Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year in Love

I cannot believe it has been a whole year since my precious baby boy was born! There are no words to express the great joy and true love this little person has brought into my life. Since I was a young girl, I have wanted to be a Mom and had great expectations of what it would be like, but the past year has far exceeded any and all expectations. Of course, there have been hard moments--sleepless nights, typical Mom worrying, stress over illness and sleep schedules--but I knew those things were part of the deal. What I didn't expect was the undeniable, unbreakable, stronger-than-steel bond that I would have with my little guy. After "loving" so many children throughout my life (nieces and nephews, children I nanny for), I was not prepared for the infinitely greater love that God grants to parents for their own children.

From the moment Augustine was born, at 5:03 pm one year ago, everything I knew about being a parent changed.

God granted me a new capacity to love.
He gave me opportunities to be selfless.

And He showed me, in a way not experienced before, the joy that one can feel in suffering for the those you Love.

Growing up, and still to this day, my Dad has often said to me, "I love you more than you will ever know!" I know my Dad loves me a lot, so I never really understood what he meant until I became a parent myself--but he is right, that type of love is just too deep and boundless to express.

Being a Mom may seem like a common and ordinary thing, but I feel ever humbled by, grateful for, and unworthy of such an incredible role. How can I ever cease to marvel over a tiny person who is half my husband, half myself, made in God's image and likeness, and willed into existence by God himself? I contend that I cannot, and I thank God each day for the blessing of my child.

And now, for you, my child:

Dearest Augustine,

I love you with every fiber of my being. You bring so much joy and wonder and love to my life and to our little family. You are so sweet and gentle. You have always been very cuddly, and breastfeeding you is so special to me. I love being able to hold you close and comfort you when you are hungry or tired or upset or hurt. You have a great smile that makes others smile, too. I love your laugh when I bite your elbows, knees, and ribs, I love the high pitched noise you make when we wrestle together, I love your fake cry when you want me to pick you up (you're so smart!), I love the way you gently play with my hair while you nurse, I love when you reach out for me no matter who is holding you, I love when you stand up while you are taking a bath and pee (it's just too cute), I love when your little hand finds mine and holds on, I love how you smile for the camera, I love your itty bitty legs and your perfect button nose, I love how you feed me and Dad (even Cheerios that have already been in your mouth), I love waking up each morning to say good morning to you, and, even if it's every few hours, I love rocking you and nursing you in the quiet and still of the night. I love hearing you say "Mama." I love how you wrap your arms around my neck and hold on tight for a hug and I love your wet kisses. You are precious.

I will try my hardeset to live a life worthy of my calling as your (blessed) Mom. I will remember that the best thing I can do for you is to LOVE you.

Happy First Birthday, my love! I love you more than you will ever know!


Your Mama

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

...or is he??

In the past (and certainly growing up), I loved the big man in the red suit. But now that I am a parent, I am really starting to see Santa Clause in a different light. You see, for the life of me, I can not figure out what he has to do with Christmas--with the birth of our Lord and Savior. It is not really Santa's gft giving that is the concern for me, as gift giving is an appropriate birthday gesture, and we are celebrating a birthday--the Lord's birthday, I know, but I can't think of a better reason than that to celebrate...and exchanging presents is an acceptable part of that (don't you think so?).

BUT, you will have to explain to me where the notion of a jolly, cherub looking, totally commercialized old man flying through the night sky led by a team of reindeer and miraculously slinking down the chimney of every little boy and girl's house to deliver mounds of gifts without ever mentioning the name of Jesus (or his birthday) came from...

Yeah, I couldn't do it either (...and the case for the Easter Bunny is even worse!).

Therein lies my dilemma: How do I welcome Santa Clause as a part of our family's Christmas tradition when I think he is a load of bull?? (A fun load of bull, albeit).

He's totally watching me...

(I realize there is a vague connection between Santa Clause and Saint Nicholas that has been severaly distorted over the years, but Saint Nicholas has his very own feast day on December 6th, which seems to be a more fitting day to honor him).

Thankfully, I have at least another before Augustine will know the difference either way, but for now I feel inclined to just do away with Santa all together...

. . . i s t h a t c r u e l ?

I admit, it seems completely counter-cultural (and almost mean) to squash the "magic" of Christmas right from the get go...but in this day and age, our culture's attitude toward Christmas could use a little countering, and I do hope Augustine will find the "magic" of Christmas in the story of Jesus' birth.

I can hear you laughing.

Ok, so maybe that is a lot to expect from a young child surrounded by images of Santa, reindeer, and elves every which way he looks...but I at least want to give him a half chance at focusing on Jesus, even if his favorite part of the day is







At least he will know the day is about Jesus' birthday...and not about a manipulative, three month bribing saga between him and a chubby, magical man in a red suit. Right?? (I am sure I will be eating my words about two years from now when all I want to do is threaten little Augustine that Santa won't come if he is not a good little boy...).

And yes (before you think I am the most mean Mom of all), Augustine will receive gifts on Christmas either way. As I mentioned earlier, I think Jesus' birthday is a fine time to exercise generosity and charity, as we present those we love (and perhaps a few we don't even know) with some special gifts. Though some of my extended family members do wait until Epiphany on January 6th to exchange gifts, as that is when the Wise Men came bearing gifts for Jesus. Such a practice would not be practical for us at this time, given that we don't live close enough to family to see them on January 6th, but it's not such a shabby idea.

