Monday, January 31, 2011

Say What?

Mary Poppins Not over at Crazy Acres shares her thoughts on Saying What I Mean, Meaning What I Say. I understand her sentiments exactly. I also understand having a baby at 43 and another at 45.

When John was a little over a year old I had a deep discussion about motherhood with our then pastor, Father Donahue. To us John's birth was nothing short of miraculous. After six years and six miscarriages, another baby seemed so far out of reach. And then John!

I experience an odd disconnect between pregnancy and delivery. Yes, I am aware that I am having a baby. With an active baby, such as Kolbe, there was no forgetting it for a moment. Kolbe would do pilates (or was it kickboxing?) for an hour or two and then wrap it up with a bout of hiccups. This was a nightly occurrence.

Once while carrying Tim, I laid hand on my belly just as he landed a kick worthy of Chuck Norris. For the briefest wisp of time, I wrapped my hand around his tiny foot. An unbelievable moment.

Despite these sensations, in my compartmentalized mind, there is The Pregnancy and then there is The Baby. With John I experienced a few hours of pre-term labor around 36 weeks. I talked to the doctor on call who advised me to head over to Labor and Delivery to be monitored. In we went. The monitor showed weak but regular contractions so the nurse pumped me full of a wretched substance known as brethine. As I lay there freezing and jittery, I looked around the room.

There was the bassinet, the stack of blue and pink striped baby blankets, the scale.

"I'm having a baby," I thought to myself. "This is real. This is real. I'm having a baby."

As I talked to Father Donahue with baby John toddling around, I shared what the years of sub-fertility taught us about the value of life and the blessings of children.

"You know, Father," I remember sharing, "if I have a baby at 49, I'll be nothing but grateful."

Little did I know that a teeny tiny Ainsey was at that moment already growing inside of me. Saying what I mean and meaning what I say. I laugh about that conversation and wonder if God will take me up on my offer to welcome another soul at 49.

Over at  Faith and Family Live!, Arwen Mosher - who is expecting twin boys - is talking about giving her current baby a little extra love before the arrival of the new ones. The night before Ainsley's birth was a busy one. I was micro-nesting, making sure my bag was packed and my room was tidy. In all the bustle, John fell asleep on his own. I was oddly crushed. I wanted  him to be the baby one last night! Tim was the baby for four years. Kolbe reigned supreme for six years! John got a paltry two years, 13 days.

God must of heard the silent desire of my heart (talk about melodramatic!) because John woke up about ten o'clock. I held him and hugged him and told him what a great baby he had been. We even captured the moment on film.

I guess the big boys - who are always pining for another sibling - are not the only ones with baby fever. My neighbor across the street just brought home the cutest, tiniest girl. Oh! My! Goodness! Nothing like holding a newborn to convince you your 18 month old is about to turn seven. Last week I attended a baby shower for another friend who, like Arwen, is soon to deliver twin boys. The cable knit cardigans and froggy sleepers were to die for! Baby clothes do it to me every time. During the lowest points of our secondary infertility, I strategically avoided the baby aisles at Target. Couldn't take the sight of those tiny socks and itty bitty onesies.

But my word for the year is Now.  

Now John is every bit as cuddly as he used to be. While not officially The Baby, he is still little and funny and  loving. Ainsley is not, in fact, seven. She is eighteen months in all its wonder. Now is the time I am enjoying her burgeoning toddler vocabulary as she says "John John" and "cookie" is the most adorable voice ever.

God may yet call us to joyfully bear another soul. But as for Now,  I will celebrate with my neighbors and enjoy this energetic family of my own.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seven Quick Takes - Reflections on Ordinary Time

Jen over at Conversion Dairy hosts Seven Quick Takes. Here's an update on our life.

1. For concerned friends who have become alarmed at the endless series of unfortunate events coming our way, I am happy to report that there is absolutely nothing to report. No cell phones either submerged or baked. No fever or stomach issues. The most eventful moment of the week came when I stumbled upon a rubber worm while dusting.

