Favorite Spiritual Rereads

I used to read all the time. I was always reading a book, and while I still usually am, it’s not unusual for months to go by in between two pages. Despite my literary lethargy, there are still books I come back to again and again when I have a rare bit of reading time. Especially at this season of life, you know if I’m choosing to reread something, it’s gotta be good, because ain’t nobody got time to reread something that’s not awesome.  So, in honor of a certain impending liturgical season (#lent), and with the hope I can kick the spiritual reading up a notch soon, here are the five (+1) spiritual books I come back to again and again, in all seasons.

 

  1. Spe Salvi by Pope Benedict XVI
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    Pope Benedict kills it in his encyclical on hope. Hope is such an underrated virtue and I looooove BXVI’s treatment of it here. (I’ve written about it before.) Hope isn’t weak or fluffy; it’s hardcore. This is a pretty quick read for an encyclical but I find new gems in it every time. See: “It is….hope that gives us the courage to place ourselves on the side of good even in seemingly hopeless situations, aware that, as far as the external course of history is concerned, the power of sin will continue to be a terrible presence.” *mic drop*
  2. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
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    This book is so beautiful. I’ve never read anything that captures so well the glory of a human love relationship. This is the story of two “pagans” who fall in love and make each other their entire world. Their devotion is so inspiring, though ultimately flawed without God in it. The book tells of their conversion – thanks in part to their friendship with a guy named C.S. Lewis – and the effect it had on their love. If you are a person who loves other people, you should read this book. You will cry. It is worth it.
  3. The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander
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    Houselander is described by the Magnificat as a “British mystic.” I’d say that sums her up pretty well. I love this book, sometimes because of and sometimes in spite of its “mystical” style. It’s a really wonderful exploration of Mary and I usually read it during Advent. You’ll find in it passages like this:

    “The one thing [God asked of Mary] … was to give Him her daily life. And outwardly it would not differ from the life she would have led if she had not been chosen to be the Bride of the Spirit and the Mother of God at all! She was not even asked to live it alone with this God who was her own Being and whose being was to be hers. No, he asked for her ordinary life shared with Joseph.”

    Ideas like this are all over this book, yet the way Houselander extrapolates them helps me understand  my own vocation better. The book definitely helps my relationship with Mary and is a lovely springboard for self-examination in a gentle way that doesn’t condemn or make you feel icky.

  4. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
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    I’m in the process of reading this for the second time and I’m loving it as much as the first. Voskamp is a very poetic writer (she blogs at A Holy Experience) but I happen to really like her style. Even if you don’t, though, I think this book has a lot to offer on the subject of gratitude – the hard, real, nitty-gritty type – and joy in the midst of suffering. It centers on her understanding of the word Eucharist, and even though she doesn’t have a belief in the Real Presence, the book is still beautiful and powerful. Coming from a faith tradition centered on the Real Presence, I found her words to be even more powerful, and the understanding of eucharisteo that much more mind-blowing.
  5. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
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    Lewis’ famous compilation of letters written by an expert demon to his novice apprentice is so brilliant. I love the way this book so masterfully convicts me on the stumbling blocks I face in the spiritual life. Screwtape, the senior demon, is instructing his nephew on the best way to tempt and ultimately damn a young man who has just converted to Christianity. Because the man in question is a rather ordinary type, the book is a fascinating examination of the ways your everyday ordinary Christian (most of us) succumbs to temptation on a daily basis. It helps me be more aware of how I fall to these temptations, reminds me they are most definitely the work of satan, and puts into perspective what is really important: dying in a state of grace.

    **BONUS: The Discernment of Spirits by Fr. Timothy Gallagher
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    This book is an overview and explanation of St. Ignatius’ rules of discernment.  I had never studied them before and I found reading about them to be incredibly enlightening. As the blurb on the back says, “This book is for all who desire greater awareness of God’s action in their daily lives.” The rules help you become aware of why you experience feelings and what they mean; it teaches you how to recognize periods of spiritual consolation, desolation and in between; and it gives you instructions on what to do in the midst of whatever the spiritual state of your soul. When I finished this book, I felt I could’ve flipped back to the beginning and begun it again

There you have it! I’m linking up with Kelly for Spiritual Books Too Good to Put Down. Many, many other good reads on there – check it out!

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New Year

It’s the new year. Hooray! Happy 2016. I have a #wordoftheyear this year. The main reason I feel I’m supposed to have one is because 1) I wasn’t planning on choosing one; 2) I didn’t think hard about it; and 3) It came to me in the shower. That’s how you know, you know? Not during prayer or in church or after much careful reflection. The shower: frequent channel of heavenly communication.

