Friday, August 29, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 29): Korean Superstitions


If you're new to the blog, welcome! This post will make a whole lot more sense if you know that my Asian-American husband is Taiwanese (his ancestors hailed from northern China and headed to present-day Taiwan during the revolution) and Korean. His family's culture(s) and history had virtually nothing to do with how I met him or fell in love with him, but now that we're married it certainly impacts how I interact with and understand my in-laws and, of course, has somewhat influenced my husband's upbringing.

Because of this, I enjoy learning about these cultures. I want to try and better understand my in-laws and what kinds of simple, common, everyday pieces of cultural norms my husband was surrounded by throughout his childhood that differ (sometimes greatly) from my own experiences.

Sometimes I take for granted the simple things I've come to learn and internalize as I strive to better understand my husband's family members and their cultures. There was a time when I had no clue about certain norms, practices, and even common superstitions so I'm guessing that many of you don't know such things either. In order to help process some of the things I've learned I plan to begin sharing some of it on the blog with you all (are you excited?! You're welcome, haha).

So let's get these quick takes rolling! For the record, my husband is a convert to Catholicism so our religious beliefs mean that neither of us are superstitious. However, back when I was pregnant I was often told things by my mother-in-law or Michael's grandmother that I thought were strange; now I know that they were simply speaking from their cultural understanding Korean superstitions sometimes comes in handy!

Here are a few Korean superstitions I've learned over the years - beginning with the ones related to pregnancy and motherhood followed by some common, general superstitions.

--- 1 ---
Eating seaweed soup. This is a traditional food served to mothers shortly after giving birth. It's believed to help restore the nutrients you lose from having the baby so you will regain your strength/health. It's also commonly served to pregnant women to promote good health and to "cleanse" the body. Although you'd better hope your pregnancy and/or labor recovery don't coincide with taking any important exams....

--- 2 ---
Massaging baby's legs. Michael's grandmother once showed me how I should supposedly rub Gabriel's legs every time I change his diaper. At the time, I had no clue what she was talking about. Later I learned that this is a common superstition; supposedly if you massage your baby's legs it will make them grow taller/faster. Additionally, a common superstition is that you should not shake your legs. Because prosperity in Korean culture is believed to be held within your legs (?), shaking them means you'll shake all your fortune out of them!

--- 3 ---
Wearing socks...all the time. When I was pregnant I was told that going barefoot was only acceptable until I gave birth; after that, supposedly I needed to wear socks (despite the fact that I gave birth to an August South Florida). My mother-in-law said that I would get sick if I didn't wear socks (I'm guessing that they view women who just gave birth to be more vulnerable, which is why going barefoot was considered okay prior to labor). According to Kimchi Mamas, it's also common to swaddle the baby and ensure the baby is wearing socks regardless of the weather. Needless to say, I did not subject myself nor my newborn to this torture in the 100-degree heat.

--- F ---
Staring at pictures of beautiful babies during pregnancy. I was told that I should do this so my child would be good-looking. I certainly didn't do this and I think our boy came out just fine. ;) Confused about the "F" instead of a "4"? You'll understand once you get to number 7....

--- 5 ---
Food cravings and/or dreams tell you the gender of your baby. Supposedly cravings for fruit or sour foods = girl. Cravings for meat or sweets = boy. Additionally, it's common for a family member (mother, mother-in-law, spouse, sibling, etc.) to have a dream that reveals your baby's gender; seeing a tiger, dragon, or strong animal represents a boy while birds, snakes, rings, or flowers indicate a girl.

--- 5 ---
Never trim your finger nails at night. What supposedly happens if you do? A mouse will eat the clippings, transform into a human, and steal your soul. Weird and terrifying all at once.

--- 6 ---
Whistling at night. This superstition says that whistling at night will attract ghosts and/or snakes. In order to keep these things far away from your household, whistling at night is considered a no-go. Personally, I don't whistle that much - but the thought of not letting anyone whistle a happy tune at night just makes me sad!

