Meet Ruby

This week I purchased a new computer, and it’s just for me. Sure, my son has begged to play games on it a few times, but so far he hasn’t managed to get his hands on it. I’m really hoping this is the answer to my lack of posts woes. Maybe. It is likely, however, that my 13 month old monster may have more to do with that than the old, and very slow, computer.
For instance, just now I wanted to spend a few moments online to catch up on some blogs I follow and test out my new, red, little, special computer. Within five minutes, Matthias managed to empty out some of the drawers of my dresser. Ghosts of my past life, before nursing (yes, he is still nursing) are currently strewn across the carpet. He and his snotty nose (because don’t all little boys have snotty noses this time of year) have moved on. Who knows what he has gotten into now. Thank God for my older children as they keep track of his trail of destruction while I acquaint myself with Ruby (shouldn’t I name this new machine?).

So, say a prayer and raise your glasses to Ruby. Three cheers: hip, hip, hooray, etc.

Ruby, don’t take your love to town. I need some company.


This Present Season

Suddenly we have rain. The blazing summer sun whose heat kept me in sandles and tank tops is covered with bright, grey clouds that keep spitting out bits of rain. The temperature has dropped so that I have to put on socks to keep my toes warm and even a light sweater to take off the chill. My socks are strange and twisted on my feet and my sweater bulky around my shoulders.

It is not unusual for me to feel uncomfortable and restless when the season changes. There is so much I did not accomplish in the last season. There is so much to do in the next. I write lists, goals, and inspirations on slips of paper that promptly get lost in the hustle and bustle of this new season, soon to be over and on to the next.

The seasons of life can catch me off guard at times as well. I avoided the season of being a mom without a baby when Matthias came along a year ago; but a mom with a baby at forty is much different than a mom with a baby at twenty. It too is a new season. It's a lot like fall instead of spring. I take more time to sip and savor the baby moments like I would a cup of tea on a fall day like today. I take note of the minor changes in this little guy like I do the discoloration of the leaves and the crispness in the air. He was able to sit still and take an interest in a book today. I stayed with the moment as long as I could. Soon he'll be in the summer of reading. Now I can guide his little hands and eyes to recognize the letter "E" and the elephant.

It's so different from the baby in the spring of my twenties. I was all in a rush to get that baby to grow up. At the end of today, that baby of my spring season will have completed her first month of public high school. She has been a mostly happy, often haughty, home schooler since 3rd grade, so a step onto a public high school campus in a new town where she did not know a soul, was not easy. To top all the newness off, she is pretty shy, although growing more confident every day. I have been one proud mama as she walks with courage into school each morning sporting her dress code clothing (collared shirts kakhi pants).

And now I cry as I think of her in her season of young womanhood. The wider world is so new to her. I fear the bite and stings she will feel as the reality of life begins to confront her; but I have let her go and experience it for herself. She knows all about the "E" and the elephant. I've taught her most of what I know about the simpler things. In fact, she knows more than I do now (so she thinks). Yet she still comes to me when she doesn't know and I take her hand and teach her slowly what I have learned about friendships, the ups and downs of feelings, success in academics and other more "grown up" kinds of things.

Seasons come and seasons go. Life moves on. I try to hold on to the good. I try to sift out the regrets. I try, but often fail and on days like today. Those intimate and important moments from past seasons, good and bad, rest heavily on my heart. I watch a leaf fall from a tree as I wipe a tear from my cheek. The seasons of life, like the seasons of weather, come and go. They ebb and flow like the tide. They wax and wane like the moon. I cling to one and anticipate the next.

Now I take a deep breath and stand in the present.


Just Write: Another Happy Move

Guess what? We moved again. This time it wasn't from one house to another in the same general area. This time we packed up the biggest U-haul with the biggest trailer, and moved our family five hundred miles to the east. Our agates, which tumbled around on the Oregon coast for eleven years, are now scattered in farm country. Instead of waking up to coastal fog and marine air mornings, we wake up to a full, hot sun and the fresh smell of a nearby onion field. What makes it all worthwhile is that we once again live near family. Now we are able to be a part of the day-to-day with Adam's side of the family and my family lives only seven hours away (much closer than 12 hours!). My kids have fifteen cousins to play with and I have their moms and grandma.

We lived in this area when Grace was a baby. It was in the earliest days of our marriage while Adam trudged through nursing school and I worked as an elementary school secretary. With familiarity and family community, it's been a pretty easy transition for us and I'd say we are happy with our decision. So far it feels just right.

After eleven years out on the coast, it was not exactly easy to leave. Time fertilized the soil of our friendships and the roots grew deeply and got entangled. It took some ripping and tearing to transplant and I'm sure dirt and dust will cling to us forever. Part of us, many happy memories of raising babies and the beginning years of home school, will remain over on the coast with our friends we left behind. I am pretty confident in saying this move may not have happened if not for signs that nudged us, one open door at a time, from years of comfort to what many have told us is crazy.