2. Lest anyone worry that I waste my limited free time dusting, believe me, this is a rare occurrence.

We have an awesome set of rocket and airplane launchers. I mean, these babies fly. I keep them out of John's hot little hands because he launched one into the kitchen ceiling and left a dent. I worry for Ainsley's forehead. Yesterday I pulled them out of their hiding place high atop the armoire. The dust must have been half an inch thick. Hence the dusting. Hence the worm.

3. Painting proceeds without incident (other than proving my point that there is no such animal as One Coat Coverage and even two is dicey).

4. Ainsley is turning into quite the chatterbox. Her vocab includes: Mama, Dada, John John, Jesus, bye bye, baby, night night, cookie, baba (for banana), brudder, and cheese. Her first sentence: Dere's a brudder!

5. John had another meltdown but this one, thankfully, took place in the privacy of our home. He glared at me and in his meanest toddler voice said, "I'm not giving you twenty hugs today, Mama!" If looks could kill . . .

6. John is out of the trundle and into his own bed. John and Ainsley are both sleeping soundly enough that they are no longer waking each other up. This, people, is huge.

7. Wednesday was a rare day when I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. John, Ainsley, and I spent the day reading and playing. We colored Buzz Lightyear pages. We read The Pirate Dirty Joe. We cut out stuff just for the fun of cutting out stuff. John and Ainsley played with the castle. It was a joyful insight into why I choose to stay home with my kids. We were blessed with a full day to simply be.

Ordinary time - nothing special, and yet so very special.

Friday, January 28, 2011

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Happy Weekend to you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do It Yourself!

I started painting the bathroom this morning. This is step one in the transformation of ugly bathroom #1. I will not be posting before and after shots -- maybe an after shot, but, believe me, the before is far too hideous (and that's ignoring the fact that three young boys regularly use this facility).

I love to paint. A quick trip to the Hard Work Store (as a little Kolbe once dubbed it) and you can pick up a gallon of fairly cheap, fairly quick transformation. I used to paint all the time. Not long ago Dave wondered why I no longer do. I  pointed to the two fair-haired toddlers who now reside in the next room. Babies have a way of bringing Do It Yourself to a screeching halt.

Long ago in a bathroom not so far away, I started a simple redo. I figured it was a two week job. But suddenly I was pregnant with John. And then horribly nauseous. And then huge. And then post-partum. And before I knew it, I was pregnant with Ainsley. Suddenly this two week job was well into its third year.

Crazy, I know.

After fifteen years as homeowners, we are now familiar with certain unalterable maxims regarding Home Improvement. Painting I find easy, but any project beyond that undoubtedly will:

  1. Require way more trips to the Hard Work Store than you thought.
  2. Cost way more than you thought.
  3. Take way longer than you thought.

A successful project typically makes all adjacent rooms and surfaces look really, really ratty and thus tempts you to begin the whole vicious cycle all over again.

How well I remember when I first dabbled into the adventurous world of Do It Yourself. I was visiting my sister who was expecting her first child, my niece Megan. There's nothing like a first baby to bring out the nesting instinct thickly laced with perfectionism. There's a lot riding on that first nursery. The paint chips to peruse! The fabric swatches to ooh and aah over! The wallpaper books to ponder!

Baby Megan's nursery was going to be a pastel wonder straight from the showrooms of Laura Ashley.  I arrived on the scene to help wallpaper her room.

Now I was a mere neophyte, a starry-eyed single gal wholly unfamiliar with that crucible of marital relationships known as Home Improvement and the uncanny way it morphs two mild-mannered, civil people who actually love each other into raging perfectionists who rediscover choice words long relegated to the dusty corners of their vocabulary.

All was well with the wallpapering job until a nameless someone jotted down a few measurements on the back of a long strip of wallpaper. Perhaps this nameless someone happened to use -- cue ominous music -- a black Sharpie for his jottings. The Sharpie bled through the wallpaper. The Laura Ashley wallpaper.

To be brief, things got ugly.