BUT I don't plan on making it a secret that none of his gifts--whether wrapped under the tree, left unwrapped near the mantle on Christmas Eve (like Santa did at my house growing up...and I LOVED it), or hidden in his stocking--are from Santa. Why can't they just be from Luke and myself? Please tell me I am not heartless.

If we really do decide to give Santa the boot, we will not raise a home wrecker who goes around the kindergarten class telling all the children that they are silly and illogical for believing in Santa, but neither will we spend the entire fall convincing Augustine that there is an elf around every corner watching him and reporting back to Santa about his behavior.

Ahhhhh, thank you for listening to my cathartic ramblings (really, this is getting a lot off my chest)...

So, now I need to know what you all think:

What are your Christmas gift-giving traditions? What meaning do they hold for you? For those who are raising Santa lovers, is it just the most awesome thing ever to see their faces on Christmas morning? Would they be totally let down if then knew the gifts were from you (be honest with me)? How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive? Am I worrying for nothing--is Santa harmless?? Help! I only have a few more years to get this all figured out :)

P.S. I am not a Scrooge. Christmas is my favorite holiday, I listen to Christmas music as soon as socially acceptable, and my all-time favorite movie is Elf. In all honesty, there is great chance that at this time next year, I will be blogging about taking Augustine to the mall to sit on Santa's lap...

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Hair this long...

is a thing of my past!
That's right--I chopped my hair off! I know, all you disbelievers out there want proof! After all, I always talk about getting my hair cut short and then chicken out. But, not this time! As of the big cut on December 14th, my hair is shorter than it has been since it grew in at this length when I was, oh, about three years old! (Except for maybe that one bad haircut when I was 14...I don't remember exactly how short it was, but I do know I cried).

Luke was really supportive and encouraging, which is probably why I finally went through with it. The stylist got out her ruler (no joke), measured off 10 inches, put my hair in two little ponytails, and SNIP, SNIP!

Then there was no turning back!

I wasn't exactly planning on getting ten inches cut off when I walked into the salon, but once I decided to go through with it, the stylist helped me donate my hair to Locks of Love.

So, what's the verdict?

I like it,

but I don't LOVE it yet will take a little getting used to.

But I do really like how healthy it feels! And I like that it is a big change for me.

And mostly, I love that it is still long enough for Augustine to play with while he nurses--he loves that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saint Nicholas Day

A few things...

1) Having a child has made me deeply ponder things I never gave second thought to in the past (e.g. What does Santa really have to do with Christmas?? More--a lot more--on that in a separate post).

2) Having a child has also changed my perspective on many things (e.g. Santa Clause is lame. Christmas is about Christ. ...Are you picking up on a trend??).

3) And having a child has reminded me to try to see things through the eyes of children--I am struggling with this one right now (e.g. Santa is magical and fun! Presents are awesome! Ok, so maybe Augustine isn't thinking those things yet, but give him a year or two...).

To be honest, it has been a little overwhelming. As we approach Augustine's first Christmas, I am torn about what I want to expose him to and what role I want various family and cultural traditions to play in our celebration of Christmas.

But one day I knew I didn't want Augustine to miss out on during his first Advent was Saint Nicholas Day. Celebrated on December 6th, the Feast of Saint Nicholas is a great day to acknowledge Saint Nicholas' generosity and charity without getting caught up in his commercialized derivative, better known as Santa Clause.

Augustine dressed up as Saint Nick (not to be confused with Santa--wink, wink) to celebrate his feast day.

Luke and I decided to start a Saint Nicholas tradition in which we would buy Augustine (and, God-willing, his brothers and sisters some day) a pair of wintry pajamas and a Christmas book each year on December 6th. We don't plan on suggesting to our kids that the gifts magically appeared, as though delivered from a saint who has been dead since the year 346 (though I have no doubt it could happen that way if God willed it :)), but our little ones can look forward to waking up to a few small gifts from us in remembrance of a man who is, fittingly, the patron of children.

Anyway, we had a fun time with it for our first year. Luke and I went to Barnes and Noble together and picked out an age-appropriate Christmas book for Augustine. We figure as he gets older, the books will become longer, more in-depth, etc, and by the time he is a teenager we should have quite the collection of Christmas stories to bring out every year at the beginning of Advent! We will also have a whole lot of winter pajamas!!

Augustine may not understand the concept of celebrating a feast day yet, but he does enjoy reading his book with us, and he looks cute as can be in his new jammies. More importantly, we are creating Advent traditions that will stay with our family--and may even be passed on to our Grandchildren--for years to come! That is pretty fun.

Happy Saint Nick Day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My ABCs of Thanks

There is so much to be thankful for, this year, and always. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

A is for: Augustine--my beautiful, cuddly, energetic baby boy! God truly blessed us with the life of this little man!

B is for: Breastfeeding. I don't take it for granted that I am still able to enjoy those special moments of nursing several times each day (...and night).

C is for: Covers. I despise being cold! So, especially as the weather is getting chilly, I am thankful for snuggly blankies to keep me warm.

D is for: Decaffinated coffee. Neither Luke or I drink caffiene, but we love ourselves some (decaf) coffee...the smell, the warmth, the delicious-ness! YUM!

E is for: Eucharist. I love my Catholic faith and the gift of receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord in the Eucharist!

F is for: Futbol (i.e. soccer for us Americans). Futbol is a big part of our life, and I am thankful for the great joy it brings to my husband to play, watch, and coach such a great game.