--- 7 ---
Fear of the number 4. Apparently the Korean pronunciation of "4" sounds a lot like the Chinese pronunciation of "death." Because of this, elevators often use "F" to designate the 4th floor - or they skip having a 4th level all-together (much like elevators in the West tend to superstitiously skip 13).

Happy Labor Day Weekend, everybody! For more quick takes head over to the link-up at Converstion Diary (thanks for hosting, Jen!). And, if you simply can't get enough about Korean superstitions: check out the links below to read about the ever-popular fan death, writing names in red, Deoksugung pathway, and more. :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

When You Need No Words (or what my baby taught me about friendship)


This weekend seemed to have just the right balance of relaxing and getting out and doing things. Friday night we stayed in and watched a movie, but Saturday and Sunday we had lots of outings and great fun was had by all. We actually toured a few townhouses, despite the fact that we're not planning on buying any time soon (unless drastic changes happen with Michael's work - because in case you forgot: consulting tends to have us ready to go go go at the drop of a hat). Overall it was so much fun to see what kinds of things are out there - and was only minimally heart-wrenching falling in love with various home features or locations knowing that it probably isn't in the cards for awhile.

In addition to all of the ridiculous fun we had on our random real estate adventures, we had the loveliest Saturday evening getting to know some married friends (and their babies!) better. Our friends invited us over for dinner and we enjoyed a quiet evening as our sons played together and us parents were blessed with some engaging conversation.

I think one of the biggest blessings from Saturday night was not only how much fun Michael and I had, but seeing how much fun our sons had together. 

Ever since we moved to Pennsylvania we've been beyond blessed to encounter so many welcoming people that we truly consider our friends. Because we met several of them through the local group for Catholic young adults, many of them are single. All of them are fantastic people and I'm incredibly grateful to have them in our lives, but over the course of the past few months I've constantly been mulling over thought after thought about how, as Gabriel grows, it's only going to become more important for Gabriel to have friends his own age - which means it's important that we have friends in the same stage of life as us as well.

You may remember that I began a Catholic moms' group awhile back, and I'm happy to say that it has been a fruitful experience for me (and hopefully for the other moms!). It's such a blessing to have friends in a similar stage of life - not because I think I can and should only be friends with people doing all the same things I do every day (how boring), but because those friends just...get it.

In a funny way, it took seeing Gabriel with his little playmate on Saturday night to help me begin to better understand why it's so good to have those kinds of friends that are where you are (in life, not geographically - though a nearby location is really great, too). I have already known that such a thing is a huge blessing, but I think witnessing Gabriel's fun the other night allowed me to see all of this in a new kind of light.

You see, Saturday night I witnessed something new that I haven't seen during all our time spent with other moms and little ones. While I've made some excellent mom friends here, their children aren't always that close to Gabriel's age. I don't think that's the most important thing by any stretch of the imagination (especially when a major goal of the moms' group is to find friends for myself that are moms), but it's undeniable that 3 months here or 7 months there makes a big difference in the life of a baby or toddler. On Saturday, Gabriel was able to play with a boy who is less than 2 months older than him, which at his current age translates to mean that developmentally they tend to execute and enjoy all the same kinds of activities. Supposedly children this age only begin to play "side by side" (with little to no interaction), but these boys were having a ball playing alongside one another and together. In fact, we barely had to watch them most of the evening because they were happy just to toddle around together, stopping to explore various items of furniture or take a break to swap toys, giggle, or shriek with glee. They spoke no words (other than regular baby chatter), but they stood before one another gesturing, waving, leaning, and rocking as if they were carrying on the most fascinating non-verbal conversation known to man.

It was beautiful. And neither my mom friend nor I had ever seen our sons interact with another child in a manner such as this. Sure, Gabriel frequently interacts with other little playmates via the moms' group, but because of their age differences it is just that: different. Quite adorable, but different than what I saw on Saturday.

After watching Gabriel have one of the best times of his young life, it suddenly dawned on me: the main reason it's so good to have friends in similar life stages isn't out of convenience, shared activities, or because it's helpful to be able to pick their brains about how they plan to do x, y, or z with their kids. Those things are great, but the main reason these friendships are so good for the soul is because - just like Gabriel and his little buddy - there are so many times you don't even have to use words to understand each other.

