In Loving Memory…

In Loving Memory of Buddy Joseph
1998 – September 3, 2013

Fifteen years ago you came wandering over to our apartment door and life has never been the same since.  Maybe you had grown tired of living out of the dumpster…maybe you didn’t want to fight off racoons just for a bite to eat…who knows.  It doesn’t really matter.  You ended up finding a family to take you in and it’s going to be hard to imagine life without you now.

When I think of you I’ll laugh about how you used to hide behind the door and bite my ankles, or purposefully walk along the counter top and knock my plants over.  It wasn’t funny then, but it makes me smile now.  I can’t believe I almost gave you away shortly after we took you in until that morning I took you for your haircut and you meowed pathetically and wrapped your big paws around my neck like you wouldn’t let go. We’ve been the best of friends ever since.

You purred like a freight train, snored louder than anyone else in this house, and kept your position at the top no matter how many new four-legged children joined the family.  You’ve been a fixture in our home for so many years.  

We miss you already.  

These last days have been so hard, but I imagine now you are finally at peace.  We will remember you often and think of how much of our lives you have shared with us.  Thank you for stopping by so many years ago and for staying with us this long.

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply, becomes a part of us.” 
– Helen Keller

When there are no words of comfort…

…because sometimes the pain is just too deep.

I hear the words.  I know what they mean.  And still, some part of me refuses to accept it. If you’ve faced the death of a child, you know EXACTLY what I mean.
Others don’t always see it.  We might not always feel it.  But we are just a little broken somewhere inside.  Full of questions and entirely unsure how this whole saying goodbye thing is supposed to work.
Because really.  How DO you say goodbye when you’re still waiting to say hello?

There’s so much time to THINK.  About all the things that will never be.  About ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.  And the beautiful little person they belong to.  But mostly there is time to think about all the silence.  

And that is where He finds us.  His Grace heals us and carries us along with a new, perfectly formed, tiny soul attached forever to our hearts.

In Loving Memory of our first son, Nathan – born into Heaven February 19, 2003

though we held you in our arms for such a short time
you remain in our hearts forever

In Loving Memory of our third son, Joshua – taken to heaven June 5, 2013

though we had just begun to dream of our life with you
we hold the anticipation of seeing you one day in our hearts

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Because we are all THAT Mom at some point…

Dear Mom in the Pew (click here to read letter)

I’m THAT Mom.  The one to whom this letter is addressed.  The stares and snide comments don’t bother me.  But it’s nice to read such a beautiful letter filled with understanding that comes from someone else having been that Mom.

Church is God’s house.  And God has issued the invitation for all of us to join him.  
He doesn’t ask us to come but leave the children behind.  In fact, the disciples tried to do just that and Jesus told them to let the little children come to him.  My son might not always pay attention, but he is always listening.  He sees what is going on around him.  He sees that his Mom and Dad value church and place importance on spending time with God and celebrating the Mass together.  As a family.  Because what are we as a family, if we aren’t first a domestic church?  And who are we called to be, if it isn’t disciples of Jesus, on whom Jesus himself placed the responsibility to raise up in Faith the next generation of Catholics?

Our children may not be sitting still, paying attention now, but they will learn from those who celebrate the Mass with them, as they are raised up by the community to which God has entrusted them.  Each noisy, crying, talkative little child in church is a future saint, another warrior for God, and in today’s culture, don’t we need all we can get?

First Visit to the Dentist

We’ve been searching for a dentist for Alex for a while.  (Honestly, I think I’ve subconsciously been putting it off because let’s face it – once you’ve had a bad dentist experience, you remember it forever…and it makes it pretty hard to get excited about the dentist.)  First, we are very limited by our insurance as to who we can see that’s on our plan, which is a bummer because a friend at our church has a husband who is a dentist and he comes highly recommended.  Second, our dentist office will not see children until they are four years old – they recommend seeing a pediatric dentist.  Third, the pediatrician recommended Alex see a dentist when he turned three – but she recommends a pediatric dentist at that age too.  Fourth, our insurance considers a pediatric dentist a specialist, which costs a whole lot more (underscore WHOLE LOT) than a plain old dentist.  These are all of my excuses for taking so long to get him in for his first visit.
Enter Groovy Dental.  They are one of the few on our insurance plan, so I made Alex his appointment and tried very hard to forget the cost (here you can visit their website –  And it’s not like their prices are unreasonable…they are the same as every other pediatric dentist in the area – dental insurance is just ridiculous (or insert a number of other adjectives here).  For months we’ve been talking about the dentist and what he does and why it’s important to go, but Alex still wasn’t sure this would be a good thing.  We’re into rhyming so we even made up a little saying about Dr. Brad – Dr. Brad is Rad (hey, that rhymes mommy! and then the enthusiasm vanished).
This morning he woke up and decided maybe could wait to go to the dentist, “um…until later”.  Protesting the entire way, we headed to the office.  I dragged grandma along with me as back up in case of complete meltdown (okay, in reality she was there to keep me calm).  Walking down the hall in the office building he kept saying he didn’t want to go…and then we opened the door to the office and he saw the toys and his attention was instantly diverted.  Then came the moment when they asked Alex to go to the back for pictures of his teeth.  Alex looked up and said he didn’t think he was ready yet, but very sweetly and with (in my opinion at that time of the morning) way too much enthusiasm, his hygienist started to slowly persuade him that he was ready (no small feat) and finally off he walked, without me or grandma.  While holding our breath and waiting for the screaming to start, we heard a strange sound coming from the back – giggling.  A LOT of giggling…impossible, but it was Alex and when she brought him back out to get us, they were the best of friends.  He followed her right into the cleaning room and hopped up on the table like he gets his teeth cleaned at the dentist every day.  And the giggling continued.
smiling for Daddy to show him the dentist office isn’t scary after all

super-groovy glasses

opening wide like a hippo for his amazingly patient (and really fun) hygienist 

we all took a turn wearing the “groovy” glasses

The very rad (and really amazing with kids) Dr. Brad

Needless to say, the meltdown never occurred, and Groovy Dental was worth any cost to see Alex have such a great time at the dentist office.  He did cry, but it was as we were walking out the door and he kept saying, “I’m really not ready to go yet. I’m not mommy”. 