Ten years or so later, I found myself wallpapering another nursery. I was expecting my first baby. In came the paint chips, the swatches, the wallpaper books.We found the perfect pattern. I placed the order. A helpful woman helped me calculate how many rolls we needed. It was pricey, so we went with the minimum amount. She assured me we wouldn't run short as long as we were careful.

We invited our friend Mark over to help. Up went the first piece. Mark pulled out a handy tool to smooth out the bubbles. As he dragged the tool down the length of the wallpaper, ugly dark marks marred the yellow gingham. We wiped them with a sponge, then tried Fantastick, and finally resorted to bleach. Nothing worked. One huge hunk of wallpaper into the trash.

I could feel the air being sucked out of my lungs. A friend dragged me out of the house before I hyperventilated and brought on pre-term labor.

I laugh about it now, but at the time it was So! Darn! Serious! We have weathered many a Do It Yourself since that dark September day back in 1997. For the most part Dave and I work fairly well together although there are some jobs that simply beg to be outsourced. A while back we installed new flooring in our kitchen. We did quite well until the final step which involved moving the refrigerator. Have I mentioned that I am 5' 2" and have the upper body strength of an amoeba? Somehow Dave always thinks we can move anything. Well, to use the phrase I used above, things got ugly.

Later in the week I was back at the Hard Work Store and noted a sign that said the store would gladly install a floor for just $125 and that included moving appliances! Two words went through my mind: Chump Change. A bargain at twice the price.

Ah well, thanks to Do It Yourself, confession lines are longer and florists do a brisk business even in this anemic economy.

So wish me luck on the bathroom. If I post the after pictures, check to see if there are roses in the background.


Me: You learned to write your name at 'cool! Do you know how to spell John?

John: H N D W S!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Of Egg Yolks and Cell Phones

I am fairly confident that I will not be bored until John is, oh, say 65 or so. At that point I'll be a spry 108 so maybe I'll welcome a lull in the action.

John awakened us at 3:30 A.M. the other morning with an important announcement.

"Mama," he shared in a serious tone, " you know you can put a toy airpane in the toiwet, but you can't fwush it down."


That off his chest, he immediately went back to bed.

Today I was getting my first shower in, well, a long time. Hygiene has taken a back seat to recuperation as strep came my way early Sunday morning. Meanwhile the stomach bug knocked Dave flat. I think I'll get Kolbe to paint a skull and crossbones to post on our door. This is getting old.

Anyway. Rub a dub dub. John opens the door a crack, sticks his arm in, and holds out an egg.

"Is this an egg yolk egg?" he wonders.

An egg yolk egg? As opposed to what, an Eggbeater?

"Yes, it's an egg yolk egg," I tell him. "And it belongs in the refrigerator!"

Finished with my shower, I call to John because I hear strange noises emanating from the kitchen.

"It's nothing," he assures me with a suspicious smile. "I'm cweaning your kitchen. Go back in and 'tay right there, okay?"
The Boost

I give him a few minutes and then walk into the kitchen.

"Ta da!" yells Mr. Cwean with an arm gesturing to a rather spiffy looking room. Later I find the pantry full of kitchen towels sodden with raw egg.

Should John begin to flag in his efforts to enliven the house of Dolin, I am afraid Ainsley will be all too willing to step up to the plate. She is now mastering the art of the boost, which is to say she realizes that everything in this house is within reach if she can find the appropriate stool, chair, peanut butter jar, coffee can, etc. to give her short little self that needed boost. Oh, the possibilities!  Drag something to your target and you're good.

This morning I found my cell phone in the toaster. Cooked and in the toaster.

Seems Ainsey dragged a stool to the counter, got her hands on the phone, and dumped the phone in the toaster. Tim staggered over to the toaster to make his bagel, noted that one slot was full, popped his bagel in the opposite slot, and cooked the lot of it.

Surprisingly the phone - though warm - seems no worse for the wear.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And Jupitor Aligns with Mars

Kolbe Googles "Pinewood Derby Cars - Cool" and "Pinewood Derby Car - Egyptian Sarcoughagus" (sic).

