A blog for all that goes on in our family.

Church

Saint Kateri, Pray for Us!

We are so excited that this weekend the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will be canonizing Kateri Tekakwitha at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. She will now be “Saint Kateri” instead of “Blessed Kateri.” You can read a bit more about her here. Kateri will be canonized alongside Marianne Cope, a nun who assisted lepers living in Hawaii. Both women assisted the sick and dealt with illness and pain themselves because of the lives they had chosen.

Kateri holds a special place in our lives, because she is one of the patrons of Catholic Youth Camp, where we met in 2004. Anna’s middle name is Kateri.

Saint Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us!


Josie’s Baptism

[Note: Again, sorry we have been remiss in updating. Life has been pretty busy for us lately.]

On Sunday, May 27, we were very happy to welcome our little Josephine Immaculata into the Catholic Church. She was baptized at our parish by our head pastor, and our friends Brian and Briana were godparents. (You may remember we are godparents to their daughter, who is just two weeks older than Anna.) About 25 family members and friends were in attendance, and got to participate in the ceremony by singing and praying with us.

I think my favorite moment was the Rite of Exorcism. Josie had been a little upset before that, fussing, crying, and spitting out her pacifier. But the second the rite was over, she promptly spit up and calmed down. (I was half expecting her head to spin all the way around–it didn’t.)

After the baptism, we retired to our house for a party. It was really muggy and hot, so we spent most of the time inside, eating cake, drinking beer, and enjoying each other’s company. Sara’s family got to stay pretty late, around 4 PM, which was excellent. Our newest Christian was held by all and enjoyed by all.

Just like when Anna was baptized, I was a little surprised how much the day meant to me. I might joke that, “Thank the Lord there are no pagans in our house anymore,” but on a deeper level, having one’s child baptized does bring a great sense of contentment and even relief. And while it’s years off, I’m excited for our children’s first communions.

Welcome into your new life in Christ, Josephine! May He abundantly bless you in the years to come.

Grandma holding the candidate for baptism.
Big sister and Pooh Bear singing during mass.

The big moment!
Typical photo with our children. “Oh! Oh!” *spit up*
Godparents and parents.


Rejoice! He is Born!

Overwhelmed by Christmas #2.

 Merry Christmas to one and all.
May God abundantly bless you in 2012. 

 


Genevieve is Welcomed Into the Church

As we didn’t have any pictures on our camera for our niece Genevieve’s baptism a few weeks ago, this post is a little late in coming. (All photography courtesy of Rob, John’s dad; thank you!)

Genevieve was welcomed into the Catholic Church through the sacrament of baptism on July 3, which was exactly 9 months after Anna’s baptism, as Hallie pointed out. The day was gloriously sunny and Mike and Hallie’s parish church was gorgeous, making the ceremony that much more beautiful. Genna stayed awake for all of the rite, and even opened her eyes up wide in amazement when her dad held her up for all to see as the newest new member of the Church. After the Mass we were treated to a small celebration at her home, where we all enjoyed a really delicious lunch… and cake! (I never forget the cake. And this one was exceptionally yummy.)

We were honored to be asked to be her Godparents and loving praying for Goddaughter #3 every day! She’s a sweetheart, that’s for sure.

Genna wakes up at the baptism!

With the godparents and parents.

A sweet smile from the newly-baptized.


A Surprise Visitor

On Wednesday we received a wonderful present: a visit from our good friend Rose Sister Maris Stella of the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus. She has been our good friend for about five years and moved to New Ulm, MN recently to join this religious order. It’s been about a year since we last saw her, so it was great to catch up and introduce her to Anna. Our Sweet Pea was mesmerized by Sister Maris Stella’s habit and fell asleep in her arms like they were old friends. We chatted for about two hours and I was reminded once again how wonderful it is how the various members of the Body complement each other. Thank you for your prayers, Sister; they do us a world of good!

Sister, meet Sweet Pea. Sweat Pea, meet Sister. Maybe one day you can be Sister Sweet Pea.

Alleluia!

He is risen! Happy Easter, everyone.


Christmas

I LOVE Christmastime. The lights, the smells, the sounds, all of it! The whopping 33.4 inches of snow we had received by December 24 this year (well… last year… this post is a bit delayed in making its appearance) definitely didn’t hurt either, although I don’t think everyone would agree with me on that.

I’ve also decided that adding a baby to the mix only makes things more enjoyable.  Anna isn’t old enough to thoroughly appreciate the beauty of the season, but she had a good time nonetheless.

The three days leading up to Christmas day were spent with my family in Eyota, which meant lots of dog barking, beer drinking, and soda cracker cookie eating.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner with some friends from high school (thanks, Bankers!) and games and drinks with my “second family,” the Kramers (always so fun!).  Anna looked beautiful in her Christmas dress borrowed from the Shurts family, and the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass was movie-worthy: how often do you get to see a donkey dragging another donkey by the tail down the church aisle? Hysterical!