With our single (non-parent, obviously) friends we are constantly answering questions about dating, discernment, engagement, marriage preparation, married life, family life, pregnancy, babies, etc...which I tend to do most happily. But when we're with other married couples that are parents to little ones (especially those that are Catholic and already share our values and worldview) we are able to dive into other topics headfirst and get beyond certain topics without having to give hours of background info or multiple disclaimers. There is a reason that moms tend to share an unspoken sense of camaraderie with other moms the instant they discover their shared role as "mother" - because you've all been there, experienced it, and have known firsthand many of the blessings and beautiful burdens that came with the package.

On Saturday night, Michael and I both felt so comfortable and as if we had known our married friends for much longer than we actually have. I firmly believe that God brings certain people into our lives for various reasons and I thank Him often for all the people we have come to know here. I'm truly grateful for all of our friends - whether they are single, engaged, married, younger, the same age, older, etc. We have many friends that aren't exactly in the same stage of life as us and it's worked out perfectly fine for us thus far, but watching Gabriel light up in ways I haven't quite seen with other children who are a bit older or younger really made an impression on me. Even though we don't only hang out with other married couples, I totally understand why that's often the case for others. And, over the course of the past several months (and then highlighted right before my eyes on Saturday night), I have come to understand more and more about why so many parents only hang out with other parents.

After all, our family's social time is no longer only about Michael and me. It's also about Gabriel and what's going to be good for all of us. I know most of this is common sense, but seeing Gabriel light up Saturday night made me so grateful that in addition to all our fabulous single friends that have enriched our lives here, we have been blessed with married friends that have so many big, important things (which often is found in the tiniest details of everyday family life) in common with our family. The kind of friends that don't bat an eye when you head home at 8pm...because they're also about to put their son to bed as soon as you leave.

Seriously. We have some great friends here that we can do all sorts of fun things with - and I'm so very happy that Gabriel also has good friends here, too. God has been so good to us here and I can only hope that He continues to bless us all with friendships that are just as natural as the one our baby boy has with his little playmate.


By the way - do you know my sister, Christina, at Summa Momma (that's "soo-ma" as in the Summa by St. Thomas Aquinas...because she is a Lay Dominican and theology scholar...get it)? She just created a fun link-up entitled "Kid Lessons," in which bloggers can share brief anecdotes about valuable lessons they've learned from their children. I completely failed at being brief, but I'm counting this as a Kid Lesson all the same (forgive me, sis). Head on over to Summa Momma for more Kid Lessons! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

To the Family that Sat Behind Us in Church Yesterday


Dear family that sat behind us in church yesterday,

We are new to your parish. I do not yet know any of your names, but I already know your faces. In fact, I remember you from the very first time we attended your parish and, truth be told, you are part of the reason we came back. There are a lot of options when it comes to Catholic Churches in this area, but we're strongly considering becoming parishioners at your church for many reasons - and I'd by lying if I said that our prayerful decision had nothing to do with you.

The first time we attended Mass at your church we sat where we normally do. We were somewhere in the middle section towards the front and, having arrived early enough, there were still plenty of empty pews. Suddenly, you all sat down on our left. You could have chosen plenty of other seats, but you didn't. You plainly saw that we had an infant in our lap, but that didn't scare you away. Instead, you (with your two older, elementary-school-aged children) sat next to us - and I was surprised at how surprised this made me feel. I hadn't realized until that moment how rarely people chose to sit next to us and our baby when they could just as easily sit somewhere else. In that moment I felt saddened by how many times I had apparently felt isolated - not fully realizing any of it until that day. In that moment, however, I also felt overjoyed and grateful for people like you; in a way you made me realize our loneliness as we searched for a parish in our new home - but it was only because you had made me feel so very welcome for the first time in too long.

