Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 24

Today I am very thankful for being Catholic.  I was born and raised Catholic and I think some people attribute to me still being Catholic to "not knowing any better".  That could not be further from the truth.  Throughout my relatively short life I have been blessed to experience many different ideas/belief systems and cultures (most of them through Catholic schools) and I continue to find that my Catholic faith is where I belong.

I've been to Catholic schools most of my life (with a small exception of part of kindergarten through 3rd grade) and I think that has been a huge part of my faith in the Church.  Throughout my many years of formal and informal faith education I have questioned and continued to learn more about the Church and her teachings.  I've been taught the history of the Church, the meaning behind the sacraments, and been an RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults) sponsor... all of these have shown me more reasons why I continue to belong to the Catholic Church.  There are several unpopular beliefs and stances that the Church takes, and I know it is not easy to stick to these beliefs and it is even more difficult

Here's my top 10 things I love about my Catholic faith in no particular order (because everyone has favorites):

  1. Eucharist: I mean it is Jesus!  Who doesn't love that?
  2. Baptism: This sacrament took on a whole new meaning when Jack was baptized... it is truly a beautiful moment in a person's life (infant to adult).
  3. Confirmation: Okay, so I love the smell of chrism oil :-)
  4. Natural Family Planning: I know it's not technically part of the Catholic Church, but the Church definitely supports it and it has been a great blessing to our family!
  5. Mass: While right now it can be quite difficult with our kids to fully participate in Mass, I love all parts of the Mass (see #1, the music, the people, the readings).
  6. The Church's history: This might be the only history lesson I really enjoy to continue to hear and learn more about!
  7. My friends: I've been involved in Church activities for as long as I can remember and I have gained some amazing friends along the way!
  8. Reconciliation: Although I honestly don't go often enough, I always get a lot out of it.
  9. Community support:  Catholic charities help so many people throughout the world for a number of different things, and I love the amount of reach and support provides to the world!
  10. Vocations: This is a bit generic, but when I was part of a NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) discussion on vocations, I realized how important it is and powerful it can be to discern your true vocation!

On a completely unrelated note, please go out and support a small business today (or this weekend or this holiday season)!  I know a number of people who own or work for a small business so it is very important to me to support this part of our economy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 23

Today I am thankful for my nephews.  Right now, we only have nephews on my husband's side of the family and we all have boys... that's right, NO girls in that generation!

This past weekend my brother-in-law & sister-in-law drove up from Texas with their 3 boys.  Sunday we were able to get all of the boys together and it was so great to see them all playing together!  Jack had been talking about his Texas cousins for WEEKS and was so happy to get to run around and play with them.  I love getting to see them all interact and play with each other.

Tommy is the oldest at 8 (and 1/2!) and he has all of the typical personality traits of the oldest kid.  He was born about a month after Matt and I started dating.  I remember getting to hold him when he was just a couple weeks old.... I can't believe how old he is now!  Even looking back at our wedding photos (where he was our ring bearer) it is amazing to see how grown up he has become!  He is super athletic (just like his parents) and into all of the "big sports" (baseball, basketball and soccer).  He's such a sweetheart too... especially with the little ones!  I think he truly loves being the oldest.

Luke is one of a kind!  He's a total sweetheart but hilarious at the same time!  Numerous people have told his mom that she should write a book with all of the funny quotes she posts on Facebook from him.  Luke was just 4 months old at our wedding  He is the kid that can get along with everyone!  He reminds me a lot of my two youngest siblings who were always carrying on conversations with adults when they were little.  Not shy at all!  If you look in the background of the picture of Tommy and Christopher above, Luke is the figure in red in the back lying on the ground... he had just jumped back over the fence!

Brady is my the youngest of Matt's older brother's kids and my adorable godson!  He's an adorable fun loving little man.  He has some unique needs that only makes him more special to all of us.  It was hilarious to watch him as he walked through the kitchen while folks were cleaning up from Thanksgiving and would sneak a pop can off the counter and run off... he's crafty for sure.  He's great at playing games on the iPhones/iPads.  I love watching him enjoying life!

