Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I Love Philip (Happy Birthday!)

Happy Birthday, Honey!

I am struggling to find a focus for this post because there are so many things that I want to write about.  I am so proud of you for working everyday to become an even better Christian, husband, and father.  

The leadership and dedication you've shown in your faith is inspiring, and it's a joy to watch you fall more in love with our Lord.  I love it when you lead our family in prayer.  Aside from our couple prayer time before bed, watching you across the table during our family Rosary or squeezing your hand at Mass are some of my favorite parts of the week.  I am so glad that our children have a daddy who will pray with them and for them on a regular basis.  What a blessing!  Thank you for taking a leadership role in that capacity and for helping all of us to improve ourselves in that area of our lives.

Helping the kiddos blow out the Advent wreath candles.  Yay, fire!
As a father, you're top notch.  The kids' hearts nearly burst at the seams when they hear the front door open and know that you're home!  Thank you for taking the time to give them the love and attention they need right when you walk in the door.  You are so good about getting down on the floor, giving big hugs and kisses, and asking them about whatever they are doing.  Despite being crazy busy with residency and everything else we have going on with moving, etc., you are great about showing them that taking time to play and be with them will trump the other stuff.  They know how much you love them, and they love showing you how much they love you!  As your wife and their mother, I can't tell you how much joy that gives me.  I love how good you are at engaging each child individually, connecting with them in different ways, and showing them that you love what makes them them.  Even if there's a lot to be done on your time off, I love that you're insistent that we always take time out to have quality time with the kids.  It's usually something simple like our library trips, zoo visits, or picnics at the neighborhood park.  The kids FREAK OUT when they find out you have a coveted day off and we get to do something special like that with you.  If nothing else, residency makes us realize the preciousness of the time we have together.  After residency, they're going to miss your post-call mornings when you bring them donuts!  

Surprising Janie with her first flowers (pink, of course!) on her 4th birthday

Playing Princess Candyland as a fam
You're the gold standard in the husband department!  You've always been my #1 cheerleader.

One of your many love notes.  This one was hidden in the dishwasher for me to find in the morning.
Ever since I started staying at home, thank you for recognizing my need to take little breaks or have time out with girlfriends.  You are great about offering me that time and joyfully taking over the home front while I step away.  It is such a relief to have a husband that supports and understands my need to be away from time to time so that I can recharge and be an even better wife & mama when I return.  You never complain about the work that needs to be done; instead, you joyfully jump into action by making meals, giving baths, doing projects around the house, etc.  I love, love, love how invested you are in keeping our relationship only second to our individual relationships with God.  It's such a blessing to have a spouse that understands that we get closer to each other as we individually get closer to God.

Thank you for showing me that you value our relationship above all others--even the kiddos.  As demanding as three little ones can be, you are so good at showing me that I'm your top priority at home.  Thank you for helping me to coordinate regular date nights and for being such a fun, adventurous date!  I think our favorite date will always be having a leisurely meal, pretending we are foodies (we watch Top Chef so we know everything, right?), sipping on some vino, and having some high-quality uninterrupted conversation.  I think we'll always have something new to talk about because you are always wanting to learn something new, work on an aspect of our marriage, improve our parenting skills, or grow even closer to God.  We almost always agree on most things, so it's actually fun when we don't agree and have a chance to make our case.  

Dinner date for my birthday

Our dinner drinks with tapas at España
I am so excited to see what your 29th year has in store for you!  It looks to be a big year of transition and change, and I look forward to going through all of it with you by my side.  You are always such an optimistic and calming presence for our little family.  I have no doubt that it will all work out swimmingly.  I am excited for you to get to start practicing medicine on your own and bless your partners and patients by your presence.  I love your humbleness, but you need to know that you're an absolute rockstar!  Thank you for choosing a profession that simultaneously challenges you while allowing you to have a healthy balance as husband and father.  I'm of course selfishly glad that the crazy hours of residency will soon be a distant memory, but I'm more happy for you so that you can have more time for hobbies, guy time, our parish, our kids, and our marriage.  

Cheers to your 29th year!  God willing, I pray that we will have many, many more years of joy-filled marriage together!    

Christmas 2013

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This is my 5th of 7 posts in Jen Fulwiler's "7 Days, 7 Posts" challenge.  Come on over, join the fun link-up, and read some great blogs!  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Busy Day

Today's post is going to be short and sweet because it's been a busy day.  After I publish this, it's time to put my feet up, have a glass of wine, and watch a show with Philip!

