Isaac is 4 Months Old

Isaac is 4 months old today. He slept all night…yay! He’s doing much better at night, usually only waking up once or twice, with anisaac_teether occasional sleep all through the night. I feel like he might as well just wake up every 2-3 hours because I still feel just as tired. After 4 babies, you’d think my body would have adjusted to lack of sleep by now. I really need to pick up a coffee habit. It seems like every mom has it together! I’m just a hot mess over here; tired all the time, living in lounge wear, my house looks like a mess ALL. THE. TIME! I love order and organization and when I can’t keep up with the house it drives me crazy. I’m just trying to accept that this is the season of life I’m in right now, but I do find it frustrating a lot of the time. When I’m nursing the baby, I think of all the million other things I could be doing, so I have to deliberately tell myself to enjoy this time with him, as I know it is short. Then I look at his sweet face and he wraps his little hand around my finger and all is good! I think God just wants me to be still at times.

He’s wearing size 9 months now and some are even 12 months! His brothers still love smothering him in hugs and kisses, although Levi has started showing his love and affection a bit overenthusiasticlly. It reminds me a lot of the Tiny Toons character, Elmyra, who would take her pets and squeeze them, saying, “I’m gonna hug you and kiss you and love you!” Poor Isaac! We all like trying to get him to laugh; Isaac really makes us work for it!

Eli saw Isaac roll over for the first time yesterday. He was super excited, yelling and screaming how he’s a champion and a baby genius! Apparently, Eli is easily amused :)

Showing off his rolling over skills

Showing off his rolling over skills

Milestones:

Weight: 15 lbs, 3.5 oz
Height: 25.75″

  • Rolling over from tummy to back
  • Grabbing objects
  • Teething (lots of drool and gnawing)

Likes:

  • Loves to talk. Noah will chat with him and he always responds. It’s fun hearing their baby conversation.
  • Squealing! He loves to hear his own voice! And wants everyone else to hear it too!
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Happy 4 Months!

Just look at how much he’s grown and changed since he was a newborn!!! He looked so much like Levi and now is looking more like Eli.

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The Making of a Saint

“You’ve got to do this! You’re making saints!” I said to Linda as the All Saints’ celebration was just a week away and she had barely started making the boys’ costumes. The Parish School of Religion at our home parish was having the kids dress up as saints as they do each year to celebrate All Saints’ Day. This would be our second year participating and a month prior we had asked the boys who they wanted to dress up as this year. “Swiss Guards!!” Noah blurted out, “Yeah! Yeah!” Eli piped in, “We have to be Swiss Guards!”

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A natural choice for boys who love anything soldiers and when we play Mass at home, they prefer being The Swiss Guard as their little brother Levi plays role of the Pope.

While I was excited, Linda was dreadfully nervous and who wouldn’t be! There certainly isn’t a more difficult costume to try and pull off than that of the Pontifical Swiss Guard!

We had a good month to get this ready but like most families, time is never on your side and things like this can get pushed to the back burner, that is, until I read in the church bulletin that the All Saints’ celebration “was next week.”

One week and Linda had to finish the impossible, two Swiss Guards and a Pope costume and she doesn’t even know how to sew! We looked at the calendar for that week and were trying to pick hours out of each day, “Here, you can have an hour if I do the grocery shopping or there is a few hours on Saturday while I take the boys on a field trip.” The scramble was on and how is this even going to be possible? I don’t remember much these days, mainly because the chaos that surrounds us day in and day with four loving children, home school and work, but I do remember this, I told Linda we would just have to trust God for He would help make our saints! I can honestly say I never doubted she would pull it off although I know she wasn’t so sure.

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Midway through the week the costumes were struggling to come together and Linda was struggling to get them done and one point was ready to scrap the whole thing and I couldn’t really blame her. She felt the boys were not grateful for what she was going through in trying to make the costumes but at their age they don’t really understand that. “We have to continue, it’s too important not to. Just ask Mary for help”. Unfortunately, trying to be encouraging was all I could offer but I knew in her heart she knew the importance of what she was doing. She was making saints!

Some Catholic parishes, mainly those with schools really get into All Saints’ Day. Our parish, lacking a school, unfortunately doesn’t have the same momentum behind dressing up for All Saints’ Day which is why it’s limited to just a few small classes on Sunday morning during PSR and even then most of the kids do not dress up which is why Linda and I were committed to seeing this through.