Play for All Park

This is one of our favorite parks and we’ve been spending some time here lately in the early morning before it gets busy AND HOT!
One end of the park has a cute little village complete with working traffic lights, crosswalks and properly marked streets.  They allow bicycles within the village, so Alex took his Strider bike to ride.  Within the park there’s also a playground, a musical instrument section, a cute little area with all types of tunnels, a climbing area, and of course a big sandpit.  The best part?  The big trees all throughout the park, and the big fencing running around the outside with one in and out.

A Day Trip to the Farm

Our very good friend Cheryl invited Granny, Alex and I to her farm for a visit.  Cows?  Horses?  Big open fields?  Once Alex heard, he couldn’t wait to go.  Mom’s cousin Cathy decided to join us for the day.

I never knew hay bales could be so much fun!  We spent a lot of time carefully inspecting them, and then climbed up to see the view from the top.

Alex affectionately referred to them as the “three grannies”

Of course the highlight of our visit for Alex was the ride in the ATV out to the neighboring pasture to see the cows.  And bulls.  And calves.

Once he learned the Mexican hat dance, there was no stopping him!

The hole at the bottom of the steps was even more fun than the mud hole in our backyard!

It was a beautiful day to spend outdoors, in wide open spaces.  
Little boys, dirt, bugs and plenty of sunshine make a picture perfect combination of laughter and joy.  It did us both good to get away from the city and enjoy time with friends and nature.

My Momma

It isn’t easy being a mom…
…and a dad
…and a teacher
…and a friend
…and a cook, a homemaker, and everything else a military mom is called to be…
But military moms just do it all.  Because they have to.  Because there is no other choice, and because they love their husband, their children and the military too much to not do it.
Some are good at it.  They understand what is needed, and they keep at it, year after year.  Some never quite get it, no matter how hard they try.
But my mom…my mom was amazing at it.  She made being a military wife and mother look easy.  And looking back now, I know it must have been anything but.  I have a husband at home every night.  I am a teacher, but I have time and a million tools at my fingertips to help me along the way.  I cook, I go grocery shopping, I sew and make a home – but I do all those things as part of a family that all show up to the dinner table each and every night.  My mom didn’t have any of that.
She had two daughters to raise, a whole ship’s worth of other wives and children to support, and no family close by to help. No one to take her hand and tell her it would be alright.  No one to pick up the slack for her.
I know my mom, and I know there must have been many nights she wanted to cry…wanted to just give up…wanted five minutes to herself…wondered if there really was such a thing as peace and what it felt like.  But she would get late night phone calls from wives who needed help…who needed someone to be there for them…who just needed.  
She provided.  
She had ballet recitals and piano lessons and school plays and field trips and many visits to the ER and restless nights with little sick ones who couldn’t sleep and sleepless nights with teenagers who had broken hearts and through it all…
She provided.
She never compromised on quality time…she never gave in to quick fixes or fast food dinners or time to herself just so she could get by.  She gave more and somehow she never ran out of giving.  I see now how much time she gives to her grandson and how many things she puts aside when he takes her hand in his and leads her down the path only a child knows to travel, and I am reminded of the things I remember from my childhood – not things I didn’t have, because mom always made sure we never had a chance to really miss them, but of all the things I did have.
She provided.
She sewed the seeds of motherhood into me over those years of growing and learning and being, and when I feel hopelessly lost in the wilderness of raising a child, I am raised up by the knowledge that I have been gifted with such a beautiful example to follow.
My momma.  My hero.  Thank you.

Fun in the Kitchen

So, my Mom got me this incredible cookbook for Christmas – Building the Family Cookbook by Suzanne Fowler.  Not only does it have some great recipes, but it’s a simple way to incorporate a Catholic culture into something we do every day – cook!  Each recipe celebrates a saint’s feast day and gives a short history of the saint’s life and achievements.  Alex loves to ask what we’re going to make each week, and he listens patiently as I explain why we celebrate the life of that particular saint.  I can see this cookbook becoming a staple in our home year after year.
On January 1st we celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and for the first time in my life I made a soufflé.  Despite my best attempts to sabotage my own cooking, it came out quite delicious (and fed us for four days).
On January 4th we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton with Colonial Brown Bread.  I haven’t always been the biggest brown bread fan, but this one was slightly sweet, very rich and almost gone in no time.
On January 6th we celebrated the Epiphany of the Lord with a King’s Cake – another first for me.  Alex loved every messy step and although I almost succeeded in burning down the kitchen, we all enjoyed the final results and Daddy got the baby!
The Making of the King’s Cake
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On January 17th we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Egypt with a very savory Pork Roast, although I just slightly overcooked it.  I don’t cook pork often!
This past Friday we made Cheese Arrows to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Sebastian and it’s the first recipe that hasn’t turned out well.  Edible, but I’m certain nothing like they were supposed to taste.  We’ll hope we do better with that one next year!
We have some great recipes coming up this week and Alex and Daddy will be particularly excited to see St. John Bosco’s Pizza by the Yard…