Philip was able to come home around lunchtime, and we spent the rest of the day prepping for our realtor's visit tonight.  Aside from filling out some more paperwork and discussing important details, we finalized the staging of the house.  

Harry thinks selling the house is exhausting!  He fell asleep on this blanket while we wrapped things up  with our realtor.  Sweetie pie!

It took longer than we anticipated, but it's a relief to have the house almost 100% ready and have all of our questions answered.

I wanted to share a few shots of the family room.  

After nearly six years, I finally updated the throw pillows.  I didn't realize how bad our other throw pillows were until I asked a close girlfriend what she thought.  When she told me, "You should either not leave those out or get new ones," I knew it was time!  I found these cute ones at Garden Ridge.  

I'm so proud of myself for getting bright and fun colors since I usually play it safe.  They photograph well against the dark couch and chair, too.  What a difference some new pillows make!

Alright, off to spend some time with Philip!

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This is my 4th of 7 posts in Jen Fulwiler's "7 Days, 7 Posts" challenge.  Come on over, join in the fun link-up, and read some great blogs!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The 1st "P" in Our Rule of Life: Prayer

In case you missed it, part of my Lenten mission this year is to create a Boucher Family Rule of life modeled after Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life.

Yesterday, I shared the essential tasks of my vocation and wrote a family mission statement.

Today, I'm starting my examination of the "5 P's"

  1. Prayer
  2. Person
  3. Partner
  4. Parent
  5. Provider
I'll tackle one "P" each day for the next five days.  

First up: Prayer.

Holly Pierlot is right on when she writes that we have to schedule prayer "because God isn't so obviously urgent, because he doesn't pester us for our attention like our children or sloppy house can."  Holly suggests making a list of all of the things you think ought to comprise a healthy prayer life.  For me and where I am in my spiritual journey, those things include:

  • Morning Offering
    • Remember that the work of my vocation is prayer and consciously offer each chunk of the day to God to "supernaturalize the day" and "tackle every task as a direct response to God, just as if he were asking you, 'Will you go do your laundry now?'"
      • Holly Pierlot has a tremendous section on overcoming sloth by offering God our efforts.  She shares Fr. John Hardon's definition of sloth as "sluggishness of soul or boredom of the exertion necessary for the performance of any good work."
      • Regularly offer God my efforts in mental prayer
  • Daily Readings & Gospel Reflection
  • Angelus at Noon
  • Saint of the Day Reflection
  • Family Prayer (Rosary, bedtime prayers, prayer to St. Joseph as our family's patron saint)
  • Couple Prayer with Philip before bed (reading from our Catechism reflection book and spontaneous prayer)
  • Regular examination of conscience and regularly scheduled reconciliation 
  • Journaling about habits of sin and distractions from my vocation
  • Mass (start small with one day each week in addition to Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation)
  • Holy Hour (Share a holy hour with Philip and alternate weeks that we go)
  • Formal Study (Currently working on The Bible Timeline)
After determining the things I would like to have as a part of my regular prayer life, Holly suggests actually putting them into your schedule.  For me, it would look like this:

  • Throughout the day: Offer chunks of time to God to "supernaturalize my day"
  • Before kids wake up: Morning Offering, dedicate day to God, Daily Readings, and Gospel Reflection
  • With kids at breakfast: Morning Offering and Saint of the Day Reflection
  • 8:15: Daily Mass (starting with one day a week in addition to Sunday & Holy Days)
  • Noon: Angelus with the children after lunch
  • During children's naptime: Formal study (Bible Timeline), examination of conscience and journaling (start with once a week)
  • After dinner: Family prayer time (Rosary or special prayers according to liturgical season, bedtime prayers)
  • 8:00 p.m. every other Tuesday: shared Holy Hour with Philip
  • 9:30 p.m.: Couple prayer with Philip (Read from Catechism reflection book, spontaneous prayer)

A few questions for you:

  • Do you have an examination of conscience that you particularly like and can share?  What about a kid friendly examination?
  • What resources do you use to enter into the Daily Readings?  A special app?  Homilies?  
  • Do you have a formal study that you would recommend?
  • Do you have a saint of the day resource that is great for reading with children?  How do you share the stories of saints with your children?
  • What does your couple prayer time look like?
  • Do you have any insights to share on prayer in general?
Tomorrow, I'll take on the 2nd P: Person.  That entails all of the things I need to do to keep my person healthy and ready to serve.  

