Giving Thanks

This post is far too long in coming, but as I take stock of my 2013 today, I realize it’s just the right time. There are so many people that enrich and bless my life.

I’m thankful, first and foremost, to God for all of my blessings and my sorrows. I have struggled throughout this year to see the blessings to be reaped from losing a child. It hasn’t always been easy, but I feel grateful that anger has not been one of the emotions I had to face. I’m amazed that I haven’t been angry…it would be so easy to be. Is it because it was my 6th child? I don’t know. I am grateful to have the knowledge and acceptance of my faith’s teaching that death is not of God. Of course, He allows it, but He doesn’t cause it. I am blessed to have a saint in Heaven interceding for me. It comforts me, sometimes, to talk to Gregory in my prayers. Sometimes I just tell him what everyone is doing…how I can see what a fun time he would have had chasing Vincent around and never catching him, stuff like that. Sometimes, I just ask him to keep praying for me because I’m still struggling to do things right down here. I’m thankful that God has provided me with knowledge, ambition, persistence and faith. I know I have nothing — no blessings and no sorrows — without God.

I am thankful for my family. All of them. My parents, my siblings, my husband, his parents, his siblings, our children…this year has shown me so much love through my family. I was touched by the sweet and caring way all of our siblings (both Craig’s and mine) reacted to our tragedy this year. I guess they all loved us like no one else can. I pray that my children will love and care for each other half as much as I see Craig’s siblings and my siblings all love and care for us and each other — they will be very blessed!

I am thankful for so many friends. The woman who runs the home daycare where Vincent spends his days was a God-send during our time of sorrow this spring. She kept Vincent overnight and through the weekend, and I know he was loved and well cared for. She sent me messages of hope and support throughout the weeks following Gregory’s death and even when we were marking the due date. She cares for Vincent as closely as a person could to how she cares for her own children. He loves her and she loves and cares for him. We’ve been so blessed that once we found the need for daycare, we had her as an option. 

Mothers of children in my older children’s classes have been a huge support to me through this year. We had places to send the children the weekend we needed to grieve our baby. I just remember thinking how grateful I was that no children were in the house that first night we went to bed after delivering Gregory. It was hard enough over the following weeks for my children to see me cry so much, but I am forever grateful that none of them had to hear their mother crying out so loudly and uncontrollably in the night as the sorrow of losing my baby broke my heart. And even after that weekend, the outpouring of support — meals brought by friends, the attendance at Gregory’s funeral, the Masses said for Gregory — it was beyond anything I could have ever anticipated.

I am grateful for the friends I have made in the #cathsorority group on Twitter/Facebook. So many of them have been a huge support to me — through blogs, through online discussions, and through personal relationships, too.

And bloggy-friends. I recently went and re-read Rebecca’s post about Gregory from a few months ago. I re-read it every now and again. It helps tell such a good story about Rebecca’s and my friendship. I often marvel at how similar our life experiences have been, but also how different our paths are as adults. The fact that our paths converged when they did can be nothing short of Divine Intervention to bring us together. I’ve kept up on other bloggers who have gone through similar trials, too, and it’s one of those things where you wish you were alone (so no one else had to suffer) but if someone else had to suffer a similar sorrow…I was happy to be there to support and pray for them through their suffering.

My mother-in-law made Christmas ornaments for her grandkids — a total of 5. So Dominic didn’t have 5 yet and of course, neither did Vincent, so she spent time this year making their ornaments to hang on the tree this year. She gave them to the boys after Thanksgiving dinner today. First she brought out Vincent’s and he looked at it and then put it back in the envelope. Then Dominic looked at this. All of a sudden a third envelope appeared and my mother-in-law gave it to me to open. I flipped it open and it had Gregory on the back, I opened it and she had made a Christmas ornament for Gregory. I startled and stunned me and brought tears to my eyes…but not really of sadness. I was so happy that she thought to remember Gregory for us in this way. Of course, Gregory won’t have 5…but he’ll always have this one, she put the date on the front (it’s a picture of an angel). I am so grateful for this.