The word is gratitude. It didn’t come totally out of left field because all throughout the fall, I had done a study on this book, Choosing Gratitude, with a lovely group of medical wives. When we started that study, I was finishing up a reread of The Screwtape Letters, and Lewis is really good at expressing how we fall into patterns of entitled thinking. I’m beginning to see more and more how entitlement is so opposed to gratitude. Then I joined the launch team for this book at the end of the year (blogging more about that later). So gratitude has been on my radar for a while.

It’s crazy how easy it is for an entitled attitude to creep into my thoughts, actions, and prayers. I trace so much discontent back to that tricky belief: the one that says I’m owed so many things like free time or feelings of fulfillment. Largely, though, I know I’ve believed a lie that DeMoss calls out in her book more than once: that gratitude is a second-rate virtue, a feeling we can conjure up that resembles that fluffy stuff you find in greeting cards. The reality I’m hoping to live and grow into more and more this  year is that gratitude is a requirement for holiness – a virtue we can’t live without if we’re seeking a life of joy and meaning. IMG_20160102_104416 (1)

Why I Will Keep Posting the CMP Videos

The recently revealed videos from the Center for Medical Progress, detailing the gruesome practice of obtaining and selling the body parts of aborted babies, have been making the rounds on my social media. I’ve been sharing the videos on my own (recently resurrected) Facebook page although I haven’t really been using that platform for much else. I know plenty of people who disagree with and are horrified by what the videos portray who are hesitant to link to them and I absolutely agree that we need to be conscientious about what we shout into the void of the internet. No one may be listening. Anyone may be listening. And watching.

I want to be sensitive to post-abortive women and men who may happen upon these videos. I want them to know there is help, guidance, healing, love available in abundance. We do not judge. We do not condemn. We believe, as Ann Voskamp has said, that “Saying one person’s life matters — doesn’t mean someone else’s life doesn’t matter. Or that only their lives matter —- but their lives equally matter too.” It’s not either/or. Because we believe the humanity of the unborn child is important doesn’t mean we couldn’t care less about the woman. That we see her as a receptacle for the baby until the baby can be born. That we don’t care what happens to the baby after birth. That we are only “pro-birth” and not actually “pro-life.” Believing in human dignity and the absolute value of every human life is a way of thinking and a way of living. And that is what it means to be pro-life. I see this debate popping up again because now – thank God – I see the debate about abortion itself popping up again.

That is a tired line from the pro-choice movement. Pro-life people have shown again and again that we are pro-woman, pro-child and pro-everybody’s-life. The CMP is ostensibly opening up a debate about the illegal trafficking of fetal body parts; what’s actually happening is that  America is seeing abortion under the guise of scrutinizing some undercover videos for the breaking of a law. Many mainstream news outlets are ignoring the videos or dutifully obeying Planned Parenthood’s instructions to ignore them. I feel the need to do my tiny part to increase the videos’ visibility, even though I haven’t been able to watch the most recent one myself; the press release was enough to bring me to tears.

However.

However, these reasons have allowed me, I believed, to hesitate to share things in the past. What if my inability to selectively share hurts someone vulnerable? pushes them the other way? makes them feel judged or hopeless? Thankfully, I’ve been shaken out of this complacency because of Emmett.

In one of the videos, PP techs sort through the body parts of an aborted boy. We know it’s a boy because one of them exclaims, “another boy!” They call him eleven six, because he was killed at eleven weeks and six days gestation. Students for Life named him Emmett, because he deserves a name. He demands respect for his dignity. And he is a human. I can’t turn away at the sight of a human being picked apart like he was a mess of garbage with a few valuable pieces mixed in. Someone needs to speak for him. People are speaking for him, and all the other aborted babies he represents, but not enough. I’m desperate to hear the outcry for Emmett, the other aborted babies, the post-abortive women and men hurting in silence.

When I used to pray and counsel outside abortion clinics, I never used graphic images. I never believed that was the place for them, and I still don’t. The purpose of our presence outside clinics is first to be a peaceful, prayerful presence, and second, to offer options and support to vulnerable women and men. But I’ve always believed that each and every person who believes abortion is okay to any extent, for whatever exceptional circumstance, should see abortion; should see the aftermath. And now, now, there opportunity is there.