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This is my 3rd of 7 posts in Jen Fulwiler's "7 Days, 7 Posts" challenge.  Come on over, join in the fun link-up, and read some great blogs!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Creating Our Boucher Family Rule of Life: Getting Started

Holy Family, pray for us!
In case you missed it, part of my Lenten mission this year is to create a Boucher Family Rule of Life modeled after Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life.

First of all, what in the world is a Rule of Life?  As Holly Pierlot defines it, a Rule of Life "consists primarily in the examination of one's vocation and the duties it entails, and the development of a schedule for fulfilling these responsibilities in a consistent and orderly way."

So, before I get started on creating a schedule, I need to determine 2 things:
  1. What is my vocation?
  2. What essential duties does my vocation entail?  
1.  What is my vocation?
To determine my vocation, I considered what I call the proper order of relationships.  First and foremost, I am a Child of God.  Second, I am a wife.  Third, I am a mother.  I am all of these things, but it is essential that I keep them in this proper order.  

2.  What essential duties does my vocation entail?
I could go on and on listing all kinds of duties for my vocation, but I need to pare it down to the essentials to make our Family Rule effective.  

  • Child of God:  Sustain a regular prayer life, frequent the sacraments, attend Mass, and show my love of God through my love of neighbor.  I also have the responsibility to care for myself (personal prayer, recreation, good nutrition, exercise, rest) so that I can perform all of my duties well.  
  • Wife:  Holly Pierlot quotes Blessed Pope John Paul II as saying that love could be defined as "availability, acceptance, and help."  As a wife, I have the duty to: be available to my husband (spiritually, physically, intellectually, creatively, emotionally), be accepting of all of him, and to be a helper instead of a hindrance on his journey to sainthood.  In order to fulfill my duties as a wife, I need to keep my relationship with Philip second only to my relationship with God, but above all other relationships--even our children.
  • Mother:  I can't sum up my duties as a mother more succinctly than Holly Pierlot did in her section on parenting.  She says that parenting "is a call to form persons.  We're called to bring God to our children's spirits, truth to their minds, health to their bodies, skill to their hands, beauty and creativity to their hearts, and in all this, virtue to their wills and sanctity to their souls."  To be my children's primary educator means remembering Pope Pius XI's wise words that, "Education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be, and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created."  In sum, it's my job as a Christian mother to foster my children's relationship with God so that they can: hear His voice calling them to their specific vocation, receive the graces to live it out well, and glorify Him through their lives as a preparation for their eternal reward with Him.  Ultimately, my job as a mother is to raise my children to become saints.   
If those are only the essential duties I have as a Child of God, wife, and mother, I have A LOT to do each day!  Now that I have my essential duties listed, we need define our family's mission (what we're doing and why) before we create a schedule.  That will help our family to maintain our focus and purpose as we go about our everyday lives.  Philip and I worked together to create our family mission statement.  Here it is:
The Boucher Family is domestic church whose mission is to know, love, and serve God.  Our aim is to live intentionally as Jesus' disciples, propel one another to sainthood, and joyfully share our love of God with others.  
I love our family mission statement!  It really pares it down to what we're supposed to be doing everyday.  I'm printing it off and putting it on our refrigerator.  Maybe someday I can get it beautifully painted on canvas to be hung in a prominent place in our home.  (Any crafty friends out there know of a way for me to do this?)  

Now that I have my vocation's duties outlined and our family mission statement written, I need to draft our family's schedule.  In order to do that, I will be examining what Holly Pierlot calls the "5 Ps."  
  1. Prayer
  2. Person
  3. Partner
  4. Parent
  5. Provider
Tomorrow, I'll focus on the first P, Prayer.

Until then, I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this.  Heck, I want to have a book club to discuss everything I'm uncovering in A Mother's Rule of Life!  What are the essential duties of your vocation?  If you had a family mission statement, what would it say?  Are you fulfilling the essential duties of your vocation?  If not, what practical changes can you make today?  What is keeping you from fulfilling your essential duties?  Are you preventing someone else from fulfilling his/her essential duties?  

