Guest Post - A letter from Jana

Jana, who is in her second year of mission work - sent this to me and our family today. Of course I cried and laughed. It's blog worthy because I hope to always have it. One of the fruits of giving God a portion of your life is that He allows you to see things differently, and she shows this in her gratitude.

How I love Jana!

Dearest Family, I want to close this month of gratitude with a special thanks to each one of you.

All of you contribute something beautiful to the family and I can’t imagine what we would be like if one of you was missing. I’m reading the novel “Little women” right now and I have learned an important lesson. Despite the little riches they had, they learned how to value everything that God gave them, making them more happy and rich than all the rest of their friends.
“For she had not yet learned how rich she was in the blessings alone which make life happy.”

Just like George Bailey, we are the richest family I know.

Maria. Thank you for constantly encouraging each member of our family to persevere for our faith through your incredible testimony of conviction. I think I learned how to really be an authentic catholic just by watching you as I grew up. You are truly a tireless apostle and your Joy is so contagious.

Anna. Thank you for always being a peacemaker in our family and for having patience with everyone. Your compassionate heart always knows when one of us is in need and you have always been there to support each one of us in everything we do.

Tricia. Thank you for being so flexible with whatever God has in plan for you. You are so generous with Him. You go out of your way to make everyone around you more happy. I always enjoy the time I get to spend with you, and I especially thank you for giving me a Godson to look after! What a blessing.

Angela. Thank you for being the sunshine in my life!! You have the ability to spark people lives with laughter and Joy just by being yourself. I love how much you love life itself. You treat it as such a precious gift, and you inspire me to relish all of life’s blessings that most people take for granted. You savor even the simplest moments of each day, which is why the moments I spend with you, regardless of what we might be doing, are memorable ones. I want to be like you when I grow up. :)

Joe. Thank you for always being able to offer me your advice when I need it. You gave God the first spot in your heart from a very young age, and the five years that you surrendered to Him did more for our family than you will ever know. Thank you for teaching me to “Never be afraid suffer for Christ”. Through your own sacrifices, you showed me how to really love. You’re my favorite older Brother.

Madeline. Thank you for always being at my side, for building me up when I’m having a bad day, for listening to me, for understanding me, for being there no matter what. I think you see my faults more often than anyone else..yet you still love me. Thank you for making me laugh until I cry and for never letting me down. You are truly my most kindred spirit. :)

Peter. Thank you for the time you spend with me, for helping me plan things for the family, for keeping me updated on the buckeyes, for being a faithful buckeye fan, for sharing the kitchen with me and letting me make you lunch even when you want to make it yourself…you’re a real sport and your turning out to be a fine gentlemen. I don’t think the family would have had the amazing time at the cardinals vs. Reds game over the summer if it hadn’t been for you!! You make things happen around here-we need more people like you!

Paul. Well, well, well. I really want to thank you for your genuine kindness. You are secretly caring for everyone around you and we don’t even realize it sometimes! You always know how to make me laugh and your certainly one of the most sweetest 13 year old boys that I know. The way you take care of your turtles is the way you take care of us-with extra love, tenderness and concern. Oh and thank you for your killer dance moves- you represent our family very well. And thanks for letting me pull your ear lobe all the time.

Gianna. Thank you for teaching me how to be a joyful and simple servant. You are always the first person to do whatever the other one needs and you motivate me want to do the same. You are naturally generous. Thank you for appreciating all the things that I also love. It is so much fun to have someone who is so much like me and will do anything with me if I simply ask her to. Thank you for spending time with me this summer and for always being my friend.

Grace. Thank you for your dimples, your smile, your toe points and your long hair. You will grow up to be a beautiful princess, I’m sure.

Mom and Dad. Thank you for trusting God enough to have 11 crazy children. In the movie the “ultimate Gift”, the young little girl’s biggest wish is to be loved my two people who really love each other. Well I think none of us ever had to wish for this because you both have never stopped loving each other, and that love is seen through the way that you love each one of us. Thank you for your beautiful marriage. You have never stopped giving everything you have for our family. I love you all. Amen.


Turkey Hash

The food, the table, the family, playing family and catch phrase, Ron Pual, push up contests, and lots of stories made it a great great Thanksgiving.

Condensed version via pictures:

Table Before Lindsay got to it.... The table after Lindsay...

Thank you Lindsay...my Thanksgiving wouldn't have been as much fun without a pretty table!

The meal....

I sqeezed and nibbled on her all day

Watching all the cooks in the kitchen

The food spread....oh food how I love thee.... The little girls cousin table

Post meal....Favorite Aunt Hilary with the dogs....