Dressing up for All Saints’ is important because it provides a great opportunity to talk about our beloved Saints with your children and also brings honor to the saints as well. The boys weren’t just going as Swiss Guards, but in remembrance of the 147 Swiss Guards that were martyred defending Pope Clement XII on May 6th, 1527 during the “Sack of Rome”.  We talked about how people sometimes have to die to protect the Church and to serve Christ.

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Watching Linda in the last 48 hours before this had to be completed, I also witnessed the making of a saint within her. Her saying yes to a task she felt she couldn’t do, but having to trust that God would make up where she lacked, sacrificing what very little free time she had to making these costumes instead of taking a rest for herself. These are the attributes that go into making a saint.

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I couldn’t help but to just stand back and admire a mother making clothing her children for Christ and it reminded me at that instant of a picture of the Benedictine Sisters at Ephesus where one of their ministries is to make hand crafted vestments for our priests. What an amazing role our mothers and the religious women of the Catholic Church play in preparing our sons to be servants of God. You know, I bet Mary sewed many garments for her Son.home-vestment

I’ve consecrated our little family to The Holy Family. I pray every day that God will use my wife and I and our boys for the good of The Church. I hold nothing back of them for I know they belong to God and I am here only as their earthly protector and guardian. We are called to make saints to bring the joy of God to the hearts of the faithful and non-faithful and this All Saints’ Day, joy is what they brought!

After the conclusion of Mass, crowds of parishioners surrounded them, so happy to see these “little saints” and that is why we do this. To see God’s glory shine through His little saints.

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- Michael

All Souls’ Day

Today is All Souls’ Day, a day recognized in the Catholic Church as one dedicated to prayer for our deceased loved ones. This is an important task that I think gets taken too lightly in our lofty, as-long-as-we-love God and are “good” people we just go to Heaven. The reality of death has somehow gotten watered down in our faith. Yes, God is all-loving and all-merciful and He truly wants all of us to be in Heaven with Him. However, the truth is, we are all sinners and imperfect, no matter how “good” we think we are. The danger in thinking that God is all loving and merciful doesn’t necessarily help sinners change their bad ways. And it certainly doesn’t help our departed loved ones who may be in Purgatory. They need our prayers! I know the idea of our loved ones being in Heaven comforts us as human beings and I hope that’s where they are, but we must not make assumptions. Realistically, most of us will go to purgatory first, to be completely purified, which is why we need to ardently pray for the departed souls.

“Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-15)


 

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC, #1030)

Here’s a great blog post that I read this evening: Life Is Not A Circle But A Road That Goes Somewhere (I’ve included it below). It’s definitely a great read that explains All Souls’ Day beautifully and the importance of praying for departed souls not just today, but everyday.



Life is Not a Circle but a Road That Goes Somewhere

By long custom November is a month dedicated to prayer for the faithful departed and to reflection on the four last things: heaven, hell, death and judgment.  Sometimes in the contemporary Church these themes are played down, as we yield to the temptation of a don’t-worry-be-happy mode of thinking about the faith.

But happy talk is not a very sound way of dealing with the ultimate questions of our existence.  And that is in part the reason I have chosen the option of wearing black vestments today.  That is one of the acceptable options, and it is a powerful symbol.  The dark color reminds us that heaven, hell, death and judgment are serious matters.  We will all face death and judgment, after all, and only by the grace of God can we look forward to heaven rather than eternal separation from God or the abyss of non-existence.  This reality should not terrify us or reduce us to superstitious cowering.   As Pope Benedict wrote in his splendid second encyclical, spe salvi: The image of the Last Judgment is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope.

How so?  Because the Judge is the crucified one, who came to save sinners and to welcome the hearts that seek him to the Kingdom.  Judgment is frightening from our point of view because we see our sins and failings.  And we should.  And we should confess them often – that is, if we take our eternal destiny seriously.  We deal with the truth of the coming judgment by repentance, faith and good works, not by denial or evasion or trivializing the holiness of God.

Notice, by the way, that purgatory is not on the list of last things – for a very simple reason.  It is not permanent.  It describes the preparation most of us need before entering into the joy of our Master.

The doctrine itself is sparse and simple, as here in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC, #1030)

I like to put it in these simple words: most of us die needing a little work.  And I think we know it.  Therefore the belief in purgatory and the practice of prayer for the dead, so central in this month, are joyous and liberating.

Most of us die in the midst of the consequences of our sins and shortcomings.  The sin is forgiven, but the effects of our sin remains, the damage to our souls and to others needs to be repaired.

In that same encyclical Saved by Hope, Pope Benedict uses a potent example to make this point: “Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened.  Something must be changed; purgatory is what makes the change.” (SpeSalvi, #44)

That at the most stark is what purgatory is about.

