Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Greater Good?

We are home from a whirlwind few days of celebrating and traveling. We, as usual, were abundantly blessed by the generosity of our family. Such thoughtfulness was put into gifts and we felt humbled that these wonderful people gave so very much. For many of them, that giving came at personal sacrifice of their own wants. My grandmother, in particular, is on a very, very fixed income having, as she says, outlived their retirement plans. But still she gave. To be honest, I look at the book and pajamas and puzzle she gave our daughter and wanted to say, "Grandma, please take these back and spend this money on groceries." I looked around at the gifts during all of our celebrations and was taken aback by just how much there was. I wish I could say that I was all humility and gratitude. But some of that time, I was mired in frustration at the excess. How much do we really need? How much is too much? How could that money have been spent to benefit those in need? If you read that and think, "Wow, Keri! Self-righteous, much?" you'd probably be right.

I was on the phone recently with someone who abhors the idea of giving gifts, saying "I'll just buy myself what I want." This woman is without any religious persuasion. Without much thought, I said, "but have you ever thought of what is does in the giver's heart to ponder a gift for you, to think of your likes and dislikes, to think of something that might make you smile? Maybe that's the purpose of all this giving, the softness that comes in our own hearts."

I thought of this over the weekend as I lamented what I perceived to be the excess. And then I wondered if I was right in my quick retort to my friend. Maybe the greater good is what happened to my mom as she worked a second job to purchase all these gifts. Maybe God was at work in my dad as he worked overtime on a fire engine as his back spasmed all day long to pay for these gifts. While I want to kick and scream and hand back even my most treasured gifts so that my precious family doesn't have to work so hard, I have to wonder if there is more at work here. Do I need to trust that while my desire for simplicity is indeed very good, is what is happening in the hearts of our generous, giving family the greater good?

This Christmas also brought some heavy sorrow to our family. Someone we all love dearly is walking a journey I pray I never walk and living with a shattered heart. Watching it was nothing short of brutal. During time spent talking with this sweet one, I wanted to spout off every single thing I learned about counseling and the stages of grief and healthy coping mechanisms (and very predictably did spout off as much as I could.) At one point during the weekend, there was a heated discussion in which I made some good, valid points. But the result was still very bad. After all had been hugged out and forgiven, I had to wonder. Despite my desire for this person to walk the path of the least pain, was the greater good what he will learn while walking that path? Or was the greater good even that I might have to practice one of the very tenets of the faith I profess, that of forgiveness?  My mom so lovingly said to me, "Keri, even though you were right, you were wrong." I was wrong because I couldn't (wouldn't?) see the hand of God in all of this. I was trying to, by my own power, orchestrate a resolution. You'd think by now I'd realize how that usually turns out.

As I reflect on this blessed holiday, I can think of so many other areas where a greater good could prevail. While I attempted to corral my wild child during 95% of Christmas Eve Mass, did I make an elderly lady smile, remembering her days as a literal shepherd? Did I make another mom feel less like an awful parent because I too was trying to keep my kid from tipping over the holy water?  While I thought of all the effort my in-laws put into hauling rocking chairs to Atlanta and the expense of that for a retired couple, will those chairs help me rock babies for years to come or be the site of heart to hearts with my husband?

This Christmas season was full of love and joy and giving and pain and sacrifice and hurt. But at every juncture, I can see where luscious fruit may grow. Maybe the greater good in every bit of it is that God is at work and by letting even the bad play out, He has the space to do HIS will.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If I had a baby book....

I'd write down a few things that will remind me of  17 months~
  •  our girl is walking everywhere, if still like a little deer getting her bearings. I think I'll be sad when she walks normally.
  • Her favorite toy remains the red car given to her by her Aunt Rae Ann for her birthday. It didn't help that I went out of town and my dad took her on hour long rides 5x a day so she still expects that most of her awake time should be spent riding in this car. She climbs in it at 7am, expecting a morning walk and it is often the only thing to cure her post nap grumpy-ness.

  • she is OBSESSED with Brown Bear and Polar Bear, both pronounced like "bow bear." I can be vacumming, cooking or attempting a restroom break solo and she will follow me, holding up this book saying "read it" or "uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh." I think I'll be sad when a day goes by that I don't read one of these books 25 times.
  • She is also obsessed with Mack, or more specifically, with driving that poor dog nuts. I kind of figure he has it coming to him, as much as he drives me bonkers. But the way he lets her sit on him, crawl over him, pull his collar and simply licks her face in return makes me think he's earning his spot in this house.

  • she is very interested in the stove and cooking. Clearly she did not come from my womb. This poses lots of issues when trying to make a home cooked meal for my family once a week. Not even baby einstein lures her to let me cook solo. "up, up" she says (sounds like upah upah) and then proceeds to blow on everything. It's cute, if inconvenient.
  • We took our first trip to the aquarium a few weeks back. I don't know who was more enthralled, daddy or MK. It was a great family morning and I'm sure we'll be back soon!

  • she got her first haircut 12/19/11. Her mullet was getting out of control, despite her father and memaw's love of it. How she did not get stabbed in the neck by the hairdresser, I'll never know. I should have taken photos but a) our camera died and b) it was all I could do to keep her from taking a shear to the eye. The results are cute though.

  • Mary Kate's namesake, Blessed Kateri, will become a saint. (MK was due on her feast day.) Yesterday, "The Vatican announced that the Mohawk-Algonquin woman born in 1656 and known as Kateri Tekakwitha has been deemed worthy of sainthood by the Pope. Pope Benedict XVI has signed the decree recognizing a miracle performed by Kateri, and she will therefore be canonized at a ceremony sometime in the future." More here about a great lady who I loved reading about as a child, fascinated by her faith and her courage among the members of her tribe.
  • Speaking of the Pope, we got the most beautiful gift from our friend, Father Tim, in Rome. We received a Papal Blessing on the occasion of both our wedding and Mary Kate's Baptism. It was a thoughtful, kind gift that took a lot of work on his part. We are blessed to have both of those holy men praying for our family!

okay, now that we are mostly caught up on my wild child love, we'll sign off. I hope your last week before Christmas is filled with joy and simply absorbing the wonder of your families.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

17 months of life-giving life

My precious girl,

One day I will tell you a story about a young woman who truly could not believe that God could possibly love her. She made mistake after mistake and didn't live her best life every day. She tried very hard but felt like she failed Jesus every day, the person she loved most. She had little understanding of grace and could not comprehend how someone so amazing, so perfect, could possibly love her.   And then,  July 9, 2010 happened.

Little girl, because of YOU, I am starting to get it. I am starting to get how someone could be their very worst self only to be met with unconditional love, forgiveness and adoration from their parent. On our most challenging days, around hour 14 of being together, neither understanding what the other wants, I take over dad's routine. I rock you and the second you tuck those arms under your belly on my chest, the second you let go of all that feisty-ness and wiggling and simply let me love you, in that very second I am overflowing with an indescribable love for you. And on days that are just the average level of challenging, when dad rocks his girl to sleep, I am usually awake before you are, waiting for the minute I can go into your room. No matter what the day before was like, I cannot wait to see you! Could it be that on days when I bark at daddy and snap at me-maw and don't bask in gratitude for this life, our God can't wait to see me, too?

