Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In a Quiet Stable in Bethlehem Town

Every year it's our family goal to quietly reflect on the true significance of Christmas during the preparation time of Advent. We have a few traditions to make more of an impact on the children of what a momentous event Christ's birth meant for all of history. Some of the favorite activities we did were so simple, though already Emily asks when we can do them again. For example, a simple countdown paper chain made of purple and pink strips added to our evening Advent prayer time. We have a small advent calendar, light our advent wreath candles, say a prayer, and sing "Oh Come oh Come Emmanuel". The kids get a bell and ring their little hearts out when singing the words REJOICE! They love it. We also have a stocking hung for Jesus in which the kids can give him presents--little love notes or treasures or mommy will write one of their sacrifices down and stuff it inside.

This year we were invited to do something a bit different for Christmas. We drove out to the tiny Texan to attend "Main Street Bethlehem" with a couple family friends. The town sets up a beautiful model of what Bethlehem looked like the day Christ was born. Volunteers from the city (of all different faiths!) dress up and reinact the town. It truly felt as if you walked into a time warp. As we moved through the small town, we saw how the people 2000 years ago lived. There were people in costume gathered around the fire cooking their dinner. Many praying and studying in the synagogue. Kids running around announcing the Messiah had been born. Tax collectors making a scene and dragging people off to jail. Jewlery makers, candle makers, market workers, and even a couple of camels. No one last-minute shopping for presents or stressing about decorations or complaining about visiting inlaws. Although it was packed, the crowd was so peaceful and respectful. They were there to see our the true meaning of Christmas.

There was quite a line. We were freezing and snuggling.
Emily loves her Nana!

We played games and ate popcorn to pass the time. (Leo loves the big boys!)

We finally made it inside to the first room and were taught how to make candles by alternating dipping a long cord into hot wax and water. Such patience and grace these ladies presented!

The townspeople were bursting with excitement that the Messiah had been born.

When we asked this carpenter if he had known Joseph, he replied in a thick Texan accent "y'all just mosey on 'round the corner and take a gander at 'there star." We had a good laugh.

We followed the star, saw the manger, and were blown away. There were thousands of people here, but it was silent. We had found the diamond in the ruff. Jesus, born in muck, next to stinky and loud donkeys, in scratchy hay, was beautiful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Waiting for St. Nick

Ho Ho Ho

Santa: "Oh, hello little girl. What would you like for Christmas?"
Emily: "A Princess Castle!!!!!!!!!!"
Santa: "Wonderful. And what would you like little boy?"
Leo: "A bird."
Santa: "A book?"
Leo: "No. A red bird."
Santa: "hmmmmm. ok"

Strange kid. He also requested twin birds. This might just be a tricky year for Santa!

Oh Dear, Caught Me Again Mommy

Everything I know I've learned from my sister.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love it because everyone around the country has a chance to pause from their busy life and ponder their numerous blessings. Each year my list grows bigger, this year with the addition of a new life who has already beautified the world in his own lovely way. This is also a great time of year to extend generosity to others less fortunate. Growing up I always dreamed of devoting myself to the poorest of 3rd world countries. Eventually I realized that perhaps the most fruitful charity work to be done was in my very own family. Through forgiveness. Through sacrifice. Through spiritual nourishment. Through love. So I encourage you during this advent season to go the extra mile for your family and friends--out of thanksgiving for all that the Lord has blessed you--and pay it forward in your own special way.
Here are some of my favorite people to be thankful for:

A devoted and loving servant leader who guides me and my children to a closer relationship with Christ.

A sweet little girl maturing before my eyes. Also thankful for Catholic education and wonderful teachers, and the supporting parish community.

A cheerful burst of sunshine who has the uncanny ability to make everyone laugh.

