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Monday, December 31, 2012

He was Always There

Ringing in 2012

 A finished nursery for the twins and a growing bump!

 Gabriella was fascinated by the fact that mommy was carrying two babies!

 The hospital trip that started my bed rest.

Seeing Marielle and Genevieve for the very first time.
 Trying to figure out how to hold two babies at once.

The first few days home were such a series of trial and error.  We are still trying to find our way.

 Gabriella was always so interested in everything...including nursing!

Genevieve Elise
2 1/2 months old

 Marielle Corrine
2 1/2 months old

 Our first family picture (that was actually framable) of all of us.


 Gabriella's first dance class.  She hasn't stopped dancing since.

First time waiting for the ice cream truck.

We have always tried to teach Gabriella patience.

 We have loved filling up our bed with all the girls.  So much love.

 Rick and I celebrate 8 years.

 The year of the princesses.  

 Marking off the last thing on our summer bucket list.

Almost fall.

 Love seeing the bond grow stronger.

 Gabriella's first trip to the circus.

 A fall sunset.

 Picnic at Ashland.

 Marielle and Genevieve doing something other than rolling around.  Starting to crawl.

 So much of our time is spent playing around.  

 The twins' first Halloween.

 Toasting the beginning of the holiday season.

 Giving thanks.

 Gabriella Grace turns 3.

 The first Christmas for the five of us.  

Gabriella's first snowman.

Tonight we will have a very special New Year's Eve party.  The five of us.  I will sip (ok, maybe chug, it's been a hard year!) champagne and think about the memories that have shaped this year.  The memories that have shaped my family.  The memories that have shaped me.  

You know, my blog has always been about the places I see God.  As I chose the pictures for this post, I looked for pictures where I could see Him.  
Holding my hand...
Carrying me...
Encouraging me...
Giving me strength...

He was always there.
In smiles
In tears
In big, bright eyes
In sunsets
In 850 lb. bounce houses
In a growing belly
In Disney princesses
In races
In kisses
In tap shoes
In circuses
In parades
In snowmen
In life.
As you reflect on 2012, I hope you see that He was there with you every step of the way.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Little Drummer Boy

We walked into a packed mass tonight.  Thinking we were early as we arrived 10 minutes prior to the start, we were greeted with packed pews and parishioners lining the sides of the church.  Walking in circles, we finally settled on an unoccupied spot against the wall...right in the front of the church.  With no place to sit, I knew it was going to be an interesting Christmas Eve service.

Gabriella isn't unruly.  She isn't rude.  What she is, is 3.  What she is, is a people person.  What she is, is a dancer and as each Christmas hymn was sung before and during the mass, Gabriella would go to the spot between the front pew and sanctuary and dance.  My first instinct was to make her stop.  I didn't want her to be a distraction, better I didn't want the glaring looks of parents making me feel bad to continue.

But, then I thought of the Little Drummer Boy.  The boy who didn't think he had anything to offer Jesus.  As those around him had the finest gifts, he was saddened because he didn't have anything he thought was worthy of a King.  As the story continues, we hear how the Little Drummer Boy learned that his talent for playing the drum could be his gift.  It was his gift to baby Jesus.

So, I went against my initial instinct to make Gabriella stop.  I let her dance.  Of course, on the outside, I played it off like I knew she should be sitting still in reverence to God and the Mass that was taking place, but...

on the inside, I was yelling, dance, GG, dance.  He's watching and He is so proud.

I mean, if you're going to dance for any occasion, wouldn't the birth of Christ be worthy of your greatest performance?

The Little Drummer Boy...he had the drums.
GG...she has dance.

What do you have?  
We all have something that is worthy of Him.

This Christmas, as humanity celebrates the greatest gift of all time, I hope you are celebrating the gifts you have to offer in return.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

My World is Empty Without You, Babe

As we were hanging the ornaments on the tree a few weeks ago, I looked at one and smiled.  It holds an extra special place in my heart because it represents so much.
This time last year, I was pregnant with the twins.  I was going through, what has still been, the most difficult time of my life.  My pregnancy with the twins was an experience that no one will ever really get, but then again, I don't expect anyone to get it.  It's between the twins and me.  A special bond that we have, that we were able to make it through...together.

So, I've spent this Christmas season thinking a lot about how different life has become in just 1 year.  I was a little emotional anyways, but then on Friday, the news hit of the tragedy in Connecticut.

