Thursday, August 28, 2014

For the Mothers of Multiples: Giving Our Kids the {best} Gift of EachOther


It's not uncommon for George to disappear for great lengths of time.  Being the most adventurous son in the family, he's always chasing some great idea, a goal or an interest - fishing in the creek, building something useful in the garage with scraps of this and that, gathering the neighbor kids together for the greatest game of kickball ever.

He's also very good about letting me know exactly where he's going when there's a conquest to be made, but last week there was a moment when I realized that quite some time had passed since I had seen him, and I had no idea where he was.
After calling for him outside and doing a quick run through the house, I was completely surprised to see my energetic son standing quietly alone in the guest bedroom, his nose pressed against large window, his gaze fixed upon the street that leads to up to the end of our cul-de-sac.

George, are you okay? What are you doing in here??

Oh, not much Mom, I'm just waiting for Ben to come home.


And, that's when I knew that I wasn't the only one in the family who was missing the biggest brother.

This summer has passed all too quickly for us, for me especially.  The lazy days of summer, weren't lazy at all.  Having a newborn during the height of farm season sent me into a bit of a tail-spin. This summer was more about survival than sitting by the pool or sipping lemonade. (But, wine? Oh, yes, there was wine.)

Little pangs of guilt creep into my heart when I think about the early summer weeks I spent in quite a state of self-pity, feeling tired of being pregnant, tired of keeping things in order around the house, tired of being tired. All of my my energy was focused on preparing for the littlest one, that I hadn't much left over for the big ones.

Yet, somehow, in my physical presence but mental and emotional absences during the past couple of months, the boys were softened and stretched, right along with their parents, into fulfilling their roles and purposes within the family. 
They learned to hold a fussy baby, to master more chores around the home with greater efficiency, to play quietly when every fiber in their being was longing to burst, to dress, bathe and brush a toddler's teeth, to beat boredom by making up games or double-dog-daring one another to do crazy stunts in the yard beyond mom's line of sight.
Despite all of the changes that welcoming a newborn into our family has brought, the boys have taught me that embracing change doesn't have to mean just figuring out how to survive, but that within the sacrifices and challenges, you really can thrive.

Last week, standing in the warmth of the morning sunrise, I waved good-bye to Benedict, walking away, tall and strong, looking back over his shoulder to give me one last glance before heading off to a new year of school. Saying good-bye to him, good-bye to summer broke my heart wide open and all the tears came rising.
I know, I know.
He's 13. I should have this down, right?

Millions of moms across America said their first-day-of-school good-bye's last week, too.  If they can do it, I can do it.  But, truth be told, I can't do it without my chest being gripped with a tremendous longing for just one more day, one more week to have Ben home. Because having him home means we're together. And, being together is something I've truly learned to treasure.

I remember the day after Joseph was born, Steve had to be in the field, so I spent most of the day in the hospital resting, reading and watching television. During an episode of some show on HGTV, a couple was arguing about the upgrades they wanted for their new home.  The mom emphatically insisted that her twin sons (who couldn't have been more than 4 years old) needed to have their own rooms.

I just don't think that they should have to share. They need their own space, their own toys, their own place to play and...

And what? I thought.
And be alone??

They need time alone?
With their things? 
In their own space???

*sigh*

They need you. They need their father. They need each other.

At the heart of that mother's concern for her children was love, and that is a good thing.  I have no doubt that she longs for her children to be nurtured, fulfilled and to thrive.  Those are such honest and earnest desires.  But, a big part of me wanted to reach through the television, put my arms around her and remind her that the best gift that she could ever give her sons is the gift of each other, and she's already done that!
It is difficult to describe the relational dynamics and atmosphere of fellowship in a home with many children.  You would think that, in a home that is pressed to the edges with the energy and stuff of six boys, that there would be a great battle for individual ownership and possession, but that's far from true.

