Monday, August 31, 2009

From Virginia...

It is a cool 65 degrees out right now and I just came back from a morning run.
Ahh... Autumn is coming and it is good.

We have been busy bees over here in Gasperini-Ville, traveling to and fro for everything from baptisms to birthday parties. The best part about it all is that we've been full force as a family!

There was truly nothing like the five of us sitting in this gorgeous cathedral on Saturday witnessing the sacrament of baptism. Afterward, GG took the boys around to the stations of the cross and they seemed eager to soak up stories of Christ. Meanwhile, J and I talked with friends and drank in the beauty of our surroundings. We really could have stayed there all day. I'm almost tempted to head back with some swatches of fabric to try to recreate the cathedral tones in our master bedroom! lol. It really is the color scheme I'm going for. Can you imagine waking in the morning to such beauty? I can see myself rising first thing and singing glorious hymns--definitely a way to drive all the boys away! lol.

In the afternoon we drove to DC (it really is such a temptation having this amazing city so close!) to celebrate the 30th birthday of our dear friend, Jaime. We couldn't resist being there to ring in this milestone celebration for someone as sweet and generous as Jaim. She was one GG's first friends at Princeton and later became one of my closest friends and roommates. We love her so! We hesitated bringing the kids, but they ended up having a blast and bringing some additional life to the party. I am always proud to have them by my side. GG and I are so blessed by them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weeds

While mowing the lawn this morning, the words from 2 Timothy rung loud and clear in my crazy brain, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Tim. 4:7) Rather profound for lawn mowing, eh? Profound until I tell you why I was thinking of this verse...

Weeds.
All over.
We have fought hard against them and yet they are still there!

Poor GG mowed the lawn a few weeks back and called me immediately while I was away in Ohio. "Honey, have you seen the weeds in the front yard?" I had.
"They are taking over!" Poor guy. I could see the stress lines forming on his forehead.
He has been fighting those darn weeds all spring and summer with everything from pre-emersion treatment to top down weed killer.
Yet the weeds still come and thrive and it is frustrating!!

There's crab grass by the edges and around our lamppost. There's Bermuda grass encroaching from the neighbor's yard. There is a leafy variety consuming the small strip of grass by the driveway. Ugh. Weeds.

When I stop to think, though, I am struck by how true this metaphor applies to the rest of our lives. We are living the good life, taking care of our day-to-day, attempting to have a holy perspective in the midst of life's ups and downs. And then the weeds come. They approach stealthily at first, implanting ever so delicately between the God areas of our hearts. Over time, without attention, they grow and flourish, putting down roots and becoming established in the soil of our life. They go from being immediate temptations to entrenched sinful habits. They draw the life out of all the good parts.

We might even have been actively trying to avoid the weeds, doing everything we know how to do--praying, reading the Word, attending church. We can never be too cautious. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

So today is not only a day to cut the grass, it's also one to do some serious praying and examination of conscience. I need to ask God to reveal the weeds in my life, the fledgling ones that I cannot yet recognize. Where are they, Lord? Show me them so that I can truly build the fruitful aspects of my heart. And while I'm at, God, inspire me toward a deeper relationship with you; one that can endure the weedy seasons of life and emerge fruitful and beautiful. Equip me for the long fight, my Lord.

God bless,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Little Swimmer

Future military guy?? :)

Two weeks ago our relentless, effervescent, and belovedly strong-willed M set out on a swimming adventure. At the time, he refused to put his face or head in the water and his swimming skills were relatively nonexistent. I could do nothing to persuade him to put his head under and he insisted on only wearing his Puddle Jumpers.

M's swimming blitz consisted of 8 half-hour private lessons held in someone's backyard pool. An area homeschooling family (with 11 children) started their own business years ago, renting out various backyard pools and teaching children the basics of swimming. What I loved most about this program was its early emphasis on communicating swimming safety. M took a "safe swimmer test" at the end of his lessons with clothes on to see if he could operate in the water in the event of an emergency--he passed! Pretty cool!