If you're interested in creating your own Rule of Life, read A Mother's Rule of Life and visit Holly Pierlot's website for some great resources.     

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This is my 2nd of 7 posts in Jen Fulwiler's "7 Posts, 7 Days" challenge.  Come on over, join in the fun link-up, and read some great blogs!      

Monday, February 24, 2014

Getting Dressed All By Herself

Ever since her 4th birthday, Miss Jane is all about picking out her own outfits.  If it's a day when she has preschool, she insists on wearing her uniform all day.  Otherwise, she wants to put the outfit together all by herself.  Lately, she asks, "May I have privacy, please?" for the outfit selection process.  When she emerges fully dressed and coiffed, she likes to ask me to take a picture of the finished product.  Little brother Walt likes to join the photo shoot, too.  Here are a few of the wardrobe choices from last week:

I love the poses.

"It's all blue, Mama!"  I think the Sofia the First Halloween costume amulet and Hello Kitty socks pull the look together.

Did you know this season is all about monochromatic looks?  "It's all black, Mama!  Walt, I'm wearing your Thomas hat!"
So, the rest of you parents, I have some questions for you just because I'm curious.  I'd love to know what limits you place on your kiddos' wardrobe choices at this age.  Are your rules dependent on whether or not you're leaving the house or have company that day?  Do you try to correct fashion faux pas?  When do you insist on a wardrobe change?  Are the kids allowed to go to the grocery store dressed as a fairy?  

We had a "leggings are not pants" lesson last week.  This raising girls stuff is going to be tricky in the clothing department, huh?  I loved school uniforms as a student, and I think I'll love them even more as a parent.     

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This is my 1st of 7 posts in Jen Fulwiler's "7 Posts, 7 Days" challenge.  Come on over, join in the fun link-up, and read some great blogs! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

7 Posts, 7 Days

Starting on Monday, I'm joining Jen Fulwiler's "7 Posts, 7 Days" link-up.  Just like it sounds, I'll be writing 1 post everyday for 7 days from Monday, February 24 to Sunday, March 2.  This link-up is exactly the motivation I need to write short, imperfect posts, but to keep posting on a regular basis.  

I'm drawing up our Boucher Family Rule of Life this weekend.  My goal is to have it completely squared away by Ash Wednesday (March 5).  In the meantime, I'll probably be writing about putting it together and anything else that comes to mind!

If you want to join in the fun, come on over to the link-up here.  C'mon, you know you wanna join in!  Do it!

Friday, February 21, 2014

One way that I'm gearing up for Lent

Lent is nearly upon us, and I'm not ready--yet.  It sneaks up on me every single year, but this year, I am doing some prep work so that I can enter into the season deliberately.  I want to have a game plan, and I know that I'll desperately need one this year.  We're listing the house March 3.  Without a plan, I know I'll let myself and our family get into a rut of being in survival mode, focusing on house stuff instead of the whole Jesus dying for our sins stuff.

Philip and I started our own Happiness Project last year, but we took a hiatus from it because of my post-partum depression, the Christmas season, and life in general.  I've been wanting to revisit our Happiness Project, but I want to give it more focus.  When I was thinking about revisiting our Happiness Project, I came across Jen Fulwiler's post, "Admitting that I can't do it all...or even half of it."  

Jen wrote about the overwhelming burden we place on ourselves when we create impossible do-it-all to-do lists.  In the post, she mentions Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life.  Have you read the book?  Do yourself and your family a favor, and read it!  

The book centers around one Catholic mama's desire to bring order and peace to her home.  To do so, Holly created a mother's rule of life modeled after the daily schedule of the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's order).  Holly wisely realized that the daily schedule for the Missionaries of Charity allows them to have peace, order, and ample time to accomplish only that which needs to be done for the day.   

Daily Schedule for the Missionaries of Charity 
4:30-5:00 Rise and get cleaned up 
5:00-6:30 Prayers and Mass 
6:30-8:00 Breakfast and cleanup 
8:00-12:30 Work for the poor 
12:30-2:30 Lunch and rest 
2:30-3:00 Spiritual reading and meditation 
3:00-3:15 Tea break 
3:15-4:30 Adoration 
4:30-7:30 Work for the poor 
7:30-9:00 Dinner and clean up 
9:00-9:45 Night prayers 
9:45 Bedtime  

The focus of the day is a healthy balance of prayer, work, and rest.  The Missionaries of Charity keep this simple schedule without overburdening themselves with all of the extra stuff.  By keeping their priorities in check, they are able to work with God to multiply their time doing what needs to be done and cutting the rest.  The schedule clearly shows that the women trust that God will help them to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished.    

