Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago tomorrow was one of the best and most important days of my life. I had no idea. It was the day my future husband would come into the Catholic Church.

Ever since I had entered high school and started going to Life Teen at my parish in Connecticut I had been praying for him, praying for his faith and his relationship with God and just wondering where he was.

He was in Texas searching. Searching for answers that he finally found in the Catholic Church. It was a long journey for him but with the sometimes not-so-gentle prodding of his friends he started attending Life Teen events during his senior year of high school. He went on a retreat, went to adoration, and was taught all about the Eucharist and Mary and the saints and the pope. These were beliefs that had seemed strange to him even in the theology classrooms of his Catholic all guy's high school. Still, God was working in him and on New Year's eve 2001 he came to believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as he knelt in adoration. He decided there and then that he was going to become Catholic.

It wasn't until Easter vigil 2002, over a full year later, that he became part of the Church. He said he wanted that whole year to prepare himself. He was a freshman at the time at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and as he tells me, basically taught the RCIA classes himself. He realized then that he wanted to transfer to a Catholic University and therefore applied and got accepted to the Franciscan University of Steubenville. It was in the first month of his freshman year that a bright eyed, blond haired high school senior arrived on campus for her college visit and met this neophyte. We were married a little less than five years later.

Our shared faith is the foundation of our marriage. It has been essential to every aspect of our marriage and has kept us strong in the hardest times. We each call each other on to holiness because we know that this world is not what we are made for. It is by being married to each other that we will be purified for heaven. Our faith is not only our foundation it is our path and our destination. It is the whole of who we are and what we want to be. Even being married young we can be assured that our marriage will last because in our weakness God is strong and we center our life on God.

That day 10 years ago God was shaping my life and I didn't know it. Without becoming a Catholic, we would have never met and he will readily admit that he would not have been the man I fell in love with. And he is an amazing man. I am so thankful to all of the people who helped him along this journey. David and Katie Garcia, Joe Florez, Edward Houser, Father Michael Earthman, and many, many others. You are a blessing in our life and I thank you.

Sometimes God is doing huge things on what seems like an ordinary day. I was just sitting in my church in Connecticut on a normal Easter Sunday and God was still transforming my life. I had been praying for my spouse for years at that point and it wouldn't be until years later that I would be able to see exactly what God had been up to.

Kyle, I love you. Happy 10 years as a Catholic. Don't be afraid to tell me that our wedding was the second best day of your life because I know that this was the best. It was the best day of my life too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes- The one where I make some nerdy Star Wars references

7. It was eighty degrees yesterday so we ventured to the park again. Last summer Juliette was still too little to do a lot of exploring on her own. This is no longer the case. She kept running away from me, chasing a little boy, climbing the slides, and bouncing on the seesaw. Let's just say that I definitely got a work out.
Running away. Saw a lot of her cute little rear that day.

Confined to one place. A peaceful two minutes!

6. The weening process is going so smoothly this week. It's been almost a week since she nursed and she can now cuddle me without pawing at my chest... if only she could teach her father that trick. When she does come up to me looking to nurse I just say, "These are not the boobs you are looking for." and she walks away. I may be a jedi. I was sad for a few days but now I am just so happy with the decision we made to do this. Not only am I feeling healthier but she is sleeping through the night for the first time in her 16 month old existence and taking naps. It's a beautiful thing folks.

5. It deeply disturbs me to realize that I have favorite episodes of Barney now. It disturbs me on a whole new level when I am upset if the girls to pick an episode that I like. Really though as long as the episode they pick doesn't have "Riff" in it then I am game. I have very dark feelings towards that particular dinosaur
Exhausted and snuggling to a Barney episode after the park. Such sweet sisters!

4. Remember the days when I was concerned that Madeleine never talked. Welllll now she never really stops. Ever. The kids says the strangest things too. We call them "Madeleisms". Here are a few.

"I went poop in the corner on the floor and daddy had to wipe it up and he was very cranky"
...She tells this story about the time she got "sick" in the corner of the house to anyone who will listen. It's pretty much her favorite.