Tim Googles "Science Fair Projects Robotics."

Mom thinks about the next two weeks and wonders if peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Small Successes


In the past 24 hours I have:

1. Written a sappy post about enjoying quality time with your kids when they are sick.  The Pollyanna in me was trying to adopt a "glass is half full" mindset while the household consisted of:

1. A teenager with strep.
2. A nine-year-old and a baby with virulent stomach bugs.
3. A three-year-old in fine form and full of energy.

2. Succumbed to the stomach bug myself. "Quality time" degenerated into barking orders while huddled in the fetal position (me) and enjoying a marathon of Star Trek and Clifford (them). I did manage to drag my sorry self into motion and hurdle various messes to get to Ainsey when I heard someone yell, "I think the baby's drinking medicine!" False alarm, thankfully.

3. Awakened to feel 75% better and so very, very grateful for:

1. Good health
2. Good kids
3. My washing machine
 Looking forward to a better weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Change of Plans, a Choice to Make

Yesterday was a tough day. Not so sure about today either.

I zipped off to the grocery store around 3:00 yesterday. As I drove I contemplated a day fraught with frustrations:

1. I lost my keys.

2. Tim came down with strep throat.

3. John had a colossal  meltdown in front of my friend.

Off  to the store I went. My brief shopping list included:

1. Antibiotics

2. Macaroni and cheese

3. Merlot

If I could have peered into the upcoming night, I would have snatched a few bottles of Gatorade (and maybe an extra bottle of Merlot). Kolbe vomited all night long, and Ainsley joined the fun at daybreak. It was hard night, but oddly a sweet one as well. Kolbe was sick and scared and miserable. He wanted Mom. I slept next to him in his tiny twin bed using Scooby-Doo as a pillow. I rubbed his back and brought him a damp cloth as he suffered through this nasty bug. I got up and bathed Ainsley, washed her pretty blond hair, threw her sheets in the laundry. Then she upchucked once again.

Sickness begins with that annoying change of plans. A rash of phone calls to doctors, school, coaches. There are waiting rooms to deal with and long lines at pharmacies. Carpools have to be rearranged and plans get canceled. There is always laundry, laundry, laundry.

But sickness also brings down time, unexpected togetherness, busyness that comes to a sudden halt. We play scrabble when the painkillers have kicked in. We watch Wallace and Gromit and Finding Nemo.  We rock feverish bodies. We read stories to pass the time.

One of my best memories of Kolbe's infancy was the day I came down with a raging case of mastitis. In all my life, I don't remember being sicker or weaker than I was that day. Ten-day-old Kolbe lay next to me in bed. He nursed and slept. I nursed and slept. We never moved from the bed. I fell in love with him in a new and deeper way that day. Simply being together and taking care of his most basic needs brought me joy.

So I face an unexpected change of plans. Will it be merely an annoyance to get though? Or will it be an unexpected gift of time with my kids?

The choice is mine.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Choose Another Target

John is moaning, grabbing his tummy, and generally showing all signs that he's about to voimt. I lunge for the nearest plastic container and shove it his way.

"Not the toy box!" he wails.

Friday, January 14, 2011

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Happy Weekend to you!

See Soulemama to play along.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Embracing Now

Over at Faith and Family Live!,  Rachel is blogging about New Year's resolutions. I have been mulling over plans for the new year as well.

I used to come up with long lists of plans with specific, measurable goals. What can I say? I spent a significant chunk of my early twenties attending Total Quality Management seminars. That is not where I am today. I have vague plans to exercise more and even sprung for The Thirty Day Shred. Have I started it? No, but buying it is a start.

Many bloggers have chosen a word for the year, a word that captures their vision of hope and change that a new year can bring. I am borrowing Elizabeth Foss' word for 2010. The word is Now.

I have always struggled to live in the Now. In high school I wanted to be in college. In college I wanted to be in the working world. Once in the working world, I longed for vacation. On vacation, well, I have always been pretty keen on Now where vacation is concerned. While single I wanted to be married. Married? Yep, I couldn't wait to have that baby and then the next and then the next.