G is for: Groups. Yes, I am a groupie. I love community, I love fellowship, I love groups! They help me feel more at home away from family. At the present moment, I am particularly thankful for my friends in the YAC (church group) and the HMC (mom's group) and for my fellow WAGS (soccer wives/girlfriends).

H is for: Health. As a hypochondriatic child, I spent way too much time worrying about getting a chronic illness. These days, I am as thankful as ever for good health but try not to worry about it as much!

I is for: Inta' Juice...the BEST smoothies ever!!!!! ...makes me miss Colorado.

J is for: Jobs. As much as I would love to be a full-time stay at home mom, I am very thakful for my job. There are many wonderful things about it, and it is a good opportunity for me to grow, as well. I am also thankful for Luke's work and for his great attitude toward it.

K is for: Knowledge of others. I love to be inspired and to learn new things about life and my faith from those who have gone before me.

L is for: Luke, my incredible husband. For his patience, passion, love, and desire for God.
M is for: Memories...of my childhood, of special times with family and friends, of dating Luke, of pregnancy, of Augustine's first 11 months of life...etc etc etc. I love my camera.

N is for: Neatness. My hubby is awesome at keeping neat, and he is forgiving when I don't live up to my own standards (i.e. those days when your closet throws up all over the middle of your bedroom floor).

O is for: Ocean! By day--swimming and taking in the sun--or by night--the peaceful crashing of the waves during an evening stroll with the one you love--it is just a cool thing.

P is for: Peanut butter! Not going to lie, I myself sometimes get grossed out by the amount of peanut butter I eat...but it's just that awesome! Some of my favorite ways to enjoy p.b. are on the classic p.b. & j sandwich, on a bagel with banana slices, on pancakes, and with ice cream!

Q is for: Quiet. Quiet moments to think, pray, read, study my sleeping baby's face, nap, blog.

R is for: Rosary. This wonderful prayer is a great way for me to meditate on the life of Jesus...and it's a prayer that I can say in the car, while nursing Augustine, during a walk, while I clean the house--anytime, really!
S is for: Sisters. I have three sisters who are also my closest friends. They are all different but all so wonderful in their own ways. I love them dearly and am so thankful to have them in my life.

T is for: Truth. And for the conviction that it exists and is worth seeking.

U is for: Unexpected surprises...a call from an old friend, an extra long nap, Luke making me dinner, a random day off work...those kinds of wonderful things.

V is for: Vacations...especially to Colorado to see my family!

W is for: Walks. Taking walks is one of my favorite things to do, and they are made especially awesome with my girlfriends down the street and their baby boys!
X is for: X's and O's from Luke and Augustine!
Y is for: YOU! For your inspiration, encouragement, advice, humor, insight, wit. I am fairly new to the blogging world, but the more blogs I read, the more I enjoy reading them. And your comments are always so sweet and appreciated. It's crazy neat to read the ideas and stories of other women who share my faith, interests, and/or vocation.
Z is for: Zzzzzz's. Sleep is something hard to come by these days, but when I do get the chance to catch a few zzzz's, my mind and body love love love it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper!

Today while I was cleaning the kitchen, little A managed to do this:
He looks like he knows what he is doing!
I hope Augustine never loses his great obession with the dishwasher! If so, he will make his wife very happy one day!

...Oh, and I much prefer his help cleaning the kitchen to his "help" cleaning the bathroom! Yesterday (and today!) he dipped his hand into the toilet water--which is a lot to handle for an OCD germ Mom!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One of "those" Moms

Many years ago--7 to be exact--I took the fall semester of my junior year "off" from college and moved across the country to Minnesota for a couple months. (After the death of my best friend, I needed a change of pace and scenery). During that time I lived with my older sister, Sarah, her husband, Chris, my nephew, Connor, and my niece, McKenzie.

And boy did I ever get a--very welcomed--change of pace! Instead of going to class and studying all day, I got up early each morning to open the coffee shop down the road, worked until about noon, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with my wonderful sister and two of the cutest kids in the world. So that was my life (week)day after (week)day (thankfully, I usually had the weekends off): roll out of bed at 4:30ish, get ready, work for 6 or 8 hours, and come home. And each day when I got home, one of the first things I did was change into my sweats and a sweatshirt. In my defense, it was fall approaching winter (aka winter approaching bitter freezing) in Minnesota; and I was in somewhat of an extended vacation mode; and I was living in a new city where I had no where to go and no one to impress.

Anyway, I don't know why I remember this conversation,
but one day, after weeks of observing my habit, my sister looked at me and said,
"Oh, you're going to be one of those Moms."

Those referring to Moms who stay in their comfy sweats all day and don't get dressed unless they absolutely have to.
My sister was not, and to this day, as a Mother of four, is not one of those Moms. She gets dressed by 8 am daily and always the morning!

She wasn't being mean with her comment, she was just making an obsevation...or a prediction, you could say.

And...she was right! Seven years later I am a Mom, and I sit here at 10:38 am, having been awake for almost four hours, and I am still in my pjs...

I am totally one of those Moms!

I admit it. I L.O.V.E. wearing really comfortable "clothes," and if it was socially acceptable, I would probably live in sweats and tees 24/7. Going grocery shopping, running to the Post Office, talking walks--these are all things I have done (regularly) in comfies. I do get dressed if I go to Mass in the morning...but I am usually back in my sweats as soon as I walk through the door. Oh, and of course I wear normal clothes to work! Though even there I feel underdressed, as the children I nanny for go to schools that do not allow them to wear jeans...

