Wednesday, June 26, 2013

So, I decided, on a whim, that we girls needed to make cookies today.  Less than an hour before naptime, my oldest and I decided on Peanut Butter cookies.  So we made them. 

We measured and mixed, combined and stirred.  She was elated to turn on the mixer.  What a helper!  I decided that she should be the one to put the criss-crosses on the cookies.  It was so cute teaching her! 
"First this way," I said, "and then this way."  I showed her with a few cookies, and then let her go to work.  With each cookie that I put on the sheets, I'd hear her say quietly, "First dis way, den dis way."  She reminds me so much of myself at that age--sometimes it scares me!  Because I know her spirit and her heart are probably very similar to mine.  What a huge responsibility to guard and form them!

It's all about the simple things.  Spending time with my little sweetie was wonderful! And what a good helper! 

First this way, then that way.

So yummy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Less than two weeks after we were married, our lives were turned upside down.  Though practically everyone else predicted it, we were shocked when we found out we were expecting a little honeymoon baby.  Our swift entrance into parenthood thrilled us tremendously and scared us a little, too.  But, he handled it with such trust.

But that was one of the reasons that I married him.  I still see those reasons, every single day.

The tears he cried when they laid our first daughter into my arms.  He stood back and watched as I wept and promised her I'd be a good mother.  And then he held her and stared at her precious face for a long time.  I treasure those photos.  At home, he took her out to the living room and slept on the couch when I was so ill...and she was only two weeks old.  He did all of her feedings, burped her, stayed up with her through colic.  And never complained.

He played with her, idolized her.  He would get on the floor and talk to her even when she was only a month old. Later, he became her jungle gym, letting her crawl and jump all over him.  He still does that, only now he has two little ones climbing all over him.

He stood by me and supported me when we were surprised by another addition, only to lose him a few months later.  He cried with me, held my hand, and prayed with me.  And he never questioned me.

Then, he left, and she was here.  I heard his smile--so audible--as he heard about her in Kuwait.  He missed the whole pregnancy.  Instead, he defended our country and family.  Later, I found out he was keeping up with the pregnancy, reading weekly the progress our unborn child and I were making.  He wasn't supposed to be there when she arrived.  Somehow, he sacrificed so much and flew halfway around the world, arriving just in time.  He named her and then he held her.  And he fell in love all over again.

 He insisted on doing most of the feedings the three days he was home.  He fed and burped and changed diapers and then did it all over again.  "You're going to be left with this," he said, "let me do it for now."  What a man.  What a father.  He smiled and talked to her, holding her for hours.

And then he left again.  So bravely.  As I stood there and wept, so weak.

He came home and threw himself into loving them again.  Picking up like he was never gone.  And they fell in love with him all over again.

He is always doing and cleaning and going that extra mile.  And I never realize until I go to do it myself.  And it's done.  With such love.  He goes beyond what I would expect, because he loves me.  He loves them.  He's picked up the slack with the house and girls when I had to step back for a little while.  And he never complained.  When I felt like a failure, he insisted I was so needed.   He encouraged me more, and loved me more. 

He's so loving, so quiet.  So strong, so brave.  So firm, so dependable. 

He's reminds me of St. Joseph. 

I cannot imagine parenting with anyone else.  Parenting without the balance and consistency he brings to our dynamic.  The Faith and love he brings. He always inspires me to be better, sets a bar through his example that I constantly try to reach.  He's so good.

I am so blessed to have him.  The girls are so blessed to have such a wonderful father.  God is so good to me. 

Happy Father's Day, Richard. Your girls love you so much!  Thank you for being such a great dad!

Friday, June 14, 2013

He was with me from the beginning.  Ever since we came into existence.  For a long time, we were always in close proximity.  Same home, same family, same school, and same grade.  Always together.  Always so close.  Then, life moved on and took us in separate directions, as life does.  But, the sixth sense we've always had stayed strong.

I have always known when something is wrong.  I get this horrible, sickening sense that something is not right.  That something bad has happened.  Once, when I was a sophomore in college, and he said he had a horrible flu.  He hadn't been able to get up for awhile.  I just always knew.  And it went both ways.  He would call me, "Adrienne.  Are you okay?  I just have a bad feeling."  And I would tell him the struggles that I was enduring.  There has always been that connection.

I have seen him so happy.  Many times  When he met her our freshman year, he was like a schoolkid again.  They dated and married.  They were always doing things and making adventures.  He loved her.  But, she was very sick.  And then one day, the feeling came to me.  Something was bad wrong.  She was sick.  Very sick.  For months, she fought, but she lost.  And then I had to watch him grieve.  It was horrible.

I saw him in the depths of darkness, the likes of which I could not understand.  My heart ached.  I encouraged him.  And I prayed.  So hard.

God, please give him someone new when he's ready.  Someone special.  Someone who can make him live again.  Smile again.  Be happy again. 

He moved through darkness, struggling.  For the first time, there was nothing I could do for him.  And then I suffered my own horrible loss.  Death is so cruel.  And he and I stayed up for hours one night talking.  He opened up to me about his own struggle with death, and I understood. Though the circumstances were different, there was so much we could understand.

A long time later, I skipped down the steps in my parents' house, but he didn't hear me.  He was completely absorbed.  I peered over his shoulder and saw it.  Catholic Match.  Before I could help it, I jumped on the couch next to him, grinning.  "You weren't supposed to see"  But, I smiled.  "I kept telling you to get on!  How long?"  He had just registered within the week.  I was thrilled.  And nervous for him.  Heaven only knows what a huge leap of faith that was for him.

I begged him to see her profile.  He made me promise not to tell anyone and turned the computer to me.  I read her profile.  I was appalled.  Everything was a perfect fit.  And she was beautiful!

"If you don't marry her, I will kill you."

He laughed and told me to slow down.  He was deciding if he was going to message her.  I insisted that he do--you never know.  And it can't hurt.

"And if you don't marry her, I will kill you."

He walked down the aisle to that woman on June 8th.  Never have I seen him so happy--smiling so much!  I wept through the Mass.  Tears of joy.  All I could keep thinking and whispering was, "Praise God.  Thank you, God!"  She is so thoughtful, so kind.  And so funny!  She fits in perfectly with our crazy family.  And she took a broken and shattered heart, and made it whole again.  She not just accepted his beautiful, broken story, but embraced it.  Aided him through hurt, helped make him whole again.  What a beautiful soul she is!

I wish them a future filled with as much joy and happiness as they felt on their wedding day.  That the bliss lives on.  I know that, when struggle of any kind inevitably arises, they are strong enough to prevail.  Because they are strong. They are Faithful.  And they put each other first.

God's stories for us are so beautiful.  We can't see it amidst the darkness, when it swirls around us.  But, He does answer prayers.  Especially those prayers said in the darkest recesses of a twins sister's heart, a sister who sees a man who deserves another love story.  A man who will make a phenomenal father, a wonderful husband, and needs that new beginning.

And so he has it.  She has it.  They have it.  Love.  Joy.  God.

Thank you, Jesus.  Praise God! 
Look at that smile!