Yes, there have been many times at various churches that people have done their best to make us feel welcome (sometimes coming up to us after church to tell us how they appreciated seeing our son there) and I'm also incredibly grateful for those individuals. But those kind words were usually offered by people who sat far away - after they had already seen how quiet our boy had been. I don't mean to trivialize their affirmations (for I desperately needed to hear their words, too), but I still marvel at how welcome you managed to make us feel with such a subtle, unspoken gesture. You chose to sit beside us before knowing anything about our son's behavior - which spoke volumes to me.

Yesterday we saw you again when you chose to sit behind us. I didn't actually see you enter or realize it was you - until our baby began fussing and you all made him smile. I could hear your children's whispers of, "he's so cute," and I could sense your smiles. When I caught my first glimpse of who had been happily keeping our son from fussing, I recognized you right away and thanked God that it was you.

Meanwhile, the only parishioner who was sharing a pew with us grew irritated by Gabriel's noises. We always do our best to remove him and calm him down if/when his whining or crying becomes loud and lasts more than a few seconds, but yesterday there many times he whined for only a second - so we opted to stay put. I didn't think his whining sounds were even loud, but the woman sitting beside us tried to convince us otherwise with her huffs and puffs and clearly annoyed body language.

Your family's attitude was entirely different.

You made it clear to us that you were happy our son was there and you were happy to help us. When he reached over the back of the pew and tried to grab your hymnals I pulled him away as quickly as I could - but you didn't seem to mind. Whenever he looked at you, you met his curious eyes with smiles and (from what I could tell) interesting and/or funny faces that made him giggle. During the sign of peace you included him and (for the first time ever) he reached out to shake hands. When we were all kneeling and Gabriel only wanted to stand on our pew - putting him immediately in your space bubble - you did not shrink away. Rather, you reached out and humored him as he tried to touch you and/or hand you his possessions. Your little girl even willingly held onto the tube of teething gel that Gabriel handed off to her; she held onto it until I realized Gabriel had not reached to take it back after more than a minute or two. I thanked her, but she didn't seem annoyed in the least. Whenever Gabriel did something that caused me to mouth that I was sorry, you all flashed wider, genuine grins and insisted that it was not a problem.

Somewhat related photo of Gabriel standing in a pew, playing with his great uncle before my cousin's wedding

After Mass you eagerly spoke with us and encouraged us, which means more to me than you could possibly know. When you told us we were doing the right thing for our family by sitting up front so Gabriel could see better and would have to learn to behave well (instead of automatically sitting in the "cry room" where he wouldn't be forced to behave in the same way) I really appreciated that you understood where we were coming from. Then, when you told us that it took a lot of courage to do it I instantly felt tears welling up in the corners of my eyes. 

We spoke to you all for only a minute, but your words stayed with us far longer. In that short amount of time you briefly shared about your experiences, related to ours, recognized - without having to say it - the struggle that is (sadly) sometimes met with glaring eyes or irritated huffs and puffs, and you encouraged us. With your words and, even more so, your actions through the entire Mass you joyfully walked beside us on our journey. Thank you.

When I think about how much your presence, your attitude, and your generosity of spirit has impacted us at church (and for hours and even days afterward), saying thank you barely seems sufficient...but I don't know what else to say. So thank you. You may never have any idea how greatly we appreciate you, but if you ever read this I would want you to know that you have helped us, supported us, encouraged us, and you are part of what made us want to come back. I'm sure you have no clue that we are not yet registered as parishioners and have also been attending other Catholic Churches near us, but you helped us finalize our decision. If our only experiences of your parish's community had been like the woman sitting beside us yesterday, we probably would have left weeks ago. Instead, you sat beside us that very first week and it has made all the difference.

I hope that as we become involved at the parish our paths cross many times and we all come to know one another by name. Thank you again and may God bless you.

Your sister in Christ, Stephanie K.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Another Use for Coconut Oil: Curing Styes


Coconut oil first popped up on my radar a little under 2 years ago. Prior to that I don't think I'd really heard of it or knew anything about it. Since then, it seems to have taken the (internet and/or crunchy) world by storm and one can hardly read any blogs these days without some mention of coconut oil - whether it's for cooking, health, beauty, or a variety of other everyday purposes.

