Friday, August 26, 2011

This is a huge accomplishment!

Our sweet Gabriel was diagnosed with having "textural and sensory" issues with his hands and mouth back in March. Hence the reason he wouldn't walk on grass, touch anything wet or mushy, and why we have so much trouble with him eating fruit, vegetables and anything with much texture at all.

We have been working super hard for the past 6 months on textures. Unfortunately we will be moving to a new therapy for eating because we have not made much progress there, BUT we have totally cured Gabriel of his texture issues with his hands. We work each day on finger painting, playing with shaving cream, running our hands through beans (to find the M&M's), and playing in a sandbox. His fear of these textures is gone! Today I had the winning moment experience of this accomplishment as we played outside and finger painted. He went for about ten minutes without a thought of wiping his hands clean and he actually seemed to have a really good time. Above are the pictures to prove it. I am so proud of him for his hard work, even though he did not want to work time and time again on letting us douse him in paint and shaving cream.

Congratulations to my little man... now, for the eating part. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

(side note: don't let the band aids fool you... he is not hurt... just obsessed with putting band aids all over his body)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Let me tell you about Anthony

This is the way he is ALL day! Giggles, giggles, giggles...

This is the tired, sweet face I get when he is saying,
"OK, tell Gabriel to stop swimming. It's time for my nap!"

He makes the craziest faces... but, this is one of the most hilarious... he squints his eyes practically on command. We always bust a a gut laughing at this.

Standing. Standing. And more standing. All he wants to do.

His brother listening to directions... he is not happy he has to sit still...
just for a minute for one picture.

Swinging boy! When in doubt, swing him.

Getting into and under everything... happy as can be.

MMM... I could just eat those feet all day long.

This picture was just seconds after the one below it. He reached over, almost fell out of the bumbo, and grabbed Gabriel's foot and ate it... he loves to munch on you. It's weird.

We swore we would only call our children by the full names we had named them, but sweet Anthony is called "Ant," "Chunky Monkey," "godspilla," " the incredible hulk" and all other names that mean BIG! He is only in the 50% in height and weight, according to our last visit to the doctor, but compared to Gabriel he is so huge, so he comes with some names that consider him such. They are now 1/2 lb. apart and I am sure it won't be that way for long.

Anthony has been the sweetest baby boy since the day we brought him home. I have to say that he is quite the perfect child minus one very important thing... sleeping. Anthony has never liked to sleep. Since we brought him home he has loved to wake up in the middle of the night, one, two, or even three times before the sun comes up. We have tried every which way to get him to sleep, listened to all the sleep experts, followed all the rules (don't pick him up), but he has struggled to sleep through the night AND he LOVES to poop in the middle of the night. He is quite confused with that! We have FINALLY within the last month finally accomplished a 7:30-8pm bedtime and he doesn't wake up until at least 5am... sometimes sleeping till 7am. But, my friends, this has been a MAJOR challenge and trial and true test of our patience. Sleep deprivation for parents is no good. He has allowed us to grow in much virtue with this challenge.

After accomplishing sleeping through the night, our sweet boy has begun to come into his own. As soon as he turned 10 months, he broke his first two teeth (bottom in the middle), he began to squirm his way around on the ground, he began to pull up on things, eat more solid foods, and as of 3 days ago, he is crawling and eating small pieces of fruit. I am SO proud.

He turned 11 months yesterday and his personality is breaking through. He giggles about everything. He has a very serious side... and has a Patrick face he puts on when he is focused on the object at hand. He loves to follow Gabriel around. He always wants to be standing. And he can destroy ANY creation in seconds if he manages to get a hold of it. He is now climbing up the stairs with a huge smile on his face and in the morning he is especially talkative. He loves for me to read him books if they have things for him to feel... he tends to giggle the whole way through listening to my voice read the story and do different voices. He loves to cuddle and is still nursing about three times a day... although as busy as he is, I think he will be weaned soon. I love that every time I get him up from his nap, he is standing, pulling the curtains back and looking out the window and I love that if we play outside, he tries as hard as he can to eat all the grass in our front yard. He loves to crawl on top of you (mostly Gabriel) and clobber him and eat him. It's hilarious! And I swing him almost every day and I am not sure he loves anything more!

The other morning I was laying in bed with him at a very early hour and he was playing while I was trying to pray. He crawled up in my lap and I looked into his sweet eyes and said, "I love you. Can you say "I love Mommy?'" He looked me right back in the eyes, smiled and said, "DA DA!" It was a good try on my part, but he likes to say Da Da about 10 times more than "Ma Ma," which I have only heard a handful of times.

