Friday, March 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

hosted by Conversion Diary

  1. Finding the time to put any sort of blog together these days is difficult. More difficult is finding words that don't sound absurd in my head. As I mentioned awhile back, the Lenten reflections pamphlet that I contributed to has been posted at Faith and Family Live. Knowing that what you've written is being read by a large amount of people all of a sudden makes writing more daunting. Nonetheless, I am confident that God alone will determine what happens with these words, even if it means people are gagging.
  2. I love Sundays for so many reasons. This past week I found yet another. Ross took MK to nursery where she pranced in happily and came to meet me in the sanctuary. Ross put his arm around me and we both looked down at the ever-growing belly. As many post-first-baby pregnancies go, I get busy with life and Mary Kate and popping prilosec. On Sundays, it's just daddy and mama and Jesus and baby number two, without the distraction of big (loud) sister. Ross put his hand on his newest babe and I smiled, finally taking a minute to breathe a sigh of thanksgiving for this baby.
  3. Taking a big left turn, what I do NOT love during Mass is "helicopter head." My definition of this is when a baby is crying and 30 people turn around to confirm the obvious. Having been the red-faced mama of a crying baby, none of those faces were calming. I'd venture to say that even if you turn around to give a sympathetic smile, your time might be better spent facing forward and saying a prayer for that mama. My two cents: unless you are turning around to hand that lady a starbucks gift card to get her through the day, keep your eyes forward.
  4. Whew. Now I feel better. On to things that matter more, much more. My heart is heavy lately with the burdens being carried by so many. As I sit in the comfort of my home, there is baby being held by a nun downtown whose mama has full-blown AIDS. Will that mama see her little girl grow up? There is another mama a few hours east who is enduring a very difficult post-chemo day. I pray for her comfort and complete healing. There are close friends who would give their left arms to become mamas. Oh Lord fill their homes with sweet babies. My amazing brother has a broken heart and a breaking spirit. Oh that he would find a faith that reminds him that God truly comforts the brokenhearted. Just lots of reasons to sit down, close my eyes, and sit in trust that Jesus has got all of this.
  5. Yesterday, our MOPS group heard an amazing couple talk about marriage. Quoting often from Love and Respect, it was basically a dart between my eyes. I know that a woman I admire endorses it highly and I even HAVE the danged book. Time to open it. I love my husband intensely. And I would tell you all day long that I respect him immensely. But I can see that having been self-sufficient for 10+ years before we met, I formed some habits that need tweaking. At the end of the day I need to show him what I feel inside- that he is a strong, loyal, successful, handsome man of God who provides for this family in every single way.
  6. Mary Kate must have read my post about this age being my favorite because she has decided to make a fool out of me. She has been a pill this week and is making me crazy with whining and throwing fits. But today as she hurt herself during one of her fits, I sat down to hold her and blot the blood on her lip, I spotted an eye tooth popping through. So I'm hopeful that my angel baby returns in time for our uber busy April with lots of travel and routine changes.
  7.  I have read many inspiring women who say that God always gives them just enough grace to get through a day. Yesterday, Ross was working major husband over-time by installing our new sink and disposal. Knowing MK would want to be under the sink "helping" dad, I realized I'd be working overtime too. After a rough post-nap time at home, we headed for the park. I was exhausted, feeling like 3 more hours of solo parenting might do me in. I literally had tears in my eyes as we left the park to go eat dinner, all of a sudden not believing those ladies. I did not feel that grace flowing in, giving me that last needed bit of energy to get through the next hours. But, big surprise, we got to a favorite restaurant with outdoor patio where MK could roam. She ate a bowl of chicken-chili like it was her job and clapped and sang. She was the perfect toddler child. Unexpectedly, our friend Karen  came to meet us toward the end and gave Mary Kate her favorite thing- an audience. Driving home, I couldn't believe it had been more than 3 hours since I'd doubted that God would supply me with a few more drops of energy. But supply me He did. One day I'll stop being surprised by the gift of his grace!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This Sunday was one of those that I need to remember. When I am old and forgetful, I want Mary Kate to read this and remind me of this oh so sweet day. It started with an invitation by the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's nuns) to Mass in their home. For most of the time Ross and I have known each other, their living room was our sanctuary. As our need for a nursery arose and the sisters' ministry changed some, we see them less. We were happy to attend Mass as the Sisters as they had invited Archbishop Gregory to say Mass. The last time we spoke with Archbishop, he gave a blessing to Mary Kate who was in utero.

We arrived, greeted by faces of love from our sisters. The Archbishop quickly arrived and remembered blessing Mary Kate over 2 years ago. He quickly assured us that he would not be disturbed by her "talking" and that it is adults who bother him during Mass, never children. He spoke to us of a father's love and of the Ten Commandments as a tool to grow in our faith. He smiled when Mary Kate pronounced "Amen" a  few too many times.

Mary Kate was uncharacteristically calm this Sunday, battling a little virus. She alternated between mine and Ross's shoulders or sitting calmly on our laps, if talking her way through Mass. At one point, she kept looking back at Sister Brunetta. As Sister reached out her arms, our girl climbed to her. A few minutes later, I looked back and MK was laying on Sister's shoulder, as content as can be. I know she was sick and lacking her little "let me down to destroy this room" mentality, but looking at a woman who has been with you since your first date with your husband (remember, "Keri, if you do not marry him you have to wear my habit!) hold your precious baby, well, it warmed me so.  I never want to forget the image of my girl feeling comforted and safe in the arms of my beloved Sister Brunetta.

