Monday, February 26, 2007

He's Here!

Michael Rankin joined our growing family on Saturday 2/24/07 weighing in at 8 lbs, 1 oz, and 19 & 1/2 inches long!

Celeste and baby Michael are doing well. Celeste had to have an unplanned, but not emergency, C-section. She was able to have her regular doctor whom we both like very much. Jacob is a proud big brother; Nicole is happy to hold the little one; and Andrew is quite gentle with Michael, as he is now a "Big brother".

Enjoy the pictures!
Dad to Four.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lenten Theme Song

I have a theme song this Lent. This song, no matter the Liturgical season, always manages to bring me to my knees (not always literally), causes me to reflect deeply and to desire that freedom of soul that Jesus only can bring. This song has been on my mind lately and I have been listening to it in the car when I can. Now, I wouldn't say it is your quiet, meditative type of Lenten song. But I am often moved by powerful songs and deep down there is some hard rock inside this faithful Catholic girl. If you'd like to hear a small snippet, you can go here (#6, "Set Me Free"). I am also including the lyrics.

Set Me Free
by Casting Crowns

It hasn't always been this way
I remember brighter days
Before the dark ones came
Stole my mind
Wrapped my soul in chains
Now I live among the dead
Fighting voices in my head
Hoping someone hears me crying in the night
And carries me away

Set me free of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free

Morning breaks another day
Finds me crying in the rain
All alone with my demons I am
Who is this man that comes my way?
The dark ones shriek
They scream His name
Is this the One they say will set the captives free?
Jesus, rescue me

Set me free of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free

As the God man passes by
He looks straight through my eyes
The darkness cannot hide
Do you want to be free?
Lift your chains
I hold the key
All Power on Heaven and earth belong to me
You are free

Now some of the words may sound a little strong and rather depressing. They may possibly make any one of us want to say, "Well, these words "soul in chains" and "live among the dead", etc. don't apply. I'm just trying to be more patient with the kids." And I can honestly say that I truly wouldn't say I am living in the depths of darkness being plagued by demons. But yet, in a more subtle way don't these words really apply to me? Yes, they do.

My days are bright, but doesn't the darkness come and take a piece of my soul each time I get angry with the children? Don't I walk among the dead, as opposed to the living, each time I sin, no matter how venial? Am I not constantly fighting the voices in my head that tell me I can never overcome this or that fault? For me, yes, that is all true. Do I feel alone with my "demons" - those sins that continually tie me down? I am chained by my sins and failures - not free. Do I not fight and get pulled down by my temper, my overindulgence in food, my self-doubt, my self-pity, my impatience and need to control life. For me this is the stuff of real life. These are the chains that bind me and the demons that take hold of me. From these I want to be free.

My absolute favorite part of the song, and the most powerful, is the part where the "God man passes by." Sends chills down my spine. There He is. The God man! He is looking straight through me. He sees into the depths of me. He knows me fully. And he says to me with strength and power,

"Do you want to be free?
Lift your chains
I hold the key
All Power on Heaven and earth belong to me
You are free"

Yes, Jesus, I want to be free. This Lent set me free! Here are my chains. Unlock them and set me free, Lord. All power on Heaven and earth - WOW! Take my soul and set it free!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday at 9:21 PM

Ash Wednesday has come and ALMOST gone (maybe if I go to bed I will forget about food). Despite my lack of energy to do a whole lot of anything, I think the Lenten season has gotten off to a good start. We had a simple breakfast and then went to Mass at 9am. Brian was there to help out and the kids were all really well behaved. We got to take up the gifts. Jacob and Nicole thoroughly enjoyed that! I could tell it made Jacob feel so proud to carry the bowl of hosts that would become Jesus. And Nicole, without any complaints, grabbed the big, heavy basket of food donations and lugged it all the way down the long aisle to the altar. After Mass we were able to visit with many of our friends from our homeschool group. How uplifting and joyful that was for me!

We did not do any school work today. I wasn't sure if we were going to and when I realized the lack of time and our more pressing need to prepare our Lenten activities, we left the Math book in the bucket and opted for paper and scissors. We hung up our Stations of the Cross (8 x 10) around the downstairs. We have done this several years in a row and the kids really love it and get a lot out of it. We have a children's version of the Stations and every Friday during Lent we walk from station to station here at home. Then we began our Lenten chain. This is a chain made of purple construction paper links. Each time one of the kids does something kind, loving, thoughtful, etc. they can tell me and we will put a link on the chain. This year we added on an idea from the Domestic Church website. We spent most of our time today making this little road and all its accessories. I hope the children will enjoy moving our "van" along the road each Sunday of Lent.