That’s one of the things about losing Gregory the way we did. I will always remember Gregory. But I don’t feel like I can expect others to remember him. And it really touched me that my mother-in-law did this because it’s not like I can go around to people saying, “You know…I do have six children, I just have my baby up in Heaven.” That’s not how it works. So I’m grateful when other people remember that he was my baby and that he really did exist and I miss him and still love him very much.


So, I just realized this is a very rambl-ey post. (Sorry about that!) I was thinking about being thankful and grateful and everything today…and I realize that the biggest event of my life that happened this year — well, I’m thankful that I was pregnant with my sixth child and that God saw fit to give Craig and me one more baby. And, I remind myself constantly that there are blessings to be found in my suffering and I look for them because Gregory is a blessing in many ways…not just if he made it here to Earth to live with us.

Some pictures from Thanksgiving day today

He never cooperated for a good photo!!!
I think this one shows how much Helen and I favor each other 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!!




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Weight Watchers Wednesday (4)

It’s another Weight Watchers Wednesday!

This week I decided to try and journal the week on my blog post to keep me more accountable. First of all, the weigh-in and meeting went well. I weighed in and lost 1.0 pounds. After a week where tracking had been spotty and I worried I hadn’t exercised like I should, I was very pleased.

The meeting was “The Great Plate” meeting where they go over how many points certain things are at Thanksgiving. My beloved slice of pumpkin pie with 2 Tbsp whipped topping is 14 points. So…I’m going to plan around that because I really want that pie!! The tip I took away from the meeting was that I shouldn’t take a bite of something just to try everything. And if I don’t really like it, don’t eat it. Spend my points eating things I will enjoy and I won’t get needless points from dishes that aren’t really my favorite. I’m hoping for a weight loss the week after Thanksgiving — I know I can do it!! 

This woman…

Photo Found Here

…inspires me


Thursday’s food choices were good. I had a banana for breakfast and brought a big container of lettuce and cucumber for lunch. I added from the cafeteria salad bar — green olives, a few cherry tomatoes, a boiled egg, some feta cheese and dressing. I also drank a Diet Coke with lunch. My snack was 15 of the Baked! Lays crisps (3 points!). I also got some exercise in while Dani was at swim practice — I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and then rowed 1000 m on the erg (that’s a rowing machine). After that, I ate some plain greek yogurt with raspberries, a couple slices of pizza (total 8 points on that) and a Smart Ones Breakfast sandwich. I was kind of throwing it together since it was late.

Friday wasn’t too bad, either. I got 30 minutes on a stationary bike over lunch and Subway for lunch (after a Smart Ones breakfast entree). I took Dani to swim practice and had a late supper. Saturday was a bad bad day food-wise. Craig made me a breakfast sandwich, then I had lots of movie popcorn when I took Sarah to see Catching Fire. and Saturday night….oh my! When I tracked it finally on Monday night, I was floored at the number of points. yikes! Sunday wasn’t as bad, but it wasn’t really great either.

Monday, I was back on track…both with food choices and tracking! I also got to Crossfit that eveing. On Tuesday, I also tracked all my food and stayed within my daily PointsPlus target AND got exercise (5000m on the rower).

I will not be able to weigh in this week. Since Thanksgiving is a Thursday, there is no meeting at work. And I just can’t seem to figure out a time I can go to another meeting. This may change if I think I can make a Saturday meeting, but as of right now, I’m hoping to keep plugging away and see what the weigh-in next week will be.

So, Wednesday next week, you can find out if I weighed in or not. 🙂

UPDATE: I just realized this is week four, so it’s been a month that I’ve been following weight watchers plan and I am down a total of 7.4 pounds (as of last week’s weigh-in).

Have a great week!!

Monday Mumbles – 62

It’s another Monday! After today, I have to work only 4 more Mondays of 2013. Of course, then I just start working a whole slew of Mondays in 2014, but oh well.