Anthony has a super sweet disposition just like Gabriel and will flirt with anyone close by. But, he also has the will power and stubborness of a bull... hmmm.. wonder where that is from... and will stop at nothing to do what he wants to do. I am so proud of this bundle of joy, my sweet Anthony. I pray he grows chubbier and stronger. I pray he continues to eat well so Gabriel will learn from him. I pray he continues to get good nights of rest so he is happy and healthy. And I pray he learns to love Jesus. I am such a proud mother. I really never knew that my little boys could bring me so much joy and fulfillment in my vocation and wife and mommy. Thank you, Lord, for my sweet baby boys.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teaching Our Children

Our almost monthly trip to Chick-fil-A made me so happy the other day... not just because of the #1, well done on a wheat bun, plus waffle fries... but because as we sat down to eat, my two year old, Gabriel, was the one to remind me to say a blessing and when I responded with, "OK, let's pray," he immediately pulled off his Vanderbilt baseball cap, folded his hands and bowed his head. I thank his daddy for this one. It was just one sign to me of the grace that God provides through our perseverance in teaching our children to pray, to obey, and to love.

I am realizing more and more each day how much power lies in the hands of parents. And by the grace of God we have been given this wonderful opportunity to raise souls to go out into the world to preach the gospel. And at an age as young as my children I am realizing that this is done best by teaching good habits in the home and on the road. It requires quite an active role on our part, lots of patience and discipline and a heart open to God's love to do the rest of the work that we only just begin.

While teaching him to pray... I have LOVED teaching Gabriel to pray. It has been on of my greatest joys to do and to see the fruits. We pray before meals, we pray for others, we pray the Angelus before nap time together, we pray the rosary and we always pray night prayers before bed. We have started to allow the night prayers to be more and more spontaneous after our Hail Mary and Angel of God. We start with "God bless..." and then we allow Gabriel to fill in the blanks. He can pray for anyone he would like. He has prayed for everyone from his grandparents to Buzz Lightyear (who I thought kinda weird at first, but then realized that in his little world, Buzz is a person and deserves prayers, for whatever he may need)! After blessing the family, friends, people who have died, etc. we then allow Gabriel to speak to Jesus. We start with "Dear Jesus..." and allow him to speak to Christ like he would to us. We started by prompting these conversations with suggestions and now, he just rolls with it. We have heard everything from, "I swam in the pool like this today, Jesus," (followed by a demonstration) to "Dear Jesus, today I.. I... I bwoke your head off and I am SO sorry. I wuv you." We have hoped to create in him a love for Jesus as a friend and so far I think it is working.

It has been our goal to follow the words I heard a Nashville Dominican say,"You don't want them to 'practice' their Catholic faith. You want them to BE Catholic." So, not only is prayer a part of the faith, but also the sacramental life, the saints, and a life of charity (LOVE). So, we explain to him during the Mass what is happening, we visit the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph after Mass every Sunday... or else, and we are striving to teach him in a day to day manner the way of love, ultimately, the way to Jesus.

How to teach love? Hmmm... such a toughy. I am no expert, hence the reason I went to Confession last night, but I could say almost definitely that learning by example is the primary way. This is one of the reasons we have made every sacrifice to be stay at home parents and now, me as a stay at home mom. This is the hardest choice because we don't get to drop off the poop diapers every day, but we know it's the best one because it gives us full opportunity to use every chance to teach love... unfortunately, the weight is heavy on the way we love. Our example is primary in this. This has formed a life of greater virtue in us... also why staying at home is tougher... forming virtue in yourself is super duper hard.

SO, to teach it, we live it. Some examples... looking people in the eye when they speak to us, speaking to all of the people we pass by at the grocery store and asking them how their day is, explaining who is in charge, teaching them how to clean up after themselves, teaching them how to help, even with the very simplest things, like helping me start the dishwasher, and teaching them manners. I have found that Gabriel repeats everything I say, so when I hand him something, I say, "Thank you so much, Mommy," and he would repeat it. I almost never have to remind him to say it anymore and he actually reminds me to say thank you. After receiving a gift the other day in the mail, the first words out of his mouth were, "We have to call her and say thank you." (melt my heart). God's grace is working. Now, we have to keep up the perseverance.

Discipline. I have not perfected this. Being a woman I am emotional about things, so Patrick has taught me a lot about following through with consequences (which mostly exists of our time-out chair). But, being a teacher, I learned very quickly that the students who loved me most were the ones I set boundaries for when they pushed harder and harder. I have seen what great respect young people have for those in authority who give them freedom to be creative, make good choices, but at the same time set boundaries... I hope and pray I can do this better and better every day for Gabriel and Anthony. I hope I am never that parent who gives in and after trying so many times, just lets them do what they want. I hope I always persevere to the end so I may teach them how much I care about the people I hope for them to be.

Lastly, I have realized more than ever that teaching our children to love has mostly to do with the way Patrick and I treat one another. If we are tense about something, having a heated debate or otherwise just being grumpy, the kids sense it, they act out and they think that this could be acceptable behavior. We gotta be on all the time, people. It is so hard.

Overall, I just felt impelled to share this wealth of knowledge that I have learned mostly from other amazing parents, including my own and Patrick's, and all the young Nashville parents who are fighting this good fight in their Christian homes. Raising children is hard. There is no fluff attached. Yet, I see God's grace working through our meager, yet heart filled efforts to form little soldiers for Christ. Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity. Mary, wrap your mantle around the homes of the families of the world and pray for us, especially us mothers.