Friday, December 30, 2016

SQT: Our Little Christmas Present

This post has only taken 11 days to write, I don't think it is a record or anything but I thought I would be honest.  Linking up with Kelly this Friday.

My last post I highlighted all the activities we had going on this advent.  I kept joking that I had a break on my calendar from the evening of the 18th until the afternoon of the 21st; just enough time to have a baby and make it home from the hospital.  Hubby asked if I had conferences with the baby on that and written it on her agenda.  Everyone laughed, but....

The evening of the 17th, I started to feel off.  After a night of contractions and no sleep, I knew labor was on it's way.  We got the kids packed up and the house in order, then headed to Mass. It was Bambinelli Sunday, something the kids look forward to each year.  I gathered up all our bambinos into my purse; but accidentally forgot Little Man's.  He was not happy with me, but I was too distracted to really be upset about it.  As Mass progressed, I knew for sure this was the real thing.

After Mass, Hubby asked Father if he would hear confession for me since I had not felt well enough to make it the day before.  (I have been fighting a nasty cold since the 16th, it just won't go away.)  Father agreed, he asked if I was uncomfortable and I said yes. He got nervous and said, "Okay, we'll get this done quickly."

I cried through confession--another sign labor was hitting.  Afterward, Father gave me and the baby a blessing and said that he would be praying for us.  We headed to the car, and I told Hubby it was definitely time to drop off the kids.   

We drove the kids to my friend, Mary's house, and then called the midwife.  My contractions were now about 2 minutes apart and building in intensity.  The midwife was already at the hospital so she asked us to come straight there.  We arrived at the hospital at 4:30 pm.  (Three hours after leaving our parish--that was a long car ride!)

Even though the contractions were close and strong, Hubby was right, we had plenty of time.  It was a long day with intensifying labor, and a cold that wouldn't quit. If I wasn't breathing my way through a contraction, I was blowing my nose--sometimes both at once!

By 1:45 am, I was tired and baby still wasn't born.  The midwife tried re-positioning the baby's head and then broke my water.  The contractions became overwhelming.  Just when I thought I couldn't do any more, delivery began.  

At 3:04 AM, Cecilia Anne made her arrival into my arms.  She was a little slow to cry because she had swallowed so much fluid, but has since made up for it and has a very strong pair of lungs.  My midwife took pictures, but I don't have them yet.  Here is on from that morning...we were so disoriented from being up all night.
For this blog, she will be known as Little Lady.  Look at those long fingers, perfect for the harp, don't you think?

After a very busy two days at the hospital, we finally headed home.  Arrived just in time to get the kids fed, changed, and out the door for Cowgirl's Christmas concert.  Mission accomplished.  

It was a very busy rest of the week adjusting to the baby, getting the kids resettled and gearing up for Christmas.
  Ready to head home, snuggled in the blanket my mom made for my trip home.

Christmas was quiet but good.  Mass, gifts, Chinese food, and movies.  Little Lady slept through the Mass in her carrier, which was great because we got there a couple minutes late and it was standing room only.  

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

SQT: Advent Highlights

Linking up with Kelly to bring you some highlights of what we have been up to the past three weeks.

So, I'm a day late and a dollar short (but that's a different post) with my SQT.  I have a good reason though. If you keep reading, you will see where we were last night and I wanted to include that in this post.  We have been BUSY!  I really had hoped for a quiet Advent but, it's been all good things.  I am fully intending on taking off a few weeks around Christmas.  The thing with big kids is that it isn't quite so intensive in  a hands on sort of way like with toddlers and babies, but they have activities, social engagements, ideas, volunteer hours. We really try to keep activities to a manageable level.  If it meets more than once a week or interferes with Mass, we don't do it.  We only play sports that are limited to a game and a practice--not four practices and five games.  However, it still adds up and I have been trying hard to keep up with it all.  (especially when we signed up for four "once a month on Fridays activities" which my pregnant brain was unable to figure out meant we are somewhere every Friday.)

St Nicholas Day is always a favorite time.  We had a full day, even though I scaled back a bit.  I really wasn't feeling well that day--very uncomfortable and tired--so there aren't many pictures.  In fact, there are even less that I thought there were.  
  The kids put out the shoes on the hearth, including ours.

 Little Man worked all week making gifts to leave for St Nicholas.  Don't ask me what they are, they were apparently very important.  Thankfully, St Nick was very happy to take them away.

