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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