The Grace of Mid-Night Cuddles

I hear a baby grunt.  Then a groan.  Soon enough, the baby cries follow and I am made aware through my sleepiness that this is not the type of baby stirring that will go away on its own.  I open my eyes and I see the clock.  Sometimes it’s 2:30 a.m.  Sometimes it’s 1:15.  Some nights it is only 12:45 a.m. and I am horrified as I realize I have only gotten about 2 hours of sleep in before the call to get the baby.
Tonight it is 1:30 or so when I hear Vincent stirring.  
I stumble over Dominic, who has made a little bed out of the floor on the side of my bed, and make my way down the stairs and into the baby’s room.  I pick  him up and put him on the changing table and he cries out…this is unusual, but I decide at the early hour, it is probably not critical to have a diaper change.  I make my way to the kitchen, flip on the light and start the water flowing to warm up to make a bottle.  As I do all of this, I steal little kisses on Vincent’s cheeks to which he smiles and giggles in return…and now I wonder if these middle-of-the-night visits are purposeful ways of getting one-on-one time with Mommy.
We sit down and in the 15 seconds it takes for me to get situated for a good hold and a view of my iPhone (to catch up on blogs or something while feeding) Vincent gets impatient and cries out and shakes his head as if to say, “I need that bottle NOW, Mommy!”
As he drinks his midnight cocktail (as I have called it before), I read some facebook but cannot determine the result of the basketball game I was watching as I fell asleep.  Oh well, I make my plays on Hanging with Friends and Words with Friends.  And soon enough, Vincent is finished.
I put the phone down, I put the empty bottle down and I work Vincent into his cuddle position and we sit in the dark.  I feel him burp and then nestle into the crook of my neck and his hand finds its familiar place on the inside of my shirt just above my breast area.  And I hear him breathe contentedly.
And now, I realize that I don’t really hate getting up in the middle of the night with my baby boy.  It’s my chance to smell him and take in all his baby goodness.  It is in these quiet moments that we are building our relationship — he is learning to trust that I will be there, even in the pit of darkness — to give him what he needs, whether it be nourishment or cuddles or safety.  
It is at these times that I remember that this isn’t the first time I was required this much at night.  Sarah was a baby that didn’t sleep through consistently for probably a good 18-20 months of her life.  I had forgotten.  Of course, that was 10 years ago, and I didn’t have the maturity to appreciate the quiet solitude the middle of the night brings then.  I was too engrossed in my annoyance that I had to rise at that hour at all.  It is at these times that I realize how spoiled I was with the next three babies who slept through consistently very early on and it was only one in maybe 20 nights that I was awakened from my slumber, if at all.
So tonight, I decide to close my eyes and just listen to Vincent breathing on me.  Tonight, I think about the fact that this could be the last time I get this opportunity, so I will make the most of it.  I think about earlier in the night when I made him giggle by playing peek-a-boo while he lay on his changing table.  His laugh is like my own personal version of catnip.  I would do anything to hear it for eternity.  I think about his infectious grin.  I think about the cups of saliva that spill out of his mouth all day.  I think of his big brown eyes that give me looks like I am the only woman for him.  I think about how he grabs my hair and continues to pull and play gently until it hurts me.  I think about him bouncing with joy in his “exer-saucer” and how much he has learned in the last month.
The first year of a baby’s life flies so quickly.  But what is so odd is how parts of it feel like they drag on forever.  Vincent is now 7 months old.  He is barreling down the road to his 1st birthday.  Time is not my friend this time.  My age and experience reminds me that this might be my last trip down this road.  And because it is my 5th time, I know how quickly the trip can pass me by if I don’t pay attention.

After some time of just sitting there, being with Vincent, holding his 18 pounds, feeling his breath on my neck, kissing his soft head, I walk him back to his crib and place him softly for his remaining nightly slumber.  I stumble back up the stairs.  I step around Dominic, sleeping soundly in his makeshift bed (I suppose I should learn to find the grace in that situation, too) and I crawl back into bed.  