Of course they have moments of selfishness and compulsive pride of ownership, we all do.  But, one of the most remarkable revelations of having multiple children is that their independence and unique individuality is not compromised with having to share, but rather it is ignited in such a way that each child's personality, their gifts and strengths become even more pronounced than if they were to be channeled into separate spaces, separate lives, for the sake of having more material good.
I have observed with great satisfaction, in our children, that in the challenges of their brotherhood, as well as the warmth and richness of it, that they learn how to live and experience their personal ideas and goals within a framework of mutual respect, consideration and admiration for those around them. The value of the opportunity that they have to exercise the intellect and the will toward virtue within this framework, within the ordinariness of daily life at home under our parental guidance, is truly immeasurable.
The gift of of brotherhood, for our sons, far surpasses the smaller and less significant gifts that they are admittedly and naturally drawn to, especially toys, games, getting to watch their favorite shows, etc. And, for Steve and I, witnessing on a daily basis the richness and beauty of our sons living, loving and working together has a way of taming our own anxious desires to provide for them a level of material good that, in the end, is not necessary for their happiness nor for their sanctification.
Once upon a time I thought, like that HGTV mom, that it would be nice for our kids to have their own rooms. Thank goodness the providence of circumstance has always meant that the boys have had to share a room.  When we moved into our current home a year ago, they were all terribly disappointed that there was just no way for them to all fit into one room.  Imagine the chaos of five boys packed into one small room??  Even though two boys share a room, it isn't uncommon for a couple of the younger boys to sneak into Ben and Andrew's room, even if it means sleeping on the floor, or squeezing into a narrow space in a small twin bed.
They want to be together.  They choose to be together.  Because somehow, despite fighting over who made which mess and who must clean it up, and other such disputes, at the end of the day, they still choose each other.

The week before school was to begin, a group of neighborhood boys came over and asked Benedict to play.  Andrew answered the door and welcomed them in, and then they proceeded to tell him that they only wanted Ben to come over.  Andrew was polite and gracious, trying his best to hide any disappointment over not being invited.  It wasn't thirty minutes later that Ben came bursting through the door, looking for Andrew.  Brotherhood brought him home.

It's in those very moments, when I see the way that they love each other (without being prompted), just real, honest, relational love that I think to myself, I'm done.

I'm done caring about what other people think about our family size, and I regret every moment that I fretted over their opinions.

I'm done wasting time trying to come up with clever come-backs to insensitive remarks from random strangers, friends and family who feel compelled to speak their minds about the size of our family.

I'm done lying awake at night, my head and my heart wrestling, charity and tact vs. passion and frustration, as I practice over and over again how to respond to condescending passes regarding overpopulation or worse yet, the "waste" of an education on motherhood.

I'm done with all of it. And, truth be told, I should have been done with it a long time ago. Because, really, why should a mother of six incredible boys have to explain or defend her life as a mother to anyone at all? If the opinionated kind can't see how damn good I've got it, then they are the ones who need to explain themselves.

Do you feel it too? Let's give our tired minds and weary hearts a rest, shall we?

At 3:30 today.  I will know exactly where to find George. And there's a good chance that Andrew and Henry and Charlie will be right there with him.  Waiting at the window, watching intently for their brother to come home.

Each other.

Together.

Add those three little words together and suddenly you've given you're kids more treasure than any material gifts could ever possibly amount to.

























Friday, August 22, 2014

Kid-Approved Power-Packed Protein Bites

Happy Friday!! If you haven't already signed up for the Nuun Hydration GIVEAWAY, I hope you will give it a go (just click here)! I've really had a lot of fun writing for the Health & Fitness portion of the blog this week, and thought I'd round out the week with a little "Flash Back Friday" post.
The flash-back post, which has received a lot of pins on Pinterest, is a recipe for protein bites - basically a healthy form of a no-bake cookie that my kids really love.  I love them, too. They're easy to make, taste delicious and are packed full of healthy ingredients that create a great snack for your kids, pre-workout fuel for you, or post-workout recovery food as well.

Another bonus: they're actually filling! So, unlike the store-bought granola bars, which don't seem to satisfy my boys' healthy appetites, these won't leave your littles nagging you all day long for something more to eat.

