Thursday, November 24, 2011


Last year at this time as we celebrated Thanksgiving and began Advent and Christmas preparations, we thought we were safe. Safe because we were over our quota, we had too many children. Even if we wanted to bring home another little child, we wouldn't be able to do so. That made things easy for us. Growing our family from three children to six in such a short time had taken its toll on me. I was struggling to figure it all out and there was a comfort to knowing we couldn't adopt again even if we wanted to. We put the idea of another adoption out of our minds. Somehow that lent a selfishness to our family.

Closer to Christmas I began reading a book that talked of orphanage conditions in that far off country. It was a book I only read because I was certain we couldn't adopt again. I read the book, and I wept. I wept for the children in that orphanage. I wept for my beautiful son and daughter who had most likely experienced some of what was detailed in that book. Little Juju weighed barely four pounds when she was found on the side of the road the day she was born. Poor Joseph's cleft lip and palate prevented him from getting adequate nutrition. My heart went out for them and those like them who were cold and hungry.

I thought then of my own stress. I was worried about pulling off a Currier and Ives, picture perfect holiday. Beautiful decorations, new presents, Christmas dresses, new jammies for perfect Christmas morning pictures, a cleaner home, dozens of cookies that would make Martha Stewart proud. I lost sight of what stress really was. Each night I was laying my head on a fancy silk fiber pillow, in a temperature controlled house, snuggled into a down comforter with an amazing warmth rating. While I struggled with preparing and cleaning meals, there was never a worry there wouldn't be a meal. Not just any meal either, we eat like kings; turkeys, stuffing, pies, much more than we need. We have fancy appliances to prepare meals, countless pretty dishes and gadgets. We have closets of clothes, and more in bins in the basement waiting for a child to reach the right size, and toys everywhere I turn.

These aren't even the important things. I have an amazing husband, I have six beautiful children who daily reflect the blessings of God. I'm never, sometimes overwhelmingly never, alone. I am so incredibly blessed and loved. We have an absolutely amazing extended family. Parents who make the most amazing grandparents, brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, so many people who love us. We have wonderful friends, a beautiful parish community, a fantastic homeschool group. So many people who enrich our lives in so many ways.

Stress? Really? These children might not survive the cold winter. No fancy down comforters, no thermostats, little food, little clothing, and most importantly little love.  How could I be so blessed and yet think I was stressed?

Then right before Christmas last year we received an email that changed everything. It was an irrelevant message that started us asking questions, and then eventually it turned our world upside down. We could indeed adopt again....

This year I am so incredibly thankful for that privilege, again. Thankful for the reminder of the gifts we are given. Thankful for the many blessings little Peter will bring to our family. Thankful for the perspective he gives me as we head into another holiday season. No gift means as much to us as bringing him home.

Please pray for him. We long to have him here with us this Christmas, but know we still have months to wait. We want so much to lavish him with food, warmth and the love he so much needs. He still has a few cold months in a place with no family, no warm holiday mornings. All we can offer him right now is our prayers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 100
A Psalm of David

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord is God!
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Dh has had to be into work early all this week, and he has been working pretty late. This means long days for everyone... especially me. Luckily these little ones make me laugh.

On the way home from our Children's Holy Hour, I told Catie if she couldn't do as I asked she'd have to write "I will be obedient" fifty times. Being the demanding mom I am, she would even have to look in the dictionary to figure out how to spell obedient. She claims she already knows how to spell it and begins rattling off letters, but is clearly getting it wrong. Juju interrupts her and says nuh-uh that's not how you spell it, it's E-I-E-I-O, in her all-knowing tone of voice.

During the Hour of Mercy, I was roped into holding a large banner as the little kids (1st grade and younger) processed around the hall singing a Litany of the Saints. In the hustle and bustle I lost track of little Gabe. I found him later in the line of children processing as well as the older children, hands folded and singing along, "Pray for us." He followed the line all the way to the sanctuary, hands folded, quietly in line. My heart melted.

The boys have taken advantage of the long days and have been even more mischievous, but they know how to score points with Mom. While scavenging the cupboards and counters, they overlooked the multitude of leftover Halloween candy and sequestered themselves in the laundry room with an entire container of grape tomatoes. At first I thought to myself how can I be upset about them eating tomatoes and not candy? Then I had to clean the mess on the rug in the laundry room. I am still finding random tomato seeds. I also had to change the multitude of diapers that followed... OY!

In the midst of all this, I have had two or three vivid reminders that the time we have with our children is shorter than we think. Right now the days seem long, I fall into bed exhausted and I wake too early still tired. My patience is thin, and the general noise level here seems decibels too high. Still, how blessed I am to have these children, to have another day with them, to have the comforts and opportunities we are given each day. They bring more joy than fatigue. I don't want to miss these moments one day, I want to enjoy them today.

The pictures are totally random and from a walk in a downtown park almost a month ago... I just can't seem to keep up.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day Round Up

Each year our parish hosts an All Saints Day party for the kids. This has been a favorite of my girls for years. Each year there are games, a parade, a pinata, crafts, door prizes, and more. The highlight, however, is when our resident priests try to guess the saints. This year Hannah decided to go with an easy guess because she just wanted to put together the costume. Here she is as Our Lady of Lourdes, yellow roses on her feet. She made a beautiful Mary.

Catie was all about stumping the priests... and she did. She went as St. Margaret d'Youville. She really impressed me though as she took the initiative to do a little research on this saint. She created a little card with her own hints to give the priest with things like, the first canonized saint of Canada and patroness of widows, loss of children, and more. 

This was my first attempt at a saint costume many years ago, we seem to keep coming back to it. Here little Sophia makes a beautiful St. Therese of Lisieux. She too enjoyed hearing more about this wonderful saint.

Juju made a beautiful Mother Theresa in one of my favorite costumes to make. It was so easy, a pillowcase, a leftover scrap from Our Lady of Lourdes, and blue painters tape. Took me 20 minutes and it was a hit. 

The boys were more interested in the games and the pizza and the cake, and still a little young for saint costumes, but I am already planning for the boy saints :)

Our Saints Day festivities were rounded out with pumpkin carving.
Always chaotic with six kids!! (you can even see little Gabe in the background eating raw pumpkin, eewww!)

And of course Trick-or-Treating...
Here the boys joined in.
Joseph went as Thomas (again), but this year he added a few train sound effects.

Little Gabe was so excited about his "airplane" costume. I bought these boy costumes almost 10 years ago when Hannah was a baby hoping that a boy would come along. I certainly didn't think then that it would take so long. For many years, I thought these little costumes would be relegated to the basement dress-up bin. Now almost a decade later they were the perfect little costumes for my boys. 

I also went out and bought cute (and warm) butterfly costumes for Sophia and Juliana, and they love them. They have worn them around the house and wanted to wear them out with Mom. However, when the time came, they both wanted to wear their saint costumes rather than butterflies.
How could I argue that with these Saints in the making?