He can now float on his tummy and back, do the elementary backstroke (with direction), reach his arms in freestyle fashion, flip onto his back to rest if he's too tired, and retrieve items at the bottom of the pool. Amazing! To think my (very conservative) hope through all of this was that maybe they could get him to put his head underwater! He had that accomplished by day 1! It was then that I knew this program was a good thing...
I think what I loved most about the program, though, was watching his confidence and determination grow with each lesson. His teacher was so proud of his hard work and we were too! What a champ! :) I really wish I could download video onto here, but for some reason Blogger blocks it. Alas, you'll just have to enjoy the pics.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

T Turns 3!




Before these pics become more than a week old, here are some glimpses of T's 3rd b-day! We had two friends over last Sunday (who also happen to be brothers) and the boys all had a ball. They blew bubbles, made personal pizzas, played football in the yard, enjoyed cake and make-your-own sundaes, and reveled in the gifts! T had a GREAT birthday! Mom enjoyed it because it was celebratory and small. Let's just say we're building to #16. Baby steps. :)

In other news, we just returned from an overnight in Crozet with Mimi and Papa--such bliss! We adore the mountains and rolling wine country. We walked to get coffee this morning and have a quick dip in the neighborhood pool. Such fun! We have been rejoicing in M's new swimming skills lately. He just finished an 8-day intense private swim school that produced incredible results. The program is run through a homeschooling family who started their own swim instruction business years ago. They have 11 children and all have been swim teachers at some point in the program. I will talk more about this in a coming post, but I'm happy to report it was awesome!!! We are so proud of our M!

God bless,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Gem

For modern man, to be free often means throwing off all constraint and all authority-- 'Neither God nor master.' For Christianity, on the other hand, freedom can only be found by submitting to God, in the 'obedience of faith' that St. Paul speaks of (Romans 1:5). True freedom is not so much something man wins for himself; it is a free gift from God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, received in the measure in which we place ourselves in a relationship of loving dependence on our Creator and Savior. The is where the Gospel paradox is most apparent: 'Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it' (Matthew 16:25). In other words, people who wish to preserve and defend their own freedom at any cost will lose it, but those willing to "lose" it by leaving it trustingly in God's hands will save it. Their freedom will be restored to them, infinitely more beautiful, infinitely deeper, as a marvelous gift from God's tenderness. Our freedom is, in fact, proportionate to the love and childlike trust we have for our heavenly Father.
-from Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Family Wedding

Aren't the boy ties too much?
It was down to the wire getting them, but I'm so glad we went the extra mile.
They were all so dapper!

We ventured up to DC Saturday afternoon to attend the wedding of one of GG's law school classmates. What a grand time we had... The kids were invited too, which was such a gift from the bride and groom. It is not often that we descend upon a social situation and feel totally and completely loved and welcomed. That's just life with three young ones.

Leave it to an openhearted, life-giving Catholic couple to provide us reason to celebrate in such a wonderful way. It was truly awesome. GG and I agreed we wouldn't have had nearly as much fun without the kids. They sat through Mass, ate well, toasted the bride and groom, danced and boogied with the rest of us, melted our hearts with their endearing hugs with some *adorable* little girl pals from ND (yes, the betrothals have already been made and signed in blood by the fathers :). To be in this community again was so rich and reminded me to ALWAYS delight in children. It is our call to embrace life at all stages! I just can't say enough about how much this evening made me reflect on such beauty... How much we miss our community at Notre Dame. To all our peeps out there--we love you and your children so much!!

The kids talk over Contracts, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law pursuits in the last year.

Then they stop to ponder the meaning of life and the law.
(It looks rather calm, but was much more energetic than this!)

The boys and bride, Jane. M was especially enamored of her the whole evening!

