“What drew me closest to my brothers and sisters was the delight of chatting and laughing together, of showing our affection for one another by kindly services, of reading together from books that spoke of pleasant things, of joking together amicably, of disputing now and then but without resentment, as one is wont to do with himself, of awakening by rare contest the pleasure of being one in mind, of mutually instructing on another, of longing for the absent one, and tasting joy of his return. We loved each other with all our hearts, and these marks of our friendship that were shown in our faces, by our voices, in our eyes and a thousand other ways, were among us like ardent flames that fused our soul together, and of many made but one.”
I had the best birthday of my life. A day that was filled with many wonderful things. The good Lord blessed me with a heart full of gratitude to admire and see each thing separately and in another form. Time almost stopped today at certain moments. I watched, I read beautiful notes, I cherished the gift of friendship, I sat for 30 minutes feeding Vianney her taco meat and purposely watched her chew each bite, smile, chew, look around and watch the other kids, smile, show me her teeth, try to explain big eyed what her next request was. The gift of being completely with her while she ate was one of my favorite presents.
My greatest gift. HIM.
I've written several posts in my head about the making of a saint. They all are dedicated to John. I check often to see if he is levitating in his spare time. John is the master of doing the smallest things heroically well. He is my best gift. I know he may never be canonized a saint for the world to know, but I know in my heart he is. He has mastered the gift of unselfishness. He has given up his life for everyone. He truly lives the words, "My life is not my own." Thank you Lord for the opportunity to meet and know such a person.
My other favorite birthday presents.
An 8 year old boy named Dominic.
I stop everyday and watch you practice the piano. I love watching you count the notes and figure out each piece of music. You have a gift. You asked me all day today, "Do you feel special?" You make everyday special. We had a early morning appointment and I had asked you last night to get the girls up early, make sure they dress and please make them cereal because I was meeting a friend. I got home and everyone was sitting there dressed, fed, and ready to go. I love that you told the girls to fix their hair.
A sweet little girl named Zellie who just turned "Free."
We celebrated her third birthday last month by letting her vote. She was the first to wish me Happy Birthday this morning. I asked her how she knew that and she informed me that "Papa told me last night." Birthday=complete. She told me all day that I was the "best muther in the wurld." You seriously danced to Gaelic Storm this evening and that pretty much was the best present from you today. We played Simon Says and watching you seriously try to "Simon Says rub your head and belly" was the next best gift. You don't mess around because your sisters will kick you out of the game.
Sweet Rose of Lima age 4
You have a been a gift since the moment I saw you. You were born at such a pivotal point in our lives. I probably will never look at you without wearing rose colored glasses. You have a beautiful gentleness, loyalty, and are a good friend. If you get a treat, you always want to save some for Lillie and Zellie. You remind all to "think of oth-yers first." I once took you with me to the grocery store and they were handing out sample bites of frosted cookies. I gave you one and then you sweetly asked, "What about Lillie?" The nice lady gave you another sample and for the next 30 minutes in the store and the 10 minute drive home, you guarded that sample bite of cookie for Lillie as if you were holding a treasure. I will never forget that.
You have a sweetness to match your name.
A young, sweet lady named Lillie.
I marvel how you have grown and how you help me. You are the leader of the pack. I see so much of my little self in you. You are Anne Shirley too. I love watching you pack your purse before we leave for places. You go through spurts regarding the different items you pack, but it gets me every time. At times especially after I have a new baby, you pack a diaper bag for your babies. The whole deal. Diapers, wipes, a bottle, a burp rag, and a sleeper just in case your baby needs a change of clothes. You pack the your doll into a carrier and cover it with a blanket and tuck in the sides. You have a purse over one shoulder and the infant doll carrier over the other. Now, one might think this is cute and fun. No. This is real and serious. I am SO THANKFUL I have taken the time to watch you get all your belongings ready. Sometimes, you ask to bring a stroller. I always say yes. We once went to hear a politician speak and you asked (along with your sisters) if you could bring your doll stroller. What a site to see! John and I walking with Dominic pushing baby Vianney in the stroller and behind me were my ducks all pushing their individual strollers. My heart hurt with pride and joy. I thought, "This is what life is all about." You all stood dutifully by your strollers listening to the politician talk about not raising taxes. I will always remember that sweet day. I love when you will watch a girl movie like Little Women or Anne of Green Gables and for the next weeks you will be in complete character. I love that you tuck your shirt in when you wear a skirt. It makes me smile because it usually is tucked in way to high as all little kids do. Cute and innocent.
Baby Vianney Jean-Marie 16 months
Do I really need to write anything after you've seen this picture.
110% JOY. 110% PERFECTION. 110% PURE LOVE. Sometimes, I want to kiss her teeth. Is that weird? Maybe. But you know what I mean. They stick out and she talks with them. I love them.
The greatest gift that will be given to me this year.
I am due to hold you in 21 days. I am due to see who you will be, gaze into your eyes, cry with complete gratitude and marvel once again, "How does God do this?" in 21 days. We watch you every night trying to get comfortable. We say every night, "That is amazing!" Inches away, your little body sits safely tucked inside of me waiting. I can grab your little foot. Amazing. We watch you roll over. Amazing. I love how John looks at me near the end of pregnancies. Complete awe. I saw a very holy priest a couple months ago and when we passed in the Church, he bowed to me. What respect and reverence for new life. A woman carrying a child within is mysterious. I CANNOT wait to gaze upon you for the first time.
I have so many people to thank for today. Not just for today, but for all they are to me in my life. For some reason, Birthdays bring to the forefront the gift of friendship to me especially the older I get. I met a dear friend for breakfast at 6:30 this morning. As her and I always do, we attempted to figure life out, we cried, we encouraged, we laughed, and as we always do when we part, we challenged each other to see the glass of life overflowing with possibilities and deeper meanings not just a glass half full. I came home from our appointment to my mother-in-law and a counter top full of presents and my favorite cookies from Eileen's Colossal Bakery. What touched me most is how each present was so very thoughtful and that she drove over to give them to me! She is a master at giving the gift of time. She walked with me through each room of our newly painted downstairs admiring our work. John's family is the best birthday "celebrate-ers". Everybody calls and sings and really expresses to you how they appreciate your life. I love that they do this. I loved talking to all my siblings today and planning our weekend ahead. My sister Kristin spent the day with us at the zoo, treating me to Chipotle, and making me lay on the couch while she cleaned the whole house while we talked.
The gift of time and friendship is my new favorite gift.
Lastly, but as importantly. I was equally touched by all the phone calls, emails, and especially the Facebook messages. For some reason, each message was so personal to me. One might say, "That only takes a second." What really is a second of time when each second to me was so much more than a second. Each message was a recollection, a memory of each friendship made. I thought about each person. Some are family, some were neighbors when we were first married, some I've met through blogging, some through the Newman Center, some through our wonderful years in Oklahoma, some through my wonderful bible study, some through high school and college, some whom I worked with and played basketball with in high school or college. Every time I read a note, I thanked God for each person and asked Him to bless their life. It was fun to think of our pasts together and was honored that they would take the time to write. I now understand why the elderly request "Card Showers Only. Your presence is my best present." I couldn't agree more. Maybe I am turning elderly faster than I know. I am blessed beyond words.