Jora and Andrew.....

Oops...I mean Mila and Avila ... sorry to hurt your feelings Avs

We stared at Mila all weekend - love her! And Kri too ; )

Crazy Uncle Tim...

Nicholas loved the dogs...subconsciously stuck out his tongue while petting them-every time.

We decided to play off our Thanksgiving meal by going to the park - illegally.

Don't these women just scream fun?! They are.


A Little Detail...from God

Today was our first snow. The snow fell out of the sky like huge soft white feathers. It was beautiful to watch. I immidiately called Nicholas and Christiana to come and look. Their grew wide with awe and wonder. I think it's funny that the first snow can always draw the same reaction no matter how old we are.

Nicholas remembered well enough to get his coat on and run outside. I got a picture with my phone since Andrew had the camera. Of course, the trains made it out there too and were dragged through the half inch of it.

At one point, Nicholas looked up in the sky and said, "Jesus' Heaven celebration"...not quite sure where that came from.

After naptime, they asked of Santa Clause came. I chuckled at their little logical thinking.

So this is how Jesus, in his love for details, spoke to my heart today. So fact one:Ever since I was little, I've loved George Winston's December album and in particular, Carol of the Bells, and I love playing it as soon as Thanksgiving arrives. Fact two: There is a long standing tradition in our family that whenever the first snow falls and sticks, you are allowed to call the other family members, usually cousins, and play Christmas music over the phone - you win if the snow fall hits your house first.

Today...the snow started falling. I briefly thought about finding my christmas cds and calling my family far away, but holding Avila that process seemed too much at the time. I usually listen to classical piano on Pandora. It was palying this morning as I starred out my window looking at the snow and thinking how creative the mind of God to design the rain to freeze into something so intricate and mystical as snow....and as a gentle way of bringing in something that is cold....then my favorite song came on, out of nowhere, not even in a Christmas playlist. It was as if God was reaching out into my day, calling my heart and playing the song for me.

It is little I know, but I know God loves in the details, and knows my heart well enough to know how to make it smile big inside. It did. I hope I can love Him in return in little details of my daily life...like wet pants, spit up, constant asking for things....which I usually miss to see.

Switching modes

....SOMEBODY is had her check up and is in the 70% percentile for weight and 75% for height....it seems we have a classic little meatball. I don't think she looks that big but then again I'm not one for growth charts, we never even made the charts in our house growing up...maybe 10th percentile of something.

Avila, since she is five months now. (how is that possible?, pretty sure it's still September in my head) She tried rice for the first time and she acted like she knew what she was doing - leaning into the spoon and opening her mouth wide. She must be secretly watching us eat and taking notes.


Annual Veteran's Parade

I'm sure that I get more excited about our town's Veteran's Day parade than the kids do. I love watching them watch the parade and marching bands wake up something strange inside of me. I'm just glad I don't do a full out dance in front of the town. But apparently Nicholas got the same gene and you can see him belting out a nice good march in the yard.

Each year, the bands and all the floats line up right outside in front of our house. We get up early and head outside to watch it all begin. This year the humane society, with 20 some odd dogs and two horses (ok great danes - same thing) met in front of our house as well.

We usually pre-parade tailgate at our house with coffee and doughnuts. Then, with an unusually a large crew - make our own parade downtown to watch.

The pre-parade front stoop view. The autumn morning sun is apparently very bright.

Aunt Kev

Tucked in and snug as a bug to watch the parade

Buddies Myla and Hayden

Bosco sporting his classic bulldog pup face - love it.

And I love this face.

This year Christiana was brave enough to run into the streets to vie for the candy. She was like Gus Gus getting there rather slow and late each time, but managed to hoard a few pieces.

Avila, watching everyone else eat their parade candy, thought why not try a pink button?

A personal favorite, Clydesdale horses.

Glad to know I married the right man, it seems he loves parades as much as I do.



With Nicholas:

Nicholas: "It's ten till 8" or "It's a quarter to 11." (Not sure where the interest in time and how to properly tell it is coming from, but I'm always amused.)

Sitting in back seat of the car in an undisclosed parking lot...

Nicholas: "That sign says Bud Light because the h is silent."

I'm unloading the dishwasher...

Nicholas:"Mom, I just really like you and Dad. And Pudding and Avila."

Me: "Nicholas, we are going to grill hamburgers tonight."

Nicholas: "Are you serious?"

Andrew: "Nicholas, is Henry your best friend?"

Nicholas: "Yeah, he's hilarious."

With Christiana:

8 .m. coming downstairs....