Before you think I have gone off the deep end, I should mention that it is less about being lazy and more about being comfortable. It's not that getting dressed is too much work, it's just that I have found that jeans and blouses are not as cozy as 100% cotton--not to mention how much easier it is to nurse in a stretchy tee than it is in a rigid top with a thousand buttons down the front. My style also keeps me calm when I end up with pureed carotts on my shirt or cheerios stuck to my bum.

You may also be relieved to know that I usually get up in the morning and put on different comfy clothes than the ones I went to bed in...and I still brush my teeth and hair AND put on make-up (why bother, right? But I tell you, mascara and eye liner go a long way in making me feel beautiful, even in sweats!). Oh, and I do shower daily, though as a Mom, my showers tend to, more often than not, take place in the afternoon or evening.

Ironicaly, I have to get Augustine dressed everyday--even if we aren't going anywhere, I put him in something cute. (Then again, his clothes are a lot more fun than mine).

At least I am in good company, as I do have several close Mom friends who also spend the better part of their days in comfy clothes (you know who you are!).
Still, I want to make more of an effort to at least wear cute comfy a little favor to the hubby and to avoid the slippery slope and wake up one morning to realize that all I have in my closet are baggy, drawstring pants and formless tees. Yikes!
So, here is to CUTE comfy clothes! Who's with me??!

He still loves me in sweats!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Million Dollar Question

As of late, we have been getting questions like this a lot:

So, when are you going to have another baby?


Is Augustine going to get a brother or sister soon?


Are you pregnant?


Are you trying to get pregnant?


Are you going to have 11 kids like Luke's Mom?

And, I love that I can reply, in all honesty: I don't know. (Well, except to that last one. To that one, I say, "No"--or "I hope not"--or "Please, no, God." Not that I wouldn't have 11 kids if that's what God really wanted--I would. But I am pretty sure it's not part of THE (i.e. God's) plan, if you know what I mean).

I like the answer "I don't know" because really, I don't know. And, really, it's all up to God.

But for those of you who want more elaborate answers to the preceeding questions, I suppose they could go something like this:

"Whenever it's God's Will."


"I don't think so...well, maybe...I guess I could be...but probably not."

[and then someone usually throws in something 'funny,' like: Practice makes perfect, right? or You can always have fun trying!]

And, "[let's just laugh because that's an ackward question]"
...and obviously, they can't be serious--I'm already 28, folks!

The truth is, if and when we are blessed with another baby is not up to us. I know it's kind of a downer, but I acknowledge that Augustine may be our only baby [and before he came along, I knew there was the possibility that we would not be able to have any children of our own--neither of us have medical issues to suggest that, but there's always that chance, and several of our friends have struggled with infertility issues]. I don't have these thoughts because I want to antagonize myself but because I want to accept, and trust in, God's Will for my life and the life of my family. I find peace and freedom knowing that it is all in God's hands. Regardless of what the future holds [...even if it's 10 more babies!], I pray that Luke and I will peacefully accept it as God's plan for us.

We will keep you posted if any of our answers change... ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Water Bottles Hate Me

Really, they do.

Everyone that we aquire gets lost, broken, melted in the dish washer...or in the latest episode, knocked into the toilet.

A (BIG) part of the problem is my dear husband.
Yes, his job practically requires him to have a water bottle on his person at all times, so I suppose his opportunities to lose said water bottles are greater than your average joe's, but it's getting a little out of hand.
"Water bottle" shows up on his Christmas and birthday lists each year, and we also pick them up intermittently when we come across a good one at the store...yet if you open our cupboards and look, you will not see a single one!

You will see one or two (the only one or two we currently possess) on the counter waiting to be filled the next time Luke leaves the house--which, within a matter of weeks will probably be stranded on a soccer field somewhere in central Virginia.

And if you venture upstairs you will find MY water bottle, which resides on my night stand...and occassionally on our bathroom counter. It is the one and only water bottle that I have first and full dibs on (because I worked really, REALLY hard for it...all of you who have had children know the one I speak of) and, at nearly 10 months "old", it has outlived every other water bottle we (...Luke) have ever owned. It's huge, it has a handle, it has a straw, it's just great!

It nearly met its death the other day though.
I was sweeping and moping our bathroom floor, and I left the mop leaning against the bathroom counter.
But it slid down the counter and knocked my prized waterbottle right into the toilet! The toilet had bowl cleaner soaking in it at the time, which I haven't decided was a good thing or a bad thing (I suppose given the alternatives, soap certainly isn't the worst case scenario...). I rescued it right away, but at first, I thought the bottle was done for--as I was thoroughly grossed out. But after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to run it through the dishwasher, not think too much about it, and drink out of it again before I could change my mind.

and if you have other opinions on what should have been the fate of my water bottle, specifically if you know a lot about germs, please keep them to yourself. What I don't know can't hurt me, right?!

Friday, October 15, 2010

9 Month Picture...s

Oh me! I tried SO hard to get out of Portrait Innovations with, but any of you who have been there with a small child know how difficult--if not impossible--that is! But today I got close. I have seriously been giving myself pep talks about the situation for a week.

"It's just his nine month photo shoot. We do NOT need a bizillion pictures."

"We are going back at Christmas for his 1 year pictures--we will splurge then."

"It is OK to just get one pose. Do not feel bad for the lady taking the pictures if you only pick one pose."

"Don't bring a change of clothes for Augustine--it will just make you want to buy more pictures."

"Don't look cute/don't coordinate clothing with Luke/don't brush your hair or shower or you will just be tempted into stepping in for a few shots...and then needing to order more pictures."