I've made a few updates to the original recipe to make it even healthier and tastier! I hope you enjoy them!

Have a great weekend!!
Protein Packed Power Bites
{Printable Version}
1 cup crisp brown rice
1 cup whole grain oats (I like Bobs Red Mill, Gluten Free)
1 cup protein powder, chocolate or vanilla (We prefer one low in sugar, like this one.)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (We like this brand.)
2 tablespoons (more if you like) chia seeds
1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar (or half and half!)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
2 tablespoons water (or more to achieve desired consistency)

Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Blend together with a large spoon or spatula until evenly combined, adding more water if necessary.  Shape into bowls (a melon ball scoop makes this step easy!), and place on a waxed paper covered pan.  Refrigerate until set.  Store any left overs in the refrigerator, or freeze for later use.  Enjoy!





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Great Gatorade Alternative - PLUS: Nuun Hydration GIVEAWAY!


Since this week is dedicated to the Health & Fitness portion of my blog, I thought it would be fun to giveaway one of my favorite products, Nuun hydration tablets.

(Just FYI, I'm this is NOT a paid advertisement.  I'm not fast enough or cool enough for that.  I just love this stuff and thought you might like it, too!)

Last year, when I was training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, I asked several of my super runner friends to give me their best advice when it came to training.  They all emphasized the importance of hydration and electrolyte replacement.  Thankfully, my awesome friend, Katie, suggested that I try Nuun hydration tablets.  I can't tell you how much I loved using Nuun throughout my training and even on race day!
Football season is up and running! Andrew practices for 2 hours each night in hot summer temps, so he loves to take a water bottle filled with his favorite Nuun flavors to every practice!

But, Nuun isn't just for runners! It's for everyone! My boys love it, too. They are all very active and participate in a wide variety of sports, so having a great electrolyte replacement is important.
Most young athletes don't need an electrolyte replacement unless they are doing a moderate to intense exercise for 60 minutes or longer. If this isn't the case, good old fashioned water is all they need to stay hydrated.  

Unfortunately, there's a lot of hype surrounding drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade, especially amongst young people.  These drinks are really high in sugar (21 grams in a 16 oz. bottle!) and sodium, two ingredients that kids (and adults) just don't need.

I can see why Gatorade and Powerade are hard to resist.  Their product advertisements are undeniably amazing and they are everywhere. Watching their "Is it in You" commercials, sort of makes you want to throw down a six pack of Blue Frost just to see if your burpee endurance or 40 speed improves. It took a little bit of convincing to get my kids to understand that bigger isn't always better, and once they tried Nuun, they were hooked.
Nuun just makes sense to us.  We like to drink things that don't contain creepy stuff like artificial food coloring, stabilizers derived from wood, preservatives, excessive sugar, and other ingredients that I'm too phonetically challenged to pronounce.

Why do we LOVE Nuun?:

  • It's portable. The little tube goes where you go - pop a tab in your water bottle and you're good to go.
  • It's delicious.  No funky aftertaste or sticky lips here. With 12 Yum-Yum flavors, I promise you'll find one you love.
  • It's sugar free. Yep. Sugar Free. (And no wacky artificial sweeteners. Bam!)
  • It contains no artificial colors or flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup.
  • It's less expensive than the leading electrolyte replacement drinks. Gotta love that!
  • It rehydrates your body faster than Gatorade or Powerade. Sweet!

One of the most important characteristics of what you drink while you're active is the speed at which your body can absorb it. The concentration of dissolved salts and sugars (osmolarity, for those more technically inclined) determines how fast the drink can cross from your digestive track into your bloodstream, where it can re-hydrate and replenish you. Nuun branded products produce a hypotonic solution, so your body absorbs Nuun faster than the leading “sports drinks” or even water alone. This gives your body the ability to restore optimal water and electrolyte balance quickly and efficiently.
Now for the giveaway! After browsing all of the yummy Nuun flavors, I couldn't pick just one, so the only solution was to give the lucky winner a variety pack! The box includes one tube each of Grape, Fruit Punch, Strawberry Lemonade (my favorite!) and Tropical.