1. The Chiefs have lost 2 weeks in a row. Yesterday’s was especially painful. It stinks to lose a couple of your key defensive players to injury in the first half. Holy moly. No team has scored that many points on the Chiefs this year. About made me sick.

2. Remember 2+ years ago when Dominic broke his leg? Well, his little brother decided to pull a similar stunt. Poor little Vincent was running around the house with his big brother and fell. Of course, no one saw him fall, so no one knows exactly where he is most likely hurt, but he won’t put any weight on his right foot. Much like his brother, he got a boot to wear for a bit and we are to follow up with his doctor this week.

Got a picture of it before we left the hospital

3.  Can you believe Advent starts next week? I don’t know how I will do with Advent and Christmas and New Year’s this year. I’d like to think I’ll hold it together, but you never know, I guess.

4. My dad’s birthday was yesterday. Do you all buy gifts for your parents on their birthdays? I kind of feel bad because I really don’t. But I know my dad would rather I not spend money on him…he knows what it’s like raising a large family. And then there’s the fact that he’s hard to buy for because he doesn’t really care for luxurious things and he’s a fairly practical kind of person that watches his own consumption — of goods and services…and money. 

So, I called him and am going to call that good. It’s always nice to talk to my dad and wish him a happy birthday. It makes me happy that he’s still around so I can do that. The older I get, the more keenly I feel it when I realize the days of wishing him happy birthday will end at some point.
5. Catching Fire did NOT disappoint! I loved it. I plan to see it again, because…well, I want to and I know some other people who haven’t seen it yet and might want to go with a buddy. 🙂

6. The movie was true to the book in all the right ways. I love that.

7. As a side note…I really love movie theater popcorn. I know it’s terrible for me…but it tastes so good.

8. Vincent only has one pair of pajamas right now. I keep thinking I ought to get him more, but then I think…he only sleeps in them, why not let him just have the one pair? Well, I was in Wal-mart last night and saw the footie pajamas that are fleece and almost bought him some. The Gerber package was 2 pair for 9.64. Good price, but of course, then I saw a pair hanging that had Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates all over it and thought…”Oh, I will just get those.” Well, then I check the price and those are $7.64 and that’s just ONE pair of pajamas. And of course, the more non-descript pajamas hanging on the same aisle were $6.65 and so then it just ticked me off that to get the Jake and the Neverland Pirates pair was more expensive JUST BECAUSE it was Disney! 

So…I didn’t buy any. Screw it.

9. I had a lovely evening Saturday night visiting with some other moms I know. I asked everyone to get together, it was for my birthday, but I didn’t want presents, I just wanted to hang out with people. I ended up talking with a couple of them until Midnight! I am too old to stay up that late. 

Sunday afternoon, after the trip to the hospital and watching the Chiefs lose, I fell asleep for a bit. I gotta have my ZZZzzzzz’s. 

10. I am trying to figure out what we are going to pledge to our Diocese’s Capital Campaign. I haven’t given a large amount to our Bishop’s Annual Appeal the last couple of years because I really amped up our parish giving. Our parish had been in financial trouble, so I wanted all of my charitable giving basically to go to my parish. But now, I can’t really pull back from that (they kinda frown on it when you have kids in the school) but I don’t really have a lot of extra to commit to a 3-year pledge. So, I’m gonna keep praying about it and hope that an answer pops up clear as day. (Yeah, like that ever happens…)

Well, that’s a variety of Mumbles if there ever was one! Have a great Monday!

7 Quick Takes – 68


Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

— 1 —
Thanksgiving Day, y’all. It’s on Thursday. Really. While I can’t say I am sad to see 2013 winding down and looking forward to a much better 2014, it still amazes me how fast the years fly by. I was changing Vincent yesterday morning before work and I thought…”What? It’s Thursday already? Wasn’t it just Monday?” and I had to work my way through each evening to make sure I remembered what kind of week I’d had. It was crazy.