Coconut oil can be used for so many things that whenever I wonder "what is a natural way to do ___?" I find myself looking up whether or not coconut oil can tackle the chore (and more often than not it can). At this point it probably sounds as if I use coconut oil for everything - but I actually don't. I've found a few very practical ways to use it in my everyday life and stuck to those over the past year and a half (baby steps).

My favorite daily way to use coconut oil is as a natural eye make-up remover. All I do is scoop a tiny (seriously - teeny tiny!) bit onto a tissue and gently rub it across my eyelids and around my eye. Just like that, my eyes are looking fresh. However, that's not actually what I wanted to share with you all today; instead, I wanted to share something I accidentally stumbled upon by using coconut oil around my eyes: you can use it to prevent and/or cure a stye!

Have you ever had a stye? They're awful. For those of you that have been blessed to never experience one firsthand: it's basically a clogged oil duct on your eyelid that causes a red, uncomfortable, often itchy bump to form. My college town is notoriously beautiful (it is an official Tree City after all), but it's no secret that B-town's beauty comes hand in hand with some wicked pollen that can (apparently) cause people that don't even have allergies to develop some. I learned this the hard way when my eyes became perpetually irritated towards the end of my freshman year. When I went home that summer I saw my eye doctor - who informed me that my eyes were experiencing an allergic reaction as they adjusted to Bloomington's pollen (awesome). He told me about Zaditor (which is an OTC eye drop that is amazing) and all the redness and irritation cleared up within a few days. When I returned for my sophomore year, my eyes became irritated again and I developed no fewer than three styes that one time. After that I became painstakingly diligent about always removing eye make-up and still wound up with about one stye a year while I lived there (everything else about Bloomington makes it more than worth it).

It's truly a shame I didn't know about coconut oil back then. Doctors almost always diagnose a stye and tell you that you simply have to "wait it out" and apply some heat compresses to ease the pain in the mean time. They tell you there is no cure other than time.

Thankfully I haven't had a stye in a long time...but a couple months ago I felt that all-too-familiar sensation of something constantly poking my eye every time I blinked. I knew that a stye was forming and I think I avoided examining it in the mirror on purpose - hoping beyond hope that it would miraculously disappear on its own. One night, I mustered up some courage, looked at the stye forming on my eyelid, and made sure to remove every last bit of my eye make-up with my usual coconut oil routine.

Imagine my delight when I awoke the next morning and every single trace of that stye was gone. Completely gone. No bump, no redness, no feeling like something was stabbing my eye each time I would blink. At first I was completely baffled. What happened?! But then I remembered that the only thing I had done was clean my eyelid with coconut oil.

Immediately I hopped online to search whether or not coconut oil can heal styes - and I think you already know the answer by now can. And it did. And I have been bursting with new-found love for coconut oil ever since. So the next time you feel a stye coming on, instead of letting it naturally run its painful course, try going the other natural route by wiping your eyelids with coconut oil. Thank you, Mother Nature!

"I'm very inspired by nature - you could say Mother Nature. I look at things around me and get all kinds of inspiration daily."
-Martha Stewart

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gabriel's 1st Birthday Celebration(s)


Last week I wrote about Gabriel's 1st year, but I had neither the time nor the mental energy to re-cap all the exciting things of note that were happening in our neck of the woods. Now that all of our out-of-state visitors are safely back in their homes and I had a day to play catch up on the laundry and general organization of our daily lives, I am finally up for the challenge. Let's get to it!

My mother-in-law was able to spend two full days visiting, which I mentioned was a very rare treat considering how demanding the restaurant business can be on your time. We wanted to make the most of her brief stay, so after she arrived and Gabriel awoke from a morning nap on Monday we began our quest for all things Korean food-related. Michael's mom had made it clear that she wanted to come and cook us lots of food while she was here, so Monday's main event would include swinging by the closest "Koreatown" near us in the suburbs.

First, we took her to a Korean BBQ restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, we introduced her to H-Mart and spent some time picking out all the items we would need to make bibimbap, beef bulgogi, and whatever else we felt we should stock up on.