"All of the pictures will be cute, but that does not mean I need the cd (even though I will really, really want it)."

"I could just take some pictures at home, but it's only $9.95 IF I just pick one pose."

etc, etc, etc.

(Btw, feel free to read those statements twice a day for the week leading up to your next photo shoot--it helps!).

As we left the house this morning, I really was convinced I could get out of there with just one pose.

BUT while we were waiting for them to call us back, my dear husband said,
"So do you want one pose or two?"

Why does he torture me so??

"I thought we decided just one," I answered (sort of).

"Well, we can get two...(trailing off)."

"OK, we will get one...or two." At that point I knew we were toast, but really two isn't so bad, compared to the NINE we got when Augustine was 6 weeks old--suckers.

They called us back.

Do you have a change of clothes? NO

Is it just him in the pictures, or will you all be stepping in for a few? JUST HIM

So far, so good.

47 poses later we sat down at the computer for the elimination process. I was decisive and did not let myself get attached. Without much hesitation, we got it down to two poses! We chose one pose for the $9.95 special and then just got 2 5x7s of the second pose.

Done and less than an hour!

So, yes there are two pictures, but we only got the "special" pose on cd. To post the second pose I had to take a picture of the picture, so sorry about the flash spot.

He is just SO stinkin' cute!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And then there were four...


(Sorry, I couldn't resist the tease!
We would love to add another sweet baby to our family, but someone will have to have a word with Augustine about getting up to eat twice each night if we are ever to be a family of four...not because I am too tired to have a baby-though I am tired-, but because my body is incapable due to the breast feeding).

Augustine's two bottom teeth came in right at 7 months, but I hadn't noticed any sign of more until I was holding him sideways and tickling him the other day. I had a really good view of his gums with his month wide open and laughing, and I noticed that his upper gums looked quite white! I immediately washed my hands and stuck my finger in to feel, and sure enough, BOTH teeth had already cut!

Maybe those middle-of-the-night waking up (more than ususal) episodes a few weeks back weren't separation anxiety after all??

Either way, I think Augustine has been a great teether--he hasn't been sick at all or had any super noticeable symptoms...obviously!

His new teeth are hard to see in passing, but if you get a good look they are cute!

At dinner the other night he gave me a big, toothy grin!

I just hope he doesn't bite...

If You Plant will Grow!

The grass is greener in our front yard than it has ever been before!

In fact, until a couple weeks ago, there was no grass in our front yard.

There was moss and clovers and dirt and weeds and rocks--but no grass.

You see, we sorta live in the woods. Not really--there are nothing but paved streets and once you turn the corner out of our neighborhood, you are right in the middle of suburbia--but you do get that feeling sitting on our front porch. There are trees--short trees, tall trees, bushes--everywhere, and much of the ground is covered in dirt and sticks and leaves. (One time, Luke and I actually pitched our tent in our back yard and camped out in "the woods!"). We also love lighting up our fire pit out back and gathering around the warm flames to roast s'mores, drink wine, and relax with friends. And the GIANT tree in our backyard is the perfect home for the rope swing Luke put up. With all the marvelous colors, this time of year is especially beautiful, not to mention the nostalgic crunching of leaves beneath my feet during long walks along our neighborhoods many paths.

Pumpkin carving bonfire party in the backyard. Notice the ground (i.e. dirt)?
That is what our front yard used to look like!

So there are many wonderful things about our woods.
But grass is not one of least I didn't think it was.
I was convinced (for the past 2+ years that we have lived here) that it was impossible to grow grass in our yard. This is not to say that nobody around us has grass--every once in awhile I come across a modest lawn...and once in a very long while, I come across an great lawn, but it's mostly dirt and sticks and rocks around here. I distinctly remember the lady we bought our house from saying, in a dramatic, exasperated fashion the day she moved out, "I hope y'all like the outdoors!" At the time, I had no idea what she was suggesting--two years and no grass later, point taken.

But about a month ago, after literal years of discussion over the ill fate of our lawn (or lack thereof), a young man came by offering to aerate our lawn and plant some seed for a small fee.
We finally decided to give it a try.
The timing was excellent. It rained for several days after the seed was planted, and before we knew it, there was grass coming up in what had previously been hard, fruitless dirt. I was shocked! It is not perfect grass by any means--there is still moss and cloves (but at least they are green, right?); it is uneven and there are bald patches; BUT there is grass!

Luke proudly mowing our LAWN for the first time ever!
This whole episode got me thinking: if I had known that grass (even pathetic looking grass) would have grown, I would have planted it a lot sooner!! We had gotten so comfortable with the idea that we would never be able to have grass that we didn't even try. Our yard suffered years of mediocrity because we didn't strive to attain for it anything better than what surrounded it.
A little too deep for a conversation about grass, eh? I bet you know where I am going with this...
It all got me thinking about my life: How often do I just become comfortable with the way I am because I allow my worldly surroundings to lower my standards and cushion my falls? Why do I so often give up easily or become convinced that I can never make a difference?
An acquaintance on Facebook recently got a tattoo that extends along his entire forearm from his wrist to the crease of his elbow. It says, "Comfortably numb." I have no influence in this person's life and haven't seen him in years, but I have been disturbed by those words since the day he proudly posted the pictures of his new ink.
Comfortably numb? That is so sad.
I have heard it said before that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. Apathy...lack of feeling...numb(...lukewarm?). I admit that I line up right behind him for a ride on the Comfortably Numb train way too often...but deep down, the idea makes me nothing but uncomfortable.