— 2 —
I mailed off the final payment for Gregory’s grave marker yesterday. We got the notice that we would be getting a sketch/drawing of it before they completed the work and it would not be done without our approval. Maybe when they send it, I can share a photo of the sketch. I think we’re going to make our goal of getting something set before the year anniversary of his birth/death. The emotion isn’t necessarily happiness. I can’t quite place it…maybe relief that we’ll have a place to go and “see” him? I don’t know.

— 3 —

Basketball practice has started and I am assistant coaching. The head coach, though, is AWESOME. I am definitely watching and listening for tips on how he explains things to the girls and gets them involved because I wonder if Helen’s going to ask me to coach volleyball next year. I could really improve in coaching little kids in things they have never done before. 🙂
 

— 4 —
Dani is back on a swim team. She told me at the beginning of the summer that she didn’t want to swim so I pulled her out. I think she had some anxiety around swim meets and such. (She wants to act like she doesn’t care about winning and losing, but I think her behavior indicates that she cares far more than she wants to let on.) Well, she indicated she’d give it a go again. So, we had this talk. I told her that I’ll jump through the hoops to get her back in the water if she understood that there was no going back this time. I expected her to be legal in all four strokes by summer and I expected her to compete on a summer swim team. And I expected her to work hard and attend every practice that she could (I know there will be conflicts once in awhile).

So, we called up the YMCA and their swim team (her old club team was full with a long waiting list, so once she quit…that was it). They got her in for an assessment, then I had to meet with the YMCA people about membership stuff and boom! we’re back in business. She’s been practicing a week and she loves it! I think she really loves the coach’s approach with her. This should be really good for Dani.

— 5 —
Saturday…I am taking Sarah with a couple of friends to see:

Photo Found Here


I.      CAN.      NOT.      WAIT.

— 6 —
In preparation for Saturday’s trip to the movies, I have re-read Hunger Games and am almost finished re-reading Catching Fire. These books are so. good.
And I love Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Love. Her.
— 7 —
Saturday evening I have planned a nice dinner and drinks night out with some mom-friends of mine. I am looking forward to it. It’s the first time I’ve done such a thing. I hope I didn’t make the group too big (I think there will be 9 or 10 of us). But we’ll have dinner about 6:30 and then it’s at a place that has a bar next door with pool tables, dart boards and a DJ…so anyone who wants to stick around for that can do that, too. 

All because…well, I’m 40, that’s why!

 

Throwback Thursday Reruns — Old Catholicism Nerd Post!

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie post from my Catholicism Nerd series. You know, the series I haven’t written a new post on in forever?? I actually just checked and I have all of THREE posts on this label. I really ought to come up with a new one.

Enjoy.

It dawned on me recently that perhaps I have become somewhat of a Catholicism Nerd.  

I have decided to give you the option to become a Catholicism Nerd, too!  This will be the first (of many, I hope!) posts tackling something little (or big) that Catholics do and why.  I might explain a bit how I learned because…truth be told…I had 8 years of Catholic education and I didn’t learn most of what I know until I was in my late 20’s!
Just for some reference, Dictionary.com’s definition of the word, NERD, follows:

nerd

[nurd] Show IPA

noun Slang.

1.a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.  (Nah, I don’t think I fit THIS part of the definition –Pipe Down in the cheap seats!)

2.an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer Catholicism nerd.

I was recently asked by another lifelong Catholic (Catholic school educated and everything…just like me!) “Why do some people bow down during the Creed at Mass when we say, ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit’?”
I know I am not the only Catholic to have actually read in whole, or in part, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in an attempt to teach myself and my children the proper way to attend Mass.  It came in handy that I’d studied it though.

You see, I am one of “those people” who makes a profound bow at that point in the Creed.  

