Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ask, and You Shall Receive

Dear godparents,

My mom wanted to post a photo of me, for you. So she went into the pictures on the computer, and this is what she found:

I'm cute, aren't I? Except that was me at the end of October. It was the only respectable picture of me, and it's almost two months old! My parents are pretty terrible about the whole picture thing.

So Mom got out the camera this morning. I'm not wearing anything special, and I'm in my sister's old (borrowed) bouncy seat, but here I am now:

Still cute, but a LOT bigger! I like this snowman thing that sings to me.

I'm also a little perplexed by it. Which of my chins do you like best? Just curious.

I hope to see you guys soon! Merry Christmas!


p.s.  Genevieve and Sebastian say Hi, too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I'm sitting here on a cold, snowy day, with a to-do list a mile long and a million thoughts swirling through my head.

Sebastian and Isaac have been wanting more snow, and today, they got it. They spent the last several minutes getting their snowsuits and boots on, and searching for that one last stubborn glove. They just walked out together and, three short steps away from the back porch, dropped to their backs to make snow angels. They laid there together, flapping their arms and legs in unison, until they were satisfied an impressive angel would result, and then stood, smiling. They admired their handiwork for a moment, and moved on to dragging their feet to make paths in the snow. Now I see through the door that snowballs are next.

And I wanted to remember.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We have a Baby!

Henry William was born on September 18th (his due date!), weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and delighting his family to no end.
 The birth was excellent (and awful, as births tend to be), and we were so happy to hold him in our arms.
Genevieve is the Little Mama we knew she would be.
 This has been her expression pretty much every time she remembers he exists.
Ryan is back to work now, and we're back to work, establishing our new normal with this little guy in the house.
So blessed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

We are the Champions - of the World (Series)

The most exciting thing happened this week! Owen's baseball team won their league's World Series!

World Series Champs 2014
Owen is second from the left, number five.

Seriously, this season will go down in the books as the best ever, I'm sure. What an incredible group of kids, phenomenal coaches, and a team that just got better and better as the season went on. By playoff time, they were making it look easy, but still worked their tails off every single game. I know how special it was to Owen to be a part of this, and being able to witness it from the sidelines was a privilege.

We already can't wait for next baseball season!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I cried at Costco today.

I didn't mean to. And I didn't see it coming.

It's been a tough week in a lot of ways, and I scooted out by myself just before dinner time. I was wandering kind of aimlessly, kind of toward the rotisserie chickens, when I heard a woman behind me talking on her cell phone. In Spanish. And then WHAM! that wave of emotional nostalgia that you didn't know was there but hits you really hard when it comes, well, it came.

When I was a kid, I was around the Spanish language a lot. My mom was born in Cuba, and while she adopted the U.S. culture and became a citizen, her parents never learned English when they came here. (Stupid Castro. He was supposed to fail so they could go back to their beloved homeland. They never thought they'd spend the rest of their lives here, as grateful as they were for the refuge of the U.S.) Growing up, we lived in the same town as my grandparents, and my sister and I spent every Friday night at their house for many years. Somehow we got by just fine, even with the language barrier between us. Every phone call, every visit, every holiday - filled with that lovely language. My aunt would come into town and the Spanish-speaking would quadruple. Sometimes those sisters thought they were pulling a fast one on my sister and me, as if we hadn't learned enough of the language on those Friday night sleepovers to follow a conversation, and they'd talk about something they didn't want us to hear, in Spanish, even though my grandparents were nowhere around. I grew up speaking a sort of Spanglish, but I could always understand a thousand times more than I could speak. Something about being immersed in it all those years, without ever being expected to really speak it.

We just passed the 12th anniversary of my grandfather's death. That was a hard time for my mom, as she had been the one caring for him for most of his adult life, especially in his later years. It put a strain on her relationship with her sister. Several years went by without us seeing my aunt, and all the while I was busy having babies and building my life with my new family.

My grandma did not do well after she lost her husband. She had been hard of hearing her entire adult life, likely from factory work she had done when they arrived in this country. It was difficult to carry a conversation with her, so things got much quieter without my Abuelo around. She slipped into a deep state of dementia, and then, nearly two years ago now, we lost my Abuela too.

There's no one left for my mom to talk to in Spanish. So she doesn't.

I hadn't really thought about this loss in my life. Things like that, they just seem to fade into the background while life keeps moving forward.

But that woman in Costco, speaking loud and proud in her native language, it could have been my mom 20 years ago, catching up with her sister. Me walking along side, hanging onto the cart. For a split second it was.

And that's when that wave hit me. Like losing my Abuelos all over again, but in a new way. And feeling the loss of my childhood too.

My life today is blessed beyond reason, but it's also trying, and these days are wracked with third trimester hormones that sometimes get the best of me. I was pretty embarrassed when those tears came with people bustling all around me in the store, but I'm grateful now for that little reminder. Sometimes it's good to stop and remember.

Monday, June 30, 2014


I need to get back to blogging. Because life goes by too fast, and if I don't record things somewhere, I'll turn around and it will be a blur. I just know it.

For instance, how will I ever remember the day Genevieve shoved a rock the size of a marble up her nose and I had to take her to the ER to have it removed, if I don't blog about it?