"Look mommy! Baby is a horse and I am riding her."
...She exclaimed this as she chased her crying sister around the house trying to climb onto her back.

"It's Madeleine and her friends!"- Momma Behr (singing along to the tune of the Thomas theme)
"Mom. I am not Thomas. And I am NOT Percy."- Madeleine
...I stand corrected

"Do you want to listen to Raffi?"- Momma Behr (we like to listen to music while we play)
"No mom. I want Taylor Swift 'Sparks Fly'". - Madeleine
...She knows at least half the lyrics.

3. The potty training is going... slowly. I think the kid only goes on the potty when she has a chocolate craving because she knows she will get a chocolate cookies. Whatever. I'm not in a huge rush.
Now Madeleine this is something you CAN actually ride.

2. Cutest thing ever. Juliette makes a lot of trouble, totally that kind of one year old. Except now whenever she knocks something over she looks up at me, absolutely beaming, and says, "Uh oh!" in the tiniest, cutest voice ever. It's like she knows that if she reaches a certain degree of cuteness that I just melt. The force is strong in that one.
"Uh oh!" She helped daddy do the dishes.

1. Madeleine was given a crucifix necklace as a gift from her auntie that she loves to show to absolutely anyone who will listen. She says, "Look! It's Jesus on the cross!" and then she gives him a kiss. Her devotion to the crucified Christ is absolutely adorable (and very Lent appropriate). She found a big wall crucifix that she insisted on taking with her as we ran errands so she could "hug and kiss Jesus on the cross". I could hear her in the car seat as I drove going, "I love you Jesus! BIG HUG! BIG KISS!" What do you think? Future nun?

Well that's it for this Friday. For more quick takes go to!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The day I learned I am terrible at making bubbles and other museum adventures

Today, Tuesday, is Kyle's Saturday so to celebrate him surviving two 16 hours shifts in a row, my weaning the baby, and general awesomeness.

We have a family membership that gets us in to over 300 children's museums nationwide (watch out world) so we took off this morning (okay this afternoon. I may have slept in til 11 to compensate for those hours I spent awake not nursing the baby) for the Boston Children's Museum. Easily the most famous and yuppie of them all. Or so I am told.

With the exception of having the besneezes scared out of me by two random snakes hiding in two random rooms (really guys? Can't you fence them off like at the zoo so those of us with phobias don't freak and almost leave out children behind trying to escape. A little warning would be awesome.) it was amazing. There was so much to do, so much to explore, so much to touch and try to destroy. The kids had a blast, we had a blast, and the kids are exhausted. I count any trip that leaves the kids tired as a success.

So here are the pictures.

If only I could get her to do this in real life

I tried to get a nice picture with my daughter but she was NOT having it.

Captain Madeleine and First Officer Pet. Or the worst flight of your life EVER.

She wasn't climbing it. She was crawling backwards. Talent.

Something about gravity. I still don't pay attention to science.

Waiting for the bus.

The only thing better than shopping is apparently asking other people for their moneys. And let me tell you, she was not selling quality produce. It tasted like plastic. (Oh lolz. I crack myself up)

This was Juliette's favorite part. Because we clearly do not have a train set at home.

Kyle kept trying to "teach the babies" but I think he really just wanted to play. He was not sharing either.

You were supposed to spell your name here. Madeleine first put up a "M" followed by an "A" and I was filling out the Harvard applications. She then followed it up with a whole bunch of nonsense and I tucked them back away.

In the hard hat on the truck. I'm pretty sure Kyle was jealous.

She actually got that the balls were supposed to roll down the hill. Not get slobbered on by the one-year-old which was her first idea

Sitting like a lady.... if that lady was Lady Mary Crawley. OH BURN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Driving the house.

Driving the car. Much easier to steer.

I'm not sure if I was taking a picture of him or if he was photo bombing a picture of Madeleine.

Working together. So nice.

Explaining H20 to her sister. Amazing teacher. Juliette says, "Oh captain my captain!"