The first time I consciously noticed someone (a priest) bowing at that point in the creed, I was 28 and I wondered why he was doing it.  At first I thought that I should do it even if I don’t know why simply because the priest was doing it.  But then I remembered that there are some things the priest is supposed to do that the congregation is not supposed to do.  
So…then I was confused.  
Back then, whenever I was confused, I had a Catholic co-worker friend that I turned to whenever I needed answers.  I asked him about it and he directed me to the GIRM.  
While it’s intimidating to tackle the GIRM, it is helpful to understand some of the things we do during Mass.  I highly recommend you put the GIRM on your list of reference materials if you’re interested in learning more about Catholic Mass.
The GIRM addresses many details of “Mass With A Congregation.”  Since I’m sticking to the one question, I’ll only mention that part.  You can go to the site linked above and read through the GIRM on the Vatican website.
And now…
Why do those crazy Catholics bow during the Creed at Mass when saying “by the power of the Holy Spirit?”
The first (and easy) answer is:  Because the GIRM says so.  Really.  Item #137 under “Mass With A Congregation” states:

137. The Creed is sung or recited by the priest together with the people (cf. no. 68) with everyone standing. At the words et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . and became man) all make a profound bow; but on the solemnities of the Annunciation and of the Nativity of the Lord, all genuflect.

A more detailed answer is given here.  

The profound bow is to show reverence to the Incarnation.  We begin the bow at the words, “by the power of the Holy Spirit” and rise back up after “and became man.”  The profound bow shows that we understand and respect the importance of this event, of God becoming man.

So the profound bow occurs while saying the following (bolded) part of the creed:

…For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried…

Furthermore, this article (137) of the GIRM mentions two times where you’re actually supposed to GENUFLECT at those words. If you’re at Mass on March 25 (solemnity of the Annunciation) or December 25 (Nativity of the Lord), you are required to genuflect as you say those words of the Creed.

On every other day that you are at Mass, if you see someone bowing at that point in the Creed…they are not doing anything wrong.  In fact, you should probably consider joining them.

And as you make your profound bow, you can join the rest of us Catholic Nerds when someone asks you why you are doing that!




Weight Watchers Wednesday (3)

Let’s get the report out of the way first. Thankfully, the lack of focus on tracking didn’t hurt me too badly on the scale last week. I posted a loss of 1.4 pounds. Therefore, I have a total weight loss now of 6.4 pounds. So that’s the good news.

The bad news is, I haven’t had as good a week with tracking again. And this week, I don’t have all the extra exercise to balance it out. Therefore, I’m a little anxious about the weigh-in tomorrow. But, I need to the accountability, so I’ll be there…part of me is really hoping more for a no-change than a gain, but it is what it is, I guess.

Sarah had volleyball matches last Thursday, so no workout there. I did make it to run over my lunch break on Friday, but then I slacked off all weekend. Monday, I made it to crossfit, so that is good. But then Tuesday, I settled only for 30+ minutes on the elliptical at the Y. As for today, I am going to try and get to Crossfit again, or at least a run over lunch. Maybe both if I am brave enough. 

The focus of the week was slowing down. Well, that’s the focus this whole month. I can’t say I’m doing really well with this. It’s hard when it seems I grab so many of my meals on the run. But I plan to have a more focused effort this coming week, especially with Thanksgiving.

A challenge will be going to the movies this weekend. I love movie theater popcorn. I know it’s really bad for you, but I really love it. I am not going to promise that I won’t get some…but maybe I’ll stick to the small bag and try to go really SLOW with it. 

Another challenge is that I am going out with friends on Saturday night to celebrate the fact that I turned 40 this year. Just dinner and drinks out with a few ladies. I want to try and focus mostly on conversation and time with them and not so much on the food. We’ll see if I can do that.

My goals for the coming week:
1) Track everything
2) 5 servings of vegetables daily
3) slow down!
4) four days of exercise at least

Hope you have a great week!!

 

How’s That Discernment Feel Now?

You may remember towards the end of the summer that I shared a bit about the discernment process we used to decide that perhaps we were finished actively pursuing the conception of biological children. The thing about discernment is — it’s never really over.

No. Nothing has changed. We don’t intend to actively pursue the addition to our family with biological children. But what I have found in the last few months is that I still think about this. All. The. Time. It’s not that I think about desiring children, it’s that I see my children growing up and I realize there’s going to be an end to the whole grow-up process. 

