Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Inductions, Sacraments, and Birthdays, Oh My

Another snow day, another blog post.

I gotta be honest.  Last week started out really tough.  On Monday I was dreading the week ahead.  There was so much on the calendar and Bill was away for a few days and I just felt completely overwhelmed.  It's funny, when you have a baby in the house, your schedule takes an ugly not-able-to-get-much-accomplished- kind of tone to it.  And I don't mean funny-ha-ha.
But when Tuesday came and I'm sitting at work (actually, standing because my job is lunch and recess duty, so I don't sit) I had this A-HA moment. 

Everything I had going on was GOOD stuff. What was I freaking out about?  Wait until you see what the week was like below.  I have to say though, the change I had from one day to the next can't just be about having an attitude adjustment. It can't be that simple. It must have a lot to do with hormones, amiright?  And that's all I have to say about that because my brothers read this blog and they might get weird-ed out about this revelation I had. 

So, let's continue on to the greatness of the week.

Tuesday: Ann's induction into the National Junior Honor Society.

Ann came home last month with a letter saying she was being considered for the NJHS.  She needed to fill out multiple forms about her service, character, leadership, and citizenship accomplishments.  It was pretty straightforward.  She debated about whether or not she wanted to actually be a part of it.  I think it was her lazy side not really wanting to fill out the forms.  We forced encouraged her to do it because there are certain opportunities in life that you just don't turn down.  She handed it in and found out soon after she had been accepted.

The ceremony and reception was really nice.
I could tell she was proud of herself. One more notch on the confidence scale for her.  Bill was away unfortunately, and Mary had too much homework, but I forced encouraged the rest of the kids to go.





Thursday: Tommy's Confirmation!

He is now fully initiated!
Funny story.  I had not ordered a red robe for him to wear because I figured he would just use Billy's old one.  I hung it up the weekend prior to help get the wrinkles out.  The day before Confirmation Mary says, "You know that the size for that robe says 5'3-5'5", right?" (Tommy is about 5'10") I hadn't realized that but I figured it would be fine, maybe just a tad bit short.  So I nonchalantly ask Tommy to go try it on.  Oh my word....the sleeves were up to his elbows and the hem was near his knees!!  I scrambled to text everyone I knew who had sons that might be able to lend me one of theirs. In the end, a friend had one to give me and she dropped it off in the nic of time!  You might say the Holy Spirit was looking out for us!



Thomas Andrew Peter
 Billy was his sponsor and did a great job.




Tommy asked for a low-key celebration....pizza and xbox.  We added cake so it would feel like a celebration.

Friday:  Ann's 13th birthday!

My little girl is now a teenager.  We did morning doughnuts before school.  After school she and Tommy had to go to their Jazz Band competition. Bill and I were able to head over to watch them perform. 
Ann holding one of their awards
Tommy-Trumpet
(a special shout-out to my friend Heather who manages to get great pics of my kids and sends them to me!)

We didn't get home until 11pm that night but we managed to squeeze in some ice cream cake to celebrate Ann before bed.



The next day, Ann had some friends over to watch a movie and have pizza and cake. I neglected to take pictures.  But Ann had gotten a Polaroid camera as a gift (so cool, so retro) so we took a picture for each kid to take home.  This was a picture of the one Ann kept for herself.  (she really was happy, just a bad pic of
her 😏)



The rest of the weekend was spent doing social stuff with our parish retreat family.  Lots of baking, gatherings, and masses but definitely one of my favorite weekends of the year.  Bill and I went on our parish retreat 10 years ago and it was life-changing.  We have the best parish ever!

I'm so glad to have another snow day to sit back and document the good week we had. 

Signing off to spend it with my 7 favorite peeps. 

Happy Snow Day!





Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Trust Or Bust

"I really should update my blog" has been a recurring thought in my head for a couple of months now.

Last week the stress was high for me.  I had a court date scheduled that I had been anxious about for 3 months.  We had the kids say goodbye to baby Jackie before they left for school - "just in case."

Well, we all returned home here that day.  But something changed.  What I thought might be a goodbye to our girl has ended up being more time with her than we originally thought.  We will still move along with the plan for reunification with Mom because that is what we are supposed to do. We will keep up with the weekly parental visits, sporadic court dates, bi-weekly home visits from our foster agency and monthly visits from the county caseworker.

None of this is a surprise to me. I read all about it before we jumped in.