The winner will be announced on the 
Good Luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 18, 2014

3 Ways to Strengthen & Energize Your Post-Partum Body {Motivate MeMonday Vol. 8}

Hey there! Imagine me, smiling the biggest smile right now as I write this, because I am SO HAPPY to be back to blogging life after a week long writing slump. It wasn't that I didn't want to stay connected with all of you, it's just that the lines between us were down - literally.  We had zero internet connection for an entire week, and I don't have the luxury of popping into a Starbucks for some java and free wi-fi to write while my children sit quietly and keep their hands, well all their limbs, really, to themselves.  And, I don't posses the gift of phone blogging.  I'm too impatient to peck out every little letter and my eye-balls just can't focus on that teenie-weenie screen for the time it would take to write anything worthwhile.

There.  There's my list of excuses.

Oh, did I mention my kids were all sick last week? So, there was that....

Well, now that all seven of you (spammers included) have my delinquency report, we can now get down to bizness!!

I've pretty much been ignoring the "Health & Fitness" portion of this blog, because, hello, a summer split between pregnancy and having a newborn doesn't exactly make for the most inspirational writing situation. But, I'm finally starting to feel like myself again and so am inspired to write another post for the Motivate Me Monday series.
(Stretching out on the balcony overlooking the Plaza after a beautiful run!)
Last week, on our never-should-have-left-home weekend vaca to Kansas City (love that city!), I stole away from the hotel wreckage for a quick jog around the beautiful Country Club Plaza and found myself happily soaking in the fresh view of my surroundings.  All of the beauty was just the distraction I needed from the physical discomfort and awkward feelings I often experience during the first few weeks when I try to start running again after having a baby.

This all-to-brief running venture left me thinking about how to encourage those of you who are pregnant, or who have just had a baby, to embrace a habit of exercise postpartum, even though it may seem overwhelming or even impossible.
(Thinking about running races again helps me stay motivated!)
Even though I'm able to exercise throughout my pregnancies, to begin running again means starting back at square one.  While the first few weeks of walking and then slow jogging are difficult, I try to remember how good it feels to finally get in shape, to run in really fun races and to be able to keep up with the boys without being tired.

You guys know that I am NOT a personal trainer or a health expert of any kind, so really the sharing of my own personal experiences is meant to be encouraging, not prescriptive.  I've been running for almost 20 years, and even after six pregnancies have always come back to the sport, loving it even more as I get older.

No matter what form of exercise you choose to take on after having a baby, the benefits will truly outweigh the efforts.  I have written quite a bit about the importance of exercise for women (see list below) - NOT for the sake of fitting in to a specific dress size (though, that's a nice benefit!), but primarily for the sake of balancing our emotions, boosting energy levels and staying physically fit so as to better manage the demands of daily family/work life.
After having a baby, there are three things that every woman can do to regain physical strength and to prepare her body for her routine exercise of choice:
1. Walk
2. Stretch
3. Strengthen the Core
(*If you delivered your baby via C-Section please follow your doctor's orders for when to resume any activity, and be sure to consult him/her on which abdominal/core movements are safe for you to perform.)

Whether you exercised throughout your pregnancy or are just thinking about becoming more active, these simple exercises are a great way to gently guide your body into a state that will be prepped for whatever type of exercise you want to try.

Remember to listen to your body.  Your adrenals are really taxed for the first few months after having a baby, especially if you are not sleeping much and are nursing and caring for other children. I pushed myself too quickly after giving birth to my fourth child, and paid the price of exhausted adrenals for the first year after he was born.  Slow and steady wins the race - go gradual!

WALK -
Walking is the perfect postpartum exercise.  You can really begin walking, with your doctor's permission, as soon as you come home from the hospital. A good way to measure if you are walking too fast or too far is is if your bleeding increases after walking or, if you feel exhausted instead of refreshed, scale your intensity and distance back.  I try to walk the same distance/pace for one full week before increasing intensity.  This is really hard, because I miss running so much and want to just get up and go! But, even if you've run in the past, easing back into running through walking will help you avoid injury and adrenal burn-out.

