A Bowl Full of Jelly

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Need some holiday cheer? Here’s my “bowl full of jelly” for you, courtesy of my postpartum brain. Lucky, lucky, you.

Let me tell you a true story. It goes like this:

Three weeks ago it was Black Friday. And I had a baby, after eating a ginormous breakfast, which was preceded by an even more ginormous Thanksgiving dinner. I looked like I swallowed the turkey whole. And my belly was stretched to the limit. I had told Tom there was no more room left, I felt like my skin was going to split in half. Funny enough, hours before I delivered one of my lovely stretch marks indeed cracked and started to bleed. Ah, what fun.

Sidenote: Where have I been since I last posted on October 6?! On bed rest, barely able to walk with a 10mm kidney stone, homeschooling, doctors visits,two birthdays,then surgery to remove the stone, then pre-term labor scare/8 day hospital stay, doctors visits, , then recovery on the couch again, homeschooling, doctors visits, Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping, labor, delivery, recovery on couch again, and a partridge in a pear tree.

So I had the baby, my fourth baby! It was fast and furious (lol, sorry to all in the room!) but amazing. Baby boy is an angel, just so easy. Either that or I’m just super lazy this time around. Siblings are doing great, Dad is a freaking SUPER HERO,  Grandparents and Aunties are wonderfully helpful… I’m getting sleep and all…but well, um, I think part of my brain died during this whole process. Like the part of the brain that handles mental sharpness, or awareness, or logic, or even proper parts of speech. Gone.

I suspected something was amiss at the one week pediatric visit. Tom and I shuffled in with our diaper bags, stroller, car seat, coats, coffees and plopped down to wait for the doctor to come in. The nurse asked me to get the baby out to be weighed, and then she attempted to fill out paperwork…asking me all sorts of questions WHILE I WAS DOING SOMETHING ELSE. I mean seriously. I was struggling enough trying to focus on how to secure these darn diapers that I forgot were the size of croutons, let alone trying to field her questions. I mean, my brain space just died lady.

So when she asked me “And who delivered the baby?”

and I looked up at her with an annoyed look as if what? What did she think? Tom delivered the baby?

I quite rudely replied ” Um. I did.”

I was seriously taken aback when she started to laugh, as did Tom and she told me “Oh your a funny one.”

That’s when it hit me that something wasn’t right in my normally normal brain. And then I felt ridiculously bad for being so rude to the nurse, when I was actually the dumbo.

Later that week, as I kept requesting we get ‘feetprints’ of the baby for his memory book to which my Dad had to keep correcting me, “footprints. Foot. Prints” and still later when I couldn’t remember the names of my own kids…I knew I wasn’t the sharpest drawer in the knife no more. (it’s a joke, don’t worry)

So, aware of this great change I probably should have kept my mouth shut when we were in the grocery store last Sunday.

When we were walking out of the store, after a nice little visit with Santa and his elves, we passed through the candy section. The deliriously enormous candy and chocolate section of our neat little local family owned grocery store. It was decked out to the nines with sugar plum fairies and gingerbread galore. Piles of confectionary concoctions and chocolate everything. Among which were stacks of huge molded Santas made out of chocolate.

To which I saw from afar and toting a kid on each hand shouted way too conspicuously and pointed,

“Look guys! Chocolate Santa!!”

And it was then that I noticed the nice, big, black man, standing about 5 inches to the left of the display. Which didn’t help my pointing because it was pretty hard to determine what the heck I was so excited about.

Also did not help that he and I made eye contact, and I pursed my lips together and scurried out the door.

At least he didn’t have a red hat on. Now that would have been awkward.

 

Have a Happy Christmas, from our family to yours! May your days be merry and bright! And may all your Santas be….. chocolate ones!

 

 

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Think About These Things

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Sunday’s readings really brought a lot of peace to my heart. I was becoming frazzled and confused with the state of everything in our world today: beheadings, bombings, Ebola, Ferguson, ISIS…. every time I got on Twitter some other news source had another shocking, terrible, the-world-is-ending calamity. And then we had the readings yesterday in Mass. St. Paul seemed to have dealt with this kind of demon before, this anxiety dragon, this depressing negativity, this sky-is-falling mentality. Suddenly, a reading which we’ve all heard so often

” Have no anxiety at all but in everything, with prayer and thanksgiving make your petition known to God…” (Phillipians 4:6)

Suddenly these lines leapt out at me more earnest than ever before:

“Whatever is true, Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS.” (Phillipians  4:7-8)

 

Wow, I thought. Look at that. St. Paul just lays it out, give us the prescription what we should be occupying our thoughts with. That’s amazing! And if that’s what Saint Paul’s advice is, then I’m going to take it… because how can you argue with that advice? You can’t. Guess what? The world is always going to be a chaotic mess. Always. There’s Ebola now, but there was the Bird Flu then, and there was the Swine Flu… and Anthrax, and somehow we all kept moving on. There is violence in the Middle East, and there was the Holocaust, there was 9-11…evil always was, yet light always conquers. And I shall choose think about those things instead.