Mass ended and Archbishop joked that he had some competition for attention with Mary Kate. Newly arrived Sister Dominga whispered that there was no competition- MK  clearly won. We received a blessing for new baby and Ross helped direct the Archbishop out of the driveway and into the road. A thankful Archbishop rolled down the window and declared to Ross that he would get the boy he wants! Come September, we'll see how much pull he has with the big guy!

Sunday was a nice escape to a smaller church, to being surrounded by the Body of Christ. We sat with a 26-year-old HIV patient, having her baby TODAY! We prayed for baby Kamille and for her mother. We saw old friends and felt the warmth of being "known." I remember when MK was first born, holding her during Mass. It was the biggest dream fulfilled- more than even having a baby, my dream was to hold that baby during Mass. As a tiny baby, we held her in that same small living room, with those same prayerful, holy sisters, and felt like we were with family.

What a wonderful little family reunion we had! I will make sure to get some current pictures next time. There isn't a luckier little girl than our Mary Kate for having these ladies love her so!

Vania has been with the sisters for many years, most recently battling kidney failure. She was not feeling well Sunday bit still stopped to kiss our girl.

Sr's Brunetta, Anunciela and Dominque- still loving MK almost 2 years later.

Friday, March 9, 2012

my most favorite stage

I have never been the mom to say "this is my favorite stage" to every stage. I don't know if I've said that even a handful of times. I love my child with every tiny ounce of my being, but I am by nature a little pessimistic so it takes a lot for me to be all "the world is perfect." It wasn't long ago that I wrote about my precious toddler monster. But today, I can safely say that 20 months is my most favorite stage.

20 months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful, tiny, high maintenance, car-seat hating, noctural baby. Today, I have a beautiful, petite, sometimes high maintenance, car-seat hating, non-noctural toddler. She is my glimpse into the life of someone who feels joy easily. Every day in recent weeks, I watch her, study her. And I get a little flicker of what I am sure is JOY.

There are many reasons this is my favorite stage but a few include:
  • learning that there are two parents in this house and finally saying "mama" regularly. I have yet to grow tired of hearing my name of those little lips.
  • her discovery of affection. Oh how she will hug you, kiss you, lay her head on your shoulder and say "awwww." But my favorite has to be when she grabs your face and pulls you forehead to forehead. Melting.
  • how lovey dovey she gets when I pick her up from somewhere. Whether church nursery, mops, or her best friend's house, she walks in willingly. But she walks out oh so happy that I have indeed returned to get her. And she hugs and hugs and kisses me for a long while after we're gone.
  • her memory is getting so good and I love the little sponge this child is becoming. Singing "yeah! Jesus" (yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me) or ABCDEFG, or her current obsession, old macdonald, I adore watching that little brain work
  • seeing and hearing her daddy teach her. Listenting to those two go over animal sounds or body parts or colors or words is precious. When I was pregnant with MK, Ross said he was most excited about teaching her. While I would argue that we have both been much more student than teacher, I am happy to see his dream come true.
  • watching her with friends. Today at lunch, she and Joy Elizabeth made faces at each other, mimicking each other and cracking each other up. My little girl has a true friend and "Cakes" nor I could be any happier.
  • watching her love her dog. Oh how I could live without a dog for the rest of my life. He is almost as good as a dog comes but he still drives me bonkers. But Mack makes MK and Ross so happy. And for that, he stays.
  • This kid's zest for life, especially "ouside." What I would give for 1/100th of her energy and exploring little heart. I know this does not make her unique in the world of toddlers but what it does do is make her mama just a little more intrigued by the world. She loves nothing more than seeing a "cretty" flower or a "cretty" rock or making herself dizzy in the grass. She may look like me but kid has her daddy's everything else.
  • Her love of a lap. If you are sitting on a floor, she will come from playing happily in another room to throw her legs over your hips and make herself comfortable. While this is terribly uncomfortable for mama and new baby, I happily endure it.
  • I haven't witnessed this yet, but Ross said one of his favorite moments is at night when she is waiting on him to come in and begin reading to her. She has a cup of milk in hand and waits patiently next to the rocking chair, eager for him to sit down and begin their nightly ritual of reading and snuggling and teaching. What I love about it is their deep, deep bond and the most precious love between a father and his daughter.
  • The name of Jesus coming off those lips. Y'all, nothing in the universe is as sweet as hearing my daughter say, "Jesus?" at a statue of St. Joseph in my in-laws church. Or pointing at any cross and confidently saying "Jeeeesus." I am waiting on the day she sees an older, long haired man and calls him Jesus. It is a daily reminder that she is a sponge and she will absorb whatever "food" we give her. My greatest prayer for her is that she know and deeply understand the words from Isaiah 41:10 "'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'" I pray my heart out that no matter where she is in life, she will feel the comfort of Jesus right next to her loving her and protecting her.
If I have said it before, I don't remember. But this is my favorite stage. Yes, we have moments of toddler monster but those grow fewer as she continues to learn to communicate at a rapid fire pace. I simply can't believe God gave her to us. The question that plagued me as an adolescent and young adult, "How could he possibly love me?" no longer exists. Simply watching that child for a few seconds tells me, "obviously He does."

her favorite place- with Mackey

little peanut still fits into last year's St. Pat's dress. Sweetest 20 month old in the world!

After a 30 minute power nap at ShaSha and Pops' house to celebrate ShaSha's 65th!