Because of how I love you, I am starting to get how our precious God loves me (and you, though I never doubted that!) The most amazing thing is that He loves you and I about eighty gabillion times more than I love you, though I cannot conceive of how that is possible. My girl, the day we got you, I began a life-saving journey of understanding that no matter what we do, no matter what mistakes we make in life, no matter how far we roam in the wrong direction, we are loved beyond measure by Jesus. Also, it does not matter how much good we do, how many people we serve, how much we try to "be good." Jesus loves us not because we might be good, but because HE is good.

I intended a post all about your life at 17 months. But all I can think about today is how your life, in so many ways, saved mine.

I love you precious girl,

love mama

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(first world) life lessons

Lately I feel as if every where I turn I am supposed to absorb some piece of very important knowledge. I feel God desiring to teach, teach, teach while I would rather pass notes to friends or play MASH. Despite my best efforts to not learn, some things are getting through. So, in this very blessed season while we await that oh so special birthday, I am, indeed, learning.

I am learning that most of my "problems" are of the First World variety. Now, this is not to say that they don't deserve attention. I have done some pretty significant harm to myself by believing that my problems weren't problems and I needed to focus more on real suffering in the world. However, as Ross and I were praying the other night about stressing over MY CHRISTMAS CARD, I found myself saying "Lord, I realize this is a first world problem." Ross laughed and I decided that this danged Christmas card deserved no more attention. It was something on a check list that needed a little time, but certainly did not deserve the level of obsessing that I was giving it. Since that night, I have found myself gauging a problem by whether or not it is a "first world" scenario. If so, it gets the appropriate level of my attention. As a counselor once told me, "you can sit on the pity pot but don't forget to flush." This Christmas, I am learning to be thankful for how truly minute these inconveniences are and flush a whole lot faster.

As we have all learned during the trials of sleep training, sleep begets sleep. Well, apparently patience begets patience. Love begets love. Tolerance begets tolerance. As my sweet husband and I continue on our journey toward loving and serving each other, it turns out that the more I practice these virtues, the more natural they begin to seem. I am reminded of Romans chapter 5 where we learn that "affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,and hope does not disappoint."  The more I do these things, the more I love him selflessly, the more I want  to do them.

I saw a beautiful family in Mass this week. The family of 8 took up the whole pew. By my (judgemental) observations, they appeared on the wealthier side. I sighed, thinking how easy it must be to decide to have a large family when money is not an issue. Of course, I have no clue what that family's situation is, but I started to go down the "I wish we had more and I wish we didn't need to consider money" hole. And just as that mom did to her son, God firmly pointed my neck back up to that crucifix. I have no clue what His plan is for our family but I do know that "He's got this." We work hard to be good stewards of His provision for us and try hard to make financial decisions guided by His wisdom. That does not mean He is going to reward us with financial gifts. I (think) I'm learning that by seeking Him, we will grow closer to Him and will feel at peace in abundance or in want.

When I got engaged, my Confirmation sponsor gave me one piece of advice. "Bite your tongue so often it bleeds." Now, I am aware that biting your tongue too often can have negative consequences as well, but I don't think I am wired to bite my tongue too often (ever) so that should not be a problem.  But recently I was frustrated with someone and I decided to take Ellen's advice. About ten minutes later, this person stopped and said, "I am really sorry. I was being selfish." All this time, I have thought that biting my tongue was simply a matter of picking my battles (metaphor overload here) and avoiding conflict. But I realized this weekend that what keeping my trap shut sometimes does is allow the other person time and space to evaluate themself. It does not always mean they will decide they were in the wrong, but it may give us the distance for real self-reflection instead of quick reactions.

I am in a season of idolotry. I read blogs and want to write like them. I see careers and hope to emulate them. I see homes and want to be able to buy one like them. I see ladies outfits and envy their ability to put together somthing so trendy and chic. I see people's faiths and wonder if I'll ever have as much "knowledge" as they do. Again, major first world issues. But identifying the error is the first step, right? Now, if I could spend half as much time praising God for what I have as I do wistfully dreaming of "more," I might wake up to see the mega abundance in my life. It's probably wrong of me to think about it this way because I know we do not have a vengeful God, but I feel a push to learn this lesson on my own before He deems it necessary to teach it to me!

I am feeling a bit like Martha these days. You know, Martha from the Bible, who is so busy doing God's work that she forgets to sit at His feet and simply be with him. Now, to clarify, nothing about catching up on Real Housewives episodes is God's work, but I do think I've made myself a tad too busy. So, to rectify this, I've joined a book study at Church :) While Ross and I continue to pray about where to worship, we have returned to the place we met, the Cathedral of Christ the King. I was happy to see a Monday morning study on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I have studied this book in the past but feel that motherhood brings a new spin on it. The study is open to anyone, regardless of church affiliation, so let me know if you'd like to come along. Nursery is available (woop woop!)

I need to lighten up. Insert roaring laughter from family and friends and fainting from husband. I have blogged about this before but I will totally blame my first-born-ness and years of super sad social work for my slight eeyore complex. With the holidays approaching, a sense of humor will be integral to survival (1000 square feet+7 adults+one baby+6 dogs+one cat+ ONE ONE ONE bathroom= potential chernoble). The upside is that this will get my butt in a pew every day next week praying for patience and gratitude and a much needed heightened sense of humor.

And lastly, this fast paced season is teaching me what a good mother I was. You know, what a good mother I was BEFORE I had a child. I was going to insist that my child sleep with noise all around her so that she would learn to sleep with noise. She would never have chocolate or juice and dammit the kid would have manners above all else. Today I handed her bites of chick-fil-a brownie (yes, with nuts. Because I am the only mother who didn't know the 'no nuts' rule applied until two) washed down with apple juice. She is in her bedroom with a sound machine blaring and I don't even walk to my bedroom for fear that I'll wake the gremlin. She throws fits daily (but to be fair, says thank you when I give her the item I think she wants before she decides she doesn't want it and chunks it.) So, while MK's manners get a B+, my parenting stands firm at a C. Lesson: no more assertions about what I will or won't do when MK gets older. Morals and values are one thing, set in stone, but day to day parenting, whew.

If I don't get back on here before Christmas, may yours be full of joy, blessings and a big ole sense of humor!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Taking back the day, with a little help from Rudy

Outside of my very immediate family, few people know that I can be a tad mercurial. As a good Southern girl, I can fake it with the best of them. But on any given day, I can find myself going from happy to anything in the range of disappointed to livid. Sometimes there is legitimate cause, oftentimes not. This is not the problem, however. The problem lies in my inability to get out of that funk once I'm there. I will happily blame my rearing because anyone who has married into my family will testify that us Sullivans, while overall awesome, have a tendency to be, ahem, a tad moody. We get ourselves in a tizzy and some unlucky spouse gets to deal with us. Sunday was one such day.