As I drift back to sleep, I realize that I’m not all that annoyed that I spent the last 35-40 minutes taking care of Vincent.  

As a matter of fact, I realize that I will actually miss these days at some point.

Shoved to Them: A Call to Arms, My Brothers!

Excellent post over at Shoved to Them. Go read it and then help out by calling your Senators and Representatives, call the HHS and Call the White House. What they are attempting to do is unconstitutional and they need to know that we are not fooled.

Shoved to Them: A Call to Arms, My Brothers!: Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant. Then they came for me and there was no one left t…

Uncharacteristic Rant By Me

I’m going to take a deep breath and exhale slowly and then hit…Publish.
Oh. My. Goodness.  I just read a comment on another blog that has my blood boiling.
First of all, I read this great post at More Like Mary~More Like Me.  I tweeted it.  I posted it to Facebook.  I think her analogy is spot on.
Typically, I try to stay out of comboxes on posts like this.  And here’s why:
Anonymous comments like this:

Crazy… I do what the great majority of my Catholic friends around me do… Go to Church, Kneel, Pray, Take the Eucharist, Go home, pop a birth control pill with the blessing of my Catholic husband and his entire Catholic family. Get up the next Monday and drive my 2 kids to Catholic School and meet the other Moms of that School and talk about their two (at the most three )kids. Get Real Catholics …Vatican 3 is necessary and birth control should be embraced.

This drives me crazy.  This is what George Weigel wrote about in his book, The Courage to Be Catholic.  The Catholic Church in America has an illness.  It is an illness of fidelity.  And this lack of fidelity is throughout the ranks, and some of the most vocal and blatant and unapologetic are the laity, many like Anonymous.
This lack of fidelity is evident in the amount of Catholics okay with divorce, okay with artificial contraception, okay with legal abortion, okay with IVF, okay with same-sex “marriage”.  This lack of fidelity was perpetuated while I was growing up with Catholic schools that failed in their mission to educate children in the Catholic faith.  This lack of fidelity was blessed by parents too concerned with sexual freedom and selfish pursuit of endless youth and happiness who dropped off their kids at Catholic school thinking that was their only duty as Catholic parents.  
It’s so very sad that the “great majority” of her “Catholic” friends do as she writes.  It’s very telling that she uses the words “take the Eucharist” because with her attitude about the Catholic church and Church teachings, that is the only way she could get the Eucharist is to “take” it.  She surely wouldn’t humble herself to be in a position to merely receive it.
Some of us Catholics try to present ourselves to receive our Lord, most likely combing our consciences for anything that might make us unworthy and might cause us to refrain until we’ve received absolution in the confessional.  Some of us try to actually refrain from receiving when we know we need to get to Confession. 

Abstaining from receiving the Eucharist is HARD to do.  But we MUST, lest we pile mortal sin on top of mortal sin!

Going to confession is HARD to do.  It is humbling.  I rarely get in and out of there without needing my kleenex.

Which brings me to another telling point of her comment:  NOWHERE in her comment about what she and the “great majority” of her “Catholic” friends do, does she mention CONFESSION.  The attitude expressed through her words drips with PRIDE and lacks HUMILITY. 
The complete lack of humility and utter lack of respect for the Catholic church and what the Church teaches that is evident in this comment burns me to my core.  
And it does so because I love The Catholic Church.  
I love her teachings.  
No, I didn’t always know Catholic Church teaching.  No, even when I suspected what it was, I didn’t always follow it.  I still fall into sin now!  But the Church need NOT conform Her teachings to accept MY sinfulness!

I’m still not perfect, but it is I who is imperfect, NOT Holy Mother Church.

Yes, it’s inconvenient, difficult at times, to live my life according to the teachings of Christ.  Doing the right thing is rarely the easy thing. But it’s also SUCH A BLESSING!  The Grace rains down on me, on my husband, on my family.  We could NEVER do it without that Grace!
The recent disregard for the Catholic Church, my religious beliefs, by the current administration was NOT unexpected (sorry, I’ve been pretty pessimistic from the start), but it is still very sad.  
I agree with Kaitlyn’s statement at the end of her posts wholeheartedly:  

What matters is that the government is infringing on our religious liberty in a big, big way.