A visual aid (mostly for myself, but for all of you too!)

Whatever is TRUE

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Whatever is HONORABLE

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Whatever is JUST

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Meriam Ibrahim arrives safely in the USA after being held captive and sentenced to death for her Christian faith

Whatever is PURE

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Whatever is LOVELY

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Mom denies chemotherapy to treat bone cancer to save the life of her unborn daughter

Whatever is GRACIOUS

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If there is any EXCELLENCE

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Saint John Paul II forgives his attempted assasinator

If there is anything WORTHY OF PRAISE

Christ on the Cross by Diego Velazquez, 1632

Think about these things.

-Saint Paul

 

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Fall Reminds Me of Kevin

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This time of year always makes me remember being a senior in college and participating in Nursing Home Ministry.  It was something that Tom and I did with a group of other students from Franciscan University.  Particularly, I remember Kevin, possibly the most moving experience during my time there! I had written this story back on break during 2007, it’s one of my favorite memories and it still brings tears to my eyes to recall it.

I hope you enjoy:

I met him one fall afternoon in my senior year of college. He was tall, handsome and quiet. I could tell before I met him that Kevin was a gentle man. He sat in the same chair, in front of the same window, each day. The look on his face was undistinguishable, neither bored nor interested. Every day he wore a blue sweatsuit with matching blue slippers and white baseball socks. It was clear that Kevin was much younger than everyone else at the nursing home. His dark skin was still taut and smooth and his mustache was neatly trimmed and devoid of white hairs.

It was obvious by the look in his eyes that he was alert. You read about people with sparkle in their eyes, but I never actually met someone who did until I met him. His eyes seemed outgoing and talkative, if one can give eyes a personality. They needed to have personality though, because he could barely talk and thus chose not to.  At first this saddened me but it also piqued my curiosity about this man. Communication is what draws together individuals and forms relationships. Without relationships, life would be a depressing cloister of emotion . The nurses didn’t seem as troubled in this matter as I was. They said Kevin liked to sit there alone. He had been in an accident, and not spoken a word for years.

One day, I sat with him in those waxy nursing home chairs and asked simple yes or no questions. “Are you having a good day?” “Was lunch good?”  “Are you excited about bingo night?”  Slowly, he would shake his head according to what he felt as his large hands held onto the arms of his seat. When I asked him if he liked the Beatles, he nodded his head a definite yes. Others in the home said they liked the Beatles, so I decided next time to bring in a Beatles CD and picture book  for a change in activity.

 

When that day came I put on the disc and sat beside Kevin with the picture book in my lap. He was the only one in the room who was cognitive enough to look through it. That was the thing. He seemed perfectly fine. I knew that there had to be something deeper, something undiscovered within this man.  I started to flip through the Beatles book, pointing to members of the band and naming them. Slowly I talked about the instruments in the pictures and songs they wrote. All through our telepathic conversation his eyes would let me know if he was enjoying the topic or ready for me to turn the page.

 

On our third time through the book, I tried to ask him something aside from our usual yes or no questions. I pointed to a picture of the drummer for the Beatles and asked him who it was. He immediately stopped smacking his lips together as he usually did repetitively, and instead moved his lips slowly up and down, as if he was trying to say something. I stared at him, aware that his eyes were quickly darting between the picture and me. Through his brown eyes which stared unfaltering into mine, he seemed to be screaming “give me one more minute and I’ll say it!” After a long silence, he replied confidently “Ringo Starr.” He was completely right.  It was such joy to finally hear the sound of his voice! Excited by this tiny accomplishment we moved on to other pictures; I would point and he would tell me who it was. Each time he was right.

Despite the fact that the majority of our time conversing was silent, those visits were one of the best parts of my week.  It was a sweet conversation of learning; having him teach me to be paitient and me teaching him to open up. Sometimes I wondered if he was answering my questions to be polite but really wanted me to stop. I took comfort when I asked him if I talked too much. He looked at me with those intense dark eyes, began the lip motion and told me “no”. So our conversations continued each week when I would go to the nursing home with a group of students from the university.  Kevin was just trapped within himself. He understood, talked, and listened really well.