I had a tiny disagreement with Ross that should have ended with a hug and carrying on about our day. But lawd knows I couldn't leave it there. Ross begged me to go for a run, clear my head, and come back ready to go to Mass. But I couldn't do it. I fought it, prepared to spend the afternoon angry about something that deserved no attention. Naturally, I became more upset that I was upset in the first place. Vicious cycle, you see.

I threw off my running shoes in defiance of the thing I knew would make me feel better. I tried to figure out what was making me upset. I laid my head on my husband's chest and told him in my most pitiful voice, "I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything."

Recently I found out that unknown to me, my clinical social work license has expired and that I have to re-take a very difficult exam to renew it. Without the time to prep or any thoughts on if I would use it in these early baby-having years, getting it back isn't the best decision right now.  But I realized that in some way, I was letting those letters (that I never used in practice) validate me. Losing it meant that now I am just a stay-at-home mom. And the obvious deduction is that I am insufficient, inadequate, unaccomplished. Duuuhhh.

Ross listened to me whine and then quoted one of my favorite movies.

He patiently rattled off a list of my accomplishments this year, the least of which is a happy, smart, healthy little person. He hugged me while he told me that if I couldn't see the ways in which God used me, the ways in which God helped me help others, the ways in which God, himself, is validating me, then I wasn't ever going to learn.

He wiped my self-indulgent tears and told me to go run. I took a longer route and ran off this particular bout of funk. I ran away from the insecurities de jour and found myself thankful. It still took longer than I would have liked to flip the switch back to happy Keri, but I realized that with some TLC from the husband, some perspective that one of my favorite Irishmen also needed to hear, and a good long run, I was able to take back the day.

I am certainly hopeful that the next time I find myself in that gross place, I'll remember what turned it around today.

Friday, December 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

--- 1 ---

As much as I feel like posting random thoughts is (for me) self-serving, random and kind of a cop out, I (a.) love reading quick takes posts by other people and (b.) have about a 2% chance of putting together a cohesive, coherent post that doesn't separate itself with bullets or numbers. Blame it on the kid. and the dog. and the house. and the job. and people.com

--- 2 ---

I blogged a few weeks back about having had one of those days. Today was another one. The toddler child has a nasty cough and perpetually running green nose. She is miserable and in the way of her mother all toddlers, the whole world needs to be aware of her misery. At one point, I was forgetting that she was sick and not just a heinous little creature so I put her in her room crying and closed the door. I then brushed my teeth, put on real clothes (that my husband laughed at when he came home for lunch) and applied some old, clumpy mascara. By the time I was finished, she was happy again and dad was home to help with an unsuccessful Christmas card attempt.  Feeling my patience wane with toddler creature and my husband's chuckle at my outfit and our inability to get a danged photo, I left MK with Ross and ran errands while he spent his lunch break with a happy, smiley child. Ross has been suggesting I run errands during his lunch break for a long time, happy to have some one on one time with his (always for him) happy child. HAD I KNOWN?! In the span of an hour, two dear friends took an errand off my plate (thank you Cristy and Natalie!), I went to the bank, Barnes and Noble, the gas station and McDonalds, all by myself. It was glorious and I am kicking myself for waiting so long to enjoy mundane errands and a large sweet tea and chocolate chip cookie all by myself. I came home re-energized and was smart enough to recognize the bone God threw me in friends helping and husband taking a turn at child-rearing. The scripture "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" ran through my head all morning. So, so true.

--- 3 ---

I am having a hard time getting in to the Christmas spirit. We have an advent wreath out and a couple of nativity scenes but I cannot get it in me to go buy a tree and decorate it. (Yes, a fake, pre-lit tree is in our future but cheapie here insists on waiting until after Christmas to buy it.) I just know that the second that tree is up, I will spend the better part of my days keeping doggie and baby away from it. And no, I don't have one of those oh so attractive gates to surround it. And no, we can't go buy one. See number 4.

--- 4 ---

I wrecked our new (to us) car. By complete accident, as in not on the phone or throwing a cracker at MK, I pulled out of a parking spot turning instead of straight back. I fought the pole and the pole won, to the tune of a few thousand dollars. Looovely. Now with the deductible and looming premium increase, I have put the kabosh on any unnecessary spending, holiday decor included. So, how to get all Christmas-y feeling with no decor budget and kind of a scroogy approach to a tree. Thoughts?

--- 5 ---

My husband. He is a big, huge, lovely old grace giver. He was upset for a few minutes about the car. And he has yet to look at it. But he has been a gem. Trusting my ability to handle such issues, he is standing back and is simply making himself available for advice if needed. The lesson for me: return the favor. I, put simply, SUCK at giving grace to my husband. Ask him how many times I have slid in a comment about his lost wedding ring or him getting us semi-lost in the Texas wilderness. It's not pretty. God has given me a tangible example of what grace looks like, I'm sure in hopes that I will model it. I really plan to do better in this area.
--- 6 ---

Holidays part one: SUCCESS! My fears about MK's sleeping and traveling were completely assauged. Despite a good bit of car screaming (totally normal), we had a really lovely trip to Greenville for Thankgsiving. She was worn slap out by grandparent and aunt and cousin love and napped easily each day. God totally answered my prayers in giving me some time to really enjoy our family and not be stressed about wild child. I am much more hopeful for a seamless Christmas holiday now.

--- 7 ---

I miss my old job this week. I love being home with MK and enjoy my part time work but I miss feeling important. I know, I know, staying at home with a babe is important.  But oh how long and tedious the days can be. Ross comes home and is all smiles and MK morphs into an angel and he can't see why the days are hard. I am happy for them that they get that sweet time and work hard to have most of the baby chores completed so they can have that special time together. While I miss those (mostly) fulfilling days as a social worker, I also know that I likely could not have done both jobs well. I am thankful that with some sacrifices, I don't have to worry that a sick patient or my precious girl got less than they deserved.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Card Traditions

This time of year, one of my favorite places to be is the mailbox. Like may of us, I love the arrival of a Christmas Card from a friend or family member. I look forward to seeing my grandmother's handwriting and her "I love you so very much." I look forward to seeing my friends' children in all their preciousness. I love remembering the year I helped my friend Kellie take Christmas Card pictures and she ended up needing a "Naughty" picture because Annie would not cooperate (seeing as we do not yet have a Christmas card photo ready, we may also have to go with a naughty pic.) We don't have the best method of displaying these sweet cards because my husband vetoes all my displays, but I am working on some ideas. I will say that last year we started a tradition that I simply love.

Thanks to an idea I got from mops, our pictures come down after Christmas and go into a pile in our bedside table. Last year, each night we pulled a card and we prayed for that family. We prayed for all their hopes, dreams and that God would answer their prayers. For some, we prayed for our relationships with them and for others, we simply gave thanks for the people they are. While we all have our Christmas card lists, Ross and I still felt special to be included in others' lists and felt that this was a small way we could repay their thoughtfulness.

As I looked for cards this year, I kept going back to the adorable Tiny Prints cards. I have enjoyed others' cards from this cute company and am excited to use them for our currently un-taken photo. A few favs...

go here for this cute card

and here for this sweet card

and oh how I wish MK would cooperate for a pic like this!

Happy Card Sending!