This practice has been legal in our country for more than 40 years. That is plenty of time for us to become complacent. It has also been plenty of time for us to examine how best to live our pro-life beliefs and change hearts and minds. This is an opportune time to show our brothers and sisters who think abortion is okay what abortion actually is and to tell them, as William Wilberforce said,

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.

Slivers of Grace

It started last night. Paul and I were having our chill time in the evening and he mentioned that “tomorrow’s the feast of the Transfiguration.” One of my favorites.

“I’m always surprised it’s not a holy day of obligation,” I said.

“Sure, but you can still go to Mass.” It was a simple statement, but I immediately thought about the circus that is taking both kids to Mass on Sundays when Paul is working and has to go at a different time. I quickly dismissed the idea of going to a daily Mass. There were nap schedules and lunch to think of. But the seed was planted.

This morning Dominic starting talking about going to church. “It’s time to get dressed for the day!” I announced like usual. “THEN go to church,” he said. Hmm. I was planning on a quick grocery trip, so I let it pass. However, he mentioned going to church at least two more times, so finally I told him we could go after lunch. There’s at 12:10 Mass close by. Rosemary woke up from her nap around 10:45. It would be stretching her to wait until after Mass for her next nap, but I decided to roll with it. I couldn’t tell Dom no!

In short, we made it work. We ended up at church about 25 minutes before the start, which anyone with small wiggly children knows is not a small deal, but Dominic was a champ. I had to focus most of my attention on Rosemary as she got sleepier and thus crankier, but Dom didn’t skip a beat. He chilled in his pew and ate his pretzels, making observations in his normal voice despite repeated requests to whisper.

After communion I was overcome with gratitude that God drew me to Mass today through the simple urging of my toddler. While I originally felt bummed I couldn’t do something for me – go to Mass on a special feast – God made it clear he had invited me and was clearing the path to help me move forward because he wanted me to be there. Oh how I needed that grace breaking into my daily routine.

Lord, it is good that we are here.

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Answer Me This: Book-Sniffers Unite

Linking up with Kendra, because link-ups are my BFF 4-E AND ALWAYS.

Jumping right in…

1. Any big plans for the summer?

Unpacking. I know it’s going to take a long time, and I’m also overwhelmed at the thought of having a whole house to decorate. I know it’s all about giving it time, “quieting the space,” etc. etc. but sometimes I wish I could just snap my fingers and have it all decorated rightthissecond with all of our meaningful pieces and lots of beautiful art to fill in empty spaces. But I know it doesn’t work like that. And this unpacking business is serious. My approach usually fluctuates between going all out and not stopping for things like eating or bathroom breaks, and sitting on the couch with a bag of semisweet goodness and lots of internet, ignoring the wall of boxes replacing what should be a real wall. I’m sure this is due to my melancholic/phlegmatic-INFJ-introverted-acts of service-scorpio-rightbrained-procrastinator-redwineloving personality somehow. I dunno. Analyze me, internet.

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

Hmmm. We’ve all believed some weird stuff, I’m sure. Like the Tooth Fairy, for instance. But I think the promise of money in exchange for discarded body parts kept us hanging on for that one. (See what I mean about weird?)

I also believed there was a little dude who lived in a house on the top of my head who would talk to me…soooo there’s that.

I thought librarians were paid with book fine money. Which, thinking back, would probably have changed some of the ways they did their jobs. “Sure, I’ll renew that for you! How about an extra-long three-month rental special just for you?” *wink*

3. What’s your favorite amusement park ride? 

Well, I used to like roller coasters- just like, not love. I stayed with the safe wooden-type ones, and I don’t think I’ve ever been on a coaster that goes upside down. Then I got to the point where I couldn’t handle them anymore…when I was maybe 14? (14 going on 80, apparently). I also can’t remember the last time I was at an amusement park. I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying I don’t have one…though I could probably rock the merry-go-round.

4. What’s on your summer reading list?

Summer for me isn’t a whole lot different than any other season in terms of free time but I do have a list (somewhere – wall of boxes, remember?) from the beginning of the year with a bunch of books I want to read, mostly spiritual stuff. I started rereading Screwtape during Lent and would like to finish that one. I think some nonfiction would be nice for the warm months, and I’ll probably hit up Modern Mrs. Darcy for a good rec.

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?

This is an interesting question. I’m having a hard time thinking of a time I’ve fallen asleep in public… probably because it’s not something we typically do! It’s kind of a vulnerable position to be in. I fell asleep in the middle of a field with a few hundred thousand other people in Germany…at World Youth Day 2005. Does that count?