The moment I will never forget, is the day I  brought my Earth, Wind and Fire CD in.  I knew it was his favorite band and I wanted to surprise him to see how he would react. Disco jazz took over the living room at the nursing home and you could see him get happier. He started snapping his fingers and tapping his foot, then he turned to me and said  “I’m listening to the music!”. That was the second time he had spoken to me without being asked a question.  I smiled at him and we sat next to each other in our usual chairs, in front of the same window, just enjoying the music. Whenever I hear that album, I am reminded of how happy he was in that moment. He would name each of the songs as they came on, sometimes even before the vocalist started singing. You could tell he was genuinely happy. His inner self seemed to delight in the beat of the melody. After a while of listening, I asked him the usual questions, “How was your day?” “Are you happy?” “Did anybody come to visit this week?” That time, when I asked him what the best part of his day was and after waiting for the typical two minutes he responded, “Your visit”.  Immediately I felt a lump form in my throat. Guilt swept over me for not coming to visit more often , I didn’t have many excuses.

It was understandable that he was often overlooked. After all it appeared to everyone, even myself, that he couldn’t talk. The staff said they hadn’t heard him say a word in years.  It was devastating to think that he was there all day long, left alone to sit in his nursing home chair and converse inwardly with himself. I still can’t bear to remember that window with him in front of it, in the same blue sweatsuit, wearing that blank expression on his face.  Yet, I am glad I will never forget what a gift it was to be able to pause in that moment and see the happiness reflected in his eyes and the tap of his foot. Watching him enjoy the music that day made me forget about all my anxieties. The beauty of the moment that we were sharing had changed me.

Sometimes silence is a pathway to the most meaningful conversations of our lives. Who we are when we are silent or alone is never a facade but the truth of our being. I am so grateful and forever moved. Somehow sitting in that stiff, waxy nursing home chair, listening to the jazz, just watching Kevin become happy made me understand the immeasurable joy that can come from companionship, with or without words.

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Five Favorites {Preggo Edition}

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five favorties

 

It wouldn’t be a true Preggo edition post if it didn’t come out late, right? So yes, behind the ball in joining 5 Favorites this week but here’s what I’ve got for all you ladies out there with buns in the oven:

Ok, it actually tastes pretty good. The raspberry stuff. It's a magnesium supplement which most of us are not getting nearly enough of, which helps you (as the label states) balance your stress, and also reduces muscles spasms or cramping. Since I've been getting Charley horses like crazy... this stuff really seems to help a lot!

Ok, it actually tastes pretty good. The raspberry stuff. It’s a magnesium supplement which most of us are not getting nearly enough of, which helps you (as the label states) balance your stress, and also reduces muscles spasms or cramping. Since I’ve been getting Charley horses like crazy… this stuff really seems to help a lot! However if you are pregnant and very naturally calm, and not experiencing any muscles spasms then you probably don’t need this. You lucky dog, you.

 

Spinning Babies!! If you haven't been on this site, you are missing out. This is run by a midwife who teaches better, easier births through proper fetal positioning. I did the daily excersises for the last month of Charlie's pregnancy... and let me tell you, it was the best birth. I tell everyone I know about this site. Balance and alignment of your pelvis is very easy possible and an ENORMOUS help!

Spinning Babies!! If you haven’t been on this site, you are missing out. This is run by a midwife who teaches better, easier births through proper fetal positioning. I did the daily excersises for the last month of Charlie’s pregnancy… and let me tell you, it was the best birth! (seriously!) I tell everyone I know about this site. Balance and alignment of your pelvis is very easy & possible and an ENORMOUS help during birth.

A thanks to Ellen over at McSisters for opening my eyes to the glory that is coconut water, ahem that is DARK CHOCOLATE coconut water. This too, really helps with the muscle spasms and cramping.... it's chock loaded with almost 400mg of Potassium. Not bad for a sweet tooth fix!

A thanks to Ellen over at McSisters for opening my eyes to the glory that is coconut water, ahem that is DARK CHOCOLATE coconut water. This too, really helps with the muscle spasms and cramping…. it’s chock loaded with almost 400mg of Potassium. Not bad for a sweet tooth fix!