T and Molly Grace, cutting a rug.
Maddy finally got M out on the dance floor--she would only dance with him and vice versa.
If only my camera battery hadn't died I'd have oodles more "mother shots" to share... :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Birthday Boy!

To our sweet birthday T,
Three years ago you made your dramatic entrance into the world with the cord around your neck and roomful of doctors and nurses breathing sighs of relief that there you were, chubby, healthy, and crying with life. We knew early on what a precious gift of life we were given in you, our dear sweet T. How much we loved you then and still, as if possible, we continue today to love you even more.
You were a handful at 5 days, vomiting blood from your nursin' mama. You were tumultuous at 2 weeks when you and mom finally got into a nursing groove. But you were always sweet, our sweet T. Your smiles were early and immediate. Your cuddles were heartfelt and constant. You quickly went from "misunderstood" to charming.

And today to think of all you've done and have left to do in your little life. You pal with your big brother like a best friend above no one else. You talk languidly and clearly and we sometimes can't believe it is just now that you're turning 3. You can't wait to start school and learn to read and swim like your big bro. You mimic so much of what he does, but have always been your own person, as stubborn as they come. Mommy secretly loves how resilient you are in the face of a challenge (even ones at the dinner table) for this stick-to-it-ness will serve you well in life. In the midst, though, you are so polite, always disarming your mama with "No, thank you". How could a mother be upset with that?? :)

You are creative and kinesthetic--you beg for play-doh, paints, and crayon rocks. You are my little artsy one and I cherish you. You even drew a picture of a football stadium the other day to show your Daddy and let him know how much YOU like football too, but of course in your own way.

We love your spirit. We cherish your tenderness. We are so blessed to know you.
I love you, my sweet T.
We celebrate you today!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

NYC

I am still reeling after such a wonderful weekend up in The Big Apple. It was beyond fun and *great* to see all my old college friends. Red and I drove in on Saturday morning and met everyone for mani/pedis at a salon. From there we headed to a bridal shower in the upper west side. It was beautiful and the food was so tasty. The bride's sister happens to be in school to become a pastry chef. Oh, to have one of those in the family!! Delicious!

Later on we went out for cocktails and then to the Spice Market for a 3+ hour dinner. It was a tasting menu, so we got to sample all the fare--amazing!! By that time it was 1am, so we crashed back at the bride's place in Brooklyn and awoke the next morning to Mass at St. Patrick's and a mid-day train back to New Jersey to pick up my car. I took a quick frolic to our old stomping grounds in Princeton and was met with the beautiful, heartwarming sights of ages past. It always re-charms me every time I'm there... Then it was back on the turnpike to head home with a dinner stop in DC to meet up with my dear Notre Dame gals--their company is so encouraging and inspiring. The last two hours of my road trip were TIRING. Thanks to McDonald's for the hot fudge sundae that spruced me up a half-hour from home. Just seeing my sleeping boys and feeling my soft bed was enough to fill my heart to the brim. What a fantastic weekend!

The bride-to-be, Katherine

College Pals

New friends, Brandi Jane and Bethany (great name BTW!) ;)

Her crown says "Bridezilla", but she's nothing of the sort!

Jaim and I after noticing our drinks were rather strong! Cheers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Anecdote

As told by Papa...