Nothing wrong with looking forward, of course, but today I want to appreciate the Present, the Now.

I am blessed with a wide array of friends in terms of personality, state in life, and age. Most of my friends close to my age are long done having children. One of my dearest pals became a grandmother on Monday! One of the advantages of coming late to marriage and children is that I have learned so much from both my sisters and my friends (including my two best friends who happen to be my sisters).

I have learned through their lives that this season of young children passes so fast. It's a rather obvious point, really just another cliche about motherhood. The funny thing about cliches, though, is that they become cliches because they are proven true over and over again until everyone gets sick to death of them.

One day my laundry pile will not be filled with Bob the Builder underwear and Star Wars t-shirts. One day Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog will disappear from my shelves. My walls will probably be a little less distressed. I will no longer hunt on hands and knees for the last good pacie in the house or shake my head in amazement at the state of the bathroom I just cleaned.

Certainly there are moments I will not miss. The baby food stage? Definitely not my favorite. Potty training? Ewww. I doubt I will ever become wistful thinking about Hannah Montana jokes or potty humor. These trials aside, however, there are so many, many sweet Nows that I don't want to waste in some mad dash for the next I don't know what.

Now is the time John wants my arm tucked securely around him as we read every Clifford book ever published.

Now is the time my boys love Uno. We just bought the tippo version, and it's so fun.

Now is the time Ainsley loves to cuddle and rock in the chair my dear, sweet father bought at a yard sale before I had Tim.

Now is the time the older boys charge through the door every afternoon anxious to share every joke, story, and problem.

Now is the time Tim loves history, Kolbe loves spy gear, John loves monster twucks, and Ainsley loves her Dolly.

Now is the time my kids have all four of their grandparents to love and enjoy.

Now is the time we cheered for two snow days in a row.

Now is the time my heat vents are covered with tiny red mittens and boy-sized gloves sodden from hours out in the snow.

Now is the time Ainsley signs and says "pwease" in the sweetest voice ever.

The other day we spent well over an hour meandering along the rural roads of Georgia lost! lost! lost! Our GPS proved singularly useless as I attempted to correct one wrong turn. I hung a right on a road that went in the correct direction and looked promising. It soon turned into a dirt road and twisted every which way but the right one. I was a tad worried about the isolated location, the cold weather, spotty cell phone coverage, the possibility of engine problems...

Soon Tim grabbed the GPS and began calculating how long it would take us to drive to the Grand Canyon (a mere 28 hours), Legoland, California (32 hours, 11 minutes), and the Statue of Liberty (I forget).

We never reached our destination, but then maybe the detour was the destination. We talked and laughed and dreamed about trips gone by and trips we hope to take. In short, rather than cursing the inconvenience and the wasted gas, we reveled in the Now.

May this new year bring many such detours.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I am washing dishes without complaining. I am doing laundry with nary a whine. Then I'll move on to a shower and a flush.


The South has been hit with a widespread snow and ice storm. For once it's not Much Ado about Nothing. Even Dave has been told not to report to work. I read that Atlanta grocery stores are out of milk and eggs. As for our house, we are well-stocked with groceries, but I'm pining for PVC pipe and a couple of toilet locks.

Yesterday our morning  began at 5:00 A.M. when John, crying and congested, begged for milk. I brought him a cup. He chugged it down. He threw up on our bed. Bull's eye! We have five beds in our house. Only one requires four loads of laundry when it meets a leaky diaper or the technicolor yawn. I began a laundry marathon.

Meanwhile Dave and Tim began work on a toilet. That saga began with a brief but alarming conversation.

John: Ainsey threw a twee in the toilet!

Me: Oh?

John: And den I fwushed it.

Me: Oh!
A quick "test" confirmed that, yes, some foreign matter was blocking the toilet. Not a problem. I'm married to Dave. Where odd items meet plumbing, he's a grizzled veteran. This time last year the nail brush went missing. Seems John had flushed it on its merry way. I called the plumber. He plunged and scooped, dismantled and poked, all to no avail. It was stuck. He recommended we purchase a new commode.