Much love sent your way as these amazing holidays begin!

Monday, November 28, 2011


A few minutes ago my girl stood up in her wicker chair and looked at me, waiting for the "please sit down." Her hair is pulled to the side in a bow that she hasn't realized is there, or it would not be there. Her little mullet has grown and her hair is longer in the back. Now she is standing up at her basket of toys, reading a book outloud. She has a small case of saggy pants and her precious pot belly is peeking out of her lime green shirt. She has grown a foot overnight. A piece of soft french bread is met with "da du" for thank you. She walks more than she crawls. She begs for her "bow ber" (brown bear) book. She says "uh oh" when she drops something. Ross says a few times a day "she's so big." There is no baby left in my baby.

I realize this is a nauseating post for anyone outside of my immediate family but I needed to write this in hopes that I relish my next baby a little more. I adored the baby Mary Kate. I loved that baby immensely. But new mommyhood kicked my butt. I prayed for the first 8 weeks to go by quickly, believing that she would sleep through the night then. (She did, if sporadically) Then I mostly endured the months before she napped regularly and the months of seemingly around the clock nursing. I endured those first months with a baby. I should have relished them more. Then I waited on milestone after milestone instead of relishing the now.

I don't say any of that to beat myself up. I know most new moms have similar experiences. But I look forward to baby number two, whenever God blesses us with that new creature. I look forward to relishing the baby time. Because I cannot blink away the tears fast enough, realizing that there is no baby left in my baby. I didn't miss it, but I definitely experienced it in a haze. While future babies will not know a time with their parents alone, something we've been happy to give MK, they will have a mama who is more aware of how fast it all goes. They will have a mama who spends more time relishing all their babyness.

Oh my precious girl, please slow down. This heart of mine cannot take you growing up any faster. But because I know you will keep doing this growing, I promise to relish you more and more. You are a nearly 17 month old, walking, talking, sassy, feisty, stubborn, independent, precious, precious little soul. I understand just a little more how our sweet Lord loves me by the nearly tangible love I have for you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Many thoughts, none of them related.

I have a few posts swirling in my head, thoughts on my heart. But they are the kind of posts better written from a coffee shop than from the floor of my living room where I toss cheerios across the room, hoping to intice MK to leave my SHIFT button alone and go eat the now dog-hair covered oat.

The holidays have arrived.  This brings an unneccesary amount of anxiety for me and I am spending a lot of time in prayer about it. Ann Voskamp says that the feeling of joy begins with the action of thanksgiving. So, appropriately so, I'm working on thanksgiving and hoping that the joy of family begins to supercede the anxiety of travel/sleeping arrangements/sleep schedules.

Mary Kate is 16 months old and has recently decided that she really likes me. Since she spent the previous 15 months ambivalent about my comings and goings, I love this. I love that she is clearly choosing me over others sometimes and that she does, indeed, see me as someone she loves and trusts.

Because of the separation anxiety mentioned above, I am now that mom. After years of babysitting/nannying and years of watching how it took all of 3.5 seconds for a screaming, tearful baby to forget that their mama just left them, I am that mom who wants one last hug. I am the mother that I hated babysitting for. I hope that those years of comforting others' babes will continue to help me kiss the girl, tell her mommy will be back, and then have mercy on the poor babysitter and leave! It's hard, but I'm giving myself another week of being that annoying mother. Babysitters, just give me grace. It took that child forever to even care if I left!

I have decided that the person who said "marriage is hard" probably also said "childbirth hurts a teeny bit." Both are ridiculous understatements but both bring amazing amounts of refining, growing and blessings. I say this with not a tinge of judgement in my heart but I honestly do not know how people without faith manage the complexities of marriage. They have a chip that I know does not exist in me. I am thankful that on days where we aren't feeling all lovey dovey, we (on good days) remember to love each other out of obedience to God.

I have seen a few episodes of American Muslim. It fascinates me the way Sister Wives does. I really enjoy getting a tiny glimpse into how other cultures live. I hope American Muslim sheds light on the the many misconceptions about this religion.

I am still running and think I will keep it up. I am way NOT addicted to the actual running but am VERY addicted to the hour all to myself each day, even if it is at 6am! It has done wonders for me emotionally, psychologically and physically.

A personal goal for me is to not live or die by the length of MK's nap (as she screams 1.5 hours into a normally 2.5 hour nap). Since she has dropped to one nap, I obsess over the length of that one nap. It is admittedly as much out of desire that she be well rested and healthy as it is out of my own need for sanity. Any advice on how not to freak out over naptime/length would be greatly appreciated (especially since the next month will bring lots of naps in others' homes!)

Okay- that's enough mindless stuff no one needed to ever know! Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's been one of those days

Today has been one of those days; those days that could have been really awful. Instead, it was one of those blessed, glorious days when I felt the presence of God with me from the very start of the day.

That start of the day happened to occur at 5:15 am. Ross was gone super early so baby and dog duty were on mama. I expected Mary Kate to go back to sleep but no can do. The dog was walking around, making noise, wanting to go out. I held firm and refused to attend to either of those fools until 6 am. I layed in bed, knowing I was flying solo today, and knowing how most days that start at 5:15 am pan out. But today, I tried something different. Instead of pulling my pillow over my head and cussing, I prayed. I prayed for an inordinant amount of patience. I prayed for joy to be in my heart today. I prayed not to resent my husband for the fun he'd have while I was working in the zoo starting at 5. I prayed that having a good attitude would change the expected trajectory of the day.

I let the dog out and went in to a royally pissed off little girl who continued to throw a fit for another 20 minutes. Finally she realized she needed to stop screaming in order to be fed and she calmed down. During said screaming, I remained uncharacteristically calm, feeling my favorite teammate next to me. I began to devise a much needed plan for our long day ahead. I texted a friend and told her that the pizza she ate last night was settling in her thighs. (there is an inside joke here. I'm not that big of a jerk.) She took my bait and met me at the gym. Mary Kate got to play for an hour and my friend and I took a very bad aerobics class. One of my favorite mops moms also walked into that very bad aerobics class. This helped calm my nerves about MK in the daycare, knowing my mops mom's kids were in there with her. After, she and I both realized we were single moms for the day and agreed to eat away any lingering husband resentment at chick-fil-a. MK took a catnap in the car, making her a surprisingly (more) pleasant lunch date. I actually think I can tell you a few of the thoughts Amber finished.

Throughout the morning, I was so struck by how God honored my request to have this be a joyous day. I could not believe how at peace I felt. The afternoon, however, threatened to destroy that peace. MK's little catnap killed much chance for any real afternoon nap and she cried for an hour. I kept reminding myself that God was still with me, helping me through this day, regardless of whether MK was happy or sad. When I finally got her up, she was in a FOUL mood. I came very close to cancelling our plans to go over to our neighbors to watch football but MK loves them and their dogs and I thought the change of scenery might be the attitude adjustment we both needed. And I am so glad I did.