In the morning, the children awakened to treats in their shoes.  There were even treats that they left for Hubby and I.  While I usually do a big breakfast, it didn't happen this year, but the chocolate and oranges disappeared very quickly.

 For lunch we made homemade pizza in the shape of a bishop's miter, or at least that was the plan.  I'm not sure how obvious it is.  We also had homemade hot cocoa.

The day was spent making crafts and gifts as usual.  We usually make gingerbread houses, but this year we made a foam decoration instead. 

For dinner it was cranberry chicken, glazed carrots, sweet potato sacks, biscuits, and cranberry mors to drink.  After dinner, we relaxed by the fire and just enjoyed the warmth. 

We had co-op,  Immaculate Conception Mass, book report day, 4-H meeting/Christmas party, a gallery opening, Sunday Mass, and a family cookie party to round out the week.  The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe--a favorite of my children--found us scrambling to try to catch up on house work and school work after a very busy week.  We did have Mexican for dinner. Whew!

Next up was the feast of St Lucy.  We celebrated at night because Hubby had to go into work far too early for me to be okay with everyone being awoken.  So we shut off all the light, lit a fire and our St Lucy served us crescent rolls, gingerbread, peanut butter cookies, and tea.

I need to upgrade this wreath next year. While it still looks beautiful, the battery operated candles shorted out and I actually burnt my finger trying to get one closed.  So the candles had no light, but it was still a nice evening. 

The next day had us up and out early for orchestra practice, followed by Buddy's recital for chimes choir (like handbells).  We came home just in time to get ready to meet my children's hero, Magnus MacFarlane Barrow, founder of Mary's Meals.
Every kid has that hero, the person he would love to meet. The person that when she can get a ticket to even just see their celebrity, she tells everyone she knows for weeks and wears her fan shirt in the hopes of getting it autographed. I can't tell you what it does to our hearts that for our kids, that person is Magnus, founder of Mary's Meals.
School + food= Hope, that is the Mary's Meals Ambassador motto. Through the children's MM Club, over 650 children in Malawi are fed each day at school, just a small percentage of the 1.6 million fed each day by the world wide charity. Over 93% of all donations, go right to the poorest children to not only give them a meal, but to change the world. If you are looking for a charity to support, we can't say enough about Mary's Meals. Meeting the founder was such an inspirational evening.
If anyone has any questions, I know two ambassadors who are more than willing to answer them.
Last night, we traveled down to our friends' parish, a little over an hour away, to visit the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  My children had been looking forward to this for months.
Not the best photo, it was very busy.  I was so happy to have a front row seat, though.

One of my children's best friends and Buddy's "future bride" helping prepare the incense.

Knights of Columbus color guard
 My favorite place to be is in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration.

Each family was given the opportunity to come up and do a private adoration at the foot of the monstrance.  These are our dear friends.  Wish I had a photo of the children and I praying.  It was a beautiful experience.
 That is the end of my agenda for this month. We have our TEAMS of Our Lady meeting tonight but the weather is still not great so that is up in the air.  My next plans revolve around having this baby and making it to the hospital.  Please keep us in your prayers.  Winter weather is not easy when you have to travel over an hour to a hospital in labor.  I'm praying for an easy drive and delivery.
If you are looking for any other Advent ideas, I have three articles posted at Seton Magazine--here, here, and here.
How is your Advent going so far? 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent Plans in SQT

So, I realized again last night that I have not written anything is days and days.  Kelly asked everyone to put down their Advent plans and link up, so that is what I am doing. 

How is it December already?  I was reading off the schedule for my children's art school to the family, it was in the latest email update, when I finished, I said, "And just like that it's 2017.  I haven't even gotten used to it being 2016." 

Hubby replied, "That's because we are getting old!"

After that I didn't want to admit that I still struggle with the fact that we are even in the 2000's and lived to tell about it.  As a child, it seemed too hard to believe and life was supposed to be like a Sci-Fi movie by year 2015....anyway back to Advent. 

On the note of time flying, though, my biggest plan for this Advent is to have this baby.  Even more than not believing it will be 2016, I can't believe we are just a couple of weeks, literally days, from having a new little one in this house.  Can I admit that I am still in disbelief that I'm even pregnant!  I know a whole lot of surprised wonderment going on here!

I am trying very hard to get everything packed up and ready to go.  I was so focused on what the baby and I need for the hospital that it took until last weekend to remember I need to pack for the other kids, too.  I'm almost there.  In figuring out what the kids each need, I realized that Little Man would not make it through if I packed up a few shirts because he often goes through 3 shirts a day and despite me getting him fall clothes (with the help of his aunt) he never seems to have enough as it is.  