This dress is on clearance at Motherhood.com.  I have this dress (correction. Tom sent me this dress in the mail because he 'was going to send flowers, but flowers die and this was the same price' major win. Tom, send me dresses instead of flowers anyyytime you want!) I absolutely love it. I feel so swishy and, well, yes sexy in it.  At this phase in pregnancy, you gotta have a dress like this in your closet . A true self-esteem booster! Get it and then demand to be taken out for ice cream. You deserve it!

This dress is on clearance at Motherhood.com. I  got this dress (correction. Tom sent me this dress in the mail because he ‘was going to send flowers, but flowers die and this was the same price’ major win. Tom, send me dresses instead of flowers anyyytime you want!) I absolutely love it. I feel so swishy and, well, yes sexy in it. At this phase in pregnancy, you gotta have a dress like this in your closet . A true self-esteem booster! Get it and then demand to be taken out for ice cream. You deserve it!

If you don't go out for ice cream, then please stock your freezer with this. Um, this is literally the best tasting cookie dough ice cream ever. Unless cookie dough isn't your thing.... (ok weirdo...why don't you just go eat an apple instead then.) I have this, and hot fudge, whipped cream and of course WAFFLE BOWLS all ready to grab  at a seconds notice... hey. This is a pregnancy post may I  remind you, don't tell me you didn't expect ice cream to make the list!

If you don’t go out for ice cream, then please stock your freezer with this. Um, this is literally the best tasting cookie dough ice cream ever. Unless cookie dough isn’t your thing…. (ok weirdo…why don’t you just go eat an apple instead then.)
I have this, and hot fudge, whipped cream and of course WAFFLE BOWLS all ready to grab at a seconds notice… hey. This is a pregnancy post  don’t tell me you didn’t expect ice cream to make the list!

What are your pregnancy must haves? What’s been the best thing you’ve got to get through the aches and pains… and cravings?

Ever heard of Norwex?

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I didn’t either, not until a few months ago. It’s a Norwegian company that sells micro-silver cloths, thus radically reducing the use of chemicals in your home.

You know how eco-friendly those Norwegians are. ;-) (No really, they are. They built this ‘eco-bridge’ over a major highway so animals wouldn’t get hit by cars while crossing the road)images (8)

ANYWAY! Check out my new tab up on the top of my menu to read my story of what’s been going on.

Long story short— I am really excited about this. And I don’t have time for this. So if I’m posting this….trust me, you’ll want to do your own research and look into it!

Oh no, you’re thinking Annemarie has gone bonkers GRANOLA! Not really, I just researched my brains out, and I used the product myself and let me tell you what sold me other than the cloths and the results I was getting around my house. I have kids, who frequently have potty accidents, and I CAN NOT get rid of the ucky urine stench out of their underpants. Even with vinegar! Not until  I used the Norwex laundry detergent. It’s enzymes, completely chemical free and biodegradable….and best of all, NO MORE SUBWAY STATION SMELL! (((((happy dance)))

What are you waiting for? Check out the new tab HERE and Facebook me, or e-mail me with any questions you might have. And hey, if your in the area come to my house next Tuesday for the party!images (5)

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Wise Guy

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The other day was an extremely busy day. One of those “ I have not sat down yet!” days. It was our second day of school, we had a play date, cleaned the house, did naps, had errands to run, etc. I was really looking forward to sitting down to my “pre-prepared” dinner of chili which had been bubbling away in the crock pot all day.

It’s like I thank the crock pot profusely for doing all that hard work so I don’t have to. “You are such a great cook! I hardly did a thing! Thank you, crock pot!”

Anyway, finally our day was drawing to a close and the whole family sat down to dinner, all of us chowing down the chili. Everyone except one kid, of course. Just to stick a thorn in my side I guess. Because we Moms know, nothing is aggravating like a long awaited meal, that everyone is enjoying, and one sour puss decides he’s not even going to bother trying. Even though it’s one of his favorite meals. Even though every other time you make it, he gobbles it up.

Mr Chubs back in his chubbier days. Eating Italian Ice.

Mr Chubs back in his chubbier days. Eating Italian Ice.

So our entire meal went by with his chili getting colder and colder, and the other kids asking for seconds and thirds. He chose to blabber on and on about his day and not pay any attention to his food aside from intermittently pausing his stories with, “ Hey Mom, will I still get dessert?” Of course the answer was no, he asks why not, I explain for the umpteenth time

“Because you need to eat your dinner”.

Back and forth we went, same questions, same answers…the entire meal. I was getting exasperated. Every time I lifted a spoonful of this delicious, warm, gooey, chili that I just wanted to quietly savor—he interrupted with the same old dumb question. I glared a grizzly glare at Tom across the table, who told him to stop talking and JUST EAT.