For the first 4 weeks after giving birth, try to walk for 20-30 minutes at slow pace. If this is too much (bleeding/fatigue increases) reduce the time/pace.  Remember, at this stage, weight loss and marathons should not be on your radar, but regaining a sense of energy, focus and emotional balance is key.

If you are runner, and want a specific walk-to-run schedule, I really like this one from Runner's World, and also the suggestions that are outlined in the book Fit and Healthy Pregnancy.

If you have never run, but would like to get started, there are hundreds of programs out there to guide you into a schedule of running (check online or with your local running club).  I have a friend who is doing the Couch to 5K program and is doing great!

STRETCH -
I've got to be honest, I really hate to stretch.  But, as I've gotten older, postpartum stretching has become more important than ever when it comes to my daily comfort levels.  Nursing and holding a baby all day can be quite taxing to the body.  Gentle stretching not only helps keep mamas limber, but it also reduces stress and keeps the spine in alignment, which is important for immune health and overall mobility.

(If you can practice these stretches after walking or a short warm up, they will be much more comfortable and safe to perform.)

My favorite go-to stretches that I do every day for the first 6 months postpartum are:
Hip Flexor Stretch (Use a chair for support if you need to!)
Hamstring Stretches (Eases lower back pain!)
Child's Pose (Helps relieve stress. A great bedtime stretch!)
Chest Stretches (Great for nursing moms!)

STRENGTHEN CORE -
I wish I would have understood in the first few years of motherhood that core strength and abdominal strength are not the same thing.  I would do dozens and dozens of crunches after having babies and still not feel as though I had regained much strength in my core.  That awkward, unstable feeling we often experience in our mid-section after having a baby can be uncomfortable and even frustrating, because many of the tasks we take on every day require a great amount of core strength.  When our core is weak and taxed, it can take a toll on our overall posture, and poor posture leads to back and neck pain.

My favorite and most effective core exercises to begin practicing around 4 weeks postpartum (except pelvic tilt, which you can do from day 1) are:
Pelvic Tilt (day 1 post birth)
Bridge (great for runners!)
Plank (4-6 weeks, depending on fitness level during pregnancy)
Side Plank (4 -6 weeks, depending on fitness level during pregnancy)

While it is a challenge to find time to exercise with little ones at home, I hope that you feel encouraged to try to make it a part of your daily routine!  For more encouragement, see:


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Charlie's Bedroom Project ~ The Result of My "Pinter-Nesting" Pregnancy


There are many reasons why there isn't a "DIY" tab up there in the drop down menu. With a family of 6 boys, most of my DIY expertise lies in patching holes in walls and rearranging furniture into odd patterns in order to cover carpet stains, and I don't think you really want to read about those home repair 101 projects, am I right?

Every once in a while, however, I get really brave and decide to actually do something new with our abode.  This usually happens when I'm pregnant and the itty-bitty part of my brain that houses the reason function isn't functioning. Most of you know that I was a tad bit overdue with Joseph (if you're new here and need a little more drama in your life, here ya go.) Anyway, I was in a little bit of what I like to call a "Pinter-nesting" phase during the last couple months of pregnancy.

Pinter-nesting happens when you can't sleep at night so you browse Pinterest for approximately three hours and then try to conquer all of the organizing, baking, gardening, and painting tips that you pinned the next day on 4 hours of sleep and one single solitary cup of coffee. It's like nesting x1,000.  And, if it weren't for my contractions being 2 minutes apart, it may have been the reason why I almost asked my husband to hit the Starbucks drive-through on the way to the hospital.

For the most part, Pinter-nesting is dumb. Please don't do it.  If you are pregnant, stay away from Pinterest.  Everything I organized is now unorganized, everything I baked has been consumed, and the garden is currently buried somewhere beneath a canopy of weeds and webs of unidentifiable insects.