6. What is your favorite smell?

Springtime-just-rained smell tied with old book smell. (The older the book, the better the smell, generally.) Book-sniffers unite.

Happy Sunday! Keep on rockin’ the Ordinary Time.

Send Me on My Way

Please sing this song, prominently featured in Ice Age, while you read this post.

(woah, tangent: music video is delightfully weird)

Ahem. Guys, we are deep in the throes of PACKING. Hardcore. And feeling all the feels that come with packing up all your earthly belongings in cardboard. The other night I had to apologize to Paul for kind of losing it over something small because my inner peace was being assaulted by the disorder and chaos surrounding me. While I have done this before, I’ve never done it with KIDS. And let me tell you, folks: game changer.

This is what I crawl through to get to the computer

This is what I crawl through to get to the computer

Kids multiply the the amount of stuff you have by TONS. Now I know why my parents still have some of my things packed away in their house (things they are itching to give back to me once we have more storage space). Also, I now have a lovely inner conflict that shows up whenever I want to throw stuff away that’s related to my kids: will they wish I had saved it? Will I forget about this fleeting moment in their development because I threw away this thing which will conjure a memory?

I’ve decided, however, that I’m not going to obsess over what I choose to save and document. Other than what’s important for everyone’s health and well-being, I’ve given myself Permission to Throw It Away. This relates to the previously granted Permission to Not Take a Picture and Permission to Leave It Undocumented.

That last one came about when Dominic was a teeny baby. I was stressing about not filling in all the lines in his baby book…milestones like “first smile.” I didn’t remember when he smiled his first smile?!? What kind of horrible mother am I?? So I talked myself down and reminded myself that the empty lines in the baby book are totally arbitrary and I was allowed to leave them blank. Now my second kid doesn’t even have a baby book. Progress.

The permissions to Throw It Away and Not Take a Picture have come about more recently. I decided that, since we’re all going to die someday, I didn’t have to worry about perfectly capturing every childhood moment and milestone. Someday we’ll all go to our eternal reward and it won’t matter one iota how many pictures I took of my kids and how beautifully they were then placed in chronologically appropriate scrapbooks alongside the Walk Down Vaccine Memory Lane complete with the band-aid that lovingly covered each shot.

I’m not bad-mouthing people who are good at scrapbooking and documenting. Some people do these things beautifully and truly enjoy them as hobbies. For me, it was about coming to terms with what I enjoy and consider life-giving. Documenting things stresses me out. I know everyone’s name and their respective health histories; I consider that what’s necessary.

As we go along our way in life, we have to pick our battles, including what battles we’re going to fight within ourselves. If I don’t want to do something that truly isn’t necessary, I’m not going to make myself do it – just because other people like doing it or because there are a million creative ways to do it on Pinterest.

And now I’ve blogged it, so you know I mean it. Here’s to not having a complex about the unnecessary things! Now I can focus on not losing my cool as I navigate this cardboard jungle for the next few days.

7 Quick Takes Vol. 10: #CWBNohio

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Time to talk about the Catholic Women Blogging Network Ohio Conference in seven short(ish) takes! Visit Kelly for more!

1. “What is the Catholic Women Blogging Network?” I hear you ask yourself. It’s as awesome as it sounds. The CWBN has regional groups all over the country and I was able to attend the Ohio conference because it was happening only an hour-ish south of me and because my wonderful parents wrangled my two-year-old for the day.

2. On Saturday the 23rd (and for some, also Friday the 22nd) about 20 bloggers gathered on the campus of Walsh University to converse, commune and learn from each other. I set off with my travel buddy:IMG_20150518_133549_046

and we had a blessedly uneventful journey both ways.

3. It was so lovely to meet such a diverse group of women, all at different stages in life and blogging! “But Melanie,” I hear you asking yourself again, “you blog so sporadically and about such random things. Are you even a real blogger?” Never fear, hypothetical reader, the CWBN is graciously not picky. I was able to come and glean wisdom from everybody. My goal was to be inspired and get some momentum going by listening and learning. And, being the nice Catholic ladies they are, nobody judged me.

4. Our wonderful hostesses, Melody and Brooke, took great care of us. Taylor Tripodi led us in beautiful praise and worship. Jimmy John’s kept us from getting hangry. Melody’s daughters (and the other attendees) lent me willing arms so I could use both hands and sit down a lot. And we had great talks all day long about EXCELLENT topics. I highly recommend Melody’s recap post for a wonderful summary of what we heard.

t-shirts are my love language

t-shirts are my love language

5. I took about zero photos the entire day (blogger fail), and only some scattered notes, but the things we talked about will stick with me for a long time: things like using our voices to be a leader and the responsibility that comes with that; what evangelizing through media looks like; the importance of passion; the practical side of making some dough through writing; and the illusion of balance.

