Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Dreamed a Dream

One side effect of the medication I take to stabilize my hormones is the occasional very vivid dream.  The last few nights, it's been much more than usual.  Vivid dream after vivid dream.

There was only one last night, though.  I dreamed I saw Sweet Baby again.  She was taller.  I almost didn't recognize her.  When she saw me, she yelled, "Mama!" and came running to me.

As I woke, I was sad to leave her behind, grateful for the gift of seeing her in any way, and sad all over again at the loss of her.

I woke with questions - Is it ever going to be okay?  Will it ever not hurt?

I don't know.  I think maybe a mother's heart grieves the loss of a child for a lifetime.

This Saturday, June 27th marked one year from the last time I saw her, held her, kissed her little forehead.

A lifetime and a blink of an eye. 

God only knows if we'll see her again. 

But in my mind, I watch her grow and carry her with me everyday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Organic Mamas Shop: A Review and Coupon!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase through the link, I'll benefit.  I was provided with a Novena Bracelet to review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was lucky enough to review a Novena Bracelet from Organic Mamas Shop.  Let me start by saying, I'd previously purchased items from her shop, so I was really excited to share her shop with you, and more, provide you with a coupon code to get a beautiful item yourself!

I chose the Immaculate Conception Novena bracelet.  The cross and medal section clips and unclips in both the rosary and novena varieties to keep track of your prayer.  It's a beautiful way to stay on track with your nine days or five decades.

What I really love about these bracelets is the flexible fit.  I'm not typically a bracelet wearer.  I have a wide flat wrist and generally find bracelets too tight for comfort. 

The flexible wire fit of these bracelets makes the fit comfortable, even for stacking.

I wore the novena bracelet with my rosary bracelet and they both fit comfortably on my wrist - so if you're in the middle of a novena and don't want to leave the rosary at home, no choice necessary.

Sweet Pea (3) also took a turn wearing them both during mass this weekend.  They're sturdy enough that I don't mind letting her wear them and pull them on and off her arm.....especially when she doesn't find Father's homily quite as stimulating as the rest of us.

I bought these bracelets as Christmas presents for both my mother-in-law and my mom.  The novena bracelet is smaller than the rosary bracelet, and I think that would make it a great gift even for a first communicant. 

The shop isn't just bracelets.  Nursing necklaces, earrings, special decade first communion bracelets, and more!  My new favorite item is the Chews Life Rosary - great for teething and praying.

Photo courtesy of Organic Mamas Shop

Items are available in many different colors, and custom colors/orders are available as well. 

The best part?  Until July 5th, you can get 20% off using the coupon code ANNERY20.  Christmas is six months from tomorrow....no pressure :)

Shop away!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Division and Blood

Children fight. They find fault. They cast blame. They see the surface, not the hidden sufferings. 

One of the greatest women in my life was my paternal grandmother. We saw her frequently, even though she lived 3 hours away. 

As all grandmas, she was pretty lenient. Except on two fronts - sloth and division. 

Eat what you want, but you better not think you're sitting in front of the tv all day. Not at Grandma's. 

Play any game from the piles of board games, but don't think for a second you're going to be allowed to bicker over which piece is yours and which is your brother's. Not happening at Grandma's. 

Drilled into our brains - be productive - love your family. 

Those were Grandma's requirements.

Absolutes. More than one of my eight siblings has mentioned the determination and force of Grandma's influence in how we view our family. 

Fight the world if you must, but this is family. God gave you one of them and you will find a way to love each other. Even if you see no other common ground, your blood is all the common ground you need to have plenty of space to stand. 

I grew up with this understanding so entrenched in my soul that it's a visceral response. My family is mine. We are a tribe unto ourselves. Cohesive by no belief greater than our determination to love each other. 

My oldest brother married his high school sweetheart. It's hard to remember a time before she was a part of our lives. She came before several of my siblings. 

But, I do remember the first entrance of new blood into our tribe as I was approaching adulthood. When my second brother proposed to his girlfriend, we were on a family trip to visit him at basic training. 

I wasn't close with her, but, surrounded by my family in the days before cell phones, she took me on a walk with her and shared the news. My brother had proposed. 

