Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in 12 Photos

Joining Dwija at House Unseen for a 12-photo trip down memory lane.

 This is one of the first pictures I took of both of my littles. And because January was apparently very January last year.

 I am pretty 100% sure I will miss February gardening when February 2015 rolls around.

Clare had such a good time riding the carousel with her cousins! I know I repeat it too often, but I love, love, love watching my kids experience things for the first time and see the joy/wonder/magic/mystery in their faces. It was also a great distraction from a whole lotta waiting.

My guys. <3. Peter Damien arrived on April 7. His birth was a little crazy, but definitely worth it. Bonus: one of my all-time favorite posts.

Big shoes to fill: I took these pictures of the kids in Charles' "student doctor" gear on his last day of med school.

The logical conclusion of a last day of school? Graduation!! That's Dr. Daddy to you, young lady!

Clare turned two and we started settling into life in Wichita. Six+ months in and so far, so good.

When I took this picture, I didn't have any idea how much Clare would love her tutus or how many pictures I would have taken of her in them. Ubiquitous, I tell you.

October = pumpkins. N'est-ce pas?

Clare experienced her first snow. She is still obsessed.

Even though we spent Christmas in Wichita, it was a magical month of Clare growing in awareness of the sights and sounds (and real meaning, I hope) of Christmas.

And with that, I am ready to bid 2014 adieu. 2015, I have no idea what you have in store for us, but we're ready for you. Or at least as ready as we'll ever be!

Happy New Year!

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." - Luke 2: 8-14 KJV

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!! May the Good News of the first Christmas continue to inspire and shape our lives today and every day.

(Photos by Carrie Zimmer photography.)

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Monday, December 22, 2014

On Being Home for the Holidays

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.
-"Home for the Holidays" by Perry Como

I am 33 years old, and I have never not spent Christmas with my family of origin in one way or another.  Charles can (pretty much) say the same.

Until now.

Clare was so excited to do the honors!

This year, things are going to be different. We live a long way from our families, and Charles is a resident. No, worse, he’s an intern. He’s working Christmas Day, beginning at the bright still dark hour of 6 am, and continuing . . . well, into the evening sometime.  Merry Christmas to us! (He’s on the OB floor at least, so delivering babies makes it better-ish.)

Honestly, things could be so much worse. You know you’re a resident family when the best Christmas present you receive is having your husband home . . . on Christmas Eve.  We’ll go to Mass and do most of our family celebrating that day. Santa will come as advertised, but we’ll feast and open presents over the course of a couple of days. We’re still working it out. Thank God for 12 days of Christmastide. (“We’re not accommodating Daddy’s schedule, we’re living liturgically!”)

In a lot of ways, it’s hard to wrap my mind around a quiet, different kind of Christmas. I could spend hours giving you detailed descriptions of my family’s Christmas traditions, and spend many more telling stories of things that happened one year or another. Growing up, Christmas was all kinds of a big deal.

But whenever my heart begins to ache for those family members and places and sights and sounds that I hold so dear; whenever I think about going home for the holidays, I look around. I see my two beautiful children. I see my amazing husband. I see this incredible life we are building together, and I know.

I am home.

So now is a time for new memories. New traditions.  On Thursday, we’ll celebrate and bake and read and play and eat and watch movies and sing songs and do our best to have the kind of Christmas that would make Grandma Roberta proud. My mom was the ultimate Christmas Elf.

That’s not to say that we won’t feel sadness that we aren’t closer to those people that we love; it’s saying that we are making the most of it. I’m not going to let a zip code steal the magic of Peter’s first Christmas or the even bigger magic of the first Christmas that Clare gets. And as those activities grow into traditions and the years fade into memories, I pray that our kids long to be home with us on the holidays, wherever we (and they) may be. 

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Looking for Peace in All the Wrong Places

Since Thanksgiving, I have been severely lacking in peace. I've spent a lot of hours trying to peg the source of my troubles. I mean, there have been plenty of stressers in my life lately: Clare's bout with the terrible twos. Residency (always). Night float. Teething. Seasonal busyness. Lack of sleep. Lack of downtime. Holiday plans. Not being around family for Christmas. Being far from home generally. Dealing with my grandma's recent hospitalization (and, so far, recovery).

I have not been at my best. Far from it.

My heart has ached. I've spent too much time on Facebook. I've tried keeping my phone in the other room. I've turned on the TV. I've turned off the TV. I've talked about it. I've thought about it. I've cried about it. Just today I've started no fewer than four different blog posts.

Know what I haven't done? Pray.