Aiming for a diversion tactic, an “idea suddenly flew into my funnel” (sorry, we’ve been watching an awful lot of Thomas over here…)

“Hey guys! Let’s tell Daddy all about the new poem we learned today in school!”

Mia right away burst out sharing the title and the author,

“Windy Nights!!”

“Who is it by?”

“Robert Louis Stevenson!”5217341161_a0f3fc56ba_z

Tom tried to act very excited too. I prompted them along asking them to tell us what the poem was about. Mia gave her interpretation. Which was pretty much on target.

“A guy galloping on a horse. The ships on the ocean were wavy, and it was a rainy yucky night. Everyone was sleeping.”

Jack eagerly chimed in with helping to describe the poem. I got hopeful that he’d get occupied with the re-telling and start shoving some chili down his gullet.

“ No, Mia! No, the night is windy and wet and the man on the horse is riding really fast because he has a message.”

Tom asked, “ Oh. The man had a message?”

“Yeah. He had a message and he was riding so fast to tell everybody.”

“Huh. What did the message say?”

Jack didn’t miss a beat,

“It said, it said… don’t eat the chili.”

It does not have anything to do with a message. OR CHILI.

Case closed. What more could I do? My four year old is a wise guy, and way too clever for this tired Mama.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering the answer is no, he did not get dessert!

Too cool for school now.

Too cool for school now.

 

 

 

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Reasons to Smile

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I love all these blogs with all their cute little link ups. I think they’re fun to participate and I really, really, wanted to make this a link up. Reading the news, knowing what’s happening all around us all the time make me more ardently than ever want to hear good news. I love reading about product recommendations, or book reviews or recipes… but I really want to read snippets of actual events that are true reasons to smile.

So this is my link-up! The optimistic, monthly- REASONS TO SMILE link up! And since Monday is my least favorite day, I chose Monday as the link up day.  I tried to make a link up work, but I can’t, I don’t have time, and since it may surprise you I don’t get paid to blog…I really could not afford to spend another gazillion hours trying to make it work. But just know that the intention was there.  However, if you want to participate on your blog, please do!!! Just send me an e-mail or leave your link in the comment box below, and I will feature a link to your site on my blog. Don’t feel like you have to join in, you glass-half-empty-er (just kidding)… I know all too well how little time I have to participate in all the cutesy link ups, but this, this is necessary for my mental serenity. download (5) It’s a must for me, I gotta accentuate the positive! And if you have a few stories/moments/snippets of things that you can share to SPREAD SMILES, then please JOIN IN THE OPTIMISM.

(It is actually much more fun to read the news searching for cheerful stories!)

And now, here’s 6 reasons I want to share with you that make me smile

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Meriam Ibrahim arrives safely in the USA.

1.Meriam. I prayed, and prayed and prayed SO MUCH for this woman. Every night before bed. And guess what this picture means? PRAYER WORKS!

2. il_570xN.634374924_moz5Sarah’s Anchors..as of last week they’ve sold 385 of them! Which is a beautiful, beautiful testimony to how much Sarah has touched the lives of those around her. The best part is all proceeds go to the Harkins’ children. If you haven’t checked them out already, you really must!

 

3.  

A Mustard Tree.

A Mustard Tree.

God works miracles everyday….a story at A.Thimons coming soon!

4.IMG_20140716_113600506_HDR Another Thimons baby! Here is a precious picture of my next little one, due this December! I am already 6 months now and just aching to kiss that wittle face.

5.10390510_240177939514462_5777049884505063971_n We have freedom. Because you can wear want you want, send your kid to whatever school you want, but most importantly I remember freedom when I put my Mary statue out in my garden, or plaster pro-life bumper stickers on my mini-van. We have freedom to worship, as much as we feel like we are being squelched.

As our priest reminded us last Sunday, ” Lucky for you, the Gestapo did not knock on your door last night. Just because it hasn’t happened here before, doesn’t mean it never will.”

6. download (3)Sarah’s spiritual bouquet! Smile and be proud of yourselves, thank you to all of you who are so generously spending time in prayer for the Harkins family! Looking at the numbers a total of 613 people pledged prayers. WOW! Such a witness. We are FAMILY!

 

I hope you smiled, even if it was just in your heart…spread the love and be sure to let me know about YOUR reasons to smile!

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Seriously? How can this NOT make you smile? What a bunch of goofballs.

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