I can clearly remember my thoughts in that moment. I had some preconceptions about her and we hadn't become friends, but in that moment I thought, "my brother has found her worthy of the rest of his life, now she will be family."

And to me, that meant more than showing up at the same Thanksgiving. Over the years, she became one of my best friends. 

A member of the tribe pledged his life to her, and from that moment, she was one of us. Fully, to the bone a part of us. 

It's happened many times since as our family has continued to grow. Sometimes there has been strain or stress in a relationship, but always, at the center, is the understanding that we love each other. Even when it's hard to forgive words that have been spoken. Cutting ties is not an option. I hear Grandma's voice, this is your family, you only get one. 

But, beyond this precious tribe, the parents, siblings, even the spouse and children, there is another family that binds our ties and unites us universally. 

The universal, apostolic Church. 

And there I find the need for the lesson God has been teaching me my whole life, over and over. Do not divide. My blood bonds you. 

As I share the blood of my ancestors and pass it on to my children, I share the Blood of Christ physically consumed with all my fellow Catholics. 

It is coursing through us all. The same Body and Blood poured out for all. 

With those who attend Latin mass. With those singing along to Glory & Praise. The veiled. The unveiled. Roman. Eastern. Byzantine. Alexandrian. All traditions in our beautiful faith. 

The charismatic, the contemplative, the homeschooled, the public or privately schooled. 

I am reminded in the spirit of my grandmother that so many of the divisions I place around me to categorize and label are only constructs. They are so small in the bigger picture of who and what we are. 

We are blood of the same Blood. Sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We may disagree. We may feel displaced, alone or misunderstood. But, we are called to work towards unity in love for each other. 

A love that does not compromise the truth, but holds unwaveringly to the conviction that we are tied together to the very blood that courses in our veins, by a family united in faith. 

My sisters and brothers, you are loved. May God help us all live in the deep conviction that the fight back to each other is always worth the hard. This is our family. We stand on the common ground of the Body and Blood of Christ, and no foundation is more secure. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sweet Pea Turns 3!

June 6th was SP's 3rd(!) birthday. 

We celebrated the birthday festivities at Mount Olympus in Wisconsin Dells. 

Road trip to the Dells!

LB taking a turn on the giant swings. 

That face totally captures how Hubby feels about spinning in circles :)

SP was big enough to ride some of the rides by herself this year!

Vacations require selfies :)

I drew the short straw for the teacup-type ride. 

I got to vacation wth these cool people!

At the end of our first day. 

They were pretty in love with the bunk beds.  Epic hotel room - 4 beds (bunk bed and 2 queen sized beds) for less than $200/night including park admission. 

Our side of the room :)

Their beds immediately became a fort. 

LB was tall enough to drive the big go karts this year! Six more years until driving is an every day deal :)

This one is still a ride-along. 

We're a little worried about her driving. 

After a drive - she was pretty happy with herself. 

Gave Hubby his Father's Day present early so they could sport them around the park. 

I told her we were going to ride - this was her reaction. 

Mandatory trip to Paul Bunyan's. 

She ate a TON!

On my birthday, we wore coordinating shirts (my bday is June 5). 

Bagels and cream cheese are her very favorite - especially with "coffee" aka hot chocolate. 

Early morning selfies. 

The first of a long line of embarrassing pre-teen moments. 

Really, the most important thing was having some birthday caffeine - mocha for the win. 

This was LB's last year being short enough for this ride :)

This was a giant trolley that - shockingly - SP was short enough to ride herself. Luckily LB went with. 

Her legs were worn out - and Hubby was complimented on this shirt. 

Out for my birthday dinner. 

Which was free-ninety-free thanks to LB telling the cashier it was my bday. We made sure to tell her how awesome that was :)

Last picture of my 2 y/o!

With the request to, "take a picture of my foot, Mom!"

After she woke to the birthday song, it was present time!

Flying off to breakfast. 

Milk is her favorite food. 

And pancakes. 

It was a great third birthday - and good news! That magic tantrum switch clicked on right on schedule. My new hashtag for her shots is #threeisathriller - because surviving this year will be a thrill! 

Three is such a mash up of tantrums of independence and awesome milestones. It's such a ride of highs and lows, it's sure to be a trip!