And the little boy had a good day too!

God bless everyone!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Here comes the sun!

Today it was about 80 degrees which is unheard of for this time of year and therefore must be taken advantage of. Therefore before we hauled Hannah's skinny butt to the airport so she could fly back to college (tear!) we made a pit stop at the park.

Unfortunately when we got there I realized that I had forgotten to bring their shoes. Mother. of. the. year. Twenty tear and screaming filled minutes later we were back at the park and ready for action.

After my kids were reacquainted with the concepts of "grass" and "sunshine" we ran around, climbed, stared at the other kids (them, not me), and let everyone go before us on the slide.

I took pictures.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And then there was the time I sold them to the leprechauns

Today is Saint Patrick's day and to celebrate I went shopping with probably the only other three sober people in the state of Massachusetts; Madeleine, Juliette, and my pregnant friend Ellen. We made it a good, oh, one store before the baby climbed out of the stroller and tried to shop lift. Many stores later (and great deals on clothes!) as I was pulling the kids out of the window display at Banana Republic, I thought to myself, "Self. Maybe you should join the drinkers."

And now the kids are in bed and I am enjoying some Bailey's and feeling pretty decent about life.

I have to admit that sometimes I teach the kids to do things just for my own amusement. Like playing fetch or rapping to Vanilla Ice. Kids are funny. They can do things that big people would look ridiculous doing. Madeleine often picks out her outfits and really nothing will match. It's a pink princess shirt, green leggings, a red hoodie with ears, and purple shoes. And she looks awesome!

Juliette is going through a bit of a nudey phase which we have to keep a lid on in public. Really though she is a typical one year old. Insane, impossible to control, cheeks for nibbling, and a penchant for sniffing out trouble.

We are trying to teach Madeleine that she is not, in fact, allowed to discipline her sister for us. My favorite is when Madeleine gets Juliette to do something she shouldn't be doing and when I catch them she turns and scolds her sister. She is a tricksy little one.

Mostly Madeleine just wants to hold hands, sing her songs, and force feed her things from her kitchen set. Madeleine is incredibly attentive to Juliette, sometimes to the dismay of the brown eyed one year old who only wants to chew on the book in their tent. Mostly though Juliette eats up the attention.

But the big news of the week is that I weened the baby. It's only been about 36 hours but it's going as well as can be expected. So ya know, I'm pretty pumped about it. A little sad but mostly excited.

But for now I am going to go watch Sister Wives and feel thankful that I get my husband all to myself.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Seven Quick Takes- I slept last night!

1. The part of being sick where you have to watch your kids suffer, not get any sleep, and spend a ton of money on doctor's visits and prescriptions is no fun. The part where they recover and sleep 13-14 hours at night to make up for what they lost is positively delightful. I think if I showered I might actually feel like a normal person for the first time in... weeks!

2. I swear I feed my kids, I SWEAR it. But yesterday I found Juliette face down on the ground licking up a piece of old banana. It was one of those moments that if we were in public I'd be all like, "Weeeird where is that kids mom."

See! Proof that I feed her (mashed up bananas! super healthy!) AND that she sleeps! All in one neat little photograph.

3. I've learned a new form of exercise that you don't have to leave the house or put on a DVD for. You lie back, hoist your toddler up on your legs, and pretend she is an airplane. It provides lots of entertainment and giggles and leaves your legs with a wicked burn afterwords.

4. My sister is coming in from college for her spring break so we will be heading down to my parent's house this weekend. I found a Groupon for a photo shoot at JC Penny so (yet again, because it's not like we just did this at Christmas) I can document the crud out of their younger years. I would say, "Sorry kids." but since each of them pose like they are competing for the cover of Baby Vogue so really, this is a treat for all of us! And I will be putting the pictures up on her ASAP.

5. Speaking of my sister, she currently attends Franciscan University and was asked by Stella Mariae household to be part of their lip sync by channeling her inner Taylor Swift since she is a dead ringer for the country-pop icon. If you forward to about the 4 minute 30 second mark you'll get to see her rock her part. I'm so proud of her because as an introvert being up in front of crowds is not her thing and she did an amazing job.