But, as for the painting? Well, that's the one and only fruit of my Pinter-nesting ambitions.
After browsing page after page of kids' room ideas, I "accidentally" discovered  a lil' inspiration on this website which motivated me to break out of the beige box and trick out some stripes on the walls of Charlie's and Joseph's room. Thanks to our sweet friend, Elena, who also happens to be a crafty sort of gal, and who also fell in love with Charlie this summer (who can resist that boy?), we made this happen:
I wish I had a before picture of Charlie's room, and some pics of the painting process, too.  Just imagine 4 light-light-light tan walls and the usual ruins of a toddler room.  Then, picture a very rotund moi, and a very fit Elena, doing step aerobics up and down the ladder taping and painting, taping and painting while the children sat quietly watching in awe *grin*.

Do you want to know how I chose the colors for the stripes? Well, I'm gonna tell ya.  It all started right here:
My younger brother, Scott's wife, Stephanie, sews the most amazing quilts.  Seriously, she should have an Etsy shop, because she is crazy talented.  I can sew on a button and that is where the glory of my handiwork ends, so to me, this quilt is a true masterpiece!  I love the colors so much, and thought that the brown, orange and blues would be the perfect palette to create a striped pattern for the walls.

After painting, it was time to accessorize....on the cheap.
After scanning Craigslist day after day for a rocking chair that I could re-paint or add a slip-cover to, I wasn't able to find anything that quite fit the bill.  So, I decided to give myself permission to step it up a notch and purchase something new, yet reasonably priced (feeding #6 at 2:00 a.m. makes you feel free like that).

I snagged this glider from Target during their online furniture sale last spring.  It's really comfortable and, with it's neutral color, will make a nice addition to any room after the baby-rockin' days are over (which could be never - just sayin').
Since I wanted to maintain the stripes as the focal point of the room, I kept the wall decor to a minimum. Elena and I dashed into Kirkland's one day and found this fun mirror on sale.  For $19 bucks and some change, it works perfectly over the crib!
With two beds, a rocker and a dresser already squeezed into this room, there was little space left for bookshelves.  And, for our family, books are a necessity in every room! In my search for a solution to the space issue, I discovered this genius idea (guess where) to use spice racks from Ikea to create a collage of bookshelves on the wall. 
The shelves were super-easy to assemble, paint, and mount to the wall.  And, at just $3.99 per shelf they were a great bargain (I used a coupon code from RetailMeNot.com and saved 20% off my order)!
Since Charlie loves Winnie the Pooh, I thought it would be sweet to incorporate his affection for the character somewhere in his room. This Etsy shop had several quotes with really cute fonts, and I thought this one was really sweet. Application to the wall was super-simple and I think it turned out super-cute!
Nothing makes a room feel more special than a piece of original artwork....or two!  A few summers ago, my sister's husband, Johannes, painted the clown pilot for the boys.  Then, he surprised us with a second clown painting (above the lamp) in honor of Joseph's baptism.
Both pieces a so joyful and work perfectly in the boys' room. They are such a special reminder of the gifts and generosity of family. You can view (and purchase!) more of Johannes' artwork here.
Charlie asks me every night when I tuck him in, "Mama, did you paint this room just for me?"
Sometimes I wonder if he'll look back on these photos and ask, "What in the world possessed you to paint those crazy stripes on my wall, Mom?"  Will it be a mauve and teal floral kind of moment, only in stripe form?? Oh, well, if it is, I can always point my finger at Pinterest.
Links to The Goods:
(Using coupon codes from RetailMeNot.com for most of the items listed helped me save a bundle!)