The other thing I would like to do is make a crown of thorns to display. If we can manage to make it to Hobby Lobby this week, we might be able to find something there to make one. I just think it would be a simple yet powerful reminder for all of us during this season.

While the kids didn't exactly fast today, we did try to keep our meals and snack pretty simple and plain. At the end of the day, just before dinner, Jacob asked me, "Mom, will we get to eat more tomorrow? Or will we eat less and less each day of Lent?" You know Jacob, I understand those feelings all to well. :)

No baby yet

Well, this afternoon's appointment went well. I am a "good 2 to 3 cm." It truly could be any time now. My doctor said with a smile, "Well, I'll make your appointment for next Wednesday, but I'll see you on Saturday." That would be fine, especially considering that she is the doctor on call for the weekend! Yeah!

And.....Take away that other spice - the concern over Fifth's disease. My blood test said that I had been exposed a long time ago, so I am immune (so is baby then) and I have not been exposed recently. Yeah! What a load off. Now I think I am officially ready to give up worrying for Lent! :)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Today in Pictures

Praising God for a lovely day!

Baking cookies (Andrew's first time)

What more could he need? A boy and his horse, a Cinderella crown, some glittery purple shoes, and a homemade oatmeal raisin cookie.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Princess!

I should have written this post yesterday, but I never got to it. By the time the kids were in bed, I was headed the same direction! I'm sorry, Little Princess, that this is not more timely. But Happy Birthday just the same!

Four years ago, on February 17th, we welcomed our precious baby girl into the world. And now I cannot imagine the world without her. It all began on a Sunday evening, as Daddy, Jacob and I finished up pizza in front of the T.V. As I maneuvered myself out of my seat in a tiny little children's chair, my water broke just a little. My parents came to fetch Jacob and take him home with them. Then off to the hospital we went. There were no contractions, so we waited until 1:00 am when they induced labor. Nicole Marie was born a short six and a half hours later.

What a joy you have been to us, precious girl. So sweet and yet so decisive and strong. So girly and yet not afraid to dig in the dirt. You are thoughtful and caring. You are your favorite color, pink, through and through. You take delight in Mary and the Saints. I am convinced they visit you in your dreams - Joan, Therese, Bernadette. Sometimes your temper gets the best of you (a lot like Mommy), but I know this will bring out in you great spirit and character and an enthusiasm for Christ and His Church. I love how you love certain things with such firmness - chicken nuggets, monkey, pickles, ballet and princesses. I love watching you grow and become more beautiful day by day. I love you little Nicole. Happy Birthday!

February 17, 2003

February 17, 2004

February 17, 2005

February 17, 2006

February 17, 2007

Minus one Spice

Well, yesterday we happily trotted over to Lowe's and bought a new toilet. Yeah!

I never knew there could be so many toilets to choose from, nor that I could be thrilled to actually make such a purchase!

We perused the toilets on display and considered the different features and options (didn't know there were any). Then we decided on a nice low to mid price range model and loaded it on the cart. We had narrowed it down to 3, but decided to spend about $10 more for the "high performance" model. This would be opposed to the "standard performance" models. I am not sure what kind of effect this "high performance" feature will have on our lives, but it sounded good. I figure a family of almost 6 merits the "high performance" option.

Friday, February 16, 2007

About the Fifth's Disease

A dear friend of mine said in a comment that Fifth's disease can be potentially harmful to a pregnant woman and her baby. That is true.

From what I have learned, it seems that the "disease" is of little consequence to most children and adults who get it. But it is possible that it can cause problems for a pregnant woman, most especially in the first half of pregnancy. Additionally, I understand that if you have been exposed before you have a lasting immunity. They can perform a simple blood test to determine this.

We do not know if we have it, but it is possible we have been exposed. There were some cases among the large population of children in our co-op. I called our pediatrician and my OB/GYN yesterday morning. My OB had me come in to have blood taken for the blood test. It will tell two things - if I have been exposed in the past (antibodies present) and if I have been recently exposed. I will find out results either late today, but most likely Monday. My doctor said Baby and I are probably fine, especially at 38.5 weeks, but it pays to know. It is going around here. Thankfully I am at a point in this pregnancy that if there were a problem, Baby could be delivered without it being too early.
I'll let you know how things turn out.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

And add a little spice

To our already busy life as we prepare for a little baby, we have just added on:

* an outbreak of fifth's disease in our weekly homeschool co-op


* a very large, leaky crack in the tank of our downstairs toilet (I miss it!!!!!)

Just enough spice to keep things interesting and Mama hopping!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm still here

Well, I went to my appointment not quite knowing what to expect since I had already made some progress last week. But no change. None at all. But that's OK. I'm not in a hurry. Baby will arrive when it is time.

Thanks for all your continued prayers and Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Brian and Celeste: the love story

I have had fun reading a few other's stories of their dating and engagements. So here is ours.

Eleven years ago this past December, I sort of met this guy named Brian at a friend's annual Christmas get together. There weren't many people there. I say "sort of met" because I really didn't remember him too well after that evening. Come to find out though, he remembered me very well. He had liked me, but thought I had to have been dating one of the other guys that were there. Nope.

About a month and a half later, I decided to attend my first Catholic Campus Ministry retreat. I was a Junior. My friend who had hosted the Christmas party told me, "Oh, yeah, remember that friend of mine, Brian, who was at my Christmas party? (uh, not really). Well, he's on the Campus Ministry Team and will be leading the retreat." I was glad I might vaguely know someone. From what I understand, Brian had been told that I was coming and made a point to look handsome that day. I rode with him and some other girls to the retreat. Over the course of the retreat, I decided I REALLY liked him and even thought he must be a little too good to be true. But then I thought he was interested in this other girl who was on the retreat. Wrong.

Not too long after the retreat, we bumped into each other here and there on campus and at some point I gave him my phone number. I am not sure what my reasoning was and now that I look back on it, I think "How awful of me!!!!" But soon I got a phone call on a Friday during Lent inviting me out on a date for that Saturday. I was beside myself - a little excited - no, A LOT!!!! You see, I was not dating material, as some might be considered. I never had many dates or guys interested in me. I was considered a little too smart and I made good grades. Oh, well. So to think he was actually maybe sort of kind of interested - WOW!!!!!!!

The evening arrived - March 2, 1996. He met my parents and we were off. Had a great time eating out and going to a movie. After the date, he took me home and we stood out front saying goodbye. I said, "Maybe we could do something again sometime." His response????? A lackluster "Um, yeah." I went in. I cried to my mother. I knew he'd never ask me out again. Come to find out it was all part of his plan. What plan was that? I'm not real sure. But it must have worked because we're married. Soon after that date, on a group evening out country dancing, we wanted to spend all our time together. Every dance. But it was hard because the others didn't really know we'd started dating.

We dated for a little over a year before getting engaged. But we KNEW very early on that this was it. By our four month dating anniversary we were sure. I had to finish up school, but we began preparing and planning and dreaming and spending every minute of our spare time together. He proposed to me on a Sunday afternoon in July (July 6th). I had thought it was going to be a night or two earlier and I was wrong - and a little bummed. We went to eat in Galveston. Then he took me to an Adoration Chapel at a retreat center nearby. He had gone there beforehand and stashed a scrapbook he'd prepared with all kinds of little memories and mementos collected over the course of that year. Let me deviate one moment. We had this little habit of leaving messages in a sort of code - for instance, HG = Handsome Guy. We were really good at it. So anyway, after looking at the scrapbook, he got down on his knee and said.........


And I oh, so cleverly said, "Y."

And then he said in a dumbfounded tone, "What do you mean, "Why"?????? I just told you why!"

Giggling to myself, "No, Brian. Y."

Brian gasped, "What do you mean?"

"BRIAN, the letter Y!!!!!!!! As in 'Yes'."

And so it began. What a memory!

And just a couple of days over a year after our engagement, we were married. July 11, 1998. Eight and a half years and almost four children later, I'd say we were right about those feelings so early on. I am so glad we knew. I am so glad God made it clear in so many ways. This incredibly Catholic, handsome, sensitive, funny and loving man was NOT too good to be true! He was real. He was wonderful. And he was/is mine.

Happy Valentine's Day, dear husband! APGLHHG

Anniversary, 2006

What a Difference A Day Makes

Today was a very different day. Same tired. Same aches. Same questions as to pains and "feelings". Different day.