6. Just a friendly reminder-
I think that according to NFP and one of those nifty online due date calculators, next week might be the last week to make your efforts. But ya know, it would be pretty cool.

7. I really, really, really love my family. God is so, so incredibly good to have given me such an amazing husband and such beautiful daughters. I feel like I write this all the time but really it's that His goodness leaves me in awe every single day.

For more fun go to!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daddy-Daughter Date Day

They had been talking about it for weeks. Kyle and Madeleine were going on a daddy-daughter date. We'd had to put it off a few times because of illness but this week they were both healthy so I agreed that it should be put off no longer.

Kyle woke Madeleine up on Tuesday and asked her if she wanted to go on a plane. My usually very slow-to-wake toddler sprang out of bed and Kyle got her dressed up. They then took off for the airport, boarded a plane to Baltimore, and headed off on their adventure.

Madeleine would have been satisfied with just going on a plane, heck she probably would have been satisfied by watching planes with daddy at the airport, but when they landed in Baltimore Kyle had more surprised planned for her.

First, they had lunch in the airport terminal and then got on a train (A TRAIN!) to head over the aquarium to see the fishies! While they were on the train they even got to see a helicopter, which Madeleine hasn't stopped talking about since. At the aquarium they saw all sorts of fishies (Madeleine went up to the tanks of small fishes and went, "GUPPY GUPPY!!!" which I think all my Agape friends will appreciate.) and they also saw birds (which were her favorite, go figure), sharks, and a dolphin show! Madeleine came home telling me about how the dolphins were so funny and how they splashed all around in the water.

When they were leaving they made a stop over at the gift shop and Kyle let her pick out one present. She opted for a blue bird for herself and insisted on getting her little sister a pink dolphin, which Kyle obliged since it was so sweet that she even thought of her sister.

They took the train back to the airport and flew home to Boston. When they got back to the house Madeleine ran furiously in the door, her face full of excitement, and jumped on my lap to tell me all about her amazing day with the best daddy in the world. She gave her sister her present and we all settled on the couch to snuggle and spend time as a family... and eat chocolate ice cream.

Basically it was the most perfect date my two year old could have ever had with her daddy. I love them both so much!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Madeleine is growing

I'm not entirely sure how or when it happened but recently Madeleine has become a little girl. Maybe I was blind to it because I still see her as my little baby but the changes in her even since Christmas are just incredible.

Today at the doctors office while her sister was being examined she stood next to the chair and held Juliette's hand the whole time. She kept telling her, "It's okay baby. You doing so well baby. I know baby, it's okay." After the doctor was finished she asked if it was her turn and the doctor asked her if she was feeling sick. Madeleine said, "No Bitty Baby's (her doll) not feeling well." She the doctor examined her doll and Madeleine looked on with a very concerned expression. Later, as the doctor was leaving she told us that she would come back in soon with the medicine and Madeleine stared at her, raised her eyebrows, and said in a very serious tone, "Okay. Be right back." While the doctor was gone she held her sister's hand and my hand and sang the Barney "I love you." song to us.

Later at home she remained focused on her sister and making sure she was feeling okay. Of course, she isn't always an angel. She was throwing a toy around the room and I told her to stop. She looked at me and said, "No it's funny. I know!" It was not funny.

Overall she's a very sensitive little girl who seeks to please almost all the time. She is in tune with the needs and emotions of the people around her as much as a two and a half year old can be. She doesn't talk all the time, she has a more quiet personality, but loves singing and dancing. She loves animals, airplanes, helicopters, and princesses. She also seems to have a little toddler-sized devotion to Baby Jesus and his Mommy and Daddy. She's hard headed and bossy, she knows what she wants and can be extremely stubborn, but if she hurts her sister or gets in trouble with mommy and daddy she tends to be extremely repentant. She loves her family, idolizes her daddy, adores her sister, and can't get enough of her grandparents and aunties. She's imaginative, she tells me about the animals she sees in the trees and the airplanes she sees in the sky (which are usually not actually there) and tends to have "favorite things" (shows, toys, games, songs) that she always chooses over others.