Our youngest nephew Evan is just a little over 24 hours younger that Christopher.  He's got quite the personality already, that is for sure!  He's so physically active he's already running around everywhere!  We always laugh at the expressions he has... he has the most hilarious looking scowl when he's not happy with something.  Uncle Matt gets that look a lot ;-)  It's great to watch him and Christopher interact and I hope they'll be good friends growing up.  Right now the difference between them is the fact that Christopher has an older brother and acts like it... always fighting for toys or wanting to wrestle with Evan.  Evan is not usually too happy about that, ha!

Being an aunt is so much fun!  I love watching all of their personalities develop as they get older... hopefully we'll have more nephews (and maybe a niece or two) in the future once my siblings start getting married and having babies!

Friday, November 16, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 16

Today I am thankful for Thanksgiving!  It seems a little cheesy but I LOVE everything about Thanksgiving.

I love the food... oh, how I love the food!  I can out-eat pretty much anyone at the Thanksgiving table.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, green beans... then comes the pies!  Cheesecake, pumpkin pie, or pumpkin cheesecake.  I really love baking for Thanksgiving probably as much if not more than consuming all of the yummy food!

I think I might need to bust out my maternity pants for the meal....
I love the fact that Thanksgiving brings people together for a holiday without any expectations except to enjoy a meal together.  It's not like the Christmas holiday when most people do the gift exchange.  I think sometimes that can take away from one of the best parts of the holidays... the people.  Friends, family, whoever you get together with for Thanksgiving: remember to enjoy the fellowship!

Monday, November 12, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 12

Today's post is about being thankful for diversity for thought.

Now that the election has wrapped up, most of the posts (Facebook, blogs, etc.) around politics have died down.  (That's another thing I am definitely thankful for.)  I am not terribly political in the sense that I follow all of the politicians all of the time (career politics = yuck)... but don't take that to mean I am not an informed voter because I absolutely do my best to make sure I am informed!  There are certain topics for me that are not debatable from a morality standpoint (look for one or two posts on that in the future), but a lot of things surrounding government infrastructure, economic policies, etc. are things that I think discussion and eventually compromise needs to occur.

I truly believe that without diversity of thought on the tough topics we face we will not find the best path forward for our country.  My hope and prayer is that while many of us have differing views on what is right we can come together to find a realistic path forward.

Scientific experimentation and discovery is all about taking what we know to make life better/easier/longer.  Where would we be if we have new or different ways to think about solving a problem?  We'd likely not have electricity, cars to drive, or maybe even live in this great country of ours.  Thank goodness for people who "think outside the box"!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 11

Today I am grateful for weekends, so VERY thankful for family filled weekends.  After being away from my boys for 3 nights (and almost 4 full days), I was very thankful to have a whole weekend to enjoy my little guys.  (Unfortunately, Matt had to work today so it wasn't a whole weekend with all of my guys.)

Yesterday, Jack and I had our own little Mother-Son outing.  We only went to Kohl's & then to Target, but it was fun with just the two of us!  I don't always realize what a smart & funny boy he is!  He was cracking me up the entire time and he was on his best behavior... well, for a 3 year old!  When we first got to Kohl's we walked by the jewelry section and he pulled me over.  He was looking at "all these rings!" and then pointed to a piece and said "Mommy, can I get that 'parkily thing for you?!"  He is such a sweet boy.  This doesn't include the fact that he was talking about "the digger at the store with the rings" when we were on the way to the store.  Matt's response to this story was "That's my boy!"  As if I needed another reason for me to think that he will make a wonderful husband for a young lady someday...

Picking out jewelry!

Jack helped pick out a bow-tie for his uncle's birthday present and then patiently waited in line while we returned something and then bought the gift.  We went across the street to Target to get a couple of cards.  When we were driving over he said "I didn't know there was a Target by Kohl's? Oh, but there are Targets all over this city!".  What a goof-ball... and yes, Target is quite possibly his favorite store!  We enjoyed some popcorn and slushies to round out our Mother-Son outing.

Today we had Christopher's 1 year pictures by my wonderful friend Brooke owner of Cherished Moments Photography.  Christopher had an awesome 1.5-2 hour nap, which is close to record breaking for him, right before we had to leave.  Both boys were in great moods the entire time!  Christopher was happy and we got some awesome shots (that's no surprise, thanks Brooke!) and Jack got to play with his friends, Brooke's girls.  They were all so good she and I braved taking all 5 kids to dinner by ourselves.  And yes, while we were pushing our luck the kids were pretty decent throughout dinner.

