Thursday, December 31, 2009


(The sunrise over Lake Michigan-Please click to enlarge)

This is the last day of the year. Of the decade even! I am not sad to see it go. Yes there were some wonderful and good things that happened this year. But there was also much heartbreak and sadness and chaos. That is the thing about life. You take the good with the bad. There will always be both. So while I look forward to another year, hopefully a more peaceful year, I am grateful for the year we've had. And the decade we've had too.

I have a lot of hope for this new year. I hope we can slow down a bit and live a little less chaotically. I hope for peace. Peace of mind. Peace and QUIET. And peace in our world. I hope for contentment. When I don't have that QUIET I'm craving I hope I can appreciate the noise. Because it is beautiful in it's own way too. I hope for good health for all of my family and friends and loved ones. I hope I am strong enough when I need to be. I hope I am kind enough to those that need kindness. I hope I am understanding, and patient, and brave.

I will be a better mother. I will be a better wife. I will be a better, daughter, sister, and friend. And I will not wait until the new year to begin. Each day is a clean slate, and each day I will recommit to doing better.

I wish you all a very healthy, peaceful, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Playing With My Presents

This is what I got for Christmas:

Not too shabby, right? I just love my presents.
Christmas took a lot out of me this year. I feel like I've been wrung through. I'm exhausted and moody and emotional. And, Todd is hunting up north for a couple of days so I don't have much of a break. It is a good thing that we have had a few nice snow falls for the boys to go outside and play in and get their energy out. Oh how I LOVE my nice, big, fenced-in backyard!
When the boys come in all rosy and cold they gulp down their hot chocolate and we snuggle up on the couch.
And it gets me through.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Blessings

Ten years ago, our first Christmas together, the holiday looked something like this...
...and now it looks more like this...
Not quite as fancy. Not as much quality alone time. Not remotely as romantic. But more smiles. More fun. More happiness. And more love than we ever dreamed we could have.

This year, I have nothing to ask Santa for. God has given me everything I've always wanted.
I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, and get everything you've always wanted.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our First Christmas Without You

It is the perfect winter day. The kind you see in those warm, fuzzy Christmas movies. Big, fat snowflakes are flitting down outside my window. The logs in the fire are popping and sizzling and the firelight is sending off a beautiful orange glow in the room. I have hot cider in my favorite mug and old fashioned Christmas songs running through my head. And you are here too. In the forefront of my thoughts.

This is our first Christmas without you. I don't quite know what to expect. Without you here there seems to be such a big part of Christmas missing. It just isn't the same. I miss your "oohs" and "aahs" at each and every decoration. I miss hearing you sing along to all of the beautiful songs. I miss the Christmas sweaters you wore. I miss your joy and elation at all things Christmas. I miss your enthusiasm, your elation, your wonder, your joy. Without you here Christmas feels a bit flat. Lifeless.

Mom could not bring herself to put up any decorations this year. I guess when you spend over 50 years celebrating Christmas with someone it seems impossible to enjoy it when they are gone. I imagine each decoration reminds mom of how much you shared together and how much she misses you. And I can certainly understand that, but it makes me even sadder. It makes you feel that much farther away. I need those reminders of you. I need to remember those wonderful Christmas memories and hold on to them when I am missing you most.

I have been wearing a couple of your sweaters lately. They seem to be all I want to wear. They are comforting to me. And since mom isn't using the decorations I asked if I could have Alfie this Christmas. After all, he was your favorite. I thought maybe if I have Alfie in our house it will be like having a piece of you here with me too. I have such fond memories of you bringing Alfie out and setting him on top of the window box every year right before Christmas. I always thought it was so funny that you liked that little elf so much, but I think he always brought out the kid in you just as Christmas seems to do for so many of us.

This Christmas is such a mix for me. I am so excited for the boys. Their energy is palpable this year as they count down the days. And then of course, this is Grace's first Christmas. Last year she was just a dream, and now here she is celebrating with us. I have everything I've always wanted. But, even still, I can feel that hole. That missing. How I wish you were here with us too, daddy.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll feel you with us. I've been waiting so long to see you. Or hear you. Or feel you around. Maybe I'll find comfort in your sweaters. Or joy from your favorite, Alfie. Or maybe I'll feel you with us as we watch our boys enjoying all the magic of Christmas. Perhaps I'll feel you in the music at Christmas mass. Or maybe I'll finally see you in my dreams. I have hope.

I know heaven must be the ultimate place to celebrate Christmas, but I hope you'll visit us too. I hope when I look at the twinkling lights on the tree you'll be looking at them with me. This, our first Christmas in our new home. Our first Christmas as a family of six. And our first Christmas without you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PSF- Baby, It's Cold Outside

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Honey Mommy
I was in Tarjay the other day when a woman came up to me and asked how I do it. How do I keep my little baby warm in this cold. The woman just moved here from California and she said she couldn't imagine having a little one to carry around during these freezing Wisconsin winters (I didn't have the heart to tell her that it hasn't even been that cold yet). So, how do I keep my babies warm?

It is called layers. Lots and lots of layers.

Luckily, I found some really cute layers.
And if that isn't warm enough we bundle. First, layers of clothes, then blankets, then hats and mittens, and then a cover up. See? All cozy and warm and snug as a bug in a rug.

I kind of wish someone would bundle me up and carry me around like this when it is cold outside.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You Did It!

I think I was more nervous this morning than I used to be when I would get up on stage and sing in front of a couple thousand people. But you? You were cool as a cucumber.