At this point I am tempted to write, "Never send a plumber to do an engineer's job," but I don't want to offend my dear friend who is plumber. But when it comes to all things mechanical, Dave's the man. He twisted and turned, tugged and poked, and - voila! - out came one battered nail brush.

Yesterday Dave and Tim made quick work of the repair job. I spotted the plastic tree sitting in the sink. As they tightened the reinstalled toilet, someone nudged the thingamajig that brings the water into the house.

Was it the cold weather? Was it the ancient pipe? Was it the Devil sitting around chortling, "Hee! Hee! Hee! Vomit and a laundry marathon? You ain't seen nothing yet!"?

The PVC pipe cracked.

A geyser began shooting gallons and gallons of water into the bathroom. At this point we would have been well served to have a plumber doing a plumber's job because the water had to be shut off at the street and, although we own nearly every tool fashioned since the dawning of The Bronze Age, we don't happen to own The One That Shuts Off Water At The Street. Dave dashed to the phone. I held a plastic tub against the geyser in vain hope of deflecting some of the tsunami into the bathtub. Twenty minutes and a plumber's wrench later, the flood was staunched.

Meanwhile Lowe's had closed for the night, and the ice storm had begun.

We can't flush. We can't shower. We can't wash dishes. On the positive side - I'm sure there is one, isn't there? - we have clean sheets on our bed, and I procured enough water to make coffee.

Winter Fun

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Real Life

Kolbe, in mock baritone: And He shall live forever and ev-ev-ver!

Tim, enlisting Dolly's help: Stop singing and no one gets hurt!

Dolly: Mama!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

As Epiphany Meets Ordinary Time

I just returned from a "Twelth Night " party. Why limit Christmas to a day or two when you can have twelve? What can I say? Catholics like to party.

As we are up to our eyebrows in all things related to the grand move, I'll post something from the archives that touches on the beautiful feast of Epiphany. In the words of Andy Williams, "We need a little Christmas."

In the Atrium we are getting ready to transition from the Christmas season back into Ordinary Time.

We just celebrated Epiphany. We pondered the long
 journey of the wise men; we talked about the fact that they fell prostrate in the presence of their savior; we read about how they returned to their country by a different way.

They returned to their country by a different way.

They had had an epiphany. We said the word. We defined it - "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something," according to

As I looked at the faces of these six sweet children who come week after week, I thought about epiphany. As we move out of Christmas and move into Ordinary Time, I thought it was time we revisited the essential meaning of our faith. I looked over to our sheepfold and thought we would go back to The Good Shepherd and The Found Sheep. I began to pray that as we ponder these foundational parables, the children would experience their own epiphany.

Sofia Cavalletti, the founder of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd,  took the educational methods of Maria Montessori and applied them to religious formation in children. Through decades of observation, she found that the very youngest children are drawn to the parables of Jesus, most especially to the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep, knows them, calls them by name. They, in turn, stay close to Him. They won't follow a stranger, but the Good Shepherd alone because they know His voice. The Found Sheep is especially near to a child's heart, as it touches on that universal experience of being lost and then found.

I remember so well my first day of first grade. I stood by the parking lot of Saint Bede's School watching the big, yellow buses pull up. Out of my left eye, I could see my third grade sister Kathy in her brown striped coat. My right eye was trained on Keith, my fifth grade brother, in his blue jacket standing with the "big" kids. Throngs of girls in plaid jumpers and boys in navy pants milled about. I kept my eyes on my brother and sister. Left, right, Kathy, Keith.

Suddenly they were gone. I panicked, eyes darting through the crowd, searching for a brown striped coat or a blue jacket. Kids began pouring onto the buses. I hadn't a clue which one to board. The crowd thinned. No Kathy, no Keith!

I walked to a bus and got on.