After returning home with all our delicious goods we decided to take my mother-in-law to the largest mall on the East Coast. We wiled away the afternoon as we moseyed around the mall and window-shopped, taking our sweet time. My mother-in-law is used to being busy busy busy, so she seemed to enjoy the change of pace quite a bit.

That night, she cooked us enough bibimbap to last us a few meals after she would take her leave on Wednesday morning and it was so incredibly good. 

Pre-mixing (the key to the most flavorful bibimbap is in the mixing).

Tuesday (August 5th) was Gabriel's actual birthday, so that morning we took him to a portrait place at the local mall (check out some of the photos here). Next we headed into Philadelphia so we could show Michael's mom our local Chinatown and eat some delicious Taiwanese food. The rest of the day was spent at home as I baked a birthday cake followed by all of us eating bulgogi for dinner, singing Happy Birthday to Gabriel, watching our baby take his first bite of cake, and opening some of Gabriel's birthday gifts. 

Being the birthday boy is tiring when you're 1!

Those couple of days with my mother-in-law were jam-packed and such a whirlwind, but the celebrations didn't stop there! Thankfully we had over a day and a half to rest and get organized (baby boy took a 4 hour nap on Wednesday) before welcoming our next visitors - my older sister, brother-in-law, and nieces!

Gabriel with his cousins and Godparents

We spent Friday relaxing, taking the kids to the pool, and preparing for Gabriel's birthday party the next day. Friday also happened to be my sister and brother-in-law's 5th wedding anniversary (hooray! Congratulations, sis!), so we babysat the girls while they enjoyed a date night. Babysitting my nieces was basically the easiest thing in the world and they had so much fun helping me bake the first batch of cupcakes for the party.

Red velvet with cream cheese frosting

Then, Saturday was Gabriel's birthday party! We hosted a cook-out at a nearby park and enjoyed the beautiful weather with almost 30 of our friends and family members. My mom, grandmother, and younger sister came from Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, some of my cousins and their families came from the northeastern suburbs of Philly, and one of my aunts and uncles came from New Jersey - all to celebrate Gabriel's big day with us. What a blessing! Michael and I kept marveling at how many family members made such an effort to travel for the celebration - because initially we anticipated that zero family could make it and we'd have a party only with local friends. However, when all was said and done I think we ended up having more family members than friends in attendance!

Tasting his birthday cupcake

All of my immediate family headed back Monday, which meant we spent Sunday soaking up as much family time as possible by going to Mass, getting brunch, and enjoying a relaxing day that included playing Mario Kart (watching my sister & brother-in-law teach my 4 year old niece was so much fun!), taking the little ones to a nearby playground, and getting frozen custard after dinner.

Many thanks to all of you that visited, celebrated with us, and/or sent your regards, birthday well-wishes, or gifts to our baby boy. We (along with Gabriel!) had such a great time and are so grateful to have each and every one of you in our lives. Here's to celebrating many more birthdays with our little man!

"Live long and prosper."
-Mr. Spock (Star Trek)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gabriel: One Year


Tuesday was August 5th. Some of you may remember that last year August 5th became pretty special to us when this happened:

Fast forward an entire year we are!

God is so good. Happy birthday, Gabriel Alexander! We just love you so.

There are so many things I'd love to say but I'm not even sure where to begin. The past few days have been a blur as we hosted my mother-in-law (Gabriel's "Halmoni," which means Grandmother in Korean). Michael's parents own a restaurant back in Ohio and it's very difficult for them to take any significant time off of work. In fact, until this week neither of his parents had ever visited us (we have visited them many times) since we got married. The fact that his mom could take some time off and be here on Gabriel's birthday was such a rare treat and we had lots of fun showing her around. I've got lots of great photos and stories to share from our time together, but I think I'll save those for another post.

Right now I want to focus on the birthday boy himself:

I firmly believe that all children are blessings, but the amazing part about human beings is that we are each truly unique - dreamt of, thought of, and created by our Lord and brought into this world for our own individual purpose(s). I have no idea what lies ahead of us, but this past year has been filled to the brim with such joy as we've witnessed Gabriel grow into this observant, calm, calculated, jovial, social, and adventurous little man. It's amazing to see how telling certain characteristics can be from quite a young age!