What makes you think your beliefs aren’t next?

Indeed.  What DOES make anyone believe that this is the end?  It is just the beginning.  This infringement of religious liberty, if successful, will signal that other freedoms are up for grabs and the government will take them all, left unchecked.

But alas, perhaps I should continue believing that probably anyone who isn’t Catholic needn’t worry about it.  Because when the Catholic Church is persecuted, and should our leaders all be fined, imprisoned, whatever the case might be…there will be few left to stand up for others and little else left to fight for anyway.

Quick Takes (17)

— 1 —
Vincent hit the 6 month mark at the end of December.  Finally, a week before he hit the 7 month mark, we got his pictures taken.  It’s funny, when Sarah was a baby, we got her portrait done every month of her first year.  Ha!  We wised up after that and we document our babies’ growth by getting portraits done at 3-months, 6-months, 9-months and then at 1-year.  We also go to Portrait Innovations and get their $10 deal (you get a bunch of pictures…but of only 1 pose).  Anyway, here is my baby boy:

— 2 —
And because I know you just can’t get enough of my sweet boy, here is a picture I got of him at home about a week ago, just sitting.  He has been sitting up for about 2 or 3 weeks now.  He occasionally will fall over still, but for the most part, can sit and play without problems.

And if you think he looks like he is having too much fun…well, he is!  🙂

— 3 —
A couple of weeks ago, I got this picture of Dominic playing with Vincent.  It warms my heart.  Of course, Vincent looks at Dominic like he is the greatest thing ever.  (Well, okay…maybe not quite the greatest, because that would be how he looks at me, but Dominic gets a look like he’s the 2nd-greatest.)  I can’t wait to see how these two develop and grow together.

— 4 —
I was disappointed that I didn’t get anything up on the blog this week.  It’s a very important week.  The March for Life took place this past Monday.  Someday, I’m gonna get the days off and I’m gonna go.  I really want to go the first time Sarah goes.  And I know she’s going to go at some point. 

But for now, I have to live vicariously through Bad Catholic’s blog, among others.  And although I was slow, I did finally get something up about it today.  THIS POST was the whole week in the making.  I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say necessarily, but I felt called to write something.

— 5 —

I made it to Spin Class again last night.  I guess I keep wanting to tell you all that because at least then I get to report something!  I have been unsuccessful in getting to do anything else.  It partly makes me want to pay for another session so I will at least continue going to this.  I also have the thought to see if there are any other evening group exercise classes I might be interested in at the Community Center.  The kids actually do pretty well.  The boys go to Child Watch, the girls have stayed home for an hour, but I think I could even let Sarah and Dani shoot baskets or something while I work out now.  Anyway…three more weeks of Spin Classes…so I really need to figure something out. 

Any ideas from you all about how I could get more exercise in?  I can’t seem to get my butt out of bed in the mornings (thank you, Vincent, for your still sporadic 3 a.m. wake up calls), I’m most likely not going to do any exercises you read about doing in your living room.  Oh well, I am sure something will work out eventually.

— 6 —

THAT is the new Crucifix hanging in our parish church.  It’s beautiful.  It’s a piece of art, really.  It’s handmade by a parishioner and get this:  there are 8 third-class relics incorporated into the cross, all donated.  When Father told us about it last week at Mass, I learned that a relic is first-class until it’s been handled, and then it becomes third-class.  All of the relics in the Crucifix are bone fragments from the Saints represented.  I also learned that the only way we could display it here is if he had all the authentication stuff to prove it was what he said it was.  Several were donated recently, one was donated a while ago and forgotten, then found.  It’s really incredible.  See QT#7 for a list of the relics.

— 7 —

First of all, see the little circular object above the INRI part of the Crucifix?  That is where a relic of St. Andrew the Apostle is located.  St. Andrew the Apostle is the Patron Saint of our parish.