Me: "Good morning!"

Christiana: "Can you get me warm?"

Me: wrapp her blanket around her, carry her downstairs...

Chrstiana: "Oh thank you Thomas!" (I'm Thomas, or sometimes Percy, from Thomas the Train)

*They have not watched Thomas the Train for six months now, but the effects are clearly still lingering.*

Me: "Christiana you and Avila are going to be great friends."

Pud: "No, I'n Henry."

4 minutes later

Nicholas: " Pudding, eat your cereal."

Christiana: "No, I'n Henry."

4 mins. later (Christiana gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of every meal EVERY day)

Nicholas: "Pudding, your cereal is going to get soggy."
Pudding, from the pot, in a gruff voice: "No it's not...snapped Henry."

Pudding gently reminds us, without fail, for about month now, that she is Henry. The name change came along with very great imaginary play stage. Sometimes Henry is changed to Rio or Chick Hick. I'm usually Thomas and Dad is Rocky. She and Nicholas go about their day finding animals, trains, cars, or if everything is taken away (at the dinnertable), fingers and carry on very serious conversations.

I was reflecting on how I love hearing their little voices around the house all day long. Some very sad day, all too fast, it will be quiet in our house, so I will relish their voices and thoughts while I can.


What a fun weekend. Cousin time all around. William and Bridget came for the weekend and so did Kristin and Jora. It was time well spent. Didn't capture all the many events that took place: International Dinner Party which featured Italy, Fall Leaf Pick Up, Pure Fashion Mother Daughter Tea...long weekend.

Did manage to get but a few...


Hoarders, Ugg Boots and Heaven

In today's news...Avila spit up on my Ugg boots. Really? The love story behind the Ugg boots is that I was not going to pay $100 for them - no - instead I very proudly waited 5 years after everyone else to get them - searched in July on Ebay to finally pay only $30 some odd dollars for them. They are the only things that keep my abnormally cold feet toasty. I'm trying to be frugal and understand I can not affort to buy nice things - hence ebay - and then....sigh - spit up was splattered all over them at approximately 11 a.m. this morning. And on top of that I let the yeast sit too long tring to bake bread.

I know this is a trivial matter, that I'm not wearing these boots into Heaven, but I just want to know why? Ok, I know why, but it doesn't take away my stomache ulcer. God knows how much I loathe being spit up on. I LITERALLY just told someone that it is a form of suffering for me an hour earlier, trying to incourage a friend who was having a bad day to offer it up. Coincidence? No such thing. It's All Souls Day today and I have, in good faith, God intentionally allowed this. Funny what forms suffering come in - I mean, I myself find it odd that being spit up upon could un-nerve me so much EVERY time. I'm think God is helping to detach from my love of clothes and shoes because they are slowing being ruined from over washing and stains. Death by spit-up.

I once heard of a man, who when buying a new car, would come home and put a dent in it, just to keep himself from getting too attached to material things. What a good holy man. Then there is Kim Kardashian who completely looses it when her $750K something earing is lost in the ocean. Who would waste that much money on earings?! But to some degree I spend money on something material that, in the end, is just as pointless. I don't want to turn into Kim but since I wouldn't naturally choose to detach from my goods God must kindly be helping me detach by using a fat, cute, little, pudgy baby. I can offer this up for something, it is so very painful, feeling the purge of soul is healthy.

So if you see me in my Ugg boots with one of them that has a seriously dark splatter stain - know many souls were saved by that sacrificial boot. Shoot - see how long this post is about a pair of boots? Confirmation that I was too attached.

In other news.....

Somebody is hoarding all her milk and storing it for winter....Somebody (Avila's nickname is "Somebody")

Is it unnatural for me to want to keep nursing her throughout the night just so she can keep getting plumper? Andrew keeps wondering why I haven't let her learn to sleep through the night yet and I think deep down this is why.

Heart attack...
Is it the thunder thighs, flabby knee caps, padded feet, or double chin? I can't decide.

Alert: Official new member of the pack...


Halloween at this age is just for parent viewing pleasure...and there was much to be had. Although somewhat stressful - ok very stressful - after a mix of 20 bribes and threats and then ending with a "Who's Excited for Halloween" we made it out the door and into the streets for 1.2 hours of candy bliss.
Somebody didn't make a peep the whole night- it may have been because she screamed for an hour that afternoon refusing to take her nap (she must have been too excited for Halloween)

All I can see in this picture is big head of rainbow hair on a little body...delightful.

Showing Dad our treasures after each house. Christiana would tell Dad she got some for him too.