Not everybody cares about every detail about my daughter quite the way I do but you see, that's not the point of this blog post. Madeleine is a person. She is a beautiful little girl with her own unique personality and look and her own beautiful soul. When I was pregnant with her I dreamed of getting to know her, watching her grow, seeing the person she would become. All those days and nights I spent puking or in pain, I knew they would be worth it but I never imagined how worth it. It's one thing to know that two pink lines on a pregnancy test become a person, in fact already are a person. It's a whole new thing when you are there to witness it day in and day out. That little soul that was growing inside me, I knew that if it was a girl I would name her Madeleine. Now that is no longer just a name to me. It's my daughter. My amazing, incredible little person that I get to love. My little gift from God.

I am so thankful for every day I get to know her better, to watch her grow. I am so thankful that God chose me to be her mother. I am so thankful that God has chosen to teach me about His Love in this way, as a mother to one of His little creations. I hope that it brings God as much joy to watch me grow as it brings me to watch Madeleine. I hope I please Him.

Murphy's Laws of Sick Kids

So your kid is sick and you are calling your doctor. You can be assured that a few things are bound to happen. At least, I know this is how it tends to go for me.

1. Your kid will be sick at the most inconvenient time possible.
Maybe you will be traveling in the next few days, maybe there is a huge project at work, maybe your spouse will be completely unable to get any time off of work to help you, the driveway is covered with snow and impossible to leave, or maybe a major holiday is right around the corner... or heck, maybe they are sick on that holiday. Whatever it is, kids never get sick at a "good" time.

2. There will be a problem scheduling your appointment.
It may be a weekend so you have to go to a walk in, or your doctor is on vacation, or they are completely booked for the rest of the day, or the phone lines are down for the morning and only emergencies are being put through. I've had all of those things happen to me in the past two weeks. No matter when I call there is always an issue.

3. By the time you get there your child will be the picture of health.
When you called the doctor your child was screaming, not eating or drinking, puking, had a fever, a cough, and was basically a complete and total mess. The doctor told you to give them some Tylenol and come in for your appointment at the scheduled time. You give them the Tylenol, load them in the car, they pass out, and by the time you get there they have rested and their fever has come down. By the time they call you in for the appointment your child is trying to escape your lap and run over to play with the germ infested toys. "I swear I was not making it all up. She was really, really sick." And then by the time you get back home the Tylenol has worn off and you have picked up the prescription for their ear infection and pulled into your driveway the fever has come back and they are sobbing. Because that's just how it works.

4. The healthy sibling will catch something entirely new from being at the doctors.
You bring the healthy sibling(s) to the doctors with you since no one was available to watch them or was ignoring your phone calls in fear of catching your germs. Either way, healthy child is coming with you. While you are trying to wrangle sick child, healthy child is socializing with the green faced stranger kid and touching the germ infested toys. You wash their hands, cover their bodies in sanitizing lotion, but it's no use. Two or three days later healthy kid is now a sick kid and the whole process starts again.

Any way it goes, having a sick child is one of the toughest things in the world for a parent. Even if everything goes right it's still hard and know that somewhere I am raising a glass of caffeine just for you. It's gonna get better, I swear.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent and How I Scared the Barista

Okay so you know how it's Lent and everything? I'm definitely one of those people who gives up something for Lent and indulges in it on Sundays (without going overboard) since Sundays aren't "actually" part of Lent. Call it cheating or whatever you'd like but I just look at it as being a good Catholic cause I stick with the liturgical calender and all. And it's awesome to celebrate the Lord's Day with a piece of chocolate or a nice mocha, since those are (two of) the things I gave up. But mostly, by doing this I have the strength to observe Lent even more strictly the rest of the week and to allow myself to take on great penance than I would otherwise. I feel as though this way, with my personality, helps my journey rather than hinders it.