Next, see that cross at the bottom of the Crucifix?  That is where the other 7 are located.  First, at the top of that cross is a relic of St. Francis of Assisi.  Then there is a row of 3 relics:  On the left is a relic of St. Ann, mother of Mary; then in the middle is a relic of St. Marie-Rose Durocher (pronounced DU – ROW – SHAY); then to the right is a relic of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.  Then there are three more below that on the remaining portion of the vertical part of the cross.  There is a relic of St. John Neumann (of Philadelphia), then a relic of St. Cecilia and finally a relic of St. Maria Goretti.

We are so blessed with this new addition to our parish.  I made the picture of it my wallpaper on my iPhone.  I love that I can look at it so often that way.
Have a great weekend everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Survivor

This week, the blogosphere was filled with posts recognizing the passing of the 39th year of legalized abortion in our country.  I often think about abortion.  And many times I wish I could put into words how I feel about it.


I have always been against abortion, to some degree.  When I was younger, I often took the “non-judgmental-it’s-not-for-me” approach.  I had an experience when I was 23 that parked me firmly in the “abortion is evil” camp.  (I’m not at liberty to share that experience, but rest assured, I believe through that experience I stood face-to-face with Satan himself…and lost…that day.)  When I began having children, the proof and reality of the evil that wrought abortion was made clear to me through the intimate relationship I formed with my children from the earliest moments of pregnancy.  The awe, wonder and amazement I felt as I was made aware of the power of God by simply “peeing on a stick” and seeing a positive result was breathtaking.  It’s been breathtaking every single time.  And it has strengthened my resolve every single time.  Abortion stops a beating heart.  A child, in what is supposed to be its safest environment is mangled, separated and killed in the procedure.


I often think of myself as an abortion survivor.  I was born into a world where my mother could have killed me if she’d wanted to.  There is nothing that made the scourge more evident to me than when I did a study on Generations during my MBA program some years ago.  The “Baby Boom” generation was huge.  Millions on top of millions of babies were born between 1946 and 1964 (the general time period attributed to the birth of baby boomers).  There were waves of births as many baby boomers were born into larger families (on average) than we see today.


My generation – Generation X they call us – is much smaller than the generation preceding us.  Most papers on the subject of Generations notes that the Baby Boomer generation is roughly 76 million and the Millenial generation is roughly 73 million, but my generation is 49 million.   This shrinkage is due to many factors, not the least of which is the fact that many of my generational brothers and sisters were aborted out of existence, legally.  Some other contributing factors were contraceptive use, sterilization, and divorce.  However, over 50 million of babies have been legally aborted since the legalization of abortion in our country.  That is 50 with six zeroes following it and we’re not talking about something abstract, like dollars or units in a production line…we’re talking about human beings in their earliest and most vulnerable state.


I am sad when I think of all the people who never got a chance at life…still never get a chance.  

I saw a cartoon (probably on facebook) this week.


I guess I feel like Abortion, Contraception, Sterilization…and all the things that surround these are proof of Spiritual Warfare…Lucifer himself, in our midst, beckoning the weak, scared, ignorant and powerless to the pits of hell.  I know there are other examples, we live in a society filled with many ills.  But probably right now, at this time in my life, nothing hits me harder than Abortion, Contraception, Sterilization, Anti-life and Anti-Child attitudes. 

I spent most of my time this week writing, re-writing, editing, pondering over this post.  I feel like I should have more to say.  I just don’t think I have  what it takes to write a truly powerful, moving post on this topic.  At least anything that would move anyone else.  But THIS POST at IGNITUM TODAY encompassed many of my thoughts and feelings.