Feeling very blessed tonight :-)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 7

Today I am thankful for my job.  Sometimes it is hard for me to remember to be thankful for my job... that really sounds terrible, doesn't it?  In this economy I should always be thankful for being gainfully employed, right?  No matter what path I take (or am dealt) in life, I know there is stress and aspects I will not like.

I work with a pretty awesome group of people... seriously.  Everyone is super supportive of each other.  It sounds cheesy, but we are definitely more like a family (at least in our building).  Aside from helping each other out with work projects, we bicker and poke fun at each other, play practical jokes, debate politics, and bring in surprise treats for our coworkers.  I've gotten to sit in next to the same person for the past 5+ years; she and I have both sat next to each other during the times when we were planning our  weddings, just got married, and had our babies.  (In fact we just moved desks and we are both still sitting next to each other.)  I have coworkers that have given me hand-me-down clothes and shoes their kids have out grown!  The support we provide each other at work goes more than just Monday-Friday during business hours, because goodness knows we certainly aren't working just 40 hours a week.  I truly believe that no matter what you are getting paid to do, if you don't like (or even try to appreciate) the people you're working with you will be miserable!

Sometimes work gets busy... and we're talking the crazy insane amount of busy because I feel like the "normal" is busy compared to some companies.  (I guess everyone feels that way...)  When things aren't the "bad kind" of busy (and by that I mean things falling apart left and right), I remember to enjoy the challenges and fast-paced nature of my job... there's never a dull moment (see previous paragraph about practical jokes).

There's also the support from management for personal/professional development that I get at work.  If I want to attend a conference or training opportunity, it is almost always a given that I will get to go.  Okay, there was one time where a coworker and I tried to convince our boss that an industry related conference in Hawaii was absolutely necessary... that travel didn't get approved.  This week I'm attending a training course in San Francisco, CA and while I don't have time during the day to do any sight-seeing, I am in SAN FRANCISCO!  You better believe I am going to see some of the city while I'm here!  I have talked about the possibility of graduate school in a previous post... my company wholeheartedly supports and encourages my pursuit of that opportunity.  If I go that route, I just have to figure out something that works for me personally and that I truly want to pursue.

As a company and specifically in our department we do a lot of outreach.  Whether it's company time to go participate in our county United Way volunteer day, hosting and sponsoring a camp for girls entering the 8th grade interested in science/engineering, or providing exhibit days down at our local science museum.  This is probably one of the biggest reasons why I am proud to work for my company.  There are a lot of people who have negative things to say about a lot of corporations, including the one I work for, but I don't think most people know the types of things that they do that are more than just producing a product (or providing a service).

Monday, November 5, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 5

I know, I know... I've already missed 2 days.  Oops.  The weekend really got away from me apparently... you would think I would actually be able to blog over the weekend?!

Today's post is how thankful I am to have such an amazing support system.  I've already posted about my husband, but this is a more general post about my/our support system.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I would agree!  Both my husband & I work full-time outside of the home.  My mom watches the boys when we are at work and she is truly a huge blessing to us!  There are days that I get really down about not being able to be at home with my boys, but they have such a great time with Grandma during the day!  Plus, getting to see my mom on a daily basis is awesome!

Both sets of our parents will watch the boys on the occasional weekend evening so Matt and I can have a date night.  I think that Matt and I taking time as a couple is very important for our kids to learn what it may take to make marriage work.  How else will they have successful marriages in the future (if that is their vocation) if they do not have parents leading by example?

As a professional I also sometimes have "extra-curricular" activities in which I participate.  I am the chair of the local section of American Chemical Society for 2012 (yes, I am somewhat counting down the days) and tomorrow I will be leaving for a business trip for a training course.  I continually toy with the idea of going back to school for a graduate degree, and even though I haven't yet found a program that fits what I want to do, my family is extremely supportive.