I'm nearly finished with A Mother's Rule of Life, and I am chomping at the bit to create my own Boucher Family Rule of Life.  I've decided that creating our Family Rule and implementing it will be my big Lenten mission.  Our family will need order and peace as we list the house and prepare to move.  I want to have those habits in place before the chaos enters the scene, and I want to start living with order and peace now.

Philip and I will work together (with a whole lotta prayer!) to discuss our family mission and how best to accomplish that mission.  I plan to finish the book this weekend and start drawing up our family rule of life.  To create our family rule, I am going to examine the "5 Ps" from A Mother's Rule of Life:

  1. Prayer
  2. Person
  3. Partner
  4. Parent
  5. Provider
I'm ready to abandon what the world says is best for our family and start deliberately living out what God is asking of our domestic church.  Throughout Lent, I'll be posting snippets and reflections on the various components of our Boucher Family Rule of Life.  I look forward to hearing how you structure your days with your family and how you are bringing peace and order to your home.  Now, I'm just praying for the graces to actually do what I think God is asking of our domestic church.  It's going to take a very healthy dose of humility to really hear what God is asking of me as the spiritual heart of our home.  

St. Joseph, our 2014 patron saint for our family, pray for us!    

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Over at CatholicMom Today: No More Wasting the Bad Days

Head over to CatholicMom to read my post today.  It's called "No More Wasting the Bad Days."  It's about the morning I realized that God wants us to offer everything, even our silly little inconveniences, as offerings to Him.  

"We’re getting ready to list our house in the next few weeks, and the flooring guys came to do some work on the main floor while the kids and I holed ourselves up in the basement.  All.  Day.  Long.  The day had a rough start, and I was about ready to throw in the towel by 10:00 a.m.  I would rattle off the inconveniences and problems, but they would distract from and undermine the point of this post." Read More

Note: At publishing time, a family in Missouri is mourning the death of their ten-year-old daughter, Hailey Owens. Please join me in praying for Hailey's soul, her family, and her killer's conversion of heart. Let us unite any of our suffering to the cross for Hailey, her family, and her killer.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Small Success Thursday #8

Here are our small successes for this week:

Harry is 6 months old and more interested in playing peek-a-boo than packing boxes
It's been another wild week as we get ready to list the house.  March 3 is the official day it goes on the market.  Fortunately, that means having workers in the house is nearing an end.  The bad news is that means showings are on the horizon!  

Jane and Walt are both developing an appreciation for parenting.  Yesterday, Jane sat in the nursery chair while I changed Harry's diaper.
Jane:  Oh, Harry has a poopy diaper, Mommy!  When I am a kindergartener, can I change Harry's diaper?
Me:  Absolutely!  Why do you want to help change Harry?
Jane:  Because babies are so cute and tiny!  I love babies!
When I ask Jane what she wants to be when she grows up, her answer varies.  She has answered a doctor, a veterinarian, a nurse, a chef, a ballerina, etc.  In addition to whatever her answer is, she always says, "and a mommy.  I want to have a lot of babies!"

While Walt was admiring our painter working this morning, I asked Walt, "Do you want to be a painter when you grow up?"  He said, "No, a DADDY!"  He has such a sweet and loving disposition.  He loves playing with Baby Harry.

My dear friend's husband decided to get rid of some clothes that he wasn't wearing anymore, and she asked if Philip would be interested.  Philip is the lucky recipient of a few suits, dress shirts, a corduroy jacket, and several polos.  Yay for a new wardrobe and generous friends!  

We had a big weekend celebrating Jane and Philip's birthdays with both sides of our family.

Sunday morning and early afternoon, we hung out with Philip's parents, his brother, and his sister.  

Walt loves Papa because he fueled him up with chocolate cupcakes

Yay!  Jane got a house for her new Critters!  Thanks, Mimi and Papa!

Uncle Connor generously gave Jane and Walt a ride.
Sunday night, we went to my brother and sister-in-law's to celebrate the February birthdays with my parents, siblings, and their kiddos.