In the days since I heard the news, I have felt every feeling, for every single person involved, but I keep going back to the parents.  As a parent, you never really let yourself imagine what you would do if you lost your child.  You don't allow yourself to go to that place because the hurt would be too real.  The pain, the devastation...all of the feelings that would make your heart break.  
Do you know what I think every single person that deals with loss holds onto?
Memories of time spent together.
And who among us ever experiences loss only to say, "Wow, I spent too much time with my child, mother, father, sister, etc."  No one ever walks away without wishing there had been more time together.
Maybe that's why I get so frustrated when people, society, loved ones spend so much of their energy on things that will never ever matter.  Society has created and perpetuated people that feel like accomplishment and success comes from the amount of money you make, the type of car you drive, how busy you are, how many famous people you know, what kind of job you have.  These are the things people brag about, and think you care about.  No one ever says, "Hey Bob, wanna hear how much time I spent with my child this week?" or, "Hey Tina, you'll never guess what I learned about my husband from the most amazing conversation we had."  Let's be honest, a lot of the time, people are building themselves up to make you wish you had what they had.

Do you think one single parent dealing with the loss of their child in Connecticut wouldn't give up everything they owned for just one more second with their child? 
Why do we let things that don't matter get in the way of things that do?
Last night, we attended an event and on the way out, as everyone was standing at the front door and in the yard preparing to leave, Rick and I loaded up all three girls in my 2003 Nissan Sentra, busting at the seams, and as Rick started the car, it died.  It always does and to be quite honest, it's a little embarrassing.  But you know what, it wasn't last night.  I rolled down my window and yelled to anyone that was listening, "Oh don't worry, it always starts eventually!"  In true fashion, my car started right up and we laughed all the way home!  These people probably thought, "Oh that poor family with the 3 girls...don't even have a car that will start." Ha!  I'm laughing right now as I share the story with you.


So, where was I?  Ornament, last Christmas, memories, loss, priorities, memories...


Rick recorded the Ed Sullivan show that aired on KET a few weeks ago.  Since then, we play it and Gabriella dances and sings along with the performances.  Yesterday, Rick put on the Supremes and Gabriella mouthed the words, and shook her little booty!  The words to the song...

"My world is empty without you, babe.

My world is empty without you, babe."

The moment was not lost on me.  
On Friday night, as I cuddled in bed with Gabriella, I pulled out A Christmas Story.  I asked, "Gabriella, why do we celebrate Christmas?"  
She replied, "Jesus."  
"We celebrate Jesus being...." I waited for her to finish my sentence.
GG replied, "Boring.  Jesus being boring."
Well, actually that's born, not boring!

These are the memories we're making and there will be even more memories made this Christmas, as we add Marielle and Genevieve to the mix.  

When I think back on the ornament and what it represents, I am in awe that I've made it this far!  I don't know how we do it.  I don't really want to try and analyze it.  All I know is that we are spending our time together, focusing on each other, and wherever we're going, we're sure to arrive in a jacked up car that won't start on the first try!

I hope you look for God in the time you spend with your family.  He is always there.


Sunday, December 9, 2012


I wish I could share with you the countless ways in which I've read about or heard the hearts of other mothers who feel frustrated or confused.  Mothers who feel like everyone else has it together, everyone except them.  Newsflash moms:  None of us have it all together and shame on us for trying to put on appearances as if we do.  Our prayers, our fears, our hopes...they are more alike than we think.  

Sometimes, I stay in the shower long after I'm clean in order to have a break from it all.
Sometimes, the sound of the twins crying makes me want to cry.
Sometimes, I doubt myself.
Sometimes, I use The Cat in the Hat on KET as a babysitter for GG while I get things done.
Sometimes, I don't really care that GG is 3 and still isn't potty trained, she won't wear a diaper forever.
Sometimes, I want to wear my pajamas to the grocery (but I don't).
Sometimes, I wish I could get away with wearing those really comfortable mesh undies from the hospital.
Sometimes, I push my clean laundry on the floor because I don't feel like folding it.
Sometimes, I look in the mirror, only to feel discouraged about baby weight that won't go away on its own.
Sometimes, I'm so tired I can barely hold my eyes open.
Sometimes, I worry.

More often than not, I laugh until my cheeks hurt.
More often than not, moments of joy move me to tears.
More often than not, I pray for God to slow things down.
More often than not, I feel His presence.
More often than not, I find myself singing and dancing and wiggling.
More often than not, I am aware of a single moment's value.

Always, I am blessed.
Always, I am thankful.
Always, I love.