Because, ladies and gentleman, at the ripe old age of 16 months and 3 days, THIS GIRL
FINALLY WALKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, after all the appropriate texts and phone calls to say that we may avoid the planned trip to the physical therapist, I stopped for a minute. I thanked God for answering the prayer I had prayed the night before and the one my sister-in-law, unknown to me, was praying after Communion, probably around that same time.
After a few little steps, she full fledged walked to me in Zach and Karen's kitchen. She was so proud of herself and was a total ham, acting like she hadn't spent the previous two hours making me bang my head against a wall.

I came home and rocked that moody little creature in our chair, saying our guardian angel prayer and thanking God for a day that could have been so rough. And while it wasn't perfect, it was one of those special days where I felt Him with me, walking through all the joys and all the stresses of parenting. It was one of those days where you feel, as we used to say in bible study, the spiritual warm fuzzies. God is there, every single day, warm fuzzies or no fuzzies. But oh how great it felt to really feel Him here today, especially when the other man in my life was off galavanting :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

thirteen (POINT ONE)

This weekend I did something I never, ever thought I would do. Had you asked me 6 months ago, I would have laughed at you and then resumed eating my little debbie cake. I had not run more than 3 miles since I was in high school and that was a one time 10 k on prom morning with Jamie Jue. But my best friend dangled lovely accomodations in my face and that last little bit of baby belly begged me to remove it from my body. So, I began training.

Y'all, for me, this process was hard. My first re-introduction to the treadmill yielded barely 2 miles and a child who screamed in the daycare room the whole time. I was not encouraged. But pretty soon I was cussing my way through four miles, and then sending Fr. Tim and my dad pictures of the treadmill showing 7.0 miles. And then my husband worked out of town for basically a month. Training came to a screeching halt.
Discouraged and back to square one, I finally accepted an invitation to run with some moms from mops. They met 100 yards from my house and I was hooked from my first run with them. The next time I find myself out of shape (because, let's be real, this girl loves some swiss cake rolls), I want to look back and see the lessons learned and see what worked. So, in no particular order- what motivated me from couch to half marathon.
  • getting outside (yes Ross, I am forever sold on running outside. YOU. WERE.RIGHT.) Finding a beautiful place to run (along the Chattahoochee river) in the gorgeous Atlanta fall made it less tortuous in those beginning weeks.
  • as I said, finding a group. Listening to these ladies (and eventually talking with them when I got in enough shape) talk about faith, family, races, dreams made those runs fly by.
  • accountability. An email goes out the night before, you commit. Knowing myself, I purposely never got anyone's cell numbers so I wasn't even tempted to text a lame excuse when I wanted to sleep in. I knew they were there and I knew to be on time (those girls start running at 6 sharp and Lord knows I didn't have the ability to catch up with them!)
  • prayer. I could write a whole post on this but this really was a spiritual experience for me. At night I prayed for endurance, perserverance, physical strength. And during the runs, I prayed not to throw up. He answered, every time. On race day, the prayers of friends truly propelled me forward. My friend Molly (a running coach in Athens) sent me this scripture "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to stand on the heights."
  • Encouragement from others. From my husband's compliments on my physique and willingness to do morning baby duty, to support emails from my favorite Padre, to advice from friends who are "runners" to friends just asking how training is going to facebook messages on race day, I truly felt supported by so many people. I have been tempted to downplay this accomplishment (my best friend ran her 4th full that same day!!) but the reality is, it's a big danged deal. 13 is nothing to scoff at.
  • thinking about the big picture. When Ross and I were first dating, he would take me to the river and I could not run the entire 5k loop. I couldn't run half of it. And now, to run alongside my husband and baby and dog, it makes me so happy. That is what I want for my family. I want Saturday morning runs. I want to run alongside a blonde haired fire-cracker on her bicycle one day. I want that blonde haired fire-cracker to see her mama get up early to take care of herself, to value her health (and sanity). Maybe one day we'll run alongside each other, enjoying nature and fitness (and a celebratory donut) together.
  • setting a goal. I am not so much a goal setter. Don't get me wrong, I've set a few in my life. But I am not self-motivated. I don't compete with myself. If you tell me I need to give 70% of myself to something, I'll happily give 70% and use the last 30% of my effort on catching up on the dvr. That may be changing. It felt great to set a big, seemingly unattainable goal, and cross that finish line with as much happiness as I can remember (even if the firecracker was asleep on her daddy's shoulder instead of waving at mama!)
  • faith. During each run, I was acutely aware that I was not running alone. I truly, truly felt God with me. I spent time during solo runs saying a rosary- admittedly as much to make the time go by as to make good use of my time sans baby. Praying through cramps and hurting knees seemed to really alleviate pain, or at least distract me from it.
I know I am bordering on melodramatic here but the more I wanted to down play this success, the more I thought back to the beginning. I looked at blogs written during those first runs and I realize that I did something I never thought I would. It's not a full marathon and it's certainly not world peace, but it's a girl trusting that God gave her a healthy body fully capable of meeting a big goal. It  was 13 (and as a I realized rounding that last corner, an excruciating last POINT ONE) miles. I am proud of this achy body and the girl who all too often tells herself " I can't."

I can't believe I'm posting this photo of my bff and I at 6:30 am on a FREEZING Savannah morning, but it is actually more flattering than the after pictures ! Thanks Katrina for motivating me to sign up and giving us a great weekend!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Picture Man

Didn't you love the picture man in college? Oh the money I spent on photos and I couldn't tell you where they were now if my life depended on it. How does picture man make money now with everything digital? Anywho, I am the picture man in my house and since I haven't had much of a writing bug lately, here are some photos of Ninness life and my double chinned little Dorothy to make you smile today.

At trunk or treat with cousins Ashley and Alyse

this child loooves her some big kids!

a rare photo of mom and dad

yet another photo of Sister Brunetta and MK donning her pj's. Sister probably thinks we don't buy the child clothes.

bad glare but no denying the joy as the big girls walked her around to trick or treat. The big girls had clear instructions on what mommy Dorothy liked.

There was dj playing techno music. MK was ROCKING it out, waving her arms and bouncing. She gets her mad dancing skills from her daddy. This may help me in the "keep the boys away" quest.

Happy to walk hand in hand with dad. Solo, notsomuch. (can we please note the chubby legs!!)

And a last note to my daughter:
Dear precious, "do things on your own time child," after trunk or treat yesterday, I realized that mama's stash is severely compromised by your refusal  inability to walk. Can you please stop being stubborn for a half a millisecond and learn to walk so we can make it to more than two houses tonight. Thanks.
love mom.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

15 things about 15 months

Miss Mary Kate Frances,

You are 15 months and one week old and since I am one of many who use this blog as a baby book, here are 15 things about your little fire-cracker self.