6. I think what struck me the most at this point in my life and blogging journey was the main point from Colleen’s talk. Colleen is mom who makes blogging her part-time job and her talk was “Finding Balance and Beauty in Chaos.” I had the least amount of focus on this talk because my baby was getting antsy, but what I heard I really loved. She said the idea of balance in our lives is kind of fake… because no one can possibly “do it all.” When we’re doing one thing, we’re not doing another. So our job is to make peace with the things we’ve chosen to do, and the priority we’ve chosen to place on them. It was really encouraging to me.

7. I’m so grateful to Melody and Brooke and all the ladies who came for such an inspiring day. There are tons of great ideas I’m looking forward to implementing as I move forward and create in this space. Thanks for coming along for the ride and have a faaabulous weekend!

7 Quick Takes Vol. 9: Retroactively Motherhood-Themed

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Time for another 7QT Friday! Hop over to Kelly’s for more! These are sort of themed around motherhood (or my kids, who made me a mother) even though Mother’s Day was last week. Not even a big deal.

1. Mother’s Day weekend was great even though Paul was working for a lot of it. I spent Saturday with my mom and we were able to see Paul’s mom on Sunday.

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Dom was having way too much fun to be in this photo.

2. I can’t believe it’s my third Mother’s Day (with extra-utero babies). I feel like I’m very much a different person than I was before I had kids, although this person is very much more of who I’m supposed to be. This idea deserves its own post but this article sums up all of the feels VERY well. Haley took the thoughts right out of my muddled, sleep-deprived, stream-of-consciousness brain (and said them in a beautiful, articulate way).

3. In other baby news, we recently acquired a new baby bouncer courtesy of Baby Bjorn and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Apparently Rainbow has a partnership with Baby Bjorn and will sometimes give them a bunch of free stuff for their pediatricians to test. So Paul brought home one of these and I think it’s hilarious. Observe:

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She just kind of looks like she’s lying on a straight board. It’s SO UGLY and reminds me of something you’d see on a show set in the future; when we’re all living in space, these will be the bouncers our astronaut children use.

But, yay free stuff!

4. Dominic. He keeps growing super fast and saying random stuff and driving me crazy and being ridiculously awesome. His new favorite thing is the movie Cars and boy does he love playing with his own cars.

can't stop won't stop

can’t stop won’t stop

5. Dominic also helped me learn something new when he drew allll over the couch cushions with a pen (that I gave him, so I’m not even mad because seriously, lady? What did you think would happen?) I used the vinegar method found on good old-fashioned WikiHow and it totally worked.

Mismatched PJs courtesy of Dada ;)

Mismatched PJs courtesy of Dada 😉

6. When motherhood was still new to me I was shocked and horrified by the mommy wars. I loved this post from Kendra: Opting Out of Mommy Angst in 3 Easy Steps. Because srsly. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

7. Related to #5: I don’t know how moms did it before Google. I use The Google frequently in my parenting adventures.

Happy retroactive Mother’s Day!

Introducing: Rosemary Therese

Soon after her two-month checkup seemed like a good time to introduce Rosemary Therese to the Internet. We’re just riding the new royal baby‘s popularity wave.

Hello, world!

Hello, world!

So. The deets: Rosemary arrived on the evening of February 26th at 41 weeks. I had been freaking out a little bit about whether or not she’d decide to come on her own and was dreading the thought of an induction. When Thursday the 26th arrived, I started the day feeling “weird” but totally convinced myself I wasn’t in labor because I didn’t want to be disappointed. (That was a mistake.) I went through the day pretending I wasn’t having contractions and even went to adoration for half an hour with contractions coming 20 minutes apart.

More interested in watching Finding Nemo in mom's hospital room than in the new sibling

More interested in watching Finding Nemo in mom’s hospital room than in the new sibling

We got to the hospital around 7:00 p.m. and she was born around 7:45. I was writhing in triage purgatory when I told Paul I needed to push and surprised the poor intern who came in to check me and discovered I wasn’t kidding. After a quick wheely-bed ride down the hall to L&D, some tears, some hospital-staff-scrambling and about 10 minutes of pushing, Rosemary made her debut. I got to hear Paul say “hi Rosemary!” first, which is when I found out she was indeed a lady baby. I cried a lot. I felt awesome to be done and not pregnant. We made it to our room in time to catch the end of the Cavs game.