Over the last 12 years, when there’s always been a baby in the house, it’s been difficult to imagine life without a baby in the house. But here I am, sleeping all night every night. Here I am, serving meals for my family with no high chair in the kitchen. Here I am, putting my youngest child in “Time Out” — and he stays there.

And I notice things that I mark as “the last time.” I know someday in the future — probably a few months from now — I will realize we’ve stepped out of Mass with the youngest for the last time. I saw a little bouncy seat in the basement recently — it got missed whenever I passed along a bunch of baby stuff to my sister in the spring — and I realized I’ve had my last time cooing at a smiling baby in it. We took down the crib and my boys are both in “big boy” beds with the bunk beds, so I’ve had “the last time” one of my kids slept in a crib, too.

We pray a blessing before meals at our house, and I’m kind of lenient with the babies…they don’t always understand they need to wait until we’ve prayed to eat. But just a couple of weeks ago, we began praying, then Vincent tried to eat and I gently nudged his hands and showed him we were praying and he stopped, left his plate alone and folded his hands to finish the prayer with us. He doesn’t do it all the time yet, but he is waiting to eat until after the prayer more and more often. Pretty soon, he’ll be the one reminding us all that we pray before we eat.

Some mornings, I marvel at the fact that I haven’t had to bathe, dress, comb hair or brush teeth for my girls in so long that I can’t remember when I did it last. Dominic even gets himself mostly ready in the mornings, though he needs help getting his breakfast. So, I’m left with changing a diaper and dressing Vincent each morning…but even Little Mr. Independent is looking for opportunities to take those duties away from me.


Of course, Sarah’s growth as she’s progressed through middle school fascinates me, too. She is organized and takes pride in doing a good job. I love that she insists on kissing each of her younger siblings good night. Every. Night. She gets herself cleaned up and ready for bed and has all of her school stuff packed and ready at her door every night before bed. She even will sit down with me on Sunday night, pull out her planner and make sure she knows for sure which nights she has activities, how she is getting there and who is picking her up. 

Dani and Helen do their homework independently, monitor their own progress, ask questions when they need help. I am still reading with Helen — at her prompting (Dani is a “speed reader” so she never liked to be read to, so I enjoy getting back to this with Helen). They handle so much without my help. And I am happy about this — not because I am in a hurry for them to grow up — but because it means we are getting there, to that point where our kids really will become independent, contributing members of society.

Instead of focusing on the end, I see that it’s a new beginning. The window on bearing children and caring for babies and toddlers is evolving into the rearing of young people, teaching them how to behave, how to engage and discuss things with adults, helping them figure out how to communicate their opinions — or even just that they should have some opinions about things. And I realize that I’m not sad like I thought I would be. Sure…the thought of never carrying another baby in my womb is sad in the “man, I sure did love being pregnant” sort of way. But I always worried that once we discerned we would not seek pregnancy anymore that I would be resentful or overwhelmed with grief. I especially worried about that after we lost Gregory. But I’m surprised at the peace I feel. 

A big part of me is excited to see how my children are turning out. I have a lot of fun talking with Sarah. And Dani surprises me with her ideas and her imagination. Helen adores me (and I her!) and I’m starting to see that I have something very special with her that I can cherish forever. Dominic is such an inspiration on many levels. And even though Vincent is a handful, I really enjoy how much he is talking and how quickly he is catching on to being a bigger toddler.

So, I just wanted to put my thoughts out there about how I am feeling now, just three months after Craig and I discerned the childbearing phase was set to close. Because truth be told, I was scared. As I said then, this sort of stuff is not to be taken lightly and it’s not for the weak. But I’m pleased at the peace I feel with the whole thing. I’m not losing anything. Life is a progression and we’re moving on to the next step.

There is so much excitement to come. For me, I think having openness to having a large family, for a period of time, put pressure on me to think I must always be open to more, that discerning to avoid pregnancy indefinitely would be wrong on some level. But I feel comfortable now with the fact that our five children on earth (and our little Saint in Heaven) are enough. 

We are blessed.