Last week I completely creeped out the poor teenage Batista boy at Starbucks. I went up to order with my crazy eyes and squeaked out, "Grande non fat no whip mocha." and then beamed at him. He said I looked really excited for my coffee. I told him I had given it up for Lent but I still get it on Sundays and he stared at me and managed, "What do you DO the rest of the week." "Oh, I have a Keurig!" I smiled at him and bounded off merrily to await my lovely beverage of love. Joy.

Well tonight I am going out to pick up my baby's prescription and while I am there I am also grabbing a Cadbury egg or two... or three.

See, before you totally judge me it's been a really rough week for me. Lots of trips to the doctors and fevers and viewings of Barney and medications giving me allergic reactions and not leaving the house and now my baby possibly having asthma... I guess everybody has their things, the way they feel called to prepare themselves for Holy Week. I love that God gives me a weekly reprieve.

But the best part of tomorrow, even better than the chocolate... I get to go to mass! By myself! Without kids! Alone!

Most weeks I am peeling babies off the pews and shrugging embarrassed at strangers with judgey eyes but this week I will be able to pray and focus on the Lord. He knows I need it, need Him, so badly.

It's been a rough Lent for me, I have been feeling tired, overwhelmed, and discouraged. I'm having a hard time in the desert. I just can't wait for tomorrow for the Lord to refresh me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Sweetest Thing

Today Madeleine was playing in the living room when and laughing with her sister while I checked some email over by the computer. We were talking and suddenly she stopped playing, walked over to me, and motioned for me to come closer. I turned to her, she grabbed my cheeks in each hand, drew my face in, stared into my eyes and said, "I love you mommy. I love you." I scooped her up and told her that I loved her too. She said, "Thank you so much." and hugged me close.

I'm not a perfect person or a perfect mother but I have raised a very sweet, loving, caring little girl. God is very, very good to me.

A Salut to Mrs Sweatpants

Dear Mrs Sweatpants,
I remember myself as the mother of one child, completely put together and taking my precious, sleeping, three month old to the doctor for her check up. I saw you in your sweatpants and your over sized shirt and your greasy hair and I'm ashamed to admit that I judged you. You had crazy eyes as you tried to pull your toddler off the germ infested toys while rocking your screaming baby. You probably hadn't slept in a week you looked like it. No offense. And there I was with my blond ponytail and my perfectly organized diaper bag and I patted myself on the back for keeping it together in public.

Now, Mrs Sweatpants, I make you look like Martha Freaking Stewart. When I arrived at the pediatrician's office today, for the sixth time in two weeks, I was wearing the same sweatpants I had been wearing for the past three days. I had managed deodorant and had half-heartedly brushed my teeth, but my hair was un-brushed, I had on no makeup, and both of my kids were in pajamas. Princess and Santa respectively. And the crazy eyes... oh did I have the crazy eyes. It came from lack of sleep combined with lack of coffee and a frantic worry for the health of my children. Not to mention that the entire drive there was through snow and my minivan kept beeping at me all like, "EXCLAMATION MARK WHAT THE EFF ARE YOU DOING OUT IN THIS WEATHER." I. was. frazzled.

So I am sorry for making judge-y eyes at you those two years ago as my precious pink baby snoozed in my arms. Your job is not easy. You tend to your children at the expense of your own health and sanity. You, I'm sure, would love to be looking good but maybe your kids were crying hysterically too, as were mine when I made the attempt to get myself ready before going out the door. I know that when it comes down to it I would rather keep their tears away than keep up appearances.

Motherhood isn't the most glamorous of jobs but I at least get to treat my girls like princesses when they are sick. They deserve that. I know in a few days, when the medications have kicked in and we have a slept that I will be back to myself. My pants won't be made of cotton and my shirt won't have snot stains all over it... but that day was not today.

You are a hero Mrs Sweatpants. Know there is someone out there that is looking past the sweats.

Mrs. Stainedshirt