So I hit the Cyber Monday sales and got some great deals at Kohls. I then began to worry that throwing new clothes into a suitcase and shipping him off may be more than he could handle.  He is attached to his clothes and a homebody. So, before I submitted the final order, I had him pick out what HE wanted from my own highly clearanced choices.  Now, he can't wait for the clothes to arrive and I am hoping it will be a happy surprise when he opens his suitcase.  I know, this still has nothing to do with Advent...bear with brain is on lots of hormones. 

Normally, we would decorate gradually for Christmas, putting out just the Advent wreath and a nativity and then building from there. I like to save the big decorations for closer to Christmas so that we have more of a delineation between Advent and Christmas.  However, this year, I decided I needed to just get it done while I could.  So, for the first time ever, everything came out on Black Friday.  Then I took a nap! :)

The one piece of the decorating puzzle that I couldn't figure out was the tree.  We usually buy a real one a couple days before Christmas.  This year, the cost of a real tree just wasn't something we could afford.  In addition, it would require me figuring out how to get it decorated either extremely pregnant or with a brand new baby.  Then there i the watering and cleaning up needles.  It just wasn't happening.  I announced that we would have a fake tree and began surfing the whiles of the world wide web for  a deal.  And boy did I find one, only $16 for a 5' tree with shipping.  Buddy helped me pick it out and we eagerly waited for it to arrive. arrived all right!  And I learned once again that you get what you pay for.  It is a darling little tree, and is still bigger and fuller than Charlie Brown's, but that is about as much as I can say.  Our Jesse Tree is actually taller! least we have one.  

The kids decorated it and threw on some big old-fashioned lights and now it looks almost as glorious as when the Peanuts gang finished sprucing up the tree for the Christmas spectacular.   

This is the first Advent that I was not crawling around in a super short attic with barely any light trying to find Christmas decor.  Now that everything is piled in our storage room, I can't believe how much we have.  There must be a million ornaments--ironic considering quick take #4!

I have realized something else, though.  Over the years we have worked to turn our entire focus to the birth of Christ not the hoopla of the commercial holiday, and our decorations reflect that.  Aside from the millions of ornaments, most of our adornments are nativities.  I think we are at 10 and counting! Oh, wait...make that 11, we have one for outside that needs to come out of the shed.

I am pleased and blessed to see how our Advent and Christmas traditions have developed, and also that my children love all the nativities so much.  For them it really is about waiting for Jesus, with some gifts on the side.

I am also planning St Nicholas Day and everyone is so excited.  It will be a simpler celebration this year than most, but isn't that more in keeping with the spirit of the feast!  I have some special meal plans--still working on breakfast!  Some little treats have been gathered for shoes.  Our cousin gifted us with two bags of crafting items (Thank you Jesus) including a huge fit to build and decorate a foam gingerbread house.  We usually make our own gingerbread or graham cracker on St Nick's day, but I wasn't sure how I was going to get the money to buy the supplies--lo and behold, God always provides.  It is a silly thing, but my kids are thrilled. So, it may be a toned down celebration, but we will have all the special elements they look forward to each year--including the gingerbread house.  I'll post pictures next week sometime, I promise. 

St Lucy's day, I still need to work on A LOT!  At least, this year we know where the crown and gown are--last year everything was still in boxes.  I'm not sure what to do for treats.  Hubby and I don't drink coffee anymore and I can't have gluten and milk.  Need to find a allergy friendly option that doesn't require pricey ingredients.  Suggestion would be greatly appreciated! 

I usually make a Swedish feast for dinner for St Lucy's, but I think we are just doing the pea soup and buttered noodles this year.  It will be special to mark the feast and I am trying to remind myself that it is about celebrating the liturgical calendar, not going all out.

Then there is Our Lady of Guadalupe and St Juan Diego to least Mexican food is an easy option.   
We have concerts and recitals, a gallery opening event (for Cowgirl's graphic design class), a book report meet-up, 4-H, volunteering, a healing Mass with the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a craft fair to work, cookies to bake, a charity celebrity to meet, bambinellis to get blessed, and a partridge in a pear tree in the coming weeks.  Once all of that is over, the time of waiting for this baby will be, too!  Then comes the most special birth of all--Christmas day!  It is going to be a busy and wild season but it is very blessed.

What are your plans for Advent this year?