I don't want to be comfortably numb! I don't want to be numb at all. I want to be passionate and on fire and in love with loving God and others.

But, unfortunately, the struggle is there--I don't always live that way. And sometimes I don't even try.
It's like my lawn.
Sometimes making a real change (i.e. growing grass) in my life seems like
too much work;
or impossible;
or unnecessary;
or too different from my surroundings;
and so I become numb--even almost comfortably numb (I am thankful my conscience doesn't completely quiet just begins to speak in more of a whisper)--and I make poor justifications (nobody expects us to have grass in our neighborhood; there is just not enough sunlight or water; it is not worth the hard work; it wouldn't grow even if we tried).
Is this not the same conversation I often have with myself as I strive to grow in my spiritual life? Excuses, justifications, and feelings of defeat abound...but without any real effort. It's like I give up before I begin.
But you know what, if we didn't try to grow that grass, we never would have known it was possible to grow. In other words, struggling though spiritual exercises and prayers, even when the soil of my soul seems too dry or cold or fruitless really will bear fruit! Because if the Lord will give us grass in our front yard, how much more life will He give to our souls, if only we break out of our comfort zone and direct our efforts to Him?

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? ~Matthew 6:30

I am motivated to make more effort in my spiritual life...and then wait and see what the Lord allows to grow!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I believe I ordered the large cappuccino. Hello?!

I have noticed lately that many of Augustine's "baby" socks no longer fit. And with winter (and shoe wearing *tear*) quickly approaching, I figured now would be a good time to stock up on some bigger ones that a) don't fall off and b) aren't so small that they leave a ring around his ankle.

So the other day I was at Old Navy and saw a ten pack of plain white socks (a little boring, I know, but they are just socks). "12-24 months" was printed in foam letters on the sole of each footie. Now I know Augustine isn't quite 12 months old, but I don't think his foot is really going to grow that much in the next 15 months, let alone the next 3. They did have other, more fun socks, but I couldn't beat 10 pairs for $10, so I took the white ones and ran before I talked myself into buying more!

You may be asking yourself, "Where is she going with this??" I am getting there...I promise. So back to the title of this post:
"I believe I ordered the large cappuccino. Hello?!"

In case you aren't into early 90s movies starring Mike Meyers, I will remind you that this quote comes from the movie, So I Married an Axe Murderer (a real classic...). Anyway, in the opening scene, Charlie (i.e. Meyers) is at a coffee shop and, after ordering a large cappuccino, he is served his coffee in a mug so big it rivals a massive soup bowl! And then of course comes his infamous remark:
"Excuse me miss, there seems to be a mistake. I believe I ordered the large cappuccino. Hello?!"

It's the perfect one-liner when you get way more than you bargained for...but in a bad way.

Now back to my story. Upon arriving home and opening Augustine's new socks, I felt just like Charlie!

And here is why:

Cute little sock, right? This is what I saw when picking out the socks at the store (they were in a big package).

...but then I got home and unfolded them...

...and unfolded them some more...

...and that is what I saw.
Augustine may be a little on the small side, but come on! Those things are knee-highs on him!

To put things into perspective,

The sock on the very left is the one he is just growing out of. Next we have a cute sock from his drawer that is still a wee bit too big. Then, of course, we have the mammoth Old Navy sock. And there on the right is my, not that giant white one in the middle, the slightly bigger one all the way over to the right.

Um, excuse me Old Navy, there seems to be a mistake. I believe I bought the 12-24 month old socks. Hello?!
I would like to see what their toddler socks look like?!
But really, I am not complaining. I know it sounds that way, but I really just found it rather amusing.
So if you see Augustine wearing abnoxiously big, white socks, now you know why. On the bright side, they will fit him for most of his early childhood...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Four Years of Bliss!

Last night Luke and I went out to celebrate meeting each other four years ago (10.07.06) and getting engaged three years ago (10.07.07). We stopped at a nearby pizzeria to pick up dinner and then headed to the bowling alley, to re-live one of our first dates.

We don't bowl often, and I felt a little out of place among the "regulars"--these people were kicking their right leg up behind them as they effortlessly threw the ball down the lane for a strike; they shined their balls between throws; they wore their own bowling shoes; and some even had wheeled suitcases to carry their supplies in. Many of them also smelled like smoke, but that is neither here nor there. One little boy (who loitered in our lane--his dad was bowling elsewhere in the alley) told Luke that "if you want to bowl like a real man, you bowl without putting your fingers in the holes." Apparently Luke is not a real man. But then again, the child was about eight years old and was hanging out at the bowling alley at 9 pm on a school night!

My Prince Charming

When we went bowling early in our relationship, we made bets for each throw:
i.e. If I knock down more pins than you, you have to give me a kiss on the cheek (he really had to twist my arm...).

You get the idea.

So last night we made more bets.

Let's see, Luke won:
  • a massage from me,
  • a new pair of running shoes,
  • a guy's night out,
  • and a dinner cooked by me (as opposed to a dinner cooked by him if I had won).
Oh, and I won:

  • a Saturday free of diaper changes;
  • and a Saturday free of feeding the little man (solids, that is...I am still on milk duty, although it would be fun to watch Luke try...).

In case you didn't notice, I got the short end of the stick.

I guess I buckle under pressure.

There were a pair of UGGS on the line for me, and I totally choked.