February birthdays - Philip, Jane, & Uncle Matt
Frances, Jenny, and Harry
 Uncle Matt joined us for dinner last night.  The kids had a ball playing with him!

Walt especially enjoyed teaching Matt about Thomas and all of his engine friends
The kids are lucky to have all of their fun uncles!
Uncle Matt even joined us for bedtime stories and gave unique readings of a few of the stories.  The kids wish he could help with bedtime every night!
I know, I know, it was more like another week in review post, but that's alright!  I'm sticking with it because this is my 8th Small Success Thursday post.  I haven't missed a week yet!  

Your turn!  What are your small successes from this week?  Head over to CatholicMom to join in the fun and share.  If you're using social media, use the hashtag #SmallSuccess.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Grade School Valentine's Day Memories

I'm reminiscing about Valentine's Day in grade school.  So many memories!

I went to St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic grade school, and every year, we had a homeroom Valentine party hosted by the sweet "room moms" that volunteered to bring treats and organize games.  Aside from the parties, I have some distinct memories.

In first grade, I was in Mrs. Walsh's homeroom.  Around Valentine's Day, my seat happened to be right in front of my mega crush, Matt.  My last name and Matt's were right next to each other in alphabetical order, so we were often paired together.  He was so sweet, smart, and funny, and I thought he was the cutest.  In addition to whatever valentines I had made with my mom for all of my classmates, I had created a special construction paper heart valentine for Matt.  As everyone was handing out their valentines, I mustered up my courage to deliver Matt my special pink creation.  He was talking to his guy friends, so I was a little nervous, but I bravely interrupted their conversation, and I handed him my valentine.  "Matt, will you be my valentine?"  It took him all but two seconds to give me an embarrassed laugh and said, "Uh, no!"  He just wasn't that into me.  Bummer.  My little first grade heart was broken, and I remember telling his big sister all about my heartbreak after school while we waited for our rides.  I told that story to Matt's wife at a bachelorette party, but I can't remember if I ever told him.  If you're reading this, Matt (and I doubt you are), you were such a heartbreaker back in first grade!  I clearly still have issues from it.  Ha!

In second grade, Mrs. Ryktarsyk's homeroom (yeah, I had to spell that name as a second grader) had a Valentine box decorating contest.  Some of the creations were huge and so impressive!  I wish I had pictures of them.

In fifth grade, I decided to create a little mischievous entertainment.  I thought it would be a good idea to stick a "Be Mine" conversation heart in my classmate Nick's uniform sweater pocket.  He had it hanging on the back of his chair, and I put it in the pocket when he wasn't looking.  I had completely forgotten about it until later that afternoon when he put his hand in his pocket, pulled out the heart, read it, and it became the hot topic in 5B for the rest of the school day.  Who could have put a "Be Mine" candy heart into Nick's pocket?  I was so thrilled with myself for creating the mystery and intrigue!  I probably had a crush on him at the time because I was beyond boy crazy.

At home, Mom and Dad put out a card and a present for each child at our seats at the kitchen table.  It was always so exciting to wake up to those special treats!  In 7th grade, our dog, Trev (named after Nebraska Cornhusker #34 Trev Alberts), got into the special treats overnight.  At that point, only 3 of the 6 kids were living at home.  Trev had jumped up onto the kitchen table, unwrapped the red cellophane wrap on all THREE of the Russell Stover boxes of chocolates, and ate every single one.  He politely left all of the wrappers behind.  The 12-pound Bichón Frisé was lucky he didn't die from it, but we had to have the carpets professionally cleaned.  My mom likes to tell the story of how my dad woke her up that morning when he was leaving for work.  "Honey, Happy Valentine's Day.  THE DAMN DOG ate all of the kids' chocolate and puked all over the house!  Gotta run.  I love you."    

What about you?  What memories do you have from your childhood Valentine's Days?  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Small Success Thursday #7

Writing this as quickly as I can and going to bed, so this is going to be the lamest Small Success Thursday post ever:

  • Jane turned 4, and I think she'd say that she had a great day.  More on our fun day another time!
  • I survived another week of subcontractors and household disasters in preparation for listing the house.  Yes, there are two streams of water coming out of that faucet.
  • I got the kids' Valentine presents weeks ago, and I actually remembered to set them out.  Books, a puzzle, stickers, and spinning tops.  Harry didn't get a card because he's 6 months old.  Does that make me a bad mom?
  • Philip got to have a man date tonight with a buddy, and he said he had a great time.  Yay for Philip taking time for himself!
  • This guy loves green beans, but he mostly loves wearing them.  This was his first food other than rice cereal.  Let the love affair with food begin!