Dominic has been adjusting better than I expected. He mostly ignores her, tends to yell loudly when she cries and acknowledges her presence by walking up to her and putting his face as close to her as he can. As time has gone on, he’s started offering her various different things (toy car, potato chip) and stating “Baby Rosemary likes the [thing].” It’s pretty cute.

 

She was baptized on Palm Sunday, March 29th and her godparents are Paul’s sister Maria and her husband Mike.

Action shot

Action shot

We’ve been adjusting pretty well, I think. Compared to my first child, this one has been muuuuch easier. I’m sure it’s a combination of her personality, our expectations, our chilled-out-ness the second time around and her superpower, which is sleeping long stretches at night. And wine. Definitely wine.

And wine. Definitely wine.

First postpartum bottle, baby.

Now for the photo dump, an exercise in blogging self-restraint considering I have 10 weeks worth of photos on my phone.

Family photo: nailed it

Family photo: nailed it

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She makes this face a lot

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Totally fine

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The sleep smile. I can’t even.

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Welcome, baby! We’re so glad you’re here.

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7 Quick Takes Vol. 8: Dom Edition

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It’s his second birthday! And because I’m getting all nostalgic about how our time as a three-person, one-kid family is dwindling, I’ll devote an entire quick takes post to the one and only Dom Paul. Please visit Kelly for more takes!

Dom 2nd birthday

s  See that first birthday pic? I still sense a lack of comprehension about the second birthday.

1. So today IS his actual birthday but we’re not actually celebrating with family and friends until Sunday. Unfortunately the only thing to distinguish today from any other day was a trip to the pediatrician for the two-year checkup and a shot. 😦 I kind of feel like the worst mom ever for scheduling this appointment for today. But he doesn’t really get it!! Paul keeps asking what we’re going to to do make today special and I’m all, “ehhh, he doesn’t really get it…” But I did put up a happy birthday banner and there will be a present and a doughnut after dinner tonight when dad’s home.

2. Stats: 28 lbs. 2 oz; 34.5 inches, which is about average for a two-year-old. I still marvel at how he’s riiiidin’ that 50th percentile after starting out at NINE POUNDS. Not even bitter.

5-month-old TANK

5-month-old TANK

3. Favorite foods: all fruits, raisins, Kraft macaroni and cheese (aka crack n’ cheese), honey nut Cheerios, bread-hummus.

4. Saying lately: Things he really wants to eat are “for dinner”: “Cookies for dinner?” “Juice for dinner?” “Pancakes for dinner?” Also, when playing, he likes when you make a character say, “helloooo, Dominic!” His own name is “Don-nick.” He knows mama, dada, gamma, gampa, and all his aunts and uncles. (He struggles most with Maria [“mai-a”] and Anna [“aunt nanna”]) Potty=plobby; puddle=plubble; moon=moont. He loves his Mary and Joseph figurines from his nativity set and asks for them by name: “may-ee” and “she-foof.” Still loves the Piano Guys: “ploh guise.” Sings “batmaaan” when prompted with “na-na, na-na, na-na.” Sings ABCs; Silver Bells; You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch; Pizza Angel; Let It Go; Thomas the Tank Engine Theme Song.

5. He identifies numbers up to 20 and all his letters. He knows colors and animals and what sounds the animals and different vehicles make. Very much into all things car/truck/train. Favorite show is Curious George, but still into Sesame Street, Veggie Tales and the occasional Thomas. Favorite books include The Elevator Man; Goodnight Moon; Faster, Faster; Big Red Barn.

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6. Gosh, I just love this kid. He’ll hug me and say “I lahve yeww.” He’ll randomly quote lines from his favorite books and you have to listen really hard a bunch of times before you figure out what he’s saying. He loves looking at himself in the selfie camera and watching home videos of himself. (“Watch babies?”) He’s slooowly getting over his fear of wearing boots and walking on snow-covered ground. He’s going to IMG_5578have his world rocked when his baby sibling is born. He loves pushing buttons and still (STILL) loves the elevator. He LOVES dada: when he hears Paul’s key turn in the lock he stops what he’s doing and shouts “DADAAA!” He likes Superman, Spider-man and Batman and has no idea who they are.

7. We love you, Dominic! Can’t wait to watch you grow up more every day and into your role as a big brother.

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