We've known all along that Gabriel is by and large what society considers an "easy" baby - meaning that he rarely cries (except when he really needs/wants something or is in pain) and is generally very happy. Sure, he never accepted a bottle among other things that challenged us as parents, but how on earth can I complain about such things when I look at the big picture? God has blessed us with such a gift - and that gift is our firstborn son and the honor it is to be his parents.

Gabriel, you fill our lives with so much light! Whether we're reading you stories, playing ball or peekaboo, watching you experience new things, or cradling you in our arms when you're tired or hurting, we are grateful to have those experiences. Because God blessed us with you, our home has been filled with the kind of love and laughter that only you can bring - by simply being you. Sometimes there have been tears and seemingly endless nights (especially with teething - what a blessing you won't remember that pain!), but through it all we've learned more about what it is to love...because we have loved you every minute of every hour of every day and always will. 

God's love for all of us is so much greater than this and sometimes it is hard to comprehend, but your presence in your daddy's life and mine has helped us to understand His great love more than we ever could without you. How beautiful it is to love someone so very much that any sign of their distress makes you want to drop everything and do whatever you can to make things better - and if there's nothing you can do or you hear their piercing cries it simply causes your heart to ache. This is just a glimpse into the kind of love we have for you as your parents.

We hope and pray that you will continue to grow in love and faith each day as you get older. I pray about many things for you - but perhaps the most important prayer is for you to always remain close to God. By having faith and placing your trust in Him you will be blessed. I do not know everything the Lord has in store for you, but I promise that I will do my best to help you become the man He created you to be.

As your mother, my goal is to help you get to heaven someday - but the funny thing I've noticed in the past year is that it already seems to work the other way, too. Of course I will do my part to love, protect, teach, and guide you, but already I can see how much you have helped me become more of who God intends me to be. This is one of the many mysteries about family life - but it's important to remember that we all can and should help one another on this journey. After all, that's a large part of why God designed us to be together as one family. The love we'll share with one another here on earth is merely a glimpse of the love we can experience if/when we make it to heaven someday - so let's make sure we all get there one day and bask in God's ultimate love together as a family!

When I think about this past year of your life, I cannot help but smile. We have had so much fun watching you grow, observe, play, and learn about this great big world and I cannot wait to continue sharing this journey with you. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, you just awoke from your nap so I'm going to go soak in your post-nap grins and giggles and smother you with kisses and hugs before you grow up more and develop less patience with my desire to always be cuddling you. Happy 1st birthday, sweetheart! We love you love you love you.

For more details about Gabriel's first year, check out these posts:

UPDATE - Shortly after Gabriel's first birthday we went to the doctor for his 12-month check-up. Here are his growth measurements:
  • Weight: 17.0 lbs. (2nd-5th percentile)
  • Height: 29.5 in. (25th-50th percentile)
  • Head circumference: 18 in. (25th-50th percentile)

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you."
Philippians 1:3

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Our Friends, the Saints: Our Lady of Guadalupe


Do you all know Sarah over at Cherishing Everyday Beauty? She hosts a great series on her blog entitled "Our Friends, the Saints." Each Saturday she publishes someone's story about their relationship with a specific Saint. Not only does it include interesting personal anecdotes, but the pieces are usually very informative, providing more background info about the Saint as well.

In case you haven't already guessed, Sarah sweetly contacted me about contributing to this growing series (there are nearly 30 contributions already!). I chose to write about my relationship with Our Lady of Guadalupe, so head on over if you want to check it out. While you're at it, you might want to peruse some of the other great pieces - including last's week's, which my older sister wrote about St. Agnes of Prague. ;)

I hope all of you have a great weekend! We're gearing up for Gabriel's 1st birthday on Tuesday (and lots of family visitors throughout the week), so things might be quiet on the blog for a bit. Worry not - I'll make sure to come back with plenty of birthday stories and photos of all the fun! +St. Gabriel the Archangel and Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.+