This week, I hope you share the "sometimes" of your life with other mothers and I hope you see God in the "always."
The blessings.
The moments of gratitude.
The love.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Love Letter Part II

Dear Gabriella,

Today is a special day.  It is your birthday.  You are turning 3 and I'm wondering where theses 3 years have gone.  There are so many things I find myself wanting to say to you, advice on life that is, but then I stop myself because, for goodness sake, you are only 3. 

Yesterday, after Daddy assembled the bouncer for your party, we made our way inside.  You cheered, "Girls only!"  At first (because Mommy is a worry wart about safety), I made us bounce on opposite sides because I didn't want to accidentally fall on you, but you bounced your way over, and asked me to hold your hands.  How could I refuse?

Now, because you are only 3, you will probably never ever remember this, but...
We bounced. 
And bounced.
And bounced.
And Mommy let her guard down just a little and we bounced really high... 
So high my hat flew off!
Then, you threw your hat off and said you wanted to be just like me.
I thought to myself, Don't limit yourself to who I am.  You will be so much more.
We laughed and rolled around.
You bounced around until you could bounce no more and then you bounced right into my arms.
We rested. 
I could feel the beating of your little heart and it reminded me of the occasion when you first noticed that your heart beats.  Since then, you frequently stop to let Daddy or me know that your heart is beating.

On this, your 3rd birthday, my heart beats for you, GG.  I adore you.  I admire you.  I love you.  And I sure do hope you can see it and feel it in the time we spend together.  Time that has never been taken for granted.  When I am old and look back on my life, one regret I know I won't have is spending so much time with you.  Time that has been permanently etched into my heart because it defines much of who I am.  If only you knew...

So, as you like to say, "Cheers!"

To another year of life.
With you.


11/29/2009 12:12 pm

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's My List, Too

I've been so eager to share about my and Rick's trip to South Bend.  For those of you that don't know, Rick has been a fan of Notre Dame football since he was a little boy and, up until last weekend, had never been to a game or visited the campus.  This was one of those trips on his bucket list.
As our trip approached, I could tell Rick's excitement was mounting.  He wasn't sleeping well and he was watching prerecorded games to all hours of the night and early in the morning.  There is no way my love for Notre Dame football could even touch his.  You see, I am a fan by association.  I have come to appreciate the team because Rick does.  Everything I know about Notre Dame football is because Rick told me, showed me, or yelled it during an intense moment during a game.  When everyone in our area is getting ready to cheer on the home team, Rick is preparing for the fighting Irish.  He's wearing combinations of blue, gold, and green.

When the opportunity presented itself to go to a game, I jumped on it....Rick pounced on it!  I can't remember anything (other than the birth of our children) that has had Rick pacing with excitement through the night. It's hard not to start to love something that someone around you loves when they love it so much.  Does that make sense?  In so many ways, I started to feel like this was a trip on my own bucket list.  

Well, fast forward through the 6 hour car ride we spent laughing as the heater came on and off every time we hit a bump in the road.  Fast forward through the toll roads, pep rally, trumpets and rain.  Fast forward through me accidentally standing in the middle of the marching band as they walked to the stadium.  Fast forward through tailgating with new friends.

When it is time for the game, Rick and I were both saying how much fun we had had and we hadn't even seen the Irish step on the field yet.  Little did we know we were about to see the game of our lives!!

It was into the SECOND overtime and Notre Dame had just missed a field goal.  All Pittsburgh had to do was get that ball through the uprights and a game that had been going on for nearly 5 hours was about to be over.  We were actually sitting in the end zone where the Pittsburgh kicker was kicking.  You know how you watch football on TV and you see all of the crazy fans moving their arms in the end zone like it is ever going to make a difference?  That was us!  We were jumping and screaming and waving our arms like our lives depended on it.  Pittsburgh's kicker kicked and it was....
The refs made that cross with their arms and everyone went wild!  I was high-fiving everyone around me, hugging the lady next to me who was eating apples and granola bars the whole game, screaming at the top of my lungs so that everyone around us knew, "That was because of us!  That was because of us!"

It was in that moment of comradery with complete strangers, holding onto Rick's arm jumping up and down, that I realized...

Rick's not the only one that crossed something off his list.
I did, too.

His bucket list of things to do, his list for life...
It's my list, too.

Isn't that the way it is when you love someone?  You take on the hopes, dreams, and desires of their heart and make them your own. I know to most people, it's just a football game.
Not to Rick, though.
Not to me.

Last weekend, I saw God in the old, wooden stadium benches that held my feet as I stood to cheer on my husband's favorite team.  It's my favorite team, too.