Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Charles at 1 Month

Hello Friends, Charles, a.k.a. "Masterpiece", here to chat with you about being a one month old.  Life as a Husband boy is g-o-o-d good!  My days pretty much consist of two things:

1.  Eating

2.  Sleeping

I don't have any snapshots of the first thing that I do best, since my mom is the official photographer and she is also the official milk maid (she hasn't figured out how to feed me and take pics of me at the same time).  But, I do have some pretty precious pics of my second best talent:
 1.  My mom's shoulder is a sweet spot to catch some zzzz's, especially after a little snack.
2.  Sometimes I like to kick back in my snugly swing and fall into a little post-feeding coma.
 3.  But, my #1 nap-nest is on daddy's chest.  We meet at the couch every night after supper and snuzzle.
That's all for now!  Happy Easter!



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Things We Love About Benedict

Son, you outgrew my lap, but never my heart.  
~ Author Unknown

The day I went into labor with Charles I remember thinking to myself, "This can't be, it's too early, and besides, Benedict's birthday is tomorrow, and I have a fun celebration planned."  Providence would soon counter my personal plans and determined desire to stay home and ignore the labor pains.  Charles was born March 23rd at 4:00 p.m. - a nearly perfect 10 years after the birth of our first son, Benedict, missing the perfect 10 by a mere 12 hours.  
On his birthday, Benedict came to visit his new little brother in the hospital.  Looking into his eyes, I promised Benedict that we would celebrate his birthday when we got home.  He simply smiled and said, "Don't worry mama, I've got the best birthday present right here," and he reached out to hold Charles. (I love to celebrate our kids' birthdays - but how did I ever think that our little traditions and a great cake could ever be a sweeter gift than a precious little baby - even to a 10 year old??)

We don't know God's plan for our family size, but I have a feeling Charles will forever be known as the youngest brother.  I like to call Benedict and Charles the "bookends" of our family, the first and last being born here in Garden City.  

This is the final chapter of our dedication to Charles.  We have had 10 years of joy in discovering all of the beauty and wonder in our oldest son, Benedict.  We can't wait for you to get to know him too, Charles!  


1.  You probably won't remember being held in Benedict's arms as an infant, but I have a feeling he'll be toting you around even when you're a toddler.  I know this because he has a thing for hugging, holding and being close to others.  It's like a 6th sense, he just knows when others need to be comforted and embraced.
I remember getting pictures taken this day.  Henry was so fussy, but Benedict was determined to keep him calm.  When you are fussy, he's the first one on the scene to assess your needs and report them to me.
He even checks in on me when I'm fussy....and the administration of a hug usually does the trick!

2.  Since Benedict was first to enter the Lego world, he's the official expert in the family.  I consider him to be the Husband Family Lego mechanic. 
When battle ships and farm equipment need repair I run screaming.  He's the one to call on, not me.  I just thought you needed to know that, little one.
(Service with a smile!)
3.  Last fall Benedict shot his first buck.  Over the past year, he's taken up a true interest in hunting.  A couple of days ago, I saw him with his bow and arrows staring with great concentration into our row of cedar trees.  A few minutes later, he came in to proudly announce to me that he is hunting any rabbits that might eat my garden. (I snuck out the back door hoping to find the bunnies and convince them to move to a new location, because bunnies are way too cute to face an arrow point.)  I know that you will probably be more interested in hunting with Ben than helping mommy shoo away the bunnies, but if you change your mind I promise not to tell!
4.  As an aspiring hunter, Benedict naturally loves the outdoors and any activities that will afford him the opportunity to be outside.  

Even if those "activities" are work related.  He's first in line when there's a job to be done.
I love this about him, because I never here him say that he is bored.  Being in nature brings endless opportunities for the imaginative to have fun.  Ben will have so many outdoor adventures to share with you!
5.  Last summer we adopted a Golden Retriever, Stella, into our family.  Benedict has set about to train her to sit, heel, fetch and catch snowflakes on her tongue...
I would also love for him to teach her how to bark at strangers instead of the cat.  He brushes her every day and has some pretty interesting conversations with her as well.  Maybe he can add baby-training to his list of talents, which will include crawling, walking and of course potty training!

6.  Every one of your brothers embodies a variety of special talents.  They also possess certain traits that cannot be traced back to a genetic code - they are simply unique to the individual.  One particular trait of Benedict is he hums when he eats something he really likes.  Sometimes it's just a soft, low hum.  Other times is very distinct and unmistakable, especially if he's eating chocolate sheet cake, mashed potatoes or a cereal loaded with sugar.  You are gonna love it!
7.  There is a 10 year old pacing behind me right now with a glaring stare and an intimidating frown creased into his forehead.  Benedict knows that I am going to write about how much we love his freckles.  His father and I think they are adorable.  Ben thinks they're annoying.  We are hoping, Charles, that by the time you are 10, if there are any physical attributes you don't like about yourself, Benedict will encourage you to embrace them....just as we know he will his freckles.
8.  I'm not sure what you're brothers and your father are going to do with themselves if you don't like sports of any kind, Charles.  You have a wonderful line up of coaching experts, and Benedict is one of them.  Basketball is his specialty.  
The "hand in the cookie jar" is not just for the kitchen but for the court as well.  I think a mom invented that phrase.