We practiced for weeks. You told me how you didn't want to look at all the people sitting in the pews because it would make you nervous. You asked me if I would be watching. Would dad be there too? Every day you asked me if today was the day you had to do your reading in church, and breathed a sigh of relief when I said, "No." Secretly I was just as nervous as you were. After all, you had just started to learn how to read and now you were going to be reading in front of the whole school. And with such big, grown up words! It was a big step.

You read, read, and reread your part, making sure you got it absolutely perfectly. Every time you read it your confidence grew. And yesterday when I asked you to read it for me just one more time you said, "Mom, I have it memorized. I don't even need my paper anymore." And then you showed me just how well you knew it. Still, I was a little nervous for you.

This morning we put on your dress shirt and pants and you begged me to wear your tie. After I convinced you that the tie was a little too short, and also could get lost at school, you finally agreed to leave it at home. We fixed your hair and gussied you up. And you were ready.

When I walked into church and sat down you saw me right away. You smiled your angelic smile and waved. My heart melted a bit. And then my stomach did a flip flop. I knew you were prepared but I was still nervous.

You see, I know how hard you are on yourself. You always want to be perfect. Even when I told you earlier that if you make a mistake it is no big deal you said, "Oh, I won't make a mistake!" You put a lot of pressure on yourself for such a little guy.

My butterflies reached a peak when you walked up to the podium with your paper and stepped up to the microphone. You spoke clearly and slowly and looked up at the congregation when you were done. You did just as well as you knew you would.

You walked back to your pew and took your seat. And when you turned around to catch my eye I saw how proud you were. I gave you a little wink and a thumbs up and you beamed. And I was so happy for you.

Joey, you are growing up right before my eyes. Today it is the reading for the 1st graders' mass and tomorrow it will be your graduation. It is all going too fast. Please try and slow it down. Just a little?

I am so proud of you, my brave, confident, smart, funny, and kind little man. Congratulations!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Angels Among Us

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Rachael
It is easy to look at a brand new baby and see a little bit of heaven. You look into their eyes and you just know that they are straight from God. Little angels right here on earth. I've often wondered how much a baby remembers. Do they remember being with God? With the angels?
There were times when Joey was a baby that I swore he was watching his angels. More than a few times when I would breastfeed him in the middle of the night he would stop abruptly, look up at the ceiling, smile the biggest smile, and watch something go back and forth across the ceiling. Each time it would continue for a few minutes before he would go back to eating. It was somehow comforting to me. As I watched him smile I would whisper, "Are you watching your angels, honey?"

Even more comforting was a story I heard many years ago:
A mother and father became increasingly worried after they brought their brand new baby girl home from the hospital to meet her big 3 year old brother and the brother kept asking to be alone with the baby. The parents feared big brother may be having some difficulties managing his jealousy and they were careful to keep a close eye on him and never leave him alone with his new sister.
Still, big brother persisted. He wanted some time alone with the new baby. One day, as the little sister slept in her room big brother crept down the hallway and peaked in on her. He checked to make sure no one was watching and then snuck into her room. The mother noticed he was missing and quickly ran down the hallway to baby's room just as big brother was climbing up the side of baby's crib. The mother stood in the doorway and watched as big brother leaned in close to his new baby sister and whispered, "Baby, can you tell me what Jesus looks like? 'Cuz I'm starting to forget."
That story has really stuck with me over the years. I think of it often. How these children are straight from God.
And sometimes I wonder what they remember.
And sometimes I wonder what they are thinking.
And sometimes I wonder what they might be "talking" about.

"I hear ya, big brother. I hear ya!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WW- Christmas At Our House

The countdown begins,
and you are greeted with a tree,
garland on the window and out the window,
special drinking cups,
snowmen in front of the tables,
and on the tables,
and on the shelves,
a second tree in the family room,
and the most important part:

Monday, December 7, 2009

My List Of Excuses

Yes, I am still alive! Sorry I have been gone for so long. I've been an awful bloggy friend. But I have excuses, see?

1- The hubby was gone hunting for a week and two of the four kiddos were sick.

2- We hosted two Thanksgiving dinners at our house in three days.

3- I took down all of the fall decorations and cleaned the entire house.

4- I decorated the inside and outside of the house with as many Christmas decorations as I could get my hands on. That means FOUR trees (two of them small ones for the boys' rooms) that I put together and decorated BY MY SELF, plus a million and a half snowmen and angels carefully placed around the house, and a bunch of garland and big red bows around our light posts and railings outside. It took me two days, but it looks great!

5- Another of the kiddos got sick.

6- The dog ate my computer. Okay, maybe not. But may as well have since this stinking computer is SO SLOW!

7- I sent out all of my Christmas cards.

8- St. Nick's day forced me to find some time to run to the store without the kiddos and grab a few goodies for the good little boys and girls.

9- I needed to see New Moon again so I dragged the hubby to the theater with me. Me thinks it was even better the second time around.

10- Ben had been having nightmares at naptime and bedtime so I hadn't been getting much sleep.

11- I switched Ben and Joey around in the bedrooms so that Joey now has his own room and Ben shares with Tommy. This seems to have fixed the nightmare problem with Ben, Tommy loves having the top bunk, and Joey feels like a big man in his own room. However, it was a bit of work transferring all their clothes and toys. Well worth it, though.

12- We are finally having our first snow of the season today and my mud-filled backyard is now blanketed in pure white. I would rather snuggle on the couch with kiddos sipping hot chocolate than sitting at the computer.

13- As of Saturday all of the Christmas shopping for the kiddos is DONE. DONE, I tell you. Woohoo!

So, yep. I think that just about covers it. I will be around to visit you all soon. Hope you are enjoying this festive season!

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson