February 28, 2015

Peyton Rose...A Birth Story

My Peyton Rose was anxious. Anxious to be born. So much so that she tried to come early. I went into preterm labor with my second little blessing on April 1, 2000. I remember being in the hospital and praying she would wait. And she did. Two whole months. On May 31, 2000, Steve and I went to the hospital bright and early for my scheduled C-section.

Peyton was a planned C-section because my firstborn came into the world during a C-section after a twenty four hour labor. My doctor does not perform vaginal births after a C-section, which was more than fine with me.  I remember very little about Peyton's actual birth after all these years, but certain things I can recall as if they happened yesterday. I remember being wheeled into the operating room, which now was located right on the same floor as the babies. I remember waiting to see if we would have a girl or boy, as we never found out beforehand. I remember the wonderful moment as Steve sat right beside me and my doctor proclaimed, "Its a girl!!" It was 8:20 AM on May 31, 2000. I was overjoyed!

Perhaps my strongest memory of my Peyton Rose being born is the moment I met her for the very first time. When I heard she was a girl, I immediately pictured my Madison. The girl I had known for three and a half years. When they brought Peyton over to me as the doctors completed the surgery, I was so surprised! She looked nothing like my firstborn. She had dark hair and dark eyes! I guess had assumed that because she was a girl, she would look like my other daughter. As if all girls have a certain blueprint, right? But there she was...her own little person...with her dark hair and dark skin and perfect lips and this I will never forget...a tiny, tiny, nose that turned upward as a result of how she must have been inside me.

I remember next being in my sunny room on that beautiful late spring morning. We had chosen the most beautiful name for a baby girl...Peyton Rose. And it fit her perfectly. I loved the days I spent in the hospital with my Peyton. One of the perks of a C-section is a four day stay  in the hospital. I was able to bond with my baby, and rest and recover. I knew from experience what to expect as far as recovery, and was able to spend those days rocking her and loving on her. I remember Madison coming to meet her sister, and the joy I felt seeing them together. I remember Steve bringing beautifully wrapped boxes for Peyton and for me...beautiful coming home outfits he and Madison had picked out. And I remember the day we brought our sweet little Peyton Rose home. It was such a beautiful day.

I remember Steve carrying our new baby inside in her car seat. And I remember Madison running to meet her with an armful of toys, wanting to play with her new sister! I remember clearly explaining to her that soon enough, they would be playing Barbies and dollhouse together. Now, almost fifteen years later, I realize how quickly those precious days came and went. And now they have traded the Barbies  and dolls for music and clothes. But they are still as close as they were that very first day at home. And we are blessed.

Our little Peyton Rose. : )

February 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Today I'm thinking about...

...life. And family. And memories. Recently, my mother asked me to go through all her photo albums and scrapbooks for her. She wants to share the photos of her life and family with her daughters, and felt overwhelmed by the task. I told her I would be happy to, and assured her that I would take great care in going through the photos documenting her amazing life.

Each day, I sit at the table and sort through a lifetime of memories...baby pictures, family gatherings, high school dances...random snapshots from everyday life lived years ago in a different time and place. Many of the photos are black and white, some yellowed with age. They provide a peek into a life lived long before I was even thought of. There are photos of people my mother talks about with love...people who were a part of her life...her parents and grandparents...her sister and her brothers and her friends. There are photos of my father and her smiling before they head out to the prom. I am fascinated studying these faces and events. I am cherishing the time spent on actually looking at and seeing the people who meant so much to my mother and father. Their lives were full of people and places long before they were parents and grandparents. And these pictures tell that story. I want to be sure their stories are not lost. Ever.

And so I carefully remove the pictures from the albums. As I do, I think about the people in each one. I think about what I know of their lives. And how much I don't. I make piles. One for myself and one for each of my sisters. I make an extra pile. In this pile I put photos of people I want to know more about. Someday I will sit down with my mother and listen as she tells me about each one. I will make notes on the back so that I can share the stories of these amazing people with my sisters and my children. These are people who were a part of my parents' lives. And a part of mine and of my children. Their lives and stories should not be confined to pages in an album. They should be remembered and displayed and shared. Just as I hope ours will someday in a different place and time.

Here are some of the photos of everyday moments in our lives that perhaps someone will look at years from now and know how we spent our winter days...

We ventured out onto the porch for a glimpse of a beautiful evening snowfall...

and it was sooo peaceful.

I ironed some pink dresses while dreaming of spring. : )

We celebrated Chinese New Year...

with take out and chopsticks.

I took a coffee break with some yummy cherry coffee cake. Recipe here.
Sooo good. : )

We braved the cold for Mass...

and brunch afterward. At Wendy's. Flynn's choice. : )

And just in case someone, someday was wondering...this is me.
Daughter of William and Margaret.
Sister of Mary Theresa, Scarlett, Ann Margaret, and Angel.
Wife of Steve.
Mother to Madison, Peyton, Rhett, and Flynn.
And blessed beyond measure.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

February 25, 2015

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Using chopsticks looks so easy...

but everyone needs a little help sometimes.
Especially from your "Best -Best- Best Friend. : )

And... she's got it!

Thank Heaven for sisters who truly love each other.
And for Chinese Take Out.

February 23, 2015

Madison Marie...A Birth Story

Yes, she is eighteen. And yes, I am writing her birth story now. I have no reason for the delay other than the fact that until recently, I never knew such a thing existed. I am going to share my memories and thoughts here after so many years in hopes that someday, years from now, Madison will be able to read them and know exactly how happy and thankful we were on that snowy November day.

I am including the thoughts and memories I have in my mind. I am not going to be able to include everything that happened because, let's face it, I can't remember what I ate for breakfast some days. Some of the memories from that day have left my mind and found a new home in my heart. But some remain, because how could you not remember pieces of the day your first baby was born? The day she made your dreams come true...

November 25, 1996 was a Monday. And my firstborn baby was overdue. Early in the morning, Steve and I set out to the hospital so I could be induced. The one thing I remember was lying in a bed and feeling my water break. It was around 4:00 in the afternoon. I looked at the nurse and told her I thought something was happening. I asked her what that meant. She looked at me and smiled and said that it meant we wouldn't be going home without a baby.

The rest of the evening is blurry. I remember my mother and father and Steve being there. I remember the Steelers were playing Monday night football, yes...really...and I remember beginning to feel my labor progressing. The pain, that is. Me...not so much. They gave me medicine to try to help things along, but as painful as it was, nothing was happening. I tried everything I knew. Everything the nurses knew. Every position. But no progress. The nurse would check me and would "give me a 2." Finally, they decided to stop the medicine and see what the night would bring.

I do have a vivid memory here. I remember lying in bed thinking that if they stopped the medicine, the pain would stop, right? I was such a novice. I looked at my mom. She was sitting right beside my bed. And I remember asking her when the pain would stop. I remember her smiling. I remember her holding my hand and telling me it wouldn't. Until I held my baby.

I labored all night. Eventually the sun came up. My doctor came and checked me. The nurses were so supportive. I continued to labor. My little Madison wasn't in any hurry. Finally, it was 3:00. Shift change. My favorite nurse from the previous day returned and came in expecting to see a baby. When she didn't, she immediately called the doctor and they talked to me about a C-section. It had been almost 24 hours since my water broke. I had never progressed passed 3 centimeters. They may have expected me to cry and feel bad. They may have expected me to beg them to allow me to continue in hope of having a vaginal birth. I didn't. We came there for a baby. How he or she came into the world made absolutely no difference to me. I felt blessed that a C-section was an option. And I was ready to meet our baby.

My nurse Mae ran to stop the anesthesiologist before he left. She caught him in the parking lot as the snow began to fall. I was prepped for surgery. I remember noting except this...I remember as clear as can be meeting my dear father's eyes as I was wheeled out to surgery. He smiled at me. I can see it still. This man who was not present for any of his own children's births...those were the days men waited outside pacing up and down the hall after all...had witnessed a long and painful labor and was worried for his daughter. But he smiled and let me know it would be alright.

The next memory I have is lying on the table and hearing my wonderful doctor say, "It's a boy head! It's a boy shoulders! What happened??? It's a girl!!!" I had a daughter! It was 5:04 PM on November 26, 1996. Our baby was here. I remember being taken to my room. Steve was there with a bundle in his arms. I remember him placing her in my arms. I do. I remember holding my baby for the first time. I still feel it in my soul. Someone asked me her name. I looked at Steve and he smiled. I replied that her name was Madison. Madison Marie.

I looked around that cozy, dark room. I remember the love. My husband. Our baby. My parents. The snow falling outside. I felt blessed. And I continue to feel the blessing from that cozy night. Eighteen years later.

Our precious Madison Marie. : )

February 21, 2015

Do You Want To Bulid A Snowman?

Apologies if that song remains in your head for the rest of the day. : ) Steve and Flynn spent some time outside recently. That child is an outside kid if I ever saw one! Thankfully, Steve is a big kid himself. Here are some pictures of the fun they had. Because someday she won't want to play outside in the snow with her Daddy...


February 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Today I'm thinking about...

...Lent. And how it is here again. As I thought about how to make this a meaningful Lent, I recalled a conversation I had with a wonderful priest a few years ago. When I confided in him that I felt that my prayer life was not what it used to be, that I felt as if it were suffering...he gave me some wonderful words to ponder. He told me that we all have stages in our lives. This stage of my life...as a wife and mother to young children...is a blessed time. It will not last forever. If I am spending the moments in my day caring for and providing for and loving on my family...that IS prayer. He suggested that when I awake in the morning, I say a prayer to offer my works of service...the works of love...to God. And if that is all I do...it is enough. More than enough.

I was so thankful for that. I turn to those words...not as an excuse to do less...but as a validation that what I'm doing is a reflection of what is in my heart and soul. It is my intent to have a good Lent...and a good, strong prayer life. I won't waste time worrying about the fact that what I am doing is not good enough. 

This Lent we will read a daily devotion in the schoolroom, and we will pray the Stations of the Cross as a family on Wednesday evenings. And I feel good about that. : )

Here is how we spent the night before Lent began...celebrating Mardi Gras!

We gathered our supplies...I always purchase online from Party City...
and decorated the table.
We jumped for joy when Grandma Margaret came...
and wore the Mardi Gras masks little Flynn picked out!
Love this one. : )
We feasted on Jambalaya and cornbread. Peyton did it again!
And we enjoyed the individual King Cakes we made too. : )
It was a wonderful Mardi Gras celebration all the way up here in snowy, cold Pa! : )
Have a blessed Lent and a cozy weekend!
Thanks for visiting!

February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

We began celebrating Love Day early with a Homeschool Breakfast Party planned and hosted by Flynn. : ) She helped me decorate and bake early Friday morning while the big kids were still fast asleep.

There were homemade chocolate chip muffins and bought by Steve Dunkin Donuts. And strawberries, of course. : )

Friday night we had a special bedtime story. : )
By the way...We love all the "Night Before books...They have them for almost every holiday.
Yay Amazon!

Valentine's Day was snowy and COLD! WE had a quiet day before getting ready and heading out to Mass...

dressed in our Valentine red...
and Rhett would not normally wear that shirt to Mass. But he was serving, so he wore a robe. : )

My teens. : )

Dinner was yummy...Three Cheese Stuffed Shells and garlic toast....

and dessert? Dessert was divine. : )

There were gifts and chocolates mixed in as well. And that is a wrap on Valentine's Day 2015. Bring on Mardi Gras. And Chinese New Year too. : )

February 12, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Today I'm thinking about...

...Contentment. And what a wonderful feeling it is. This morning I was playing a game of  Disney Princess Memory with Flynn and I was struck by a genuine feeling of contentment. This was followed by an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I felt so thankful to be there...in that moment...in my home...with my family. I was aware of the blessings I had, and wanted nothing more.

I am thankful for that moment. It served as a reminder to me of how very blessed I am. We live in a world where we are constantly told that more is better. That we need more...more money, more clothes, more electronic devices, more data to use them with. We are bombarded with images of extravagant places we need to visit, and are encouraged to be as busy as we can with numerous extra curricular activities for our children.

All of this comes at the expense of something. Something I cherish. Something I was reminded of this morning as I sat with my ever growing, ever changing little girl. It comes at the expense of just BEING. Being present. Being in the moment. Being content with what we are blessed to have...which is life. Waking every morning in a home with those we love. And needing or wanting nothing more.

Here are some photos of how we have been living in a state of contentment this past week...

We found beauty in the cold...

and played until our cheeks turned bright red.

We enjoyed the coziness of winter inside in the evenings...

and in the early mornings as well.

We put on our aprons...

and did some baking...

and it was good. : )

We ventured out in the frigid air to the movies...

and SpongeBob Squarepants was as funny as we hoped.

Daddy made breakfast for dinner...

and we dressed in our Love Day clothes for Mass.

Have a weekend filled with contentment, my friends!
Happy Valentine's Day!