Your turn!  What are your small successes from the week?  Come over to CatholicMom to join the fun and share!  If you're using social media, use the hashtag #SmallSuccess.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday, Jane Louise!

Dear Janie Boo,

You're four years old!  FOUR!  Can you believe it?!  Daddy and I can't.

4 years ago, we were watching the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver from our hospital room with you

and now you're a big preschooler!

Preschool Christmas sing-along
Now, we get to watch the Olympics with you and your 2 little brothers!  

I love so many things about you.  

You are so friendly and outgoing, and you want to make friends wherever we go--the neighborhood park, grocery store, library, and most recently, with all of the subcontractors doing work on the house before we move.  

You are very sensitive to other people's feelings, and you are always the first to offer a hug, a tissue, or wipe away tears.  A few months ago, Walt hurt himself, and he was very upset.  You grabbed a tissue and dabbed his tears.  "Here, buddy.  It's okay.  Blow."  

You are quite the little mother to Baby Harry, too.  You love to tell me what you think he needs--a bottle, a diaper, a toy, some snuggling, and you're always the first volunteer to do it all.  Sometimes, I wonder how your big heart fits into your tiny body! 

Helping Harry eat some rice cereal
You always want to know what's happening and what we are doing next.  Like your mama, you like knowing the plan, and you agree that the anticipation of an event is half the fun.  

You love little surprises like picnics in the family room, donuts on Daddy's post-call mornings, or unexpected visits to your favorite places.  More than that, you like doing the surprising.  When you hear Daddy come home, you get such a kick out of hiding and either waiting for him to find you or jumping out when you think he least expects it. 

On the days when you take only a catnap, I love our new tradition of "quiet reading time."  You snuggle up right next to me on the couch, and we read our stories next to each other.  

You and Monty are inseparable buddies these days, and I love how much you two love each other.  On the days when you go to preschool or take your nap, your reunions afterward are so precious.  I am so proud of you for teaching anxious Monty how to be a happy dog in our home.  

If you could have it your way, our life would be a musical.  Well, I suppose yours already is because you sing all day about anything and everything!  You pluck away on the piano keys, making up your own songs.  I hear you singing in the bathroom, while you're getting dressed, when you greet Harry in the morning with a lullaby, or when you're dancing around in one of your princess costumes or tutus.  My girl, I love your ZEST for life.

Just a princess bouncing on a trampoline
One of my favorite things about you is how easy it is for you to laugh--especially at yourself.  

Laughing when I pointed out that you had put your pants on backwards.
You have taught me to stop taking myself so seriously and refocus my priorities.  

You are so innocently open to people and experiences, and it's such a joy to watch you take in the world around you.  

Fearless on your first day of preschool
You're so great at expressing how you are processing everything as it happens--what you're hearing, thinking, smelling, feeling, touching, seeing.  I imagine your preschool teacher will tell me and Daddy at conferences that she needs to redirect you back to the task at hand because you are so curious and focused on whatever has your attention.  Don't tell her, but I love your curiosity and intense focus on the task at hand.

One of my favorite parts of being your mama is watching your faith develop.  I love how good you are about asking all of us to join you in prayer.  If you stub your toe, you're the first to say, "Let's pray!  Dear God, please help my toe to feel better.  I love you.  Amen."  Or, you'll ask us to pray for you through tears.  "Mommy, can you please pray for my toe?"  

Advent 2011
One year ago on your birthday, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the papacy.  Can you even imagine the Church without Pope Francis at the helm right now?  I'll think about that moment every year on your birthday.  It taught me that we usually have absolutely no idea what God has in store for us, but we must have faith that they are "plans for good" (Jeremiah 29:11).  

So, my dear, I want you to know that I don't know exactly what God has in store for you, but I know that they are plans for good.  You are such a precious blessing to our family, and I am so proud of the little lady you are becoming.  I am so honored that God entrusted you to our family, Janie Boo.  I pray that you will continue to learn to know, love, and serve Him, and I pray that our domestic church will continue to reveal His Love to you through every member of our family.

We love you so much, sweetie!  Happy 4th Birthday!  Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!