Actually, when Adam first proposed the idea to me around Thanksgiving of last year, that's exactly what I told him, that he was crazy! The crazy part of this move is that he commutes back to the coast every other week to work. So basically he works a week and then is home a week. Adam is very comfortable in his job and has never had any intention of leaving it, so this idea seemed to come out of nowhere. We had not even lived in our house for two years, and I thought we were going to remain there until the kids were raised. Many ideas of moving had come and gone for years and so I figured this idea, one of the most outlandish, would go away with the rest of them.

But it didn't.

By and by, I began to wonder if this was Adam's St. Joseph moment. After Jesus was born, an angel spoke to St. Joseph in a dream. He told him to "take the child and his mother, [and] flee to Egypt..."(Matthew 2:13). Scripture also reveals that St. Joseph was afraid, but he packed up his little family and moved to an unknown land. It was crazy to uproot, leave his home, his family, all he had known, and move to a foreign place because of a dream. Yet, he did it without hesitation.

Since this plan continued to tumble about in our minds and conversations, we decided it may possibly be from God. It seemingly came from nowhere, then wouldn't go away, were strong indicators to us that maybe the Almighty had planted the idea. In order to be faithful to Him, we made the decision to make steps towards moving. We would walk through every open door, and if any door closed, we would accept that as God's will.

One thing that would have slammed the door tight would have been if we could not sell our house for an amount that would allow us to move with ease into another. We figured out the amount of money we would need to get out of our house (Adam set the bar pretty high because he was beginning to get uncomfortable with this idea) and our jaws dropped when our realtor told us we could put the house on the market $40,000 to even $60,000 more than we had estimated. Door number one was wide open and all the doors to come.

During this time of discernment and door testing, we prayed a few novenas. As a family we prayed novenas to St. Joseph and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I prayed a couple on my own to St. Francis Xavier and eventually, I implored St. Rita, the patron saint of desperate situations (because by this time, I really wanted this move to happen and Adam was holding back).

Our friends in heaven pulled through for us. First, the offer on the our new house was accepted and I discovered this from a text and immediately told the person next to me. So, the first person to hear the news happened to be friend who had randomly ended up back in my life for baseball season: Rita. It also just so happened to be on the day of the feast of St. Rita!

In the final days before all the sales were supposed to close, we hit a few snags. This was a lesson of trust and patience because all of our plans had been made. The house was packed up and the U-Hauls ordered. It ended up that the closing dates had to be pushed back on each house and we had a short window before Adam had to return to work. Thankfully, builder/owner of our new house was generous and let us move in a few days before the closing date. That day just happened to be the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help!

The day we moved in, our very friendly neighbor in his late eighties came over to help unload the U-Haul. We carefully set aside the lighter bins for him to stack in the garage and he brought over strawberries to refresh us after unloading. This sweet, generous man's name is none other than...Joseph, but we affectionately call him St. Joseph!

There has not been any obvious signs from St. Francis Xavier. I had never asked for his prayers before. I just had a feeling he wanted me to enlist his help. I had to look up his story because I didn't know much about him. It turns out he was one of the founders of the Jesuit order and, more importantly in our case, from the Basque region of Spain. Forgive me for not exactly knowing why this is so, but there are many Basque descendants around here. I figure St. Francis has some relatives here that we are going to come across at some point :).

All in all, life is good. Crazy, but good. We are happily snuggled in a brand new neighborhood with a mixture of retired couples and families. Grace has started school at the public high school. Clare and Eli have a very happy, comfortable home school group because it is made up entirely of  their cousins and Matthias gleefully crawls along with them. We do miss Adam when he is at work, but we missed him when he didn't commute as well. Now we don't have the extra stress of staying quiet during the day while he sleeps. With all the kids often out of the house with cousins or school, I have discovered part of myself again while Matthias naps. I have a bit of quiet time now to read, write, pray, dream and decorate (at least until we start school in early September).

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment and make me smile. :)

I titled this post "Just Write" for a reason. Two of my friends I had to leave were a part of a my mommy bloggers group. Actually, the three of us were the group. Mary Beth and Jenny are both photographers and share amazing photos of their lives. I, on the other hand, have very few good pictures. It has stopped me in the past from posting very much here because I know how visual our world is nowadays. At our last mommy bloggers meeting, we sipped margaritas and encouraged each other in our blog endeavors. I was encouraged by these two creative gals to not worry about the perfect photo, or any pictures at all, but just write. And so I did. Thanks Mommy Bloggers! I look forward to seeing you online. 


A Baptism Story (Part II)

This post has been on my mind for a long time and for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I want it to be the best thank you I can give to Amy for the amazing job she did on the Baptism party and for being the amazing person she is. Today is her birthday and I cannot postpone any longer.