A beautiful sign of hope for this world.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Playing catch-up

It feels like an eternity since I've had the chance to sit down and blog, but hopefully you 3 faithful readers wont mind. We've had more eventfulness 'round here where the party never ends. The most recent excitement included a trip to the ER after I slipped on water while carrying 30lb Leo and shattered the bone in my ring finger. My guardian angel is working serious overtime because Leo could have cracked his hard head right open (he walked away with just a small bump), or worse it could have been sweet baby Max. Luckily I dont need surgery *crossing fingers* and I'll just have to wear a split for 6 wks. So instead of writing about anything remotely interesting, I'm just going to post some pictures of recent happenings. Enjoy:)

Even cowboys grocery shop

Snuggly brothers

Hugs goodbye before leaving for school

Max being his sweet self

Fashionable even while studying physics

Sunday Fundays

Starbucks date with my favorite girl

Kiddie Park

Daddy's Girl



Nana & Grandaddy

Great Grandpa Leo and Great Grandma

Papa and Grandma & Danze cousins

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sleepy Babies

Being two months old is pretty much fantastic. By now, Max is a pretty decent sleeper at night and cat naps all day. He eats quicker and stays fuller longer. His head is getting stronger, but he still is a big snuggler. With my other babies, I was always anxious for the next stage--I couldn't wait for them to sit up, or crawl, or eat solids. How quickly this sweet newborn phase passes without even realizing until it's gone forever! I'm trying my best to enjoy every day with my tiniest little love.

Max at 2 months
Weight: 12 lbs 5.5 oz, 70% (weighed 9.2 at birth)
Height: 23 1/4", 55%
Head: 15.6" 45%

Leo at 2 months
Weight: 13 lbs. 8 oz (weighed 8.7 at birth)
Height: 22 3/4"
Head: 15 1/4"

Emily at 2 months
Weight: 4 lbs. 11 oz (weighed 2 lbs at birth)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Pumpkins in the Patch

October finally brought some tollerable temperatures in south TX, meaning we wouldn't be scorching hot as long as we made it inside by lunchtime. One of our favorite traditions is a daytrip out to our local apple orchard/pumpkin patch. The drive is beautiful into the hill country and you can even see a couple (ok maybe like 2) trees with fall foliage. The pumpkin patch includes everything from painting pumpkins, hayrides, puppet shows, and insanely good apple ice cream.
Good ol' Dad. Takin' one for the team.

I think we learned more about apples than pumpkins that day. Makes me want an apple tree in our backyard! See the orchard in the background?

Why are my kids the ones who are always fearless--or clueless-- and trying to get in the petting zoo pen? Last year Leo's hand was almost eaten by a cow. This year, it was a pot belly pig.

We never take pictures in front of these cheesy backgrounds. This just happens to be the only picture I can think of with me and all my babies.

Good times:)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Madness

After 2 parties, a carnival, a halloween parade, and trick or treating, we're all in a sugar coma!
I'm not positive, but I think this may be the very first Danze male to take up ballet.

Paging Dr. Danze! Move over Aunt've got some competition!

These buckets are empty...let's get the show on the road Daddy!

Superman to the rescue!

Monster Max

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dare I say we've adjusted?

Now that it's been 2 months with a new baby in the house, I think it's safe to say that we've found our new "normal" routine. We're all still trying to kick croup, colds, blah blah blah...such is life! I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be cooking and doing the chores for our little family again. Letting go of control was harder than I would have ever thought, but it gave me a lot of time to appreciate how wonderful and helpful Eli and the kids are. Emily has always been eager to help out with cleaning and cooking, but recently she's taken on a whole new realm of responsibility. She has unbelievable patience for Max's fussiness. Especially at times when I need to put him down for a minute, I return to see Emily holding his paccy in place and singing him songs. Leo still is fighting for our attention, and prefers to assert himself through bouncing as close as possible to Max without actually being *on* him. Max's temperment is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum...not as needy and sensitive as Emily, but not as easy going as Leo. I just love to see how they interact without my direction.

Entertaining little Max during tummy time.

Mommy in the making.