9.  Five years ago we dove head first into homeschooling.

It is such a privilege to teach him every day.  He never complains about the work he dislikes (memorizing poetry) or sees no purpose in (Latin).  And, he learns with great enthusiasm those subjects which spark his interest (Science and History).  Your road of learning will be much smoother, Charles, and you can thank your big bro Ben for smoothing out all of the bumps for you!

10.  One cannot describe the joy that comes from seeing your child grow from year to year physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  How humbling it is to realize that while you have a huge role in forming and shaping your children, they are first and foremost the children of a loving Father.  A Father who has a plan for their lives, who loves them more than we do, who has given them gifts and talents beyond our comprehension, beyond what we teach them, what we can hope for them.

It feels like yesterday when Benedict was born.  I closed my eyes for a split second and now he is 10!  The most beautiful gift we see in Benedict is his strength of will.  This strength has come with time, discipline and struggle.  Choosing the greater good in all situations is a challenge that never ends for any of us.  To see our oldest son actively choosing to give instead of take, to listen instead of speak, to console rather than criticize, to try again rather than give up and to put others before himself is incredible.
When you are his age, Charles, your brother Benedict will be a man....a man you can look up to with love, admiration and with confidence!

Birthday celebration promised and delivered....
With a little help from the gang, I managed to keep my "we'll celebrate your birthday" promise.
Despite the cold drizzle, the boys created a scavenger hunt around the farm with Ben's gifts.  They even buried one in a pile of sand and made Benedict dig for it.  It was a great sight!
"Arrr, hand over the gum, matey or ye shall be forced to walk the plank!"
The Lego Mechanic with his latest challenge.
"I practically had to dig a hole to China to get this baby."  Totally worth it!!

You don't raise heroes, you raise sons.  And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes.  ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

10 Things We Love About Andrew

Before the birth of our son Charles, I was working on a series of blogs celebrating the unique personhood of Charles' four big brothers, Benedict, Andrew, George and Henry.  Writing ten things we love about each elder son was also a dedication to Charles, sharing with him all of the wonderful gifts he would experience in having four older siblings to love him, teach him and influence him.  But, the series was brought to a halt after George's dedication, as our little Charles arrived (to our astonishment!) 11 days early!  Settling back into the rhythm of daily life again, it's time I pick up where I left Charles, here are
1.  Andrew is the most caring and affectionate boy in the world.  He is the one who wakes up with Henry in the night when he has a bad dream or is sick.  He is the one who sees Henry struggling to keep up at the zoo and offers him a piggy-back ride, and he is the one who is willing to give whatever he has to his brothers if he sees that they are doing without.  Charles - you have a guardian angel to watch over you, and you also have Andrew - who is about as close to angelic as they get.
2.  Andrew has a great sense of humor.  His personality is a great mix of wit and goofiness.  Not a day goes by that he doesn't have us in stitches.  This tends to make tedious tasks fun, boring school lessons entertaining and ordinary experiences extraordinary.  I can hardly wait to hear you giggle at his antics for the first time!

3.  One of the most wonderful gifts that Andrew has been blessed with is his gift of calm confidence.  I asked him once if he ever gets nervous before a recital, a wrestling match, or any event and he said no.  I think he just truly enjoys everything he's involved in, and has a beautiful ability to relish the experiences he is given, not worrying about performing for or pleasing others.  This purity of heart is beautiful, and I know that as you spend time with Andrew, he will share this gift with you!
4.  Andrew has a special place in his heart for music.  His ability to be technical and expressive is such a joy! I look forward to the day when you will sit beside him at the piano or with the violin and play duets or improv together.
5.  As long as we're on a roll with talents, I cannot hold back from mentioning Andrew's love for sports. He has his mind set on a professional football career.  And, after the successful season he had wrestling, with a very determined spirit, I don't think that's a goal out of reach!  Are you ready to be rough and tumble with your big bro??

6.  When Andrew was a very little boy, Steve and I recognized that Andrew had a very spiritual nature.  He had a special wisdom beyond his years, and still does today.  During my pregnancy, Andrew would often tell me after Mass, "Mom, I prayed for the baby."  One day you will understand what a treasure it is to have someone who loves you praying for you!
7.  Andrew is a great student.  Math is his favorite subject.  He brings a special life and enthusiasm to the creative lessons that we do.
I often hear him explaining to George and Henry everything he knows and has learned about various subject matter.  From architecture to chemical reactions no detail is left undefined. If he recites the same lectures to you, it will only be a matter of time before you too are ready for school!
8.  Not only is Andrew teachable, he is also coachable.  He takes in every word and applies it to his craft.  This requires a special humility - recognizing that there is room for improvement, and being willing to continue working and trying.  
He then passes everything he knows on to his younger brothers. You can be certain that he will have all the best tips for rolling over, crawling and taking those first steps!
9.  The older Andrew gets, the more he displays a very adventurous spirit.  The pure boy inside of him, the wildness in his heart is beautiful!
His zest for life is contagious, and those around him can't help but feel the desire to soak in the greatness of life.  I am certain you won't be able to resist his enthusiasm!

10.  Finally, Dear Charles, the gift we love most in Andrew is his love for others.  He is the most loyal, kind, sincere, caring and encouraging friend you will ever have.  If you need someone to listen, he will be there, if you are down he will cheer you up, if you are alone he will stand beside you, if your burdens are heavy he will help you carry them, if you are successful he will celebrate with you and when you are grown and think back on the memories of your life, I am certain that Andrew will be a wonderful part of them!