On the day of the Baptism, I walked in the back door of the church with anticipation. I knew Amy had been diligently planning this special day and she was very excited about it. She had asked me months before if she could put on the party and I was so happy and relieved that she wanted to. I wanted to really celebrate this baby (Adam nixed any baby showers this time around), and Amy was just the gal to make it happen.

This is what I first saw when I walked in! It was beautiful and festive and gorgeous; beyond what I could have imagined. Amy enlisted a few people to help, but not too many because she is a doer and gets things done even with her six kids running circles around her! The cupcakes had Matthias' name on them and were so elegant and delicious. They were made by a friend Amy affectionately calls Steena. Most of Amy's close friends have nicknames and her kids as well.

Here she is, the Baptism Planner, making the punch. Do you see the framed picture behind the cupcakes?  It's Matthias' full name spelled out in Scrabble letters. That was just one of the special gifts Amy made for Matthias and for me. That's just part of who Amy is. She's crafty and almost all of the gifts she gives are made with love by her.

Here is another gift she made. I'm using it now to hold our Christmas cards.

The table decorations were beautiful along with many other special touches...

A banner to bless Matthias...

The festive atmosphere, carefully planned and executed, was practically perfect, but not to be outdone by the food.

It was delicious and celebratory as well, and plenty of it! That's Adam's mom holding the newly baptized boy. See how impressed with the food she is?

At one point, when Amy finally sat down, she asked me if it was everything I had wanted. I told her it was everything and more. The very best part was seeing her satisfied and smiling face. It was clear that she had enjoyed being the Baptism Planner and was happy with her work. That's just another thing I appreciate about Amy, she is able to recognize, without apology, that she has done something well.

Now I want to tell you the back story to this unique and special friend. Our friendship did not come easily.

Amy, and this may be understated, has a strong personality. She's the boss-the grand madame. I tend to be drawn to personalities like Amy's because I prefer the back seat. However, if someone comes on too strong, I usually walk away quickly because I don't like to fight. 

We met almost seven years ago at Amy's sister's house. Sarah, lived just down the block and we spent a lot of time together. Interestingly, but probably not surprising to those who know me, Sarah and I had many long discussions about faith. Amy and Sarah were raised in the Four Square Church. It's a non-denominational, evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic church (hope that describes it right). Needless to say, with that upbringing they both had strong bible backgrounds and a deep love for Jesus.

Amy's sister was interested in Catholicism and over the course of a couple years, her interest turned into a desire to join the Church. In the meantime, Amy was appalled, again that may be an understatement. She, in no uncertain terms, let Sarah and I know that the Catholic Church was "stupid" and we had a few rather intense debates where voices were raised and emotions aroused. At this point if I could have, I would have run away.

But I couldn't. Amy was my dear friend's sister and she was attacking what I loved most, my Catholic faith. It was impossible to back away from either, especially the latter.  So, with dread in my bones, I trudged on and so did she.

Amy took on the Catholic Church, and me, with a vengeance. She was determined to prove to Sarah what a crazy idea it was in order to save her from sure destruction, possibly even from hell (I'm not sure about that part, but maybe..and it sounds as dramatic as it was). Our discussions got pretty intense. I would squeak out my defense like a little mouse in front of a lion (maybe not quite that dramatic), then run under cover and pray while my heart pounded in my chest. At times I really had to resist the urge to run away. There were even times that I would be brought to tears. She is one tough cookie. 

Eventually, that cookie started to crumble and it was such a humble and beautiful thing. I don't mean she crumbled, but her arguments against the Church did. Over the course of four years, our friendship grew and our discussions started to be fun. She tried hard to resist the truth, but as she says herself, truth was calling.

Now, in just a few short weeks Amy, her husband and children will be joining R.C.I.A., a program for people interested in joining the Catholic Church, and I will be her sponsor. As a Christian who did not use to believe in infant baptisms and had never celebrated one, you can see why this baptism was special for her.

There is no other word to describe Amy's conversion but miraculous. She credits her desire to prove her sister wrong, as well as the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the transformation. I see myself as the very flawed and terrified messenger.  Only God could have planned this unlikely turn of events. Her nickname for me: The Converter.

These days Amy loves all things Catholic and especially enjoys feast day celebrations. In the above photos we were were hiking at Cape Perpetua on the Feast of St. Perpetua. 

This year for the Feast of St. Nicholas, her kids got icons that she modge podged onto painted wood. She has also embraced Advent in a way that would shame most life-long Catholics. Only yesterday, less than a week before Christmas, did I finally see Christmas decorations up at her house.

Our friendship is one forged in fire, but now shines like gold. Amy is a loyal and loving friend and even though she may seem like a lion, when she rests a for a moment, her children flock to her loving arms because she is one special mama.

Thank you, Amy, for the awesome Baptism party and for your friendship. What a journey this has been. Happy Birthday!