But again there is a tendency in our day to forget that.  And this has led to distortion in our funeral practice.  The notion of the funeral as the “celebration of the life” of the departed misses the point that at a funeral we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We remember the deceased and pray for the deceased, but our hope lies in Christ nor in our memories.  Then there is the problem of eulogies that too often sound like canonization proclamations.  But the truth is that most of us are not saints, that God’s grace has not accomplished all it can or should in our lives.  We pray for the faithful departed in the honest recognition that all believers are not saints and that most of us die unprepared to enter directly into heaven.  November is a good time for us to remember this important truth.  All Souls Day is a golden opportunity to deepen our formation in this truth of the faith.

It also helps us to deal with the painful range of emotions we experience when we face the death of those who have gone before us – loss, grief, regret, pain over broken relationships, or peace knowing they have been relieved of a long battle with illness or completed a life well lived.  The brokenness of human life remains.

One theologian I know has commented – and I think he is quite serious – that the first moments after the resurrection are likely to involve acute embarrassment, as we encounter those whom we have wronged and who have wronged us.  But the doctrine of purgatory helps us to understand how God goes about repairing the damage we do.

It is never our job to “assign” those who have gone before us a place in heaven, hell or purgatory – which is why eulogies at funerals can be so dangerous, often presuming to know what only God can know.  We do not see the whole story, no matter how well we knew the departed, and judgment remains God’s job.   Ours is to continue to journey with our beloved dead as we did in life – we can continue to pray for the eternal rest of their souls and ask them to pray for us.

Finally, reflection on the four last things helps us to shape our own pilgrimage.  It reminds us that we are on a pilgrimage; we are not there yet.

Our baptism enables us to rise each day to newness of life, to pursue sanctity, to embrace the truth, and to do those good works that should arise from our faith and hope.

We are not made for this world and this life only.  We are destined for eternal communion with God.  The journey will be long.  We will sin, falter and suffer along the way.  But nothing is in vain; all is for our good; and all the trials and burdens of our journey contribute to our purification.  So also do the joys, victories, achievements and satisfactions of this life.  They are a prelude to, and intimation of, the joys of salvation.

In fact this month with its focus on death fills us with hope and renewed appreciation for the beauty of life.  “The souls of the just are in the hand of God.”  God who called us into being calls us forward to know and love him forever.  Thus even death reminds us of the gift of life, for the dead live in and before God.

The days are growing darker of course.  The leaves are falling and nature’s sleep reminds us that we too will fall like the leaves.  But the similarity stops there, for we are not destined for recycling.  Life is not a circle but a road that goes somewhere.  Life in this world, purgatory and the judgment are components of a journey that leads to the face of God.

The business of life is gravely serious because God has assigned us infinite value and our actions count.  It is all the more serious because its ultimate purpose and destination is eternal joy.

 

 

Happy All Hallow’s Eve

The busyness of October has come down to this one final day of celebration that the boys love…HALLOWEEN! The boys would celebrate Halloween all year long if I let them. They love pumpkin patches, spooky ghosts, scarecrows, lights, spiders and webs, and of course the costumes and trick-or-treating. Really, what’s not to love?!? As soon as October hit, they started decorating their fort in the playroom, and this year we even put some orange and purple Halloween lights on our front trees.

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We got a late start on the pumpkin patch this year, so it was slim pickings for any good pumpkins, but we found a few small ones and then ended up buying our larger one at the store. The boys’ favorite part of the pumpkin patch is the tractor ride to the patch and the small corn maze. They ran through it over and over again; I need one in my backyard!

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Halloween Decorations
Halloween day started with spooky pancakes made by super dad and decorating a haunted Halloween house cookie with Aunt Kim.

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The anticipation to nightfall is too great for these boys! So we took a break from our formal homeschool today to enjoy all the festivities. This evening, we will head over to my parents’ subdivision for the annual hotdog cookout and bonfire and then start some trick-or-treating. Not sure how long we’ll last since it’s only going to be a high of 44° today. By nightfall, I’m sure it will be in the 30′s. This year Noah is an army soldier, Eli is a skeleton, Levi is a robot and baby Isaac is a dragon. Levi’s robot costume I made didn’t turn out quite as I expected. Originally he was very excited, but stumbled while trick-or-treating and that was the end of that! Oh well! Other than that Halloween was a success with lots of candy to spare!

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HAPPY ALL HALLOW’S EVE!!!

It’s been a fun month, but overwhelming at the same time. I felt like there were a million things to do, because there was! Here’s a recap!