1. You are becoming more of a toddler each day. I ache at how big and old you look.
2. A part of this little pre-toddler phase is fit-throwing. It is pretty humorous (when we're at home.)
3. You love to take a phone and talk like the whole world knows what you are saying. You change your inflections, tilt your head and use your hands. I have absolutely no clue where you learned this.
4. You don't walk. I'd venture to say you are not even close, though you'll cruise along everything and stand up a few times without holding onto anything. You can crawl at the speed of light and see no reason to slow yourself down by using only two appendages.
5. You are very aware of what you want these days. Seeing as how all your babbling is indecipherable, this is posing some problems. Definitely going to work on teaching you some more signs this week.
6. You still hate the cotton picking carseat. That's all I will say about that.
7. (inserted by dad). You seek out mom and dad's love. Our love for you has been on display for 15 months (and before). But now we are starting to see that you love us back :) You now freely giving kisses. When I took you in to wake up your dad the other day, you leaned in and woke him up with a big kiss, totally unprompted. It was precious.
8. Dad says you miss your puppy Monty. You crawl to the edge of the bed and look for him. We met a new puppy today and you didn't miss a beat, petting him and loving him.
9. You still wake up at 6:30 each day, unless mom is on a run and dad is on morning duty. Then you sleep until 7. Good thing I love you!
10. You love to be outside. Anywhere, anytime, any temperature. I do not look forward to the winter time. Your cold hating mama might just have to take one for the team and bundle up. We are spending lots of qt at the Atlanta zoo, the duck pond behind the library and Taylor-Brawner park.
11. You are a H.A.M. For every bit of whining and fussy you give me, the minute we step into public, you smile and wave and laugh- willing someone to smile at you. It's very clearly an act but also very funny. And I love watching you make someone laugh by shooting a scrunchy nose smile their way.
12. You have not yet begun any major separation anxiety. Once you are in a new place for a few minutes, you are happy to let anyone hold you, tickle you and play with you. This brings indescribable joy to the Sisters, to your grandparents and babysitter.
13. Your favorite food is any kind of bean- black bean, kidney bean, navy bean. It is our only "go to" food. Other days you are exerting that lovely toddler behavior of loving a food one day only to toss it across the room the next.
14. Your favorite activity is to ride in your red push car. Your grandfather took you out in it so many times that you now push it to the door, put your seatbelt on and wave bye-bye at the door. We have to have grandparent detox whenever we leave one of those 4 wonderful people.
15. You love books and will sit in your little reading corner in your room for an hour, reading and taking books off your shelves. I hope this is a lifelong love!

Mary Kate, we could not be more in love with you. We could not be more thankful to God for trusting us with you. We could not be more proud of the little person you are.

I had no plans for you to have a morning nap. You had other ideas. You have NEVER fallen asleep on the floor  in your life.

Famous MK fit throwing

Your precious BFF, Joy

You LOVE the swing!

aforementioned black bean obsession

Monday, October 17, 2011

Help a girl out

Hey y'all,

If you are friends with me on facebook, I will send some ginger ale your way to handle the nausea I am causing you. So, here's the deal. Amidst training for this God-awful half-marathon, I have discovered that on some days of the week, I actually enjoy running. Well, let's clarify. I enjoy doing something I never imagined I could do. I enjoy talking about running to "runners" (not to be confused with me). I enjoy the comraderie of my running group. The actual "running" part, I can sometimes do without.

I can also do without MK's squaking during runs. About mile 2, she grows annoyed with our jogger and makes the rest of the run not so pleasant. We were gifted with a wonderful jogger used by a friend for her two growing kids. Between our two families and three kids, we have worn it slap out and it is admittedly not very comfortable anymore, reclines too far for my curious babe and doesn't have any of the bells and whistles that might make her chill the heck out. (one can hope)

Enter my friends at Just For Baby in Savannah. Life-long friends own this store and the whole family helps run it. I joke that I have either babysat for, dated, or gone to school with each of the Gaudry cousins. It is a wonderful gift of a store to Savannah's little ones and now they are giving a great gift away. On 10/29, they are giving away the GOLD CROWN of jog strollers. Those of you with a BOB will all attest to its overall awesomeness. Much to my husband's eternal appreciation, I am too cheap financially responsible to purchase one when we have a jogger, albeit one on its last tire :)

So Just For Baby is giving one away to the person whose recommendation on their facebook page gets the most "likes." Will you pretty, pretty please go to their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Just-for-Baby-and-More/109330402438129 and on the right side is their recommendations. Scroll down to see mine and press the thumbs up button.

I am way out of my comfort zone asking for this but, as I said, have found that I really do enjoy getting out for a jog. If I don't win, we will happily and gratefully keep our old baby trend and MK can just learn to deal. I'll put the money I didn't spend on a BOB into better ear plugs :)

Thanks friends!
Help this be me (maybe the calves come with the stroller...)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hello from the land of what the medical community calls N/V/D. It has been a nasty week at casa Ninness thanks to my husband's ill fated decision to drink after someone who had a "small stomach bug" a few days prior. My ill fated decision was blaming his nausea/vomiting/and as my friend Rachel put it, the d-word, on a slight over consumption of bourbon at a wedding this weekend. Well, karma took care of me. I quickly realized this was no hangover and pledged to be a much more compassionate nurse from here out. Thankfully, Ross knew the horrors of what I was going through and was kind and loving, taking the rest of the day off to care for Mary Kate and hand me pony-tail holders. We thought our girl escaped it but alas, R had a nice surprise awaiting him when he pulled the babe from her crib this morning. Round 3 for the Ninness family has been kinder and we are hoping MK just caught a tiny bit of it.

As we all attempted a bland breakfast this morning, we made note that God has been so good in this. We each got this heinous bug a half a day or so ahead of the other, giving one of us time to exit the restroom and disinfect it before the next person made camp there. We each had exactly the amount of energy needed as we recuperated to take care of the next victim. Instead of us all getting slammed at once, we were able to care for each other as a family. Again, God is good.

It made me think of times lately where we have had just enough goodness to keep the bad from pushing us down. Ross and I are new in our marriage and we each brought plenty of bags into this relationship. We are ever-changing, growing, hopefully evolving into better humans. But whew!  Is that process, um, refinining.  I'll keep the moments of refining to ourselves but cue you in on the moments of sunshine that seep in and remind us off the abundance of  good. This weekend, I made a last minute decision to go to a wedding with Ross in NC. There were some challenging moments for us. But at one point, we were dancing. Ross picked me up and spun me around, telling me "this version" of his wife as opposed to the buzz kill version he often gets, was his dream. I'll always remember the joy of being picked up and danced with so lovingly. And while that beautiful moment doesn't erase some of the not so beautiful moments we had that weekend, the bad moments also don't fade the memory of that joy. Again I tell ya, God is good.

I went to Mass Sunday morning at a precious oceanside church. The scripture was from Phillipians Chapter 4.

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

I could write volumes on how I have seen this scripture play out in my life. I know that I can live in abundance and in want. But what I love about that great big ole God, is that in times of want, there is so often abundance, even if it's hiding somewhere. Abundance this week was the timing of each of our sicknesses. It wasn't a lack of sickness, but an ability to manage it. Other times it's a phone call from a friend or a perfectly timed letter of encouragement in the mail.

I am just feeling all sorts of thankfulness and awe in how God has sustained our marriage, our health and our families, in times of abundance and in want.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Coming up for air

This past week has been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where you don't realize how much you have piled onto your plate until it all needs attention in the same 7 day time span. One of those weeks where your husband is given a personal pan pizza for dinner and your child has had 3 over-priced, organic granola bars a day for meals because she can feed them to herself. One of those weeks where your head is just barely teetering above water.