Anna all dressed up for Christmas Eve Mass (Thanks for the dress, Jess!)

Anna slept through her daddy reading The First Christmas to her, but we are sure she loved it. Christmas morning she also slept through most of the gift opening, including the new pair of glasses she received from Auntie Traci.

Sleeping as her gifts are opened

She had received the Jumperoo from Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sherry on Wednesday night and LOVED it!

She also got The Night Before Christmas in Hawaiian from Auntie Beth and (soon-to-be) Uncle Jeff, which we are sure will inspire her to someday move to Hawaii and bring her wonderful parents along.

Christmas Part II was celebrated with John’s family in Golden Valley.  We had a great time and I am happy to say that I am now down to only 2 books remaining until I own the entire Harry Potter series (John and I were on a HP kick for awhile… more on that in another post).  Anna got lots of cute clothes and toys, including an awesome “play Bible” from her Godparents , and John got (surprise!) another board game.  We also enjoyed lots of yummy food, such as Kay’s scotch eggs, zelnicky, and chicken wild rice soup.

Anna's new hat

Auntie Hallie holds an excited Anna next to some pretty new clothes.

Anna is intrigued by Uncle Mike's IPad.

We had a beautiful time celebrating Christ’s birth, and we hope you all did, too.  May we always be thankful for the gifts God has given!


A New Perspective on Christmas

Each Advent I marvel at how important Christmas is to our culture. It’s the reason for multiple radio stations changing their play formats, cities putting lights on trees, malls staying open late, grocery stores stocking all sorts of special foods, concert halls hosting seasonal concerts, churches holding important services, and families taking part in ritual gatherings. For one busy month, it feels as though the entire country is taking part in Christmas. Even those who despise this season are playing a role in the holiday tradition, that of Scrooge. It is a time that I consider precious for all sorts of reasons. But this year I’m celebrating in a particular way because of this new title I can claim: father.

There have been times in my life when I have felt very distant from the characters who play a role in Christ’s birth. I’m not a first century Jew and I’ve never been ordered to go “declare myself” at my place of birth, for instance. But now I share a lot of the same experiences that Joseph and Mary had on the night of their son’s birth. I have felt the constant worry that comes with pregnancy, the fear of labor, and the exultation of knowing that my child has been born happy and healthy. And all of these experiences have brought me one step closer to the story of the Incarnation. It’s one of the unexpected joys of being a dad. This whole journey that began the moment we learned we were pregnant and continues on today has deepened my faith. And this Advent, in the midst of tickling tiny toes, changing diapers, and holding  my daughter when she’s sad, I’ve come to understand more fully the great risk God took in becoming man, and what a gift it is to be a father.

Merry Christmas!


Giving Thanks

I want to take a moment to express how thankful we are at this point in our lives, and also to explain our journey over the past few years.  Thanksgiving has never had a more profound meaning for us than it does this year, although every year there are more reasons to thank our Creator.

When John and I got married three years ago, we had no idea what God had in store for us.  We were believing Catholics, had a fun group of friends we saw consistently, and enjoyed spending time with both of our wonderful families.  For some reason, we were also fairly naive in thinking that because we were generally “good” people, good things would happen to us.  In fact, a lot of circumstances came together perfectly around our wedding, including both of us finding and starting new jobs, and finding a cheap apartment almost exactly halfway between those jobs.  We felt so blessed and grateful.  We never really thought there might be any trouble when we’d want to start growing our family.

About a year after we were married, John and I began to grow our family.  Using the natural method of family planning (which I teach) we managed to get pregnant right away and did not have to deal with the heartache of infertility.  My heart truly goes out to those people who have that cross to bear.  I teach many couples who have struggled with infertility, and it is a long and hard road to travel.

Although we conceived right away, the happiness was short-lived; after visiting the doctor I began to miscarry almost immediately, only a few days after confirming we were pregnant.  Our hearts were broken.  For those of you who have gone through this horrible ordeal, you know the emptiness that it can cause; it can consume you.  John was my stronghold; he kept me talking so that I didn’t close off myself.  I still believed that God was there, that He had a plan, but I was so angry at Him!

A few months later we conceived again.  Although there were many scary moments (once you have miscarried, you are absolutely terrified that it will happen during any consecutive pregnancies), we began telling people and believing that this would be the first of our children to make it out to the world.  But that was also not to be.  I will never forget the bleeding, and the ER trip that landed us in front of an ultrasound monitor showing no heartbeat.  The funny thing is, although I remember everything that happened that night, my clearest memory is of the ultrasound technician giving me a hug when we realized what everything meant; it was so incredibly sweet of her, and I thank God that she was there and willing to be so kind.