But when it comes to things I actually enjoy (feeding Muncher) or am totally used to (changing his diapers), I pull out spares! (As if a day changing and feeding the baby all day would have been a chore for me--I may have done that, maybe once or twice, before...).

Despite my ill luck with the bets, we had a really fun date! I lost miserably (twice), but Luke got his first Turkey ever!

And I think I can still talk him into the birthday is right around the corner!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Person's a Person, No Matter how Small

Dr. Suess was so wise!

True, he coined that phrase in his story, Horton Hears a Who, but I think his words are especially relevant to our nation today--a nation who aborts 4,000 of its smallest people each day (the worldwide statistics are no less depressing--115,000 daily/42 million yearly).

Wee babies have always held a special place in my heart, and it pains me so that our culture and our world tolerate, and even encourage, such a grave injustice. As concerned as I am about the many wrongs and acts of violence in our world, I don't think we can expect to see real change in how people treat one another until we can learn to love and protect the most innocent and helpless among us.

Mother Teresa said,

"Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace."

She also said,

"What is taking place in America is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

"Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants."

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

Just some food for thoughts during Respect Life Month. Mother Teresa was such a smart and holy and generous and loving woman, and we can learn much from her!

And I also wanted to share a great pro-life photo.
A couple of months ago, my friend's sister-in-law unfortunately miscarried her twin baby boys. The twins' older siblings were photographed spending a special moment with their little brothers.
If those are not babies, I don't know what are.
Pretty incredible!
Love Life!!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Is it just me, or did September fly by this year?


(The other day I was making a to-do list, and I wrote "mail September birthday cards" on, yeah, thankfully, our family doesn't have any September birthdays because the cards would have been a month late!).

And now that October is here, Thanksgiving is just around the corner...and then Christmas...and then Augustine's first birthday!

I cannot believe how fast the time is passing...

And it's not going to slow down for us anytime soon! Here is a quick look at our (big item) social agenda for the next few months:

Middle of October = Quick trip to Massachusetts for Luke to give a talk (my husband gives talks on occassion--of the Christian nature--to younsters...did you know that about him?).

Beginning of November = One of my best friends, Amanda (and her husband and baby), is coming to visit for my birthday!

End of November = Thanksgiving in Massachusetts.

End of December = Christmas in Colorado.

December 30th = Augustine's Birthday! (Party in CO? Sure, why not!)

Early January = Another birthday party back in Richmond? YES!

I might as well just call this "month" Oct-em-ber-ary!


Luke and I have a subscription to the Magnificat, a daily prayer book that gives you the Mass readings for each day, as well as morning and evening prayer and other meditations.

Every year, the October edition is my favorite because, in honor of the eve of All Saint's Day (aka Halloween), they provide a Litany of the Counsel of the Saints.

In other's a list of awesome quotes by incredibly holy men and women. I am always super inspired by their wisdom and insight, so I thought I would share some of my favorites with all of you!

Saint Terese of Lisieux: "You alone, O Jesus, could satisfy a soul that needed to love even to the infinite."

Saint Maximilian Kolbe: "Shall the urge for complete and total happiness, inherent to human nature, be the only need to remain unfulfilled and unsatisfied? No, even this longing can be fulfilled by the infinite and eternal God."

Saint Katherine Drexel: "May your faith be increased so as to realize the fact that you are never alone, wheresoever you may be, that the great God is with you, in you."

Saint John Vianney: "The soul can feed only on God; only God can suffice it; only God can fill it; only God can satiate its hunger. Its God is absolutely necessary to it."

Saint Jane Frances de Chantel: "Oh, how happy is the soul that freely lets herself be molded to the liking of this divine Savior!"

Saint John of the Cross: "You considered that one hair fluttering at my neck; You gazed at it upon my neck and it captivated You."

Saint Catherine of Sienna: "When we love something we don't care what sort of abuse or injury or pain we might have to endure to get it; we are concerned ony with satisfying our desire for the thing we love."

Saint Dominic: "I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you more effectively than during my life."

Saint Augustine: "We have been promised something we do not yet possess. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised, and yearning is over."

Saint Gregory Nazianzen: "Each of us can say to the tempter, 'Unlike you, I have not yet become an outcast from heaven through my pride. By my baptism I have become one with him. It is you that should fall prostrate before me."

Saint Cecilia: "To die for Christ is not to sacrifice one's youth, but to renew it. Jesus Christ returns a hundredfold for all offered him, and adds to it eternal life."

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons: "The glory of God is man fully alive."

Saint Justin Martyr: "The greatest grace God can give someone is to send him a trial he cannot bear with his own powers - and then sustain him with his grace so he may endure to the end and be saved."

Saint John the Baptist: "Jesus must increase; I must decrease."

Holy Mary, Mother of God: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

Happy October!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Augustine's Weekly Wee-View (9.21.10-9.27.10)

This was a special week because I was in CO visiting (some of) my family from September 24th-28th.

1) I like to keep Mom guessing, so I sleep really well for a few nights and then mix it up with an up-every-few-hours night. Also, I was getting bored waking up with my little whine, so I have decided to start screaming when I wake up on those long nights--more exciting for everyone, right?? (In reality, I think he is having a bit of separation anxiety--Luke and I have never heard him cry that way, but he is fine as soon as we pick him up).

2) Despite missing our connecting flight both ways (for a combined 9 1/2 hours of extra airport time), I did really well traveling. I even got my own seat on a couple of the flights!

3) Our trip to CO was awesome, and I loved seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles and Bapa! My cousin Tavian is only two months younger than me, and we are best friends. It will be so fun to live near him someday!