"GG had to lector at St. B at 0800 and I had to usher at St M at 0900. We therefore decided that I would arrive at GG’s house at 0730 and take the boys to St M and place them in the nursery. GG would meet me afterward at St M. Right before we were to depart for St M both T and J decided to poop their pants big time. That set me back time wise but we still showed up at St M at 0855. The bad news was that the nursery was closed. Instead of doing the prudent thing and take the boys to our house and wait for GG, I figured I could hang on until GG showed up in a half hour. He could then assist. Bad idea. M was a perfect gentleman, J was good but babbling. T had brought his blanket into church and was lying horizontal in the pew between squeezing J’s cheeks. In my hurry to leave the house after the poop incidents I forgot to bring the bag full of implements prepared by GG—diapers, extra clothes, and most importantly, J’s pacifier. When J started to babble too loud, I had to stick my finger in his mouth. Ouch! That little guy has teeth now. He must have liked my thumb because he never cried, just babbled. Things were going OK until I looked over at T on my left. His shorts were off! What the heck! I struggled to replace his pants while holding J. M was distracting J which was a nice gesture, but it got J to be more vocal. I finally got T’s shorts on and noticed the button had somehow fallen off. Also, his crocs were under the pew as well. I would have left at that point but the readings were going on and leaving with three boys, one with his britches at half mast, would have been just too disruptive.. We hung on for the homily, which M enjoyed (on several occasions he repeated with a laugh what the priest said—“That’s funny"). All the while I had this strange notion that GG would come into the church and give me some relief. That was not to be and as soon as everyone stood up after the homily we were out of there. A visit to three 7-11’s thereafter ensued looking for the blueberry donuts I had promised T and M. We then returned to our house where we rendezvoused with GG. Everything settled down after that, but it was quite an experience. The lesson learned is never to trust that the St M nursery will be open. Lesson #2 is that when the nursery is not open to simply go home if you are a Papa with three little boys."

LOL. I have the best father-in-law!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Being One is GREAT!

Hooray!



Cheers to our one-year-old, who adoringly left mom a trail of poop in the playroom yesterday after these pictures were taken. Oh heavens!! Word to the wise: always diaper a naked baby, always. Even after a bath. I resisted the urge to take pictures of the aftermath. :) You can thank me later. lol.

Gasperini-Ville guys' weekend starts tonight as I take off for another weekend away (this one without any kiddos) up to NYC for a good friend's bridal shower and bachelorette party. Should be fabulous! I can't wait. Meanwhile, the garage fridge is packed with the "beer" (read: Capris Suns in three flavors, Coke Zeros, Caffeine Free Diet Cokes, and a few Amstels ;) The pantry is stocked with all things snacky and "help Daddy cook". Isn't my guy wonderful to give me another weekend off?? I am so lucky. I hope they have a great time as I know I will.

Say some prayers for all my boys. I'm going to miss them something fierce, especially that little guy. As if he knows what is coming, he has been particularly snugly today. It is our first day without nursing... I am trying to stay upbeat and not show my sadness!! He is a little lover!

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Birthday Boy

From start...
A special donut breakfast

Maymont Park lunch with friend, Claire

Dinner extravaganza with family

Presents galore--with brothers' help!

And, of course, CAKE!!

To finish... J has had a GRAND first birthday!

J, you came into our lives in a flash a year ago and we haven't looked back since. Your smile, giggles, sweetness, and easygoing nature make you so fun and easy to be around. You put up with so much from your brothers and manage to smile all the way through. If it weren't for your dinner demands and screams, we'd start to wonder if you were the perfect angel baby!

At one you nap twice a day, two+ hours in the morning (9:30-11:30am) and one+ in the afternoon (~2pm). You are getting more comfortable on your feet, but still heavily rely on mom and dad's help in getting around walking. Crawling is your expertise and you have now easily mastered the stairs. You head up there on your own and tower above us on "your perch" to look down and take in all that is below you. You've even started sending toys catapulting over the edge and take great delight in their effect down below. Naughty boy!

You say the occasional "mama", "dada", and "byebye", but don't seem to be too concerned with words at the moment. Your signs for "more", "milk", and "all done" are getting much more pronounced, especially as you've quickly taken to your new cow's milk for meals. Mommy is so sorry to be ceasing nursing (as of tomorrow... sniff, sniff) as you are the sweetest little nursing companion, but this will be best as our family has a busy month ahead of us.

You seem to be favoring your oldest brother in looks and your middle brother in length and stature. Who knows what the next year brings, but we're grateful for every day we are blessed to have you with us! Praise God for you, sweet J, we cherish you today and all days!! Happy first birthday!