But now that we are living it....Wow.  It's tough.  I want to know how it all ends.  NOW!  I want to know where my heart is going to be when it is all said and done.*

On a much happier note, we are in love with this little one and that is exactly what she needs right now. Surprisingly, I think she is what we all needed as well.

It took Tommy 3 months to hold her.  We had to blackmail him.  "No Xbox until you hold her".  It worked.  The joy the rest of the kids had the first time he held her was a moment I won't ever forget.
Now I catch him picking her up, making silly faces, and sometimes just staring at her.

Tommy holds Baby J for the first time
Then there's times when I walk in the room to see something like this:

 The girls have been a huge help, saving my sanity at times.
diaper-changing :)

And last, there is no other person I'd rather be on this journey with than Bill.  He not only helps so much with what needs to be done, but he is my rock.  He always puts things into perspective.  He is never selfish, always thinks of others....especially the "least of these".  He loves baby J like his own and reminds me that I need to let my guard down as well.  So now I am ALL IN.

A good friend sent me the link to this blog post by foster mom Meg Duerksen.  Oh my goodness. It is so good and is an amazing post with similarities to our own story.   But my biggest take-away was when she wrote the following:

*the “ending” is unknown and i wrestle with the not knowing.
but you know what?  the “ending” is unknown for ALL of us.
we fool ourselves into thinking we know what’s going to happen with our families.
we have an illusion of control but nothing is certain.
so i pray about all of it.
it’s all in God’s hands.  He already knows about all of it.  He knows.


Yes, YES!!

My mother always used to say, "Worry is a useless emotion."  And she was right because it really is all in God's hands. He's got everything under control.  And that gives us the courage to do what we need to do, even if it scares us.







 




Thursday, January 4, 2018

Old Year Happenings

I'm sitting here on this glorious snow day.  We are off from school and work.  Even Dad has made it home early.  The girls graciously have played with the baby a lot and I just finished taking down most of the Christmas stuff.  (The Wise Men told me it was okay - just this once)  The older boys had to go up to church to help shovel.  (They're loving the fact that I signed them up for that job )  But aside from that, it's a cuddle up, pj's on kind of day.

I think the biggest happenings in the house is this incredible, awesome news.  Here is Billy's tweet about it.

A dream of his since 2nd grade.  And now my dream is to win the lottery.  Ha! 

Another exciting thing on the Billy front is that he finally got his license.

 It's been a good couple of weeks for this guy.

In other news,
-Mary, Tommy, and Ann had many concert performances between the 5 ensembles they play for.  -Matthew, Tommy, and Billy have all started basketball.
-Tommy and Ann are about to start stage crew for the school play. 
-Billy and Mary are doing winter track.
-Mom has filled her gas tank a record number of times.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving with my side of the family.


Grown up table

Kid table
My dad and brothers

Mary taller than mom.

Sister in law Kathy/awesome cook & host

Mary with Godmother, Aunt Linda

We also had a wonderful Christmas!



New Year's Eve 2017.  Bill was helping to keep NYC safe while the rest of us hung out at home with Uncle John and cousin Johnny and stayed warm.
7 degrees
And that's a wrap for 2017.

Happy New Year!! 


Friday, December 29, 2017

Baby J Happenings

We are almost 12 weeks into our new adventure with Baby J.   Or Jackie, as we like to call her. (not her real name)

She's growing big, smiling more everyday, and cooing like crazy! 

I won't lie--the first couple weeks after she came were really hard.  There was so much going on:

-Newborn fussiness/colic.
-My lack of sleep (I'm not as young as I used to be)
-Constantly having to put her in the car to drive my kids to their activities-early mornings, late nights, and everything in between.
-Flying solo in Week 1 due to Bill going on a work trip.
-Phone calls and mailings regarding parental visits and court dates.

It was all very overwhelming at first.  But then we seemed to get into our groove.  J ate more regularly, slept more regularly, and became a lot more predictable in her needs.  I was getting the hang of this!  Just like riding a bike in a lot of ways.

Throughout it all there have been many blessings that are a constant reminder that God is looking after all of us.

-My friend Eileen.  When I got the call about Baby J needing immediate care, I needed to provide a name of a care giver who I could use while I worked my 3 hour a day job.  Otherwise, they either would not give her to me or I'd have to quit my job (not something I want to do for many different reasons).  Eileen happily said she'd look after J until I found someone permanent.  J wouldn't be with us if not for Eileen.