I need to go and write up my 7 Quick Takes because Rae hinted that she’d like some recent photos of Vincent, so I plan to oblige.  🙂

7 Quick Takes (16)

— 1 —
I never got around to taking a picture of Dominic eating his chocolate cake.  But I DID get around to taking him to get his 3-year-old pictures taken.  I know some of you are friends on FB, so you’ve already seen.  But you’ll just have to bear with me and be understanding that I can NOT avoid posting here on the ol’ blog.  🙂

Here is the pose I bought that hangs on the wall:

And here is a good little pose showing off his Angry Birds shirt and what a laid back boy he is:

And here he is with his Angry Birds figures from the game the kids got at Christmas:



And here is my little ham of a boy:

— 2 —
I dragged myself kicking and screaming to my spin class last night.  You see, it works out this time around that I had to pay $35 to take this 7-week session of classes.  Because…I was really tempted not to go last night.  I was tired.  I wanted to get everyone in bed at a decent time.  I didn’t want to leave the girls at home.  There were all kinds of reasons I didn’t feel like going.  BUT!  I changed my clothes, got all the kids together and took all 5 of them to the Child Watch and went to my class.  In the end…I was glad I went.  I left immediately when it was over, grabbed the kids, got home and told them all to get in PJ’s while I took my shower, then I was able to feed the baby and get the kids (all! including the baby!) in bed by 8:30. 

Miracle of miracles:  Dominic slept all night in his bed and Vincent slept all night.  And me?  Well…I slept like a rock.  🙂

— 3 —
Danielle received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time Wednesday night!  There is nothing quite like preparing your child for this sacrament only to realize that you yourself don’t do a very good job of it.  It was so fun to watch the kids walk back to their seats.  There is nothing quite like the bouyancy that comes with being freed from our sins.  I find that even though I have to go back regularly, because I’m a sinner and all, that my heart is so light afterwards.  But there is nothing quite like that child-like sense of awe and wonder at the whole thing.   
— 4 —
Danielle’s basketball team plays at 8:30 tomorrow morning.  Nothing like having to rise and shine early on a Saturday!  But it’s so much fun to watch her class play basketball.  They are at this age, where they are aware if they have already scored a basket or two….they look around for the other girls who haven’t made a basket yet and try to pass them the ball so they can shoot.  It’s very cute.  Dani drives the lane pretty good, but she gets too far under most of the time.  I told her to just keep shooting, the shots will fall eventually.  I’m just happy to see her being aggressive!
— 5 —
I have been trying hard to eat healthy and get active and lose this weight.  I lost all my pregnancy weight pretty quickly as I have been back to pre-Vincent pregnancy weight for about 2 or 3 months.  The problem is I still needed to lose about 25 pounds when I got pregnant with him.  So, I am on a mission.  I was really happy to get into a certain size of jeans this morning without having to squeeze myself.  Progress!
— 6 —
I got some primo vacation time this year and I’m pretty excited about it!  I get to be off over Thanksgiving (and then some) and I think this year, I’m going to try and take the family up north (my Dad lives north of Chicago) and have a Poliquin Thanksgiving.  It would be great for my kids to experience Thanksgiving Dinner at my dad’s house and then I have a brother and his family who live south of Chicago and another slew of relatives that live in Milwaukee.  Now to hold out some hope that Craig can work it to be off, too, so we can all go together!
— 7 —

My Jayhawks did a great job Monday night and beat the Baylor Bears at Allen Fieldhouse!  So happy!!!  Tomorrow, they go on the road to Texas to play.  Hope they can keep their winning streak going! 

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!! GO KU!!!

Have a great weekend!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thankful Thursdays (9)

Today, I am thankful for the little glimpses of perfection God allows us through his Sacraments.  Last night Danielle received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time with her class.  There is nothing more exhilarating than watching children emerge from the confessional with looks of pure joy on their faces knowing they are free from sin in that moment.  Thank you, Lord.
Today, I am thankful that my dear friend, Rebecca, is recovering from surgery and that surgery, by initial accounts seems to have been successful and perhaps given her the hope she so desired.  Thank you, Lord.

Today, I am thankful for a women so much braver, smarter and more eloquent than I who were able to put into words the struggles of motherhood and touch my heart and lift my soul.  Thank you, Lord.