With having such an amazing support system to lean on to help raise my wonderful kids, I constantly hope and pray that I do not ask too much of those around me.  I understand and appreciate how much our family does for us and hope to never take advantage of their generosity.

Friday, November 2, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 2

Today's post is about my awesome husband!  He is truly the most amazing husband and father to our children a girl could ever want.  Matt does so much for us it constantly amazes me.  Not only does he work very hard all day every day at work, he is very involved in helping take care of the boys and our house.  He does things around the house that he knows I hate to do, like clean out the fridge or wash those "hand wash only" dishes.

Matt with his boys at Jack's Christmas party at school last year!
His work schedule allows him to get quality time with the boys as the only parent home after I go to work in the morning.  I love watching him share his interests with our boys!  Jack loves watching football and Disney movies with his daddy and going to visit him at his "lacrosse work".  Christopher loves his daddy's silly faces and sounds and to climb all over him!  He is very patient with the boys throughout the day.  I know that his patience will continue to be such a blessing when it comes to teaching them different things in the future.

He is my best friend and I can not imagine my life without him!

Dancing at our wedding over 4 years ago!
Love you sweetie!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks: Day 1

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Giving Thanks Challenge over at Blessed Beyond Words for the month of November.  I try to really be thankful each day, but I know I am not perfect.  I hope that putting one thing in writing every day I will truly remember to be more appreciative in my daily life and prayers.

Today I am very thankful for my little boys!  They constantly amaze me with the new things they learn and do (both good and bad, tee hee).

Just tonight I took both of them to Mass by myself (Matt had to work late) and on the way there Jack declares "I'm going to be good at church"... and sure enough he was great!  They were both great and I feel like it was the first time in a very long time that I felt like I was really able to participate in [most of] Mass.

This morning Christopher woke up late, which wasn't that great from the perspective of needing to get to work, but it was SO nice to not have my little alarm clock waking up at 5:30 am.  After he finally woke up, he reached for me and I held him while he just hugged me and laid his head on my shoulder while I got ready for work.  Love that he is a mama's boy!

I am so very blessed to be their mom!

My Baby is 1!

I know I have been terrible about posting as of late... I chalk it up to being busy at work and with things for the local ACS section, as well as other general life stuff!  But on to the fun stuff...

My baby boy is officially 1!  He turned 1 last Saturday and definitely seemed to have a lot of fun at his party.  His 1 year check up at the pediatrician's was on Tuesday and he was 20 pounds 13 ounces and 28 inches.  He's dropped to the 25% across the board, which is where he started out as far as his birth weight was.  The doctor said he might be starting to reach his "genetic potential" as far as growing curves goes.  It will be interesting to see if that is true because I think he will be taller because of his big feet and long fingers!

Christopher LOVES to eat... he eats more than Jack these days!  His favorite foods are strawberries, french toast, and puffs/Cheerios.  I am still nursing him (yay!) but at about 11 months we did have to start supplementing during the work day, because I am not pumping quite enough to keep up.  I don't know how much longer he will want to nurse, but so far he is interested (which might change next week when I go on a trip for a training course).  He is a pro at sippy cups, just as long as it is the "right one."

He's becoming quite steady on his feet, though he is not quite walking.  He can walk while holding on to pretty much anything or anyone and still loves to climb!

He is definitely a "mama's boy" and I love it (most of the time ;-)). Some of his words are "hi" and "got it"... he says "mama" but I think it is still more in the babbling way.

Here are some pictures from his birthday party:
Happy baby eating his birthday lunch!  He LOVES strawberries!

The "before" Christopher's smash cake... Jack helped me make the cake and I did the decorating... not too bad for not being a professional!

Christopher enjoying his new rocking chair that my grandma got for him!

Concentrating on opening a present!  Big brother was helping a bit too!

He was genuinely excited about his gifts and I found it adorable!

Opening a BIG box... looking like quite the little man!

Eating some chocolate cake!

It didn't last long because I don't think he was crazy about having sticky fingers!
As you can tell, his birthday was owl themed!  I will have to show the invitation and maybe even a tutorial on how I made them because I am kind of proud of them.

Hope everyone had a blessed All Saints' Day today!  I will do another post soon on the boys' Halloween with pictures of their costumes and even some Halloween commentary from Jack!