-My friend Beth.  Dear Beth.  My good friend who now watches J everyday while I go to work for my 3 hours.  She has been my right hand gal, confidant, and sounding board for all the ugly that goes on behind the scenes.  She loves J as much as we do and has so much invested.  I love having her by my side through this.

-Family.  Our families loved J from the start and treat her like anyone else in the family.

-Coworkers.  My coworkers coordinated a meal train and restaurant gift cards to make our lives a little easier.  And although it is food, it was the gift of quality family time that they really gave us.

-Church family- Many friends from our parish came and celebrated her presence in our family and loved her from the start.  They came with meals, gifts, and even money!

-Friends- Near and far away friends who check in constantly by text or phone call asking how things are going are a big source of strength to help us keep on keepin'-on.

In addition to these are other people who I've met who have made an impression:

-The stranger in the restroom at my first court appearance.  She asked me if I was okay and gave me a reassuring smile. (the look on my face must have given her the clue it was my first time)  Just that one question meant the world to me.

-The receptionist on the phone at a pediatrician's office.  I had been trying to find a doctor for J and her office didn't take the medical assistance that J had and it seemed this was going to be a difficult task to find one that would. She said, "Give me 10 minutes; I'll see what I can do."
In 10 minutes she called me back.  Not only did she find a pediatrician for me, but also made an appointment for us!  Incredible how she went above and beyond to help me.  I was so touched.

-The nice lady in CVS.  it was just a simple conversation, but she encouraged me in my work and gave me a booster shot of confidence.
 
 For our family of 7, we are going on with life as usual.  We take things one day at a time. We talk constantly about how she's only on loan to us and that although we're doing this to help her mom, we are ultimately doing it for God.  It's all in His hands.

I just love watching Bill and our kids love her in their own ways.  It's been a real joy.









That's the update for Jackie.  There's more Everyday Happenings with the rest of the kids.  I'm hoping to share them in the next couple of days. We have been enjoying a laid back kind of week with all of us home, including Dad!

I'm hoping you all had a very Merry Christmas!







Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Just One Year (JOY)

It was just about one year ago that Bill and I began a journey that will probably change us forever.

Before I introduce you to the little person that has invaded our home with sweet baby love, I wanted to share the journal entry I wrote back in October, 2016.

10/25/16
Today was the day we took our official first step in our foster care journey.  Bill and I attended an information session at a local foster care agency.

We met A and S who were very nice.
Afterwards, we went across the street to a diner for some coffee and dessert.  It was then that we decided to move ahead.

Bill had to take multiple work calls tonight so I was playing around on my phone.  On the USCCB website the readings were:

First Reading: Ephesians 5:21-33 (Our wedding's first reading)
Responsorial Psalm- Ps128:1-2 3-5   Blessed are those who fear the Lord. (I sure was fearful of what the Lord seemed to be asking us to do!)
Gospel: Luke 13 18-21  The kingdom of God.  What is it like?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.  When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.
(There's an analogy to be made there, I think)

It may be the first official step, however, I do believe the seeds have been planted throughout my entire life.

KMS

Baby J came to us on October 11th.  She was 3 days old.
We still don't know much of her story, or how long we'll have her.  But for now, we are enjoying her and showering her with love. 




Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Senior Year Happenings

Happy All Saints Day, Everyone!

Yes, it's November and life goes on. 

*The mailbox is full of college ads.  Some addressed for Billy.  Some addressed for Mary.
We've done some college visits.  We even took the long Columbus Day weekend to travel to western PA.

First, we visited Penn State.  Billy's #2 in the line-up.  From there we headed to Pittsburgh.  We did, however, take a "pitt stop" in Shanksville, PA to visit the Flight 93 Memorial. It was beautiful and moving.


This picture above was taken at the memorial site looking up at the visitors center.  Between the two is a beautiful path, about a mile long.  A good walk for quiet reflection.  (or goofing around, if you're Tommy and Matt)
I was touched by this.

I'm so glad we all got to see this.

We arrived in Pittsburgh late that night.  The following day was spent site seeing.  The zoo was having a free admittance day so we took advantage of that.



Then we rode around the city a bit.  We had lunch and took some cool pics of the city.



The last day we spent visiting Pittsburgh University.  It was really nice, but very far from Mom home.

*Senior Year for Cross Country.  Here is Billy with his fellow senior teammates.

A tradition is the other teammates decorate their doors and trees.  I could do without the toilet paper.



That's all for now.  I guess before we know it, we'll all be blogging about the holidays!

Thanks for visiting here 😊