I am not complaining because each of these commitments brings a lot to our lives.
Our days have been filled with preparing for our MOPS consignment sale, which is a BEAST to put on, but again, is a service to moms in our community and to moms who get to have adult conversations while our childcare workers take great care of our kids. I can absolutely wait until the spring sale and kind of dread the amount of time it requires, but my kid loves the kids there and I love the moms there. Plus, it wears MK out so much that she is asleep before she can tuck her precious little arms under her belly.

Our nights this week have begun with me angry at Ross for coming home late from work, just exhausted, tagging Ross while he takes over the baby and I leave for work. Despite my love-hate relationship with my job, Ross reminds me that while I may not be "serving" like I did as a social worker, I am serving our family by the few extra dollars it brings in. And I'm not going to lie. Seeing my husband happy at that meager paycheck's addition to our accounts makes the late nights worth it.

The early morning hours have included google searches for whether or not I should go into screaming baby's room and try to console her, or leave her to go back to sleep on her own (night one, I went in and gave motrin. night two, she cried it out, night three, she got enough motrin, orajel and vapor rub that I think she was in a little coma but it worked.) The pre-dawn hours have me running with some great ladies in what has become the best part of my day. If you know me and know how much I hate love running, this tells you what the rest of the days have been like!

Despite the craziness, we've found ways to get our heads above water. Friday, I played hookie for the late afternoon shift at the sale and met Ross at St. Angelo's for pizza. There was a band playing Johnny Cash songs and we took turns dancing with our daughter while we ate stromboli and gelato on the patio. After a week of literally passing in the night, it felt great to feel like a family and to really enjoy each other.

Today, we are home from early Mass where MK sat in the pew the ENTIRE TIME (reminder: we go to a church with a realllly long service.) She is asleep. The Sunday paper is strewn across the table with empty plates from a good breakfast at home. We are spending the afternoon going a Golden Retriever rescue event and someone slap me if we come home with a dog. But don't be surprised either. I am outnumbered in the "do we really need another dog so quickly" camp but am admittedly excited to go see the pups.

So, after a crazy full week (which started with our anniversary and will get its own post), we are coming up for air. And around me, I can now see such goodness. We are thankful for jobs in this awful economy and for ways to serve that also give us great friends. We are thankful for bodies that are healthy enough to exercise well and for a precious girl, no matter how much or how little she sleeps. We are thankful for family who leave message after un-returned message and friends who email us to encourage us in our runs, our family and our lives.

~~just some photos I've recently gotten back from a great photographer we got through groupon :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

final plug

I just came from one of many shifts I'm working at this sale and y'all, the stuff is GOOD. I'm really impressed with the quality of clothing, the amount of stuff that is new with tags, and the pricing. If there's anything specific you are looking for, feel free to comment or email me and I'll keep my eye out. Ross has used this line previously but said this morning, "what is your saving going to cost us?" Well, m'love, get ready...

Hey guys- this is a wonderful, wonderful consignment sale, put on by the Mothers of Preschoolers group that I co-coordinate. The sale is run by people who LOVE consignment sales and who are incredibly adept at organizing a sale. Come see us!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We can't have it both ways, folks

Today we woke up to find that Troy Davis, a man convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989, was executed last night in Jackson, GA. This case has caught national attention lately and involves my hometown. I have neither read substantial amounts of the case nor have I educated myself sufficiently on its details, so I won't comment on whether or not I think he was guilty of his crime. I will say, however, that Christians seem to contradict themselves on the issue of "Life." You will find few Catholics and few evangelical Christians who are not against abortion. These passionate people will fight and fight to protect the lives of unborn children. Most of them are good, good people. However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not define life as "the unborn." It states,  “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end…” 

I saw one too many facebook and twitter posts from people who sit in a pew each Sunday using words like "ignorant" and "stupid. " I have seen them in church. I have heard their cries for the unborn. And yet, this man, this Troy Davis, his life doesn't seem to be as important??  
I have about a Kindergarten education on the teachings of the Catholic Church and an even lesser amount on the legal issues in this case. But Pope Benedict's US Envoy sent a letter pleading for Mr. Davis' life.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is pretty clear on church teaching on capital punishment. Even pro-death penalty folks like Bob Barr asked for clemency. While what happened to Officer MacPhail may never become clear, it is clear that there is doubt in this case. As I said to a friend on twitter, "we are DEFINITELY going to execute a man that we think MAYBE commited a crime."

And clear or not, it doesn't matter. As people who claim to be pro-life, we CANNOT support Capital Punishment. This presents a billion political problems because you will be hard pressed to find someone who is both pro-life and anti-death penalty running for higher office. But as someone facebooked (though in a different context), I'd rather be spiritually correct than politically correct.

Now, Troy Davis had 22 years of appeals. Many courts have reviewed all of the facts of the case and 99% of the people commenting have not reviewed the facts at all. Officer MacPhail was a father, a brother, a son. His life was stolen. But we are not in the old testament. This  cannot be a case of an eye for an eye. A college friend, John Rue, posed the question, "Would we be making this much noise if Scott Peterson or Timothy McVeigh had a chance at clemency?" This struck me, because my initial thought was, "no, there was clear evidence that proved their guilt." So I am as guilty as any in my own judgement as to who deserves to live and who deserves to die. My church says:

Catholic teaching says that the situations in which the death penalty can be used are “rare, if not practically non-existent.” Wouldn’t cases of heinous crimes, such as 9/11, be examples of the “rare” cases?

The test of whether the death penalty can be used is whether society has alternative ways to protect itself, not how terrible the crime was. Life in prison without parole provides a non-lethal alternative to the death penalty. We can’t know whether God has a purpose for a person’s life, even one who has committed a terrible crime and must spend his or her life behind bars.

So I guess all this rambling is really pointed to those, like me, who believe that life is from conception to natural death. (I could write another blog on the "to" part including the homeless, addicted, mentally ill, lonely, elderly, shut-in, sick). I just worry that as Christians, we sometimes stop with the conception part. We fight, rightfully so, for a child to be born. But then sometimes we stop. We don't protect that child, feed it, clothe it, nurture it and protect it when it grows up to do something awful.

End rambling. Sorry guys.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a damn good dog

When I met Ross, I knew he had a dog he loved. When I met Monty, he jumped on me and ruined an expensive Free People sweater, making our love affair a little more, well, gradual. He licked and jumped and shed and shed and shed. But somewhere along the way, probably when Mary Kate got a little older, he weaseled his way into my heart. He let our girl climb over him, pull his collar, slap pet him. He cleaned up all the food she threw on the floor, leaving me only to mop. And sadly, it has only been these last 3 days without him, that I realize how good he really was. I miss him. So, so terribly. There is less to do without the constant need to vacuum and one less person to feed. I have gone to the back door twice a day since Monday only to realize there's no one to let out. Mary Kate cranes her head out of her crib each morning, expecting to see her boy. Ross wants another dog pronto. And while I'm a little less eager, I know another shedding, jumping, licking dog will soon be a part of our family. Seeing the hole Monty left, I am happy to welcome another. Rest in peace, Monty boy. Oh how we miss you, so, so much.
The first face MK looks for when she gets out of the crib

A happy day in the park

everyone happy in the grass

an afternoon on the back porch while mom cooks

happiest with his dad

you and your sister ruining a family picture

at the Hinton Center, lounging in the sun

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Take me where you want me to go

I have lived three places in my life. Savannah will always be home and I would say a rosary a day, cook my husband dinner every night and clean tile bathrooms if we could move back there. I adore all things Savannah.