That was today, by the way. Just before Ryan got home, with me at the stove and three pots simmering, browning, and boiling, which I had to walk away from with a shout to Owen to take care of things. He did, of course, and Ryan was in the driveway as I was pulling out anyway. Thankfully, the doctors acted quickly and got it out and G-girl is just fine. Also thankfully, the process wasn't without some trauma (Picture three doctors and a nurse pinning her down from all sides while shoving metal instruments of various shapes, sizes, and functions up her nostril. And let's just say they didn't get it on the first try. I didn't actually know a nostril could stretch that much, and she did end up with a bloody nose and some broken blood vessels around it.), which I'm hoping maybe will deter her from ever thinking about doing it again. Seriously, what was she thinking.

I find it kind of hilarious/ironic that we've survived almost 15 years of parenting six boys with no trips to the ER for objects in noses, and here's my dainty little rose who shoves a rock halfway to her brain.

So besides the traumatic milestones, we've had lots of good things happening too. Like Oliver making his First Holy Communion.

Oh, how I do love witnessing my children receive Christ for the first time.
We got a gluten-free/dairy-free cake for the occasion from a local specialty bakery, so that Oliver could share a special dessert with all of his guests on his big day.

Bonus picture. Because it was in the same file as the cake, and... seriously. I know.

That's her latest Sunday Sweater. I've made it in several sizes for her now, so she always has a pretty, neutral sweater to wear over dresses. This one is the size 2/3 - too big for her right now, but I didn't finish it until April and I wanted to make sure she'd still be able to wear it in the fall.

Bonus #2 - unstaged. This is truly how I found them eating popsicles on the back porch.

Let's see, what else...
Oh! Isaac turned six and Sebastian turned four. Brothers who are born one year + 363 days apart are destined to share a celebration. We did pirates this year.

Peyton made them matching treasure maps, which led them around the backyard and to a treasure box (see modified pizza box below), which Blake made, filled with their presents. It was a simple party, but they loved it and we all had fun.

And then just last weekend, we participated in a fundraising walk for CCFA, the foundation whose mission is to cure Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.

Like him.

(Please ignore his outfit. He got his last decent t-shirt dirty just before we left and had to change into this. I've since bought him some new clothes, he was in desperate need.)

The fundraising walk was awesome. I have no words for what it feels like to know that we have that kind of support. Just look at the number of people who were there:

Walkers stretched as far as the eye can see, down 11 Mile Road:

The guys, just before we left for the two mile walk. (We took the shortcut. The full distance is three miles, but between toddlers and pregnancy, we felt justified.)

Our loved ones contributed to help us raise our goal amount of $500. We did it.

This picture makes me sad, and I flinched a little at even having taken it.

But reality is, this is what we're dealing with. And reality is, he's doing awesome. We'll continue to say our prayers and count our blessings, and God will take care of the rest.

The park we met at before and after walking was set up like a huge festival, with a DJ, races, bounce houses, food, and freebies. We told Sebastian that it was all for him.

Because it was.

One more, for good measure.

And that's all she wrote.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

There and Back Again

The week after Easter, we traveled to Tennessee to visit Ryan's parents.  They live in a tiny town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, two miles up a windy little road, in a house nestled right into the side of a mountain.  We left Monday morning bright and early, and stayed until Saturday.

 So happy to be out of the van, after a 10 hour drive!

 We mostly hung out at the house, and this was one of the things the boys were looking forward to.  Their yard is a valley, and perfect for shooting with BB guns and bows and arrows.

 We did a lot of chasing after this little girl.

 I know they were being safe, but I'm not gonna lie, I can do without this type of extracurricular.

 Exploring on the first night.  This is the hill that leads to their driveway, along the whole side of the property.  You get quite a workout!

I loved this whole series of photos of Sebastian and Genevieve! 

 Traveling clothes and sloppy hair.  She looks like she's been in the car too long.

We took one day to go have some fun.  The guys all go-karted, we spent some time at an arcade, and went out for a splurge meal at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

Always goofy faces when I ask someone to pose. 

On the way home from our day out, we visited the Elkmont Cabins.  It's a ghost town that was once a resort community of summer homes, started in the late 1800's.

This girl loves her daddy, and doesn't mind how he holds her, as long as she has him. 

 I could picture all the children that must have run along these roads at some time, excited to see their summer friends, their mamas catching up with each other in rocking chairs on the porches.

This was a tiny, cozy little cabin. 

Made me want to pick it up and plop it on some acreage somewhere in Michigan, for a little hideaway for me and the Mr. 

 One of their favorite things to do, throwing sticks and rocks in the river.

Back at the house.  You get an idea of the elevation change from the yard to the house here.  That's it up there on the left.

More shooting. 

My mother-in-law does some really cute stuff around her house.  They built this retaining wall along the side/back of the house, to keep the mountain from eroding right into their living room, and she's been dressing it up with flowers and knick knacks. 

We had so much fun watching these hummingbirds all week. 

They'd come right up on the porch next to us to eat from this feeder.  I almost got dive-bombed a couple of times trying to get these pictures. 

Another favorite pastime - metal detecting.  Old nails and pennies were never so exciting. 

Blake kindly taking Sebastian back to the house when he was done for the evening. 

I loved the view and the light here - taken from the driveway toward the back of the property. 

The end.  Til next time.