closed off due to extreme flooding after the hurricane.

By the time I left my grandfather, I was holding it all in. Barely!

Fr. Williams words at the beginning of Mass really touched me. He was talking about All Saints Day and how it's a day we celebrate all the saints in Heaven, "both known and unknown." While All Saints Day certainly brings to mind all the amazing saints the kids were dressed as earlier in the day, I can't help but think about all the saints who are unknown to the world but are held in their families' hearts: all the little ones who were called home to God before we were ready to let them go. Whether we held them for a few short years, months, days, or only in our wombs, these innocent children went straight home to God and rejoice in His presence forever.

At Mass, my eyes started "leaking" when Fr. Williams read the Gospel line, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Thinking of all the grieving moms just broke my heart. Seeing Tori's family in the communion line made the tears came in earnest.

These little ones are not forgotten. They are powerful intercessors for all of us. So, while I rejoice today in the great saints like St. Augustine, St. Faustina, St. JPII, and all the others, I also remember and celebrate the smallest saints...the children held in their mama's hearts.

Tori, Seth, Gerard, Gabriel, Emma, Lauren, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Maria, Bartholomew, Doyle,Therese and all of our little saints, pray for us.