Oh sure, I've prayed for patience in dealing with Clare. I've prayed for my grandma's recovery. I've prayed for the kids to get a good night sleep and for Charles to have a good shift at the hospital. Know who I haven't prayed for? Myself. Know what I haven't asked for? Peace. I've not sat in silence. I've not sought God as the way to heal me. I've not asked him to lighten my load.

No wonder I've felt restless.


Today, as I write, it's snowing. Earlier big, fat, quarter-sized snowflakes were falling. The biggest I have ever seen. It was beautiful. Magical.

All evening, I tried to capture it on film via digital image. I was desperate to share the beauty with Charles and people in Arizona. I got pictures of Clare running out to experience it in all of her exuberance for snow. (She insisted on bundling up and running around outside as soon as it started to fall!)

Doing a twirl in the snow!

I got pictures of snow slowly covering the ground, but I couldn't capture the magic.

Seriously, each little "pile" is really only one flake.

I gave up. Then, seemingly suddenly, it was dark, and I was going to try again. I looked out -- Christmas lights glowing in the background. Saint Lucia candles flickering in the foreground. And, as I have so many times before, I saw God in the light.

I didn't just see light. I saw The Light. I felt excited by the promise of Jesus, coming in just a week to lighten the darkness. That is what I need. I need to allow Jesus to be my light, to share my burden, and guide my path. That is Advent -- waiting on the coming of our Savior, and doing it with joyful hope.

O Come, Radiant Dawn. O Come, Emmanuel.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lately . . .

As one might have inferred from my last post, my mostly unintended blogging break was largely the result of a near complete loss of down time due to a combination of teething, refusing to nap, early wakings and general toddler miscellany. In other words, life.

It gave me some time to reflect on, well, a lot. For our current purposes, it helped me see what I need in terms of personal time in order to thrive, and, accordingly, to be a better and happier wife and mother. I've been doing some schedule tweaking and expectation rearranging, and hopefully, I'll do a better job of carving out some space for me, and, subsequently, for this little space where I can record memories and publish my thoughts.

So, this here is something of a photo dump for the family. Hopefully, I'll have some more blogging time in the next few weeks. But I also have some elf work to do and some Christmas celebrating to do, so we'll see what actually transpires.

In a nutshell . . .

Peter was increasingly mobile (and cute):

Clare wore a lot of tutus (and was cute):

Grandad and BG visited:

We saw Uncle Godfather in Colorado at Thanksgiving:

Clare busted out some "very beautiful ballet":

And St. Nicholas brought treats (and new shoes):

And now, the downhill stretch to Christmas! O Antiphons, here we come! O Come, Emmanuel!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Terrible Twos

We are in the throes of them, and I am not a born toddler mom. I think I've talked about it. Having a newborn changed me in a lot of ways, but it didn't stretch me, push me to my limit the way the Terrible Twos have.

Things have been tough between Clare and me. I want her to behave like a 4 year old. She wants to be strong and brave and independent. She wants to never sleep and live on candy, PB&J, and yogurt. I want her to just take one bite of what I made for dinner. Just one. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?

Sometimes, I look at Peter, and I beg him to never be two.

I don't mean it, and I don't want to feel that way. I know I would (and someday will ) miss the magic that comes along with the stubborn. The sparkle of Christmas lights. Begging for another Christmas song or another story or another tickle. I would miss the ridiculous that leaves me laughing and cursing under my breath all at the same time.

It's all comes down to the same things that always seem to trip me up. I struggle to not wish the days away. I hold myself to too-high expectations. I don't pray as I ought. I don't nurture myself the way I need to. I don't nurture my kids they way they need me to. I fall short. In my humanity, I fall short. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. Thankfully, God gives us grace to get through.

I'm trying. My goodness, I'm trying. That's what the Christian life is about. It's about getting up after you fall, and righting yourself along the path. With God's grace, we'll get through these Terrible Twos.

Besides, I know I have age three yet to come.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

{7QT v. 74} It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the hap-happiest season of all. And I'm going to use the next 7 to tell you all about it.

And linking up with Kelly.

1. Sunday is the feast of Christ the King. That be my Catholic birthday, yo! I'll be celebrating, as always, with breakfast after Mass and making my favorite dinner -- braised beef shanks -- and enjoying it with my beautiful Catholic family.

2. This week and next are the weeks that poor, forgotten, fabulous Thanksgiving gets its due. For two weeks, we get a taste of the world if we all lived liturgically -- feasting, family, giving thanks, heads bowed in prayer that might never otherwise. I freaking love it!!!!!

3. Thanksgiving is Thursday!!!!!! (See above)

4. Then Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. I'll being singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel" loud and proud for 4 weeks. More on my thinking on Advent from last year here.