There was sunshine today and I do think that makes a difference.

I was more optimistic, more cheerful, more determined, more busy and, of course, now I'm more tired. But I am thankful for the day and how it went. And I told God so many times throughout the day.

So now, four loads of baby laundry later, I am feeling more prepared. I have relocated Andrew's clothes, etc. I did a little organizing. Got some school accomplished. Provided paper hearts for the kids to make valentines.

Tomorrow is my appointment. I have another blog entry to prepare and a few treats to set out for my little Valentines. Then I'm off to bed!

Thank you all for your kind, encouraging words and love and prayers. I am sure they all had a great effect on how my day turned out.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Postpartum dreaming

Maybe it's the cloudy weather. Maybe it's the non-maternity clothes looking at me from my closet shelf. Maybe it's the boxes of baby clothes waiting to be washed. Maybe it's the new infant car seat installed just yesterday.

Whatever it is, today I feel ready. Ready to meet Baby. Ready to feel myself again. Ready. But, like I said before, Baby growing strong and healthy seems even more important.

Today I feel achy and uncomfortable. I have no energy. Each uncertain feeling makes me wonder and question. I am tired and lackluster. I really would rather hibernate. All this from a person who is normally energetic, busy, cheerful, motivated and accomplishing. Baby's arrival can seem at times so far away and yet so soon.

I guess the hardest thing is that I still want to be the mommy that my children are used to and need. But I am having trouble digging it up. As I sit here tired, weepy tears come into my eyes and I shield my face from little eyes in the other rooms. Then in trots a playful 20 month old with a pink balloon. He pats my arm and lets out a squeal. In wanders a 6 year old needing a little patient help with his phonics. I oblige. I hear an almost 4 year old princess "reading" to herself in the next room. Despite her mild cold, her voice is cheery as she tells the story. I love them all. They all love me and they need me. I guess today I must look to see the love I can give in the little ways and allow their hugs and smiles and heads on my shoulders to cheer and warm me.

Don't get me wrong. I have it pretty darn great - thanks to God. I suppose I am weepy and over-emotional, tired and impatient. All things I can change. How silly you must think I am, but still it helps to share. So now I will finish my coffee, blow my nose and put on a smile. Father, I put it all in your hands.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nicole's 4th Birthday PARTY

Yesterday Nicole celebrated her birthday with family and friends. Her actual birthday is the 17th, but with Baby due so soon, we decided to squeeze in her party a week early. Plus, she wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese on her real birthday and if I am still here, I don't think I can do a birthday party and Chuck E. Cheese all in one day. Don't even think that would work on two consecutive days.

Nicole wanted an Ariel party and, of course, most everything had to be pink. Despite the lack of little girls in attendance, I think she had a fun party. We made a craft, ordered pizzas and had olives and pickles on the side (her favorites). We opened presents and ate cake. Nicole and I had a lot of fun after the party playing withe all her new toys.

I'm still here

I did not realize I have not blogged an entry since Monday - how sad! Little did I realize that this was keeping a few of my dear blogging friends in suspense.

But, no, I am still here and Baby is yet to make its official entrance to this world. My blogging laziness has been due to my laziness, my tiredness, my lack of motivation to do much in the evenings, and preparations for Nicole's birthday party (yesterday).

Keep posted over the next days and week, though. Tomorrow I hit 38 weeks and my next appointment will be on Wednesday. Last Wednesday I was already making some progress, but I have had no noticeable contractions. I am physically ready, mentally ready, prepared ready. But I am not ready for Baby's sake. No matter how uncomfortable I may feel, etc., I much prefer Baby to stay put as long as is healthy, so it can grow and strengthen! Jacob was 41 weeks. Nicole was 38 weeks 5 days. Andrew was 39 weeks. So really it could be any day now and we are excited. Sometimes I get myself all worked up, worrying that it will come too soon and not be big and healthy. So pray for me that I will put it in God's hands and know that he is in charge of this Baby - not me!

Other prayers for us would be:
- that we get our OB for the delivery
- that everything goes normally and will not require a C-section
- that baby is super healthy
- for a 4th successful start to breastfeeding.

You are all so dear to me and I know your prayers are effective! I can't wait until Baby gets here and Brian can come home and post an entry with photos and details.

Monday, February 05, 2007

My kitchen floor

is no longer the most filthy place on the face of the earth.

It has been vacuumed and mopped. It soooooooo needed it! Every time I walked in there over the weekend, I cringed. But cleaning it then would have been futile. The kids were playing outside and it still has not dried up completely in the swamp that used to be our yard. Brian was doing work on cabinets in the garage all weekend. Yes, futile at the least.

So this morning I met the floor with determination. It did not fight back. I even think I heard it sigh in relief.

And thankfully the weather has been lovely today, so we gave the floor (and mom) an break and ate our lunch out in the driveway!

We'll see how it looks after dinner!

Housekeeping Meme

Well, I have not been officially tagged by name for this one, but I have been seeing it around out there. And this morning Cay Gibson at Cajun Cottage tagged "YOU." So I took that to mean ME! Yeah!

Nope. I have one, two, maybe three. Never wear them, but I should.

I love to bake AND I love to eat what I bake. I think my favorite think to bake has to be pumpkin bread! Hmmmm, that sure sounds good!

No. Never had one and I don't think I want one.

DONUTS – Have you ever made them?:
No, I have not, but seeing as I simply adore them, I guess I should give it a try sometime.

EVERY DAY – One homemaking thing you do every day:
Clean up after meals. Some sort of laundry. General tidying up and keeping things in place.

FREEZER – Do you have a separate deep freeze?:
Yes. We bought one about 6 months ago. You see we usually have around 6 to 8 containers of ice cream around. So space was really limited for all the other non-essentials like chicken and beef. Really. I have been filling it up with sale meats and pre-cooked meals for after baby. I love having it!!!!!

Yep. Relatively new. Got more horsepower this time. I am a disposal-aholic.

HANDBOOK – What is your favorite homemaking resource?:
Mostly, all the things my mother taught me and impressed upon me growing up. Next, I'd have to say the Internet and books. I love hearing about the innovative ideas that other moms have.

IRONING – Love it or hate it?:
Absolutely hate it. I dry clean Brian's dress shirts if they are not wrinkle free - whoever would buy such a thing????? Otherwise, I try never to buy things that need ironing.

JUNK DRAWER – Y/N? Where is it?:
Yes, in my kitchen. I try to keep it organized, but it is one spot I can't get a handle on. So when I find I am having trouble opening it, I clean it out.

KITCHEN: Design & Decorating?:
Vintage antiques that I have been collecting for years. 30's, 40's and 50's era. Old kitchen utensils and tools and bowls and dishes - and I use it all.

LOVE: What is your favorite part of homemaking?:
Any chore where I really feel like it is clean when I am done. Dusting definitely does into fit into that category. I really love keeping things in their place.

MOP - Y/N?:
I shoot for twice a week - Monday and Friday, but sometimes it's only once. Like last week!

NYLONS - Wash by hand or in the washing machine?:
I don't wear them much at all, so I never really need to wash them.

OVEN - Do you use the window, or open the door to check?:
Open the door. I turn on the light so the kids can peer in, but I need to open it for proof.

PIZZA - What do you put on yours?:
I prefer the works, everything. But nobody else here really likes that.

QUIET - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?:
When 37 weeks pregnant, it means laying down and closing my eyes - even if I don't really intend to. Normally it would mean getting things accomplished or reading.

Not anymore. I converted everything to a binder with plastic sleeves about a year ago and I love it. Then there are my cookbooks (my favorites are Gooseberry Patch and our Parish cookbook).

Traditional (built in the 90's). Light and bright - I love my home!

We use plastic placemats that can be wiped down and cloth napkins.

UNDER THE KITCHEN SINK - Organized or toxic wasteland?:
It's organized, but there's not much under there other than the trash can. We relocated most of the stuff since I really didn't like having safety locks on those doors.

VACUUM - How many times per week?:
I aim for once a week upstairs. That doesn't always happen. I aim for twice a week downstairs. That doesn't always happen either. But the kids help with a dustbuster after at least one meal a day.

WASH - How many loads of laundry do you do a week?:
At this point only 5 to 6, but I am sure that will be changing soon.

X's - Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?:
Nope. It's all in my head. That might change too.

YARD - Who does what?:
I plant flowers and move shrubs (I do it a lot) and enjoy keeping it pretty. Brian does all the mowing and trimming and heavy work. Jacob likes to do the blower after mowing.

ZZZZ's - What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?:
Make sure the coffee is made and tidy up the house. I love going to bed knowing things are tidy and put away the next morning.

I tag Michele and Robin!