Respect for Life Month

We kicked off the beginning of October by helping our parish’s Respect for Life ministry place crosses on our church’s front lawn. The boys enjoy helping with this event every year. Last weekend, they went back to help take them down with Daddy and our parish priest. We hope the boys’ excitement for volunteering and helping others will continue as they grow older. We want them to know how important it is to protect all life from conception to natural death.

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Noah and Levi’s birthday celebrations. You can read about their birthday and party at the links.

Fort Osage Field Trip

Michael took the boys to a nearby fort for the Fall Muster. It was a re-enactment event surrounding the prelude to the War of 1812, as Fort Osage prepares for war declared with Britain. The boys had a great time seeing soldiers dressed in the period uniforms and seeing the cannon and artillery drills.
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All Saints’ Day

The biggest task I had this month was creating the boys’ All Saints’ Day costumes. Michael gave the boys the *great* idea to be martyred Swiss Guards protecting St. Pope Pius X. As soon as I heard this, I quickly said, “NO!” No time and I can’t sew to save my life! It’s not like you can just buy a Swiss Guard costume. The boys were adamant about it of course and I knew they would look cute, so I figured I’d give it a try after much protesting about it. I was sure Pinterest would have something, but I came up empty. I finally came across Happily a Housewife’s blog, where she outlined making one for her son. Difference is, she can sew, I CAN NOT! Well after many hours, lots of hot glue and felt (and along with some help from my mom), I had the makings of the Swiss Guard costumes (x 2) and Pope Pius X vestments. It was a miracle they got done, but I’m happy we did it! More details to come on a later post.

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All Saints’ Day – Swiss Guards Protecting St. Pope Pius X

Noah’s 6th and Levi’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Since the boys share a birthday, we always have their birthday party on the same weekend. I’ve been lucky in the past that they’ve both wanted the same theme, but now that they’re getting older and are at different ages (6 and 3) they had different theme requests this time. So this meant preparing two themes for one party…good times!

Noah loves all things camo, army men and military. His favorite toy is the bucket of little green and tan army men. He loves plotting and strategizing battles and learning all about history in the process. He’s a fine general; leading his brothers in marching formation, flags and all! He spends most of his days wearing his army soldier costume that’s technically for Halloween, and if he’s not wearing that, you can find him in all camo pants/shorts and shirt. I’ve tried to tell him less is more, but apparently that rule doesn’t apply to camo. Sigh!

Levi is going through a robot phase. He loves turning random objects and toys into robots. He’s stacked Mega Bloks as a robot and even used a random piece of rope as a robot…I know quite the imagination. His favorite quote is, “I robot. I destroy things, I break things.” Yes, yes you do!

I honestly love planning, preparing and designing the parties for the boys; it’s an outlet for me, but it is time consuming and I never feel like I have enough time, especially when there is a newborn in the mix. But I got it done and the boys loved it, so it was a success! Lots of fun and good memories with family and friends!

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The Details

We served up homemade chicken fajitas with fresh, homemade salsa and guacamole and chips. They were all Pioneer Woman recipes. Then had cupcakes (from Sam’s Club, I always intend to make my own, but time is my worst enemy…one day), cookies and ice cream for dessert. I, of course added a couple chip options for snacking since Levi LOVES chips of all kinds, but his favorites right now are Funyuns and sour cream and onion. He hung around the chip section a lot that day :)

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I normally just have the one dessert theme table, but this time I just placed two smaller tables side-by-side, one for each theme.

Camo/Army Men:

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I purchased most of the items at Hobby Lobby, using their 40% off coupons: tablecloths, birthday banner, cupcake toppers, camo fabric and camo candles.

The large army men were from The Dollar Tree.

Army helmet was a find from Target’s Dollar Spot.

Napkins and party blowers I found on clearance at Joann’s.

Robots:

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Tablecloths were from Wal-Mart.

Buckets with chips were from The Dollar Tree.

I made the cupcake toppers from a set of free robot printables found at Hostess with the Mostess.

The large robot I made from a Pinterest find and the two smaller ones were a craft project they worked on with their grandparents. They made cute additions to the table.

Birthday Boys

Today we celebrated the boys’ 6th and 3rd birthdays. They share the same birthday, so it’s kind of nice that they get to celebrate together.

We started the day with some homemade donuts and gifts.

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Then it was dinner at their favorite restaurant, IHOP. They love their pancakes and waffles.

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IHOP with grandparents and Aunt Kim

Getting a family photo is always a struggle around here :/

It takes a lot of these…

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To get one of these…

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Happy birthday, boys! Camo and robot party this weekend! Can’t wait to see how that combination turns out…ha!