5. Feasts feasts feasts! So many awesome wonderful amazing fantastic feasts during Advent. We focus on a few, but it's so easy to live liturgically during this time of year.

Unrelated, pixelated and cute

6. In the midst of all of that is the happy hustle and bustle of the secular Christmas season. Look, I've spent most of my life being a "bust out the carols on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner" kind of gal. I'm working to find a comfortable balance between "letting Advent be Advent" and celebrating with the world. In but not of. Both and. Finding our way, but I can't let go of the joy that (can) come with the season.

7. At the end of all of that is Christmas Eve. I've talked here and here about my love of the last days of Advent. Praying that I might wait with Joyful Hope as we prepare to meet our Lord.

Have a lovely weekend! :-)
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Monday, November 17, 2014

A Week in My Life 2014 -- Sunday

A bit late, but I did it! It's my last day joining Team Whitaker for a peek into our day-to-day lives. It's also the first time I've successfully completed 7 blog posts in 7 days! Yay!

Previously: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Pager - 2 (or was it 3?)
Peter - 3
Clare - 0


Snow my gosh, y'all. We woke up with a mere dusting of snow, but it was still falling and we ended up with a couple inches by lunch time. It was, however, the most magical morning! I don't even know where to begin.

Peter, of course, had never seen snow, because of the whole "infant" thing. But Clare. Clare had only seen old, icy, icky snow that had been hanging around for a few days. She'd never played in fresh snow. She'd never woken up to the magical beauty of pristine snow on the ground. So when she woke up Sunday morning, I had her look out the window. "There's snow everywhere! I will wear and and mittens and I will kiss it!"

She was so excited to get outside that she couldn't wait for breakfast. Or for me to finish my coffee. She could barely stand to wait long enough to get everyone bundled up. There still wasn't much snow and it was still coming down, but they didn't last outside very long. I was telling Clare to catch snow flakes on her tongue, but she didn't think that was as great as it is.

Peter was unimpressed.

So we came in and watched it snow, had breakfast and got Peter down for a nap. By now, it has pretty much stopped, so I begged Clare to get bundled up again so that I could get some better pictures. This time, she had Running and "digging"  and just experiencing ankle-deep snow.


When we came inside, I busted out the big gun I'd been trying to save for the first snowfall, but had decided was happening yesterday regardless -- Clare's first hot chocolate. She is not a sweet beverage drinker (milk and water are all she'll drink), so I didn't think she'd be a big fan, but I wanted her to experience it anyway. As she saw me stirring (when I found out how easy it is to make this summer, I swore off the packets), she, of course, pulled her chair over. "I'll help! I'll help!"

She needed a spoon in her cup, and I asked her to choose a place to sit -- a real chair was too low, so she acquiesced to the booster seat. In the end, she hardly drank more than a few sips. I don't know if it was the sweetness or whether she was scared of it being "hot" (even though hers was lukewarm), but I wasn't surprised. My heart was warmed watching her enjoy the experience!

I know I talk about it a lot, but I feel such joy watching my kids experience the magic of simple things we take for granted, experience the beauty of life. I am so blessed by them, because they help me see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and so bring me closer to God.

I'm pretty proud of that pic with the mug, to be honest.

By then, Peter was awake, so I fed him. I turned on Super Why and decided that since the sun was shining and the kids were happy, I was going to tackle shoveling the driveway. I had never shoveled so much as a flake of snow, so there was a bit of trial and error and learning how heavy that light, fluffy, snow really is. My job wasn't perfect and my shoulder started aching almost immediately, but I did it! I shoveled the driveway! I was truly proud of myself for getting out there and doing it.

With some afternoon sun, it ended up totally cleared off.


After the excitement of the morning, we needed a quiet afternoon. Clare had lunch and went down for a nap. I ate and took a much desired (and deserved) long, hot shower. We played and hung out until it was time to get ready to head to church for a meeting.

Sharing Cheerios

Charles and I are going to be Confirmation teachers this winter/spring. We are so excited. Kids are confirmed their sophomore year of high school here. I'm excited to work with teens again, but in a different setting. I'm excited to get involved in the parish, get to know even more people. We're excited to help with Confirmation, just because it is a big deal. So, there was a meeting last night for that.

Knowing Charles was going to miss the meeting, I had dinner in the crock pot and got the kids ready and headed out.


Gah! The meeting portion of our evening was not the best. I had received an email telling us that we would begin with evening prayer in the church, but I missed the "evening" part of the email. So I didn't show up with my breviary, and instead was fumbling through Shorter Christian Prayer, which I'm not familiar with at all. Plus, I was wrestling two kids all the while, so made silly mistakes all through, because I am so out of practice with the Liturgy of the Hours these days.