The next few moments are a blur, but I eventually started bawling my little eyes out. I was lost! The next thing I remember is sitting on the lap of a long-suffering and very kind bus driver who drove the streets of Southfield, Michigan, asking, "Is this your street, honey?"

Somehow one of the kids (yes, the bus was completely full) told the bus driver that my mother was in the car behind the bus. How exactly this transpired, I will never know. I hopped off the bus and jumped in our red sedan so happy to be with my family once again.

As a mother now, I can well imagine my mother's reaction when her two oldest arrived home from school minus one brand new first grader. I have lost kids, and there are few more frightening experiences. John has proven particularly adept at disappearing as I found out late in my pregnancy with Ainsley.

I was up in Michigan enjoying a little R and R at my sister's house. It's a treat to have so many helpers late in pregnancy, but it's especially easy to lose a toddler because you think someone else has him.  John was outside playing with everyone. And then he wasn't.

We called. We searched. We panicked. We prayed. The search expanded to the next street. I incoherently begged the help of some construction workers. I told my sister to call 911.

And then my niece's voice yelling, "I found him!"

Oh, the relief! Oh, the agonizing "What if? What if?" Parenting is not for the weak-kneed. Toddlers are not for the distracted.

I have been the found sheep, and I have searched for the lost one. How well I can understand the joy of the Shepherd when the stray sheep is recovered. How I can appreciate the celebration that ensues. His desire is that not one be lost. What parent can fail to understand that? Which one of our children would we deem expendable?

In The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, we use the word "essential" a lot. We try to focus on the essential. The Christian faith is about essential relationships; it's about the deep, abiding love we have for God and He for us. We can know the whats of our faith, but it's so much more essential to know the who.

The Good Shepherd and The Found Sheep focus on the infinite value God sees in us. Our Good Shepherd is a source of sustenance, of security, of love. These can remain stories we've heard over and over in church, about as meaningful as a coloring sheet we remember from Sunday school. Or they can become an essential reality, an abiding love, an epiphany.

We will soon begin taking down Christmas decorations, boxing up the glitter that has brightened our world these past weeks. We will embrace Ordinary Time - the largest chunk of our church year - with its cycle of minor feasts and continuous growth in the Lord. But in my heart, in my home, and in my atrium, I hope to hold onto the spirit of Epiphany. I’ll return to Ordinary Time by a different way.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Tuning In

Tim: ADHD is a step up from ADD - higher definition and more channels.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Few Christmas Favorites

Favorite Memories

* Seeing Ainsley kneel in front of the creche.
* Watching Tim serve Christmas Eve Mass.
* Making cookies with John, Kolbe, and Tim. The cookies might have been mediocre, but the company was first rate.
* Taking the last package to the post office.
* Reading cards from friends I haven't heard from in years.
* Watching Tim play Clue with four of his best friends.

Favorite Pic

* This is a tough one, but Ainsley kissing her baby is right on up there.
Favorite Gifts

* Ainsley - Dolly from Grandma and stroller from Nana.
* John - Fire cwuck from his brothers.
* Kolbe - Light saber from Auntie Kate.
* Tim - Clue the DVD Game from Grandma.
* Mom - Pretty jammies from Daddy.
* Dad - Cool coffee mug and the gift card for Harbor Freight Tools, the Mecca for all that is cheap and handy.
Favorite New Ornament

* Buzz Lightyear. Hands down, he's number one. Let's hope he survives longer than the Grinch did.

Favorite Christmas Movie

* Is it anathema to admit that it's Elf?  Bob Newhart's role is small, but he is too darn funny.

Favorite Foods

* Toffee, toffee, and more toffee!
* Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Girl Meets Toy

I cried when I saw these pictures.

When John was little, my friend Patti would always say, "He's everything we wanted in a baby." So true. And without a doubt my little blond-haired, blue-eyed wonder is everything I ever, ever, ever wanted in a little girl.

God, I am so grateful!

(She just dumped a handful of clean laundry in the toilet, dragged it through the house, and then slipped on the puddle she made. Her sweetness is yet undiminished. True love it is.)