4) Apparently I have allergies--specifically to the foliage in Colorado (Or maybe to the hay at the pumpkin patch?? Or maybe just to grass...we don't have that in our yard in VA...). I had a runny nose during our trip, but it cleared up when we got back home.

5) I am crawling super fast now, and I have learned to crawl to Mom so she will pick me up!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Augustine's Weekly Wee-View (9.14.10-9.20.10)

The weeks just keep get getting faster!!!

1) Mom thinks I am coming down with something...or getting ready to cut my top teeth. I didn't have any symptoms before my bottom two came in, but the past couple days I have not been sleeping well and have had a little runny nose (and lots of maybe it is just a cold?).

2) When I "crawl" now, I alternate arms and legs and go really fast! But I am not up on my hands and knees...yet.

I love to crawl under my table and play with my cd player--I even open it and take my lullaby cd out...and bang it until Mom comes and takes it.

3) Mom started planning my 1st birthday party this week!!! I will actually probably have two parties--one in CO since we will be there for my actual birthday and one is VA a week or two later. Mom decided to do an elephant theme--surprise, surpise. Let the DIY decorations and favors begin!

4) We have purchased our tickets to MA for Thanksgiving with Dad's family. It will be a 5 night trip, but a few of those nights will be a vacation from our vacation--perhaps Humarock or Cape Cod? Yes, please.
5) This Friday we leave for COLORADO!!! I can't wait to play with my cousins! We have a lot of fun things planned with family. We are staying at Aunt Cait, Uncle Cole, and Tavian's house--Tavey and I are going to have so much fun!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Well, Luke's 7th season playing professional soccer has officially come to a close, which is always a bittersweet time of the year for us.

Bitter because there are no more soccer games to go to (and the fun social aspect that goes with that), Luke doesn't get to do something that he enjoys so much for a few months, and summer is over.

Sweet because I get my husband back on Saturday nights (and Sunday mornings...), Luke doesn't have to leave us to go on road trips to away games, and we get to travel together as a family--Colorado, here we come!! (During the season (i.e. summer, i.e. most popular time to travel to weddings, etc), it is virtually impossible for Luke to leave town, except for soccer games, of course. So, unlike most of the country, we do our traveling between September and February).

Luke was drafted by the MLS during his senior year of college and has been playing professionally in some capacity since. It makes me happy that he gets to do something he loves, and I am very proud of all the hard work and persistence he has put into achieving his childhood dream.
Going into this past season, I was worried that the adjustment to being a new Daddy (and the consequent lack of sleep) would be a distraction to him and he many not play as well. Fortunately, being a Dad seems to have had the opposite effect, and he had his best season to date!
Luke was named "Man of the Match" at 4 of the Kickers' 10 home games. He was also named to the USL-II Team of the Week several times and was one of eleven players in the league to earn First Team All League honors.
But those are just statistics. It is harder to quantify, and of less interest to the newspaper, the many other ways that Luke stands out as a soccer player.

Like the way he greets his many youth fans after the games, signing autographs and smiling for pictures.

And the great example of hard work, sportsmanship, and respect he is for everyone who watches him play--let me tell you, it gives me great peace to sit in the stands knowing that my husband will never be heard cursing on the field or exhibiting poor sportmanship.

And I just love to watch him coach. One Mom came up to me last year and said, "We give Luke a hard time because when he scolds the kids during practice he just says, 'You knuckleheads!'" These "kids" were 14, but I love that he doesn't yell at them or insult them. (I can remember many a coach using really harsh words back when I played high school sports...).

It is for these reasons...and so many more...that Luke will always be my MostValuablePlayer. I am so blessed to have him as a husband, and Augustine is one lucky boy to have him as his Dad--hopefully, he will grow up to be just like him!
We are not sure what is next for Luke's soccer career. As of last weekend, he is a free agent, so there is always the possibility of changing teams. Aside from an offer from the Colorado Rapids of the MLS, however, there are few circumstances under which we would consider moving. Our "plan" (which is always subject to God's plan) is for Luke to resign with Richmod for a few more seasons...and then buy a house in CO! At that point, he may continue to play soccer (most likely in Richmond or Charleston), but we will live in CO for at least part of the year. There's always the chance that Luke would get picked up by the Rapids at that point, which would also be very cool.
As for the upcoming season, Luke will be negotiating his contract in the next couple months, so please keep him in your prayers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Augustine's Weekly Wee-View (8.31.10-9.6.10)

1) Last week I started saying, "mama" and meaning it. Sometimes it sounds like "mama" and sometimes like "nana"...but it always means, "I need (or want) you, Mama!" Mommy is very excited about this.

2) I made two new friends on our street, Zach and Donovan. Mom and I enjoy taking walks with them--and their moms--nearly everyday (especially in this awesome fall weather)!

3) After months of sleeping cozy in my Woombie cocoon, Mom and Dad have decided it is time to wean me from it--now that I am so mobile, I don't always like having my arms zipped up. The past few nights have been a little restless for me at times, but it's getting better!

Me in my Woombie! (photo taken three months ago)

4) Dad's season just ended and his coaching doesn't start for another week, so Mom and I got spoiled by having him work from home a lot this week!
5) As much as I love playing with Dad, I am becoming quite a Mommy's boy and love to hold on tight to her when other people try to hold me.
Enjoy a few more pics...of me in my Sunday best (note my new smile in the second pic)...and of me in the big bathtub!!