Then, while the kids were as good as could be expected during the meeting (I let Clare watch a show on my phone, so that certainly helped.), the meeting was a total waste of time. It ended up being a meeting to discuss things and prepare for another meeting we'll have in a couple of weeks. UGGG!! Meetings about meetings are a pet peeve, especially in the day and age of email. We could have conveyed all the same info via email. Or we could have gotten started on the business of the 2nd meeting at the first. It just felt like a waste of time to bundle and drag two kids around solo for a meeting about a meeting. Bah humbug!

Made it home!

That got us home about 6:15, just in time to bustle around with the usual rush of dinner, baths, jammies, waiting for Charles. He got home about 8, which sounds late, but was so, so exciting, given the amount of work he had to do yesterday. And, as of 6 this morning, his medicine rotation is done, done, done. He has another in a few months, but we're a one thing at a time family right now, and that thing is history! Woo hoo!

We ended up letting Clare stay up way too late and eat Peter's puffs while we were talking -- it was like, now that Medicine was over, we could catch up on everything we hadn't talked about with the craziness of the last few weeks. Once she was in bed, we ate and watched some TV and went to bed later than usual, knowing we could "sleep in" today.  It was the perfect end to the week, and to the rotation.

Take Aways: Committing to blogging first thing in the morning is the best time to make it happen. The kids are most cooperative at letting me type, in part because I usually allow a show or two during that time. Naps are so often full of other stuff and evenings are busy until they aren't, but when they aren't, Charles and I like to spend the time together, even if we're just watching TV.

I feel so lucky to be able to stay home with my kids. I love our time together, even when they make me batty. I love seeing them interact. I love seeing them experience things. I love how much I get to snuggle with them and play with them and be with them.

I really am starting to feel at home here in Wichita. I know people. I have a routine. We love our parish. Even though I had doubts about it in the beginning, God answered our prayers for a real parish home. We can handle a little snow, especially if there is hot chocolate involved.

Thank you, Kathryn, for encouraging us bloggers to do this. I think I will treasure this little memory book for a long time to come and look forward to doing it again next year! :-)

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Week in My Life, 2014 -- Saturday

Linking up with Team Whitaker.

Previously -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Peter -- woke up at 10:30 and ended up in bed with us, so who knows, really.
Pager -- 2, I think
Clare -- 0

 The morning was dominated by one activity that I've been wanting to tackle for a looooong time. Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that I needed to start making cinnamon rolls, because they are essential (?) to happy holiday memories in childhood. Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade? Eat cinnamon rolls. Opening presents on Christmas morning? Eat cinnamon rolls? Getting ready for church on Easter Sunday? Eat cinnamon rolls.

This is a totally ridiculous idea, because that is NOT how I grew up, and I have a plethora of perfectly wonderful, joyful childhood holiday memories. But when the mind fixes on something, it fixes on it.

I've tried some alternatives, but they just haven't stuck. So, I tried my hand at some quick cinnamon rolls this morning in anticipation of the coming holiday season.

I used this recipe, and, aside from a few tweaks I'd make in the future, they turned out super yummy!

The process

The rolls: before and after

My taste-tester and Cheerio-eater (complete with pincer grasp!)


It was a low-key afternoon. We had lunch. The kids took naps. I took a long, hot shower. We played. Charles got home at 4:15ish (only to be greeted by like 4 immediate pages), and we got ready for Mass. One blessing (among many) of being Catholic is how many masses are available every weekend. Between the Saturday Vigil, Sunday evening Masses, and the variety of parishes around town, we are almost always able to worship together as a family.

I had good intentions of taking pictures before Mass, but let me tell you, we are great at getting to Mass on time, but time for pictures just never, ever seems to happen. I tried. I did. It's just not in the cards.


Remember when Grace used to grade her kids on their behavior at Mass? I'm going to revive it for a moment:

Peter: A- (minor points lost for fussing after communion)
Clare: F (refusal to obey, sit still, or be quiet; and other general attempts at chaos)

By the time we got home, I was an emotional mess. While I calmed down, we ordered a pizza and hung out over a couple of beers. For the rest of the night, we ate and relaxed and did general evening/bedtime stuff. Peter, of course, woke up riiiiiight as Charles and I crawled into bed, but I was able to get him back to sleep with a good round of butt-patting.

Random Peter Picture

Coming up: Snow? Hot chocolate! A long day of work for Charles to round out the week (and rotation)! 

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