Brahma Parade

Each year we look forward to the high school parade down our street, and in years past we've camped out with family and friends in our front lawn. This year, the hubby was out of town. Since we've upped the ante with another child, I decided to make life easy and just run outside when we could hear the band. Emily and Leo were so excited that they could barely eat their dinner, and their necks were craned towards the front window nearly the whole day.

Finally as the band was getting close, we found a spot and Emily began to yell "Hook em Horns!"--her Daddy would be proud. The whole longhorn vs. brahama discussion was for some reason not convincing to her.

This happened to be the day they were locked in the car, and Emily was convinced that the very same fire truck that rescued her would be leading the parade that evening, hence the look of dispair in her face.

I wish I had better pictures, but once candy was thrown in their direction, it was all over!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Brotherly Love

There was never a question in my mind if the boys would love each other.
I just didnt know it would be this cute:)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Life is Beautiful

Oh Max, you’ve only just arrived into our lives, and yet we can hardly remember life without you. 7 weeks ago you were still on the inside, passing the day with kicks and hiccups. Most of your day and night is spent snuggled close to me--just the way we like it. The sleepy wrap is your favorite and within seconds of use, the wrap lives up to his name. I know how quickly this stage goes by. Can I bottle it up? I can’t get enough of your cooing, sleepy sighs, and newborn smell. You sent all of our hearts gushing today with your beautiful smile. Thank you Max, for changing our lives.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crime Scene

This morning I overheard Emily squealing, "Leo, don't rip his head off! Just push the button!!"

Barbie now features a detachable head. Lamest attempt to brother-proof Barbie. Ever.

Suspects: Mistah Bubble (Mr. Incredible), Bite-year (Buzz Lightyear), Mistah T (Mr. jealous...that's my brother's circa 1984) and toww (cow).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why google is my friend.

I learned something new this weekend.
Perhaps you find a mischevious 4 year old girl who has located the missing super-glue and attached her dress to her entire belly...what do you do?
Just in case you were wondering.

I love this girl.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bad Luck Streak

Eli is sitting on the couch, looking so depressed that you'd think his dog just died. Crews are working on our cable, meaning there's no chance of watching the Rangers on TV. We've had some bad luck lately, and apparenly this is the icing on the cake.

But seriously, listen to this. I'm starting to wonder if this house is cursed.

It all started two very long weeks ago when we were feeling victorious. 4 weeks post-partum and we survived the stomach flu, a different stomach bug, my gallbladder attacking me, and surgery that put me in bed for a week. I was recovered from surgery enough to sit up all by myself (I was so pathetic I could barely take being around myself) and the cabin fever induced dilirium lead me to believe a roadtrip would bring an end to our bad luck. We had a great time in Austin, getting most of the cousins together and squeezing in a visit with Eli's grandparents. A couple people made comments on how tired Eli looked. Did they forget how much he had on his plate? (all the while i'm thinking... c'mon Eli, you're not that tired. stop being so dramatic. because i'm really sympathetic). But then, he slept for the next 48 hours. His muscles were so sore that he couldn't button his shirt or hold open his jaw to brush his teeth. After taking him to the doctor for round two of testing, I started to panic when words like lupus, fibromyalgia, and HIV poured out of my doctor's lips. A couple days later Eli turned a corner with the pain, and the blood work showed improvement with his white blood cells. We dodged a bullet. Our doctor who has been practicing over 30 years had never seen anything like it. I'd been praying that God would send something to bring me closer to Eli, and help me be like Christ to him. Mission accomplished. (except for that whole being Christlike thing, in which I was completely lousy)

The next day to celebrate, we took the kids to a fancy haircut place and to get some frozen yogurt. After 1.5 hours (HOURS!!) of cutting bangs, our children looked like they stepped straight out of 1980 with mullets and bowl cuts. I cried, argued with the stylest, (ok, I yelled at her a lot and feel terrible) and she just continued to cut. Did I mention I'm trying to be God-like? Fail again. I prayed and prayed that I could fix the damage and it wouldn't be so noticible for our family portait scheduled for this weekend. (what? I'm not vain. Geez!!) I was so upset that we skipped TCBYs.