My next home was that ever so classic city, Athens, GA. This weekend, I took Ross back to that home. My heart lurched as we pulled into town, feeling waves of nostalgia, longing and comfort. For seven years, I walked those hills, ate the .50 ice cream cones from Hodgsons and worshipped in a wonderful place. Being back was the most wonderful comfort I've had in a long time.

Thanks to the kinds of friends that small towns bring, all it took was a few phone calls to get great tickets, a perfect parking spot and tailgate spot. It couldn't have been easier. We set up cornhole boards on the Catholic Center lawn, pulled out Cane's (the old Guthries!) fried chicken and began our day long people watching (dear college girls, the saleslady lied to you. That is not a skirt. It is, in fact, a bella band that you have wrapped around your bottom.)  We watched my old, firecracker friend Pam, direct traffic, yelling to the country boy who got on his cb radio asking the cars to move along "hold up, I'm doing business for the Lord!"

Despite the outcome, it was a wonderful game. We stayed with Elizabeth and Ryan and ended the night with midnight hotdogs and terrapin. I didn't think the weekend could get better, though I couldn't wait for Sunday.

Sunday was the day we got to go to Mass, alone, sans baby, at The Catholic Center. The college years were so incredibly formative for me and this place, that center, was the where faith became real for me.  Sitting in Mass, I saw the lecturn that I read scripture from and administered communion from so many Sundays. I saw people who cared for me, nurtured me, loved me. I saw the tabernacle that I sat beside in the middle of one awful night, praying for strength to keep going. I listened to an amazing homily from a priest I cherish, this being the anniversary of 9/11, that challenged us to commemorate the 'event of Christ' each day, rather than the 'event of terror' of that one day. He reminded us that the best way to honor the victims was to daily celebrate Christ alive in each of us and that the "best response to the bad is the practice of the good."

I held back tears the whole Mass, longing, longing, longing to be back in Athens. I wanted to live in this place where you can see friends on opposite sides of town in the same hour, where you can dine exclusively at wonderful local businesses, and where you sit in Mass surrounded by people who know and care for you. "Community" is done so well in that town. We had breakfast with a wonderful retired couple and Fr. Tom before we left town. On the drive home, Ross asked, "why did they love you so much?" After a quick, sarcastic comeback about my overall awesomeness, I told him that this Catholic Center community loved me as well as they loved so many. I wasn't special. Those people, that ministry, is special.

I was a sophomore on 9/11 in Athens. At the time, Fr. Jack told us of a fellow franciscan priest, Fr. Mychal Judge. Fr. Judge was the chaplain of the NY Fire Department and was the first certified fatality of those attacks. This week, on the 10th anniversary, Fr. Tom challenged us to live the prayer of Fr. Judge.

Lord, take me where You want me to go,
let me meet who You want me to meet,
tell me what You want me to say,
and keep me out of Your way.

So after a fantastic weekend in that beautiful city, I am challenging myself to live this prayer of Fr. Judge. We could probably find ways to move to Savannah or Athens if we forced it. But, as the prayer says, "keep me out of your way." I know that if I try to orchestrate our path, no good will come. I will be ever thankful for my upbringing in Savannah and for those oh so important Athens years. But I will not take for granted my precious little family or our community of friends and faith that will only grow in our little burb of Atlanta.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

I felt like a mom

This week Mary Kate has been sick with a virus. Her fevers have been super high, her appetite, super low. She has been fussy and unhappy. But she has also been cuddly. If you've read more than 2 posts on this blog, you know that cuddly is not my child. Even as a tiny baby, she did not curl into you, lay her head on your shoulder or show tenderness to you. Childcare workers at various places have quickly learned that if she is crying, the answer is NOT to pick her up.

Most days, I feel like what the real life of a mom looks like. Words like janitor, nurse, cook, and animal tamer come to mind. But as I was rocking her the other night, without a bottle or a book, just her, just laying her head on my shoulder and letting herself be comforted by her mom, I felt like how I always imagined it would be. I felt like a mom.

It was glorious. I would have given it up in a millisecond for her to feel better and be back to her shenanigans, knowing this cuddly version of my girl isn't really my girl. But I relished being able to comfort her. I relished holding her without her squirming out to find the next dog bone to eat or paper to shred. I relished that something about me comforted her.

showing daddy some of that same love

Monday, September 5, 2011

Come out and see us!

Hey guys- this is a wonderful, wonderful consignment sale, put on by the Mothers of Preschoolers group that I co-coordinate. The sale is run by people who LOVE consignment sales and who are incredibly adept at organizing a sale. Come see us!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Heard of late

Just some things I've heard lately (and of course, my take on them) as we head into the weekend.

Sunshine without the rain is the recipe for a desert. (an arab proverb).

I read this in Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. I'm not far into the book but can tell you I'll be back with a summary soon. This quote struck me because a few friends are in dry places in their faiths or in hard places with their families/work etc. I know without a doubt that from the darkest times in my faith and in my life have come the most fruit. "Rain" isn't a bad thing. It's essential for new growth.

God cannot be stopped by your stupidity. (assoc pastor at Cumberland church)

Rob is the associate pastor at the church where we hold our MOPS meetings. My co-coordinator and I invited him to speak at our steering meeting this week. This so happened to be the day after one of the hardest parenting days for me thus far. I felt like a big ole fat loser in the mommyhood department and felt sure that MK's college fund needed to be transferred into MK's adult therapy fund. (obviously I can be dramatic but it's not far from the truth.) How wonderful it was to hear that my daily hiccups as a mother cannot stop what God will do in Mary Kate's life. No matter how many mistakes I will make as her mom, someone else is doing the hard work. Praise be!

Mary Susan, you may write on your leg with that marker but not on your shoes! (anon.)

My unnamed friend is the author of that hilarious statement. It makes me giggle.

You is kind. You is smart. You is important. (Abilene)

I could write a whole post on The Help but already wrote a review sometime last year. Plus every woman who has a pulse has read it by now. The movie did not disappoint and I enjoyed it as much as the book. It was heart-breaking and hopeful, sad and wonderful all at the same time. I imagine curling up in the bed with a school-age Mary Kate and reading this book to her at night.

Oh and Happy Happy Birthday to our favorite GrandFATHER Tim! Wish we were in Italy to celebrate with you. Make those youngins' take their older, wiser teacher out for a cold Italian beer!!

I think that's all for now. I am off to read up on college football because if I don't have something to contribute, there will be very little to talk with my husband about for the next four months. P.S. I love January.

Let's hope we're doing this a lot tomorrow night!

don't you wish your tush was this cute?!