Of course, this was still not the end of our second child’s story.  Three weeks later, my doctor called (you know something is wrong when the doctor calls you out of the blue!).  We had had a partial molar pregnancy.  Because of this, we were told we needed to wait one year before trying to conceive again.

This was a hard blow.  I was almost in shock.  I trusted that God had a plan, but this was my darkest hour; I just could not understand why this should happen.  I had felt called to be a mother, and yet my babies were being taken from me!

Again, God worked through my husband to reach me.  He made me talk, made me go to Mass, to Adoration, and to reconciliation.  We both began to see how something so sad could also be beautiful; God had given us these two lives, and although we wanted them, they were truly gifts that were not “ours” to keep.  The most beautiful thing about it all is that our two children are WITH GOD!  They are engulfed in so much more joy than they ever would have experienced here.

As Christians, we believe that these children deserved recognition as complete human beings, and after hearing of the idea from a friend, we decided to name them both.  We also had a memorial mass said for them at our home, which really helped bring some closure for us, and we plan to continue going to a mass (or having a mass said) for them every year.

Anyway, one year later, we were able to conceive our third child.  Only a few weeks later we were told we would lose this one as well.  We were devastated, but a bit more prepared emotionally this time around.  However, God had a HUGE surprise in store for us; five weeks later, on March 3rd, we had an ultrasound which showed our little Anna Kateri to be healthy and right on her dates! We were ECSTATIC, to say the least, and cried for joy multiple times.  (In fact, I still do!)  On August 29th, we welcomed her into the world, and she is filling our lives with smiles.

We are thankful for so many things; for our health, our friends, our family, and so much more.  For our parents who raised us, and especially my mom today, who gave birth to me 27 years ago. And although we have had to deal with a lot of heartache, we are SO thankful that God has blessed us with three children: Anthony John, Julia Dolores, and Anna Kateri.  They have each taught us so much about our faith and have helped us grow closer to each other and closer to God.  I am so incredibly thankful for my husband, the sweetest, most caring, and selfless person I have ever met – John, I love you! And finally, I am thankful for the faith and the LIFE God has given us.  May we be humble and faithful enough to finally enter His Kingdom one day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Hailey Rose′s Baptism

A few months ago John and I were honored to be asked to be godparents to our good friends Brian and Briana’s daughter.  Hailey was born two and a half weeks before Anna – we are so excited to have another baby girl in the “family” so close to her age.

On October 10 we participated in (and celebrated!) Hailey’s baptism with her parents and their families.  We had a great time and are so happy for her. Welcome to the Catholic Church, little one!


Baby shower and Baptism

The first weekend in October was a big (and busy) weekend for us.  Saturday afternoon was the last baby shower for me and Anna, and it was wonderful, thanks to hosts Kay and Hallie. We had a great time seeing friends and family, ate some delicious food (well… Anna had milk), and were given many beautiful gifts.

Anna at her baby shower.

Traci & Beth smelling baby food for a shower game.

Grandma Kay gave Anna a beautiful cross-stitched blanket she made.

That evening was spent with both sides of our families eating pizza and relaxing with each other, while of course fawning over the baby.  It’s always nice to spend time with both sides of our family; we love them all!

Any free time I had that weekend was all spent preparing for the baptism celebration on Sunday afternoon, and there was no way I could have possibly pulled it off without our family helping out – they were all lifesavers (especially Traci, who helped all three days and never complained!).  After a late Saturday night and an early Sunday morning, everything was finally ready, and we were off to the church for mass (where Anna was passed from family member to family member all hour long) and, finally, the baptism itself.

The ceremony was beautiful; she was awake for most of it but didn’t cry (lucky us!), and it was officiated by a priest who is a friend of the John’s family and had been praying for Anna throughout the pregnancy.  We were so happy he got to be the one to baptize her!  Anna’s Godparents are Mike and Hallie, and we have no doubt that they will be excellent examples and leaders in the faith for their niece.  Thank you for agreeing to be her sponsors!

Finally, our daughter was freed from Original Sin!  As John likes to say, “Now she can only commit unoriginal sins.” :)

John holding Anna before the baptism. Anna was wearing the dress I wore at my baptism, the bonnet that Grandma Sherry made out of her own wedding dress, and a wrap made from a baptismal gown that has been passed down through many generations of John's family.

After the baptism we had a gathering at our house for lunch, cake, and a celebration of Anna’s life (both spiritual and physical) with family and friends.  It was also intended to be a thanksgiving of sorts for our loved ones.  We are so lucky to have our “miracle” baby and feel so blessed to have all of these wonderful people in our lives who took the time to support us and pray for us over the past few years.  You have all helped us reach this happy point in our lives and we will be forever thankful for you all.  God is so good!

Anna with her godfather.

Anna and her BFF Hailey (who came all the way from Alexandria to help us celebrate!)