Sunday was a new day. A day of rest--the Lord's day. We had so much to be thankful for, and appreciated our good health. I still couldn't look at the kids without cringing, but I had to suck it up and move on. I made a pumpkin cream pie because I've been fasting from sweets for 40 days for life. But then before I got even a bite, the pie mocked me by falling on my freshly mopped kitchen floor. Glass shattered everywhere. There are words.
But alas, the pie pan wasnt the only thing to break. Then next day it was the mop. Then the vent hood. And the toaster. And the printer broke. And the car.

WHAT WAS GOING ON?!? I think I needed a lesson in humility.

Monday brought crisp, sunny weather. Mass was beautiful and we saw our favorite 95 year old priest who bends down to his knees to hug the kids. I had a great meeting to plan our 3rd annual prolife youth conference featuring Dr. Janet Smith. (yay!!!) God was blessing me beyond measure.

Tuesday was equally wonderful. I made it to my Women of Grace group where we discussed meditative and contemplative prayer. I've been so prideful lately and thought I already knew how to pray. I hopped over to St. Joseph downtown for noon mass with Fr. Mario. I felt warm and fuzzy inside. Life was great. FINALLY!

Wednesday was down right cold for a Texan girl. I was trying to make it to 8am mass and frantically searched for sweaters for the kids. I'm pretty sure I was yelling to everyone and everything to hurry up (like, stop acting like you're two!!) and shoved everyone in the car. (because I'm sweet and sensitive like that, and stressing them out is exactly how you get your kids to be holy and quiet for mass). I close their door and hear it lock. My heart skips a beat. Glancing to the front seat I see my purse, phone, and keys. Max is screaming. I bang on the window tell Emily to get out of her carseat and unlock the door. She's stuck and is scared. Stupid 5 point harness! All 3 kids are crying hysterically. I run to my neighbor's to use her phone. No answer. Run across the street. No answer, no answer, no answer. (what are you doing at 8am?? c'mon people!) Finally about 5 houses down, just as I'm about to LOSE MY MIND, the front door opens. Within minutes the fire truck is parked outside my house and firemen are saving my babies. They're telling me that their own lil 4 year old could get out...that I strap mine in too tight. What's wrong with these people?! I thought a seatbelt was supposed to keep a kid in the carseat. Do they even realize that I'm super hormonal and I can't help my kids whose faces are beet red and tear stained and traumatized? I'm about to strangle them. (patience...patience) Max cried so hard that he passed out. Leo is yelling through tears "max is crying, leo is crying, emily is crying, and leo's scared!!" 45 minutes felt like hours, but we were all safe. So many heroes saved the day. My heart was gushing with gratitude. (ok, so my heart was still completely panicking, but *later* it was gushing with gratitude)

So there you have it. It's like a comedy of errors, with a happy ending. All harmless bad luck. Everyone's safe and sound and ready for whatever else God throws at us! (but honestly, I would be just fine with a couple boring days this week too:)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So long gallbladder, it was nice knowing ya

My body is a jerk. An innocent little organ is being rejected and it's putting up a good fight to stay. Apparently there are these things called polyps which have grown thanks to my cells dumping healthy cholesterol on my gallbladder. They're pretty harmless except that they're too big and may turn into gallstones eventually. Even though passing stones sounds like buckets of fun, I had to make a decision. So the poor little guy will have to go tomorrow during the procedure to repair the hernia caused by growing gigantic children.
What's even more fun? Being away from my 3 week old. He's so sweet and squeaky, smells like heaven, and is the most beautiful symbol of hope in the world. You'd think I'd be ok with this, seeing as how I was away from Emily for 82 days while she was in the NICU. Tomorrow we'll be apart for about 5 hours and I choke up just thinking about it. Please pray that my lil chubbs will be good for his Daddy!
On that note...
Here's some snuggly pictures!!