Loch Blue
Stream
Knockout Orange
Brevity Brown
(Opposite walls are Steam Beige from Valspar)

MIRROR: Kirklands


CHARLIE'S BEDDING: Macy's and Overstock.com

GLIDER CHAIR: Target.com






Monday, August 4, 2014

Joining the Ranks of the Baptized Brothers ~ Highlights From Joseph's Big Day


Happy Monday, Friends! I'm finally catching a moment in between baby feedings and toddler melt-downs to give you the highlights of Joseph's baptism.
The night before our children are baptized, I lie awake, unable to sleep, thinking about how beautiful and meaningful the sacrament is. The joy in my heart is indescribable!
Our parish priest suggested that we celebrate the baptism on Saturday afternoon, which I thought was perfect, because it would give me an entire morning to get prepared.  But, of course, you all know how that song and dance goes. Sure you have plenty of time to get ready, but in the end, no matter how planned and prepared mama is, everyone always ends up racing out the door at the last minute combing hair, tucking in shirts and you're trying not to lose your grip along the way!
Father Aaron is a truly wonderful priest. He welcomed our family into the church that afternoon with open arms, and his unmistakable grin. Our boys just love him, I can see the respect and admiration they have for him in their eyes and in the attentiveness they give him during mass.
May the power of the Holy Spirit,
O Lord, we pray,
come down through your Son
into the fullness of this font,
so that all who have been buried with Christ
by Baptism into death
may rise again to life with him.
The rite of baptism is beautiful, the prayers are rich with meaning, many of them mirroring the prayers of the funeral rite, both marking our entrance into and exit from this world.  I try so hard each time our children are baptized to hold back my tears, but it really is impossible.  When I start to think about the generous love God has for all of us, that he would allow us to experience that love through the tangible means of cleansing water, anointing oils, burning candle light, and the beautiful prayers of blessing spoken by the priest, prayers gifted to the church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I am truly overwhelmed!
Steve and I had a similar experience of looking out upon our five older sons, all who have been baptized, and feeling so much joy as they proudly celebrated the sacrament with their youngest brother.  They really knew that it was a very special day for Joseph, even Charlie sat quietly through the baptism, watching closely with sweet attentiveness and curiosity.
George is always first line when it comes to holding Joey.
It's hard to describe the intensity of the desire that I had to pray for our each one of our sons during the baptism. I want so much for each one of them as individuals to live fully the graces of their own baptism, and to experience their own personal relationship with our Lord - not mine, not Steve's.  Raising hearts for Christ requires great faith on our part as parents, and a firm resolution to pray continually for our children, trusting in God's plan for their lives.
My sister, Sara, and her husband, Johannes, happily accepted our invitation to be Joseph's Godparents. The timing of the baptism was perfect, since they had traveled to the States with their children from their home in Switzerland to visit family for a few weeks this summer.
After the baptism was over, I really wanted to capture the joy of the afternoon in a few pics of the boys.  We handed Joseph over to Benedict and it didn't take long for all of them to gather around Joseph, baptizing them in their own way with a smothering of hugs and kisses.
The Band of Baptized Brothers!
Notice how one of the gang is not dressed like the others? Welp, you know every important event must have a fashion emergency. The morning of the baptism, I was gathering up everyone's attire for the afternoon when I realized Henry's white shirt was missing.  After a little digging around, I found it buried in the corner of his closet.  Big surprise.  For a moment all hope of matching was not lost, until I saw the smears of crusty chocolate fingerprints left lingering from the Easter egg hunt our church hosted for the kids after mass last spring. 

Aye Caramba. 

There was no time to get that shirt in shape in time for the baptism. I had no choice but to put the boy in blue.  As you can see, he wore it proudly. *sigh*
We call this the picture of providence. Andrew often talks about being a priest one day.  When he saw this photo, he said, "Mom, it looks like I'm blessing everyone.  Wouldn't it be great if I could baptize my brothers' kids someday?" Oh, my, would it ever.
I was too busy enjoying the post-baptism festivities to take very many pictures.  But, I wanted to include a shot of Joseph's cake.  Isn't it beautiful? My amazingly talented friend, Missy, kindly agreed to share her culinary gifts with all of us. A sweet way to end such a special day!
Mmmmm....Chrism!!

By God’s gift, through water and the Holy Spirit, 
we are reborn to everlasting life. 
In his goodness, 
may he continue to pour out his blessings upon these sons and daughters of his. 
May he make them always, wherever they may be, 
faithful members of his holy people.